The only ones who can free us are ourselves.Assata Shakur
Dr. Marléna Gasper (she/her) is a revolutionary entrepreneur and healing strategist, working at the intersections of education, urban farming, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) culture in Los Angeles, CA/Occupied Tongva land. She divides her time between her consultant work with ARC MultiServices, Inc. coaching school leaders, teachers, and executive leadership to create safe and personalized learning experiences for underserved communities and marginalized voices. When she is not healing students in this manner, she practices Integrative Medicine, inclusive of Intuitive Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Personalized Nutrition, Myofascial Release, Hydro-Oscillating Vibration Therapy™ (patent pending) and Cannabis Cooking (CBD Food Infusion) with Sol.CentriX Wellness group™. Although she treats a wide spectrum of health and ailments, her specialty there is imbalance, disorder, and or disease resulting from trauma inflicted on people of color.
Dr. M, as she is lovingly called, holds 7 degrees ranging from literature, leadership and medicine:
- Doctorate Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine – Pacific College 2020
- Master of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine – South Baylo University 2018
- Master of Educational Leadership – National Louis University 2010
- Master of Science – Special Education – Middle School Specialist – 2012 – Touro College
- Master of Arts – Creative Writing – 2003 – Long Island University
- Bachelors of English – 1999 Morgan State
- Associate of Arts – Liberal Studies – 1997 LaGuardia Community College
As a third generation teacher she is a subject matter expert in persistence in urban education, healing with intuitive acupuncture, and transformation. Sisterhood, service, and love are her self proclaimed love languages.
Dr. M is currently working as the Lead Researcher & Herbalist for a plant-based skin care brand, Stacked with Style™. Today’s version of the transformed Dr. M is the daughter of Sheila/Denise, granddaughter of Shirley/Essie/Arlene. She is the proud mother to two sons, a daughter, a bonus-daughter and a dope turtle called Spike. She loves and heavily participates in the conversation of personal & economic sovereignty and is the founding member of the forthcoming investment firm Beehive, Business Banking & Blooming for Bad Bitches!
You can find her, in all her glory, showering her family with love, accountability, and good food. Check her out at:
- Instagram: @dr.marlena.gasper
Listen to the episode HERE. CW: Mentions of abuse.
Music by Purple Fluorite (Bandcamp // or all the streaming platforms)
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Billy: Welcome back to the Queer Circle, where queer healers step up to the mic to share their stories and what they would tell their younger self. Today’s guest is Dr. Marléna Gasper. She is a Black, Queer doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, practicing integrated medicine and nutrition with the special interest in treating imbalances resulting from trauma inflicted on people of color and so much more. Welcome Dr. Marléna.
Marléna: I’m pretty sure I came into the world yelling and screaming. I have evidence of this, my daughter came into the world yelling and screaming with zero tears until she looked me in the eyes. So I imagine that my daughter is repeating my pattern. I came into the world, I like to describe, as north facing. North facing people are very, very interesting. I know that I chose my parents. My biological mother was the daughter of a Jamaican, secret witch, which means that on the New York soil in Jamaica Queens, where we grew up, it wasn’t appropriate for her to speak of what she had learned and what she had experienced as a child growing up in Jamaica. It doesn’t mean that she didn’t impart some of her secret ways, but it was very much a coded language. My mother was a nurturer and caregiver and a lover and a teacher and she taught within walking distance of where she lived, so all of the children that learned from her during the day got to see her on the weekends and see her in the community and so she wasn’t just a schoolteacher, she was a teacher, a teacher teacher, just a human in the world that loved children and loved people. My biological father was an interesting man. He was the son of a notorious number runner and he was misunderstood. He always felt that there was something missing and he was very, very handsome and he was mathematically inclined. So I came to this Earth to encourage their legacy around acceptance, boldness, curiosity, but also to do the work of healing their traumas around infidelity, success, and strength. Now there’s this term that’s so popular right now in social justice circles and education circles and it’s called intersectionality and it’s such a poignant term, because it’s accurate and it’s spot on, so I would like to share with you the intersections of my origin, of my birth. So I was born at the intersection of Cointelpro and 8th, hip hop and the Urban Leagues crisis here, Christianity and Rastafarianism. Elegua the orisha of the roads gave me many paths for this particular Earth, but on each road I faced north, what’s important to note, north facing humans are warriors, protectors, trailblazers and trendsetters, using tools, logic, and steadfast forward thinking, only yielding to emotion when its true, authentic, and necessary. As a north facer, I take my emotions and I basically put them in a satchel, in a purse, or in a designer boot, or wherever I can put them away. So that I don’t have to use them as I’m doing this work, so that when the emotions come up and it’s present and it’s real and it’s necessary, I know that because I am inclined use it in not the way that, you know, people just carry their emotions everywhere, but that’s a different conversation. My path to healing started at around near age three and it was a series of unfortunate events that led to some pretty amazing outcomes. I did not know that it would lead to those pretty amazing outcomes at the time. That first event, keep in mind I was three, I hit my mother’s domestic abuser with a rubber mallet, right in the forehead, in the middle. Now, my three year old brain said “Ooh! His brains just splattered on the windshield.”, but that’s not what happened, because I was three and this thing was heavy and it fell more than it whacked, because I couldn’t swing it back hard enough to whack him, but nonetheless, I got him good, right between the eyes, y’all. Something in me knew and so I hit him with this rubber mallet. Then event number two, I was sexually explored by the pre-adolescent girl next door and those two events, subsequently incited a slurry of after effects and I’m the result of what happened. Then again, my healing energy ignited at the age of six when I prothesized the death of my mother, predicting she would contract AIDS and die before I could establish myself as a woman. I remember asking her what it was when I first heard it. It was probably very similar to what a young child would ask about coronavirus in 2020 and wonder if it had anything to do with their existence and what it means for a world that they already didn’t understand or have more access to. So I was asking at age six about this disease, because I needed to understand it. I knew I needed to understand it, because I knew when I heard it, it was the thing that was going to kill my mother and when asked why I was so curious about it, I instead of saying “Because it’s the thing that’s going to kill my mother.”, I said “I think I made it. I think I created it.” and they thought I was crazy. So I never talked about it again, until I got my mother’s diagnosis and I sat at her beside and we talked about the time that I was asking her these questions and she remembered and she also shared with me at that time that it made her feel uneasy and it made her feel like she was approaching something dark. I hope that I’ve healed my mother. She passed in 1994 and a lot of the healing work that I do is around healing the trauma that I’ve inherited and the traumas that happened to me and healing my lineage, because my ancestors will be strengthened and fortified and recovered and that is why I chose acupuncture and Chinese medicine as a method of healing, because it encompasses all the ways of being of life for healthy living, right? Like my healing story and the story of my birth shouldn’t so easily be turned into a Chinese medicine PSA, but we’re talking about movement and nutrition and awareness and the ethereal soul and the connection between the mind and the spirit and honoring your prenatal essence, that’s honoring your ancestors, if medicine has all of the healing modalities that we need in some way embedded inside of all of it and it’s given me a way and permission to access that code and heal me DNA and when you heal your DNA, you heal it upwards and you heal it downwards, so that means you heal your ancestors and you heal your future generations by protecting them from trauma and disease.
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Marléna: A too grown too soon Black girl is a threat to society and herself. Early realizations of my queerness or my sexual identity or any difference from what it was supposed to be. It’s hard to say when you knew you were different, because you don’t know you’re different until you have something to compare it to or you’re one of those people that swears that only something can be happening to you and not happening to any other human on the planet at that moment or at that time, that means you’re the type of person that you meet someone that you have something strange in common with and you’re like “I thought I was the only one!”, you really can’t. There’s like 8 billion of us on the planet and we shoot out vibrations all the time to attract the things and people that are like us, so if you feel that way, you probably should just pay a little bit more attention, because you attract all your clan to you, all your tribe, you draw into you. But society teaches you that those differences are wrong, so you tend to figure that out really soon, that how you feel is different and in my case, after I was sexually explored by the girl next door, who was my friend, who clearly was having some experience of something happening to her, who should not have been allowed to be alone with me in the first place, and not because of any type of sexual attack, but because she was a little kid too. Who leaves a little kid with a little kid and expects things to be okay? We could have set the whole house on fire, so there’s other issues embedded in that, but essentially I don’t like to use the terminology that I was touched inappropriately, because if she knew better, I know in my heart of hearts and soul of souls, she would have did better and by three, I knew what inappropriate touch was, because my mother’s boyfriend was beating her ass and beating me and my siblings, as well, and there’s nothing more inappropriate than getting beat with a comb or dragged or, you know, thrown. So when the girl next door touched me, it was more like “We shouldn’t be doing this, because we’re two little girls sharing a secret.” and I am definitely not an advocate of any type of inappropriate touch or any experience that leaves a young child of any gender or any sexual orientation feeling vulnerable or scared and ashamed and she would touch me and I did not feel any of those things about shame or difference or disconnect, until I told and when I told, I was condemned and that’s when I actually started to feel some type of regret, doubt, or shame. So later on in life, when I had to confront all of these topics, it left me feeling more like I should have been protected throughout the entire process of disclosure and not just made to feel as if I had somehow made a bad choice, as if I should have pushed her off of me. This older child that I always had playtime with, I should have done something different as a three year old. It was such a wild expectation, but my early realizations of sexual identity are not all traumatic, right? We all have that one experience that pretty much defines what we’re gonna like in the bedroom and in my case, any room, but I saw the Vanessa Williams issue of Playboy and by the time I saw it, she was Vanessa Williams, the first Black Miss America, so I was looking at the Black Miss America in all of her glory and it was beautiful, like it was “Okay, I’m a Black girl. She’s a Black girl. She’s pretty. I’m pretty. I like her parts.” I didn’t know if I wanted to be her, be with her, but it was definitely an arousing, riveting experience and that’s when I realized that this thing between my legs does more than just pee and pee everywhere, because with all my traumas, I was a bedwetter for a quite a while. Actually, I remember I wet the bed that night so that might have been my first wet dream. Then, of course, now I can’t just look at the Vanessa Williams part, because I’m awake. Now I’m alive, I’m realizing that there’s vagina, there’s breasts, there’s all of these things happening and I flipped the page and then I see some girl on girl action and I’m like “Oh, okay, okay.”, like I got these images and I’m holding onto these images. No one … I’ve never told this story in any type of public forum about the Vanessa Williams issue, but until that thing was taken out of my grandmother’s house, I looked for it every single time. I didn’t understand why we had just that one issue, but I know now it’s because it’s the Vanessa Williams issue and I still wish we had it, because it would be worth so much money right now. Fast forwards, I met a girl when I was fifteen and I had just graduated from high school, so maybe I was sixteen or so, fifteen or sixteen. I had just graduated from high school. I was in college and so I was around older girls who are different, because some of them have already had children and are going back to school. I went to community college, so it was different than girls that live on campus. These were city girls who rode the train, who had their own money, had their own lives and I had already by that time had sex with boys, plenty of sex with boys. Sex with boys I should not have had. Some of it pressured, some of it consensual if a 16 year old can give consent and when I saw this girl, my clitoris thumped and I did not know why and I could not understand why and I also could not make it not thump anymore and I brushed it off and then I had my first sexual experience with a woman, maybe a couple years later, because I couldn’t brush it off for too long. At over 40 now, I look back that experience and, like I don’t want to tell that young woman to hold onto her sexual identity, but also don’t try to prove you’re not gay by having a lot of sex with a lot of boys like it’s not going to prove anything. You will just be a girl that had a lot of sex with a lot of boys and still has a sexual attraction and a sexual preference towards women and also don’t feel like sex with boys is wrong or bad, because, you know, boys are cool sometimes. They turn into men and men are cool, men are great, especially Black men, so shout out to all you Black men out there and don’t get so caught up with your gender identity, love who you love and be loving and love who you love and be loving. It’s just a cycle, love who you love and be loving.
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Marléna: I got to say, yo, I’m my hero, me, I’m my hero and I’m my hero, because I just spent way too much time being brainwashed as a young, Black girl that I wasn’t strong, that I wasn’t worthy, that at some point, somebody should save me, somebody else should think for me. This idea of somebody, some man, coming to rescue me on a big white horse and then if you had one of my aunties that was semi woke, she was like “woke”, she would call it just the big black horse, but she was still waiting for somebody else to come and rescue her and I couldn’t live like that. Part of how I have my identity, my self identity, as my own hero is because I do some role models in real life and some through art or literature or cultural exposure that really helped to influence my form of thinking. So one of those heroes is Assata Shakur. Her autobiography is transformational. I read it around age 16, 17 and this woman who was wrongly accused, who was a freedom fighter, but she wasn’t larger than life, she was a mother, she was a lover, she was a regular woman, who was tired of the circumstances and sent out a vibration to attract her tribe, to attract people on the same frequency as her, to positively affect change on a local level and on a global level and I just thought that her life was important enough to have this book, but even beyond that, her story was important enough to be shared with me to awaken something in me and I remember reading- I haven’t read it for some years now, I should probably go back and revisit it soon- towards the very end, where she is having visitation with her daughter and the exchange that she had with her daughter and how she didn’t want to have those types of exchanges anymore, she was in prison. And the next thing you know, folks, she wasn’t in prison, just like that, because she wasn’t going to do that to her child. She wasn’t going to live her life in someone else’s closet- proverbial closet or cell or whatever, she just wasn’t with it and I’m not with it either, so bam, hero number one. Then, although my current practice is stabbing people for profit or setting them on fire, depending on how you put the needles in, I was a literature buff. I have actually a Bachelor’s in English & Creative Writing and a Master’s in English & Creative Writing, shout out Morgan State, go bears. I really was truly, truly immersed in the literature of James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka and for very, very different reasons. James Baldwin was such the underdog being a gay, Black male writer, not being able to just express that so directly in his writing and how that was another form of oppression. As he’s trying to write a liberation story for Black humans as a whole, he couldn’t fully write his liberation story, because his sexuality wasn’t widely accepted, appreciated and so I just feel like James Baldwin made a huge sacrifice in which he chose his culture, he chose his people as opposed to his own intimate desires and his own intimate satisfaction and fulfillment, because of the love of his people and I so rock with that and I so vibrate with just living in your purpose to the extent where if there’s something conflicting, making a choice to be of service for the whole as opposed to service for the individual and I think if all humans vibrated like that, just with that intention, that you wouldn’t ever have to sacrifice your individual self, because your willingness to do it would be balanced by the rest of the world’s willingness to do it and so everybody would make more responsible choices. I think that’s how I was thinking when I was a little girl and that I love that, at this stage of my life, that form of idealism is back in me, because that’s like my life force, That’s a good place to be, to have the optimism and hopefulness of a young child and still be the age that I am and knowing what life is like. So I hope that I can inspire maybe some of those too young, too grown, too soon Black girls or any color or any gender for that matter, just anybody that has, you know, lost a little bit of their innocence, to not see me as a hero, but to just take my story and use it as a piece of their hero story. I do have one unlikely hero and it’s an indirect hero, but he’s a real person, but he’s not my hero, because I’ve read up on his story. So I love literature and I love poetry and I love music and I love dance, so I love For Colored Girls. Not the Tyler Perry version, if you just thought that, like, don’t talk to me for seventeen seconds, if you thought the Tyler Perry version. I’m talking about the original from our dearly departed sister Ntozake Shange. I love the lady in brown’s part where she is talking about her first love and she met him in a book and his name was Toussaint L’Ouverture and that was her first love and he was a Haitian revolutionary. Now, any group of people that can march folks to the ocean and tell them to hop in, because this is our land and you ain’t fittin to take it, that my kind of hero. So Toussaint represents for me a kind of fictional amalgamation of the values that I represent, like yo, hold the line, hold your own, protect your family, protect your border and anybody that’s not with that can get marched to the ocean, bam. I love that value. I love the fact that it’s representative of someone’s first true love that they found in a book. So I love books. I love reading, so that kind of energy I’m attracted to and the fact that this was inside this amazing body of work written for me, because I’m the colored girl that she was writing to about and for. So Haitian revolutionaries in particular, Toussaint, is part of my hero love story, because remember y’all, we get to make it all up and live the life that we want to live, remember that. So with all of my heroes, I just have this belief: you love hard, you fight harder, you tell it like it is, you stand in your truth, and you heal, you heal thyself and you heal others.
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Marléna: So this idea of death and when asked: How exactly did you become a healer? I don’t know if anybody actually becomes a healer, you are a healer, you are and then it turns on when you’ve got to use it because if you don’t heal, you’re not a healer, whether you have the capacity or not. But for me, death has been both darkness and light. I’ve experienced a lot of death, the death of my innocence, the death and decline of my mother, shortly thereafter, the death of my grandmother, shortly thereafter, the death of my biological father and death in the community, death of friends, and consistently, every death left me feeling scared, left me feeling a little bit voiceless, left me feeling unprotected, left me feeling unsheltered, left me feeling abandoned. And those are all emotions that are part of the human experience, but no human should have to live in those emotions without light, without hope, without love, without being safe, not just feeling safe, but without actually being safe and being protected. For me, everytime death approached, everytime death took something, it left something behind and now in my walk of life in 2020, I’m able to really see clearly what death left behind every single time it took something from me, which I now am very clear that I know that that is the basic balance of yin yang theory, because there’s yin within yang, yang within yin, yin with yin, yang within yang, and they’re ever interchanging. So if death takes something, it has to leave something because that is the cosmic balance and what death left in me every single time was my ability to heal greater and to come forth stronger and to have a specific anchor point as a source of energy and a source of strength and a source of knowledge, to be able to work through and heal others. So in my practice, I do practice standard acupuncture, TCM, for those of you that know exactly what I’m talking about, but I also practice intuitive acupuncture, sometimes referred to as shamanic acupuncture, esoteric acupuncture, whichever title you want to give it, but it takes your physical state into account and I’m definitely using the energetic principles and the science of Chinese medicine, but I’m also using the spiritual access point because I’m working on healing your spirit or activating your healing energy for your own vibration, for your own spirit as well as helping to bring your body back into harmony or cure disease. So one of my specialities is I recognize grief that is attached to the loss of a mother or the loss of a parent. I’m really able, well, to tap into that grief and to help you transform that, help the patient really work on transforming that, and if you don’t want to be called a patient, you can be called a client or you can just be called a human that’s, you know, rocking with another human, getting some good stuff for your body and soul. That is actually a specialty of mine to help work through grief and to rewrite your mothering story and to help to eliminate issues around abandonment and detachment, because that’s what the loss of a mother predominantly will do. Mother grief stays trapped in the lungs, because grief stays trapped in the lungs and but then grief also transmutes into your sexual activity and it leaves you mostly feeling breathless and powerless in your sexual relationships and I’m able to identify and help do healing work that involves deep breathing and womb cleansing around that and that’s what the death of my mother left me with, right? An amazing power to help other little girls heal that, whether it’s the little girl on the inside of a grown adult or an actual little girl that has recently lost their mother, there’s healing in that for the little people too. When death came again and took my grandmother, I can’t even say to this day that I’m recovered. My grandmother was my best friend and so her death left me knowing about how to cross to the other side, because I love my grandmother so much that it took me forever to even refer to her in the past tense and that was the first time that anybody in my life, honestly, had ever seen me be vulnerable and so it opened up a lot of access points for my tribe, my community, and my friends and family to water me and nourish me and love me, because I’m usually in warrior mode with armor on and I can’t see that. Remember, I told y’all, I came to the planet facing north and the death of my grandmother left me completely, completely defenseless, armorless and I had trust and I was able to extend that trust and I, honestly, wasn’t able to. I didn’t have a choice because her death left me so vacant and empty and I got to see how my community could show up for me and it wasn’t perfect. It still isn’t perfect. I got to see how my family shows up for me, but still, you know, family struggles, but family doesn’t have that and I got to see myself outside of warrior mode and that was the first time that I met a softer me, like that was the first time I met a disenchanted me, that was the first time that I honestly had open tears in public. At first, I was like “I don’t like her. She’s way in her feelings. Let’s tuck her away from there.” and part of me was like “No. She is part of you and she has to be seen and she has to be nourished.” So the death of my grandmother left me with a full, complete personality. It left me with more tools to be able to be in the world and to exist in community with other people. I didn’t have to wield armor anymore. I inherited her wit. I inherited her savvy for managing resources. I now had a reason to always say “What would my grandma do?” and to think it through. So I inherited her logic. I inherited her nurturing, everybody that loved her now wanted to love me and they wanted me to love them the way she did and I mean, she basically was a saint, a mean one, but one nonetheless, right? And everybody was expecting me to love like her and although at the time, I thought it was unfair, damn I’m thankful that they raised me to her bar. They raised me to her standard, because trying to meet that standard everyday leaves me living an extraordinary life in which the people around me know that I love them and they are readily receiving of my love, right? So that was powerful and her death left me with that capacity. The death of my biological father. I don’t know if y’all ready to hear this., but I hated that man when he walked the Earth and I hated him because he abandoned me. He rejected me, he left me alone. I’m watching TV, don’t let your kids watch nothing that you don’t see first because the images that are being downloaded to them leave them feeling empty sometimes. So just please, be mindful. I’m watching anything and I didn’t have a father. I’m like “Well, where’s my dad? How come my dad’s not here? How come my dad’s not doing this? Where’s my father?” and then, you know, 80s culture and 90s culture is all about men bashing. So here I am with the absence of a father, right? Because that’s a real thing, I could feel the absence. It would be different if he just wasn’t there and it was like “Oh, he’s not here, I don’t know it.” He wasn’t there and I was very aware of his absence. So that absence takes up space. It’s an empty container that just blocks your access to things, because I’m so obsessed with why he’s not here and what that means about me and making it mean something negative about me. So as he was walking the Earth, I hated him because I felt like he hated me and that’s not really fair, right? Because you should not make your life decisions based on your three year old conclusions, that’s just bad math. But anyway, here I am walking around as an adult being guided by a bruised three year old and I was in lecture, very, very early in my studies for Chinese medicine and Professor Wilcox, Lorraine, who’s brilliant, was talking about prenatal essence and prenatal essence is, you know, it’s not a really far off concept. You get essence from your mom and essence from your dad and you get it before you’re born, right? So I’m kind of tuning her out, because I feel like she’s just talking about coitus, sperm, egg, fertilize, go, alright? Pretty simple concept. But as she started to continue her discussion, something in me started to resonate that my father is still alive, my father’s still alive because I’m still alive and my father’s still alive because I can remember him and I started to just write him a letter and I didn’t call him by father at first. I called him by his name because how can I call you my father? You’re a stranger, you know, I’ve only seen you four or five times, you hurt my feelings. So I called him by his name and then I just started to say “Look, do you want to be my dad?”, because according to all of these Chinese medical theories, you’re still my dad, death doesn’t make you not my dad and I still needed that, right? And thank the heavens I’ve been blessed with another father, who I still have to this day, who still actively fathers me, but it never erased the absence that I felt and then his death, I just finally decided that his death didn’t mean that he couldn’t be my dad anymore. Because if I could still feel him, then he’s still alive and I believe in this with my whole heart, so I said “Show up dad! You want me to call you dad? You want me to call you father? You want me to call you papa? What do you want me to call you? Tell me and show up. Be my dad, because I still need one and wouldn’t it be dope if I had a dad on earth and a dad in the ether pulling strings for me. So come on dad, like I need this.” and I was dead serious and I said look “I don’t know what your walk of life was and you’re not here to tell me. But I do know the conditions that I was born into. I can’t even imagine what you were born into, because it’s supposed to get better every generation and hell, it was shitty for me. So, you know, it must have been crazy for you. So can we just forget all of that and, you know, part of maybe the reason you was far away from me is because you just didn’t know how amazing I was, right? Because maybe you doubted yourself the way sometimes I doubt myself. So I don’t care about nothing from the past. Show up. Be my dad. That’s that.” After that I went to sleep and I still say my prayers every night and then of course, having small children, I say my prayers for them and I started, you know, “and god bless grandpa” and then the kids would be like “and god bless grandpa” and they would name their grandpas and I started adding this grandpa, because he’s grandpa too. So he had to show up everywhere. He had to show up for the babies, he had to show up for me, you know. At this point, he got two ex-wives in heaven, if you believe in that. I’m sure they’re giving him the blues, right? So I waited and I did not wait very long. So I was, you know, financially down on my luck, got a check from his estate that I knew nothing about. I was like “Okay. That could’ve been a coincidence.”
Marléna: Then I started noticing name tags and I started noticing that I’m dealing with clerks with his name and it happened like three times. It happened like three times in a week and I’m like “Okay, I’m starting to notice.” I started connecting with family members on his side that just started finding me on social media and I was like “Alright, well I did say show up, so thanks.” and as I started getting more into my work, that is why I started getting more into my work of ancestral healing and healing generational curses, because he showed up and so his death left me able to cross the line and not cross the line like “I can go to the other side.” like I got people. I got people on my Earth walk. I got people on my spiritual walk. I got my ancestors that are working for me just like I’m working my descendants right now in this time and space and I’ve been through some amazing situations in life where I’ve just been putting myself and making bad choices or life has made a bad choice for me and renewing this relationship with my father has healed that line and has helped me to deal with broken families. It’s helped me to actually keep my children’s father in their lives, since he and I are not together and have wildly different beliefs about everything at this point, but that’s not a source of conflict because I know how important it is to have a father and so keeping him as a presence in my heart as their father when what I wanted to do was keep him ever distant from all of us forever. But knowing that I can’t replicate that in my children and knowing that it’s aight because I got a daddy on Earth and I got an awesome sky daddy and they will fuck you up if you keep messing with me and I get to walk that walk and feel it. There’s nothing like being a strong, powerful queen, but knowing that these kings anchor you and got your back, that’s just powerful. It makes me so obnoxious sometimes.
Marléna: But not all the time, just sometimes. And I deserve that. I deserve to feel like I’m going to be protected, no matter what. It was the spirit of my father that when I tried to kill myself, that “I told you I was gonna be here, so I’m here” and I just couldn’t believe that out of all of my ancestors that my grandmother, my very best friend, and my mother, the girl of my dreams, didn’t come forth, when I was flatlining. It was my father, my mother’s husband, and my grandfather, my mother’s father, that came through and sent me back and said “Hell nah.” and that was really what I needed to one: help me embrace a lot of things. I embraced my sexuality after that point. Like “Wow! I still have men in my life, if I’m not married to a man, if I’m not in a sexually intimate relationship with a man, I still have men in my life. I’m not going to be that weird lady that lives with 100 cats and another lady still pretending that we’re just friends. Right?” I mean no disrespect, shout out to y’all, because that’s what y’all had to do at that time. It’s 2020, we don’t got to do that no more. Tell the world that’s not your friend, that’s your lady. But like they just freed me from all of that and sent me back to the earth and I was born again in that moment. Born again with a whole new outlet for how I want to walk this walk and those medical bills disappeared too so I know that some ancestor that’s good with money was fixing things. Thanks pops, uncles, grandads, thank you. So, you know, it’s not just the ethereal that has helped me with my healing. There’s some real physical, tangible things that were happening to me to help pull me into this space that I’m in right now and this is a beautiful, beautiful space of healing and growth and optimism and care for others and transformational future work and living a life that you love. Part of it was giving birth, because having a thing that sucked up all your natural resources be ripped outside of your body will put some things in perspective, alright, or literally caring for a whole other life that is reliant on everything that you do, not just a few things, not just the things that you clock in for, everything that you do impacts this other life whether you gave birth to it or not, I mean, the act of nurturing and parenting from a mother or father’s side from a masculine or feminine energy is a divine act in itself and if you don’t get closer to your truth and closer to your god, the god in you or the god in the religion of your choice, in the process of parenting, you’re not doing it right. Yeah, I said it. Yes, I’m judging you. If it doesn’t activate that in you, you not doing it right. So just go back to the drawing board, get help, seek counseling, do whatever you have to do, because that’s what the point is. That’s the only point is to do this part right, the parenting and the nurturing part. Breastfeeding, man, the science of breastfeeding, like it makes you feel good. Your body betrays you, puts all these hormones in it, in the milk and the act of breastfeeding, so you do it more and then to have this little soul that you’re responsible for looking up at you the whole time, eyes wide open, like I see you. Yeah, you gotta make sure that what you reflect back to those eyes is full of what’s right and none of the filler, because they are literally drinking it in, like literally. Being a teacher and a lifelong learner, again, once the child has your trust, you have to be so careful of what you say and do, because they remember it, they hold it. You’re shaping them. They’re shaping you, so you have to reflect back to them basically the adults that you want to interact with in 10, 15 years, because if you do it wrong, you’re still gonna have to deal with these children, but they won’t be children anymore and you may or may not like who you’re dealing with. So they act of teaching, I was a career classroom teacher for over a decade and my specialty was English, literature, writing and special education. So you had to be very, very delicate with those particular souls, because they were already facing so much adversity. Getting in touch with my religion and not just my religion the religious beliefs of a lot of world religions. Just finding out what people believe in their spirit. Acupuncture, get acupuncture, right? Just get acupuncture. For those of you that get acupuncture, you know exactly what I mean when I say just get acupuncture. You don’t have to go in there with a problem, you go in there and get on the table and pick a good acupuncturist and they’ll just know what to do and it’ll really start to help your body line up your vibration and we have all these thoughts. We’re organic beings so we have a collective soul, we have a communal soul, you know, we have a combined soul of the people that we live with, all of that. Acupuncture really does help your body align all of those things and it’s not just a spiritual practice. It is honestly a spiritual practice that’s happening inside your body and your body is the beneficiary of this practice and even for those of you that do not believe in acupuncture, acupuncture is not religion. You do not have to believe in it for it to work. It believes in you, because it’s science and it works, so just go ahead and do it, please. I love poetry. I love open mic poetry. I even love bad poetry, because it’s somebody putting their heart on their sleeve and saying their bad poems. I will tell you if it’s bad poetry, but it’s okay, but you know, I’ll tell you. I love, I love sex, healing sex, right? Survivors of sexual exploitation are not supposed to like sex. No!! That’s not true. I love healing sex. Sex inside of a safe space with a sage partner and when I say safe, I mean it on every level, emotionally safe, physically safe, disease safe, right? Like really healthy sex where you’re exploring the depths of your physical self, where you’re manifesting energy, where you’re exchanging energy. That is a beautiful connection and that has definitely been apart of my healing journey. Sometimes I have moms who seek counseling and they’re not having sex and I’m like “Well, you know that’s part of the problem, right? Your vagina does two things. It gives birth and it has sex and you stopped doing one of them. So put your vagina back to work and you’ll be a better mom, I promise.” and I have a matrix of healing modalities, right? Like nutrition and crystals and howling at the moon and gardening an going to the water, but mostly just wanting to heal others and knowing that I endured these things so that you don’t have to, really resonates high with me. So that’s been my light in terms of all of the darkness and if I had a time machine, I can’t say that I would go back and change any of it, because it wouldn’t leave me in this time and space to be able to prevent it to happen to others and just like the spirit of James Baldwin. If I suffer a little, so that more people don’t have to suffer at all, then that’s the choice I’m going to make. You would be surprised, the number of people that look in the mirror and don’t actually see themselves. There’s so many reflective surfaces all around us. It’s a consumer driven culture. The whole idea of the selfie is looking at your reflection and there’s so many people that don’t really see themselves. One of my most revered techniques of healing that is more along self care and self discovery is mirror work. When you do mirror work, you have to get in your own face. So mirror work is actually trending in popular culture right now, because of Issa Rae. For those of you that have seen her show, shout out to Issa Rae, shout out to Insecure. Issa Rae is in the mirror and it starts off with her doing her rhymes, you know, getting in touch with her inner emcee. It’s more than that, she is confronting her truths in this mirror work and that’s not something new that is a pop culture interpretation of a very, very powerful self healing tool and the way in which I practice mirror work is I get in front of the mirror and I notice that at first, when I haven’t done my mirror work for a while, when I get in front of the mirror it is very superficial. I start noticing scratches or scars or maybe a bump or a hair or something that I hadn’t noticed before and then it also, it tends to get critical at first. Like “Why do you look like this? Why have you not addressed this? Yes, definitely call your dermatologist, call your dentist, call your cosmetologist, call your esthetician.” I make every excuse to call somebody about what I’m seeing in the mirror and so I notice that that happens too when I haven’t been really diligent about my mirror work. When that fades, the desire to look into my own eyes starts to emerge and the desire to give myself permission to feel whatever comes up emerges. The desire to talk to myself emerges and in those conversations with myself, I’m able to have some brutal honesty with myself and after awhile the honesty is not so brutal, because I remember to be impeccable with my worth. I remember that I’m always doing my best, even when I don’t feel it and that if I acknowledge that I’m doing my best, I’ll actually do a little better instead of seeing everything that I’m not doing and I get in that mirror and I tell myself “I love you.” and I tell myself “I’m angry with you right now.” and my reflection will honestly say “Well, why? Because I’m you. You can’t be angry with me and not be angry with you. So what’s going on? Because who wants to walk around angry at themselves?” A lot of powerful dialogue, because whether you know it or not or believe it or not, you’re all walking around with this ongoing internal dialogue and a lot of your internal dialogue is fear based and it stops you from being present in conversations, because you’re talking to someone and you’re also talking to the voice in your head that’s talking about what the person is talking about and now who do you respond to? The person who you’re talking to or the voice in your head, that negative Nancy is always causing trouble, right? So we’re always trapped in this kind of internal dialogue. Mirror work puts that internal dialogue on the surface and it holds the both of yourselves accountable for it, so that you can say more loving things and use your internal dialogue, not as a way to have this fear based presence, but to have a very supportive and nurturing presence. So mirror work is super important, super important. We all have read the fairy tale about mirror, mirror on the wall and the mirror reflecting back a truth that that evil queen didn’t want to admit. So that concept of mirror work is not new and it is not a fairy tale. It is a viable tool, because when you can stand in your truth, you are really unstoppable. You really can accomplish your goals. You really can make effective change. You really can be vulnerable. You really can make a difference for your life, for the life of your family, for your children, for your lover, for your companion, for your parents, alright? I’m not talking about just the big stuff, I’m talking about just the day to day little things too that are smaller vibrations or fractals. I forget the author’s name where that text comes from, but it’s emergent astrology and her last name is Brown, but I don’t remember her first name, and she discusses fractals these smaller actions that you can take to impact really sustainable change. Mirror work is one of those things, because it’s you and you. So you’re able to get yourself together real fast. Then the other, you know, thing that sustains me is nutrition access. Can we talk about nutrition for a minute? Like really how is organic produce and water a privilege? That is one of the most asinine concepts on the planet and it pretty much is the reason why the planet is so screwy right now, because blocking access to something that grows from the earth when earth and humans are the same thing is astronomically absurd. It’s ass backwards. In a single word it’s stupid and in a single series of explicatives it’s stupid as fuck, right? Let me explain this. No matter what theory you’re looking at, no matter what religion you’re looking at, there are numerous references of the relationship of humans as being earth. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust that biblical reference. Being molded of clay. Clay comes from the earth, for those of you that think it comes from the now defunct Toys R Us. There are just too many references. In TCM theory, man is earth. It’s impossible to believe that we don’t have a direct connection and therefore a direct right, as we live and breathe, to positively interact with the earth and be the beneficiary of the fruits of that earth. It is for every human that is on the planet. The entire earth is for every human and that includes clean water and produce! Everything on this planet in some form or fashion comes from a tree. The earth, you are entitled to these things and so nutrition is definitely one of the major access points that I use in healing others and for healing myself, but it’s not just nutrition based. I need every human to understand that this is their right, so that they act accordingly. We all act based on what we know to be true. Every action that we perform is rooted in what we believe is true. So I need for every human on the planet to know that this fundamental truth, if you are human, you are of the earth, period. So you cannot deny access to your fellow humans. You cannot deny them access to the Earth. It is their fundamental right and it is a fundamental right that we should be protecting, we should not be embarking on any activities that block someone else’s access to the earth, because it is against humanity and you will see the effects of it. We are living in the effects of it. You see it in racism. You see it in poverty. You see it in impoverished children. You see it in test scores, because, you know, the children that are malnourished, underperform because you can’t really do sit when you’re hungry, people. You just can’t. People are starving and if you don’t believe me, don’t look at the people where you can visually see starving, look at your 600 pound neighbor, who for some reason is always hungry. It’s because they’re not eating any nutrients. They’re just eating filler and that’s why they’re 600 pounds and still hungry and that’s not okay, because that person is not doing anything positive for their life or positive for the lives of the people around them and that person lives in that community and so we are all responsible for each other in that way. So if we all just shared this fundamental belief that organic produce and clean water is a fundamental human right and no action that you perform should deny that right to anybody else, you will see a transformation of astronomical, epic proportions. It will be the biggest transformation and it will be the healing energy that the earth needs, not just individuals, not just your 600 pound neighbor, not just your auntie suffering from diabetes. Not just, you know, your grandaddy with the prostate cancer or your little cousin that has ADHD, which is also a nutritional imbalance. It’ll help with all of that and when I say help, it will eliminate it, because when the food is right the people are right.
[Funky Music Plays]
Marléna: Conversations are interesting, because, as much as I think I’m having conversations with other people, I’m really having a conversation with myself all the time.
Marléna: But I want to have more conversations with other people, not just with myself and the reason I say all of that is because until I really have this one very important conversation with my inner child, all conversations I’ll be looking for this message that should come from me and should be given to me in the most gentle way because I am worthy of being loved and being loving and so it’s important that I check in on my own healing as I work on a healing space for others. So if you’re listening, I would like to invite you into a very intimate conversation that I would like to have with my inner child and if you are interested in how to facilitate a conversation with your inner child, hopefully this gives you a model or a template. So if I looked back at three year old Marléna or six year old Marléna or even sixteen year old Marléna, a too grown, too soon Black girl who is a threat to society and herself, I would say “Look little girl, don’t sacrifice your tenderness. The world needs it and stay off the pills, just because your doctor prescribed them doesn’t make them good for you.” and I would tell her, “Thank you. Thank you for surviving long enough for ourselves to be activated, so that we’re no longer just surviving, we’re thriving.”
[Funky Music Plays]
Billy: Thank you Dr. Marléna for sharing your journey with us and thank you listener for being with us today. Dr. Marléna’s work and community involvement is extensive. We’ve included Dr. Marléna’s full description of her educational background, business ventures, community and healing work on our website, queercirclepodcast.com. To learn more about Dr. Marléna, check out her website marlenagasper.com or her instagram @dr.marlena.gasper. Music from today’s episode was provided by Purple Fluorite. You can find this album and Purple Fluorite’s other works anywhere streaming is available: Spotify, Itunes, and beyond.
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