This was an intriguing conversation about reconnecting with ourselves, our ancestors, our neighbors, and the land we live on. Many of us are feeling lonely, isolated, and lost. Becca shares how we can reclaim these lost connections.
Becca guides us to understanding true belonging - to each other, to the earth, to our lineage, and to ourselves. As the author of Root & Ritual: Timeless Ways to Connect with Land, Lineage, Community, and the Earth and host of the Belonging podcast, Becca supports us through the isolating effects of the modern world.
To contact Becca:
ℹ️ http://rootandritualbook.com/ or https://beccapiastrelli.com/book/
Some of the things we discussed:
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Brian Smith 0:01
Now that you're here at grifter growth, I'd like to ask you to do three things. The first thing is to make sure that you like click Notifications, and subscribe to make sure you get updates for my YouTube channel. Also, if you'd like to support me financially, you can support me through my tip jar at grief to growth, calm, it's grief, the number two growth.com/tip jar, or look for tip jar at the very top of the page, or buy me a coffee at the very bottom of the page, and you can make a small financial contribution. The third thing I'd like to ask is to make sure you share this with a friend through all your social media, Facebook, Instagram, whatever. Thanks for being here. Close your eyes and imagine
Becca Piastrelli 2:26
I was disconnected. And I tried. I mean, what does that mean? I was disconnected. We all have our own version of that, I think I I'm 36. And it's my first maybe 30 years of my life. I felt this like existential ache. And it came in different forms like feeling like my body like didn't like I didn't have an understanding and love and appreciation and sense of belonging in my body.
I never like felt like I quite fit in with friend groups. Or I did but I thought if they really knew who I was, they would not love me.
Brian Smith 0:40
what if the things in life to cause us the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we've been buried. But what if like a seed we've been planted, and having been planted, who grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes, open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith. So hey there everybody. This is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth. And today I've got with me Becca up here Straley. And Becca guides us to understand true belonging to each other, to the earth, to our lineage and to ourselves. She's author of the book route and ritual, timeless ways to connect with land, lineage, community and the earth. And she's also the host of the belonging podcast, she supports us through the ice, the isolating effects of the modern world, which is something I'm really interested in talking about. So with that, I want to introduce to greet to growth, backup, Australia.
Becca Piastrelli 1:57
Hello, thank you for having me.
Brian Smith 1:59
Back. It's great to Great to have you here today. Um, I think your your parents here is very timely. We're all going through a lot of stress right now for a number of reasons. And that stress, you know, this this modern world that we live in, cause a lot of, you know, just a general feeling of unease. So, talk to me about how you got into this. How did you get into this, this way of getting people to reconnect?
Becca Piastrelli 3:09
Felt like the system for me like school and capitalism was like something I was trying to always achieve and hustle for never quite like just it just felt like I'm never good enough. Like, it's so hard to like be successful or be deemed worthy in that system. There was even moments where I was, I felt like do I even like belong here on Earth, it just seems like kind of tough here. And those that was like a subtle undercurrents, there was also too much joy and wonder in my life, but it was when I learned that there are philosophers and thinkers and environmental activists dubbing this the time of the arrow missing or the age of loneliness, that it all sort of sunk in, that we live in a time that's more technologically connected than ever before you and I can talk on hundreds of platforms we can connect in a lot of ways and yet, you know, in recorded history that there's more reports of anxiety, depression, mental health crisis, senses of loneliness than than ever before. And so, I got curious, because that resonated for me about why, why that is and, and that's really I wrote this book written ritual, that that's really what the book is predicated on is. We have these, you know, ancient ancestral bodies that are being forced in the systems to move at a computer pace, a robot pace. And, you know, we used to be very communal people, you know, our natural state is to be together even if you're an introvert. And we've been we've been severed from the natural world, we've been severed from each other, we've been told we need to live alone in these nuclear family homes, which I do. I participate in the system. You know, I don't farm, a food I buy from the grocery store and all that stuff. But it's all contributes to a sense of being disconnected. And then the pandemic hit, as I was writing this book, and pregnant, and I just felt it so deeply, like, this is not natural. And this is the time we're in. And so what can we do each of us individually, to reconnect to ourselves and to the earth and to each other? And that, that's my journey that I'm sharing.
Brian Smith 5:42
Yeah, I think it's a it's a very common journey. And it's really fascinating, you know, you talked about just being dubbed the age of loneliness, which I hadn't heard that, that before. But um, it's, you know, the depression is up. As we mentioned, anxieties, people do feel that sense of disconnection. And you touched on some things that I've kind of thought about before as well, this idea that, you know, go out and make it on your own, which is a very Western, capitalistic American kind of, kind of thing. And I have a daughter that's a little bit younger than you are. And I think about how, you know, this idea of making it in the world, you know, that even just the term term earning a living, now you've got, you've got to earn a living. And so it's interesting that you talk about this and your, your remedy for it seems to be kind of going back to a time or to a feeling of being more connected.
Becca Piastrelli 6:38
Yeah, yeah, that maybe we we don't know, in our lifetime, but that maybe I don't know, when I talk about like communal ways of living, the ways of the village, the ways of the tribe, I find there's like a resonance in each of us where we're like, yeah, that feels better, maybe scary. Maybe like, I don't want to be doing that, because I want to, I figured myself out. But you know, for whatever way people look at that there is a there is just a universal truth. And I did so much research just to like, prove what I knew to be true on like, the history of culture, the history of humanity. And it's you can just see throughout. So humans have been around for like this long I have for listeners, my hands are like to the width of the screen here. Humans that you know, the Earth is like, extremely, extremely old, right? Humans have been around this long. And then like, this way of living we do now, which is like striving, moving quickly being on screens, having to earn a living to be here on Earth is like I have this amount, I have my hands like teeny teeny, like a thimble size, the edge of the screen. So I try to remember that, you know, there's this understanding that we have more knowledge, we have more western medicine, we have ways to live longer and take care of ourselves. And now we brush our teeth. And that's good and all these things. But there's also a way in which we've lost a feeling of being able to feel okay, a way of thriving. And so this is not to say like, well, we screwed up, and now we're alone and modernized. It's a way to be like, Okay, well, can we question the way we're living each day? And make adjustments? Like, what are we buying into without questioning here? That we can shift? And it's simple things like do you put your feet on the earth? Do you remember to get sunlight on your face? Do you gather with your community in a neat slow meals? Like? Do you have a ritual for the major rites of passage in your life? Do you I know you talk about grief? Like do you allow for your grief to move through you? Do you allow your community to grieve with you? These are all what I would call ancestral ways no matter where our ancestors are from around the world that I believe we can reclaim so that we can move through this modern world. Ease more easily and with more meaning.
Brian Smith 9:21
Yes, I think that's absolutely. Which is very vital to to our, I guess, regaining a sense of belonging. You know, I read a book, I've actually read it a couple of times could fascinate me so much. It's called Lost connections. I'm not sure if you're familiar with by. Johann Hari is the author of the book. And he talks a lot about the pharmaceutical industry and the antidepressants that a lot of us are on. And he started looking at that and said, Why, why or why are we as society society? Why are we so depressed? And it's kind of the same conclusions that you've come to it's these these lost connections. And so I like the fact that Your your book and your way is kind of like, how do we adjust? We can't? We can't just change society overnight, right? We can't go back to that way. And and there's some real real advantages to the way that we live. But how do we how do we get that sense of belonging and Well Being back?
Becca Piastrelli 10:19
Yeah, I find some people. Like often in these conversations on this little virtual book tour I'm on where people are like, well, I can't go live off the grid in like, you know, a commune. And some people choose that. And I don't I don't use that I love Yeah, I love aspects of my life, I love that I never would have met you if it wasn't for the technology of these times. And like I said, like I garden as a hobby, and I am not a subsistence farmer. But and like you've learned in that book, lost connections, like the science is there, the anthropological data is there. So this book, in my life's work is an invitation to each of us. To look at the ways we can shift little things. And that's why it's called ritual like ritual. It's just not some ornate thing you need to do in a church you can. But how can we bring more intention and meaning to these little moments, and for some people, it's like, during the weekends, they turn their phone off. For some people, it's hosting intentional dinners with their community each week. For some people, it's like when they make a lasagna, they make an extra one for someone in their community that's going through a hard time. For other people, it's, you know, like leaning with their back against the tree. For other people. It's honoring their ancestors, like there's so many ways. We can bring more intention and meaning and a sense of belonging to these times. And I'm just, I'm curious and documenting what I'm doing.
Brian Smith 12:02
Yeah. I love that. I love it, you know, because the thing is, as you said, you're not living off the grid. And most of us don't really want to do that. But it's fun to imagine how things could be different. You know, I live in a community by friends. I, my wife and I lived in the same house for 2627 years. And we know most of our neighbors for almost that long. And we, we've joked about why don't we move into a commie and we're reaching retirement age? And why don't we buy a big house and just all of them together? And we're probably not going to do it. But it's kind of fun to imagine. But we did go on vacation together, you know, a year ago, and like five couples, we all rented a house together. So there's some little things that you know, that that we are trying to do to be a little bit more intentional about stuff like this?
Becca Piastrelli 12:47
Yeah, uh, well, I think there's something to it. I you know, a lot of us live in this like, either or thinking where it's like, commune or live alone. But this curiosity you're in with your wife is, is there's lots of new models of living really coming out, particularly for retirees who loneliness is extremely high, and retirees and elderly. They're really rejected and forgotten by our society, it's really messed up. And so like, there are living communities, not just retirement homes, but living communities where there's like structure, and everyone has their own space. But there can be activities. And there are ways in which they share the financial burden ways they share their food resources, in which privacy is respected. But also community is invited in I myself, I'm looking at I'm a new mother, and it's just been crushing in the pandemic to feel so alone. I had my child and like pee clock down here in California and 2020. And I just thought, well, this is not okay. And looking at ways like, what if all of us bought homes that share a backyard and like, our children can play together? And so this is the kind of thing I'm talking about living now. Maybe not going off grid and living in a, you know, an intentional community, although I have to say there's some really cool ones that are being developed. But how can each of us with our own values, our comfort levels, our traumas, find what works for us? That has us leaning into each other? More Paycation with other couples perfect? Yeah. So you don't have to worry about every meal every time you can divide up the thinking. Yeah, there's, there's a way we're so taxed in our capacities, because we're all thinking we have to do it all and often, we are all doing it all. Some of us are doing a lot more than others. And so I want us to think, you know, first we have to take care of ourselves. And then when we're feeling resourced enough, and a lot of us, I will say in this time in history, need to really take care of ourselves. It's just such a tough time. And then from there like I just keep talking about create the community you crave, create the community crave, like we have to be in this place once we are tended to, to think about what we can change what we can shift to meet our needs, collectively better.
Brian Smith 15:17
Yeah, well, I just said, you know, something I've thought about, that's why I was really excited to have you on because it's something I've thought about for quite a while I've seen some some thought leaders out there talking about some of this stuff. Like, one of the examples is just the waist. You know, I live in a suburb and everybody here has their own lawnmower. Right? Everybody has their own vacuum cleaner. How often are you using that law more than I can play? But but we've been taught that you have to have your own. You can't you can't share things like this. Oh, you
Becca Piastrelli 15:45
have to buy it new. Yeah, yeah. Yes. Totally. Yeah. You know, as I wonder in this, what feels to me like a shifting time, particularly with pandemics showing us the ways in which like, a lot of our systems aren't working for us. Always a lot of you know, there's a lot of ways that, you know, the supply chain, kind of failed us and are as quite disabled right now. And the ways you know, people who couldn't work because of Sorry, that was allowed people who couldn't work because of, you know, pandemic, shuttering of businesses, like weren't supported enough, in order to live and eat and also a time of climate crisis, a time of increased, you know, extreme weather. It has me thinking like, we do have to shift from this individualistic consumerist, single, like Bootstrap living, like, bring yourself up by your bootstraps and do it on your own. Like, I think we naturally have to lean into this concept of community care. And maybe, you know, I think maybe five years ago, that was like radical. And now I don't think it is, you know, just thinking about right sharing resources. I live in an area that is threatened by Wildfire six months out of the year, it's pretty devastating. The last five years have been really extreme. And we've also been in a time of like, pretty extreme political division, in our culture and in our country. And we, my neighborhood, I live on a suburban Hill, we wave to each other, but I wouldn't say like, there's a lot of like, block parties happening here. And then we had a fire scare three years ago, the house, the top of the hill caught fire. It's a Red Flag Day. And here in Northern California, it's like all hands on deck, because it could all go and there's a lot of trees here. And it really woke us up. It woke our Hill community up as to like, how are we going to evacuate, who here is elderly and needs help evacuating, they cut power here to prevent fire for up to a week, like, who's on oxygen who needs their medication refrigerated? You know, I was a new mom was like, who's breast milk is going bad. And you know, I know that not everyone on the street votes the same way. I know that. But that doesn't matter in moments of crisis. And so I wouldn't say we're like all united, but it got me thinking about how, you know, when the rubber meets the road, or in our case, like when the fire hits the the fuel, we got to help each other out. And this is an ancestral practice. This is a spiritual practice. This is a life skill that I think we all must focus on. trillion, I see how we are orienting towards it.
Brian Smith 19:00
I think that's, well, you know, I talked about this all the time. This is why my podcast is called grief to grow. Because we tend to need a crisis to spur us forward. That's just that's human nature. Right? So we talked about human nature before about community and this is something that I talk to people about all the time. We are meant to be social creatures, we literally cannot live alone. I love watching, like reality shows. So there's a show called Naked and Afraid. Afraid, I'm embarrassed to say but we were on vacation one time with our girls, and we saw it but it just goes to show if you put people in nature by themselves, we can't we can't live we can't make it. We need each other but we have. We've developed a society that says you're on your own and we know what will give you the supply chain will give you stuff but as far as connectedness you're kind of on your own and the way you describe your neighbors the way I see most neighborhoods we all pull into our driveways. We have our garage door openers. The garage door goes up We pull in, we don't even know the neighbor across the street. I literally don't know the name of my neighbor across the street. Right. And they've been there for probably a couple years at this point.
Becca Piastrelli 20:11
Right? Yeah, let's just tell the truth. This is like, pretty standard. Yeah, I still don't know the name of the neighbor two doors down. I feel shame. But I also, that's true. And I wonder, why have an eye reached out and I think a part of it is, maybe they want to be left alone, and I don't want to, you know, disturb them. And part of it is like, Who has the time? And when I really check all of that, and I get, like, deeper into like, what if there was a fire? You know, did they get COVID? Were they okay? Like, all these things were that is actually my values, like, deep down. And I wonder where particularly, I'm curious about this feeling of like, not wanting to bother each other? In the sense of being like, Don't bother me. Yeah. Like, that's, I don't know, that just came to mind. Like, I'm curious about how we can soften that and navigate that and also respect each other's boundaries, so that we can feel a deeper sense of like connection. I do think this all starts in our neighborhoods, which is maybe feels pretty challenging to a lot of people. But it just seems like the place to start the experiment.
Brian Smith 21:26
Yeah, that's, that's a good point. Because we have to start somewhere. And I've heard I think it was Russell Brand that talks about that we're not supposed to live in large communities. If again, you're looking historically, we people lived in smaller communities. Now we live in these cities of 1,000,008 million, you know, people, we even live in neighborhoods now that are larger than a lot of communities where people lived in earlier. So yeah, you know, how do we break it down to a unit that is bigger than the nuclear family, which is, you know, that's, that's a set of challenges. Austin, I was telling, I've got a daughter, who's, she's just 25. She'll be 26. Later this year, she's 25. And, you know, she, I'm so proud of her because she's decided, I don't really want to live on my own. So she's got a best friend that she's known since he was in first grade, she happens to still live in the same city. And they, they they live together and part of its economic, but part of it's because they both realized we don't really want to live by ourselves. And that, for me, was one of the worst times of my life when I moved out of my parents, so I'm gonna get my first job. And live by myself. I don't know what your experience was. That was horrible for me.
Becca Piastrelli 22:36
It was my dream. And I only lasted six months. Really? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, first of all, was I spent too much money, I had to figure out how to do money, which is like a very common, like, you got to figure it out. But also, I think a lot of young adults can themselves into like a real financial trouble, which I think is I don't know, I guess I don't, there's some sort of story of like, yeah, that's usually what happens and you find your way out of it. But like, why does it have to be a thing? Why can't we begin our adult lives in a more communal structure where resources aren't strapped so much. So that happened to me, I spent too much money at Trader Joe's I remember. And then, yeah, and I felt lonely. I noticed I developed some habits. And that's something I wanted to bring up about what we do, to try to numb these feelings we have of disconnection and loneliness that we feel like are bad for feeling that way. Like what's wrong with me? I'm feeling lonely. What's wrong with me? I'm feeling sad. What's wrong with me? I'm feeling anger. And it's like, what is it? It's food, it's streaming shows. It's alcohol, it's porn, it's drugs. It's, you know, whatever it is that we do. And I'm not here to judge that I'm here to have compassion for that. And look deeper into the why just like, you're this. You're talking about the why of why are we all on medication, it's like, if we can get clear on the root of it, then I think we can have more compassion for ourselves and each other. And that I think gets you into a place of wanting to shift it. Like how many of us are feeling lonely, and disconnected? And feeling like there's we haven't figured life out? Right, right. No. And I also wanted to say that this this theme that you have for this show around a crisis bringing you to a shift in a change. Like, I wonder how many people particularly in this time, although grief has been around since the beginning of humanity since the beginning of life itself, are in a place of grief and not being and feeling shame for that and not feeling like they can share it. I think it's so beautiful, what you've done with your grief and what you've done to bring us all into it. And I, I wonder and have such sadness around. How many people are alone in that experience of feeling like they just can't snap out of it, when what they're feeling is so reasonable?
Brian Smith 25:14
Well, the thing about grief is, you know, we associate grief with the loss of a loved one with the death of a person. But grief is about any kind of loss, any kind of thing that's unexpected or not what we really want. And so I actually did a podcast during the pandemic that says, We're all grieving now, because we're all grieving the lifestyle that we that we thought we were going to have. And again, I see this particularly with young people, because I'm 60. But it's gotten a lot worse since I was my daughter's age. This I, you know, I see a lot of people I hear this attitude young people have, it's like, YOLO, you know, you only live once, there's no point in even trying to save money, because I'm never going to be able to buy a house anyway. I don't know if the planets going to be here. There's just a general sense of angst and almost resignation to the fact that I'm not going to have as good a future as my parents had. And I grieve that. Yeah. Yeah, me too. Me too. Yeah, I so I really appreciate what you're doing as a, again, so relatively young to me, but as a young person saying, let's, let's challenge these assumptions. And let's let's look to our, our ancestry when people were, you know, what, it wasn't a time of Utopia, people died. You know, earlier, people weren't as healthy didn't live as long. I mean, think so many things have gotten so much better. But there didn't seem to be a sense of longing, you know, that we that we seem to have now. And I love that you talk about why we have this sense of longing because of this disconnectedness?
Becca Piastrelli 26:52
Mm hmm. Yeah. That's, yes, there is a deep longing. And I think there is something that you're saying about all the various ways we are grieving, and maybe we wouldn't put those words to it. That we are grieving the fact that this way of life that was like, you know, characterize the 20th century, isn't actually the way forward. And so I do think that there is an important piece here. So I am noticing that I'm like, we got to make a change. We got to create the community we create. And then my own story of like, the last two years of my life, I, in order to get to that place, I've had to grieve a lot. I've had to grieve. Yeah, not having a pregnancy and birth and early motherhood in community because it was all in the early days of the pandemic, I've had to grieve the fact that yeah, what's happening on the planet, and economically is not what I thought it was gonna be, you know, I'm the, I'm the generation that like, it all got kicked off with 911 and then the economic meltdown. 2008 2009. And it's, yeah, it. It has disillusioned me in ways and the ways in which I have seen this system not work. And so I do believe, I don't know if you're familiar with Joanna Macy, the work that reconnects she think you might enjoy her. She talks about before going into any sort of repair, or creation of a new world. We have to grieve. We have to name what it is that we are feeling and what we what has been lost. Not even just what we feel has been lost what has been lost. And I have really embraced that. Over the last few years. I call it an inner winter. A lot of the way I look at living my life is through seasons, both seeing what the season is like in my bio region, but also the way my internal seasons are, which I think is an ancestral skill and ancestral way did not see us as like one way like a robot or a computer, you just have to be steady, particularly as a woman being a cycling woman that feels really important to share. But I have been in an inner winter and I have been in like a grief state I've actually been researching like grief rituals of like, Irish Keeners and like Southern African professional whalers and all these communities and, and ancestral ways, indigenous ways around the world in which that has been kept. And that is a part of the community structure, to wail, to mourn, to even bring in someone from the community to say what it is the community is feeling because everyone needs is so internal and so I have not done that I've just been watching YouTube videos of it and processing it in that way, which is maybe a modern way of doing it. But yeah, so when I talk about taking action to change the way things go, I do think there's a first step, which is like feeling the pain, and knowing it won't kill you. And it is the way through, right? The only way to it is through it.
Brian Smith 30:23
Yeah. Something I wanted to ask you about. I was looking at your website, and you you mentioned your, your particular lineage and, you know, and the land that you live on now. And now. So I want to ask you, how does someone who is a and I think you use the word colonizer on your website? How does someone that's a colonizer that's living on someone else's ancestral land? How do you make that balance? How do you honor the land that you're living on knowing that you're from another land?
Becca Piastrelli 30:53
Yeah, that's a big one. Up in the collective. Yeah, I so I'm white. I am descended from settler colonizers. And I live on Coast Miwok, ancestral lands of just north of San Francisco. And so I say that, not to be like I am bad and wrong for living. It's just the truth. It's just the truth. And it actually frames the way I want to live life according to my values now, which is being a better ancestor. That's really the way I look at my work, my parenting, my way of being in my community, as am I being a better ancestor. I talked about this in the book, taking a look at the legacy of both harm and resilience from which you come, we come from millions of ancestors, all these beings that lived and think about the humanity of one human mistakes, harm, repair, pain, generosity, love. There's a lot there to contend with. And they all lived for however they lived, so that I could be alive so that you could be alive today. And so there is I like to we all come from the energy of the oppressor and the oppressed, some of us some some of us more of one than the other. That's not making a judgment on it. It's just being with the truth of it. So this practice of being an IT BETTER ancestor is like, okay, my people are not from this bio region, where there are oak trees, and poppies and bobcat and truly elk. No, my people are from a different climate, and there are different waters and different soils. And so, I still love and live here. So I'm greeting this place and loving this place, and learning to support and acknowledge those who were forcibly removed from this place. So that other people who look like me could live here. That's an intense thing to be with. And it's true, but also to remember and reconnect to where I'm from whether I know the exact place or not there's like, this is a spiritual practice. Yeah, and is it can you connect to it in your heart? Can you look at pictures of it? Or videos of it? Can you go there? What do you know of these people? So this is a practice I in rituals, I lead in the book in the lineage section. And it's also something I'm in practice of, because I find in this like, tense, cultural moment of discussion of colonization and race and and social justice. How can a lot of us like leave our bodies, it's really intense. It's really triggering. So how can we root into like, the truth of, of where we are and where we're from first, and the history, the very real history, grieving it raging about it. Coming into this place of like, okay, here we are, how can we be better ancestors that has been my path? And that's what I try to guide people through is like, do you know, the lands your ancestors come from? Do you know the foods your ancestors II? Do you know the ant the names of the ancestors of the lands you live on? Are they still around? What Foods did they eat? And just be in that curiosity? Feels more buoyant than than this place of just shaming?
We'll get back to grief to growth in just a few seconds. Did you know that Brian is an author and a life coach? If you're grieving or know someone who is grieving his book, grief to growth is a best selling easy to read book that might help you or someone you know, people work with Brian as a life coach to break through barriers and live their best lives. You can find out more about Brian and what he offers at WWW dot grief to growth.com Ww u w dot g ri E F, the number two gr o w th.com. If you'd like to support this podcast visit www.patreon.com/grief to growth www.patren.com/g ri, E F, the number two gr O W th to make a financial contribution. And now back to grief to growth.
Brian Smith 35:30
Yeah, that was so well said. And I'm so glad that you are willing and able to take that very realistic, sometimes difficult, I guess look at I teach a course that I call overcoming racism. And so far, it's only been white people. They're taking it, but it's great. I'm glad to educate people. But there's there's this idea of white, white guilt that people have because, and they're like, Well, you shouldn't bring this up, because you're going to make people feel guilty. And we should never feel guilty for what our ancestors did. But it's important to acknowledge the history to know how we got to where we are today. So I don't I don't ever want anybody to feel ashamed of what their ancestors did. But you need to understand it so that when you look at someone whose looks differently from you today and says, You think to yourself, why are they like that? Why are they in that position as a as a as a race, you can understand what we are today. So I applaud you for that.
Becca Piastrelli 36:27
Oh, thank you. And thank you for teaching that course. It is needed. And it's definitely needed.
Brian Smith 36:34
It is. And then I want to I want to that leads to another question I want to kind of flip the other way doesn't really matter like that. You're from Celtic ancestors. And I'm from presumably African ancestors, because frankly, I don't know my ancestors. Because I can only go back so far because of the history of this country. They don't know what my ancestor I don't know what languages spoke, I don't know religions they had. So does it matter that we trace our own ancestry? Is that important?
Becca Piastrelli 37:04
Hmm. Yeah, that's a really important question. And so this word trace is an interesting one. So some of us with that privilege can I'm one of those people. Or I can trace it back and find dates, and names and all of that. And then you are someone who can't. And so the ways in which I talk about ancestral connection, go beyond just like getting an ancestry.com account or taking the spit test. It's actually so much deeper than that. And I talk about tuning into them in meditation or prayer speaking to the ancestors, you have them, whether you know their names, or where they're from, I haven't talked about asking them to come and talk to you in your dreams. Like there is a whole beautiful community of people guiding folks in ancestral connection and ancestral healing, for there are many people on this planet who don't have a way to access those lands and those names, but still have that birth rate to connect. Yeah, there's just so many other ways eating foods of the people that you come from, like, you know, if you can only trace back so far, like, what did they bring through in their food? What did they bring through in their folkways in their songs, in their ways that they dress and, and it's such a deep, deep journey to go on. And I do think it's vital. But I just want to be clear that I don't like I can trace a family tree and even in in there's a ritual in the book where I talk about tracing a family tree, and I say, and some of you can't do that. So I talked about a web of connection. Can you trace a web of connection? What do you feel connected to? Maybe it's more than human? Maybe it's a deeply rooted tree. Maybe it's like a stone that has been battered by waves and rocks for 1000s of years. And it still is held in the palm of your hand like how can you is maybe it's Stardust from which we all come from like, maybe it's mycelium and fungi, which there has been, you know, genetic research showing we are descended from mushrooms, like, what is it that you can connect to? That those are your ancestors that is ancestral connection that can remind us that we're not alone that we carry within our DNA, that ability to go on to be resilient and to return to a sense of connection? That's what matters to me.
Brian Smith 39:44
Yes, yes. Well, you know, it's interesting because as as an African American living in this country at this time, you know, I identify as African American because I've been forced to that's that's what the country tells me that I am but I do that To find more as a human, you know, I, and I look at when you talk about indigenous things. And maybe this because I don't have those roots, I've looked at a lot of indigenous populations and cultures, and I relate to all of them. And I see the similarities, you mentioned a few. They're very, the rituals, and and the beliefs are very, very similar. They're, they're almost the same. They're just a little bit of cultural differences. And it's fascinating when you're studying anthropology to see how these things came into being around the world, at the same time, from the societies that were supposedly not connected.
Becca Piastrelli 40:35
Oh, yes, I'm so interested in the fact of like, global indigenous wisdom. There's even a woman named paler Colorado, who is studying indigenous science, which is this concept that, like, it's a technology that everyone can tap into, these are Earth ways, these are animist ways seeing all things is alive and connected. And yeah, there's different names, different languages, different weather patterns, but there's so many uniting themes. And that makes me curious to, like, we all have an indigeneity. And I can understand how you don't feel connected to your own that makes so much sense. And yet there is something in here for all of us, touching my heart, where that that has, like epigenetics has taught us that, like, we know that trauma is passed down through DNA, that must mean that what else is passed down through it, this wisdom, this knowing. And so, yeah, I too, I mean, since I was a little girl, I've just been so interested in the rituals of in of indigenous and preserved ways which I come from an ancestral lineage where that was pretty much obliterated in terms of like, you know, assimilation and modernization, which is where where cultural appropriation can come in, for those of us who feel like cultureless and look to the ways in which other cultures often marginalized and protective of their indigenous ways in order to survive upheld on most often Native American here in Northern in North America, otherwise known as Turtle Island. And I noticed I was doing that too, because I felt like I had none. And so that's been an interesting journey for me to understand where I was trying to take or claim of something that felt universal to me, but was also disrespecting a culture. This today, there's a lot of dynamics to manage. And yet we all have, I believe, a birthright to these ways to these Earth ancestral communal ways. And that is my invitation to everyone to explore. Yeah, I
Brian Smith 42:53
want to talk about cultural appropriation. God that's that's kind of a that's a really touchy subject. Yeah. And it was interesting. I was teaching this course. And I was actually teaching some kids this. Overcoming racists, of course, he's a kid just out of high school. So they're, like 1819 years old. And it's this one girl. So interesting. She had this really curly hair, she she appeared white, you know, dark, curly hair. But people are always trying to figure out what she was just like, I'm not sure if my father was black or not, because he came from somewhere in the Middle East. And, and so I was like, it's interesting how we get all caught up on whether it she's like she was trying to fit whether he was black or not, which was one thing was really interesting. But then she was talking to a friend about getting a week. And this is a black friend. She was just like all white high school and said something about a friend about where can I go get away and the friend just jumped all over her said you can't get away. That's cultural appropriation. White people can't get weaves. And I look at culture as universal. I think we can all borrow from each other's culture. I don't know when something becomes cultural appropriation or not. But again, maybe that's because of the way that I just kind of view myself as a citizen of the world. But don't get all weird about people. White people getting braids, for example. So what are your thoughts on cultural appropriation?
Becca Piastrelli 44:15
Yeah, I do think there's a generational difference here. And I feel like I'm straddling these two generations kind of and so in my own research and education I can I find that this is quite nuanced. And that there are some hard lines right there's some hard line Yeah, like for instance, with Native American culture saying like, you know, wearing a war bonnet which is that feather head dress that like a lot of people wear Yeah, that's a line right where to like, you know, she, they still called the chieftains you know, like there are certain are like the Atlanta Braves. You know, these people are wearing and it's like Right, know that the leaders of that community have been like, that is a very sacred item meant to only be worn in ceremony, you have to earn it feather by feather with each dance at the powwow or other name they have for it. Yeah, it is so messed up, right? And so it's like, okay, we've heard we've heard from the people, right? And then this concept and I'm in a spiritual community where we work with smoke medicine, the burning of plants to clear energy. So what's the one we think about a lot White Sage? So there's two things here. One is, this is not the cultural appropriation piece, but that united plant savers, which is a nonprofit community, that's organization that's looking at plant growth across North America saying this is this because it's being so over harvested, it's on the watch list, please don't burn it. And then there is native communities that say please don't call it smudging, which is like a term because the Smudging is a sacred ceremony that takes like an hour and must be done with the presence and you spiritual woman at yoga class don't understand culturally, like the unless you're taught by a teacher. What that means. And so it's like, Okay, do we call it smudging? Do we have a teacher that has gifted us that whether the teachers origins, so this is where I think we need to be in the nuanced conversation, which our culture doesn't really have space for? Our culture doesn't have space for the conversation around this. And there's such? Yeah, I think because we're all talking on the internet and cancelling each other. There's not a lot of space. Like, if we were sitting by the fire having a conversation about it, I think it would go different. Yeah. Then if we're trying to call people out. And I do think like, Gen Xers have a harder boundary here than I think other generations do. And I am not an authority. I'm a white woman. So I'm here to talk about it. And I find some people want to and some people do not want to. And so we're in the dance.
Brian Smith 47:08
Yeah. Well, you said it really well. The thing is we, we get people to the point where they're scared to even talk about it. And that's, that's what happened with this poor little girl, I felt so bad for her because she asked her black friend about a week, they were a high school kid. So I don't expect the black friend to, you know, be wise or anything. But she just jumped all over in both feet. And now she's like, well, now I don't want to talk about this stuff anymore. But you're right. There are some there are some some bright lines. I had a friend that came over to a, we were having a party on Derby Day, but it happened to be Cinco de Mayo a couple years ago. And they were some Barrow and it's a white guy. I'm like, No, take it off. You can't wear that. I, to me, that was a line. So I do agree they're aligned somewhere. But I think we need to be more willing to be open to talk about the lines. And I think it's important as we have these indigenous things, that we're not so I guess stingy with them. I understand that, that cultures that have been nearly wiped out, you know, they're going to be protective about their rituals, perfectly understandable. But and maybe we need to come on new rituals, maybe as a society, you know, we need to come up with things that are that are new. And I know that sometimes some of our tech what you do, right?
Becca Piastrelli 48:21
Yes, yeah, I'm so glad you brought that up. Because I think, again, in our culture that sort of operates from a scarcity mindset, and really, we're, we're operating with an amnesia. And this is the amnesia of like, patriarchal capitalist mindset of like, there's only so little, it's this hoarding mentality that is, that is really rooted in whiteness, really. And this economic system where it's like, there's so little, and I've got to hold on to it. And so for those of us that are spiritually or belonging starved, or in a place of like crisis, it can be like, Well, where is it? I just need it. I just need it. And this is where I want us to one take time to care and nourish ourselves like drinking water? Are you getting sleep? Are you eating consistently? And then, because you're grounding your body and your energy? Have you thought about what you can create? Because we are the ancestors of the future? We are the mythmakers, right? What is it? You can create that will nourish and honor this moment, what rituals can you create? And in the book, I talk, I give examples that I've created that are based on you know, like, universal understanding of like honoring the earth and honoring our bodies and being in community but what comes to you and I asked people this all the time and everyone has ideas or people sometimes have rituals now that they don't even know our rituals can't name it. As such, maybe they call them their superstitions or their little like practices or just like funny things they do but like, if it provides meaning and value to you, slows you down, makes you feel more connected. We can we are the ritual readers' ourselves and that, you know, I think if we're focusing so much on what you can and cannot do, we're missing the point about what it is that moves through us. And we can make available.
Brian Smith 50:12
Yeah. So what are some of the rituals that you do? Or some rituals that you recommend other people can maybe do just to get started to reconnect a little bit?
Becca Piastrelli 50:22
Yeah, well, I used to have so many rituals in my life. And then I had a baby. And it, it was like, showering. And I and it, and I don't when I say showering, I don't mean like, my one ritual for myself was bathing. I mean, I remember in the early days of having a baby, and it was a pandemic, synonymous, coming over help. And I was so tired, I would step in the shower, hand my baby to my husband, and I'd step in the shower, and I would just be so tired. And I would, I would turn on the water and the water would pour all over my body. And I, I remember I had a doula said to me, because I was drinking coffee. And it didn't work. And I didn't, I was breastfeeding. I didn't want to like put so much caffeine in my baby. And she said, there are other sources of energy besides caffeine, like call upon them. And I thought this water. So I mean, crying sometimes right, just like exhausted, letting the water pour over my head. Seeing my head is like access to spirit or God or some other something that could help me and asking for help asking the water to cleanse away. This is this is an ancestral practice water is a cleansing to a cleansing away purifying, like what I no longer need and sourcing me with energy for that day. That is a ritual that just came to me.
Brian Smith 51:51
Yeah. And I love the love the way you said that I want to just kind of emphasize that the people, anything we do can be a ritual as long as we do it with intention. And just the idea of showering, I was talking someone earlier, they were putting together a class for people like a 30 day thing to go through. And we're trying to make it pretty easy. And some people will say, Well, I can't, I can't meditate, I just can't sit for three minutes. And my friend was saying, well, they told me about a shower meditation. So when you're in the shower, you meditate you do with intention, you you you feel the water come across your body, feel the warmth. And you even added to it that you felt the cleansing, not just of your body, but of your spirit of the water, you know, washing away what you don't need anymore. And introducing do something new that you do need. And we can do that with anything could be it could be having your cup of coffee in the morning. It could be anything that we do with intention. So I think you've given people stuff that they can incorporate into just that someone could take that and make that their thing.
Becca Piastrelli 52:51
Yeah, then the mundane tasks of our lives. This is the origin of, of what my old European ancestors would call magic. Of like the, you know, we think about the witch broom, while the origin of that is like housework that all of our ancestors did and not just sweeping out dirt, but like what energetically Are you sweeping out or sweeping in, you can do it with a vacuum to like, not just like vacuuming up this vacuum that you've shared with your community and you're all sharing very beautifully. You're not just like vacuuming up like you know your kids Cheerios, but like what energetically in the home is feeling stuck and stagnant that you can pull out like when you open the windows when you light a candle when you light incense. When you like run the AC What are you moving? These are see this is just like a practice that has always been with us as human beings. And you know, and sometimes be assigned to like different dogmas now or like considered religious or witchy or whatever it is, but it's just a ritual you can bring it Yeah, drinking your morning coffee as you drink. Oh, I love coffee so much as you drink the coffee and and you feel it, you know, go down your throat and warm your belly. Like just visually if you're a visual person, like that's really helpful, like visualize, like it's giving you energy but what is it nourishing you with that day? How can you set an intention in the shower, drinking your coffee, opening the windows getting the morning paper? Although I don't know if we're doing that anymore, getting the mail? Like what is it you can? So these two concepts of what is it that you can release move out? And what is it you can bring or call in? And if you think about those two practices, releasing and calling in, and then there what actions of your day that you have to do? Can't drinking water. Yeah, there's so many ways you can utilize those in ritual.
Brian Smith 54:58
Yeah, and it comes It kind of comes back to there's a guy study, same as Emanuel Swedenborg. And he talks about correspondences and everything that's on Earth corresponds to the spiritual. And this is this reminds me that this everything that we do, there's the physical aspect of it also. But we can also turn it into a ritual we can, we can look at the symbolism of and as you were talking about sweeping, I don't remember what the holiday is or what the time of year is. But there's a time of year when the Hebrews, the Jews would actually sweep out their homes, and it was sweep out, like every single corner, it was just a matter of, like getting everything clean. So like that could be like our spring clean, we're coming into spring right now. So you could do that and say, I'm going to spring clean my house, and make it not just a physical thing, but also something that's spiritual.
Becca Piastrelli 55:45
Yes, oh, I love looking up these traditions all over the world. I love the court the correlation with like, a eggs and spring, you know, there's like the Easter, like new life, and Jesus and Jesus being resurrected, and all that that some folks really resonate with. But I love the folk origin, particularly of farming, which a lot of our ancestors farmed, for us, like, that's a big part of like, the cultural development from hunter gatherer into farmer and the chicken egg being a sign of good luck. So this whole concept of hiding a eggs, and finding them as a sign of good luck, because it's also planting season, the spring. And so often, farmers would just, or, or partners, or farmers who were home would keep chicken eggs in their pockets, as like, a sign of good luck of a blessing for the coming harvest, because everything riding on, you know, a good harvest to feed them over the coming year and over the winter. And I just thought, okay, so what can I keep in my pocket? What can I hide around the house to bring a sense of what it is I'm calling in, you know, abundance, or blessings or healing, or the softening of resentments or more community, like, maybe it is a chicken egg, or maybe it's a stone I have, or maybe it's like packets of seeds for planting, like, the I'm just making these up on the spot. But this is what we can all do.
Brian Smith 57:22
And I think what you just did was a wonderful exercise, because people, so many times we look outside ourselves, what's the word? What's a ritual, tell me a ritual that I could do. You can come up with your own, whatever, whatever it is that you're doing. And I like I like you're doing that off the cuff. Because it's what's important to you what resonates with you doesn't have to be what your ancestors did. It doesn't have to be what Becca does, it doesn't have to be what I do. But whatever it is that works for you. And you can just incorporate it into whatever it is you're already doing. You don't have to carve out separate time for it. I bet I want to give you a chance to talk about and then we've touched a lot in your book. But tell us more about your book and what I'll find if I if I go there and read it.
Becca Piastrelli 58:05
Hmm, thank you. Yeah, so it's called route and ritual timeless ways to connect to land, lineage, community and the self. And it's divided into those four sections land. So this is the living world. This is what no matter where you live, even the concrete jungle is beneath you right now. And this is our original home, this whole concept of nature is a colonial term, like go out in nature as if we are separate from it. I mean, I know we all feel separate from it, but we are of it. It is of us. So I and that's like quite an esoteric concept I just said but I talk about starting a garden I talk about connecting to a plant I talk about seeing your home is sacred. I talk about I teach how to preserve food, I teach pickling and drying, I give recipes for, you know, flour, water and apple chips and just getting those juices flowing. And then the sections second section is lineage. So I shared a lot about that connecting to who and what you come from. And that definition being really broad. It can even you know, you could even be seeing ancestors by affinity, not just by blood, like identifying like many of my people in my queer community feel a connection to the mighty dead, to the queer folks of all ways that you know, they may not be descended from blood wise or, you know, great writers, great thinkers, maybe religions or spiritual practices that you've been adopted into or you choose and teachers, there's so much there for lineage
Brian Smith 59:49
and then oh, no, go ahead.
Becca Piastrelli 59:52
Okay, well, the next section is community which we talked about in the beginning. So, leading a ritual for releasing past community hurts like times you've been burned or you've been a crappy friend or things didn't go your way or you lived in a community that did not serve you. So that you can call in the kind of community you want. Including planning gatherings and thinking about community care, I talk a whole section on death and grief, and how we as a community really need to be pulling that in closer to our lives because it is as important and present as birth. And then the final section is self, all these places that we want to belong land, lineage, community, it all begins with a feeling of worthiness and love of self. So we talk about relationship with body. I lead rituals and loving your body, including a ritual shower, which I shared earlier. And I have you write a letter to your future self, I have you thinking about how you live seasonally are cyclical cyclically, no matter what your body looks like, or experiences in the world. And yeah, it's all it's meant to be experiential. It's highly illustrated and really meant to unspell this set this myth that we are alone, and that we are destined to feel like we don't know how to do life. I think we can do it differently.
Brian Smith 1:01:21
Awesome. Tell me about your podcast.
Becca Piastrelli 1:01:25
Oh, yeah, I have a podcast. I'm, as I said wintering right now. So I have about 92 past episodes, but it's called belonging. Search belonging. It's the one. It's it's not the mega church. One. There's two. It's the one with the reef, the nature wreath on it. So if you're, if you're interested in these things I'm talking about I talk more there.
Brian Smith 1:01:50
Yeah, I definitely interested in sounds, it sounds absolutely amazing. And this will be in the show notes. But I always like to get it on the audio and the video. But for people that don't read the show notes. So where can people find you?
Becca Piastrelli 1:02:05
Yeah, so my website is Becca, Pa strelley.com. And if you try to type a version of that the algorithm figures it out the times we're in what a gift. These modern times. Yeah, so you can catch me there. join my newsletter list. If you're curious about what I'm seeing. And I'm on Instagram, Becca, Pa strelley. But for the most part, you can check out the podcast
Brian Smith 1:02:30
in the book. Awesome. That sounds great. I do want to spell it it is BECCAPI a s t r e l l i because people again might just might be on their phone on the walk. They might want to type it in. It'll be there'll be a link. Anything you want to add as a wrapping up today, Becca?
Becca Piastrelli 1:02:54
Know that, that this was a beautiful, full conversation. Yeah, thank you for your work, and for this space to talk and connect and share. I'm really grateful to be here and connect with your community.
Brian Smith 1:03:08
Yeah, it's been wonderful, wonderful having you. I think the the work that you're doing is so important as we go through these very difficult times. I feel like I could talk to you for another hour. But I try to keep these to a point where because people won't listen for more than an hour, so I know. But thanks for being here and have a great rest of your day. Thank you. Don't forget to like, hit that big red subscribe button and click the notify Bell. Thanks for being here.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Becca guides us to understanding true belonging - to each other, to the earth, to our lineage, and to ourselves. As the author of Root & Ritual: Timeless Ways to Connect with Land, Lineage, Community, and the Earth and host of the Belonging podcast, Becca supports us through the isolating effects of the modern world.