: Rhythm / Devotion : is a series of interviews intended to illuminate the connection to ritual & rhythm in our daily lives. This series explores the intimacy of routine, the magic of the ordinary, & how these small acts of devotion set the stage for larger workings in the world ~
What is your name & where are you in the world?
My birth name is Elsie Angely Lopez, named after both of my grandmothers, Ercilia/Elsilia and Angela. Currently residing in Central Florida/Seminole and Timucua land.
How do you define yourself & your work?
Hm… I am an educator, artist, and writer with an interest in and focus on symbolism, esoteric knowledge, the mind-heart-body, plants, divination, and etymology, I’m an herbalist whose medicine-making process is primarily intuitive and guided by spiritual impression alongside knowledge of chemistry and energetics. My work centers around curation, which etymologically has several meanings including “restoration of health” and “management (of some sort of space like a museum or art gallery, etc)”. Essentially, I create and educate within holistic spaces and invite people into greater presence and embodiment through communion with plants, ancestors, numbers, words, symbols, and natural philosophical insights. I do a lot of visioning of what some call the “new world” (which I consider to be intricately connected to the ancient) and take initiative to contribute my created manifestations to its formation.
Will you walk us through what a day in your life looks like? Begin with how you greet the morning & guide us until you close off the day in the eve ~
I’m typically up by 7/8 am at the latest, usually well before then – that’s the most consistent thing about my day to day as I tend to live according to both the external seasons and my internal cycling which are seasons within themselves. I also treat each day as a different dimension in considering how the days are ‘ruled’ by certain planetary/other-dimensional frequencies….
So, my day usually starts with me in bed, stretching before I even get out of bed, pondering my dreamspace during the night that has passed; my cat, Indigo, usually comes up and lays by me for a bit longer before he gets up and start walking around, and it is a most treasured moment since I’ve had this lovely companion. I drink a cup or two of water and do some dream journaling if I can immediately recall my dreams – otherwise, I set the intention for happenings and elements of the day to remind me of the dreams. Once I’m fully out of bed, I open up my curtains, blinds, and windows (depending on the weather) to let some sunlight and air into my home. I check in with my babies, plant and human, and see how they’re feeling in the new day while communicating about the visualizations and/or revelations that our night visions have brought forth. I also check in with my partner and see how he is feeling and what’s on his mind/what his plans are for the day (unless we have got mutual activities planned). Sometimes I’ll sit in front of my altar and pull a card or go into a meditation through breathwork and stretching. In between all of that, I’ll feed my cat and change his water, then take a tablespoon of coconut oil. I participate in the daily ritual of cleaning something after I wake up, so I might sweep, dust, fix my bed, rearrange things around my home, and/or in some other way organize my space. Fixing my bed is a daily thing, as is sweeping, but some of the other cleaning and organization rituals happen more so every other day or every few days as opposed to every day. I usually have an infusion or decoction prepared, so I may warm some up and drink that. Lately, I’ve been making a habit of going outside with my herbal preparation, if it is not raining, and sitting in the grass until I finish drinking it – this gives Indigo the time he needs to get his rising stretch and run through the yard.
After that, I typically engage in more active movement and do some cardio activity to get my heart rate up and sweat some. Then, I shower and follow up with an abhyanga self-massage using some homemade herb-infused oils… From there I just enter into a flow with whatever moves me next…
Eventually, I go into my workspace and check my planner which generally has a list of things I need to get done, in no particular order. Around this time, I start to settle into my work for the day. Sometimes I break fast before beginning work, but oftentimes my appetite doesn’t really kick in with hunger until about noon or afterwards. I might prepare a fruit bowl, some oatmeal, a smoothie, juice, or parfait – all in all, my first meal is very light and accompanied by plenty of water or more of the herbal preparation. Through working in the day, I take breaks to stretch, dance, prepare a meal, feed my beloveds, take a tincture or flower essence, shake a tincture of plants that are macerating, or listen to some music. Sometimes I like to just lay down and chill with Indigo, my partner, or a book as a break. In the motion of all of this, I’ll check my emails and text messages and respond to people as needed.
As the light of day begins to fade, I walk around my home and survey how the energy feels and may take the time to smudge out any stagnancy before I close the windows. During this time, I consider how I will nourish myself as dinner is usually my most substantial meal of the day. I close my windows, blinds, and curtains, and begin to prep my space to slow down and enter into a more restful/less active time. I usually chill out with my little family as the evening settles in, probably watching a movie or something uncanny or comical projected onto the wall from the laptop and eating our dinner, and then just move about the space seeing what else I need/want to do before I fully get into bed. I spend a bit meditating on the day and how my body and energy feel before putting homemade eye drops in my eyes and disengaging from external forms of stimulation.
You are an herbalist, an intuitive, & a writer ~ how do you prepare yourself &/or your space to enter into this practice?
My entire home is more or less a work studio for me, so depending on what I am working on, I will create a comfortable setting with all the essentials for the specific tasks within a room. One thing that is consistent with preparing for the variety of work I do is that I commune with plants before I get started and throughout the process – whether I spend time sitting by one of my beloved plant friends, usually the southern Magnolia tree, mugwort plant, the irises, or tall sunflower plant which surround my home, or flower essence, a tincture, or an oxymel that I take some drops of, or perhaps showering and then oiling my body with an herb-infused oil/lately it has been the Harmonic Vitality: New Moon Oil that holds a strong solar frequency (moon and sun typically conjunct on the new moons) to signal to myself/my consciousness that I’m clearing to root into a more vibrant and productive energetic flow.
Similar to my communion with plants in these moments is that I sometimes engage in symbolic actions or the gathering of certain talismans to have with me as I work in the practices. If I am getting ready to do a reading or divination of another sort, I may anoint my crown/head with home-prepared Florida Water, say certain affirmations to activate a deepening of my senses, so on and so forth. If I am making an herbal formula, I’ll gather the ingredients and vessels for formulation; this often also involves me spending time in nature, in communication with plants so that I may be granted permission to gather their energies for medicine making.
With writing, I move through a space of composition in the same way one might create a painting, little by little, approaching the canvas part by part, from various angles, ensuring to capture the essence of the message, concept, or idea I am attempting to convey. I leave the writing and return to it whenever a line or a word or an entire thought that is relevant comes to me. That is usually what I do for preparation. Otherwise, the creation of a particular vibration within the workspace is important because it is useful most times. This all connects to the aspects of communing with the plants and engaging in ritualistic action to facilitate the internal alignments needed for optimal ‘external’ praxis.
What do you do/not do if you are feeling stuck around your work?
Well, as someone whose writing and creation is so much derived from an intuitive space, I cannot force the flow. When I’m feeling stuck, I take space from the work and go do something else. Oftentimes, while I’m doing that other thing, I’ll receive tidbits of inspiration and ideas for whatever I’m working on, so I’ll naturally return to it. If I am on a particular time with my work and have to meet a ‘deadline’, I’ll do something very specific like meditate, yoga, dance, or just move which generally sets it off for me to work with more fluidity.
Candle work is very prominent in my practice. When I am feeling most creative, and if I have some moments to spare, I take the time to preprogram some of my candles with reiki energy for enhancing creativity. It’s definitely more of a symbolic practice which helps to activate a certain creative energy within me so I may light one of these candles when I feel stuck or have a hard time moving forward on and through a task or moment in creation – this stuff does work and makes the work work.
A lot of the time, I’ll just sit with the ‘stuckness’, usually on the grass in the yard. Sometimes I might read a book or watch an episode of a show that has nothing to do with what I’m working on, and “oddly enough” I find impetus in that. I have also noticed that I sometimes feel stuck if, for instance, I have something to do like wash the dishes or go get some water and I haven’t done that, so I go do it and then return to my work which is furthermore channeled very smoothly after that – this could be considered ‘anal retentive’ or something like that; little quirks.
Do you have a movement practice?
I engage in several movement practices, primarily dance and yoga, with random moments of rolling around on the grass when I’m feeling very emotional or like energy is suck in my womb. Some days I hula hoop or twirl with a ribbon. I move my hips a lot. Some of my aunts and uncles tell me I have always loved dancing and while I have had a hard time with recalling memories before a certain age in this life, I can feel it in my heart every time I dance. It might have been a first love in terms of energetic expression for me and it’s been interesting to find myself in dreamscapes within parallel timespirals and see myself in a formal rhythmic motion, dancing in front of large crowds. For me this is engrained, so I don’t think too much about my movement as a particular practice because I move so much all the time, even in my rest, haha. My loved ones tell me to chill, to be still, so I guess I tend to have to put more intention into practicing stillness.
What does structure mean to you, or what is your philosophy around ritual/routine?
As someone with a Capricorn stellium, north node, and midheaven, structure is pertinent in my day to day existence. I no longer follow a strict work schedule like I used to, but my days have a structure and I consistently work certain days of the week, every week. Recently when contemplating what I am going to do for my birthday which was on February 15th, I happened upon the thought that I already live my days in a continual ritual, and all I had to do was honor the special energy of that day, so I engaged in specific actions and meditations beginning at the time of my birth and into the midnight.
This is to say that my philosophy around ritual and routine is very much in alignment with my overall inclination to living my life in natural flow. There are certain things that we have to do every day to keep a functional life going – these tasks may be perceived as particularly solar, conducive to maintaining and sustaining our needs and certain comforts. Then there are those activities and activations which may perhaps be considered more lunar for they enable to move or be still, whatever we prefer, in the silence, through the shadows, within sleep, around our dreams. These are more formless in a sense; they may not have clear definition.
So in consideration of structure, ritual, and routine, I sense that there is something optimal about living flexibly enough to both maintain a certain grounding and security in our day-to-day while allowing for things to be unpredictable and undefined, able to adjust to the changes and evolve with what the upgrades and downloads call for. I’m fond of the juxtaposition of boundless living in safe spaces.
What are you listening to, reading, or watching these days?
I just recently finished watching all of the episodes of Black Mirror after only watching some of them randomly here and there. Recently started watching a series called The Umbrella Academy which I find interesting specifically due to the symbology and numerology that they use throughout the episodes.
I consistently watch foraging or wilderness skills videos. Not too long ago, I randomly listened to a podcast called Embodiment Matters and came across Francis Weller whose book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow I find informative as I grow in my practice of death doula.
Lately, the music to which I have been moving, creating, and traveling includes the catalogs of Sadé, Jean Grae, Joanna Newsom, MF Doom, Lowleaf, Roy Ayers, Erykah Badu, Nina Simone, Sun Ra, Bembesito (palo music overall), and Greentea Peng.
Since the beginning of Gregorian year 2021, I have been reading Bach Flower Essences and Chinese Medicine by Pablo Noriega, Hoodoo Book of Flowers by Arthur Rickydoc Flowers, The Spirit of Intimacy by Sobonfu Somé, Poetics of Relation by Edouard Glissant, and the Medu Neter, vol. 1.
Any last words of wisdom?
Think about what you are thinking about (meta-cognition is powerful). Consider closely the intention of what are you doing or thinking to do.
Feel your body and listen to your heart.
Speak as clearly as you want to be heard.
Listen as deeply as you want to be seen.
Check in with yourself and check yourself as often as is necessary – you are the work; revise, edit, refine, evolve.
How can we find your work?
Subscribing to my newsletter is ideal – I will resume sending missives during the full moon in March.
Also, the final installation of Herbascopes (in this format) is available in the Gold Mine (through “Water Offerings”) on my website, starting on February 18th. I encourage those interested in astrology, tarot, plants, and ‘the intuitive arts’ to read them. I am transitioning into a new way of delivering and sharing those messages, and the upcoming and incoming newsletters will disclose more of that process, something I have been looking forward to.
Thank you so much, Elsie, for your beautiful work in this world & for sharing your rhythm devotion with us ~
I connect the flower essence of Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens) as a beautiful companion to Elsie Angely Lopez & her work in the world.
I made my Rattlesnake Plantain essence during a late afternoon along the banks of Carr Pond in West Greenwich, RI in the summer of 2013.
Beautiful, unassuming Orchid of the Eastern forests, Rattlesnake Plantain essence is both airy & invigorating, yet grounded; both modest & quiet, yet proud; elegant & stoic, yet playful. Rattlesnake Plantain is articulate--helping us to articulate things/feelings, especially through the body. This essence helps us have patience for our own selves, our own shortcomings, our own self-image, & our own diffidence. It lifts our chins, restores a comfort in one's own skin, & gives us a boost of confidence.
Rattlesnake Plantain helps us to stand tall within ourselves, cultivating both self-forgiveness & self acceptance. This essence instills us with the courage to truly trust in & listen for the sensations that our bodies share with us, the natural rhythms our bodies experience, the ebbs & flows of our forms, & how our bodies take up space in the present moment.
Rattlesnake Plantain imbues us with flexibility of Spirit & thus helps us move into more fluidity within our physical forms, giving us the freedom to move within the bounds of our bones & skin, helping us to release emotional tension by inviting us into finding the styles of movement that are most supportive to our bodies. It wants us to dance/swim/sing/give grace to our bodies. It makes us say, “I found another way to caress my day”.
Rattlesnake Plantain helps us to ground in, splay out, & take up space within ourselves. It reminds us that it is from this deep connection to the earth, our body, & their rhythmic songs, that we derive our connection to the divine. Rattlesnake Plantain sinks us into our Body Wisdom--within, we know we know, & it is from within we can offer without. Tiny awakenings, but many begin with one.
Find a bottle of Rattlesnake Plantain essence for yourself or a loved one here ~