Taking My Own Medicine
I have been prepared for these times.
An Aquarian Sun (a humanitarian with a discerning eye and soft heart) with a Gemini Rising (a born communicator and traveller) and Virgo Moon (with a love of service).
My unique life experience and my formal and self-study spiritual education combined with my clear Ancestral gifts and legacy has made it clear that I was born to teach and share my catalyzing healing ability, Divine love, wisdom, and grace.
I began my spiritual journey upon arrival to earth. Born a Black Jamaican-Canadian girl at the full moon on a snowy February day, I entered this physical plane on my menses. This happens when mothers are highly hormonal and likely under stress which means their sensitivity goes through the roof. We now know how essential it is to provide an intentional experience while in utero as any experience the expectant mother has, the fetus also experiences as well.
My mother, a proud traditionally-raised Anglican Christian, said she knew then that I was "a witch" and throughout my formative years tried to discourage any indication of my alignment with ghosts, witches, magic, spirit, Tarot, Obeah, fortune-telling, spells, and divination as a whole.
I believe that my Ancestors (and other Spirits) saw me as a conduit to send information and messages, and along with an innate gift and/or interest, it was the perfect fit. Truth be told, it was extremely overwhelming and scary to close my eyes at night and see images of things I couldn't make sense of like skeletons and bodies of people I didn't know and I didn't feel like I could share with my parents. That I would be believed. I would stay up reading as long as possible and always fell asleep with my face drooling on the pages, unable to resist finally falling into the abyss of sleep and the astral realm. I also used to sleepwalk but that could have been a symptom of other trauma happening in the background.
Either way, in the morning, I would be thankful to have escaped the unavoidable darkness of the night and monsters in my mind.
Even in elementary school, I was known to be a powerful conduit and channel, sending messages constantly whether by passing notes in class, hanging with the school's new kid, or in the projects I chose to present to my classmates.
By the time I reached high school and started experiencing mental health and managing with self-harm, I intuitively knew that I needed to be my own advocate. I was educating myself and everyone else on what I was experiencing and how to provide the appropriate support (whether via the traditional medical model or otherwise). As an outlet, everything I considered a "science" or had some technology for me to understand myself better: from constellations, earthquakes, volcanoes, and tornados to body language, astrology, music lyrics, spoken word, and choreography poems.
In the late 1990s and early 00s, mental health was very much a stigma and therefore, a closely held secret for those who could manage to keep themselves under wraps. I was not one of those well-gathered folks. Often times my mental health or the results of my behaviour was on display for people to assess whatever was wrong and offer unsolicited, and often unhelpful advice. By my last year of secondary school, I was driving myself to regular therapy appointments paid for by my mother. It was such a privilege, I knew, but also a financial burden.
On weekends my mom would take me to an African Spiritualist Church to be blessed, or an Obeah woman who would read my cards and offer spiritual baths, my mom would pray over me in tears and shout away the demons she felt hovered over me. To look back now, I have to laugh and thank her for doing everything she knew how and never stopped. Even when she did some things wrong, some major things, I can see and recognize that we can only help others as much as we've helped ourselves through our own experiences.
After several sessions, I realized that I'd be in therapy for a lot longer than I or my mother expected. That's the nature of traditional psychotherapy after all - it takes TIME. My mom wanted a solution, a pill to fix it, and frankly so did I.
After high school, I was thrilled to move away to school, ignoring what I knew to be true: I needed to dedicate time to my mental health. I was relieved to escape my hometown and my parents' unhealthy relationship dynamic. I would have escaped myself at that time if I could. And I tried. Through self-harm of all kinds; cutting when possible, disordered eating, substance abuse, promiscuity, and more. After being required to withdraw due to a low GPA resulting from my withdrawal from campus life and an overall inability to show up for classes, exams, or ask for help, I returned home.
Due to my writing ability and truth-telling, I was permitted to return immediately for another year which is rare. With no tools, no purposeful intention to manage my mental health, I wasn't ready to return but grateful to escape again.
If only for a year. So I did.
When I returned home again, the next year in 2003, I was expected to return to a local school, but after a semester, I said no more. I finally understood, I needed to take the time to understand my mental health, how to take care of myself, and follow my own Divine guidance. That was something I wasn't taught in a school, I learned it through my own lived experience. I finally had the confidence to share with my mother that I had been sexually abused by a family member who lived in our home when they immigrated from Jamaica at sixteen years of age and I was three.
Within three years of him immigrating, I was being molested on a regular basis and those experiences lasted until around the age of 12. I was half embarrassed to tell her what I remembered and half feeling like maybe I was wrong. Not in an intention to deny my experience, but not ready to face the truth and possibility of something so caustic to occur in her own home when she could shelve it under my concerning mental health behaviour and dismiss it. So she referenced the state of my mental health as proof I couldn't be trusted to know what's what, what's true.
Luckily by 2006, Spirit guided me to begin actively working to heal my mindset, my value system, my relationship to my own body and finances (which are linked, if you didn't know) as well as my relationship to pleasure, sexuality, and creativity. I have employed many modalities on my journey to better understand what I need to be well.
My Spiritual Toolkit includes:
Art and Creativity
Tea and Herbal Supplements
From medication to meditation, sadness to satisfaction, and trauma to treasure, I have run the gamut of the traditional medical model. There are obvious benefits and definitive gaps in service, what is considered a comprehensive approach, and how unconscious bias continues to inflict pain and suffering at the most vulnerable times.
I have learned the value of labels when it comes to accessing services. To be labelled, at times, is to receive support. I have learned the value or place of the medical model and healthcare professionals in my support system. I have learned the deep innate knowledge of my body and mind, even when unexplainable by "Western science".
In 2010/2011, I stopped going to the house of the person who abused me for New Year's Day Dinner. No one knew why because I didn't feel like I could say as I wasn't believed before. Through work I was doing with a hypnotherapist that I didn't even share with that practitioner, I knew I wasn't wrong and I couldn't be convinced otherwise. My body knew the truth and the imprint; I had vague and yet visceral memories.
In May 2012, nine years after I confided in my mom, a close female family member shared that she had an experience of sexual trauma and disclosed that it was the same person as the person who had harmed me. Together we approached our immediate family members with the news. In the traditional Caribbean and/or African style, there was a large family discussion where everyone could join in and/or comment. I was the most vocal but because I was also younger and "remembered less", my experience was minimized despite having confided in my mom all those years prior.
At the age of 31, in 2013, I physically returned to university and within a year I was quickly redirected to work among youth and young adults in post-secondary school environments. First as a research study assistant, then a departmental coordinator for an accredited business school, a resource center administrator and work-study supervisor, and most recently a care coordinator for a traditionally vulnerable, marginalized high needs demographic. In this environment, I gained a deeper understanding of my own educational barriers that were never even offered to me and because of this experience, I recognized that an academic degree is a privilege for those who excel using a non-experiential method.
In early 2018, I exited an emotionally manipulative relationship with someone who refused to disclose their own sexual orientation, even with me as their live-in partner. That experience led to my coming out in a more defined way i.e., with friends, on social media, and with family even though there were previous references and discussions with family.
By September 2018, I began delivering Reiki workplace lunch and learns, meditation and mindfulness sessions, and one-on-one healing appointments for employees, staff, faculty, and students.
Also, I love reading, but I have accepted that I learn best by application and hands-on integration practices. The theory is often understood only on a surface level and when it comes time to retrieve what I've learned, it's almost like I haven't truly learned until I am able to apply what I know. I love learning and I feel like application is similar to play. I will always commit to learning something new. Most recently I've been working on a Certificate in Trauma at Wilfred Laurier University and plan to complete another Certificate in Psychological Safety.
Always attuned to the unexplained, supernatural and ethereal, I was unknowingly tapping into my ancestral knowledge before I even realized what was happening. Gone are the days when I used to be teased by my family about visiting my "friends" at the local cemetery - they now call to discuss their dreams and visions with me. Especially my mom, sister, and grandmother - I love this evolution and how the passage of time has helped me heal but also guide others.
A healthy survivor of childhood sexual abuse and racial trauma, I am extremely passionate about empowering others through phases of transition and helping to hold space, light, and healing for those who are navigating various challenges so they can continue to show up in life knowing they have the spiritual and emotional support they need to get through.
Time and again, I'm thankful to have taken my own medicine.
Sheena offers corporate Reiki, meditation and mindfulness packages, speaking partnerships, art workshops, astrology and/or tarot parties, spiritual mentorship, intentional living products, and most of all, deep healing work for those who are ready to take their healing into their own hands.
Outside of her work in post-secondary education, Sheena Ewan is a Toronto-based serial entrepreneur, artist/creator, Reiki Master, intuitive astrologer, spiritual mentor, writer, healer, and the founder of Raw Redemption and co-founder of Roots Movement Retreats - a self-care retreat for those needing to immerse themselves in self-healing. She is studying for her Level Two Canadian Astrologer certification with the Canadian Association for Astrological Education (CAAE) and displayed her first solo visual art show in Toronto ON on February 2-9 2018. In July 2019, Sheena was guided by her Ancestors to open OnePeopleTO, Toronto's Decolonizing Wellness & Spiritual Sanctuary.