Friday, February 14, 2014

Back to the Future

Last fall, when my parents were moving, I went out to L.A. and retrieved boxes of letters, old clothes, and a ton of weird junk I was still keeping in the closet there, including my "nature collection" which is what I called the one million tons of rocks, old branches, dried mosses and lichen and things rotten beyond the point of recognition. I also found a giant folder of my childhood and teenage writing, mostly written by hand or on my dad's electric typewriter- remember when we didn't have computers?

Among these pages of poems about dripping candles and mortality, treatises of feminist rage, and a story about what basically seems like a magical lesbian island where everyone wears roller skates, I found a draft of a "fake journal entry" I had submitted to a contest in 1990, when I was 14 years old. The assignment was to imagine you had found a page of your diary or a letter written from 2015, which by the way, is next year even though it still sounds like futuristic space alien time to me.

I did not win this contest, perhaps because, as you will soon see, my vision of the future is terribly bleak and it probably freaked the editors out so much and maybe is one of the reasons I was referred to talk to the school therapist who actually turned out to be an awesome lady named Leni Wildflower who let me beat up her couch with a tennis racket. Anyway, my entry was pretty intense and so wild to read 24 years later. I'm so curious about how other 13 year olds envisioned the future then! I certainly did not have high hopes and also, whoa, was I onto something about the future water and oil crisis! How scared I must have been at this time to write something so desolate. It makes me think about kids coming up in this time, when climate change is even more of a reality, and how I can support them. On this full moon, I'm holding the uncertain predicament of our planet and thinking about how vulnerable it is to be alive.
Here it is in all it's imagined diary entry from the future written by me at the tender age of 13 or 14.

With love,

April 8, 2015

Dear Diary, 

I can't believe I have been keeping a journal since the 7th grade! So much has changed. I used to actually write in my journals with a pen on paper, and now I speak into a microphone I wear around my head and it prints out on a screen. A carpool driver used to take me to school, but now we travel through air-tight tunnels. Oh, that's right, we used to be able to breathe the air then. Now we just look at it outside the bubble of our Vitoppidum- that is latin for LifeTown. Each Vit- that's what we call them- is a little see-through bubble with tubes connecting the other Vits. We live in a smaller one, near where Malibu used to be. Malibu was a beach when I grew up, but they closed it because the pollution was so bad. The only water my children know is the one bottle we get each week. That's all we get for drinking and cooking. Instead of taking showers, we clean ourselves with a method kind of like dry cleaning with a powder made from ground up seashells and we brush our teeth with that too. 

I haven't seen a plant, well a real one, since I was 17, in 1994, when I graduated from high school. That was our cut off date. See, the Vits were built not only because the smog and pollution was so bad, but because there were hardly any trees left to create oxygen. All of the trees were burnt down in wars. Now, there aren't wars like before because there aren't planes or things to make bombs with. 

There's a "park" about 10 minutes walk away from here. I take the kids there once a week, but it's not the same. There are no more birds- all the animals have been killed off, except for dogs and cats, who survived because at first they were being used for experiments for testing air quality and cosmetics, so there are all the descendants of the survivors. We have one dog and two cats and I love them so much. 

The government is made of regular people who get together in a circle and ask the needs of everyone. No one is homeless. There isn't a very great difference in class between people because there's not much to own. There aren't any prisons. There are no wars. Finally they realized there was nothing to fight over, and the state of the environment was so dire that they couldn't waste their time on wars. But by then, it was too late, so we had to start working on making new ways of living. 

My dream of becoming a marine biologist couldn't come true because the animals in the oceans are all dead. I became a doctor, but I use my mind and hands to help people rather than drugs. We found new ways to cure AIDS and cancer, and because people are living better in some ways, people are healthier. People still get colds though! 

Kids still go to school, but they learn real things, like how to make bowls, start fires, and tell stories. In my daughter's history class, they are learning about the Desert Storm War in 1990. That was when we began converting to electric cars and trolleys because there wasn't very much gasoline left. That cut down on the pollution a little. Our waste goes through a hole in the Vit, but I don't know what happens to it after that. Maybe the same thing they used to do- just put it in the ground and bury it or throw it in the ocean. 

Even though things are different, I try to stay positive. I'm glad to be alive and try to enjoy little things, my work, helping heal people, and making a difference in the world. 

Well, I need to charge my journal, so I'll sign off for now. 


full moon 
snow day

Thursday, May 23, 2013

full flower moon

Dear ones,

As we approach this full moon and her eclipse, it seems to me more and more people are asking for more trust and deeper support in facing the unknown. The mystery makes us all want to hold a little tighter to something and yet what it wants the most is for us to completely let go. I notice that sometimes when I tell myself to let go, I still hold a secret hope that if I let go, I'll get the thing I want. Ha! Who am I fooling? I know that's just a silly dance performance. The song I keep finding myself whispering is "I don't know." Somehow it feels like a prayer: Please something, please universe, goddess, great mystery, please give me grace in the not knowing, please let me be wise like my grandma self and not do harm by trying to know things. In a world in which power is spellcrafted by people pretending to know things, not knowing feels like a sacred and powerful breaking of the spell. 

A FULL FLOWER MOON. and an eclipse to boot! what kind of magic can we make under that? Seems to me like that fullness and flowering time is the moment that is most clutchy- don't we want things to stay in that fat, blossoming, delicious place forever? Looking at the little pink petals all over the ground and the swollen, tight buds of the peony being gnawed at by the midwiving ants, I can't help but feel the letting go that lives in the blossoming. Someone recently told me about how every time something is hard and doesn't go her way, she says to herself, "it's practice for the Great Letting Go." And the full moon, herself, is a flower in full bloom about to experience loss. Every month she grows in shininess until she is full and then lets go of that light. Does the moon trust that the light will return? Has millions of years of these 28 day cycles taught her something? 

Life has probably always been uncertain for most beings for most times, but we're in a time of such immense environmental catastrophe, economic inequality, and despair for so many beings it's hard to keep trusting that our work will bring transformation and healing. How to do we keep on keeping on not knowing what might unfold?  I think about Assata, her freedom work, her life and here we are in 2013 with a new call out from the FBI for her capture. I think about all of us working towards freedom and more prisons being built. I think about the fight for marriage equality while queer homeless youth struggle daily, trying to get basic needs met. When these things pile up and we move into so much overwhelm, despair, and anger, what else can we do but cry, "I don't know."

 I don't know, but I sense that the breath of "I don't know" can be full of possibility. Maybe that exhale and drop of the petals lets the fruit take shape, and maybe we just keep moving, writing, making, dancing, talking, loving, crying, singing, breathing, living even in the ocean of uncertainty.

Here are some things I know:

We're making Queer Magic. I'm excited to be doing two workshops at the Trans* Health Conference, June 13- 15 in Philadelphia. On Friday June 14th at 4:05- 5:35 Jacoby Ballard and I will be teaching a TRANSNATURAL: holistic support for trans* folks and on Saturday, June 15th at 8:45- 10:05 I'll be teaching BETWEEN THE WORLDS: queer and trans* magic! For more info:

We will gather at The Witch Barn. I will be moving at the end of June to a tiny fairy cottage in Amherst, only 6 blocks from Emily Dickinson's homestead. I will be settling in and nesting from June 25- July 13th and back in the office Monday July 15th! Behind the tiny fairy cottage is big sunny barn which will be my office and also have classroom space. Beginning in August, I will start offering workshops, rituals, and retreats. more to come...but for now, the working name of the space is The Witch Barn. What do you think?

Beauty is everywhere. Since I am focusing more on my healing practice and teaching, I am thrilled to be hawking my wares at some special shops, run by people I love. If you want to get some Witches, Bitches and Hos or some charmed honey, please visit, in your body or astrally: Otherwild in Los Angeles (the town that raised me) or Homestead Apothecary in Oakland (the town that feels like home).

Welcome to the future, Dori Midnight. I am now scheduling online! makes it easy. Also, I have joined facebook. You can find me here:

We cast a spell for Assata
Artist, poet, and incredible being, Vanessa Huang has channeled a gorgeous linocut poem for Assata, who was added to the FBI's most wanted terrorists lists on May 2nd. Show some love and support for Assata and Vanessa by visiting her indiegogo page and donating or getting yourself a copy of this magical text.

My wish for you is that this full moon fills you up with so much brightness that every cell in your body remembers it's light, like millions of tiny moons inside of you.

with love,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Spring! Sap! Crocuses! 
Upcoming Exciting Things!

Listen to the radio: Dori Midnight and Jacoby Ballard on The Herbal Highway with Karyn Sanders talking about herbal support for trans* health on Thursday April 4th 1pm PST on KPFA 94.1 or listen to the archives the next day at

Welcome to the 21st century, Dori Midnight. I am on facebook: Dori Midnight Healing Arts
AND I am now scheduling online: so if you want to book a session, go there and pick a time!

Spring and Summer workshops! details to come.
May 11: Third Root, Brooklyn
June 13- 15: Trans Health Conference, Philadelphia
July 21: Farmacy Herbs, Providence
August: classes in Northampton!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More healing, more of the time

I am thinking a lot about B. Loewe’s article “An End to Self- Care” right now. I'm trying to figure out if he's saying what I think he's saying, what I hope he's trying to say, or what I'm afraid he's saying.  No matter what it is, I am having some feelings and reactions, like many others.  I, too, am yearning for more community healing and transforming our relationship to healing, specifically the way capitalism has taken healing out of our hands and made it expensive and something we see as a “luxury” and something kind of precious, but without muscle. Sometimes the prescription of self- care can be problematic: the inherent classism in some of the ethics of self-care, the illusion that our struggles and our healing are individual and separate from each other, the shitty cycle we can get into judging each other and ourselves for not meditating or eating well or resting. But these kind of declarations to end self - care and that there is no time for self -care hurts all of us, especially disabled people and chronically ill folks.

I’m a community- based healer who sees people individually for healing work, as well as teaching and offering healing in community contexts. My work is rooted in collective liberation and self-determinism. It’s nothing new to invite people into your home, give them some tea, listen to their grief, hold space for their pain, lay them down on cushions on the floor and pray with them or touch them or move energy, and offer them remedies made from plants and stones. This is ancient. This is deep healing. And this is radical. Our healing traditions are so massively co-opted, then mangled in the maw of capitalism, we think we’re being radical by eschewing taking care of ourselves? People need self- determined, bone-deep, individual care and support in a community healing framework because we are still healing from isolation from each other, we are still healing from racism and poverty and oppression and trauma and we need healers who get that to offer us their time and skills to help us heal on an individual and collective level.

One of my teachers, Karyn Sanders, an herbalist and healer of Choctaw descent, was trained by a traditional curandera in L.A. This woman would just take on whoever came to her door and doctor them and Karyn does the same. She doesn’t have office hours, she doesn’t have “rates”; she does the work that needs to be done and the people make an offering. I have a feeling that if you asked most older traditional healers, they would certainly see their work with individuals as tending to the whole, because we are taught that people’s individual pain, as well as our well-being, are also part of the whole. I would say that most of the people I see for things like depression, addiction, chronic pain, chemical sensitivities, digestive complaints, heartache, fatigue, grief, anxiety (just to name a few) are connected because most of their suffering is rooted in generational and collective trauma and oppression. Their pain is not going to be relieved by committing more to the struggle. Usually their healing is a long and non-linear path, supported by some awesome healing practitioners, leaning into their connections to their communities, creating rituals and new habits around food, movement, and rest, and having their pain acknowledged and held with compassion and tenderness. And when we heal, we have to remember we are not just healing for us, we are healing through time, healing patterns woven through us, healing our ancestors and our lineage. (*see interview with me in No More Potlucks for more on this idea.)

What we need to end- and by end, I mean transform- is the privatization of healing, the illusion that our struggles are also private and separate, the marginalization of disabled and chronically ill people and people who struggle with mental illness, disassociation from our bodies, and the pervasive disconnection from all of our indigenous healing traditions and ancestral wisdom (and we all come from people who have healing traditions). Also, I might add, we also need to transform the way we talk about self- care as another obligation, something on our infinite and overwhelming to do lists as organizers and activists, another thing we can feel guilty for not doing enough of. I agree with B. Loewe that we need to transform the way we see our work too; our activism is healing work, and vice versa, and it is vitally important that we source it from somewhere deep- our spiritual practices, our connections with each other, our heart’s desires for justice and liberation for all beings, and the visions our ancestors have rolled out before us. YES. When we are connected to our purpose, we have something deep to draw upon and we won’t burn out, rather than trying to manufacture empty energy from our very depleted kidneys, or caffeine, or other stimulants. And YES to the end of guilt and shame about not taking care of ourselves or doing it right all of the time.  Most of us have grown up inside the medical industrial complex in which we are taught to be disassociated from our bodies, to pathologize and diagnose, and to suppress our symptoms. Creating more shoulds and judging folks for not seeking help, or for not taking care of their chronic cold, chronic fatigue, or chronic pain in the ways we think they should is not the path of healing, and throwing out a call to end self-care doesn’t seem like a wise remedy either.

If we’re wanting to encourage more collective care, we also need to help support people in taking care of themselves; if we judge and minimize the importance of self- care (bodywork, resting, and yes, even knitting), how are people going to feel safe asking for help? Collective care looks like a lot of things: healers having sliding scales or seeing people for free sometimes, creating a meal plan for a friend dealing with chronic illness, babysitting kids while their parents nap, so they can be well rested for their work in the world, and their work raising kids… but collective care doesn’t have to be instead of self-care.

There are so many people I work with who are just beginning to integrate self-care practices, practices that nourish them individually, and connect them to the whole. People who are reclaiming rituals and practices lost in the last generation or two, for whom self- care is radical and essential: young queer activists of color remembering their grandma’s recipes and cooking them up for friends, laying altars for our beloved dead, laying our bodies on the earth, taking a break from sugar (self-care and disinvestment from a fucked up industry), going to the community acupuncture clinic once a week, finding a special stone to hold in a pocket for grounding, putting ourselves to bed a little earlier. I would hate to see us abandon these beautiful practices. I’m reminded of something my friend Dean Spade said, “We need to be gentle with ourselves and each other and fierce as we fight oppression.” 

In my dream, our bodies are part of our collective body and our collective body is not just us, but our whole planet, our earth body. My body is made of stars and dirt and the blood of my ancestors and the breaths of all the people who have been here before me and the green exhale of the trees. How can I possibly think my pain and my joy is mine alone? So I imagine, I envision, and I invoke that we need more care, more of the time and that self- care is just one part of our collective movement towards healing.  We can gently and fiercely take care of the little baby bodies, the disabled bodies, the aging and dying bodies, the green bodies, the blue bodies of water, the four legged bodies, each other’s bodies and the one body you were born into, this time around.

Many thanks to Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha for her response to B. Loewe’s article and for her fierceness and gentleness.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

stretching out into the longest day

daylily summer solstice essence

 dandy lion gathering

summer blessings, people!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

FULL MOON: the revolution will not be fairyless

It's the first full moon of the year, and as usual, the moon wakes me up in the middle of the night. It's like all of a sudden everything is clear and my mind is quiet enough to write an entire book or solve the riddle of my schedule or understand the limits of the law or have a crystal vision about a person I am working with. It's dark and quiet and I can feel my ancestors speaking through me. But then it's 2am and I'm like, why can't my ancestors talk to me around 4pm, for tea or something? Not to complain, but I just want to sleep through the night, "like a normal person" as I have been known to say.
I don't know if it's the jew in me, but I am quick to leap into the rapids of the river of torturous inner dialogue of trying to figure out what is wrong with me. As anyone who has read an article about insomnia in their therapist's waiting room can tell you, freaking out about not sleeping is just about the worst thing you can do. I've been reading a book called Healing Night, which re-frames the modern epidemic of sleep disorders as a serious lack of dreaming, mostly due to our excessively lit up lives and guess what? There is nothing wrong with me!!! I recently read that after researching pre-industrial peoples' sleep patterns, and re-creating them in some studies, sleep researchers found that before modern "light at night" times, most people actually slept in two distinct sleeping chunks, with a little hour or so of wakefulness in the middle. This middle of the night waking, sometimes called The Night Watch, was often used for meditation, prayer, creativity, making out, and staring into the darkness, and wasn't pathologized as insomnia! WHAT??? I love the Night Watch! (My sweetheart might not love it as much as me though.) The book explores our malnourished relationship with the dark and our excessively lit up evenings and how that has affected our dreamlife, which is at the root of fatigue and insomnia.
But this is just a little aside. What I want to tell you is what I was thinking about when the moon woke me up, which I welcomed and curled into like a cat.

So, many months ago, I began a long post on community wellbeing and first aid for the occupy movements. I was so excited! I was so moved! I was so inspired! And then I didn't ever finish it because during the exquisite murmurations of this movement, I was suddenly displaced from my tiny gnome house in the woods by a fungal occupation of a severe sort. The mold inspector literally said, "It's as if you moved all your beautiful wood furniture into the forest and it's trying to decompose it." I was witnessing time and death and de-materialization in fast forward...of my stuff. It was gross, even though as you all know, I really try to not to hate on any living organism. Hey, we all got to eat. ANYWAY, I never finished the post.

So in the middle of the night, the moon was like, "Dori! You need to finish that thing you started about community well being for the Great Turning!" Then it went on to tell me that actually, I wasn't supposed to write about an actual first aid kit, but an invisible one. I was like, "Oh moon, you so crazy!" But I know the moon is not crazy and I knew just what ze meant. We need to shift out of the idea that things are going to save our lives all together. Even in, and maybe especially in, our liberation movements, it's time to sharpen our skills for connecting with the invisible and surrender to what might be moving through us right now. The Occupy Movement, and all of it's inspired tributaries, is supporting new possibilities of community and a new kind of interconnectivity, and I think that calls for a new kind of healing. I am not advocating not bringing your first aid kits to actions, but I am suggesting we begin to cultivate a stronger and deeper commitment to practicing magic. Or whatever you want to call it.

It reminds me of a dream I had last spring in which I was a small child with a bossy older sister who trapped fairies in bubbles and kept them under her bed in a trunk. One day, I snuck into the trunk, broke open all the bubbles and freed the incarcerated little people. They danced around me in a circle and sang, "we're free! We're free!" Then suddenly, I was my age now and I was giving a tour through a cityish town. I said, "This mound would've made an excellent home for the fairies, but they don't live here anymore." Someone on my tour asked why not, to which I answered, "They are afraid humans don't know how to like things without keeping them, they are worried they'll be enslaved, but they want us to know, the revolution can't happen without them." Then my dog showed up wearing a fancy suit and stole my keys and I woke up. What a revelation!, I thought. I have to write this down and tell everyone that the revolution can't happen without fairies! This is Very Important Information.

Now, as you can see, I didn't tell everyone right away, because it sounded a little weird. I mean, I realize that this is not something I need to worry about at this point; let's face it, I work as a witch and my hair is really impractically long and most importantly, I am learning so much about the impact of shame on our wellbeing and how essential it is for all of us to encourage each other to release shame, by saying and being in our truths. So here I am, telling you all that the fairies want to take part in the revolution. I am still unraveling what this means. I think part of it is that we need to open up to collaborating with everything and everyone and not give precedent or privilege to the obvious and what can be seen and what we consider "real". (more on this in my queer magic/queer healing workshops) Our work is not just to resist and dismantle the dominant structures, we also need to revive our imaginations and reconnect with what is real power, not the toxic mimics.

I'm not a luddite or self- righteous about it, but I'm still not on facebook or twitter or cell phones. Last year was the first year that I started to waiver- Arab Spring! Occupy Wall Street! My friends' photos of dogs and outfits and babies! We're witnessing how uprisings are being fomented with all this technology and how exciting! but I still think social media and networks are our training wheels for something else. We're weaving a web that is strong and vibrant, we're connecting across borders, we're remembering how to be part of a whole. It's as if the planet is knitting itself more tightly together, faster and faster- we're moved and changed by learning of somebody somewhere else moving and changing. I see how these tweets and posts are training us to dream together and move in some kind of graceful resonant current. I see the glimmerings of the days to come in which actions are planned in dream circles and we have meetings on the astral plane and artists are healers and healers are activists and activists are healers and we all dream together new dreams of a just, beautiful, life-sustaining world, where the invisible, the "unreal" and the imaginary are all loved and honored.

NEXT: Part 2 , the practical and the magical: First Aid for Witches.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

winter charms

Dear everybody,

It's almost winter. Where I live, the ground is frozen and covered in tiny frosty crystals that break under the boot with a satisfying crunch. I have recently moved farther into the hills of Western Massachusetts to a beautiful old restored barn just up the road from the rushing Mill River, which I can hear from my window. It's also a short walk to my favorite library, in which the librarian (the mom of a friend of mine) brings her short legged dog, Julie Christie, to work everyday and there is stuff everywhere like some children's book about a magical library that turns into a circus at night. My work space here is totally enchanted- for those of you who visited me in San Francisco and know the magic of that place, this too has got some serious charms. I'm excited to see you all here.

As I move farther out onto the land, I notice that I want to tend to my ribbons and heart strings that connect me to the rest of the world even more. I listen to the songs and shouts of the people in the cities and watch the occupiers, decolonizers, poets, climate change changers, hoarders, guardians of wealth and guardians of Earth, visionaries, artists, and edge walkers with a kind of wonder and new kind of distance. Something I've been thinking is, "what an amazing time to be alive on earth." And I wonder how, as a community healer and lover of life, I can continue to have my life and my work be in service to the liberation of all beings.

My work is just a simple attempt at that, and during this season of darkness, I feel a really deep gratitude for it. I feel so lucky that my work is to sit in the presence of so many committed, brilliant, loving, creative humans for an hour and see their light just shine forth completely, to hold them with immense love and gentleness and witness their wounds and vulnerabilities, to see all the ways they are growing and changing so they can bring their gifts to the world. YOUR gifts to the world, that is. I feel humbled that I get to support all of you on your paths and thank you for allowing me to be to be a part of your lives in this way. T H A N K Y O U.

After two years of taking some much needed rest (totally under-rated and necessary for the revolution) I am also excited to say that I am looking forward to a new year of being alive, being engaged, and doing some teaching. I am crafting an exciting workshop series on Community Healing for the Great Turning, as well as a Queer Healing & Queer Magic workshop for 2012, so please stay in touch for that! I'll also be co-teaching an Earth Healing workshop in Vermont in June with Fearn Lickfield and Pam Montgomery. Right now I am also delighted to be collaborating with the wonderful Jacoby Ballard from Third Root clinic in Brooklyn on a piece on Trans Holistic Health! Much is brewing in the cauldron!

Finally, as it is the season of solstice and giving things, I'd like to offer these bits for gifting your loved ones. Perhaps someone you know and adore would enjoy:
the favorite eau de fierceness, BOUNDARIES in a BOTTLE spray for protection and purification!
the deliciously potent, WITCHES, BITCHES, & HOS elixir for guidance and healing for all of us weeyotches, beeyotches, and you know whats.
a gift certificate for a SESSION or custom blended ELIXIR!
a jar of CHARMED HONEY for fertility, hot sex, love, or abundance!
If you like, please visit the apothecary on my website!

And here are some other things made by people I love that you might like too!
Narrow Bridge candles, handmade with love and justice in Oakland by Jonah Daniel, with proceeds going to Stop the JNF campaign
Vanessa Huang's ridiculously amazing letterpressed poetry and community supported poetry project
Jen Lorang's bewitching We are Bleeding and 2012 calendars
Dean Spade's mind-blowing and important book, Normal Life, out from South End Press

And so, my most gorgeous beings, I wish you all a sweet season of darkness, that you all may deepen into what calls to you, that you find the shine in what seems impossibly bleak, that you are gentle with yourselves and the ones you love, that you sink roots into rich source and feel yourself full, and that you know enoughness, freedom, and so much love in the coming year.

With all my heart,