The Land in Our Bones: Plantcestral Herbalism and Healing Cultures from Syria to the Sinai--Earth-based pathways to ancestral stewardship and belonging in diaspora (Paperback)

The Land in Our Bones: Plantcestral Herbalism and Healing Cultures from Syria to the Sinai--Earth-based pathways to ancestral stewardship and belonging in diaspora By Layla K. Feghali Cover Image
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A profound and searching exploration of the herbs and land-based medicines of Lebanon and Cana’an—a vital invitation to re-member our roots and deepen relationship with the lands where we live in diaspora

Tying cultural survival to earth-based knowledge, Lebanese ethnobotanist, sovereignty steward, and cultural worker Layla K. Feghali offers a layered history of the healing plants of Cana’an (the Levant) and the Crossroads (“Middle East”) and asks into the ways we become free from the wounds of colonization and displacement.

Feghali remaps Cana’an and its crossroads, exploring the complexities, systemic impacts, and yearnings of diaspora. She shows how ancestral healing practices connect land and kin—calling back and forth across geographies and generations and providing an embodied lifeline for regenerative healing and repair.

Anchored in a praxis she calls Plantcestral Re-Membrance, Feghali asks how we find our way home amid displacement: How do we embody what binds us together while holding the ways we’ve been wrested apart? What does it mean to be of a place when extraction and empire destroy its geographies? What can we restore when we reach beyond what’sbeen lost and tend to what remains? How do we cultivate kinship with the lands where we live, especially when migration has led us to other colonized territories?

Recounting vivid stories of people and places across Cana’an, Feghali shares lineages of folk healing and eco-cultural stewardship: those passed down by matriarchs; plants and practices of prenatal and postpartum care; mystical traditions for spiritual healing; earth-based practices for emotional wellness; plant tending for bioregional regeneration; medicinal plants and herbal protocols; cultural remedies and recipes; and more.

The Land in Our Bones asks us to reclaim the integrity of our worlds, interrogating colonization and defying its “cultures of severance” through the guidance of land, lineage, and love. It is an urgent companion for our times, a beckoning call towards belonging, healing, and freedom through tending the land in your own bones.

About the Author

LAYLA K. FEGHALI is a cultural worker and folk herbalist who lives between her ancestral village in Lebanon, and California, where she was raised. Feghali’s work is about restoring relationships to earth-based ancestral wisdom as an avenue towards eco-cultural stewardship, healing, and liberation. Feghali’s methods emphasize plants of place and lineage. Her company, River Rose Re-membrance, features a line of plantcestral medicine, education, and other culturally-rooted offerings. It also hosts the Ancestral HUB, an online space for the cross-pollination of ancestral knowledge across diasporic and home communities from Southwest Asia and North Africa.

Feghali has formal certifications and colloquial training in numerous herbal, therapeutic, cultural, and traditional practices for over a decade. Amongst which, she also supports birth-tending processes, and is a certified teacher of EmbodyBirth™/BellydanceBirth®. Feghali builds on a background in movement building, and a MSW, in which she specialized in cultural interventions for addressing trauma and grief.

Praise For…

"Feghali's evocative work grounds itself in the reclamation of land and plant sovereignty to at once refuse, defy, revitalize, and reclaim geographic and cultural concepts co-opted by fascist and nationalist movements in the SWANA region.... Feghali enacts and animates for us what could be possible if we re-member ancestry alongside ever-emerging knowledge in service of liberated futures. In doing so, Feghali invites us into a world of plantcestry, one that distills with moving radiance how to move beyond familiar foreclosures insisted upon by borders, essentialism, sectarianism, and racism."
—LARA SHEEHI, PsyD, assistant professor of clinical psychology at George Washington University and president of the Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology

"As a clinical herbalist and member of the American Herbalist Guild, I have been waiting my entire life for an herbal book like this; a book in which the information shared about medicinal plants is firmly rooted in their historical, cultural, ecological, and mythological context.... Feghali offers us all an embodied praxis to work with our plantcestors as a path of ancestral remembrance, reconnection, and healing.... This book is a masterpiece and an essential contribution to the canon of books on herbal medicine."
—ATAVA GARCIA SWIECICKI, MA, RH (AHG), author of The Curanderx Toolkit

"[This book] momentously affirms forgotten legacies of herbal and ancestral healing while potentiating urgent life-affirming visions for the future. By replacing dominant European approaches to Middle East/North African histories with restorative generational wisdoms, this book will transform our knowledge systems and the ways we reckon with land, life, and each other."
—DR. NADINE NABER, author and professor of gender and women’s studies and global Asian studies at the University of Illinois

"Layla Feghali has given us a passage away from the barren mindscape of colonial thinking, dehumanizing separation, and environmental devastation. We are invited to heal from the wounds of war and the death of cultures. We may step carefully across the lines that divide us: race, class, religion, and traditions.... This is a monumental work."
—YEYE LUISAH TEISH, author of Jambalaya

"This book breaks the artificial barriers of history and politics that have been shaped by successive waves of colonization in West Asia and North Africa, that have artificially created divides between people deemed to be African or Arab, and demonstrates our deep connections through our shared cultivation of our plantcestors and ecologies. Drawing on this knowledge can be strategically employed in the healing work our generation must engage in, physically, culturally, and politically, in order to meet and overcome the threats of our age, particularly climate change."
—KALI AKUNO, author and cofounder of Cooperation Jackson

"Layla Feghali grapples with the tension of reconnecting to ancestral land while living in diaspora, away from a region disfigured by multiple layers of colonialism.... This book is a gift, a path toward decolonized futures and one of those texts I will be returning to for many years to come."
—NOAM KEIM, Megaphone Publishing Prize winner 2022

"Layla is adding complexity and introducing plurality on identity and history that is purposefully erased and simplified in order to disempower the largest diaspora in the world in knowing where their roots belong."
—CELINE SEMAAN, cofounder of Slow Factory
Product Details
ISBN: 9781623179144
ISBN-10: 1623179149
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication Date: February 13th, 2024
Pages: 368
Language: English