I recently sat with healer Stephanie Kate at her home in Los Angeles, where she shared her heartwarming story of personal healing after enduring a terrible injury as a professional aerial dancer. I was introduced to her by my family in Los Angeles, who felt I needed to meet her, and I am grateful they insisted. Listening to her story on how she was called to be with the plants of the Amazon during her recovery was a beautiful reminder to follow your intuition, to follow your heart. We began our interview at her kitchen table, where she shared a family recipe for borscht - that she has since made her own by adding some unusual ingredients - that all worked in harmony to make a delicious medicine! After our interview, she took me and my family outside where she gifted us a lovely canto medicina (medicine song) she had learned while in the Amazon. Read our Meet + Eat below, and find her recipe for her Heart Medicine Borscht here.
1. How you arrived in the jungles of the Amazon is quite amazing - how were you called to be with the plant medicine there? I was working as professional aerial dancer when my equipment broke and I fell during a rehearsal, fracturing my L1 vertebrae. I had to be completely still on my back for the first two weeks of recovery. During that time, I was receiving downloads from Source - visions. Visions of being surrounded by green light and a green forest. I realized I was being called to the Amazon to do some deep spiritual work and physical healing work. Getting to the Amazon by myself, figuring out where to go and what was good energy to be around, who to sit with in ceremony - those were things that concerned me because *Ayahuasca tourism was a very real thing. I didn't go down there FOR Ayahuasca, I went down there to work with plants, however, Ayahuasca did end up being part of my healing process - and I am very grateful for that and I respect that medicine deeply. In the jungle there were a lot of inauthentic healers there using it, so I needed to be very careful. I went with my intuition.
2. Prior to your journey to the Amazon, were you working with healing plants? Yes, herbs and plants have always been a part of my life and a part of my healing growing up. I remember my grandpa had cancer and he healed himself with plants and foods from his garden. It's always been plants and healing. Spending time in the rainforest was such a profound healing experience for me, experiencing Source. My experience there the first time was with a curandera who was very powerful simply with her voice alone, with her songs. Ever since then the call to go back and spend more time there and to bring more plant medicine into my practice became more apparent. I had already been doing Reiki, crystal healing, and working with people with dance and movement therapy. So now I am trying to combine even more plant-spirit medicine into my practice.
3. This soup we are eating is so good! It's very complex and tastes like a tonic? Yes! It has cacao in it! Cacao is something that has been in my life since childhood as a remedy for everything. This soup is a heart medicine from my Russian side. Heart healing has been such an important part of my life, part of my lineage really, that I've needed to heal certain cycles within my life. So, a lot of the medicines I work with personally are heart healing medicines. I really believe in heart-based meditations and living from the heart. Borscht is one of those medicines. Beets, the red colors, the tomatoes, everything that goes into it is good for the heart.
4. Do you feel the act of preparing food is a medicine in itself? Yes, it is. It's peaceful. One of the things my mom passed down to me is baking - so a lot of the recipes she gave me were baking ones. Whenever I take the time to bake or cook, I take my time to choose the ingredients carefully. The same way I make my medicines with the plants, that is how I cook. I really try to put something special into it, and to put healing into it.
5. Do you have a daily ritual that you do keep grounded? Yes, it's different things - so some days it might simply be smudging, taking that time to have that moment of smoke. Lately it's been with mapacho, which is sacred tobacco from the Amazon. Just taking that time to sit in meditation or to smudge is very grounding. I also like to go outside and sing to my plants.
6. Lastly, the Desert or the Ocean? Oh gosh - that's so hard! The Desert and the Mountains make me feel grounded, but the Ocean has my heart. I often pray to Yemaya, the mother of the Ocean, and water is the gift that my dad has given me, so I have a profound connection to water. Whenever I am near any water, even to a river, I feel humbled.
Stephanie Kate is an Usui Reiki Master, plant-spirit medicine woman, and movement artist based out of LA. She offers private and group sessions with energy healing, intuitive readings, guided plant journeys, and movement. You can connect with her at Instagram @wyldmystic.
*Ayahuasca is a traditional brew used in spiritual medicine and is found in many ceremonies among the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin.