Restoration Through Transformation

By Zakiya Harris

September 16, 2020, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

Let’s face it. Pretty much everything, as we know it, has changed. So much of what we believed to be true and invested in is collapsing before our very eyes. As we pivot away from extractive systems of capitalism, built on false foundations of white psychosis and patriarchy, a new set of tools is required to support us in navigating the shift and bringing our true gifts to the world. The good news is, as BIPOC communities, many of these tools are already embedded within us as part of our ancestral legacy and tradition—IF we choose to activate them.

Being a member of #HouseFullofBlackWomen has been part of my ritual of activation. It has given me the space to heal, to be seen, and to reconnect to the wisdom of who I truly am. Little did I realize when I joined this project years ago, how much I would rely on this tribe for support during these times. It continues to buoy my spirit and remind me that we are not performing, we are midwives, ushering in the greatest paradigm shift of our lifetimes, conjuring on behalf of Mother Earth, who we owe so much to but have given so little. This is what has inspired this video, to remind people that although death is inevitable it doesn’t have to be the end. Let the rebirth begin!

Read a transcript of this video below

What’s up shapeshifters? It’s your girl Zakiya Harris, aka Oyadolu, aka Sh8peshifter coming forth with a message today about restoration through transformation. Restoration through transformation.

I know that many of us are starting to feel disillusioned, feeling alone, feeling like not only did the floor get taken from underneath you, but the roof and maybe the walls too. As I record this video from California, we have hundreds and hundreds of fires burning throughout our state as we speak, on the heels of a racial uprising, on the heels of shelter in place and COVID-19, which many people thought was a single pandemic to a double pandemic to a triple pandemic. Now we don’t even know what to call it, but we’re all clear that everything has changed. And it can be really difficult during this time to really find your grounding, your balance, when it seems like every time you turn on the news, you open up social media feed, or maybe even you’re talking to family and friends, something else is going “wrong.”

And so I want to invite us to always remember the fact that we are human beings having a spiritual experience, right? We are human beings, we are having a spiritual experience on the planet Earth. And so we have to make sure that we’re always grounding ourselves, more now than ever, especially during these times, in the ancient wisdom that our ancestors in all Afro-Indigenous societies held.

And one of those wisdoms was the fact that they acknowledged that the Earth was feminine, had maintained a feminine principle – Earth Mother Onile, Pachamama, Gaia – that the planet Earth is this living… breathing… interconnected energy that gives us the honor of walking in her belly, of being able to be nourished from the plants and the fruits and the vegetables that she provides us.

And so the reality is when we even talk about notions of “saving” the planet, there’s no such thing as saving the planet. You’re only saving yourself. And so if we take this, this idea of the feminine principle and of Earth being the Grandmother, right? The Big Mama. The Mambo. The Iyalode. The Big Mama, that is ruling all of this. We have to start to ask ourselves very simple questions.

And one of those questions is, if Earth was a house and your grandmother was coming over to visit, what would she say when she walked into the basement of the oceans that literally have more plastic floating through them than the size of the planet of California?

What would she say if she took a look at the rivers, and you look at water sources in places like Flint, Michigan who are literally still feeding their children contaminated water?

What would she say when she looked at the sky of her own balcony of the planet Earth and saw the chem trails and the pollution and all of the smoke and degradation?

What would she say when she looked at her fields, her belly, and see the amount of rape and pillaging and taking and excavating that has been done to her natural resources, that has been done to her plants, that has been done to her minerals?

There’s no way that she would come into contact with the current state of the Earth and say that there can be anything that could be done here other than transform this energy.

Because there is so much death and destruction that has riddled her house, that has contaminated her home. That sometimes, the only thing that can bring life is death. And we have to remember that we’re talking on the metaphysical plane because we remember we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Even when it came time for me to birth and push out my daughter all naturally with no anesthesia, one of my sister-friends said “You know, sister, when you come and it’s time for you to birth your child, you have to surrender. A part of you is going to have to die. A part of you is going to have to surrender.” And for those of us who are spiritual beings who have been sitting in rituals and prayers and been doing this work for years and years, praying for healing, praying for the transformation, praying for the healing of the Earth! We can’t now question her will. And so the reality is yes, sometimes shit has to burn all the way down to the core. Because what it was built on was some bullshit.

I told y’all 2020 is a 20/20 vision year. This is the opportunity where you see everything for exactly what it is – and what it is not. And the reality is we were living in a world that was built on a house of cards and Earth Mother just came through with her breeze (Zakiya blows towards the camera), and she blew the bullshit down.

And so now we have an opportunity to truly decide what we want to build. What are the four pillars – the foundation, the scaffolding – that we want to build this new Earth on? And we have to also recognize that when you’re on stolen land – built off the blood, sweat, and tears of stolen people, meant to build up this artificial wealth of capitalism, built on the backs of other people that is perpetuated through systems of white psychosis and patriarchy – honey, there is no making that better! You don’t renew that. You can’t restore that without transforming it. You can’t pray your way into making that better. It’s like taking a pile of shit and putting sugar on it. It’s still a pile of shit!

So that time is over. We’re stepping into the new. We’re never going back. These notions of when things go back to normal, this is it sweetheart. You were waiting for the grand day, the big show, when everything was going to change. Welcome to the party. You’re here. And you asked to be on the front lines at this very moment. You incarnated into this body, in this time, in this moment to be on the planet so that you, so that I, all of us shapeshifters, all of us who consider ourselves forces of healing could midwife the shift that is required.

And yes, it is painful. No one ever said it was going to feel good. When a woman sits down to push out new life it is called labor for a reason. When healers go to their shrines and they go and perform ritual, it’s called spiritual work. It’s work. When a caterpillar has to shift into the chrysalis before it can be a butterfly, it has to lose every part of who it is. Where in nature do you see transformation happening without tension? Tension is where creation emerges from.

And so the invitation right now is to ground yourself in that which can never be destroyed. Because I’m going to tell you right now, if you’re waiting for the election to ground you in some level of normalcy, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re waiting for your job to ground you in some level of normalcy, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re waiting for the public educational system to get their shit together with our children in this fuck-all distance learning programming, you can’t take that program into your own hands, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re waiting for your relationship to add up to this perfect picture of what you think it’s supposed to be before you can move forward, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re waiting for your bank account to have some certain account balance for you to feel grounded and rooted in who you are, you’re going to be disappointed.

The only thing that you can bank on right now is your relationship with your ancestors, your relationship with the temple of yourself, your Ori that you carry with you wherever you go, and to be very clear that you are in right alignment with Pachamama with Earth Mother Onile, with the divine mothers. As we call them in the Ifa tradition the Iyami, you better get on their side. You better get in right relationship with them.

And it does not matter if you are a good person and you have good intentions. That’s not enough. We’ve seen good people be taken advantage of all the time. You gotta put in work. You have to start exercising your spiritual labor. You have to start making sacrifices to your spiritual traditions and centering that by any means necessary over your job, your children, your partner, your anything else. There’s nothing, nothing more important than getting in right relationship with your divine purpose. That is the only thing that is going to save you.

If you’re looking for what is going to support you, it’s your spiritual practice. If you want to know what’s going to help your career, it’s your spiritual practice. If you wanna know what’s going to make your relationship go right, it’s your spiritual practice. If you’re looking for a way to change the dynamic with your children, it’s going to be your spiritual practice. If you wanna know how you can be immune to all of the changes in the marketplace and make sure that you keep your wealth and your money coming into yourself, it’s your spiritual practice. If you’re trying to get your health right, you can put all the hand sanitizer on and put the mask on as much as you want, but if your spiritual relationship with your mental and spiritual health is out of alignment, it’s going to be insufficient.

This is a wakeup call. Let the alarm go off, and stop looking outside of yourself for where the change needs to occur. You have everything required within your own personal temple and sovereignty to fulfill your destiny. It is your birthright, it has been given to you, and it is your inheritance. Turn off the news. Turn off the feed. Turn off the distractions. Ground yourself in who you are, and I promise you, we’re going to make it. And it’s unfortunate because there are going to be people that you love and be people that you wanted to make it through with you, but nobody ever said we get to certain destinations with everybody that we want at the same time. Nobody said that. You will be lucky, you will be lucky, and you will be blessed if as you move forward to the milestones on your own personal journey that you can look to the left and look to the right and see somebody that you love next to you. You will be so lucky. But if that doesn’t happen, baby, you better keep moving forward.

So, that’s what I got. I know that was emotional. But I’m passionate about this because I’m seeing people falter and shuffle by the wayside and it’s like, “Stay clear. Stay clear. Remove the distractions. Tap into yourself.” You have absolutely everything that you need. I promise you, we’re going to get through this through the power of our ancestors and through the power of our spiritual practice because they have gone through uncertainty that you cannot even fathom. And you are here right now because of their prayers. And we now, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for to see that for the next future generations, it is up to us to make sure that we keep moving forward.

Alright, I love y’all shapeshifters. Until then, keep shifting.

This article appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of In Dance.

Zakiya Harris affectionately known as Sh8peshifter, is a woman who has truly charted her own path in life. A Cultural Architect, she has over 2 decades of experience working at the intersections of Art, Activism and Spiritual Entrepreneurship. Zakiya is the co-founder of nationally recognized projects Impact Hub Oakland, Grind for the Green and a past Fellow of Green For All and Bold Food. Currently she serves as the Co-Founder + Senior Advisor at Hack the Hood, an award-winning non-profit that introduces low-income youth of color to careers in tech by hiring and training them to build websites for real small businesses in their own communities. Zakiya is the published author of Sh8peshift Your Life: The Creative Entrepreneurs Guide to Self Love, Self Mastery and Fearless Self Expression.