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Opening to Grief: Tools for Moving through Hard Times

Opening to Grief: Tools for Moving through Hard Times

This moment is heavy with grief—whether it be from the climate crisis, the conflict in Israel-Palestine, the war in Ukraine, or ongoing conflicts in the Congo, Sudan, Syria, and countless other crises.

Grief, defined as a deep sense of sorrow evoked by loss, is what we experience when something or someone we love dies, changes, or disappears. Although grief can feel challenging both emotionally and somatically, it is a state that ought not be pathologized in that it is a healthy response to losing something we love. Grief, in reminding us what we love, can also empower us to speak up against injustice, to gather in solidarity, and to nurture a world that supports life.

According to Martín Prechtel, author of The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise, to open ourselves to grief is one of the greatest expressions of love and praise and performs a restorative, healing function when felt fully and expressed in that it honors what we miss, be it a person, a home, a way of life, or a country. He writes, “To truly and freely grieve as an entire people can revive an entire culture just as much as it can bring back to life an individual.” 

We at Synergetic Press value centering conversations around openness, mutual care, and compassion towards one another in these trying times. We recognize that even though there are no easy solutions or paths to meet the complexities and challenges that humanity collectively faces, as Joana Macy shared, “the most radical thing that any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world.” As such, we have provided a list of resources and tools for helping you to feel more deeply as well as care for yourself and others in this moment of collective grief and heartache. 

Community Care, Resources, & Practices for Grief

Room for Grief by Reimagine & BACII – Hosted every third Thursday of the month, the Reimagine community opens its arms to those navigating loss with our Room for Grief sessions. Facilitated by volunteers, these peer-led, drop-in gatherings are for you, whether you’re looking to learn about grief or seeking support in your journey. We leverage art, creativity, and prompts to foster conversation and introspection. Designed for adults across generations, Room for Grief is your safe space when you need it.

The GEN Grief Toolkit by Camille Sapara Barton – Embodiment tools and rituals to support grief work in community 

Across Lines: Grief. with Bayo Akomolafe, Professor Sa’ed Atshan, and Cecilie Surasky Starting from the premise that all people belong and all lives are grievable, the speakers will explore how honoring each other’s grief may allow us to reclaim each other’s humanity and perhaps shed light on a path forward to belonging in Israel-Palestine, for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, and for all people around the world. Bayo, Sa’ed, and Cecilie will journey into what it might be like to glimpse at the world through tears: what visions are possible when we postpone the compulsion to see everything clearly?

Books on Grief and Loss 

Tending Grief: Embodied Rituals for Holding Our Sorrow and Growing Cultures of Care in Community by Camille Sapara Barton

An embodied guide to being with grief individually and in community—practical exercises, decolonized rituals, and Earth-based medicines for healing and processing loss

The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise by Martín Prechtel 

Inspiring hope, solace, and courage in living through our losses, author Martín Prechtel, trained in the Tzutujil Maya shamanic tradition, shares profound insights on the relationship between grief and praise in our culture–how the inability that many of us have to grieve and weep properly for the dead is deeply linked with the inability to give praise for living. 

World as Lover, World as Self by Joanna Macy

An enduring classic of the ecology movement by the founder of the Work That Reconnects, now more timely than ever. Humanity is in an existential crisis. Facing the magnitude of our global situation as individuals leaves us feeling alone, disempowered, and despairing. Who better to listen to for wisdom and solace than Joanna Macy, one of the originators of modern environmentalism, whose life’s work has been to hear and heal our pain for the planet?

The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller

Noted psychotherapist Francis Weller provides an essential guide for navigating the deep waters of sorrow and loss in this lyrical yet practical handbook for mastering the art of grieving. Describing how Western patterns of amnesia and anesthesia affect our capacity to cope with personal and collective sorrows, Weller reveals the new vitality we may encounter when we welcome, rather than fear, the pain of loss. Through moving personal stories, poetry, and insightful reflections he leads us into the central energy of sorrow, and to the profound healing and heightened communion with each other and our planet that reside alongside it.

Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief edited by Cindy Milstein

We can bear almost anything when it is worked through collectively. Grief is generally thought of as something personal and insular, but when we publicly share loss and pain, we lessen the power of the forces that debilitate us, while at the same time building the humane social practices that alleviate suffering and improve quality of life for everyone. Addressing tragedies from Fukushima to Palestine, incarceration to eviction, AIDS crises to border crossings, and racism to rape, the intimate yet tenacious writing in this volume shows that mourning can pry open spaces of contestation and reconstruction, empathy and solidarity. With contributions from Claudia Rankine, Sarah Schulman, David Wojnarowicz, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, David Gilbert, and nineteen others.

Waking Up to the Dark: The Black Madonna’s Gospel for An Age of Extinction and Collapse by Clark Strand

Is darkness synonymous with ignorance and evil? Or is it the original matrix from which all life emerges, and the Mother to whom it returns? Higher and higher levels of artificial illumination have suppressed our contact with the numinous since the Industrial Revolution, with dire consequences for society, our planetary ecology, and our souls. This mystical testament weaves together paleobiology, memoir, history, science, and spiritual archaeology to lead readers back into the lost mysteries of the dark.

Organizations You Can Support (Grief and Love in Action)

When contributing to humanitarian efforts in Israel-Palestine or elsewhere, make sure to exercise caution to avoid donating to fraudulent organizations. The Federal Trade Commission recommends researching charities by adding terms like “complaint,” “review,” “rating” and “scam” to their names in your search to identify any potential red flags. Given the abundance of misinformation on social media about the Israel-Hamas conflict, it is crucial to ensure that your donations go to legitimate and effective organizations.

  1. Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – an organization that provides medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. Their teams are made up of tens of thousands of health professionals, logistic and administrative staff – most of them hired locally, guided by medical ethics and the principles of impartiality, independence and neutrality.
  1. The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund – an organization that provides free medical care to thousands of injured and ill children yearly who lack local access to care within the local health care system.  Over the years, they’ve sent over 2,000 affected children abroad for free medical care, sent thousands of international doctors and nurses to provide tens of thousands of children free medical care in local hospitals, and provided tens of thousands of children humanitarian aid and support they otherwise would not get.  
  1. The International Rescue Committee – a nonprofit organization that helps people affected by humanitarian crises—including the climate crisis—to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.

Artwork credit: “Receptor” 2021 by Ashley Blanton. Follow her work here:

Indigenous Food Sovereignty: Nourishing Communities, Preserving Cultures

Indigenous Food Sovereignty: Nourishing Communities, Preserving Cultures

Indigenous food sovereignty stands as a critical pillar in the struggle for self-determination and cultural preservation among Indigenous communities worldwide. Rooted in the profound connection between land, culture, and sustenance, this concept embodies the right of Indigenous peoples to define their own food systems, free from external interference. Scholars and activists like Vandana Shiva and Winona LaDuke have played instrumental roles in articulating the importance of Indigenous food sovereignty, emphasizing its role in fostering sustainable practices, biodiversity conservation, and cultural resilience.

Vandana Shiva’s Perspective: Resisting Corporate Control

Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist, scholar, and author, has been a staunch advocate for seed sovereignty and the protection of Indigenous knowledge systems. She highlights the encroachment of agribusiness giants and the threat they pose to traditional food systems. Shiva argues that the commodification of seeds and the imposition of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) infringe upon the rights of Indigenous communities to save, exchange, and cultivate their traditional seeds, limiting biodiversity for future generations.

In the context of Indigenous food sovereignty, Shiva emphasizes the significance of seed sovereignty as a means of reclaiming control over the food production process. When Indigenous communities have the autonomy to safeguard and share their native seeds, they simultaneously protect their biodiversity and cultural heritage. Shiva’s work underscores the importance of resisting corporate control to ensure that Indigenous peoples can maintain their traditional agricultural practices.

In her book, Reclaiming the Commons: Biodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge, and the Rights of Mother Earth, Shiva explores the ways in which Indigenous and traditional communities do not see themselves as separate from the natural world, with Western culture only just catching up to this understanding. She writes, “What our Indigenous communities already embodied in their worldview of the commons as a way of life is now slowly being moved towards by the rest of the world. In gradually tracing our way back we are walking forward into a future embracing that liminality and inseparability between the communities and their common resources. Between us and our environment.” 

Winona LaDuke’s Advocacy: Land as the Foundation

Winona LaDuke, an Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist, has been a prominent voice in the fight for Indigenous rights and sustainable development in North America. LaDuke places a particular emphasis on the centrality of land to Indigenous identity and food sovereignty. For many indigenous communities, land is not merely a resource; it is a sacred space intertwined with cultural practices, spirituality, and sustenance.

As LaDuke writes in Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming, “The recovery of the people is tied to the recovery of food, since food itself is medicine: not only for the body, but for the soul, for the spiritual connection to history, ancestors, and the land.”

LaDuke contends that the loss of land and the degradation of natural resources disrupt Indigenous food systems, contributing to the erosion of cultural practices and community resilience. In her work, she advocates for policies that recognize and respect Indigenous land rights, enabling communities to manage their territories in ways that align with their cultural and ecological values.

The Interconnectedness of Food, Culture, and Ecology

The Indigenous Food Sovereignty movement aims to provide Indigenous communities with the ability to have autonomy over their own food systems, undoing the century-old colonialist food policies that have hampered their ability to control and determine their foodways. ⁠⁠

Historically speaking, food insecurity for native peoples was largely caused by colonial encroachment upon their lands, the devastation of traditional fishing, hunting, and harvesting areas, the vulnerability of populations to diseases, and the resultant depletion of cultural knowledge. The United States’ historical colonial legacy has profoundly disrupted the ancestral relationship between Indigenous Peoples and their land-based food systems.

Indigenous food sovereignty includes creating access to healthy food options, integrating and sustaining ancestral farming and food practices, as well as cultivating a living relationship with the land, and reinforcing value systems that honor interconnection.⁠⁠

Attempts to assimilate the Indigenous peoples of North America into Euro-American society included calculated attempts to decimate Indigenous food supplies, and so the practice of food sovereignty is an act of healing. ⁠⁠

Both Shiva and LaDuke highlight the interconnectedness of food, culture, and ecology within the framework of Indigenous food sovereignty. Indigenous food systems are not solely about sustenance; they are a manifestation of cultural identity and a repository of traditional knowledge passed down through generations. By protecting and revitalizing these food systems, Indigenous communities assert their right to maintain their distinct ways of life.

Furthermore, the emphasis on sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices inherent in Indigenous food sovereignty aligns with broader global efforts to combat climate change. Indigenous communities often serve as stewards of diverse ecosystems, promoting biodiversity and resilient agricultural methods that contribute to environmental conservation on a global scale.


Indigenous food sovereignty is a crucial element in the broader struggle for Indigenous rights and environmental justice. Vandana Shiva and Winona LaDuke’s work underscores the need to recognize and respect the autonomy of Indigenous communities in shaping their food systems. By safeguarding traditional seeds, reclaiming control over land, and promoting sustainable practices, Indigenous peoples assert their right to nourish their communities while preserving their ancestral heritage.

Photo by julian mora on Unsplash

The Nature of Drugs: History, Volume 2 to publish June 28, 2022

The Nature of Drugs: History, Volume 2 to publish June 28, 2022



With a focus on understanding and navigating the complexities of drug experiences, Nature of Drugs Vol. 2 is set to become a significant resource in the ever-evolving conversation surrounding psychoactive substances and their place in human culture. As the interest in exploring the diverse and complex nature of drugs continues to grow, Transform Press and Synergetic Press are proud to announce the publication of “The Nature of Drugs Vol. 2” on June 28th, 2023. This groundbreaking book serves as an essential guide, delving into the multifaceted aspects of various drugs and their effects on human consciousness and society, offering valuable insights for both professionals and enthusiasts alike. 

“The Nature of Drugs: Volume 2” is a captivating book authored by Alexander Shulgin, with Shulgin’s extensive knowledge and experience as a renowned chemist and psychopharmacologist, the book explores a wide range of drugs, their chemical structures, and their potential applications in therapeutic contexts. Shulgin’s meticulous research and insightful analysis provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of the complex nature of drugs and their profound impact on the human mind.

Sacred Flow: A Water Workshop with Starhawk and Erik Ohlsen

Sacred Flow: A Water Workshop with Starhawk and Erik Ohlsen

June 1-4, 2023 in Cazadero, California

Intensive Water Workshop with Author Erik Ohlsen

Water is sacred, water is life! Come out to majestic Sonoma County for a long weekend intensive training on water with elder in the permaculture space, Starhawk, and master permaculture designer and author of The Regenerative Landscaper, Erik Ohlsen, organized by our friends at Earth Activist Training. We’ll practice hands-on stream restoration and erosion control in a framework that honors water as the sacred, life-giving force it is.

Together we’ll learn to read the rhythm and pulse of flowing water, as we study the onsite water systems, storage, ponds, roof catchment, and drip irrigation.

You’ll acquire tools for healing disturbed and incised stream beds and hillside erosion, and build small rock dams, brush dams, and beaver-dam analogs while doing fuel reduction and fire mitigation in the woods.

You are welcome to camp at Starhawk’s Ranch, and we’ll nourish you with three delicious meals a day, doing our best to accommodate your dietary needs.

We’ll start each day with ritual, and work and play together throughout the day with time for just being in a beautiful natural setting. In the evenings, we’ll share stories, songs and water ceremonies.

Earth Activist Training aims to make our courses as affordable as possible, offering sliding scale tuition, payment plans, discounts for locals, and Diversity Scholarships for Indigenous People and People of Color working in environmental and social justice.

Register here

Earth Day at Magic at Gill Tract Farm

Earth Day at Magic at Gill Tract Farm

The Gill Tract farm is a special place, born of a 2012 Occupy the Farm movement including 200 activists “taking back” the land and planting over 15,000 seedlings as a declaration that this land should belong to the people. Today, they partner with Sogorea Te’, an urban Indigenous women-led land trust, offering the opportunity to tend and receive from a medicinal plant spiral garden and abundant vegetables. They are also the East Bay’s largest overwintering site for the Western Monarch Butterfly and many of the plants they choose to include in this community space are known to attract this pollinator, whose population has been in decline for decades. This year’s B’Earth Day Festival hosted an uplifting conversation between Tomi Hazel Vaarde, author of Social Forestry: Tending the Land as People of Place; Starhawk, whose foreword graces the book; Wanda Stewart, Executive Director of Common Vision, an organization that grows fruit orchards in low-income schools; and Cyrus Mayer, a local activist with a clear-eyed vision. They had already been talking for two hours before they arrived and the conversation felt ongoing and alive as they delved into this potent transitional time, inviting us to consider the radical potential of the commons and what it might look like to honor each individual’s humanity and history in tending land and making place together. The discussion overflowed with the strength of their collective vision.

Meanwhile, children ran around eating morning buns and a vat of vegan soup fed the masses. A tea mixing station invited us all to make a “magic brew” of plants grown onsite (maybe a bit of mullein, some catnip, or a fistful of fresh chamomile to dry on the sill?). The light seemed to touch everything.


Managing Editor Noelle Armstrong pictured with author of Social Forestry Tomi Hazel Vaarde and Karen Taylor

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