Flor y Machete was created by Myrna as a way to honor her ancestral legacy of healing and her people's fight to be free in Borikén.
Flor (flower), represents the powers of growth, beauty, sweetness, and fruition we all have within. A moriviví flower in the logo also symbolizes Myrna's special connection with this plant since her childhood.
Machete, represents resistance and revolutionary strength. It honors the way many of Myrna's ancestors and people from Puerto Rico cultivated the earth and fought for their own survival. The machete also symbolizes the power within to cut down obstacles and forge our own destiny.
Myrna is a queer, mixed race Boricua (brown and white heritage Boricuas) herbalist, educator and cultural organizer. She grew up eating mangos and being doused in Agua Florida. She was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, grew up in central Florida, and lived for about 10 years in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Her abuelxs inspired her to connect to Spirit and healing by growing gandules, raising chickens, making dream-based predictions, and singing spontaneous songs. Her parents and ancestors on both sides of her family, for at least 5 generations, are from (Borikén) Puerto Rico: Arecibo, Manati, Morovis, Lares, Mayagüez, and Ponce. They were espiritistas/plant-led spiritual mediums, Santería/Ifá practitioners and community nurses. Since 2012, Myrna has been returning to Borikén to heal, learn from the land, connect with her people and provide medicine. Myrna honors her ancestors' practices in all of her medicine.
Myrna has been teaching herbal classes and facilitating healing circles since 2014 and practicing yoga since she was in a debilitating car accident in 1999. She is currently teaches the yearlong Cecemmana program as well as Caribbean medicine classes at Ancestral Apothecary founded by Atava Garcia Swiecicki. Myrna studied spiritual herbalism with Karen Rose through Sacred Vibes Apothecary's Apprentice Program and she completed a year-long yoga & healer training (in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico) with Catherine Calderon, founder of Shambhala Yoga & Dance. She was also a part of Brooklyn Botanic Garden's urban gardener program. In 2014, as she was moving through her own healing journey, she couldn't find public and accessible healing spaces led by Boricuas/QTIPOC folks. As a result, she opened up her home in Flatbush, Brooklyn and began hosting free/low cost healing + learning circles. This work transformed into the founding of Casitas Wisdom, (2014-2019) a poc/qtpoc healing arts collective that honored the healing wisdom of our peoples and the leagacies of NYC garden casistas, by offering free to low-cost workshops in a variety of healing modalities. These gatherings took place place in homes and community gardens throughout NYC. Myrna is also an alumn of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI)'s Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship and she had the honor of working with CCCADI and other healing collectives to produce Home: Return, Reframe, Reclaim, an all-day healing event for the opening of their permanent home in El Barrio.
Community & Cultural Organizing
Myrna has done community organizing work with The League of Pissed Off Voters and Make the Road - NY (when it was a small org in Bushwick, NY). She was the co-founder of Batey Urbano Orlando, inspired by Chicago's Batey Urbano, whose mission was to politicize and activate youth through art, music & culture. Myrna also co-founded Elevate Youth, a free after school program held at Engelwood Neighborhood Community Center, that featured artists/organizers of colors and taught Taino practices, capoeira, the elements of hip hop, bomba, and art-making to middle and high school students. Her work is mentioned in In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam. For over 10 years, Myrna ran radio shows at WPRK 91.5 fm, an independent radio show and she was part of the Fast FWD DJ collective.
For 4 years, Myrna worked at a public park in NYC where she produced large scale teen nights (over 600 youth per event), created food justice and cultural organizing jobs for teens of color, ensured that the needs of longterm residents were met by creating and facilitating a Neighbors Council, launched/ran a teen-led Participatory Budgeting process and a Wellness Committee for 100+ staff.
Some of the places where Myrna has taught and run healing circles:
- Ancestral Apothecary
- CTRL+SHFT Collective
- The Laundromat Project - Kelly Street Garden
- KCC Urban Farm at Kingsborough Community College
- Black Women's Blueprint (in collaboration with Adaku Utah of Harriet's Apothecary)
- The New Museum (as part of Simone Leigh's The Waiting Room, in collaboration with Sacred Vibes Apothecary)
- The High Line
- Diamante Community Garden, El Barrio, NYC
- 9th St Community Garden, Loisaida, NYC
- La Finca del Sur, Bronx, NY
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- White Plains Presbyterian Church, White Plains, NY
- CEPA (Center for Embodied Pedagogy in Action), Hyde Park, Puerto Rico
- Hope Garden on the Hill, Harlem, NY (in collaboration with Sister Circle Collective)
- Home spaces in Flatbush, Brooklyn
Gratitude: Myrna is grateful for all of her given & chosen families, her abuelxs, and teachers who have supported her journey. She honors all of the warriors who fought for freedom and paved the way for us to continue to heal trauma from the legacies of violence, genocide, racism, and dis-ease that have tried to bring down our people. Through our continued healing journeys, may our future legacies be even stronger.