and thanks for being here!
Thank you for checking out my website. My name is Mary-Dora and I am a non-binary queer artist of Italian and Danish ancestry who practices at the intersection of embodied healing and liberation as a somatic movement facilitator and birthworker. I am called to these practices as a way to work within the context of collective and intergenerational trauma. I am curious about exploring the body-mind relationship from both a conscious and unconscious level. I am currently dedicated to developing my practice in esoteric medicine & healing arts. The word 'esoteric' comes from the Greek word esôterikos which means ‘from within’ or innermost. The word medicine, comes from the Latin ‘ars medicina’ and means the ‘art of healing’. I engage with the art of healing oneself by reconnecting with one’s body. I strive to hold space for others to support them in their journey of embodied connection, birth, postpartum and abortion.
As a neurodivergent individual and survivor of adverse childhood experiences, I have spent the majority of my adult life working through trauma and complex PTSD with practices that put me more in touch with my body and nervous system. Through my own recovery journey I have come to realize that healing isn't a "one-size-fits-all" approach. Over the years I have become more and more interested in body-oriented (bottom-up) and holistic approaches towards embodiment.
I am passionate and dedicated to helping others find a way back to their bodies with a gentle, trauma-informed and anti-oppressive approach. All of my offerings are accessible and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Most importantly, in my practice I prioritize supporting Queer, Trans and Gender diverse/variant folks in building body-awareness and reproductive health that is sensitive of gender dysphoria/trauma. More specifically, I welcome trans masculine and trans feminine folks in their infant feeding journey's as well. This is an area I am actively seeking out relevant research, consultation and continuing education/training on regularly to be able to serve the community I am apart of as best I can.
In my practice, I will not tolerate transphobia, homophobia, fat phobia, racism, sexism, classism, ableism or any other "-isms", discrimination or stigmatization. I am a sex positive, kinky and ethically non-monogamous human and abuse survivor which also informs the care I provide. I also welcome and support all kinds of sex workers in my practice.
If you are interested in learning more, I would love to connect with you. You can email me at email@example.com to set up a consultation or even just to chat!
The land history and the body are deeply connected. It is the separation of these these histories that is one of the many resulting wounds of colonization. The lands and bodies that we live in are political and embedded within violent structural systems in Western society. It has been really important for me to understand the complexities associated with colonization and racism and what it looks like to hold an anti-oppressive space. This is something I am learning both individually and within community. Paying attention to how white supremacy shows up in my life and in my work has been an on-going process. I think it is important to say that I am no expert. This has been a journey of undoing my own biases so that I am able to show up in the world with more awareness and sensitivity. I would like to hold space for the diversity of experiences that each unique person brings with them and to honor this by acknowledging it.
A part of this learning allows me to acknowledge the lineage of where my practices come from, who my teachers are and what their influences were. Acknowledgment of lineage is an on-going process of uncovering the layers of history that has shaped the practices I am in relationship with, as a means towards reciprocity and repair. Without this acknowledgment, Western somatic healing modalities and birthwork paradigms will remain embedded within the values of white supremacy. A fellow somatic practitioner recently drew my attention this article by Susan Raffo which has been a helpful tool for me in addressing appropriation in somatics and related fields.
The first step towards lineage acknowledgment is naming my practices, from who these practices emerged from and what drew me to them. I don't adhere to any one discipline or modality. I practice in an interdisciplinary way that includes my training as a classical and contemporary dance artist (Nadia Potts, Martha Graham, Isadora Duncan, Merce Cunningham, Lester Horton, Rudolf Laban and more) , asana practitioner (ashtanga vinyasa - K. Pattabhi Jois), somatic movement educator (body=mind centering - Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and Mariko Tanabe), doula and reproductive justice advocate (Black Granny Midwives of the America South). I have learned from and been shaped by the work of Rodney Diverlus, Ravyn Wngz, Syrus Marcus Ware, Renee Linklater, Sage Hayes, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Marika Heinrichs, Katherine Belfontain, angel Kyodo williams, Kai Cheng Thom, Resmaa Menakem, Peter Levine, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Layla Saad, Che Che Luna, Amanda Acorn, and Alessandra Belloni, just to name a few. I am grateful to these teachers, mentors and to the many dance teachers I have had over the last 20+ years who have shared their wisdom and teachings with me.
The field of somatics has very broad applications within many therapeutic and movement modalities. In the 1970s, Thomas Hanna coined the term 'somatics' as a way to encompass any method that uses a "bottom-up" approach (working with the body). Somatics uses the mind-body connection to allow us to perceive and sense the internal self. It allows us to listen more deeply to the signals the body sends out in regards to pain, discomfort, imbalance or pleasure. It involves soft observation, curiosity, slowing down, tuning in and paying attention to the subtle shifts in the body. Living in such a disembodied culture in the West, somatics offers a pathway back to ourselves and our bodies. The history of somatics is long and extends way beyond the information I have shared here. These practices come from many traditional BIPOC practices and there is no one practice that accounts for the history or evolution of somatics as it exists in the west. Indigenous traditions around the world have been practicing somatics long before Westernized practitioners took interest and some times these practices were shared or stolen without consent. Somatics became popular in Western cultures in the 19th century as it was brought to Europe and USA. Further foundational developments in somatics have been traced to the turn of the 20th century with the rise in experiential learning. Within modern dance, choreographers like Isadora Duncan and Rudolf von Laban challenged traditional European conceptions of dance, introducing newly expressive and open-ended movement paradigms. Together, these movements set the stage for the first generation of "somatic pioneers" primarily active in Europe..
What I love about somatics is that uses a combination of experiential movement awareness activities, verbal guidance and guided touch. Moreover, this practice emerges from direct explorations of the body, breath and states of being, which in many ways can be empowering, foster a sense of mutual liberation and connection when practiced in community. In the West, some view somatic disciplines as human sciences informed by a physiological understanding of body-mind functioning, applied in a creative and intuitive way. However there is much debate as to whether somatics is an art or a science or both. Somatics values subjective experience as the truth and it is this greater body awareness that has the potential to change our overall health. I am drawn to these practices because, as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, much of my adult experience has involved searching for ways to heal deep trauma that I did not have words for. As a child, I did not have the capacity to comprehend these traumatic experiences with words. The body and movement has been an important way for me to process my history and I have been drawn to this way of working since I could remember.
Acknowledging the History of Birthworkers
It is important to acknowledge the history of the granny midwives of the American South who very much paved the way for midwives and doulas today. Black granny midwives offered person-centered care and holistic support for their clients and we owe an acknowledgment to the important work they did. It is important to understand how the legacy of white supremacy has failed to acknowledge this history, as well as the mothers of gynecology (Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey) who gave up their bodies for the Western medical practices that are still used today.
What I am doing
I draw upon my own lineage of body-mind practices from Italian folklore traditions that come from Roma, L'Aquila/Pratola and throughout the southern regions as well. I am in the on-going process of reconnecting to these practices as a way to heal and move through the grief of existing as a settler on stolen land. Finding connection to my ancestral Italian practices, like that of the Tarantella or Tarantism (the trance dance of the spider) has begun a process of decolonization and reconnection. Tarantism dates back to the 11th century. The practice was common in Southern Italy, especially in the province of Taranto, during the 16th and 17th centuries. This journey of discovering my blood memory practices as a somatic practitioner keeps me grounded and authentic in my offerings
Additionally, I continue to participate in conversations, lectures, workshops and conferences around how I can collectively work towards dismantling white supremacy within my communities and within myself. I maintain a commitment to increasing access to all forms of healing for marginalized communities through amplifying QTBIPOC voices and through mutual aid. I am currently a volunteer with the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture where I offer youth peer support and mentorship for the organization which supports immigrants and refugees new to Canada. I strive to continue to offer services in accessible ways.
I acknowledge that I am settler here on the stolen and unceded territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Anishnaabek Peoples, the Huron-Wendat Nation and the Chippewa First Nations.
Tkaronto is governed by many treaties including The Two Row Wampum, The Williams Treaty, The Toronto Purchase Treaty/Treaty 13, and The Dish With One Spoon. Tkaronto is home to many different First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. I continue to explore the ways in which my work as a movement educator and student can support movements for decolonization and liberation on this land.