Domonique Echeverria has lived more lives in her thirty-one years than most can ever account for in an entire lifetime. She is a mixed-Latinx queer, a survivor, and a muse whose ambitious life is shared with others through her generous wisdom and spiritual practices. Famous as a fashion designer and night club host, she is redefining herself as a healer. She inhales weed in sacrament.
Echeverria hails from ancestors who are healers, seers, and visionaries. This tradition of wisdom is inherent within her actions.
As a smoker of cannabis for medicinal reasons, Echeverria is a New-York-based bruja who found her path towards healing through the somatic language of trauma. A violent suicide attempt in November of 2015 altered her physical shell. This attempt changed her, and she now lives as a double-amputee. Transformed through tragedy, she rose from the ashes even more powerful; more bountiful and beautiful.
Echeverria hails from ancestors who are healers, seers, and visionaries. This tradition of wisdom is inherent within her actions. In the psychic reckoning after her failed suicide attempt, she created Universal Mother, “a safe space curated by a team of healers and visionaries.” It is a creative and empathic response to suffering—a website that functions as a safe space for free information about healing.
I spoke with her recently* about her path towards wellness, how cannabis heals her, and about how her identity intersects with her spiritual beliefs. Domonique Echeverria describes herself as a “daughter of Yemaya,” the goddess of the sea and the moon.
*Editor’s note: Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Leafly: Your life has a message. What is it?
Domonique Echeverria: The world is in a healing emergency. Start with healing yourself. When you heal yourself, you heal your community and the world. Don’t feel overwhelmed with getting started—everything you need to know is coded in your bones by your ancestors. All you have to do is pause and listen with all of your senses.
Universal Mother is where your energy is directed these days. It seems that you regard women and the femmes in your life as spiritual guides. Is this true? If so, how has this sisterhood defined you?
Though I love designing and hosting parties, the world needs healing. Within days of my accident, the whole world started to shift, and the shadows started to come to light. About a month out of the hospital—before I was walking—I met a Mayan Shaman at a powwow who was the first person to offer me a healing. I looked into her eyes with fear and said, “I can feel it all happening, and I know I’m supposed to help, but I just had my arm and leg ripped off. I’m partly paralyzed, and I still want to die. How am I going to help anyone?”
Domonique Echeverria, Healer
She looked at me, with more fire than I had ever seen in anyone. She told me that I would walk again, that I was meant to be a healer—that I had the strength and protection of thousands of women around me, and when the time came, that I would join with other healers and that we would all fight together. So, I gathered all of the healers that helped me in my recovery (men and women), all of the books I read, the music I listened to, podcasts, articles, yoga videos, vitamins, healing collectives, etc., and put it all on a website for anyone who is seeking healing, sanctuary, protection or guidance.
Sometimes your family and friends don’t have answers, sometimes your doctors aren’t giving you the best options, sometimes we outgrow our teachers. When that’s the case, we can either let ourselves get overwhelmed, point the blame, or search elsewhere, Universal Mother helps to point you in the right direction.
How did this work find you?
(Photo by Ryan Burke courtesy of Domonique Echeverria)
One of my favorite mothers, Mindi Smith, said to me, “All children are artists until they’re told they’re not.”
Healing and art found me because the world needs it, so I listened, and my soul made a promise before I was born to do this: Either I let myself become who I’m meant to be or suffer through ignorance.
How is cannabis part of your life?
I am a double amputee with one-disc rupture, two herniated discs in my spine, and a torn meniscus in my good leg. My body is still healing from a fractured pelvis, spine, ribs, and collar bone. I live with complex-PTSD, and I have been pharmaceutical-free for almost three years.
Cannabis allows me to live a healthy, balanced life, both psychologically and physically. My body is very sensitive and has proven time and time again that it does not like harsh chemicals. Switching to only cannabis and other forms of holistic medicine has not only saved my life, but it allows me to manage my pain levels and regulate my anxiety caused by PTSD.
What are your preferred methods of cannabis use: vaping, smoking, tinctures, edibles, topicals?
I like to smoke flower the best, vaping if I’m traveling or want to be inconspicuous on the street or [in the] club. Edibles and tinctures are nice if I’m hosting a party since I don’t drink, or before a flight so I can sleep. Topicals are great too, [and] I have a few friends that make me special recipes for my sore muscles and joints.
You’re a woman of transformations. How does cannabis support these multitudes you contain?
Cannabis allows me to live a pharmaceutical-free life; a healthier life. If I continued taking all of the pain meds, mood stabilizers, and nerve meds that were manipulatively pushed on me by doctors, there’s no way I would have the energy, drive, passion, and healthy state of mind to do what I do. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, and my body and mind thrive on holistic medicine.
Cannabis allows me to show-up as my genuine self; no matter what role I’m stepping into, pharmaceuticals offered a deadened and limited version of myself.
What are some healthy coping methods to practice while stoned? How do you use cannabis to get grounded?
I personally enjoy smoking weed before my second morning meditation, before walking meditation, while making art, before yoga, and before grounding. You can curate a mindfulness smoking routine to do a few times a week, but be fluid with your practice so you can satisfy all of you. People tend to get stoned then scroll through their phone, try to make it a habit to be present when smoking, or at least focus your attention on a mindfulness practice.
How does cannabis interplay with your rituals of dressing and fashion?
I hate feeling rushed when getting ready. Dressing really is a ritual for me, so I prefer to take my time. Smoking weed makes me feel sultry, inspired, and helps me let go of over-analyzing perfectionism and just have fun with the art of it.
Your suicide attempt transformed your physical shell. How has your spirituality grown, changed, and evolved through all of this?
One reason I believe I am able to hold so much space for people as a healer, is because I know what it feels like to suffer, and how to transmute.
Once I got released from the hospital, my intuition led me to teachers and healers in mysterious ways, and things just started to flow. That is when I changed my perception of god and spirituality. I learned to connect with the old ways, before organized religion, when our religion was protecting the earth, when our teachers were our ancestors and our spirit guides, when our purpose was to heal ourselves and prepare the world for the seven generations after us.
Transitions define our lives. What has defined you?
I feel like every experience I’ve lived prepared me to take on who I am now. I feel like my transition is very much in tune with the evolution of society, and it is an honor to be who am during this time and to do what I do. I used to get easily overwhelmed and I always felt too vulnerable and exposed. Now I feel limitless, brave, and protected.