Atava is inspired by the plants and guided by her elders, ancestors and dreams. She was born in Detroit, Michigan to a Mexican/Navajo/Hungarian mother and a Polish father. She has called home Ohlone terriroy Huichin (Oakland, California) for almost three decades.
Atava is a well loved teacher and has taught hundreds of students. She loves to train healers and to support them to develop their natural healing gifts. She is the founder of Ancestral Apothecary School, which was born from her dream to create of more diverse community of herbalists and healers in the Bay Area.
In addition to teaching at Ancestral Apothecary, Atava has taught at many venues throughout California and the US, including the California Institute of Integral Studies, John F. Kennedy University, Sacramento’s Sol Collective, the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium, the Portland Plant Medicine Gathering, the American Herbalist Guild Symposium, and Herbalists without Borders. She has also been a sponsored guest teacher with Mujeres de Maiz in Los Angeles.
Atava received her undergraduate degree from Stanford in Feminist Studies and her graduate degree from Naropa University Oakland in Indigenous Mind. She is also professionally trained as a clinical herbalist, flower essence practitioner, curandera, and dreamworker and is certified in both acupressure and Jin Shin JyutsuⓇ. Atava has also developed her own style of ancestral healing work, which she calls Deep Genealogy Coaching.
Atava is a founding member of The Healing Clinic Collective, which offers free healing services to underserved populations in the Bay Area. She has also volunteered for many year as an herbalist at the Charlotte Maxwell Center in Oakland, which serves low-income women with cancer and has been a member of Curanderas Sin Fronteras, which offers free traditional medicine services in the Bay Area.
In 2017, Atava and her school, Ancestral Apothecary were recognized for their positive contribution to the field of herbal medicine by receiving an award from the American Herbalist Guild recognizing Notable Work Supporting Diversity, Equity and Justice in Herbalism.
Atava loves the alchemy of herbal medicine making and has create her own line of herbal products. Each product is unique with its own story and healing properties. Ancestral Apothecary products such as Sage Shield, Siete Flores, Heart Mend can be found at our online store as well as stores throughout the West Coast.
In 2020 Atava relocated to the desert where she continues to see clients mostly on zoom. During the pandemic she finished her first book, The Curanderx Toolkit, Reclaiming Ancestral Plant Medicine and Rituals for Healing, which was published in July 2022.
Healer Heal Thyself
I believe that facing and transforming our own health challenges (whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) is often a big part of our training as healers. This insight come from my direct life experience as well as by observing the process of my clients and students. Each healing challenge or crisis I have experienced in my life has taught me more about the power of la medicina and how the healing process works.
In 2015, after enduring the prolonged illness and death of my father from Lewy Body dementia, I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, and autoimmune thyroid disorder. For years, I struggled to accept the new state of my body, and its limitations and challenges. I have worked hard on many levels and had to make many changes to my diet and lifestyle to recover my state of health.
This diagnosis has taught me about the patience and dedication needed to navigate chronic illness. I have done extensive research about autoimmune disease and I hope that my combination of life experience and professional training can help other people facing similar challenges.