In celebration of (UK) Mother's Day, of the power of women and of the Great Mother energy that runs through each of us and is of the Earth, FARA are excited to launch a series of interviews we have been manifesting for some time. The conversations introduce a community of inspiring women and each connection is a reflection of a shared intention of empowered women in deep service to one another, to creativity and to life. Something which is at the heart of our vision.
Our first muse is Ebyän Zanini Chimba who we first connected with last Summer after we caught a glimpse of her draped in FARA. We were captivated by the ease and grace with which she moved and carried herself in the FARA silk Ghost dress, even as she wheeled her son Buho in a trailer around a vegetable garden. Ever since we have loved to follow Ebyän on her journey and are inspired by what appears to be her very deep trust in the ceremony of life and in the power of prayer. It's beautiful to witness Ebyän's authentic creative expression through her travels, poetry, music and motherhood – and in so many other ways.
We are delighted to share more about Ebyän and her story through art and motherhood with our FARA community.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your story?
I am Ebyän Zanini Chimba, daughter of Zeynab Abdullahi and Gianni Zanini. Mother of Búho Sisu. I am of mixed heritage, Nubian Somali and Italian descent. I give praise to my Ancestors and can only be who I am because of who they have been.
I am an artist and student of the Mystery. I principally write and dance. Currently working on a book and a second short-film collaboration with my husband Ape Chimba and director Daniel “Suchi” Garcia.
I was born in the heart of the “Matrix”, Washington DC, I grew up in a society and life very disconnected from Nature/ Spirit. But my heart always led me home. I went to a top university in the states and graduated with honours. Upon receiving a job for an investment bank on Wall St, I had my first deep awakening. I said no. I said no not just to that job offer but to everything I had thought was “success”. To the approval of my family. To the betrayal of my soul. I said no to the million voices directing my life except my own.
It took and still takes a lot of digging to find MY path. And to break free from the colonial capitalist patriarchy that still lives and breathes in our society and sometimes in our own minds. It requires a lot of broom sweeping if you know what I mean! Hihi
Which leads me to the three greatest allies in my life, the dreamworld, the Goddess, and plant teachers. They have informed my life and my art. And revealed the Magic that breathes all around us. They have helped me come home to myself time and time again. Helped me remember how to Love self and other in equal proportion. How to be bold when I need to. How to be more graceful when I need to.
My intent as an artist, friend, and mother is to help us fall deeper in love with the magic of Life and ourselves.
Who are the women that inspire you? What are the other main influences that have impacted your artistic expression and lifestyle?
Some of the greats who came before me and inspire me still to this day and honestly saved my life in different ways are...
Mary Oliver who's voice I feel is so much the voice of the earth and of the sacredness in simplicity. I also love that she is a women of Anglo Saxon descent. To hear that voice so connected to the earth, not as an observer or an anthropological voice, but deeply real and of this earth, is very healing.
Other female authors who have honestly saved my life at times and whose written wisdom continues to guide me...Maya Angelou. Alice walker. Audre Lorde, also a huge inspiration— I see her as a bridge where art and activism meet.
Also artists like Frida Kahlo, not just her art but her whole story, her whole way of being. A living ancestor, not of blood, but of spirit. Her audacity, her strength, her quirkiness, her laughter.
Sade is a big inspiration for me artistically, watching her on stage I really saw the mystical feminine in her music, the way she would close her eyes and lose herself in her art and love for what is being created through her.
This answer wouldn't be complete without acknowledging that my greatest artistic inspiration and influence, and the reason I really started doing art, was in fact the entheogenic plant and animal sacraments of this earth. I remember one of the first entheogenic experiences I had when I was in university, it was so much to witness, to hold, to understand, to see, to feel. My current world at that time was a shocking stark difference to this truth I felt and beauty I witnessed. It felt like seeing for the first time, yet something eternally familiar.
From that first time I began to understand the process of how art is born from feeling and seeing deeply, that making art is a way to continue to live through the angst and the pain.
I had always made art in some small way, but this was the beginning of a big reclamation of both art and a deeper more authentic and devoted draw towards spirituality and wisdom teachings in the world. So I honour the earth medicines and sacraments as the greatest influence. The visions that I have had from them, the teachings, the poetry that has flowed through as a co-creation with them and the way my body moves is different because of them. Iit is one of the greatest blessings for me of being alive to have been able to experience being moved by something, some benevolent, intelligent, wiser and divine force through art in different ways and hopefully there will be many more to come.
And finally, my partner in magic and husband Ape Chimba has been a huge influence on my artistic expression. He has helped me grow so much and helped deepen my thought and art. It’s been such a blessing to go hand in hand into the mystical unknown and learn together. Our story is a fairy tale (with quite a bit of telenovela drama hihi!). One day I will write it and share it with the world.
What is the message you hope to share?
I am not sure I have a specific message or teaching to share. I think I prefer to speak in the colors of a sunset. Or moss on rock or wood. They say the unsayable. Nothing I can transmit is more important. So my message would be simply to commune with the natural world. Though sometimes it can be hard to truly see. Seek and you shall find. Listen for the hint of the indescribable. That is the lighthouse.
What does empowerment mean to you?
Empowerment means to take responsibility for our life and to recognise that we are capable of creating a life that we love. This specific perspective was almost painful and difficult for me to digest and to acknowledge for a very long time. It has nothing to do with blaming ourselves for where we are and it has nothing to do with taking responsibility for acts of violence that may have been done upon us, or injustices or oppressions - but it means acknowledging, owning, feeling and embracing the power that we hold and have. Believing in our ability to create a beautiful life and that we can have everything that we want to have, to manifest and to live. Perhaps it is just a matter of time, a matter of listening and taking charge of our life, instead of letting life happen to us or falling into the current of another person or of a society. This is another active meditation, not something that one acquires and then that's it, it's something that we work towards and we work to maintain and to grow in.
Your son Búho is now 15 months old. What has been your greatest lesson as a mother so far?
First, Birth taught me that the greatest lie ever told in the history of humanity is that women are weak. It’s actually laughable. Anyone who has given birth knows.
But my greatest lesson as a mother came after the first chapter of intiation into motherhood. The first three months were really hard. Hard is an understatement. My son Búho had colic and didn't sleep more than an hour in a row each night...it was so hard and there were many moments I felt I would just collapse of exhaustion or overwhelm or grief. Grief of the shore my ship would never go back to. Grief for no time to myself. Though all this is also a byproduct of the loss of the village due to how civilisation is currently constructed. It’s also a part of the death of the Maiden and the birth of the Mother.
During this time, in meditation I had a deep revelation, a flash of seeing a very cute little baby monkey crawling towards me. For some reason, in my mind's eye, I turned away from the monkey because I had something more important to do. The baby monkey started to cry and cry. I felt this sobbing sadness as this little monkey turned into my son. It was a great and necessary teaching as in that moment I realised all the ways I had been trying to escape motherhood. Not because I didn't love being a mother but because I was trying to get back to my artistic career, to keep things moving, to have a moment for myself, to simply breathe. This moment was like a re-wiring of my cells.
What are you escaping from? The most beautiful sacred thing in the world? This treasure of a life that you have been entrusted to and get to spend time with. I had this cascade of revelation around how there had been a split in my psyche, something I recognise as a product of the patriarchy, and even it’s counterpart, the late Feminist movement, creating a duality between motherhood and my life. Feminism, as a response to the patriarchy has and continues to be incredibly powerful, but there were ways that the pendulum, swinging to bring balance, swung too far and we were taught that if you end up being just mother or a wife, it is not whole. It is not honoured as sacred. That is not to deny that we might not, in some ways, use motherhood as an escape from other things or that we keep ourselves small by just being the caregiver to our partner or our partner's dreams and putting ours aside. There are ways that this is not true, but I am speaking from my greatest lesson and I am sure that there are others out there that share this.
In the true tribal roots of our way of being, you are not 'only a mother' or 'just a mother', mother is an extension of who we are and is also entirely a whole universe. Everything we have ever experienced in our life, everything we have ever learned, everything we have ever suffered and healed, manifests itself through our mothering and affects the future of the earth. It is a ripple effect and it is also one of the greatest ways of implementing our learnings, our revelations, our realisations, our dreams and way of beings, our planting seeds.
The core of this is that to bring life here is an incredible gift and a phrase that kept coming is that there is nothing more important than this moment. There is nothing more precious that this right here. Anything that I wanted could still be done, it didn't have to be in a fight with motherhood, there is space and ways to do this. The issue is that I am trying to escape motherhood whilst doing it and so, from that moment, I decided that when my son was awake I was going to be present and engaged and alive, joyful and grateful as possible and one day I'll also be able to make art when he is awake. For now, what would it be like if I really treasured being with him, how would that change things. This was something that I already felt, so rather it is that when I let go of the pressure that there is something more important and I realise that through motherhood, I am expanding. I am growing and I am a very important part of the revolution in the world and that in itself seeps into the rest of our lives.
What wisdom from your own experience could you share for other women navigating the balance of motherhood, self-care, creativity and even travel?
Something we all see, and very alive in the collective right now, is that we can't really love another unless we are loving ourselves and loving ourselves is, I believe, an active and full time job. Though we might in moments, fully love ourselves, we are challenged again and we have to refill our cup and how we fill our cup may also change. I see that a huge way of loving our children is by loving ourselves. There is a thin line where we justify selfishness and call it self care and also where we are afraid of being selfish and do not take care of ourselves. We can discover the secrets to these subtleties through experience and awareness however I can share that I spend a lot of time cultivating the garden of my internal dialogue and loving myself and I also try to enjoy what I can in the simplicity of the mundane. There is the psychology of happiness course that spoke to savouring as one of the things that brings the most happiness, people that know how to savour scored the highest happy score. This is also a Tantric pillar, to savour life whilst at the same time recognising that we are an eternal spirit. We are not just this body, not just this mind. I really try to savour what I can and I think motherhood does this as you often don't have much time and now when I have a cup of tea I take a moment, I am not with my phone, I am drinking my tea and it is the most incredible cup of tea. Another example is this toothpaste made from myrrh and mint that I adore, it makes me come alive, it tastes like the earth but also like a nice slap in the face so when I am brushing my teeth I really take time.
So there are 2 things here for me. The dedication to internal dialogue which can also happen for those out who need support through affirmations, meditation or hypnosis. Repeated affirmation over 40 days can penetrate the subconscious and allow new pathways to be written in our mind that define our own idea of our worth and not lies we have acquired about our value.
The second is to savour moments like the feminine Shri of Lakshmi, the juicy nectar of life. With every ounce of our presence, enjoy it.
Motherhood does not stop our life, nor does it have to. Sometimes it can feel like 'how will I ever have a life again' yet motherhood is not the end of a life, it is the beginning of a deeper one.