Hello, my name is Mandy Martini Chihuailaf (Mist spreading over a lake).
I'm a Mapuche writer and teacher. Creator of SLG, an online school and community that has helped members in over 35 countries heal from the effects of stress and trauma using Indigenous knowledge and wisdom.
My goal is to help you get more out of your one life on this Earth.
You being here supports my work and makes it possible for me to help our community in terms of contributing to legal fees, shelters for survivors of violence, rebuilding efforts, and food scarcity.
Chaltü may, thank you, for being part of this full circle.
(Click here to jump to the faqs.)
In the spring of 2016, I'd reached rock bottom. All the years of trying to manage the trauma from my past with weekly therapy sessions, medications, meditation, self-help books- things that were helpful but still kept my wound wide open and exposed to be hurt again- had landed me there: homeless with nothing more than gift cards to a couple of grocery stores and a trunk filled with trash bags containing what I'd left of my belongings.
Still, I was grateful. I'd finally made it out of the home I shared with my then-husband, an abusive man who'd confessed many times that he would rather kill me than let me leave that house.
Also, even though I was in a crappy situation, I felt that everything was changing for the better.
Two months before I got out, I'd told myself some wise words that went along the lines of, "screw it."
What I was referring to were the coping skills I'd learned.
For eight years I'd listened to those I was told were the experts. I'd listened when they told me my PTSD was chronic and that I had to learn how to live with my triggers and depression, even though a voice inside of me was objecting loudly the entire time.
All the years of coping had made me numb and the "screw it" somehow rattled me and made me listen to that voice. It made me think to myself, I've nothing to lose to go against this.
And it was time to believe in my people and culture instead of strangers.
My great-uncle, who I once saw referred to as the Longko (Chief) of Mapuche knowledge and who became the first Indigenous writer to receive Chile's National Prize for Literature in 2020, calls what we see today, a "sickness of uniformity."
The dominant culture is so loud that it becomes hard to hear anything else. And when we don't hear anything else, we stop questioning if it makes sense.
Coping with trauma for 8 years, didn't make sense. Members in SLG that spent twenty, thirty or forty years of their lives coping and suffering, also does not make sense.
Before moving to Los Angeles at the age of 19, I'd been raised by my traditional Native family. A Mapuche family (and descendants of Native people in North and Central America as well) that was forced to exile to Sweden after being persecuted. Even though I grew up in Sweden as the first generation to be part of Western society, my family still held on to our culture as Indigenous people.
On our territory, my grandmother and tia Maria were the healers (doctors) of our community. They diagnosed and treated members based on evidence-informed knowledge that had been passed down generation after generation- knowledge that have been tested, tried, and known to be true- just like many other Indigenous sciences.
I didn't know (and still don't) if that voice inside of me was my intuition or instinct, or if it came from memories of my childhood and everything my grandmother had taught me.
All I knew was that as long as my body was fighting to survive from all the stress and trauma I'd been through, it wouldn't be physically and emotionally strong enough to get me out of that house. My mind would be too foggy to notice an opportunity even if it shook my shoulders and slapped me across the face.
My best chance to escape was to let my body start to complete the survival responses from my past- which was keeping my body in trauma- and heal as much as possible.
(If you need a visual, it's like removing a knife from an external wound so that your skin can heal. I explain it more in this mini class. Watch it here.)
For two year I hadn't seen a way out, but after two months of letting my body do what it's supposed to do, I saw my opportunity. For the few seconds it presented itself I was able to take it before it was too late. I was no longer numb, I was ready.
So I made it out, free but homeless with no money and no job since my ex had forbidden me to have one to keep me in the house. But instead of focusing on that I focused on giving myself the best chance I could. I kept letting my body move through the process of leaving survival so that it could heal. I knew that if my body healed, I would get my energy and clarity back.
One month later I had a job; two months later I was living in a beautiful cottage with a garden; three months later I started my own business.
Today I live my life exactly the way I want it.
Working from home allows me to live my life as close to how my family lived before being forced to exile and assimilate, while at the same time help others.
My life is far away from the lonely dark hole of trauma that I was living with before. It's now filled with peace, joy, and moments shared with loved ones. And through SLG- the school and community I created to help others heal from trauma- I'm able to give back to my people and to members in our community who are where I once was.
If you feel like you've tried everything and nothing has worked, you might want to consider your body is fighting to survive and that's what is causing your symptoms, I mean... what do you got to lose?
I highly suggest watching the mini-class (it's free),
and/or reading the reviews on the SLG page where members share their stories. Maybe you can relate to one of them.
Sending you lots of love, and don't forget, things can always change as long as you don't give up.
Pewkayal (until we meet again),
I believe the greatest thing you can do for yourself, your loved ones, and us as a collective (which include this Earth and all its beings), is to understand yourself as part of nature.
There are a lot of things your body is supposed to do (like releasing stress and survival responses) but because of a different worldview, it has been kept in tight control- like a river being confined inside the concrete walls of a dam.
I've seen from first-hand experience, the effects of separation from land and traditional knowledge.
We see so many diseases and illnesses that never existed before and that don't exist in our communities that still practice our traditional knowledge.
The knowledge from my Elders and ancestors wasn't supposed to only help myself, but others as well, so that's why I teach and share what I know.
From my mother's side, I'm Mapuche (People of the Earth). But we're also descendants of a mix of territories and Native people from North to South of the Americas, including (but not limited to) Azteca (Southwest U.S.) and Yucatan Maya.
From my father's side, I'm Swedish and German.
With that said, I identify as Mapuche because that is the culture and family I grew up in. Even though I was born in Sweden, I had no contact with my father's side of the family- except for my Swedish grandmother and German grandfather- because of racism towards my mother and me.
And because my mother and our family were living off the land as traditional Native people before exiling to Sweden, I was 100% raised in a Mapuche family structure consisting of three generations: my parents, (eight) aunts and uncles, cousins and my grandparents.
Simple question, complicated answer.
As I mentioned, I was born in Sweden but my family is from the reservation and Mapuche community of Quechurewe (Kechu= five, Rewe= places of purity/sacredness). We still have our home there and many family members still live there today.
When I was 19, I moved to Los Angeles where I went to school and lived for 13 years.
During the start of the pandemic I moved to the East coast, and because of safety reasons (because of my abusive ex), I keep the exact location as vague as possible.
I'm the daughter, granddaughter, and niece of Indigenous leaders, teachers, knowledge keepers, healers, and a longko (chief.)
What I teach is evidence-informed Native science. It's knowledge that has been tested, tried, and proven true from all the generations before me, and that has been taught since a very young age.
Our people never passed down anything that was just a theory, an idea, or not useful- only what works based on experience- and that's my qualification.