Roots, Resilience, and Renewal with Agnes ‘Sar’ Artoonian

Roots, Resilience, and Renewal with Agnes ‘Sar’ Artoonian

A Journey of Cultural Healing

Agnes 'Sar' Artoonian is a non-binary herbalist, outdoor educator, and artist from Los Angeles. As a first-generation American of Iranian-Armenian descent, Agnes's rich cultural heritage infuses their perspective, offering a unique lens through which to explore their multifaceted identity. At the heart of Agnes's journey lies their exploration of cannabis—a plant imbued with both medicinal and spiritual significance. Serving as a guiding force, cannabis fuels Agnes's path of self-discovery and creative expression.

Heritage and Healing Generational Trauma

Agnes's identity is deeply intertwined with their cultural roots and the legacy of their ancestors. "My family's history and experiences have profoundly shaped who I am today," Agnes reflects. "There's a deep sense of interconnectedness that binds us together, guiding us on a path of healing and self-discovery."

Generational trauma looms large in Agnes's narrative, casting a long shadow over their family's history and shaping their understanding of the world. They still grapple with the legacy of displacement, persecution, and loss, seeking to honor the resilience of their ancestors while forging a path toward healing and reconciliation. "The wounds of the past run deep," Agnes acknowledges. "But through the process of generational healing, we can begin to unravel the threads of trauma and weave a new narrative of resilience and hope."

Finding Home in Nature

Growing up in an urban environment, Agnes felt the need to reconnect with the land and their ancestral traditions, which led them to delve into herbalism. During their exploration, they discovered a profound spiritual connection with plants, viewing them as both teachers and guides in life.

Agnes’ foray into herbalism started when they found themselves in New Mexico in 2019, working in landscape gardening and getting to work with plants. This experience fostered a deeper connection with the land and ignited their passion for herbal medicine. Through courses and mentorship, Agnes delved into the rich traditions of plant medicine, drawing from their heritage and embracing the wisdom of indigenous practices.

Ancient Wisdom, Modern Healing: Cannabis's Enduring Appeal

Among the vast array of plants within Agnes's herbal repertoire, cannabis stands out as a potent symbol of ancestral wisdom and contemporary healing. Delving into its historical significance, Agnes reflects on the ancient roots of cannabis cultivation, recognizing its role as a cherished medicine in civilizations past. From ancient rituals to traditional healing practices, cannabis has been revered for its multifaceted therapeutic properties, serving as a bridge between humanity and the natural world.

In the present day, cannabis has seamlessly transitioned from its historical roots to become a cornerstone of modern medicine and wellness culture. Agnes observes how cannabis has emerged as a ubiquitous remedy, transcending cultural boundaries and societal stigmas to become a go-to solution for individuals navigating the complexities of contemporary life. Whether sought for its physical, mental, or spiritual benefits, cannabis has established itself as a versatile tool for holistic healing and personal growth.

For Agnes, their relationship with cannabis embodies this intersection of ancestral wisdom and modern pragmatism. Initially turning to cannabis as a form of self-medication during periods of mental health struggles in their youth, Agnes soon recognized its potential as a catalyst for transformation. As their journey with cannabis evolved, so too did their approach, shifting from daily use to a more intuitive integration into their rituals and artistic endeavors.

"Working with cannabis was a way for me to self-soothe during difficult times," Agnes says. "But over time, it has become a catalyst for healing and connection, both within myself and with others."

The Wisdom of the Wild

As an outdoor education teacher, Agnes Artoonian embodies the essence of holistic learning, weaving together the threads of nature and community to cultivate rich educational experiences. Through immersive nature-based learning experiences, Agnes goes beyond traditional teaching methods, instilling values of reciprocity, sustainability, and environmental stewardship in their students.

Agnes's approach to outdoor education is rooted in a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all living beings. With each lesson, they nurture a sense of reverence for the land and its inhabitants, guiding their students to recognize the inherent wisdom of the natural world. "My time with the students has been incredibly rewarding," Agnes reflects. "I share with them the importance of honoring the land and our relationship to plants as medicine, nurturing a sense of connection and reverence for the natural world."

In Agnes's outdoor classroom, every interaction with nature becomes an opportunity for growth and exploration. Through hands-on activities such as plant identification, herbal medicine-making, and organic gardening, students develop a profound appreciation for the gifts of the earth. They learn to tread lightly on the land, respecting its delicate balance and contributing to its preservation for future generations.

Art as a Vehicle for Self-Expression and Healing

At the heart of Agnes's artistic exploration lies her movement practice—a deeply personal and transformative activity that intertwines with her relationship with cannabis. From the early days of hula hooping to her current performative explorations, movement has served as a vehicle for self-discovery and expression. For Agnes, cannabis acts as a catalyst, unlocking a heightened state of awareness and uninhibited flow.

Agnes thrives on collaborative ventures, seeing them as the lifeblood of her artistic pursuits. Partnering with filmmaker Rachel Rimbaldi, Agnes co-wrote the experimental film "Creamer Sugar."

Set against a backdrop of poetic imagery and symbolic motifs, "Creamer Sugar" is a visual symphony—a testament to the power of art to transcend boundaries and evoke emotion. Through their collaboration, Agnes and Rachel challenge conventional storytelling, inviting viewers into a world where silence speaks volumes and movement becomes language.

As characters navigate the complexities of existence, they confront societal expectations and reclaim agency over their bodies and identities. Central to the film's narrative is the theme of decomposition and rebirth—a metaphorical journey that mirrors Agnes's own evolution as a person. 

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