queering survival and expanding empathy during COVID-19

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it's human to feel worried right now, these feelings will rise up as we browse the web, watching news stories flood in with more reports, tolls, facts and figures. Anxiety heightens as we tune into the collective consciousness, a collective fear of a new, unknown, rapidly moving entity, a collective fear of death, increased anxieties around survival, stock-piling and panic buying, our consumer mentality heightened as the prospect of collapse looms.

It's easy to let the fear hold you, but what are ways to transform these fears into action? or solace? or nurturing?

I’m keeping my eye on the developments as they unfold, but i’ve set a boundary with myself to not let them consume me, and instead, shine a light on the positive actions that are coming from this. From mutual aid initiatives, to wonderfully expansive survival guides, online and local communities are finding ways to support each other, through this time of vital social-distancing, self-isolation, and global awareness.

It is important to support our friends and others who are more at risk at catching COVID-19, or who will have more complications if they do.

I also want to acknowledge that for many people who have long term health issues, disabilities and underlying health conditions, oftentimes self isolation is a more regular reality. Do not hoard provisions that people with a greater risk of infection need more. If you have a strong immune system and have the capacity to help, in what ways can you be of use to your community/friends who may be immunosuppressed or at risk. And, in what ways will we continue to be there for our disabled friends even after the virus is contained?

We should use this time to cultivate empathy for our siblings who experience severe structural disadvantage due to health conditions on a daily.

Empathy and protection also looks like not attending large gatherings, turning down that invitation to go out, washing your hands with soap or sanitiser regularly especially when entering a public space.

At Fertile Souls, we talk about how survival skills is not just a wilderness prepper mentality, it is also bringing in the spiritual and communal. Looking after yourself, holistically, spiritually and nutritionally means we are better warriors to help support others through community care.

This virus has shown us that we are more connected than we often know, it spreads fast and is carried on bodies like a bee carrying pollen to fertilise the flowers.

But we are fertile like bees too, and the flowers we pollinate are blooms of hope, support, and empathy for our fellow humankind at this time.


  • Reading resources

  •  Safety Advice

  • Mutual Aid

  • Skill Shares / Spells

  • Nurturing creativity and wellness in Self-isolation

  • Mental Health Resources

Useful online articles / Reading Resources

Around Covid-19

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now - Tomas Pueyo

This Virus - Anne Boyer

Additional Resources for Facing Coronavirus/Covid19 - adrienne maree brown

Half Assed Disabled Prepper Tips for Preparing for a Coronavirus Quarantine



Medium article for CEOs, people who run organisations, events, conferences, communities etc

Useful Covid-19 live figure tracker Public Health England, not recommended if you have anxiety from increased numbers though (like me)

Self-care Tips if you become sick with COVID-19 from an activist nurse

The Ecology of Disease

Letter to your landlord template- rent suspension

Rethinking the Apocalypse: an indigenous anti-futurist Manifesto

More to be added, comment or  message @fertile_souls with your online reading resources and articles


COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.


Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Read the NHS advice about staying at home: nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice


  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.


Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.


  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean


There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.

Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered

Above:  Copied from this shared google document on mutual aid in the UK

Below:  https://www.instagram.com/monachalabi/

Mutual Aid

What is Mutual Aid? Mutual aid is mutual aid is a voluntary exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. During this time, mutual aid can be extremely beneficial for disabled folks and immunosuppressed folks and other at risk people who may not be able to risk leaving the house for essential supplies like food and sanitary goods, and also people in self isolation.

Many groups are being organised to help people in local areas, search facebook for a mutual aid group in your area, if you are able bodied and have a healthy immune system, consider running errands for others, if you are financially well off, please consider donating money to people who may need funds to buy supplies, or freelancers/creatives who have work and performances cancelled during this time.

Mutual Aid Organising Poster to edit to your local area    

Artists/DJs/Freelancer/Lecturer/Performer/Public Speaker + Mutual aid insta post!

Principles and assumptions for doing support work in the covid-19 pandemic

Register your Mutual aid group HERE so it can be found on this list HERE

Transformative justice, harm reduction and the acknowledgment of marginalised legacy in newly emergent COVID-19 mutual aid grassroots movements - Article by Shefflied Transformative Learning Group


  Freedom News extensive Mutual Aid list!



Queer Care food networking             

  Hackney Mutual Aid FB               

Southwark Mutual Aid FB

Camden Mutual Aid FB               

  Lewisham Mutual Aid FB

    Islington Mutual Aid fb             

  Newham Mutual Aid FB          

 + more!

Skill Shares and Spells :

  • Immune Boosting Fire Cider

  • Herbal Hand Sanitiser

  • Immune boosting herbs for brews

  • Herbal Cough Medicine

  • DIY Cotton Face Masks

  • Hand Washing Spells

 Our last @fertile_souls gathering was a two day communion “Resistance as Ritual” after the heart breaking election results. We ended the weekend with a beautiful ƒíɾҽ ϲíժҽɾ ritual facilitated by myself and the immensely powerful witch and friend @the.community.witch 

In Grace’s words :

💞”it is an immune system booster, but it is also a fluid, there is a base of connection. It is a ritual”💞

we chose who cut which ingredients by our astrological alignments, and sat with the plants in ritual, before consciously co-creating this fluid brew.

ƒíɾҽ ϲíժҽɾ is an anti-capitalist medicine that has been fought for by herbalists across america to prevent it being trademarked by corporations. The very act of making it is resistance. it is a simple recipe, and a powerful immune boosting tonic.

 Cut up all the ingredients, cover with apple cider vinegar and let it work it’s magic in the dark, or buried in the earth for 4 weeks.

 I understand that right now, immune boosting medicine is urgent, we might not have 4weeks. so I also encourage incorporating these plants into your diet more, through tea blends, ACV and garlic shots or your cooking, they will help boost your system while you wait for the tonic to brew.

Ingredients :

You can also add Cayenne pepper, other citrus fruits, fresh chilli, habanero, mugwort root, thyme, rosemary, and honey + more

IMPORTANT : this recipe from hackney herbal is an alternative until rubbing alcohol 60% + becomes available again ! of course washing your hands with soap more regularly than you think is the most vital) 


Nurturing.me - Elderberry Medicine

Note: it is advised that IF you start showing symptoms of COVID-19, to stop taking elderberry as it could cause a cytokine storm.


And another


Recommendations from our dear friend El Hardwick 

My podcast recs:

https://www.endoftheworldshow.org - autumn & adrienne marie brown make a political, funny, heartwarming podcast on 'how to survive the apocalypse' (in all forms)

https://forthewild.world - 'an anthology for the Anthropocene' - amazing interviews with philosophers, artists, scientists, writers...

https://podcasts.apple.com/.../between-the.../id1437333094 - when i was ill last year, i started learning about tarot, predominantly through this podcast (& also an online course run by little red tarot). tarot became a vital self help & spiritual tool for me to look at my life in a way that gave me hope, and connect to a feeling of community even if not able to do so physically.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izjlP9qtmBU - 'Oakland-based artist and writer Jenny Odell discusses her debut book "How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy".' - i immediately bought the book after watching and LOVED it. i'm now really into birdwatching & bird listening.

http://jamesbridle.com/new-ways-of-seeing - 'new Ways of Seeing considers the impact of digital technologies on the way we see, understand, and interact with the world, building on john berger's seminal ways of seeing from 1972'

https://www.radiotopia.fm/showcase/ways-of-hearing - a six-part series hosted by musician damon krukowski (galaxie 500, damon & naomi), exploring the nature of listening in our digital world

https://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/caliban-and-the... - an interview with silvia federici, author of caliban & the witch and rewilding the world

https://www.nothingmuchhappens.com - this is 'bedtime stories for grown ups', which are written to be meditative/calming and send you to sleep. i struggling falling asleep due to anxiety and recommend this if you are feeling anxious at bedtime.

https://play.wilson.fm - this website also gets different guest curators to do round ups of different podcasts based on a particular theme. Really great resource to find new things that you otherwise may not stumble across

And from contributor Jum F:

Sunstorm with Alicia Garza & Ai Jen Poo (Activist friends talk about how they stay powerful and joyful amidst the chaos of life)

La Cura (Decolonising Latinx health and reclaiming traditional healing)

The Future is Beautiful (Explore the weave between politics, spirituality, creativity and sustainability)

Two Old Bitches (Women over 50 tell us how they re-imagine their lives, their bodies, their relationships and their creativity as they go through huge transitions)

Irresistible (a virtual healing practice space at the intersection of collective healing and social change)

Good Ancestor Podcast (Interviewing change-makers and culture-shifters who are exploring the question- How can I become a Good Ancestor)

Bespoken Bones (supports the development of erotic welness in past, present and future generations!)

The receipts Podcast is a no filter advice podcast that just makes me giggle!

Serpentine General Ecology Podcast Series hosted by Victoria Sin


In 2016 i, (ayesha tan jones) made a film, Indigo Zoom, set in a post-apocalyptic future where there is no safe oxygen to breathe, and the governments and corporations sell masks and oxygen back to the people for profit. I have seen a few ppl post it again online in the past few days, i guess it is rather fitting for these times. I hope you enjoy. It is a hopeful end to a dystopian story, thank you <3

From our friend Josie Rae Turnbull:  3a free month of MUBI (rolling 30 film playlists of curated world cinema choices) with my invite code, if you then invite others, they get a free month and you get a free month per person

 Online library of films focused on topics challenging modern society, industrial civilisation, globalisation and dominant culture.

From our friend LuLu Yao Gioiello :

Ash is Purest White (Kanopy)

💄🔥Wild at Heart

👩🏻‍3 Women

🌊Atlantics (Netflix)


🎋🎎The Tale of Princess Kaguya

🏮Farewell my Concubine

🌊🐬Le Grand Bleu

🔥📚The Ninth Gate


👂📡The Conversation (Amazon Prime)

👻👺Kwaidan (Criterion Collection)

🐝Spirit of the Beehive (Criterion Collection)

🐎🐎Two Horses of Genghis Khan (Amazon Prime)

Mishima A Tale in Four Chapters

Hedgehog in the Fog

Plus this dropbox link to films!

And this one  

And this link to all of 2019’s nominated films

Open culture film and audio book list

Top 100 documentaries to change the world

Anarchist Film Archive

100 great films streaming on prime and netllix - BFI

Free queer films - curated by Leeds Queer film Festival

  •  comment ur recommendations

Free Online courses:

DownwardDog made all their yoga and fitness videos for free until April 1st

Astro-herbalism Mini course - Evolutionary Herbalism

Lizzo’s instagram meditation :’)

Free guided meditations - oxford mindfulness Centre

Ram Dass guided meditations

5 online workouts by Women of Colour

Thank you @worn_ware on insta for this post!

Virtual Art / Museum Tours:

Nottingham Contemporary : Still I Rise

List of 12 big Museum online tours

Paris Opera House free Online screenings

Black Cultural Archives London

 Art at home google doc - a guide to enjoying art from ur           couch.

Guggenheim free modern art books

Digital Art exhibitions you don’t need to leave the house for - DAZED

VR Contemporary Art Galleries

Free University Online art courses


Although online courses and films are a great way to spend time, it also puts a lot of pressure on resources and crazy pollution in the atmosphere. Online film streaming servers pollute as much as the whole country of Spain in one day, and google’s serves pollute as much as air traffic. So, with this grave fact in mind, how can we self-isolate while also keeping our mama earth in mind? BOOOOKS.

If you’re like me, you might have an ever growing pile of books you’ve been waiting to read for months or years even, now is the perfect time to get stuck in!

Deliveries are taking ages from Amazon in the current crisis, but fuck amazon anyway, they don’t pay their taxes so lets not give them our ££…. World of Books is a great website for books, and also search for independent bookshops in your area and see if they deliver!

 Here is a short list from me, Ayesha, of some of the books i’ve been reading recently or books that i just love. Will add lists from friends, lovers and others soon, so feel free to add a comment  <3

          The Earthsea Quartet - Ursula Le Guin

The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula Le Guin

The Broken Earth Trilogy - NK Jemison

Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents - Octavia Butler

Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements - adrienne maree brown & Walidah Imarisha

Emergent Strategies - adrienne maree brown

Pleasure Activism - adrienne maree brown

Do not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien

Invisible Planets - collection of Chinese Sci Fi curated by Ken Liu

Girl, Woman, Other - Bernardine Evaristo

God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

Zami - Audre Lorde

           Spiral Dance - Star Hawk

The Fifth Sacred Thing - Star Hawk

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about Race - Reni Eddo-Lodge

           The Cyborg Manifesto - Donna Harraway

Staying With the Trouble - Donna Harraway

Caliban and the Witch - Sylvia Federici

Sidartha - Herman Hesse

The Alchemist - Paolo Cohelo

The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle

Apocalypse Reading Room - Ama Josephine Budge..

The Apocalypse Reading Room transformed Free Word’s (London) cafe into a post-apocalyptic bunker filled with books that will inspire you to change the world. It explores alternatively gendered and ungendered worlds as part of Free Word’s All The Ways We Could Grow Season, and is curated by Ama Josephine Budge in partnership with Free Word and with support from The Reading Agency.

Here is a Link to the EXPANSIVE and EXTENSIVE incredible reading list that i wish i could get through

free pdfs on critical/cultural theory

JSTOR Digital Library, free access

Mental Health Resource List

(complied by someone on a fb group i saw)

 Mental Health Foundation tips which are constantly being updated: https://mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus

• OCD-UK: OCD and Coronavirus Top Tips https://www.ocduk.org/ocd-and-coronavirus-survival-tips/

• Beat Eating Disorders: Eating Disorders and Coronavirus https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/coronavirus

• The Sanctuary, a chat room and safe space for people with an eating disorder to share concerns and advice on how they are coping with the pandemic. https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/sanctuary

• Papyrus, prevention of young suicide: helpline and supporting resources


• Bipolar UK: Bipolar disorder and coronavirus


• The Stay Alive App: An app for those at risk of suicide and those worried about someone


• CALM: Helpline for everyone but especially men, and tips on coping with social isolation


• Mind: Coronavirus and your wellbeing


• Anxiety UK: self-help resources for anxiety related conditions


• The Samaritans


• Support for victims of domestic or sexual violence and abuse: Coronavirus: Victim and witness services