Is Your Name Really Sunny Savage?

Java plums (Syzygium cumini).   
Deep, dark, nourishment. 

Is your name really Sunny Savage?

A question I’ve been asked a lot, as you can imagine. It brings me back to my grandfather’s animated storytelling, and being captivated with the story of my ancestor Thomas Savage – who arrived in Jamestown in 1608, at 13 years old, and was exchanged to live with Chief Powhatan and his daughter Pocahontas/Matoaka. It is written in the texts of the time that he was beloved to them, and acted as a translator and negotiator. Later, it was Chief Debedeavon, known as the “Laughing King”, of the Nuswattock people, who gifted Savage over 9,000 acres of land on the Eastern Shore, which has been known as Savage’s Neck ever since. 

I was born Sunny Johnson (no middle name) and started going by Sunny Savage over 15 years ago. Savage, my lineage, and now it just kind of rolls off the tongue. In this season of deep commune with our ancestors, I will be traveling for the first time ever to stay on Savage’s Neck, and the Savage Dunes, as part of my healing journey after surgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland this January.

Java plum jam, foraged false awa flowers (Piper auritum), fresh ginger & turmeric, orange juice, butter, fish, salt, with pohole ferns (Diplazium esculentum).

What’s going on with my head?

WARNING :: a lot of people want to know the details of what’s going in with my head, but if you don’t skip ahead to the next photo.

I fractured the back of my eye socket with traumatic brain injury while chasing my oldest son 4 1/2 years ago. I had not learned how to slow down yet. I lived with crazy headaches and eye pain, but it wasn’t until over a year later that I went to the doctor and discovered that the injury had caused the butterfly-shaped sphenoid bone in the center of my head to become inflamed. I was diagnosed with sphenoid sinusitis, where the 2 cavities within the sphenoid bone trapped in a bacterial infection from the orbital fracture, that couldn’t get out. This isn’t like a ‘normal’ sinus infection and is extremely rare – sitting in the center of the head at the crossroads of the brain, brain stem, pituitary, carotid artery, and 5 major nerves. I had base of skull surgery, on the winter solstice of 2018, to open the area and remove the infection. But, I never got better.

I have tried. everything. From injecting myself with peptides, tapping and lymph drainage, daily sauna use, revitalizing my sleep hygiene, meditation brain training for alpha and gamma waves, craniosacral therapy. Bless the traditional healers like Rosita Arvigo who have tended my spirit and given the most balanced approach of herbal medicine with current science, let’s call in more of that. At this point, I know chronic pain and sickness behavior intimately. After getting shuffled around by doctors for the last 3 years – feeling like I was going crazy – I finally realized a way out of my getting nowhere situation. It doesn’t matter how much wild food I eat, ceremonies I participate in, or biohacking attempts, the last surgery never worked and it’s a mechanical issue that won’t resolve on its own.

I got a second opinion at Johns Hopkins, and since being recommended for surgery have had one of the biggest endurance challenges of my life waiting for the insurance to switch over on January 1st. My nervous system is shot, sitting at the end of an over 4-year journey of having a pulsating infection stuck in the center of my head – get it the fuck out! It’s a gift to have hope that I will feel better, that my 7 year old can get to know a time in his life when mom isn’t sick, to again walk the death/rebirth cycle.



Java plum, banana, taro syrup  – divine flavor combination in my kitchen this month. I’ve felt a lot of people begin to fall in love with Java plum this year – yes! 

Still need that special holiday gift for a beloved?

The Java plum eBook is in my store, a deep dive into the known literature of this potent tree’s history, botany, ethnobotanical and medicinal uses. Or, a gift card for one of my wild food hikes here!

WildFed Podcast

Last spring I was at the Wild Health Summit in Kentucky, where I met Daniel Vitalis of the television show and podcast Wild Fed. In this recent podcast interview, you’ll hear how I was reported to the Department of Health twice for serving invasive species at my old food truck Savage Kitchen. Listen Here   

Happy Holydays!

May you and those you love be blessed with a spirit of balance 

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