Volume 3, Number 1 Living Shamanically: The Food Issue January/February 2008
IN THIS ISSUE
What's New at CEH
Upcoming Issues of the Newsletter
Food, Spirit and a Sense
Blood Type Diet Books
Why Some Like It Hot
Coming Home to Eat
Journeys with Bekki and Crow
To the Sun/Fire Elementals
Art: Students' Drums
We are beginning a series (not always consecutive) of newsletters about Living Shamanically. Since Food -- and its importance as a medicine, a spiritual practice, and a way of living lightly or not so lightly on the earth, as well as a way of bringing beauty and joy into our lives -- is a major focus for us, we will introduce the series with the concept of Food as a shamanic, spiritual, healing and ecological practice.
A new (occasional) column-- Journeys with Bekki and Crow- features interesting journeys our students have taken in our workshops. From time to time we may ask a student to share a journey we feel illustrates a significant shamanic theme or which is particularly relevant to the workshop or journey topic. We also welcome contributions to this column from students who have had journey experiences that feel exceptionally relevant for them, in their spiritual practice or exploration of shamanism. This time we're featuring a journey from the Fire Elementals workshop undertaken by Anna-Sara Fire, in Warminster, Bucks County, PA.
Bekki and Crow
|Upcoming Issues of the Newsletter
I'm working hard these next few weeks to get the newsletter up to speed, so if you've been thinking about writing something for us, now's the time.
Issue 11, August: Healing Techniques, Take 2 , revised deadline to submit: 1/15/2008
We are looking for articles, reviews, etc on bodywork techniques, energy healing, and other techniques which complement or enhance shamanic healing
Issue 12, September: Integrating Shamanic Spiritual Practice into Mainstream Life and Culture, In what ways has practicing shamanism, personally or professionally, made a difference in your life? Please share... revised deadline to submit: 12/1/2007
Thanks to Michelle Sampson for suggesting this theme!
Issue 13, Living Shamanically: Healing Our Companion Animals deadline to submit: 2/15/2008
If you have an idea for a theme for an upcoming newsletter we'd love to hear from you.
Food, Spirit and a Sense of Place
by Barbara Fisher
I grew up eating locally.
As the granddaughter of a farming family who raised cattle, chickens, hogs, and vegetables, I learned early in life what truly fresh foods tasted like. I also learned what labor went into the growing and production of food as I followed my grandmother down the garden rows, planting seeds, hoeing weeds and transplanting seedlings every spring. In the heat of summer through the crisp days of autumn, we harvested, canning, preserving and freezing in preparation for the fallow season of winter.
In light of this rather unusual upbringing, it should come as no surprise that I have since endeavored to eat as close to the source of my food as possible. Not only do I dislike the concept of shipping vegetables hundreds or thousands of miles from the soil in which it was grown, I mistrust the rampant use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides that are necessary to run mono cropped factory farms. I also abhor the inhumane practices of confined animal feeding operations where most of the meat animals in our country are raised. These unsustainable farming practices may produce a great deal of food cheaply, but they come at an astronomical environmental health and ethical cost.
There is also an often overlooked spiritual cost to the animals, plants, planet and ourselves when we consume food that is raised using unethical, unsustainable methods. As a woman who has been deeply connected to the spirit of nature since childhood, I cannot help but be aware of this seemingly unending well of pain and corruption that comes from working against nature in order to feed ourselves, instead of working with nature.
When we take from the Earth without giving back, we are destroying not only the soil, the environment, the plants and animals, we are destroying ourselves. When we act as if there are no consequences, we are fooling ourselves: taking up arable land for more shopping centers may not destroy us, but it may starve our children and grandchildren.
As humans, we have forgotten that we are not apart from nature; we are intimately entwined within the web of all life. And as such, we must understand that our every action and inaction affects everything we do. If we choose to eat apples shipped to us from New Zealand, instead of the ones grown in our home county, we are choosing not only to ignore our local economy and neighborhood farmers while supporting the use of massive amounts of petroleum to ship fruit half a world away, we are also spurning the spiritual and physical gifts of the Earth where we live.
All plant foods are filled with vital vitamins, minerals, photochemical, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and bioflavenoids, all of which are necessary to sustain life. As soon as a vegetable or fruit is taken from the ground or parent plant, these energy-giving and life-sustaining elements begin to wane, fading rapidly the longer the interval between the farm to the table. When we eat far from the source of our food, we are robbing ourselves of the nutrients that plants give us.
In addition, eating far from the source of food may be helping humans feel disconnected from the Earth. I believe very strongly that not only does the soil in which a plant is grown affect the flavor and nutritious components of that plant, it also has a subtle effect on the energy field of that plant, stamping it spiritually with a sense of place. When we eat food of questionable nutritious value shipped from all over the world that we buy wrapped in plastic and far from the soil in which it was grown, we may be feeding our own sense of rootlessness and not belonging to our communities.
But, if we eat what is grown and produced close to us, or even better grow some of our own food ourselves, we foster that spiritual sense of connection, of belonging, of being part of the natural world. We become more aware of our place in the natural world, and it helps us take better care of ourselves, our families, our lands and our planet.
As a part of my spiritual
practice, I buy most of my family’s
food from local farmers, and cook most of our meals, all from healthy
foods. Here in southeastern
I only hope that the
spiritual value of ethically
produced local foods will also become known to the people of my home
well as those across the country and around the world. Local food has
potential to not only sustain our bodies, our communities, our
neighbors and our environments, it can also sustain our spirits, and
reconnect with the natural world.
Books by Peter D'Adamo
Eat Right 4 Your Type, Putnam, 1996
Live Right 4 Your Type, Putnam, 2001
Cook Right 4 Your Type, Putnam, 1998
The Blood Type Health Library Series
Review by Bekki
Anyone who knows me well has had to listen at one time or another to my rant about the Blood Type Diets. While there are certainly other ways to examine the concept of "food as medicine", this way of eating has really worked for me and for a host of others. Long before the current popularity of Syndrome X, Dr. D'Adamo was promoting the idea that certain foods affect the metabolisms of certain folks in ways that promote diabetes and other sugar imbalances in the body. In many more ways than I can count, working with the O Blood Type Diet has improved my health and my life-- and I do not attempt to be 100% compliant. (If I did, I would be exercising a lot more than I do.) Still, by paying some attention to basic concepts of the diet I have improved my sleep/fatigue levels immensely, have moderated menopausal symptoms, have improved joint health and reduced my incidence of respiratory illness.
In 1996 Peter D'Adamo, a naturopathic doctor, published his first book on the Blood Type Diets, 4 different diets that are blood-type specific. His father, also a naturopathic doctor, had developed the basic concept behind these diets during an internship in Europe spent at several health spas. He was curious about why, when clients came to the spa, not all of them regained health by eating the same "health food"diet. He began to observe that blood type seemed to be a factor. His son continued to explore the concept, eventually doing post-graduate work on the Blood Type Diets at the prestigious Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine. Eat Right 4 Your Type was the first book he published on the Diets, in which he set out the basics of the diets and the science behind them. This was my introduction to the Blood Type diets, and also informs my herbal work to some extent, since (in the beverages section) he discusses herbal teas and their compatibility with the blood Types. This is why, early on, I stopped using echinacea and goldenseal, and depend on Siberian ginseng and a a host of other adaptogens and system-specific (respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, etc) herbs to stay well. (I don't often need them though, except when I have compromised my immune system by too little sleep, too much stress, or eating things my blood type doesn't tolerate, like wheat or dairy. It usually requires a combination of all three, usually in spades, to really throw me into full-blown illness.)
The second book D'Adamo wrote, Cook Right 4 Your Type, which included a bit more information but also lots of recipes. It is geared toward not only helping one to eat enjoyably while eating according to blood type, but also toward solving the dilemma of cooking for a multi-blood type household. Each recipe lists whether it is beneficial, neutral or to be avoided by each blood type, and often lists substitutions that can be made so that the various blood types can eat it.
Live Right 4 Your Type, the 3rd book in the Blood Type Diet Library, added new material to what had already been researched, including material from over 1200 studies done on blood types by scientists all over the world, much of it regarding disease. In LR4YT, D'Adamo discusses disease and blood type in depth. Much is known about blood type susceptibility to disease. D'Adamo is the first to discuss the biological basis for links between blood type and disease, including susceptibility to mental illness, and how eating according to one's blood type can help augment wellness, strengthen immunity and fight stress and other environmental factors.
Dr. D'Adamo has also authored a series of books based on the Blood Type Diets and using them to overcome cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, allergies and asthma, and other conditions. He looks at foods that are Super Beneficial (broccoli for cancer, for example, which is a super beneficial food for all types) and herbs and supplements that are the most ideal for each blood type in healing from each disease condition. His most recent books focus on managing menopause symptoms and a book on pregnancy (Eat Right 4 Your Baby). He also maintains a web site with lots of additional cutting edge information.
One of the more exciting aspects of living in our time and culture is the diversity of foods and food cultures available to us. But as research is showing, discreet human populations have co-evolved with their habitats and food sources, and we are not all adapted to eating some of the foods we have learned to like. Eating as our ancestors did (sometimes hard to discern in our Heinz 57 culture) is probably more healthful than simply eating the foods we have formed attachments for. I love to eat-- and live with a Crow who also loves to eat and cook. Both of us have found that eating for our blood types has improved our physical health, stamina and resistance to disease.
A word about compliance with the Blood type protocols: Many of us can get away with 70% compliance-- that is, at least 70% of our food should be blood-type friendly. Younger people, in my experience, have more leeway than those of us who have been eating certain problematic foods for many years. I find that at age 53 I can't cheat on wheat, because my body really doesn't tolerate it well at all. Luckily I find that if I eat the red meat that my body needs I don't crave wheat. People who are fighting serious illnesses will usually find that the greater their compliance the healthier they are.
The real test resides with you; certainly if the Blood Type Diet works as well for you as it has for many folks we know, it will be well worth the experiment.
Why Some Like it Hot: Food, Genes and Cultural Diversity, by Gary Paul Nabhan, Island Press/Shearwater Books, Washington DC 2004 $24 Hardback
Review by Crow
"They [the Native Hawaiian people] were pleased --if not jubilant --to once again be eating in place, eating with their ancestors, and eating what was fit for their genes and their cultural identity."(p.209, italics in original)In our lives and work as shamanic teachers and practitioners we often speak of the ancestors and their ongoing importance in all our lives. Once a year, we, like the Hawaiians, make a conscious welcoming of our ancestors as we eat with them at the celebration of samhain, our "feast of the dead." Nabhan's book gives new depth and new meaning to the awareness of ancestral connections we intentionally cultivate in our work and our lives.
For shamanic peoples, connection with the ancestors is a spiritual one. That is, it takes place in and with the intervention of Spirit. It is also vividly real because we depend on our ancestors for their help in our lives: in our lives of healing and in our ordinary daily existences. As Nabhan's summarizing sentence above shows, the shamanic connections we have been celebrating are but part of a vivid, ongoing and (literally) vitally important connection we all have with those who have gone before us.
The connection exists simultaneously in Spirit, in our genetic connections with our forebears, in the place(s) they and we have lived and in the foods brought into our lives by ourselves, our ancestors and the places we have lived. Without a knowing and understanding of these multi stranded connections, we risk losing not just our past and our present but our future as well.
How can this be? In real, and scientifically documented, example after example, Why Some Like it Hot shows the deadly health risks which have threatened, damaged and destroyed individuals and whole groups when they have been unable to eat in ways appropriate to their cultural and genetic backgrounds. Native Hawaiian and several Native North American groups are cited at length from Nabhan's personal experience and research. He has been there and seen and studied the damage done when natives are forced to eat non-native foods.
Millions of dollars have been spent on research by the U.S. government to try to understand the deadly prevalence of overweight, heart disease and diabetes among native populations. Nabhan makes it clear that the money has been misspent because the research has focused on biological causes when the problem is a complex, multi factorial one.
As he deftly portrays the interweaving of the causal strands, the author looks at some of the proposed "cures" as well as the causes. He sets aside as ill-informed the simpler dietary fixes such as the Cave Man Diet, the Paleo Diet and the Stone Age Menu. They are based on inadequate information about how early humans ate and they do not acknowledge the powerful interactions of diet, human genetic makeup and cultural diversity in the past and in the present moment.
He also questions the wisdom of singular biological fixes such as manipulating genes. The unknown risks of genetically changing food plants and animals and even the humans who consume them, are simply not worth it. The monetary costs are high and the results probably far less effective than simple life style and dietary adjustments to achieve the same or more satisfactory ends. Furthermore, artificial genetic changes do not take account of the cultural matrix within which people and their food needs exist.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves food and health and anyone with an interest in and connection to diverse human cultures. It brought to my awareness the interactions of many of the things I love most and I must exclaim over just one discovery by way of closing. Recent advances in anthropological, archaeological, genetic and botanical research now makes clear that humans have affected food plants and food plants have affected humans in an ongoing genetically measurable interaction throughout the entirety of our joint existence.
"...this field offers us altogether fresh insights about our bodies and our tastes, seen as reflections of the evolutionary interactions between cultural diversity and biological diversity:" (p.31)
A few weeks after completing this review, I received the September issue (v.95) of SAVEUR, my favourite food magazine. In the Reporter section (p.35_37) is an article, The Importance of Corn: An innovative gardening program in northern Arizona is helping the Navajo rediscover the foods that have nourished them. It is wonderful that mainstream media are becoming aware of problems like these which are dietary in origin and resolution. The article includes some wonderful food ideas for anyone and describes the work of Justin Willie, a Navajo former and educator, and others with the Northern Arizona University's Diabetes Prevention Education Program and Healing Gardens. Featured is a delicious and healthy harvest feast.
Home to Eat: The Pleasures
Politics of Local Foods, by Gary Paul Nabhan, WW. Norton &
Reviewed by Crow
I have chosen to praise the concepts of slow food by reviewing yet another of Nabhan's fabulous books because he has been living the values of slow food since well before the organization was conceived. (In 1982 Nabhan was one of the founders of Native Seeds/SEARCH, which has been saving and advocating for local food traditions and seeds in the Southwest ever since.)
If you have been reading the Newsletter you know something about Nabhan's work: even if his other books don't reach you emotionally, this one will. I cried with laughter, love and joy several times! For instance:
"Because they can hardly crawl more than a half mile an hour, hornworm larvae as well as snails are the epitomes of slow food... Of course, other spineless (invertebrate) creatures contribute to agricultural productivity in more obscure but no less direct ways: they pollinate our crops, rebuild our soils, and reward us with their beauty and intricate stories of adaptation and survival. Invertebrates, along with microbes, are the little lives that run the farm, and the world as a whole." ( p136, emphases added.)
For this book Nabhan's approach was to spend a year growing, gathering and hunting slow foods. This was not just for a series of spectacular meals (though he did prepare and report on a few of those). His goal was to obtain 95% of his diet, mostly through his own labour, from his backyard and as far away as within a 250 radius of his home. And he succeeded, while inspiring, informing and entertaining us with his interactions with family, friends, neighbours, plant, animal and human.
One of his experiences: Jogging a road in his neighbourhood, Nabhan comes across "extensive windrows of trash and wrappers left behind [along the roadside] by fast food aficionados_" The experience emphasized his choices: "Every day like this, I too could be seduced into shooting up such junk, to toss its wrappers out the window, and surge ahead on a chemical high. Or I could go cold turkey, and be humbled by the realities of gardening, hunting or gathering in this wildly unpredictable land."
Nabhan is not much good at the "slow life" part of the equation, however. His very fast life as a member of a Lebanese American family, food scientist and activist for all he believes in, has him flying from Arizona to Lebanon, Chicago, Minnesota, Washington DC, rafting down the Colorado River and driving to the Gulf of California and maybe some other trips I have forgotten. (OK, the last two are within his 250 mile radius but were not strictly part of his food gathering efforts.) Most of his travels have to do with the "Politics" part of the book and its title. His personal reportage on the growth of Community Supported Agriculture and the Annual Campout of the Seed Savers Exchange versus the endless frustrations faced in dealing with the EPA over Genetically Modified BT corn (the kind that kills butterflies) is stunning. It enlivens an already very lively book and gives true insights into the Good and the Bad in the world of food today. The inherent contrast between many people's positive efforts to maintain our access to genuine and safe slow foods and the industrial size stumbling blocks thrown in our way by commerce and government are overwhelming.
The book comes to a hilariously
(tear time again) climax of bread dancing (p.298).
some 250 friends of many tribes and
persuasions, following the guidance of Spirit, Nabhan has just walked
days across the desert from the
"Like the peregrine, we need to
eye across the landscape, while knowing how to tirelessly pursue the
fitting for us close to home. It's a
tricky balance: when to soar high for the wide view, and when to dive
own nourishment." p.207
Other books that may be of interest:
Slow Food Revolution by Carlo Petrini, the person credited with starting and fueling the Slow Food revolution.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, a deeply involved family whose lives, "make a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet."
|Journeys with Bekki and Crow
One of the journeys that we do during the Fire Elementals workshop is a journey to the Sun. Crow was intrigued by this journey of a participant in the Bucks County workshop, and asked her to submit it for the newsletter.
to the Sun
I always ground, center and shield inside a tree but this time it felt different right away. In Swedish the word "root" is rötter and the word for "feet" is fötter and the word almost sounds the same. That was important in this journey because I felt very clearly that the roots were my feet and that I was connected to the fire through them.
The roots of the tree were feeling hot, like they were on fire. Like they were stretching all the way down (or in) to the center of the earth and like there was a sun in there too.
I had become the tree that I usually just am inside of. In my branches were a lot of bats and one of them came to take me up to the sun.
We were going above the tree tops, above the clouds and even above the sky.
When we were on the way up we passed through different layers in the atmosphere, and for each atmosphere we went through the breathing changed. It was very clear to me that the sun takes the oxygen, but it also gives something. It gives a whole new way of existing.
When there was no more oxygen I first panicked, but the connection with the sun transformed the feeling into a very interesting celerity. Everything was very clear to me. How it all works.
When there is no air, there is nothing that can go through our bodies, nothing that can work with us in the way we are used to. When our bodies can’t interact with the air, when there is no air our bodies stop having a frame and boundaries. We become one with what is surrounding us. In this case it was the rays from the sun. They were compact and my body stopped existing. I was the rays.
And we got closer to the sun.
The sun was bright, but all concepts had changed. Colours were suddenly like material, a colour was something you could feel. It not an illusion. So I think the sun was red or yellow, but it was more how it was feeling around me: how it was to be that colour since I was everything around me, then how it looked.
The middle of the sun was the hardest of materials, that was my first feeling when I got close enough to it to experience it. It was harder than anything we could ever imagine, that could ever exist, but that made it also be nothing. It was in between. And the fact that it was so hard also made it eternal, ever existing but that also made it be nothing at all. Just a part of time.
I was thinking about its size, but I realized pretty soon that since my body doesn’t exist anymore and I’m a part of everything around me I can’t experience the size of the sun. It could be the biggest thing we can imagine, taking up the whole universe. But it could also be a little pea.
The whole journey was
a lot about experiencing and questioning and rethinking our reality.
Crow Dancing Fire, Norfolk 2007
|"Slow Food is
eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989
to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food
traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where
it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest
of the world. Slow Food
has over 80,000
members all over the world.
We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our movement is founded upon this concept of eco-gastronomy – a recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet.
Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. We believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.
We consider ourselves co-producers, not consumers, because by being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process."
In this issue we are featuring photos of some of our students' drums. Coincidentally all three have sponsored workshops for us, helping to spread our teaching and work.
"I would like to pass along my thanks to you. Since Convocation 2007, I've been trying the diet for my blood type, the pain in my joints is gone and I've lost 15 pounds that were slowing me down. So thank you again for advice that pointed me down a healthier path...
Pulling the gluten out of my diet has definitely been one of the smartest things I've ever done for myself, and I certainly feel more energy eating the right foods... The other great impact is that I'm no longer on daily doses of Claritin for allergies, I only need one or two doses when I go into an exceptionally dusty environment."
Bradley Atwell, Detroit
The Ireland clan are a bunch of folks we know through ConVocation, the Detroit convention we attend as often as possible each February. They work hard for and are very active in the Pagan community up there.
Free publications by and for Pagans from all Paths. This is a list of free online, community-based ezines for Pagans of all Paths related newsletters, emags and magazines. The Pagan WebZine is designed for pagans and pagan friendly people, Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Shamans and pagans of all paths, we offer stimulating content, interesting resources, and up to date news for you. New age and Pagan News from around the world. Celebrating the Diversity of all Spiritual Paths. Join us in exploring a wide range of Newage, Alternative & Pagan Topics and Philosophies. News and information for the Pagan/Metaphysical/New Age community, online Magazines about neo-pagan religions, spirituality, alternative health, wellness and more.
Paula and Gordon Ireland
Earth Spirit Emporium Inc
PO Box 181088
Utica MI 48318 USA
Church of Earth Healing Newsletter Guidelines for Authors
Our newsletter is a monthly publication which includes articles, book reviews, workshop profiles and reviews, news of current and upcoming events and stuff that is really hot that we feel you need to know about. We focus on alternative healing and other work of the church and ourselves, though we cast our net widely.
We love to write and have lots of good material to share. We also value your outlook, talents, and opinions so we welcome contributions. These may include specific material we request from you, our readers. We welcome all kinds of material, preferably on our monthly topic. If you are submitting something on the topic, we must receive it before the deadline. If it is of general interest we will fit it in as soon as we can. Articles on topic receive first priority.
We work in Microsoft Word; that is the most convenient electronic form to receive material in. If you need to use another form please ask first. Format is quite open. Please place the title, author (in exactly the form you want your name to appear - including degrees, professional designations, etc.) and a very brief bio at the beginning of your offering. Please keep it fairly short and snappy, since we have limited space. We will read everything we receive before publishing it. We would prefer not to have to edit for intelligibility or length.
|All Contents Copyright Church of Earth Healing 2007|