Issue 8 Plant Spirits and the Green World May 2007
IN THIS ISSUE
What's New at CEH
The Male Herbal
A Short List
Millenium: Touching the
Wishlist: Herbs for the
Horn Rattle with
We're excited to bring you an issue on Plant Spirit work, a topic close to our hearts, as many of you know. While I am still behind, this issue gets us lots closer to being on schedule with the newsletter, and I hope to put the next issue out in two weeks. So please think about submitting material for any of our upcoming issues, even if off-topic.
Crow reviews several excellent books and we include a short list of his favorites, and another short list of mine.
Pat from Norfolk reviews a video segment from Cultural Survival's Millenium series we use for our plant spirit workshop, Rooted in the Heart, Seeded in the Soul. Many of our students have seen this video of the Peyote Pilgrimage of the Huichol, in the context of other teachings. The hour-long video, called Touching the Timeless, also includes a segment on a Navaho healing ceremony, which she also reviews.
Activist's Corner features Native Seeds/SEARCH, one of Crow's pet organizations, which is doing great work with indigenous food and herbal plants in Arizona.
We have been busy this spring and summer, and have been visiting Norfolk and nearby Virginia Beach, VA, frequently. In addition to presentations and book signings for the prestigious A.R.E. (Association for Research and Enlightenment, Edgar Cayce's foundation) and the Heritage Store, both located in Virginia Beach, we have also been lecturing at the Athens Public Library, and have another lecture scheduled for mid-August.
We have lots of workshops planned for the rest of the summer, and an Intensive scheduled for the fall, with two openings left. If you have been thinking about taking the Intensive you can find more information on the Schedule Page. We have added a Fundamentals workshop in September here in the Athens area, and are planning one also for the Quakertown PA area as well. We still have weekends open in November and early December, and are beginning to schedule for next year, if you are interested in hosting workshops in your area.
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.
June: Journeys in Hungary deadline to submit: 7/15/2007
July: Living Shamanically: The Food Issue, deadline to submit: 7/30/2007
We are looking for articles, reviews, etc on wild food and foraging; slow food; food as medicine (particularly TCM and Ayurvedic approaches) for this issue
August: Healing Techniques, Take 2 , deadline to submit: 8/15/2007
We are looking for articles, reviews, etc on bodywork techniques, energy healing, and other techniques which complement or enhance shamanic healing
September: Integrating Shamanic Spiritual Practice into Mainstream Life and Culture, deadline to submit: 9/1/2007 In what ways has practicing shamanism, personally or professionally, made a difference in your life? Please share...
Thanks to Michelle Sampson for suggesting this theme!
If you have an idea for a theme for an upcoming newsletter we'd love to hear from you.
A number of wildlife organizations, including the NRDC, are trying to get as many people as possible to register their opposition to the planned Wolf kill. Please tell the Fish and Wildlife Service how you feel about this plan. Below is information and a link from a recent mailing we got from NRDC. You can find out more at their web site, and submit your comments.
"The Bush Administration has just issued a disastrous "License to Kill" plan that could trigger the extermination of half the gray wolves in Wyoming and Idaho, starting as early as October -- unless we stop it now.
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting public comments on this cruel proposal only until August 6. Please register your opposition right now by clicking here to submit an Official Citizen Comment."
"Herbal Medicine for Men," by Heather Scott in The Herb Quarterly, Fall 2004, and The Male Herbal, Health Care for Men & Boys by James Green, 1991, The Crossing Press.
Review by CrowI suppose it is fair enough for Heather Scott (in her article in the Fall 2004 Herb Quarterly) to tell us (men) about our "falling testosterone levels in midlife" and tell us what to do about the problem. After all, men have been telling women how to take care of themselves and their bodies for far too long. I do remember however, how relieved I was when, 15 years ago, James Green finally wrote The Male Herbal and gave a man's point of view on male health issues and needs.
The gender of the author is not a serious weakness of Scott's excellent article. In only 5 pages she introduces at least 13 herbs of value for some major male health challenges. She calls on recent studies and quotes the work of several leading herbalists, male and female: Christopher Hobbs, Laurel Vukovic, Stephen Foster, Michael Murray. She does not aim to update Green's work, but her compilation helps in that direction, none the less. It also reminds all of us, male and female, that there are very effective herbal alternatives to the more stringent, side-effect laden, medical offerings for men.
If I were to challenge Scott- and this is a challenge I issue to many contemporary writers-it is in her easy acceptance of the common concept that our health just naturally gets worse as we age. Testosterone levels do not automatically fall in all men at some given age: she says, "decreased levels of testosterone that occur in men sometime between the ages of 40 and 55." There are great individual variations in this and other functions of life which need to be understood and taken account of when recommending any medications, treatments or changes in habit and life style. A broader view would show that many changes commonly attributed to "aging" also correlate with other events of life history, social, psychological and physical. Even in a short article, it should be possible to note that many aspects of every individual health history are multi-factoral. As such, they may best achieve resolution, first by not assuming any one single cause and, second, by treating problems from a multi_factoral point of view. Even when the medical profession has trouble doing so, herbalists, like shamans, need to keep alive to the complexities of the lives of their clients and the highly active fields of energy in which we all live.I came across James Green's The Male Herbal 15 years ago, at a time when I needed someone whose philosophy was compatible with the shamanic path and who could more formally introduce me to herbalism. Green did that: this book has a completeness which its easy accessibility and less than 300 page length belie. Indeed, I hardly know where to begin to describe it. Let me start with his overall approach:
"There is a dignity inherent in the ability to tend to one's own condition; to live in a knowing relationship with natural surroundings, possessing a personal independence with the skills to provide one's self with natural remedies and self-help..." (p.ix)
Naturally this appeals to me since my primary aim in teaching and sharing the shamanic way is to facilitate the self-empowerment and independence of others!
"Ninety percent of the time the normal body spontaneously heals itself given merely adequate rest, pure water and the lack of outside intervention." (p.13)
Anyone presenting a healing system based on these principles has my attention and begins to win my support. Green continues his positive approach through a complex "wholism". In part it is that:
"Wholistically oriented herbalists perceive humans as complex physical, mental, emotional and spirited beings ecologically interwoven with all life, possessing the innate power to prevent disease and heal afflictions." (p. 22)
He has a powerful and comprehensive philosophy, but is this truly a male herbal? Yes, in a very balanced sense, and with a clearly stated broad perspective, it is. He has the balls to examine the usefulness of traditionally "female" herbs for "men's problems" and there is plenty of very useful analysis and advice concerning the obvious men's health concerns.Yes, gents, baldness, the scrotum, prostate problems, heart health, stress and hypertension, virility, 8 pages on the penis (including _ oooo, try this one- the penis soak) are included and more!The title says 'For Men and Boys' and there is much that would have been useful for me (son of medical doctors, that I am) as I was growing up: good, straight from the shoulder, manly stuff about what parts we have, how they work and how to take care of them. Good women's herbals and guide_to_the_body books have been around for at least two decades.It is wonderful to finally have one of our own. The book is so balanced that women will benefit from reading it too, whether or not they relate much to men.That's it Guys (and Gals)! Buy this book, you will use it regularly no matter how healthy you are, and it is a good read even if you don't think you need it!
I cannot criticize Scott or Green for not mentioning plant spirits. That is simply not Green's focus. Nor is The Male Herbal a book about plant spirit medicine, even though it is informed by an awareness of Spirit and energy healing and he does reference The Medicine Cards, Skinny Legs and All and Jitterbug Perfume, all of which are important spiritual tools.Depending on their time and culture, however, shamans have used a vast variety of healing techniques, always, of course, supported by journeying, the primary shamanic tool. Spiritual herbalism, that is, contacting plant spirits in alternative realities for their help in healing, is not uncommon. There are herbalistas in South America who journey exclusively to plant spirits. Material herbalism, in which the substance of plants is used in a healing way, is also very widespread among tribal/shamanic peoples because so many plants are so healing in so many ways and our ancestors discovered this so early on. Bekki and I have used herbal remedies for years for ourselves, family and friends, and have gathered quite a few plant familiars from workshops, reading, trial and error and journeying, although we do not consider ourselves herbalists as such. (For information on our plant journeys see, Rooted in the Heart, Seeded in the Soul, by Bekki and Crow, latest edition, 2006, available at www.church-of-earth-healing.org, publications page.)
Crow first reviewed James Green's The Male Herbal in 1991 or 92 in THE NEWT-ONIAN PHYSICIAN a column which he wrote for Pagans in Recovery Quarterly. Exerpts from that review are included above. Green's book is still in print; it is probably due for a 'new and revised edition' any time now.
Editor's note: The new edition is out. April 2007
Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief, by David Winston, RH (AHG), and Steven Maimes, 2007, Healing Arts Press
Review by Bekki
While there are many great herbals that have been published in the last 20 to thrity years, the last ten have
seen an explosion of "must-haves", for anyone seriously interested in herbalism, whether you use herbs for yourself and your family, or are a professional healing using them as adjunct therapy. This book is one of the first to have in your herbal library, for a host of reasons.
First off, it is an engaging "read"by articulate and knowledgeable authors (I go to it often, and always have trouble putting it down). While I enjoy the writings of other authors, not many of them cause me to get lost in a book long after I have found the reference I was seeking. Part of this is the subject of course, and the title says it all: herbs for strength, stamina and stress relief. For most of us, particularly as we enter midlife, stress (which is endemic in our culture) is the number one health issue we face, because it breaks down our immune systems and affects our health at every level. Adaptogens support health because they restore the balance to our body systems that stress destroys. These gentlemen begin by defining adaptogens, and then explain the processes occurring in our bodies as a result of stress, whether environmental and biochemical, or emotional and spiritual, and they explain how the various adaptogenic herbs support well-being in the body in the face of these stressors. (What's more, adaptogens are extremely benign substances-- most of them can not easily be overused, and some are really foods for the body.)
Early on (Chapter 3, History of Adaptogens) the authors discuss the various herbal traditions which have made adaptogens a major part of their healing regime, primarily Auyurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Eclectic herbalism. (18 of the 22 adaptogens they mention have been used in Auyurveda and TCM, most for thousands of years.)
Chapters 4 (Actions of Adaptogens), 5 (Adaptogens and the Stress Response), and 6 (Health Benefits of Adaptogens) get into the science of how they work, with specific references to each of the herbs covered in the book. Part 2 is devoted to a Materia Medica of adaptogenic herbs world wide, and includes a monograph on each herb which features location of origin, cultivation, safety data, history/ethnobotany, modern useage, and scientific studies-- usually at least 2or 3. A great touch are the sections following the Materia Medica, which give basic data (dosage, use and safety) for herbs which are nervines (nervous system tonics) and nootropics (cerebral stimulants) which work with adaptogens. Nervines often are herbs which aid in restlful sleep and reduce anxiety, such as chamomile or passionflower, or hawthorn, which is not only a cardiac tonic but good for hyperactivity. Nootropics enhance memory (gotu kola,rosemary, licorice), improve mood (lavender, rosemary), and reduce cognitive decline(gingkgo).
Other highlights: Chapter 12, Adaptogens as Food, includes recipes, many of them traditional, for foods in which adaptogenic herbs are key ingredients. Chapter 13, Adaptogens for Animals, covers use of these herbs to aid our companion animals. Finally, the Resources at the end of the book help you find sources for herbal products, followed by a glossary, bibliography, and index.
I give it 5 stars.
Man: Natural Health
Care for Men at Midlife
Stephen Harrod Buhner, 2003, Avery, New
"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?"
age is like everything else. To make a
success of it you've got to start
See our Schedule for more information and how to register.
July 21-22 Air Elementals in Shamanic Practice at the Mystical Attic, Norfolk VA
July 28-29 Rooted in the Heart, Seeded in the Soul in Haycock, Upper Bucks County, PA
August 4-5 Fundamentals of Shamanism at the Mystical Attic, Norfolk VA
August 11-12 Fire Elementals in Shamanic Practice at the Mystical Attic, Norfolk VA
August 19-20 Rooted in the Heart, Seeded in the Soul in Beavercreek, OH
September 8-9 Fundamentals of Shamanism at Dragon Waters
September 29- October 14 Two-Week Advanced Shamanic Healing Intensive Training at Dragon Waters
October 20-21 Fire Elementals in Shamanic Practice in Haycock, Upper Bucks County, PA
November 3-4 Circle of the Ancestors at Dragon Waters
Wisdom and the Modern World
A Ten Part Series
Touching the Timeless - Part 6
Host: David Maybury-Lewis
Reviewed by: Sidonia (aka Pat)
The first part is about the Huichol people of Mexico making an annual pilgrimage to collect peyote, the sacred food of the gods. Here we meet a husband and wife who are to join a Shaman named Pedro who leads them on the journey to collect the peyote. Chalio is going on the pilgrimage to find his heart, he questions his Catholic faith, his wife who follows the old ways and their infant child accompany him. The trip is about 300 miles long, they travel most of it by truck, and along the way they stop to confess their sins, and ask forgiveness of the gods. They continue the journey to the lands of the ancestors where they must continue on foot as the people before them did. When they arrive the Shaman invokes the 5 directions, the 5th direction is the center, "our hearts", so with pure hearts they can then hunt the footprints of the Sacred Deer. The Peyote are the footprints of the Deer. They make offerings of corn, food, and candles. They eat the peyote for a heart must be open so the gods may come into them. They harvest the peyote for the coming year, and return to the village with it. The Huichol believe to mis-use the peyote is a fearful sin, and it a fearful punishment. Chalio finds that he is just Huichol. The tradition continues for as long as there are Huichol.
The next segment of Touching the Timeless is about Billie Yellow, an 85 year old Navajo Medicine Man who lives in Monument Valley. He invites the spirits into his world each day by chanting and walking in beauty. "Starting the day the way the world starts". We are then taken through his day while he teaches his grandsons to sing and listen to the songs of the ancestors, for they will be the ones to sing after he is gone. As his day continues he does a blessing for one of the grandsons with a hummingbird he catches in his hands, then he does healing work with the creation of a sand painting for a grandson whose father had killed a snake two years before, and and since then the boy had been afflicted with a skin rash that looked like snakeskin. Billie Yellow chants and sings while the grandson sits on the sand painting, calling the spirits into the painting, and the boy is cured. Following the methods used and passed down by the ancestors and spirit. Passing on to the grandsons the traditions of old.
In both of these segments, there are onlookers behave as if the traditions of these people are a side show they are watching. Not understanding the ways of the old, it is easier to look at what is going on as un-natural, out of the "Norm". For generations civilization has tried to change and modernize these tribal people and their beliefs. There are fewer and fewer people carrying on the old ways. The Shaman and Medicine man in the two segments are guiding and teaching others so that the traditions live on, some will learn and follow, some will not. The video makes me think about what I can learn from the tribal societies and my ancestors, allies and guides, to carry on traditions, spiritual beliefs, the way of life that has been passed down through generations, and to teach others. How to connect with spirit, respect spirit, and honor spirit. I believe the Shaman Pedro and Medicine Man Billie Yellow have a lesson for all of us. I found the video easy to follow, and narrated well. I would recommend it to any one interested in understanding more about our society and spiritual history, and how the past has effected our out look on society today.
The mission of
Native Seeds/SEARCH is
to conserve, distribute, and document the adapted and diverse varieties
of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds
play in cultures of the American Southwest and Northwest Mexico.
You can get the NS/S catalog and grow your own heirloom varieties of corn beans, squash, hot peppers and a host of other crops, by goint to their web site. They also sell native crafts made by local folks.
Well, we do wish for a few things. here are some possible donations that will expand our herbal healing work:
From Horizon Herbs:
Seeds of the following plants
Holy Basil (3 Kinds, any or all will do)
(not the European or American version)
False Unicorn Root
From Companion Plants Nursery, who are local to us and good buddies:
White Sage (smudging herb)
I began some serious rattle making in 1998-9, after meeting up with Rob, a drum maker at Celebrate the Spirit, a festival we taught at in the West Virginia panhandle and put on by mz. imani from DC. I fell in love with his drums, particularly a djembe he had, and he agreed to a trade for a (BIG!) bunch of rattles.
I created a pair of rattles made with two matching goat horns. I was working with the elements of Fire and Water-- this is the Water rattle. The fossil I beaded onto it was for grounding the Going Within. As an empath I use the emotion of Water to connect with the Source of transformation , for healing.
Our sweet, funky old Charlie (the one reclining at his ease in the accompanying picture) passed over on Sunday July 29 2007, at the ripe age of 17.
He brightened our world for three wonderful years, with his amazing appreciation for all the fine things of life: FOOD, sleep, affection, and the opportunity to express his opinion, especially of those who would get served their dinner before himself, or those who would dare to give him pedicures and haircuts. While he was with us he learned to tolerate baths; brushings; and spontaneous expressions of affection from humans and orange cats. We will miss his clarion call for "Dinner!!!!!", his enthusiastic appreciation of Bekki's --and Crow's --cooking; and his soppy expression. We will not miss his bladder.
We are immeasurably grateful for the opportunity to rescue him from a fate worse than, and probably including, death, and his willingness to put up with us during his sunset time.
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 2006|