Making Medicine by Honoring Earth's Rhythms

Tuesday, August 02, 2016 6:42 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Making Medicine by Honoring Earth's Rhythms 

Dr Nashalla Gwyn Nyinda, Menpa


August 20th, in beautiful Colorado, where the planes meet the mountains; or as we say in Tibetan when describing when to shift from cooling herbs to neutral herbs so as not to drive cold into the body causing harm while quelling a fever, Ri Thang mSams - the border between the mountain and planes, we will gather at the inaugural Red Earth Herbal Gathering. The foot of the Rocky Mountains contains vast arrays of herbs. This day women will gather in ceremony and community for teachings and sharing. We will emerge ourselves into the ways of the plants, healing methods and the wisdom of woman passed down for generations. 


I represent a faraway Himalayan kingdom of healing, an unbroken lineage thousands of years old. Yet, even with patriarchy a strong factor in Asian society; women were always known as healers. Those with healing gifts or a family lineage were trained. This is not to say it was not hard for these women and even me as a western woman seeking what almost no western had before me. However, when women knew various healing methods, they were respected and honored. My own Tibetan mother in-law is illiterate, yet people come from all over for her healing ritual and massage to the abdomen and liver. When I gave birth with our first and reached India at 6 weeks postpartum, she gave a special massage with butter and foods to recover. I've long suspected the reason for this respect of the divine female in Tibetan culture is because Tibetan society is in almost every way, aware of and honoring to the rhythms of the seasons, elements and the expressions they lay forth. That is to say, respect our mother earth. Old tales tell of a wild demon goddess who was the ruler of the land, literally a part of the land she is drawn as a map of Tibet. She whom the Bön shamans communed with, she who later was brought into Buddhism and given roles and honored with rituals still used today.  


The rooftop of the world is delightfully vast and varied. Many plants in Tibetan Healing are found in the United States, including some rare delicate alpine plants and the common wonder herbs and weeds as well. Dandelion, Barberry, Mountain Solomon's Seal, Artemisia, Wild Rose, St John’s Wort, Plantain, Salt Cedar, Rhubarb, Juniper and many others are cross cultural. Himalayan healing has a wide footprint extending from the most barren and rugged mountaintops down through Nepal’s rhododendron forests of healing wonder, dripping with tropical medicines, sloping further down in elevation to both lush or hot planes of India with Sandalwood, Neem and Eaglewood forests. 


Tibetan Medicine was born out of honoring the wisdom of the sacred nature of cycles and seasons, shamanism and magic. Buddhist healing came much later and was an integration of animistic and shamanistic ritual. Both common society and the healers knew how altitudes, climates, seasons, and preparation methods affect and create characteristics and the power to effect changes within an herbal formula. Likewise, the effects of the outer world and cycles upon the inner bodily elements are intrinsically linked when performing healing. Prayer and astrological influences remain a critical and necessary step in the preparation of this sacred medicine. There is a revered connection to the cycles of life; beginning with the harvesting of the plants, methods of preparation, to the prayers made upon them after completion. So too does ritual extend further into prayers uttered over a patient during administration.


For me, learning Tibetan Medicine was a coming home. A system so complete in synchronistic oneness, it called me deeper and deeper into communication with the rhythms of our earth and the life cycles of plants and people. I have planted Himalayan seeds, grown plants used in the Tibetan tradition alongside western herbs in my beloved garden outside Boulder. I continue to explore the hills and mountains to find connections to the Colorado I was raised in and the Himalayan medicine that now runs in my blood.


I am continuously surprised at the cross over within western herbalism. I compare similar benefits and how they can differ. For example, we use the inner bark of the old growth red raspberry bush to halt channel fevers from spreading to the nerve system; whereas in the west the leaves are the friend to pregnant ladies and wombs. Delightful surprises slowly integrate my western herbal knowledge into the methods of preparation I was taught while studying Tibetan Medicine over the last 17 years. It is important to both use and teach patients to use what grows in the garden. Lessoning carbon footprints and preserving rare herbal species under threat of over harvesting is priority. I harvest and formulate as I was taught; the shadow or dry side of the mountain, how to adjust my formula if the rain was heavy or less that year and assigning herbs by taste according to the complex, yet amazingly simple Tibetan rules of the elements for healing. Countless minor adjustments can make a formula more synergistic and strong. 


I am honored to participate in this gathering and share methods from the Tibetan lineage I carry to this continent. I will teach aspects of working within the earth's cycles and rhythms when making formulas. Taste, Elements, Characteristics are all vital to formula preparation. We will discover with other teachers many new and wonderful things. Scheduled herb walks will provide guidance, we can ponder what elements these herbs may contain, hear from many wise women the secrets so many plants want to gift to us. The most important aspect to this gathering is the community of women of wisdom participating and sharing. 


Come; join me at this wonderful event! Reclaim the wisdom of the ancient people, the power of maiden, mother and crone. Come harness that healing power for all the earth and its inhabitants. I was taught to never forget that in medicine, we are all interconnected to nature, seasons, cycles, and fluctuations. The earth and the future of our children demands we wake up that intrinsic inner knowledge and use the resources at our feet, in our gardens and kitchen spice cabinets. 


For registration or more info go to http://www.redearthherbalgathering.com


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