Report from Down Under
This small red flower greeted me when I first set foot at the Baden-Powell Scout Center in Sydney. I hope you can hear the cockatoos carrying on in the background. And the kookaburra laughing in the gum tree.
The Goddess Conference offered workshops on women’s “business,” including bush medicine, digging sticks, fiber and bags. The woman standing on the left, Auntie Miliwanga, honored me by coming to my plenary session on Saturday, and then doubly honored me by saying in her workshop on Sunday that her elders (her mother and grandmother are sitting behind her) need my help in dealing with the whitefella diseases. After her talk, I waited my turn to speak with Miliwanga and reassured her that my help was indeed available to her, as she wished. “Then you must call me sister. And this is your mother and grandmother,” she said, motioning to the two seated women. Just like that! I’m adopted. I’m thrilled.
One evening I noticed the beautiful pattern made by the setting sun as it threw shadows of the long leafy branches of a tall shrub onto the sidewalk. The next morning, this miracle hung there, on the shrub, heavy and sultry in the heat.
One of my most sensuous delights was in the scent of the gardenias planted in so many places I visited on the east coast of Australia. Imagine the scent of this shrub at dusk, as the last birds are calling out.
Leonurus leodontus This is Australian “motherwort,” best known as wild dagga, or lion’s tail. This plant towered over us. I could barely enclose the flower-head in my hand. If I wanted to, which I didn’t. Ouch.
Like most mints, it is used against a wide variety of digestive, respiratory, and nervous system disturbances including: fever, headache, cough, dysentery, colds, influenza, chest infections, diabetes, hypertension, eczema, epilepsy, delayed menstruation, constipation, spider bites and scorpion stings, and as an antidote for snakebite.
Wild dagga, when dried and smoked, is psychoactive. Sucking and chewing the leaves sedates, like a mild opiate.
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