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  • Monday, March 18, 2019 7:30 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    What's Science Got to Do With It?

    by Susun S Weed





    Once upon a time, healing was considered an art. Healing was understood by all to be a complex interaction between the patient, the healer, the community of living people, the communities of the plants and animals (and insects and rocks and fish), the communities of the non-living people (such as ancestors, spirit guides, and archetypes) and that mysterious movement known by so many names: Creator, God/dess, All High.


    The healing arts included a keen knowledge of human behavior, a thorough knowledge of plants, a flair for the dramatic arts, especially singing/chanting and costuming/body painting, and a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. (If you think these areas are not arts, look at the system used by Traditional Chinese Practitioners which includes such "organs" as the triple heater and a dozen different pulses.)


    Art does not preclude or oppose science. Science is, after all, only the honest testing of ideas and the ability to observe clearly the confusing relationship of cause and effect. The best of science is deeply indebted to art. Art understands that science is left-brained and art is right-brained, and a whole brain includes both.


    Science, however, is not so easy with art. Science believes art is superstition. Science believes art is fuzzy, soft, not-replicable, and therefore untrustworthy. (It is interesting to me that the Liberal Arts University I attended -- UCLA -- required students to take a variety of science courses, but the Science College I turned down -- MIT -- did not require students to study the arts.) Science defines itself as factual and art as fantastical.


    Truly great scientists understand the need to honor intuition along with information. But the world is rarely run by the truly great. So bit by bit, the art of healing is denigrated and the science of healing is venerated. The healer spends more and more time interacting with machines and drugs and technology and less and less time with the patient; more and more time studying books and less and less time learning about the strange, symbolic, provocative powers of the psyche. The healer focuses more and more on fixing the sick individual and less and less on the patient's need for wholeness in self, family, and community.


    The herbalist becomes a biochemist. The pharmacist no longer needs to know botany. Herbs are presented as drugs in green coats. And the active ingredient is the only one worth mentioning.


    Is this what I want? Is this what drew me to herbs? Is this what fascinates me about herbal medicine? My answer to all these questions is absolutely NOT. While acknowledging the usefulness of science, I maintain the right-brain's superior abilities in the art of healing. I defend the rights of the miracle-workers, the shamans, the witch doctors, the old-wif herbalists, the wise women, those who have the skill, the personal power, and the courage to midwife the changes -- large and small, from birth to death and in between -- in the lives of those around them.


    Herbal medicine. Magical plants. Psycho-active plants. There is a thread here, and it goes a long way back. At least 40,000 years. The plants say they spoke with us all until recently. Forty thousand years ago we know our ancestors were genetically manipulating, hybridizing, and crossbreeding specific psychedelic plants. And using them in healing. Maria Sabina, one of the twentieth century's most renowned shamanic healers, went into the forest as a small child and ate psilocybin mushrooms because they spoke to her. She healed only with the aid of the "little people" (mushrooms) and she healed not just body but soul. In the Amazon, the students of herbalism, of healing, are apprenticed to psychoactive plants as well as to human teachers.


    There is a lot of talk lately about the active ingredients in plants. I've had many a chuckle as product ads claim to have the most of this or that only to be superseded by the announcement that a new, better, more active active ingredient has been found. For example, when Kyolic Garlic was shown by Consumer Reports to have virtually no allicin (the "active" ingredient), Kyolic countered with an ad campaign claiming superiority because it contained a different, stronger, active ingredient.


    For instance, most standardized St. John's/Joan's wort tinctures are standardized for hypericin. But the latest research shows that hyperforin is the real active ingredient! To illustrate: an article several years ago in JAMA on use of Ginkgo biloba to counter dementia explained that no active ingredient from among the several hundred constituents present had been determined and it was, in fact, likely that the effect resulted from a complex, synergistic interplay of the parts. An article in the New York Times, however, cautioned readers not to use ginkgo until an active ingredient had been established.


    It happened to me: An MD on a menopause panel with me told the audience that no herb was safe to use unless its active ingredient was measured and standardized. What can I say? To me the active ingredient of a plant is the very part that cannot be measured: the energy, the life force, the chi, the fairy of the plant, not a "poisonous" constituent. To the healer/artist/herbalist, the active part of the plant is that part that can be used by the right brain to actively, chaotically, naturally, "jump the octave" and work a miracle. This active part is refined away in standardized products, for the real active part is the messy part, the changeable part, the subtle part, and the invisible part.


    Does science have anything to do with it? Certainly! The process of identifying specific compounds in plants, replicating them in the laboratory and mass-producing them as drugs cannot be replicated by or superseded by any healer or herbalist. Preparation of standardized drugs protects the consumer (usually) and protects the plants from over-harvesting (although the net effect on the environment may be detrimental).


    If we put into the lap of science anything having to so with measuring and certifying, then surely I beg science to be the guardian of the purity of the herbs we trade in our commerce, knowing that art is the guardian of the purity of the herbs we gather ourselves. (A tip from the apprentice book: When Harvesting put only one kind of plant in a basket. This allows one to quickly and easily notice if an interloper has been mistakenly introduced.)


    This story doesn't have an ending, for it is ongoing. The dance of health and illness, of art and science (and don't forget commerce) has no pause. So the ending of our tale is not happy, but neither is it sad. Take a look, the real ending of the rainbow is in your own heart.


  • Wednesday, February 06, 2019 6:17 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices



    1998: Tree Time


    I guess my powers of observation are not so hot, as I don’t recognize the back of anyone in this fun shot taken at a class. (Never enough baskets!) We are on our way to harvest nettle, with a detour to talk to a tree.  


                



    1999:  Goat Time        

    Herding the goats is a favorite apprentice task. The goats are such loving teachers. Being alone with the herd in the forest in a magical adventure. Manora (189) and her visiting family and Parnee bring the goats around to the deck for a long drink. Green blessings.

         
  • Wednesday, February 06, 2019 6:08 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices




    Apprentice Time

    The Wise Woman Way nourishes the wholeness of the unique individual. Wholeness means all of us, not just the parts that are proficient. Apprentices stretch their minds and their muscles when they take on various tasks.




    Here is Emily laughing it up in the medicine-making room. She is a generous soul who offers much in many ways to others. Much love strong woman.



    I think this is AnnMarie (165) tending to the plants on the deck with her radiant smile.



    Here is Parnee (193) milking Ereshkigal. Thanks for keeping in touch, girlfriend. Love you.



    And Ada Belinda milking Violet. One of the most creative apprentices, ever! Love Love Love.



    And Belinda in the office. I love you and can hardly believe you are selling the farm and moving back home to far away Finland. I know you will carry the Wise Woman tradition with you, no matter where you go. Thank you sister.


    ~ Page 3 ~

  • Wednesday, February 06, 2019 5:56 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices


    1996:  Class Time


    The apprentices attend all of my classes with me, whether away from or at home. This photo is from a class at the Wise Woman Center. Starting from me (headband in front on the left) and going in a clockwise direction, we have: McKenzie (139), then a lovely lady, then Ursula, with bandana, and then I don’t know who else. If you recognize yourself, please let me know.



    1996Under the Linden Tree


    There is a large linden (Tillia) tree overhanging the deck where we gather, where we eat, where we meet for rituals, where we sometimes have class. You can see her large leaves in this photo of three apprentice sisters. That’s Heidi-Sioux (145) in the middle, spreading joy. And maybe Carol and Holly with her. Please note that an herbalist cannot have too many baskets.



    1997:  Trance Time


    Journey with us to the heart of the earth. Follow the beat of the drum. Even the goats have settled down. Breathe slowly and easily. Relax. The first face on the left is Tony/a’s (144). She runs an herbal school, mothers an incredible daughter, teaches herbal medicine and I don’t know what else. The herbs she brought back for me from her visit home to Greece still hang on my kitchen wall. Love you; hope our paths cross soon. Is that Lora behind the sunglasses? It is, for sure, Kahla (138) next to me wearing a hat. She also runs an herbal school and teaches herbal medicine (brilliantly). Love you too. I am uncertain about the four women on the other side of me, except for Caraway (140) in the striped shirt.


    ~ Page 2 ~

  • Monday, January 21, 2019 6:42 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Ode to Marie - Photo Album, Page 2



    2001: Workshop and Apprentices

    Marie, surrounded by apprentices and workshop students. I may have missed a few names; help me out; I know you will.


    In the back, from the left: Julie?, Helen (#207), Deb Red Onion, Marie, Susun, Rachel?, Jackie (#204), Julia?, Peggy hugging Shauna/Astrid (#208), (blue hat)?, Catherine (red hat, #209)


    front row: kneeling: Sarah/Featherhawk, who in poncho?, Rachel (#210), Krista (#206)


    Leela must be taking the picture. Love to you all.

     




    1999 & 2000: Tender Moments

    It wasn’t all cooking and singing and ritual making and teaching and dealing. Marie and I found tender moments to share our hearts. Friends rule! (So does purple!) Knowing Marie for decades has been a continuous blessing in my life and my career. For many years Marie was my official photographer. So the way you see me, the images you see, are the way Marie saw me. I so appreciate her loving gaze. Lady Beauty made me beautiful in every photo.


    “When you look into my eyes and see the love there

    Shi-uh-i-uh-i-uh-ine (shine with a warble)

    Reflection of your own true love

    Reflection of your own true love.”

    (Words by River)

  • Monday, January 21, 2019 6:17 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Photo Album




    2001: Lady Lib and Lady Beauty

    No. This is not an episode of I Love Lucy. This is an episode of green magic and high jinks. Marie and I are enjoying ourselves while waiting for the apprentices to gussy up and be ready to present their Goddess pageant. Love your smile Marie.

     



    2000: Marie and shamanic herbal apprentices

    Marie interacted with nearly every shamanic apprentice for more than 20 years, having a deeply positive and empowering impact on many of them. Here she is at our ritual space, with Teresa Marie (#196), Ashley (#200), Kris (#197), Meghan (#201), and Marni (#202). Hmm. That is too many. And where is Sarah? Probably taking the picture.

     





    2002 and 2004: The Ladies Make Magic

    Marie and I created and led magical rituals together for nearly two decades: Solstices, Equinoxes, Cross Quarter Days, Full and New Moons, and Green Witch Initiations. Here we are, two high priestesses, in all our finery, ready to lead the procession to the holy mesa to initiate Green Witches. I have my staff of power and Marie is ready to ward off all problems with her green scarf. I could write an entire essay on initiation. Making and keeping a commitment is the royal road to power. Making that commitment in front of your sisters and having them affirm that they hear you confers a magical ability on you that endures, and, if nourished, grows. I am so honored to have the privilege, as Lady Iona, to pass this magic on to every apprentice.

     


    2002: Lady Beauty

    Marie taught us how to assume a glamour. She taught us how to chant our own songs. I initiated her as a Green Witch in 1990, and as a high priestess in 1992. She continued to make creative, colorful, delightful magic with me publically for the next twenty years, both at my home and in Syracuse, her home town. Way to go Lady Beauty. The magic never ends, dear friend. Your magic lives on in the very rocks of the Wise Woman Center – as does your altar to the Blessed Virgin, your namesake.

     

    ~ Page 2 ~

  • Monday, January 21, 2019 6:14 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)


    Greetings of the growing light to you.

     

    I spent the day with Marie Summerwood (shamanic apprentice number 50) recently.


    We cried. We laughed. We reminisced. We kissed. We told stories. We drank infusion. We ate goat cheese lasagna. We enjoyed chocolates from Krause’s. We sang songs, songs Marie wrote for me, for us all. We looked at photos. (Here are a few.) We talked about the many workshops Marie taught at the Wise Woman Center: on grief, on chanting, on sacred sex. I thanked her for helping me with so many apprentices and cooking with me for so many years and for so many women.

     

    We always joke that when Marie started her apprenticeship, she was a professional macrobiotic chef. And when she graduated, she was a damn fine cook. I have a macrobiotic background myself, but tend to follow dictums rather than practices (when they don’t agree). The main dictum of macrobiotics – “Eat what is in season where you live” – becomes, in practice, “Eat what is in season in Japan.” Teaching Marie to harvest and eat weeds brought to a whole new consciousness to her macrobiotic cooking.

     

    Marie, my apprentice, my help mate, my friend of thirty years. I cherish you. Marie gave me books and a tray carved of teak and anything I wanted from her jumble drawer. I gave her a pair of green silk pants, a bottle of rose water, and an embroidered red silk scarf. Marie was diagnosed with stage 4, metatastic breast cancer this past August. Nothing modern medicine has to offer touched her cancer, but the treatments (chemo and radiation) weakened her to the point where she could not stand. She was taken care of with great finesse and grace by loving women of her community. Hospice was too late. Marie left her body before they could come.

     

    Marie would like you to sing for her. Marie welcomes your loving thoughts. She is smiling. She is smiling at you. She beckons you to the Green Goddess Week, which is dedicated to Marie this year. (And filling up fast.) When Green Goddesses are initiated as Green Witches, they visit Lady Beauty’s Beauty Parlor, a special place Marie created for us to help us connect with the glamour of the Goddess. My life and land are imbued with so much of Marie’s glamour and magic. We wove so many spells here together.

     

    Be like the bird, who, halting in her flight, on a branch too slight, feels it give way beneath her, and she sings, sings, knowing she has wings, she sings, sings, knowing she has wings.

     

    In honor of Marie, and in honor of your compassion for her flight, please accept my gift of any one of her magical, powerful CDs with your order of at least $30 from the Wise Woman Bookshop from now until the end of February. Also, for the entire month of February, my special offer, repeated from last year due to popular demand: Buy ten classes for $750, get 13. That’s $225 worth of classes free. Wow.

     

    Marie’s apprentice year was a solid one for apprentices. Irmela, Caro/Lilith, Regina, and Barbl – all from Germany – were four of the 23 shamanic herbal apprentices who graduated with Marie in 1990. Ann graduated after 13 weeks and returned home to Boulder to spread the word on the Wise Woman Way. She is still doing it, with grace and beauty. I am so proud of her. Thanks for the MAM sweetie. (Mayan Abdominal Massage) I love and appreciate you. Also graduating in 1990 was Jaia, who did the covers for all the Juliette de Bairacli Levy books published by Ash Tree Publishing. Last I heard from her, she was recovering well from a joint replacement. Love you too gypsy woman. Sylett Stickland is another 1990 graduate who went on to teach and do good works. You rock girl. I love you. I haven’t heard from Nikki, or Chris/tina, Maggie or Cindy, Amy or Ellen, Maureen or Chris, but Nora and Annemarie, Gardenia and Kim have been in touch over the years. Smooches to you all.

     

    Applause for the past apprentices. Hooray for spreading the word on nourishing herbal infusions and healing by nourishing. Write or email or text or send a psychic message and let me know what you are doing now. I want to brag on you!


    Green blessings to all.
    Susun

  • Monday, January 14, 2019 6:24 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    More Celebrating of 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices, contd.



    1997
    As for this photo, no, we did not plan to all wear pink pants, it just happened that way and we made it a Kodak moment. The biggest grin in the photo belongs to Marianne from Germany, who, I am sure, continues to light up everything her life.  Emily is next to me, and next to my heart. Then I think that is Blade, who does great magic, but it might be Inana, or even Phillipa, from New Zealand; it’s hard to tell. In green is Bets-sea, the youngest apprentice ever. (She turned 17 while she was here.) Love to you all. On the right is Tanta Rose, a women from Holland who arrived by taxi one day, exclaiming “No need to call. You are a shaman, so you were aware that I was coming.” She fit right in from the first day and made herself indispensable despite her limited English.



    1998

    One of the highlights of each apprentice group is the Goddess Pageant, when each apprentice presents her goddess archetype to the group. Their pieces are imaginative, creative, fun, and well costumed, as you can see. The goddess on the right is a glowing Lauren. Sweetie! Next to her is Emily, great herbalist. On the left Julie is hanging out in D’Arcy’s lap. Julie is also a great herbalist, a goat keeper, and a teacher of Wise Woman Ways. I cherish our on-going relationship. Miss you D’Arcy. What’s up with you these days? In the middle, a bejeweled Maura and a resplendent Marcie. My memory seems better at a twenty year distance than at a quarter century distance. Ha!

  • Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:12 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Celebrating 35 Years of Shamanic Herbal Apprentices, contd.


    1992
    Mireille from Holland is on the far left in this group of apprentices on a field trip in the upper Catskills. On the far right is Lauren, and next to her is Chava, the author of “What Apprentices Learn.” Her essay captures in just a few words the essence of being a shamanic herbal apprentice. In between Mireille and Chava are Patty, Mary, and Sara. Hmm. There are only two women there, not three. Time for you to help me out apprentices. Are you in this picture? What do you remember of this day? Was it the day you all got piercings and I got in trouble with your moms for letting you do it? Or were we just stopping at Pete’s for ice cream after a long walk in the woods with Penny?



    1994

    This was a big year for apprentices. Lots of superior women; 13 graduated shamanic apprentices. Way to go gang. The blue robe was a gift from Edith. Heavy Chinese silk. I demurred. She had five daughters. Surely one of them would like it. “No,” she insisted. They will never use it. Here, many women will wear it and enjoy it.” That blue robe, a little the worse for wear, is still in the costume closet. Perhaps this is a Goddess Pageant, or perhaps we were dressing up as the major arcane of the tarot. Is that tarot author and tarot maven and science fiction writer Rachel in the blue robe? Margaret is clowning on her right. Miss you girl. Heidi, Debbie, and Minaqua are in front with Amelie and Annette. Haven’t heard from any of you in ages. I know you will let me know if I got any names wrong! I do depend on you.



    1996

    The man with the beard is Joel, of Joel and Tish, favorite students who came to every class I taught, everywhere, for two years and then asked permission to carry on the teachings. I love you both so much. Sweetheart the goose and I are at the right and Tony is on the left, smiling. She has gone on to great things, both as a person, a mom, an herbalist and a teacher. Good on you Tony! I miss you. Is that McKenzie ? Holly? Carol? How come Kahla is not in this picture? This group of apprentices included an anthropology student doing her field work at Laughing Rock Farm. Her advisor kept calling to caution her not to “go native,” but it didn’t work. After a month of living with wild women, she painted two beautiful murals (still there and still enjoyed) at the apprentice house (The Nettle Patch) and then took off for a Rainbow gathering, never to be seen again.


    ~ Read More Here ~

  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 9:03 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Do You Love Garlic? She Loves You!

    by Susun S. Weed

     

    Garlic (Allium sativum), also know as the stinking rose, when consumed regularly has amazing health benefits.Garlic will help you improve cardiovascular health, prevent cancer, counter infections including anthrax, and find a safe source of phytoestrogens (great for menopausal women).


    Garlic is a great friend to old hearts. Several cloves a day of fresh, raw garlic can lower blood pressure, reduce phospholipids and cholesterol, strengthen heart action, increase immune response, reduce platelet clumping and clotting (thus reducing strokes), and stabelize blood sugar levels.


    If you don't like raw garlic, then use powdered. A four-year study found women who ingested 900 mg (1/4 teaspoonful) of garlic powder daily had 18 percent less arterial plaque than those taking a placebo.


    Garlic and its smelly relatives (onions, chives, and leeks) are hormone-rich plants that most women crave. Garlic is an excellent source of phytoestrogens; these hormone-like substances not only reduce cancer incidence, they help ease the menopausal passage.

    An easy garlic tonic is made this way: Fill a glass jar with fresh garlic cloves, no need to peel them. Pour honey over all, until the jar is nearly full. Place on a plate and let sit for at least 24 hours before using. A spoonful is a dose. This tonic will keep at room temperature for a year.


    Eat 1/2 clove of garlic a day and watch your blood pressure drop!

    You can get the benefits of garlic by eating it in any food, fresh or powdered. Try this simple recipe for instant garlic bread : Mince garlic and spread on hot buttered toast.


    Here are some more of Susun Weed's favorite raw garlic dishes:

    Scrambled eggs topped with minced raw garlic
    Tomato sauce with chopped raw garlic added jsut before eating
    Yogurt cheese with minced raw garlic on whole wheat crackers
    Minced raw garlic on a baked potato
    Herb vinegar and minced raw garlic on cooked greens like dandelion, spinach, kale, collards, mustard, amaranth, or lamb's quarters.

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