Love Over Hate

A quote:

“For many years we've been trying in our own bumbling way, to illustrate that love is a far greater force, a far greater power than hate. Now we don't mean you're expected to go around like a pirouetting Pollyanna, tossing posies at everyone who passes by, but we do want to make a point. Let's consider three men: Buddha, Christ, and Moses…men of peace, whose thoughts and deeds have influenced countless millions thourghout the ages–and whose presence is still felt in every corner of the earth. Buddha, Christ, and Moses…men of good will, men of tolerance, and especially men of love. Now, consider the practitioners of hate who have sullied the pages of history. Who still venerates their words? Where is homage still paid to their memory? What banners still are raised to their cause? The power of love–and the power of hate. Which is most truly enduring? When you tend to despair…let the answer sustain you.”

Excelsior!

Smiley

(And who is Smiley? None other than Stan Lee, writer and editor of Marvel Comics, quoted here from Stan's Soapbox, part of the Marvel Bullpen Bulletin, in the comic book The Incredible Hulk issue #116 published in June 1969)

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Herbs: How We Learn By Direct Experience

Learning Herbs: The Simplest Things Teach Us the Most

One of the great ways to learn herbs that I have applied in my own life, is to make a number herbal teas, drink, and record what your feelings are. This allows you to experience the taste and feel the herbs impart in your body. The resulting sensory experience can be a shift of energy that we can call a mind-body interaction with the plant (or for some people: “that's a really weird, bitter taste and I don't want to drink anymore of that.”) There may be some teachers out there like Rosemary Gladstar or some other folk-healing based herbalist that teaches this tea drinking approach but I am not familiar with them and was certainly not taught that in my otherwise excellent classes at the East West School.

By “mind-body,” or “energy,” or “sensory experience” I am not necessarily referring to a psychic experience or spirit journeying or taking hallucinogenic substances, but one of simply being present with what you're feeling when you take an herb, drink a tea, or experience an herbal therapy. Certainly there are those people who use a shamanic model or other mystical path as a context to explore herbs. But here I refer to direct experience in learning herbs much like you'd try out a new cake recipe and see if you like it. I am also not suggesting writing long journal entrys about every herb, but to record a few notes. This can be mental notation, but recording them helps.

A good regemin is to drink an herbal tea for several days in a row to feel out what it is doing, what you are feeling in your body. Another way to do this is to drink a different tea every day to learn about its properties. While this seems very simple, it is an experiential way to learn herbs and their properties. A great deal of herbal healing is knowing what your senses, smell, and taste of a plant tell you. When you absorb the essence of a plant in your body, you are altering your energy field, if you think about it. This is not so mind-boggling as it might seem because we are constantly altering how we feel through intake of food and drink.

I strongly encourage anyone learning herbs with an intention to heal others to combine book work with experiential work to magnify and solidify their learning.

 

 

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My First Experiences of Herbs and Healing

Learning Herbs: Folk Healing

In a previous post entitled “Herbs: We All Have To Start Somewhere,” I discussed a common theme found in the early education of most modern herbal teachers and practitioners. This was marijauna, the “first herb” of a whole generation of young people who helped create the “Herbal Renassiance” in the 1970s. In that post I was talking about my experience in particular, but also what many others who did not become herbalists learned by being exposed to the use of Cannabis sativa. In this blog I am continuing that theme with other common experiences I share with other herbalists who came of age in the late 20th Century.

Many of the original hippies in the San Francisco Bay Area were not baby boomers. They came from the Beat Genertion, commonly called beatniks in the 1950s. Another age wave of hippies, those who were born after 1946, were people a decade older than me when I met them in the Appalachian mountains in my early 20s. This was the mid-1970s. Looking back I would consider myself a neo-hippie. What the older generations of the counterculture taught me and my age group was alternative culture. This included a smattering of herbal remedies.

If you listen to enough stories from herbalists who grew up in that era, at some point the book Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss will be mentioned. Of course we only knew this as a book about natural healing and herbs that had a really cool cover with art representing “getting back to the Garden.” At that time no one had heard of Samuel Thomson and his system of herbal medicine from the early 19th Century which Jethro Kloss was a descendant of. The fellow who shared Back to Eden with me, a wooly-headed hippie who had come from out West, also taught me about goldenseal herb. If there was one herb that represented that time, it was goldenseal, or Hydrastis canadensis. Lore had it that goldenseal was “good for everything.”

Another group of plants available to me were herbal teas in the form of bulk herbs and tea bags. I can't remember the names of the loose teas, but remember quite clearly when Celestial Seasonings became part of my world in about 1977. I don't remember where we bought those teas from, perhaps a health food store or coop. This was a long time before the company was sold to a corporate entity and herbal teas appeared in every grocery store. Morning Thunder, Sleepy Time, and Red Zinger were new teas then and favorites in my crowd. I don't know that anyone prescribed any special healing properties to such teas, although it was becoming clear that if one ate more vegetables, brown rice, ate less meat, and drank herbal teas you felt better.

It required a special event to kick my mind into the concept of “healing.” Due to changing my diet, eating more vegetable-quality foods, and no doubt taking in plant substances through teas and inhalation, I began a process of healing that culminated in a Healing Crisis. Many people believe that the body goes through a process of ridding itself of toxins and inherited tendencies by surfacing buried symptoms, and substances that doen't belong there–a healthy sickness in other words. After such a shedding or elimination, then the body will come back healthier than ever. I believed that then as a core embryonic idea, and still believe something like that today in a more sophisticated, nuanced form. But the event I am referring to was a severe flu that I went through one winter while living in the mountains.

I had never had the flu before, only colds. As I remember, it was a full blown flu with muscle aches, fever, alternating chills and sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting. I was in pain and wondering what was happening to me. I was visiting one of the local hippie elders, who took mercy on me, one of the lowly hippies on the pecking order. She had me sit in a chair and prepared a tea of hot water, apple cider vinegar, honey (and perhaps lemon). As I sipped my drink by the fire in that comfortable chair, I suddenly, almost instantly felf better. Could this really be happening? The more I drank, the better I felt. The hippie woman seemed to have an easy familiarity with the tea and did not seem surprised that I was improving. Was she a white witch, I thought? It almost was as though she expected me to get better.

Ever since then I have always had faith in simple home remedies even though I am a highly educated herbalist. Her secret: experience. She had used it before with success and what I thought witchery was assurance from knowing what worked.

 

 

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Herbs: We All Have To Start Somewhere

Learning Herbs: The “First Herb”

For those who view herbal healing/medicine from the outside, it seems like an esoteric pursuit, with endless amounts of information, organized in in an incomprehensible manner. There is some truth to this. Learning about herbs and their application in the field of healing is a life time endeavor. But one must begin somewhere… My own origin story is similar to many others. In the 1970s, the wave of cultural change that had begun in the 1960s was washing over the North American population, and indeed having implications throughout the world. I was simply one of a generation that had been exposed to recreational marijuana use and the attendant countercultural ideas that came with getting high. Most people who smoked then, whether they do so now or not, can tell you that there are 28 grams in an ounce. They also know the Latin name for marijuana is Cannabis sativa, and that the chemical constituent in marijuana that gets you stoned is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Familiarity with latin binomials, understanding weights and measures, and knowing about the chemical constituents of plants is part of the knowledge base of an herbalist. In a sense this was an introduction to plant medicine. So marijuana was my first herb and I like many others considered it a “natural” product.

There were/are always people who aren’t hip who smoke pot and do drugs. It seems to me that there was more access to alternative cultural thinking in the 70s than after that era. As an example, the movie Woodstock featured robed gurus and people practicing yoga, in addition to those listening to music and getting stoned. Marijuana was a gateway herb for many people looking for a different way to live, those who couldn’t accept that all the worldly things they had been offered was all there was to life. Some of the ideas that came along with knowledge of the “first herb” seemed to offer the promise that we could live in in harmony with others and find purpose in life. Oh yeah, and live in harmony with nature. The fact that these ideas still permeate our collective consciousness tells me that that they are not mere naivety, but something we are still reaching towards collectivelly.

In retrospect, marijuana is like any other herb or “botanical medicine,” in that it has certain properties, has certain rules for use, and affects the body (and mind) in certain ways. I’m not sure the cultivation of this plant to dramatically increase the THC content, creating strains of “super pot,” allows it to be considered harmless, or merely “natural.” Like other herbs with strong actions, such as cathartics or poisons, it belongs in a special category that requires knowledge and forebearence for accurate usage.

 

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Herbs: Michael Tierra, the Man Who Invented Echinacea

Michael Tierra, famous herbalist, founder of Planetary Herbology, has had a remarkable career from the beginnings of the herbal revival in the 1970s until well into the 2000s as a “natural healer” (naturopath), “master herbalist,” and herbal educator.

I have listened to uncounted herbal talks and classes by Dr. Tierra and he has been a primary influence in my learning about herbs, herbal medicine, and the concept of integrating holistic modalities.

Some of Michael Tierra's accomplishments include:

• Becoming a Master Herbalist under Dr. John Christopher's system of herbal healing in the 1970s

• The first distance learning program for herbal healers launched in 1981

• One of the first herbalists in the United States to teach the traditional uses of Chinese herbs

• One of the first North American herbalists to classify herbs according to “energetics” such as hot/cold, wet/dry

• Developed the concept of Planetary Herbology, a humoural and energeitc categorization system for unifying Western, Ayurvedic, and Chinese herbal therapeutics

• Helped revive Eclectic herbal medicine, an American school of herbal healing in the 19th Century

• Originated the idea of the American Hebalists Guild, a professional organization for clinical herbalists

• One of my favorites: Tierra found a relatively unknown herb in an Eclectic herbal book and decided anything with such a strange name must be good for something. He began trying it out on his friends. At some point he decided that more is better and told his “patients” to take the herb every hour until their cold or acute situation had passed. This was Echinacea angustifolia, now one of the best selling and most used herbs in the world. This “protocol” of hourly doses of echinacea is now recommended by writers, doctors, natural healers, and lay people, some of who have never heard of Michael Tierrra. That's why I call Michael “the man who invented echinacea.”

 

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St. Augustine–Bumper Stickers

Actual:

St. Augustine: A quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem.

Question Gender

COEXIST

Surfrider Foundation

I Dig 1565

Watch for Motorcycles

I Brake For Turtles

Music Matters

Pink Slip Rick

 

Potential:

St. Augustine: A quaint little philosophical village with a libertarian problem

St. Augustine–Founded by UFOs

St. Augustine: Love Your Local Vortex

I Brake For Lesbians

My Dog is a Vegetarian

Come Back Great Cosmic Happy Ass!

My Prius is Better Than Your Insight

Governor Rick–My Favorite Martian


If you live in Florida you understand the Rick thing. If you live in St. Augustine, you probably get the rest. There was a New Age book store in town in the 1990s called Dream Street whose owner moved to Asheville, North Carolina and started a business called the Great Cosmic Happy Ass. (What a great book store it was).

 

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St. Augustine–Timeless Part II

Of the many famous visitors to Florida and St. Augustine, one particularly famous one was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

“The aspect of St. Augustine is quaint and strange, in harmony with its romantic history. It has no pretensions to architectural richness or beauty; and yet it is impressive from its unlikeness to any thing else in America. It is as if some little, old, dead-and-alive Spanish town, with its fort and gateway and Moorish bell towers, had broken loose, floated over here, and got stranded on a sand-bank. Here you see the shovel-hats and black gowns of priests; the convent, with gliding figures of nuns; and in the narrow, crooked streets meet dark-browed people with great Spanish eyes and coal-black hair. The current of life here has the indolent, dreamy stillness that characterizes life in Old Spain. In Spain, when you ask a man to do any thing, instead of answering as we do, “In a minute,” the invariable reply is, ” In an hour;” and the growth and progress of St. Augustine have been according. There it stands, alone, isolated, connected by no good roads or navigation with the busy, living world.”

Some things never change.

 

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St. Augustine–A Timeless Place

A tropical paradise. A quaint little village. A Bohemian crossroads. A writer's convention. The oldest European settlement in the United States, therefore “the oldest city” in America.

Musicians in the woodwork. Orchestra, choral, organ, opera, festivals. Bluegrass jazz. Folkies who never left. Rockers old, new, famous, infamous. No more hippies playing guitars on the street.

Archaeology. The city has its own archaeologist. An ancient Spanish fort. Indian burial grounds. Colonial quarters. French vs. Spanish vs. English.

Yoga-Yogis-Yoginis. You have to wade chest deep in them to cross the street there are so many.

Sailors. Sailors who are poets. Sailors who are drunkards. Sailors without ships, but still sailors. Sailors who sail around the world and still end up here.

LGBT: Not South Beach, not Liberace. PPP-people public and private living ther their lives. Like moths attracted to a tropical light. “Not your average barrista.”

Negative vibes, man: small, inbred, lot of cronies, politcally, financially. Bubba trucks bad for bicycles.

Tourists. Bikers, Daytonna 500. Mostly naked young people on the beach. Redskins downtown. T-shirt shops. Cigar bar, martini bar, wine bar, brew pub, French bistro.

Key West. St. Augustine. Artists, writers, musicians, healers, free thinkers, sailors, chefs, and…not as much drinking as Key West.

Quirks? Estuaries, scientists, dolphins, astronomy, astrology, ghosts, psychics, bridge, sunsets, water, actors, chiropractic, river, newspaper, peppers, breakfast, pizza.

Old Florida. Old tourism. Fried shrimp. In the 1990s a bit like Northern Exposure tv show. A balmy breeze, palm trees, sandals, a crescent moon, azure sky, a Spanish minaret.

 

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Naturopathy–Licensing

Naturopathy is “licensed” in a handful of states. That does not mean it is illegal in unlicensed states, simply that licenses are not issued in those jurisdictions. Why is this important? In previous posts about Naturopathy I mentioned that the Naturopathic profession is divided into two groups, Naturopathic Physicians and Naturopaths (also known as Traditional Naturopaths). They are both use the designation ND, which stands for Naturopathic Doctor or Doctor of Naturopathy. Naturopathic Physicians have sought to implement laws in different states that are prejudicial towards Traditional Naturopaths. NPs want to stop those that have not attended a sanctioned medical naturopathic school from having a license, or practicing natural healing. A state usually licenses a profession when it is deemed necessary to “protect the public,” and there is a call to regulate the minimum requirements of practice. The people who most often are asking for licensing of a profession are unfortunately groups who are trying to restrict its practice for economic or philosophical reasons. In other words, they are trying to quash the competition, and keep the marketplace to themselves.

According to various web sites there are 15-18 states that have Naturopathic licensure. “Regulation” might be a more appropriate since all these states do have some law about Naturopathic practice but the laws are not uniform. A number of states allow Naturopathic Physicians to prescribe drugs, do minor surgery, and order labs. Most Traditional Naturopaths believe this is not real Naturopathy. I agree. However, if those NDs who have the training to perform those regular medical practices wish to do so, I have no quarrel with them. It is the attempt to restrict the use of the term “Naturopath” to one class of practitioners, the NPs, and back it up by legal enforcement, that is deplorable.

This 2001 study by the USCF Center for Health Professions seems to be an unibaised report on Naturopathy and its practice. Since then California has passed what I think of as a fair law. It licenses Naturopathic Physicians but does not prohibit the practice of natural healing by Naturopaths, Naturopathic Practitioners, or Traditional Naturopaths. The California statue acknowledges there is more than one kind of Naturopath and that there are other groups of people who perfrom natural healing. This type of tiering is a practical solution for a number of alternative healing professions.

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Naturopathy–Philosophy

To understand natural healing, one must understand natural healing philosophy. The practice of Naturopathy has three main components: philosophy, science, and therapeutics. In Chiropractic this is called the “three-legged stool” of science, art, philosophy.

Naturopathic science encompasses more than materialistic science, and is a way of interpreting information that is indeed scientific, but seen through a vitalist lens. An example of this might be that a lower body temperature points to lowered vitality, not simply the thyroid's lack of ability to produce hormones. This is especially useful if the patient has normal thyroid test numbers, but has fatigue with a temperature below 97 degrees. This type of thinking leads to critical problem solving and developing a rationale for treatment.

Therapeutics is the how and why the different techniques are applied in a given situation. An example would be using hot packs for chronic muscular rheumatism, and cold packs for acute inflammation or trauma. While this example sounds simple and rather conventional, if similar thinking is applied through a whole range of therapeutic endeavors, then one truly understands how to use hydrotherapy. For instance, who would think that placing one's hand in ice water can lower the brain's temperature and induce relaxation of the nervous system? Another classic example is using a hot foot bath to draw down fever which usually shows up as a red face and hot head.

So it would seem that from the above that a good understanding of physiology and applied therapeutics is the key to natural healing (which we are here calling naturopathy). The third component of philosophy combines with science and art to produce clinical excellence and takes Naturopathy to another level. While Naturopathy does not have a monopoly on vitalist thinking, it is essential to the practice of its therapeutics. Here's a list of some of principles of Naturopathy:

First, Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)

Prevention (Praevenire)

The Physician is a Teacher (Docere)

Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totum)

Additional principles can be found through other lists offered by different Naturopathic practitioners or organizations.

After Chiropractic, Naturopathy has the best preserved vitalist philosophy from the late 19th and early 20th Century. This is possibly because these two disciplines were the last in line to be created of the alternative medical systems. They also had strong vitalist practitioners in their traditions.

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