Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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A Little Diversion

Every once in a while, as it diversion, I like to engage in a self-education project.  This time I am doing a study on herbs and herbalism. I am engaging in this study through universalclass.com which I access for free through my local library (otherwise one must pay). My first assignment was to write at least 250 words where I define “herbs” and provide a brief history of herbalism. Not to brag– oh, who am I kidding? I’m bragging– the instructor gave me 100% on the assignment.  Here is the essay:

A Brief History of Herb Usage

An herb, in culinary usage, is comprised of the green leaves of any non-woody plant. Other parts of the plant would be classified as spices. For example, the leaves of a coriander (cilantro) plant would be is an herb while the seed of the coriander plant would be a spice. However, the definition of an herb for medical uses is much broader, with an herb being any part of any type of plant used as a medical application.

The use of herbs for both cooking and medicinal applications goes as far back as the Upper-Paleolithic period. Though the lesson article states that the use of herbs for healing was derived through much trial and error, my personal opinion is that humans were far more intuitive in prehistoric times and probably “knew” — perhaps through observing animals’ interaction with herbs– what plants were safe and how they might be effective.

A large body of information on herbal healing was gathered and transmitted by the ancient cultures of the middle-east, Mediterranean, and north Africa regions. The Greeks created a large body of knowledge which they passed on to the Arabs in the middle ages. Europeans developed their own herb-knowledge which was kept primarily by the clergy, but also by the wise women of the land. European herbs and healing traditions were brought to North and South America where they took hold and mingled with indigenous traditions.

Herb-craft fell by the wayside after the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods. And today there is much criticism from the Western medical establishment of the use of herbal remedies. Though the stated intention of such criticism and the regulation by governments of herbal supplements and remedies is to protect the consumer, it also serves to withhold other viable solutions to various health conditions.

I, myself, take herbal supplements prescribed by a Traditional Chinese medical practitioner. These supplements are based on centuries-old, tried-and-true formulae which I can attest have helped me. TCM has become mainstream along with its Indian counterpart, the Ayurvedic tradition. Given that access to quality standard health care is not affordable by many people, returning to the ancient tradition of herbal healing may be the answer.

Ljgloyd 2018

Postscript: Today’s Daily Post prompt, Tantrum, has absolutely nothing to do with this article. Sometimes I’m inspired on my own.

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Knowledge of the Ancients

I remember that once, when I was very young, I had an earache and a family member blew cigarette smoke in my ear to alleviate the pain. I don’t remember if it worked or not. In retrospect, this act seems bizarre,  and I am somewhat skeptical of its effectiveness. I also remember that whenever someone in the family had severe body aches, a liberal quantity of foul-smelling “liniment” was applied to that person. Since I don’t recollect ever seeing a television ad for this product, I did a little research and found out that “liniment” is the name of any herbal infusion or tincture used as a topical remedy for pain.

No, we did not live in some remote cabin in the woods. We lived in the suburbs. And we did take regular medicines, and, as needed, we did go to medical doctors. Nevertheless, these quirky folk remedies occasionally were employed.

More recently, an older family member mentioned that a great-grandfather of mine did “water-witching”. This is the act of finding water using dowsing rods. Another family member said that was nonsense, that my great-grandfather was not a dowser, but had in fact only hired a dowser to find a place to sink a well — which I guess was not nonsense.

Anyway, my point in mentioning all this is that there was a time when such folk ways were the norm. No one thought they were “paranormal,” “New Age,” “magickal,” “earth-based,” “of the devil” or “alternative.” Folk-ways were a part of a world view that for the people of the time were normal and effective.  It was just the way things were.

As a city girl, born and raised, I have been for the most part cut off from this heritage. I’m never going to need to dowse for water (I’ll call a plumber) or have someone blow smoke in my ear (I’ll take an antibiotic). But I can see the benefit of returning to the use herbs, healthy food, exercise and fresh air to maintain good health. I can see the wisdom of joining the ancient folk medicines of Europe and Indigenous America with that of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic health practices.  They are cheaper and gentler on the body in many cases–though I will still go to the hospital if I feel like I am having a heart-attack.

These ancient ways were typically handed down from mothers to daughters, or from sages to their students. Typically the teachers would find the most teachable student in the family and bestow this knowledge to the next generation.

Maybe my vague recollections of these ancient practices and my current study and application of these practices is a way in which this knowledge is being bestowed upon me.

Postscript:  After I wrote this, I found this Ted Talk.  The scholar echoes what I am trying to say here:.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2018


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Viriditas: An Earth Day Reflection

It seems appropriate on this Earth Day weekend that I spent a little time working in my small container garden. In the past, I have not been overly successful with gardening, but this time I approached it in a different manner. In the past, I would determine that I would plant a garden, and then spend large amounts of time sweating and toiling, ultimately not seeing much of a return for all the effort.

This time I am letting the plants grow themselves. What do I mean by this? All I need to do is four things: plant when the temperature is warm enough, and provide them with proper light, nutritious soil, and the right amount of water. I only spend about an hour once a week checking on them, giving them a good long drink of water, and keeping an eye out for insects and anything else that might be an obstacle to their well-being. Other than doing these simple activities, I get out of the way and leave them alone to grow. Plants, it seems, have the power within themselves to grow.  I don’t need to fuss over them

The medieval abbess, Hildegard of Bingen, who was a theologian, musician, writer, scientist, medical practitioner, mystic and visionary, had a word for this inner force: viriditas, or “greening” power. This power pulses with vitality and fruitfulness.  It resides in every living organism.  It is life in abundance.

What if we applied the same basic gardening principles to our own lives, both physically and spiritually? What if we got out of our offices, away from our computers and devices and exercised in the fresh air, feeling sunlight on our faces, eating nutritious food, and drinking lots of water? The greening power within us would heal our bodies.

Similarly, what if we disengaged from social media and all the other obstacles to our peace of mind? What if we were to take time to pray and meditate, fellowship face-to-face with others, feed our souls with things that are pure and wholesome and not negative or hateful? What if we partook of the divine Spirit that “greens” this world?

Then true healing would take place. Of this, I am certain.

Ljgloyd 2018


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Mistress Moon

When I went on my walk this morning, I looked up and beheld Luna’s baleful eye gazing down on me. It was ominous. It was creepy. It was oh-so-cool.

If you do a google search for “moon”, you will get back 347 million results. The results range for this morning’s rare occurrence, to songs and stories about her, to her effects on tides, to her as a theme for a popular video gaming system.

She is everywhere in our cultures.

Luna is part of our past through our legends and mythologies.

She is with us in our present. Scientists will tell us that the moon has absolutely no effect on human behavior or psychology , yet many of us believe it does.   Furthermore, she is a part of inner-most selves.  Some in the psychological field see the moon as a symbol of the unconscious, the feminine principle in our psyches, and even representative of our “shadow” selves.

The moon, according to some, is even a part of our future. She is a part of prophecy.

It would seem that Mistress Moon serves as a conveyor of all that is human.

 

Text and image: ljgloyd (c) 2018