wise

The Ancestors Walk in The Footsteps of the Living

November, 2018

For today a reminder that we will be Ancestors for a much longer “time” (Outside Time) than our lifespan on Earth. Perhaps life on earth is a training for becoming a wise or compassionate ancestor? Let’s make personal and global decisions that we can be proud of once we join our Ancestors!

Some tribal peoples (especially in Siberia) believed that the Ancestors literally walk in the footsteps of the living, in an “upside down realm”. If this is so – our every footstep affects them and pulls on them…. just as they in turn can influence every move we make (if we let them).

As I am publishing a book about Sacred art soon I might try to reinstate the Painting of the Day posts on Facebook (for the days I can manage this anyway).

 

My new book can now be pre-ordered on Amazon:

Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism)

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About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016 and her second book Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017 and is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently in the editing stages of her third book “Medicine of the Imagination” and has started her fourth book “Evolving Gods: The Sacred Marriage of Tradition and Innovation”

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist

(YouTube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages on Amazon

 

Seeing the Signs

November, 2018

Madame Pamita: Her Book, Websites, Music, and Vast Storehouse of Tarot Wisdom

I received a copy of Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True this past Ostara, and in the past eight months, this wonderful book has become one of my favorite tarot books. Published by Weiser , earlier this year, it’s a powerhouse of information and magic. I wanted to write a review of this fabulous book months ago but personal events in my own life got in the way. However, this only gave me more time to become acquainted with Madame Pamita via her website and monthly emails. I was really sad that I wasn’t able to get down to New York City to meet her in person earlier this month – I would have asked her to autograph my copy of her book! – but maybe sometime in the next year, she’ll be somewhere in my vicinity. She seems to travel quite a bit!

 

As soon as you open the book, there are two pages of recommendations for Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot – and from some of my favorite Tarot scholars, like Rachel Pollack and Mary K. Greer. As far as I’m concerned, that’s like getting the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” as they used to say back in the day. Just reading what these eminent Tarot authorities have to say about Madame Pamita and her “complete manual”, as Elhoim Leafar puts it, is an affirmation of the book’s positive value.

In the very first chapter, Madame Pamita talks about the Law of Attraction – how “like attracts like” and that “our thoughts and beliefs will attract the thing we focus on.” (Palmita, 1) She quite logically reasons that when we are focused on loss, afraid of the future, and other depressing outcomes, then that is what we are going to be attracting to our lives. Therefore, we need magic – the “ritual that focuses your attention on the things that you want to influence.” (Pamita, 1). She refers to the Tarot as a “map that shows you what steps to take, what to avoid, and what changes are necessary to manifest all those good things you want.” (Pamita, 1). By laying out the cards, you can see where you need to go – quite literally, or should I say visually – in Madame Pamita’s words, the Tarot shows the questioner:

…where they should be positively focusing their intention, what action they should take to support this aim, and even what ritual

would be most helpful for supporting their objective. Tarot is the key to making your wish come true. (Pamita, 2)

She presents the simplest of all Tarot spreads, the Three-Card Reading. Card One is the Past – Card Two is the Present – Card Three is the Future. Acknowledging that “we can go to amazing depths in a reading” by starting with the questing and then adding “the meaning of each of the cards that we turn up” and then adding “another layer of meaning with the position of the cards in the layout” and the final layer of meaning – “listening to what our own intuition has to say in the matter.” (Palmita, 3). She doesn’t say what to do when the cards don’t seem to make any sense at all but she does admit that learning all this may be “intimidating” but that this is going to be an “exciting adventure” and a “wonderful journey”. (Palmita, 4).

Before she gets into the nuts and bolts of reading the Tarot, card by card, Madame Pamita discusses the history of the Tarot, divination and the occult. It’s a very short chapter – only two pages long. It ends with her recommendation of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck as the best deck for beginners. I have to say that I do agree with her on that assessment. While it may not have been the original Tarot deck ever used, it has become the “basic text” for the Tarot and the one most identifiable. It’s the deck that is used in the illustrations of Madame Pamita’s book.

In the chapter titled, “Your Mystic Training Begins”, Madame Pamita once again refers to learning the Tarot as a “journey” (Pamita, 7). She says that the “key” is spending time with them – as the saying goes, “practice, practice, practice!” She also stresses “the beauty in being that beginner” (Pamita, 7). She writes:

There is joy in the journey toward gaining knowledge. I look at it as an amazing exploration.

I know that going down the road is going to bring me such profound experiences and that

eventually, if I take the time to really learn and absorb and apply myself, I can get to the

place where I become master of that skill. (Pamita, 7)

The next few pages are dedicated to starting a Tarot journal and how you should keep it. She recommends picking a card a day and spending time with it and writing about it – every aspect of it – from the people in the card to the symbols depicted to the colors used. She says to step “into the scene in the card” and imagine what would happen or “put yourself into the role of one of the characters in the card” and then write about your feelings. She also says to pay attention to the “energy” of the card. She says you should pull a card every morning, meditate upon it, write about it, and then review what you wrote in the evening. (Pamita, 8-9) Quite honestly, if you do this, not only will you learn important lessons about the Tarot, but you will also learn important lessons about yourself. Years later, you can open your Tarot journal and read your progress as a Tarot adapt as well as an enlightened human being.

The next chapter is another two-page shorty that is nonetheless packed with power. Entitled “Magic Words”, it covers affirmations, “one of the most powerful spiritual disciplines that you can incorporate into your life” (Pamita, 11). As Madame Pamita insists,

Affirmations are positive power words that we can say to ourselves to rewire our brains,

making us magical receptors for good things…Words create magic. Magic is the act

of shifting reality through our will. Therefore, magic spells are words that create our

reality. (Pamita, 11).

Two paragraphs down, she again insists, “Your thoughts create your beliefs and your beliefs are infinitely powerful.” (Pamita, 11).

She includes affirmations with each description of every Tarot card – she calls them “Magic Words”. Like the diary journal, Madame Pamita outlines how to use these “Magic Words” and Tarot affirmations on a daily basis. I like the idea of taking a photo of the card of the day with your phone and making it your phone’s background so you have it with you all day long. I also like the suggestion of recording the day’s affirmation as an alarm on your phone so that you hear it at various times during the day. The thing with affirmations and rewiring the negative thoughts in your brain is that you really do have to repeat the chosen affirmation over and over again or else it doesn’t work. I find Madame Pamita’s instructions to be founded in logic and common sense.

The next chapter – which is the last chapter before she delves into the mystery of the Minor Arcana – is about “Making Magic with the Tarot”. Again, Madame Pamita has one good suggestion after another! I have often used various Tarot cards on my altar or in meditation but I have never put a Tarot card in my shoe! (Pamita, 13). That’s a new one on me! I am not at all sure that would even be comfortable. I think placing the card of the day in the pocket of my coat or in the front pocket of my hoodie might be a better idea.

Before she gets into the Minor Arcana per se, she covers Roman Numerals. She even provides a chart so that the beginner knows how to read the letters as numbers. I guess I’m showing my age – I remember learning Roman Numerals in second or third grade – back in the 1960’s. We even had to do sums using Roman Numerals! However, I do realize that this is something that is no longer taught in school – perhaps hasn’t been taught since my own childhood. I know my own son – who is now twenty-five years old – was never taught Roman Numerals in school – I taught him myself. This chart is a handy guide to those of us who may not have been taught this simple way of reckoning numbers or may have perhaps forgotten it.

For what it’s worth, in some Roman Numeral systems, 4 is written as IIII and not as IV, and 9 is written as VIIII, and not as IX, and 14 as XIIII, and so on. But generally, her chart is correct.

The first suit she covers is the suit of Swords – “The Airy-Fairy Swords”, she calls them. (Pamita, 20). She tells us to “think about the qualities of air” whenever one of these cards show up in a reading. Air is the lightest of all the elements. Winds “whip around quickly” and an opened window “to let in a breeze can freshen up a room.” (Pamita, 20). She also points out that,

Air is breath and the word “inspiration” literally means to breath in. The element of air and the

suit of Swords represent all these qualities. How did Swords end up representing air? Well, you

can imagine the sword waving cleanly and precisely through the air as it’s being wielded by a

skilled fencer. It’s sharp; it’s fast; it’s defined. (Pamita, 20).

Madame Pamita writes that in the world of magic and making your dreams come true, thoughts are the beginning. “Everything that has ever been created was first a thought.” (Pamita, 20). So it makes sense to start the Minor Arcana with the suit of thinking and the intellect. But as she reminds us, the suit of Swords not only represents our thoughts and what happens in our brains but all forms of communication – verbal, written and electronic. The suit of Swords is an important suit when we are doing spell work or considering any kind of magic.

After she covers the Swords, Madame Pamita moves onto the “Fun and Fiery Wands”. She writes, “While the Swords are meant to define and cut with the precision of clear thought and ideas, the Wands are the realm of action, passion and will.” Therefore, the Swords are the first step of manifesting magic and the Wands are the second step. She directs us to think about “the essence of fire: it can be the warmth of a fireside, the light shed by a candle, or the raging destruction of a forest fire.” (Pamita, 50). She says that mastering the control of fire was an “evolutionary shift” for humans and that mastering the suit of Wands will be a similar spiritual shift for the Tarot initiate.

The third step is the Cups – what Madame Pamita terms “The Watery Depths of the Cups” (Pamita, 80). She writes that after the inspiration of the Swords and the passion of the Wands, the Cups is where we put our “heart and soul” into our magic. She writes,

It’s easy to see where Cups correspond to the element of water. Water itself flows to fill in

whatever space surrounds it, so that the Cups is what holds water together. Water represents

those parts of us that seem to some from that inner vessel: spirituality, intuition, and psychic

awareness. The Cup is the center of the heart. (Pamita, 80).

Madame Pamita also points out the differences between the suits of Wands and Cups. They can say the same thing but in different ways – for instance, happiness for a Wands is jumping for joy and shouting aloud while with Cups, it’s a secret smile and a romantic sigh. Wands are sexual passion whereas Cups are romantic love. It’s good to know the difference between the two – in the Tarot and in life.

After the Cups, we come to “The Grounded Earthiness of the Pentacles”, which according to Madame Pamita, represents “the end result” of the cycle of magical manifestation. (Pamita, 109). Although Pentacles are earth, they are also,

…gold discs, reminiscent of gold coins, which can often refer to issues regarding money, financial

stability, jobs, or other means of income. They also have another meaning. That five-pointed star

represents the human body with a head and arms and legs outstretched. So, Pentacles also represent

physical issues of the body and its health. However, that star is also something even more magical.

Beyond being just a physical body, we are made up of stardust. (Pamita, 109).

Another thing she wants us to remember is that Pentacles are “slow-moving and long-lasting”. Unlike the suits of Swords and Wands, which have the quality of quickness about them, Pentacles make a person think of “might and strength” and “roots” and “protectiveness” – all qualities of stability and longevity. (Pamita, 110).

She splits the Court Cards from the rest of the Suits, addressing each of the four members of each Suit as a “family” and giving their characteristics as those belonging to that particular family – for instance, the Swords family “are the intellectuals, thinkers, and communicators” (Pamita, 142) while the Cups family are “the dreamers, the psychics, the creators of the imaginative and introspective art, and the spiritually connected, metaphysical ones” (Pamita, 164) and so on. She suggests taking the court cards out of the deck and “playing” with them to get to know them better. Some of the ideas she has are: choosing a card that you most closely identify with; choosing cards that show the different roles that you play in your life; choosing cards to represent people close to you; choosing a card that “embody the qualities of something going on in your life”, such as your work situation, your love life or your health. (Pamita, 188). It is all too easy to look at a court card and think that it represents an actual person in our life, when it would just as easily represent a situation or an emotion. Working with the cards in the way that Madame Pamita suggests will help break the urge to look at the images on the cards in a literal fashion and be able to truly read them as fully as possible.

After fully examining the Minor Arcana, Madame Pamita moves onto the Major Arcana – “the big leagues” – she calls them. She says that they are sometimes called “trumps” from when the Tarot was a card game – the original name of the cards were actually “Triumphs”. (Pamita, 189). The images on these cards are “allegorical archetypes meant to teach us how to navigate life in the best way possible.” (Pamita, 189). About the Major Arcana, she writes,

The Major Arcana starts at zero and ends at twenty-one. While the Minor Arcana pips represent

circumstances in our life that are more mundane, and the court cards represent people or personalities,

the twenty-two Majors represent big, powerful, and even more esoteric themes. When they show up

in a reading, you can expect them to have a stronger influence and impact on the situation. They may

be the underlying energy that permeates the cards that surround them or offers an irresistible pull in

a certain direction. (Pamita, 189).

Then she examines each card.

I did not write about her examination of each of the Minor Arcana cards or the Court Cards, because she uses the same format as her exploration of the Major Arcana cards. It seemed superfluous to talk about the specifics of her approach to learning each card, when it was the same for every card. So this is why I waited until this point to discuss how she talks about the cards. I have to say that I love her approach! It’s consistent with her theme of the Tarot being a “journey” and a “roadmap” to “adventure”. Indeed, she titles each card as “Your Adventure with …” whatever card it is. If you’re picking a card to work with on a daily basis, thinking about the card as an “adventure” is a heady way to deal with the concepts embedded within the card! And while some cards might be more adventurous than others, each and every card in each and every Tarot deck is an adventure of its own. All you have to do is pick a card and begin!

She describes each card thoroughly. She writes about each card as if we are sitting in the scene of the card, whether we are in the fertile sundrenched field of the Empress or sitting in the busy workshop of the industrious VII of Pentacles or hanging out with the bored youth under the tree in the IV of Cups. Reading her descriptions of each card puts you firmly in that card. No matter what the card is, she presents it as an adventure and a lesson. Every word is a gem. I can’t stress this enough. I am on my third close reading of this book – as opposed to opening it up for regular use – and the more I study Madame Pamita’s use of language, the more I admire her. It’s not just her depictions of the cards – it’s her lush, poetic voice that I love.

After the description of the card, Madame Pamita includes four short sections which I think are most helpful for the beginner but also for anyone who is interested in the finer points of the Rider-Waite-Smith system of divination. The first section is called “The Keys to the Treasure Chest – Key Symbols”, where she lists every symbol of the card she is describing. The second section is called “The Wizard’s Words of Wisdom”, which is her take on what the card means in a reading. The third one is journal questions, which she calls, “Behind the Mysterious Door”. And the fourth and last one is “Magic Words” – Affirmations for that particular card. I scanned the page for the X of Pentacles to give an example of this. The card shown is out of my own collection.

The last chapter in the book is called “Where Do I Take My Adventure From Here?” Madame Pamita exclaims, “You did it! You have had seventy-eight adventures – one with each other of the tarot cards…Where do you go from here?” (Pamita, 251)

I find it interesting that she does not include any spreads in her book. In fact, she advocates using a One-Card reading when you first start reading for your friends and family and then, when “you’ve mastered one card readings, you can move on to larger, more complex spreads, such as past/present/future three cards readings or even a ten card Celtic Cross reading.” (Pamita, 251). How refreshing! Most tarot books present the Celtic Cross as the default spread – it’s like trying to learn a Chopin Mazurka on the piano without ever learning your scales or proper finger training. She writes that it’s most important just to “enjoy spending time” with the cards. Again, I cannot agree more! If you are not taking the cards out on a daily basis and shuffling them and laying them out, then you are never going to learn their language.

I have to say that I can not recommend Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True more highly. Whether you are a beginner with Tarot cards or have been studying them for over thirty years like I have, this book is a GEM.

So who is Madame Pamita? This is Madame Pamita! This is a picture from one of her emails.

She is from Los Angeles, and has a spiritualist’s shop there. I went to Google and found her website. Click here to find out more: https://madamepamita.com/ There’s a lot there, so plan to spend some time! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she is a musician as well as a spiritualist! If you click on the “ian” side of the website, it’ll take you to some really cool links – her music, her photos, press releases – she is really doing some very cool work! Listen to “Madame Pamita’s Theme Song” – it sounds like something out another time – like a voice from one hundred years ago. I could barely hear it – I think that’s by design – but still, her voice spoke to me in a most appealing way. I’m telling you all, if she comes anywhere in my vicinity, I am definitely checking out her show – whether it’s spiritual or music – because everything I have read or heard about Madame Pamita is totally and completely intriguing. I mean – I would stay up past my bedtime to see her. For an old woman like me, that’s really saying something!

I also joined her mailing list. She sends out monthly emails with information on where she is appearing that month, information on how you can study with her online, a spell for that month, and where to follow her on social media – yes, she in on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, if you wish to friend or follow her! Isn’t the modern world fabulous? So many ways to connect!

Anyway – between her book, her presence on social media and the world-wide-web, and her live appearances across the United States, Madame Pamita is moving beyond her LA occult shop – and I for one, am happy about that! I hope someday to meet her in the flesh but until then, I will content myself with her books, her website, her music, and her vast Tarot wisdom. I hope that you do the same!

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True

References

Madame Pamita. Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True. Newburyport, MA: Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2018.

https://madamepamita.com/

https://www.parlourofwonders.com/

https://madamepamita.com/music

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About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Self-Sufficiency is Earth Friendly

April, 2009

With the rise in prices all over the place, from groceries to gas to clothing, we should all be seriously considering how to be more self-sufficient. I am not talking about refining your own bio-diesel, although that is becoming increasingly more common. I am talking about making a space in your life for bringing back a little of what our ancestors did on a daily basis.

Even if you live in suburbia-type dwelling, in a rural town or in a downtown high-rise, a little of Nature can be brought into your life and home, cutting a little from your food budget and reducing greenhouse emissions.

Consider a patio garden, where you could grown fresh herbs and maybe a few vegetables that you use on a regular basis. Compost kitchen waste, (do not include, meats, dairy, animal waste, or eggs), newspaper, stale coffee, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags with used tea, eggshells, leaves and spent flowers off of other plants; make your own organic garden compost to help provide nutrients to the soil. If you live where you have a lawn, be wary of using cut lawn clippings if they have been treated with fertilizers or other chemicals.

Composting helps to reduce garbage in landfills, which also helps reduce the number of animals that can be killed each year due to eating and being in landfills. This reduction in landfill waste will help reduce greenhouse gases. Growing your own foods can also help reduce the number of trips to the grocery to purchase produce, thereby reducing more emissions from your car. You can find many different styles and instructions for making your own compost container. The one we currently use is a 25 gallon Rubbermaid garbage can that has about 20 holes drilled into the bottom and about 1/4 of the way up the sides. I put in all my kitchen waste, except for the forbidden items, and leave it out in the sun to “cook”. The heat helps it break down quicker, along with liquid added, like water or coffee, and an occasional stirring.

If you’re lucky enough to have space, and the law allows, you could also look into raising chickens for eggs. All you need is some ground space, a chicken coop, and a couple of hens. Chickens make great bug eaters and the fresh eggs taste different than those you get from conventional, industrial raised chickens. Check with a local feed store to see what kinds of chickens they have available and to get tips on raising them.

Many of today’s meats contain potentially harmful antibiotics and steroid-type “additives”; many of us eat these on a daily basis, like chicken, pork and beef.(2) One common trick is to put carbon monoxide in with red meats when packaged to help them retain their red color longer, making them more appealing on the store shelves.(1)

If you have children, getting them involved in helping you with your garden, and maybe your chickens, will help them learn where their foods come from, and can teach them responsibility. It is good to get them out in Nature once in a while, and helping outside for 30 minutes each day is great exercise.

So look around you, where can you set up a garden patch and start planting? It can be as simple as a windowsill garden, or as complex as a full production garden of a variety of vegetables and fruits. Would it be a benefit to your family? Of course it would, and you would be helping Mother Earth as well!

MotherEarthNews.com is a great place to find all the information you need to start your own home garden or homestead project. Check them out today at http://www.motherearthnews.com. Sign up for free newsletters and get wonderful information at the tips of your fingers!

I urge everyone to take a few minutes out of their day and think about what you can do to make your world, and the world you live in, a little bit healthier.

(1) Mother Earth News, Shocking News About Meat, June/July 2007

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-06-01/Shocking-News-About-Meat.aspx

(2) Mother Earth News, What You Need to Know About the Beef You Eat February/March 2008

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Sustainable-Farming/2008-02-01/What-You-Need-to-Know-About-the-Beef-You-Eat.aspx

Mother Earth News, The Hidden Link Between Factory Farms and Human Illness, February/March 2009

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Natural-Health/Meat-Poultry-Health-Risk.aspx

Wise Woman Tradition

November, 2008

What’s Science Got to Do With It?

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.)

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. 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 s 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-wife 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.

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 20th 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 do 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.
You can purchase Susun Weed’s books at:  http://www.ashtreepublishing.com/