The Medicine Woman Herbal – Book Excerpt #1 By Kiva

by Kiva Rose on January 30th, 2008
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The Medicine Woman’s Herbal
By Kiva Rose Hardin
A Brief Excerpt, The Opening Parts Of Chapt. 1:

(Prequel:)
There came a point, or points in their lives when they increasingly recognized something unexpressed inside their selves, a certain power they couldn’t explain to parents afraid of wilderness and scornful of miracles and faeries, an urge to escape the mundane or the expected, a sense of mystery, an inexorable draw towards something as yet unseen, a compulsion to do something special or heroic. Whether clothed in urban fashions or tribal dress, each Medicine Woman to-be saw in the faces of the crowd that they were not the same, were subject to visions of healing or helping the lost and hurting, or dreamed of their hands grinding up communicative herbs in with a hand-carved mortar and pestle. Like a seed, this thing inside them grew with their every watering, a wild gift of foliage too long confined, and not to be denied.
(J. W. Hardin, The Medicine Woman)

“Clothe yourself in your authority. You speak not only as yourself or for yourself. You will speak and act with the courage and endurance that has been yours through the long, beautiful aeons of your life story…”
-Joanna Macy

In our cozy cabin kitchen, my partner Loba opens the ornate oven door of our antique wood stove, checking the progress of four golden loaves of homemade acorn bread while singing a sweet old tune. Nearby, our apprentice Ivy rubs the injured shoulder of fellow student Cara with practiced hands, as our little Rhiannon happily shells the acorns that she gathered. I sit close to the heat-giving stove, stirring crushed elderberries and finely chopped ginger into a bowl of warmed honey and fine brandy, concocting my cold season remedy. Each of us is an evolving Medicine Woman, discovering and refining our skills and talents through practice and improvisation. Through the magic of healing plants and scrumptious foods, touch and sensation, sweet scents and grateful songs, focused intention and artful follow-through, we share our personal medicine with the world… giving to ourselves in the most nourishing and empowering ways, and making heartful contributions to the greater whole. Outside, a great wind howls through the canyon, heralding the onset of late Autumn storms, and bearing yet another wave of migratory birds scouting our warmer environs for the ideal nesting spots. Like them, we are clearly called… simultaneously responding to the pull of home and purpose, and heeding the urge to fly.

I, too, followed instinct or destiny home, to an ancient ceremonial site deep in the Saliz mountains, in the sparsely populated southwest corner of enchanted New Mexico. Home to the insights that Mother Nature and this enchanted canyon in particular afford. Home to my authentic self and real gifts, and to what we call “one’s personal, most meaningful purpose.” And in my case, home to the Medicine Woman Tradition, a nature-based healing and empowerment practice founded and developed by myself and my partner Jesse Wolf Hardin to meet a real need.

Most of us are of mixed lineage, and all of us have to deal with the disempowerment, destruction and distractions of the present times… as well as with the resulting displacement, illness, self-doubt, and self-worth issues. We all suffer to one degree or another from a dangerous “disconnect” from both the natural world and our own natural selves… and from our childhood hopes and dreams. The practice of Anima answers the need for a system of intense reconnection, personal empowerment and action. Anima itself means “breath,” and is essentially the animating essence of all life. Whether we think of it in spiritual, or strictly secular or scientific terms, it is the vital energy that both enlivens and heals the human body. Through the ever adapting dance of the Anima within our bodies, we grow and learn, rest and repair, thrive and eventually die, our bodies returning to and transformed by the earth it was born from. It is this underlying and interconnective source that the Medicine Woman draws from, understanding the earth as a living composite and inspirited organism that we are each an integral part of.

The Anima Medicine Woman Tradition of herbalism is a manifestation of this way of perceiving and acting, specifically designed for those seeking the perceptual and practical skills and tools necessary for global as well as personal and interpersonal healing, and grounded in common sense principles and skills rather than complicated or artificial structures. Healing is hands on and experiential, and medicines are often best made in the kitchen with fresh, vital ingredients by loving hands. The Medicine Woman understands that the most powerful remedies are those that are most personal, defined by her relationship to both the plants and the people she cares for. She also knows that healing comes through both nourishment and challenge, darkness and light, comfort and dis-ease, not as a dichotomy or polarization but as a careful balance of many elements and ingredients. Problems and illnesses are not seen as enemies to be destroyed or battles to be waged but rather as sometimes necessary lessons and helpers on the journey to wholeness.

Though the Tradition draws from ancestral stores of tribal wisdom and ancient ways, it operates outside any particular cultural or ethnic bias or constraint. We each gather knowledge and skills from whatever resources available to us, yet remain rooted in direct experience and place based knowledge. This frees us from holding to historic techniques or philosophies that no longer serve us or the current times, and allows us to grow with continuing experience and fresh understandings. The Medicine Woman Tradition speaks the language of the hills, of old wives and wise women. As ancient as the sea, as familiar as a mother’s hand upon our forehead and as true today as it was 500 years or even millennia ago. The most fundamental healing techniques are both timeless and tirelessly adaptive. For every generation they bloom with new insights and yet remain essentially applicable to current context and need.


Categories: Wild Plants & Traditional Healingways

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