The Medicine Woman Herbal -Book Excerpt By Kiva Part 2

by Kiva Rose on February 28th, 2008
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It’s with great pride that I post below a second short excerpt from Kiva Rose’s book in progress, The Medicine Woman Herbal. Drawn from her opening chapter, they help define what the Anima Medicine Woman Tradition is and isn’t – in the context of mixed lineage, modernity, and these especially trying times. While the majority of her book will be focused on energetics, herb profiles and medicine making, she has crafted the first section as a personal and inviting introduction to what can be a life of insight and intuition, meaning and purpose, healing and growth. The illustration seen here is a portrait I just finished of Kiva, representing the Medicine Woman archetype. It’s been a pleasure as well as honor to assist this powerful project.
-J.W. Hardin


medicinewomansgiftscolorsm.jpg“The neophyte turns… either voluntarily, ritually, or spontaneously through sickness… towards the mysterium. This change of direction can be accomplished only through ‘an obedience to awareness’.”
-Joan Halifax The Wounded Healer

In earliest human memory, a “Granny-Woman” walks the woodlands, carrying home a basket of roots or a bundle of bark and moss. In a riverside village nearly two hundred years ago, the “herbwyfe” tended her hearth, stirring a sweet smelling brew with a lovingly carved cottonwood spoon. Somewhere high in the Carolina hills just yesterday, an herbalist brought a thick, powerful medicine to a child suffering from an antibiotic resistant lung infection. And yet, the Medicine Woman is not just a gentle soul who dispenses cures and comfort, but a powerful woman who pro-actively contributes to the well being of the whole, and commits herself to both an essential personal code of honor, and the foundational principles of the Medicine Woman Tradition. Even now, the spirit and ways of the Medicine Woman live on through the instinct, intuition, insight and insistence of special women who care enough to dig deep into the soil of memory, story and the ever present now. In every culture and time of our species, some among us have been called as healers, as the hands that comfort, clarify, soothe and reveal, and as the representatives of the medicine that springs from woodland and mountain, desert and seaside. To protect and nourish both human and habitat, serving as much needed mediators between two worlds that have sadly grown apart through the ages, and to provide ourselves as living links for conscious re-integration.

While the the term Medicine Woman is in some ways generic, as with “Medicine Man,” it’s not the Anima Medicine Woman Tradition unless its principles and tools are applied and employed. Practical and hands on, the Medicine Woman manifests her healing and service in tangible ways. This result is personal responsibility that avoids victimhood, and that embraces a perspective that sees every moment as decisive, every choice as conscious, and every commitment significant. She takes on the responsibility for her part in the co-creation of her reality, the world around her, and even the future course of events.

The Medicine Woman understands that her relationship is not just with humans but with the whole earth, and that the plants and animals around her are a part of large, complex organism just as she is. As such, she is careful to only take as much of any plant as she needs and that the plant population can easily withstand. She sees the inherent value of each living being, and respects the plants’ intense desire to live and thrive. The Medicine Woman remembers the preciousness of life at all times, and especially when she takes life through harvesting, hunting or other ways. She gratefully gives back to the earth, through generous plant propagation, practiced awareness of her impact and a lifetime guardianship of the land she lives on and gathers from. She primarily uses local, common plants and products in her medicine, rather than exotic or rare goods. She makes a practice of working with what is nearby, and understands that local foods and medicines that grow from the same ground she does, are often more healing and powerful than those from distant lands.

Like the land that she gathers herbs from, the Medicine Woman knows that the human body is also a complex ecology that thrives upon diversity. She strives to support that complexity and diversity through her choices in food, through the use of herbs and other healing techniques, and by not just wiping out the natural microbial communities we are host to. She recognizes that there is more than one valid way of healing, and understand that at times even antibiotics can provide a path to wholeness if they are utilized as one step within a larger approach to nurture the whole person during acute illness. But rather than using antibacterial herbs or drugs on a chronic infection, she may first seek to rebalance bacterial life through fermented foods or herbs like Burdock that feed internal flora. In this way, the Medicine Woman is often able to heal through a process of nourishment rather than confrontation or destruction.

Often immersed in a culture of quick fixes and fast food, the Medicine Woman knows that true healing is not based in suppressing symptoms or relieving discomfort, but in the restoration of wholeness. In every case, the Medicine Woman seeks to restore the integrity of the whole, using whole plants rather than isolated constituents, addressing the whole body and working with the whole person through food, lifestyle, self-love, and herbs…

Categories: Wild Plants & Traditional Healingways


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