Over the years I have sat at the proverbial feet of certain elders. Even in instances where they were older men and their advances or compliments could have deterred me, something inside me always remained alert and attentive for times when school was in session.
My formal training began when I took a part time job at an herbal store. The owner and everyone there were all powerful herbalists and even though there was a lot of book knowledge to be learned there was also much to know by way of intuition about healing energy, auras and vibrations . My presence was magnetic in itself which made me a natural healer.
A few years after working there I took a job teaching English on a Caribbean island. It was there that I met an older Rastafarian woman that I will call Yema. We took to each other immediately as we sort of looked the same and obviously reflected one another. I learned the ways of the rasta bush woman from her which were especially powerful coming from a single mother, proudly independent perspective. We were the women who ran with wolves. We were true lionesses. I loved her intensely and she was an older sister to me. As with my other elder teachers, she gave me information and guidance my parents never could. They simply weren’t equipped or fated to give me certain lessons.
Yema brought me entire branches of Kali bud at times which completely fascinated me. She showed me the Noni trees, stinging nettles, aloes, St. John’s Wart and other medicinal plants grew wild. Often she brought over lemongrass and “wild bush” for tea. It felt profound to be learning to recognize the herbs as live plants rather handling them dried, powdered and encapsulated.
I disappointed her at times because I was always too busy to develop my green thumb out there. She would constantly ask me if I had rooted and potted this aloe plant or that ginger root and I would use school work or whatever as an excuse. Truthfully, the Brooklyn urban born part of me was simply not ready to go gather random soil. I want to but I’m still on my way to that person I know I will become.
One lesson that has stayed true for me as a mother is the healing oil she taught me to make. Since I’ve left the beautiful warmth of the island I find my oil stays solid most often so refer to it as “the salve”. An Indian man (from India…) transplanted to the island told her how to make it. The few times my daughter and I showed any symptoms of anything she gave me a small vial, consisting of only a few drams. A little goes a long way. I even used it for a tooth extraction I had, rubbing it in my temples as I braved the healing process without filling the ibuprofen prescription given to me.
The salve needs no recipe really and Yema is a sturdy, earthy no nonsense teacher. Her instructions were simple: heat a good amount of pure coconut oil, add herbs and keep adding and shaking occasionally for months to however many years. The longer it sets, the better.
Yema wasn’t a book worm in the same sense that I was. I brought to the table a research ethic that was based in academia. I am a library enthusiast and a Google addict so when she showed me any herb my mind raced and flickered like cards in the Dewey Decimal System. Ha. She was more instinctive and I had to learn that knack for simply knowing and trusting. It really is a key component to true healing: faith.
My salve is now currently my family go to for everything that feels or seems out of balance in our bodies. Since I am no where near a health food store I am my own apothecary and engage in frequent kitchen witchery. I get much of my herbs from supermarkets and I pick material from my natural surroundings, outdoors, as I am led.
I am currently making Oil of Oregano and a new salve for next year. The salve we use now was made in December of 2013. The approximate contents are as follows:
*Refined Coconut Oil ( I prefer Virgin Unrefined but it wasn’t available at the time)
I use tea bags from supermarkets when I need to since I am sometimes fortunate to find great selections by Yogi Tea and Traditional Medicinals and I love the combinations. For example, I like when they add Cinnamon and/or Ginger to a blend in order to promote the circulation and effectiveness of the other herbs. I was also in a very international area when I made my last salve so teas and herbs were very important to the people in my neighborhood. I suspect that like me, they don’t have much of a medicine cabinet (in the western sense) either.
While I am confident in the healing properties of all inclusive herbs like Golden Seal, Echinacea and Licorice root, there are other strong components to the efficacy of my salve.
1. My Love
I do not place my health or that of my children’s in the hands of anyone. That includes doctors. On one occasion, while I was teaching at a private small school, the students and faculty were so used to my remedies that they rushed me to a panic filled classroom to help a little boy with a broken arm. When I got there his arm was bent at the elbow in the opposite direction. Although my knees were a little weak, I calmly dialed 911. I know the extent of herbal medicine and more specifically, my current abilities.
I respect hospitals for times when there is a true emergency. I do not respect the promotion of fear mongering and drug peddling.
The love and intent I have upon healing is meditated into my salve as well as any other medium I use. I think loving thoughts while I add the herbs and I feel a sense of inspired joy in connection with natural materials. I always remember that my love is the ultimate factor in any thing that can generally be mistaken as a placebo. Love is a powerful sugar pill.
2. Crystal Energy
Although my toddler has taken to incorporating them into his play routine, my crystals are usually surrounding my salves. Almost always. Due to changing circumstances my crystal family has dwindled drastically so presently there are just two Citrines (possibly heated Amethysts but I’ll address that later), a Sunstone an adored tumbled but flat Sodalite. I am confident of the vibrations programmed into my apothecary.
3. Solar Energy
My salves spend 99% of the time in the window. This is awesome because I can’t begin to describe how important sun energy is for me (and the enhancement of melanin). In the warmer regions and/or seasons my oils steep nicely and steadily.
4. Lunar Enegy
The power of each moon cycle is also embued into each salve. Even though I would love to gaze at the moon and stars for hours, I hardly ever have the time, opportunity nor the best seat. My salves however are in the direct light of each passing star and moon phase.
Throughout time each one of us change and evolve. My youngest son even developed his entire physical form while I made the salve that I now use for his healing. It grows in power in close proximity to our lives and is in sync with our needs possibly before I even reach for it.
I love how it experiences each rainstorm and summer breeze. This salve is a living entity created in the spirit of raw shamanism. I have hesitated to share this with anyone since people seem to prefer capsules and pills. There seems to be more comfort in the so called sterile environment of allopathic medicine and neat, tiny white, capsules. Dirt and plants are anything but sterile but there in lies a great deal of the power in plant medicine. This is true witch doctor intuit work that requires trust in the source, the planet and the natural order of things.
Holistic medicine is about healing, not just alleviation. Healing on every level. A true healer considers the mental, emotional and spiritual component of every symptom. In so doing, the true reason for the symptom can be received as a blessing as it helps to address and elevate the person’s vibrations and emanations on a deeper more thorough level.