I know, I missed last weeks K post. I was uninspired and stressed over a visit from the parents. Please forgive me. I hope this post makes up for it.
Have you ever been to see a doctor over a nagging medical issue and come home defeated and frustrated? Have you ever had a medical professional look right through you? You get home and think “They didn’t even listen to me! They definitely didn’t solve the problem. They just threw pills at me and made me go away.” Now, I know this isn’t every doctors’ visit, this might not even be the majority of them. I think Western medicine definitely has a place in the world. But I am also of the opinion that Western medicine has alienated and disenfranchised a large portion of the population and left them struggling for health, wellness and the joy that is our birthright. Lines of race, gender, ethnicity and economic status have been firmly drawn in the sand and all you have to do is look around to see who lands on what side of what line.
This is where my spirituality and my knowledge and political convictions tend to cross on a regular basis. When I was 19, I gained 50 pounds in 6 months, and ultimately I gained 155 pounds within 3 years. I went from a scrawny, underweight kid to clinically obese. At the time, I was in the military and all the doctor’s would say was “Eat less and exercise more” and they looked straight through me. It took a random phone conversation my mother had with her sister, who is a nurse, for my Aunt to diagnose me in 5 seconds and tell me exactly what tests to demand for the answers.
Today, I’m not skinny. I’ve battled an eating disorder and self-esteem issues and I think I have come out the other side stronger and smarter for the war. And this “thing” that has cursed me and haunted me has also become my ally and my teacher and ignited in me a driving fire to teach myself and others how to take the power of their health back. Has anyone here ever heard of Susun Weed? She is an herbalist and green witch in upstate New York who teaches that there are three traditions of healing: the Scientific tradition, the Heroic tradition and what she calls the Wise Woman tradition. And buried deep within her teachings is this nugget: “Disease and injury are doorways of transformation.”
That’s a revolutionary concept if you stop and think about it long enough. At its core, it puts the power back into the hands of the individual experiencing the illness. If something is no longer your enemy, it becomes your ally and can strip away the years of conditioning and brainwashing and start to show us the truth.
Fifty years ago, pregnancy and birth were horrible traumas women had to go through and women everywhere were actually put out during labor and delivery rather than experience the birth process. A hundred years ago, the dentist was the surgeon and leeches and bleeding were the cure for everything. But you go back farther and you begin to see a trend. Two hundred years ago it was the wise wo/man who you went to for healing. It was your grandmother’s family recipe for soup that got you through the illness. The knowledge of healing was passed down in everyday lessons, learned at your mother and father’s heel. Healing and knowledge and food went hand in hand down the generations.
Today, when we feel sick, we give hundreds of dollars to some antiseptic institution. Now, don’t get me wrong. Health care for everyone is something we need to fight for. But its not our only source of knowledge. So what is this “art of knowing” I referenced in the title? I want us to know where to turn for the common illness’ that invade our lives. That cold doesn’t need you to pour medicine down your throat that just cover up the symptoms. It needs honey and lots of garlic and chicken noodle soup and for you to rest. Really, I want us to reach for our crock pot more often than we reach for our pill bottle. I want us to recognize the connection between the food we eat and the way we feel. I want us to learn to turn to centuries of stories and recipes instead of a prescription pad. What would an ADD child look like if we removed the sugar and chemicals and white, processed crap from the diet and turned to healthy fats and whole grains? Would that kid still need Ritalin? I don’t know but the truth is it can only help.
There are traditional ways of preparing food and condiments that have fallen by the wayside. We need to bring those back. There was a reason fermented foods were high in the diet. We need to learn how to truly live side by side with nature. Dandelions, plantain, burdock, comfrey, mullein, and other weeds are medicine and deeply nutritious, yet many of us spend how much time and money trying to remove them from our lives? Did you know that, ounce for ounce, dandelions have more calcium in them than milk?
So I am going to leave you with a recipe. Hey there is a first time for everything!! This goes really well on roasted veggies and whole wheat pasta. And it can be frozen indefinitely. Try portioning it out and freezing it in an ice cube tray, then transfer it to a plastic bag when solid.
Makes about 2 cups
12 ounces washed and cleaned dandelion leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
sea salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
Blend till smooth, drizzling in olive oil until it looks the way you want it to.
Try cutting the dandelion with basil. Or try nettle pesto. You can also substitute the pine nuts with other kinds, I just made some with walnuts since that was what I had in my cupboard. This is an easy recipe to change up. Don’t like dandelion? Try some spinach in there, a simple way to get kids to eat more of it. Don’t want as much garlic? Change it. Want it to be lower fat? Use some water and less oil and blend until emulsified. Try this mixed with yogurt as a salad dressing.
The point is to reconnect with ourselves, without a doctor telling us what health or illness looks like.