Numen: The Nature of Plants
A film about the healing power of plants
This is the most beautiful film yet produced on what we herbalists are all about. It runs 75 minutes long and features many of our herbal teachers as spokespersons. I especially appreciate the extended eloquent presentations of Dr. William Mitchell, naturopath of Bastyr College, and one of the finest herbalists of our generation. This film is a real feast for the eye and soul and the only regret I have is that somehow I was not one of the numerous herbalists featured.
I echo Dr. Tieraona Lowdog MD’s description of the film:
"From the use of plants as medicine to the impact of environmental toxins on human reproduction—Numen is a beautiful and thought-provoking film that explores the deep relationship that exists between nature and human health. Weaving history, ecology, and modern pharmacy with the very essence of what it means to heal, this visually stunning film should be part of all medical, nursing and pharmacy training programs and/or libraries."
You can purchase your own copy of the DVD and purchase the rights to have a showing in your community.
Botanica Poetica – Herbs in Verse
by Sylvia Seroussi Chatroux, M.D.
Published by Poetica Press toll free 1-877-POETICA
This is a wonderful book that every herbalist should have in their library. Chatroux offers a short poem for 111 herbs, from aloe to yerba santa. Each one describes most of the properties and uses for each herb in a fun and memorable way. I believe that it is important for healers to maintain their aesthetic sensitivity through the arts, be it music, writing, painting, sculpture, or poetry. Inspiration and creativity is always in play when we are working with patients. While we may be inspired when encountering herbs in nature, a lot of that is dulled by hours of research, study and computer work. This book offers the opportunity to combine both learning and artistic inspiration. True "poetry" may be too eloquent a description of what is contained in this book; I think they could be better described as "useful doggerel."
Here’s a sample:
If you go out to the Battlefield
As in the days of old
Put Yarrow in your knapsack
It’s worth weight in gold
Yarrow for your bleeding wound
A poultice for your knee
Or for a painless hemorrhage
You’ll want to drink the tea
For diaphoresis it’s the King
The stem, the leaf, the flower
Reduce your fever, sweat full fling
We’re talking Yarrow power!
An astringent disinfectant
A urinary healer
Hemostatic and protectant
It’s an aromatic bitter
If you lose your appetite
Have spasmodic ailments
Or your tummy is uptight
If it’s good enough for Achilles
Of Greek mythology
To stop his bleeding wounds
Why, it’s good enough for me!
Doesn’t that say nearly all? Think of a Western herb and you quite likely will find it in this little book. At only $18 plus $3 postage it will make a wonderful stocking stuffer for yourself or for that herbalist among your friends and family.
Incidentally, Chinese doctors trained in the old ways were known as "singing doctors" and learned their material medica via songs and poetry. I always liked that idea and here it is created for Western herbalists by Sylvia Seroussi Chatroux, M.D, physician-herbalist, mother of two daughter and with a family medical practice in Ashland, Oregon. Chatroux also has written books in a similar vein: Medica Poetica: Malady in Verse and Materia Poetica: Homeopathy in Verse. I like them all very much.
Grace of Necessity
by Samuel Green
Carnegie Mellon University Press
Toll Free: 1-800-421-1561
I first heard of poet Sam Green when Lesley and I visited the composer Alex Shapiro on San Juan Island. Another truly great composer and resident of both Waldron and San Juan islands off the coast of Washington State, Morten Lauridsen is the composer of one of the greatest choral works of our time, the sublime Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light). At a public screening of a film about Lauridsen and his music, he gave a talk describing his love of poetry and mentioned Washington state poet laureate Sam Green who happens to be his friend and neighbor. I became curious about Sam’s poetry and upon reading it, some of it clicked very profoundly as a poem should, when you find the words echoing deep in your heart.
My favorite book of Green’s is his most recent one, entitled The Grace of Necessity published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. Inevitably, most of us arrive at that time in one’s life when we become more acutely aware of death, first of parents’, our own, and others’. I think it is within our imagination to sometimes be able to make of death something of beauty. The first group of poems in this beautiful collection is entitled "In the Dark’" and I think more times than not, it does capture the poignant beauty of the final passing. The second group is Sam’s wonderful "Postcard Poems" which is a challenge he made to compose a poem each day, with no editing, on a postcard which he then sent to a friend. Here is Sam Green reading some of his postcard poems:
Here is one of my favorite poems in the book:
Miserere: That We Might Keep Her Present Among Us
For Taryn Hoover
Now, when the apples she might have picked against winter
are falling, let us recall her, let us pick them & eat.
Let us recall her as the leaves start their turning,
as seed pods of maples spin & drift in the fickle wind.
As long vowels of rain spill from the sky’s dark sack,
let us bring her back – not as a burden,
no knapsack of grief that will bend us –
But a velvet presence come from the spun cocoon of pain.
Let us recall her because we can, it is easy, the memory
collective, each story shared like bread, elemental as salt.
Let the stories gather as tiny birds
add themselves one & one to the flock,
their small throats gathering the One
Great Song that is more than themselves alone.
Now in the shortening days when light unbraids
too early, let us astonish each other
with love, as though, through us, we channel her desire.
Let us summon her here that she be present
among us, because the true burden is absence
because joy, O my neighbors,
can be grafted to loss and bring fruit everbearing.
though there is grieving,
there is never true separation, never a leaving.
My son turned me onto this app, and many of you undoubtedly must use it already. Spotify makes the music of the world available to everyone either for free or with a modest monthly subscription.
If you feel a bit melancholy and want to resonate with a piece of music, get a copy of the translation of Goethe’s poem Aber Abseits Wer Ist’s? and follow it as you listen to the comforting angelic voice of the late but unforgettable Kathleen Ferrier as she sings Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7S162WFNI8
I’m a great advocate of moxibustion in my clinic. While acupuncture with needles basically moves existing Qi in the body, moxa which uses heat from the burning fluff of the mugwort plant not only moves Qi but puts energy into the meridians. Because it doesn’t puncture the body, it is a technique that herbalists can learn to administer to their clients directly, usually providing more immediate and sustaining results than can be expected from herbs alone. The two modalities together are highly complementary and will greatly enhance one’s practice.
Premio-10 is an electro-moxa tool that generates the same far infrared heat as moxa herb without any of the negative aspects associated with its use.
At $1200, Premio-10 is a wonderful business expense that will greatly enhance your clinical practice.
It is available from LHASA Oriental Medical Supplies at http://www.lhasaoms.com/Premio-10-Moxa.html
You may need to find a licensed acupuncturist to purchase it for you.