Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get out of the cave

Today I found myself sitting at an ancient desk with a small dog trying to leap onto my lap reading from a book from 1793. The book was hand bound with leather and handmade marbled paper. I felt a little like I had just crawled through a time portal with my north face jacket swishing awkwardly in this other dimension. The book was by an M.D. called Dr. Willis, entitled "The Art of Preventing Disease", with appropriately archaic language, and 's' looking like 'f'. It struck me that what this guy knew was totally legitimate, and quite genius. How did we forget all of this? How did it end up in this antiquarian bookstore waiting for some crusty collector to snatch it up?

It's easy to a get caught up in the newness of technology, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. The old ways get forgotten in an instant; outlawed, books burned, people hung or lynched, politically undermined, ostracized--all in the name of "progress". Whatever "progress" is, it has certainly seduced many humans into crazed actions here and there that have steered the course of history.

As I have delved deeper into studying plant medicine, I have continuously been appalled that ours is the first generation since forever to which a basic and fundamental canon of knowledge will not be passed down for this very reason. This canon involves healing traditions that are quickly seeping through the cracks of our "new way". Up until now, that didn't seem like a huge deal. I was young, and with that came a certain arrogant assumption that whatever society was running forward with must be a hundred percent right. Of course, anyone who has contemplated history can see it riddled with mistakes-we are human, after all.

So why is it so important to keep the old information? We are standing on the shoulders of giants, which implies that new stuff is only as great as that which came before, and in fact fully supported by it. Our medical system is heavily influenced by our past, and it would be folly to think of modern medicine as secular from this long history, which seems to be a common illusion these days.

Getting swept away by all the seductive magic pills we have leaves a lot of gaps in information. I have heard this story over and over; the doctor says nothing can be done, when there is a perfectly effective folk remedy for it. Whatever the remedy is, it doesn't exist in that universe. This denial seems sloppy for someone you're supposed to entrust to heal you.

What I'm getting at is that we aren't really considering all of our resources for healing. We may have invented all this new fangled stuff to avoid this fatal bacteria or oust that terrible parasite, but that doesn't make the traditional knowledge set void. On the contrary, a synthesis seems the most effective, and these dogmatic perspectives increasingly totally ridiculous. A mutual acknowledgement of modern medicine and folk medicine to create the most effective system- not the most profitable or most historic. Healing is the real goal here, so let us fish all this out of the egos that have claimed it and and reclaim it for ourselves.

Stay tuned if that's what you're interested in.

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