August 26, 2008

My Thoughts On Death, Dying And Love

What a difficult post to write. The quotes may not be exact, but you get my drift.

When you find yourself in Hell, keep walking. ~ Winston Churchill

You are made to survive this. ~ Doug Jones

People don't talk much about death as a real event, have you noticed? We as a society (well, not me) make games out of human murder. We abstract death, put it on a video screen or on the TV, and desensitize ourselves to the painful reality of what it means when Humans die. There are video games like grand theft auto, and sniper games, the mobsters game on myspace, and a vast assortment of others. Kill another human, score points, gain status. There are horror flicks, full of blood and gore and gruesome, painful death. These are all meant to entertain us, to stimulate us, to initiate a cascade of stress hormones. Are we really so jaded by our lives that this is needed to make us feel alive?

I have learned that for me personally, death is on the level of politics and religion. I know how I feel, sometimes, and I don't want anyone else to tell me how I am supposed to feel or what I am supposed to believe. I have to figure it out for myself, search deep and feel deep and think deep, and keep moving. This is a sobering, foundation-shaking, life altering REAL experience. I am embracing this process. I can't avoid it, I don't want to put it off. There is no pretending it hasn't happened, although there is disbelief, and the waves of realization and denial and anger and grief and sad and ok but still sad alternate at their own rate.

What I have found, what I am so thankful and grateful for, is the revelation of a previously silent network of friends, family and acquaintances. I feel like I have been initiated into a new level of experience and understanding. Those who have never lost a very close loved one, despite their best intentions, can not relate to how I feel, and so I could not previously relate to how my silent network feels about grief, about death, about still being amongst the living. It has been so comforting to talk with these precious people, these surviving fellow suffers, about what is normal, and what I can expect as the future unfolds. This is different than being told how to feel. This is the sharing of deeply intimate pain, grief and suffering.

Love doesn't die. People die. Love is outside of that phenomenon. What is death, anyway? The body dies, but life is so much more than the body. I don't have answers for all of this, but I don't believe that death is the end. It's counterintuitive. I also don't believe that our short time on Earth earns us an eternity anywhere. I think it's a process, a cycle, an evolution of time and space and matter and energy and experience. We are such an integral part of nature, and nature shows us the cyclical nature of life, if we take the time to watch, look, learn, observe.

So, for now, for me, I am focusing on Life and Living and Love. Death is a lesson, a natural part of our process. All life dies. Plants and Animals give their lives so I may live. One day, if my wishes are followed, my body will feed the cycle. Until then, I consciously enrich the soil wherever I am planted. I want my dash to be significant. The love doesn't die, it swells and takes on a richer meaning, providing opportunities for understanding and appreciation and nuance.

It is so gratifying to meet people with stories about my Dad. He did so much in his life, helped so many, and worked so hard. He wasn't perfect, nobody is, and it doesn't help me to dwell on his shortcomings. He was loved by many, and he will be Dearly Missed Every Day. I am proud to be my Father's Daughter, and I treasure all that he taught me, and all that he is still teaching me now.

Please, if you don't have a will, do it now. This week. No later. It will spare your loved ones from unnecessary pain and troubles after you are gone.

August 11, 2008

Basil ~ Materia Medica and Unconventional Usage

Mmmm, basil :) I planted a lot of basil this year (too much?) and am now fully involved, as Shawna said, in "sexually frustrating my basil." I hate wasting those fragrant blossoms, and the tiny leaves that come with them. So, I have been cooking with basil flowers, and adding them to really awesome teas. By themselves, they are divine, and as a compliment, they are unequaled. Today's tea is simple - basil blossoms muddled slightly in my mortar and pestle, add hot water. Wow.

Let's see, I promised unconventional uses, didn't I? In Belize, Rosita taught us the magic of Spiritual Bathing. That's one of the reasons I planted so much basil, actually. For my spiritual baths. The Maya call Basil Ca-cal-tun, and it is used in baths "to cure spiritual ailments such as susto, envy, grief and evil magic." Basil, Rue and Marigold are a powerful combination for this kind of therapy. Their gifts go deep, and I find them to be invaluable allies.

I have more plans for those lovely flowers. On the docket are: infused oil, infused vinegar and tincture. I have visions of using the oil in a lovely bug repellent recipe next year.

Watch at the market for fresh snipped basil to put in your pasta!

Ocimum basilicum; Labiatae

Common names ~ Basil, sweet basil, garden basil

Part used ~ aerial parts

Dosages: Tincture ~ 10-30 drops, Tea ~ standard infusion

Vitalist Actions and Energetics ~ spicy, warm

Meridians / Organs affected ~ lungs, stomach

Clinical Actions (properties) ~ diaphoretic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, carminative, stomachic, galactagogue, aromatic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic

Biochemical Actions ~ antimicrobial, choleretic, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic

Primary uses

Internal ~ fevers, colds, flu, stomach cramps, vomiting, indigestion, intestinal catarrh, constipation, enteritis, whooping cough, headaches and menstrual pains, loss of appetite, nonulcer dyspepsia, minor inflammations of the GI tract, genitourinary tract, and upper respiratory tract. flatulence, colic, nausea, nervous irritability, fatigue, depression, insomnia, anxiety, epilepsy, migraine

External ~ as mouthwash or gargle for inflammation of the mouth and throat, as mouthwash or chewing for bad breath, as wet compress, poultice or ointment for wounds and as a hair rinse for hair loss, insect repellent, insect bites

Cautions ~ not to be used during pregnancy or lactation

Arvigo, Rosita and Balick, Michael ~ Rainforest Remedies
Chevalier, Andrew ~ Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine
Tierra, Michael ~ Planetary Herbology
Skenderi ~ Herbal Vade Mecum

August 7, 2008

Excellent Read!

I just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Wow. Just Wow.

You'd think the story of a family eating locally for a year would be dry, but not when it's written by Barbara Kingsolver! Many things impressed me about this book: specifically, it is full of recipes :) and the sidebars written by her husband, Steven Hopp, are informative and full of resources for further learning. Her chapter on Harvest Day is insightful, practical and compassionate. This book is inspiring, and an invaluable catalyst to raising awareness about local and sustainable food sources. This is a "we can do it" kind of story, and it leaves me with a greater-than-before desire to do more. I want chickens, and a bigger garden!

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