A really good storyteller casts a spell. Whether through the written or the oral word, the storyteller takes the listener captive and transports them to another place that transcends the reality they currently inhabit. And the story can do this because of the words that the storyteller chooses to use and the exquisitely sensitive emotions and unmet needs that these carefully chosen words trigger and invoke. In indigenous cultures, the story might be known as ‘pointing the bone’, or we might say, it plants a seed. Someone particularly astute once said that when you change the meaning of a word, you change the culture. Words are symbols, imbued with well-trod meaning, which whether used as socio-political propaganda, or used in individual relationships can change the culture, or story, of that relationship. It changes trajectories and affects outcomes. And I could wax lyrical about how religion has done this, and how politicians do this, and how the gazillionaire puppetmasters who really rule the world do this – and have you noticed how it starts as a subtle tweak, here or there? Changing the meaning of words like Love, and God, and Choice, and Privilege. (No? Maybe that’s just me.) But this post isn’t about that. It’s about the words that we as individuals choose to use and how they ripple through other people’s lives. In this regard, we are all storytellers. But where does the story we tell come from? And what is its purpose?
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Guards his life from distresses” (Proverbs 21:23)
This story begins at a point during the birth of my youngest son. I had been labouring for about 19 hours, managing well – I’d done this before and so far, the labour was unfolding as expected and surprisingly much the same as my first birth with my eldest son exactly three years and 51 weeks before. In the lead up to this birth however, I had been working as a doula for about two years and had been mindful of the influence of other women’s birth journeys on my own, because someone once said, ‘worry is the work of pregnancy’. That is, women at this time of their lives are particularly vulnerable – not just physically but also psycho-emotionally. It is during this time, more than any other, that supressed emotional traumas – whether lived or inherited, and the beliefs they generate, tend to surface, and other people’s stuff can trigger it, thus adding to the burden. With this in mind, I embarked on some self-nurturing via the means of guided relaxation and visualisation techniques (The ‘hypnodoula’ process as I had learned to facilitate from my mentor Denise Love. The process is more commonly known as hypnobirthing.) throughout the pregnancy. By the time labour had established itself, I was somewhat relaxed even in spite of a hot water system breaking down in the midst of filling the birth pool, and the arrivals and departures of various family members that invariably always show up during my births. My mother still remembers me making Steiner-inspired dolls in between contractions, stopping only to breathe and let the wave pass, before picking up from where I left off, cutting and sewing wee felt outfits.
Birth is a journey of going inward. Of leaving the thinking, analytical brain behind, and dropping into the instinctive, primal cradle of the womb. It is a truly embodied process, and it has to be this way. If we look at it through the lens of mythology, it can be likened to the hero’s journey of descent into the underworld, to a place where our deepest fears are confronted and overcome, and we emerge the triumphant warrior into the glorious light of a new hope, bringing with us the dawn of a new era. It is during birth that we learn to be mothers, whether it is our first or our tenth baby, where a new facet to the archetype – to our role, is also born. The birth process follows a specific design, or pattern. Of ripening and blossoming, of contracting and expanding, of working and resting, of opening, of surrender, of breathing and letting go. And always, at some pivotal point the process – of facing the Void. In my previous post on working with the forbidden, I likened the journey of walking with cancer to walking with birth. At some point, a surrender to the design must be acknowledged in order to be strengthened and move forward in the journey. I reminded readers that this doesn’t equate with defeat or giving up. On the contrary, surrender in the form of allowing the process to unfold, to be able to read its terrain and work with it – rather than against it – is paramount to survival.
As is my primal wont – as it is with most mammals – my body slows labour until such a time that I can birth my baby in peace, quiet, safety, privacy, and stillness. For my first two babies, this occurred just on the breaking of dawn, for my third it occurred at sunset, all in the comfort of my own home. During my second birth, after some 19 hours of labour things were still moving along at a slow but steady pace, so I went to bed around 11pm to get some rest for the harder work ahead. Around 3am I was awoken by stronger contractions and so I woke my husband to let him know and he graciously went to stoke the fire in the loungeroom, and then check on the warmth of water in the heated birth pool (the hot water system had been fixed the previous afternoon), so I could labour in the glow of the fire in peace and quiet whilst our eldest child and my mother slept on. As the waves started to intensify, we decided to call our midwife, who was also a good friend and colleague. She arrived about 40 minutes later, and we sat and chatted as she watched me labouring in my comfortable little nest that I’d made out of one of our beanbags, breathing into the contractions and breathing them out as they diminished, and then carrying on our conversation. At one point I remember saying to her that I felt a little nauseous. After about an hour, she said, “I think you’re still only in early first stage. You should go back to bed and get some rest for the hard stuff ahead.” I remember thinking, “no, I’ve been labouring for the last 23 hours. I know I’m well into established labour now.” I didn’t voice this, but my husband did. They debated back and forth for a bit, my husband being deeply in tune with my birth rhythm knew where I was at, but my midwife had come in mid-story. The point that she had observed me in, was during the transition phase.
The Transition phase can last anywhere from for a couple of minutes to an hour or more. It is known as Transition because it signals the changing nature of the birthwaves from contracting and expanding and opening the cervix, to the contractions that push. And sometimes during this transitional phase, labour can seem to slow right down or stop all together. Oftentimes, a woman may feel nauseous like she is about to throw up (she may simply voice this, or she may do it), or she may suddenly say that she doesn’t want to do this anymore and she wants to go home, or she may suddenly get really scared as somewhere deep in her subconsciousness she is standing on the precipice staring into the Void – the abyss of the unknown. Will I live or will I die? Will my baby live or die? Am I ready to be a Mother? How will I cope? What if I’m not good enough? These are all worries that confront us in this phase. The reality is about to hit us that very shortly we will be holding a baby and our whole life will have permanently changed. For many women, especially when we have supressed and unresolved emotional wounds, this is a huge confrontation, and requires a huge leap of faith.
But leap we must. And the story begins to birth itself.
The debate ended with our midwife deciding that her observations were sound and that she was going home. She lived a 25-minute drive away across a meandering gorge. And so, with that, she got in her four-wheel drive and left.
And then several things happened seemingly all at once.
“I think [the midwife]* is wrong.” I said. “I know she is.” said the husband.
“I need the toilet” I said, as I lumbered as quickly as I could up the stairs from the loungeroom to the landing where the bathroom was. As I sat on the toilet, an overwhelming urge to take all of my clothes off took over and I shouted out to my husband that I needed to get into the birth pool, but I needed his help. He came in and helped me into our spare room which was right next door to the toilet, and where we had set up the birth pool. The urge to bear down that I began feeling on the toilet became stronger once I had settled into the warm water. My husband said that he was going to go and call our midwife to suggest that she come back, and so off he went back down to the loungeroom. Left by myself, my body began to push in earnest. I had learnt that with the change in contractions from opening to pushing, to also change my breathing. I began to pant to help my body relax and, in an effort to steady the power that was now surging through me. I could feel the pressure grow between my legs, so I reached down and felt a huge bulge in my perineum. Suddenly, an odd thought crossed my mind, “What in the world could be causing that bulge? Is my uterus falling out?” You see, in my vulnerable state during transition a seed had been planted. ‘But I’m only in first stage’ I thought. ‘The baby can’t be coming yet. It’s too soon.’ I began to feel very dazed and confused. I reached down again, and I could feel the top of my son’s head. Suddenly I got my wits about me, as if a switch had been flicked. I was back in my body and my body was telling me that my baby was crowning. This was the moment of truth.
I called out to my husband to tell him that the baby’s head was crowning. He rushed into the room, along with my mum and our eldest son just as I was lifting our second son out of the water to lay him on my breast. It was an extraordinary experience for all of us. Our midwife did come back and swallow her words. I think we all learned a very valuable lesson that day.
The lesson that I learned from that was indeed about the power of words and what we say and when we say them. We affect the story. Oftentimes, we say the words because we don’t listen, we don’t read the terrain. Most of the time, this is because we are projecting our own needs, or our own interpretation on things through a lens that might not match the reality.
Since that experience, I’ve supported numerous other women, and have heard even more birth stories from others. I am constantly saddened by the disconnect that occurs and the changes that are made to people’s stories by the words of their caregivers. Fear-based policy becomes more important than listening to women, to what they say and what they don’t say during their process, or how they sound and how they move. Caregivers are losing valuable old-school skills like observation, the ability to read the terrain, and a trust in the process. I listen to the stories of ‘birthrape’ and loss of autonomy, loss of a vision, of the depression that follows and the acceptance that this is ‘normal’ – at least we have a healthy baby, right? (sure, we’ll only need a few years of therapy when we’re in our forties to deal with the inherited trauma and its aftermath)
But what about a healthy Mother?
And I see the cascade of intervention. (Would you like an epidural? What about pethidine? What about now? I bet you want drugs now, right? Or how about, ‘Oh you’ve laboured for 6 hours and you’re exhausted, quick we need to induce you now or the placenta will fail and EVERYONE WILL DIE!’ Or my personal favourite whilst a woman was actively pushing, “I’M NOT QUALIFIED TO ATTEND A WATERBIRTH! QUICK! PULL THE PLUG AND GET OUT OF THE BATH NOW!! GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!!) And I hear where the words changed the story. The caregivers no longer realise the depth of meaning that their ironically care-less words convey.
Sometimes, there is more healing, more encouragement in saying nothing at all. Just sit, watch, and listen. Really LISTEN. Learn to listen with something more than just your ears. Listen for the intangibles. To walk with a woman throughout her pregnancy and birth and those precious weeks that follow is an extraordinary privilege. Indeed, to walk with anyone within a therapeutic setting is an extraordinary privilege. We don’t pull them along behind us, and we don’t push them in front. We walk alongside and we entrain our footfall to theirs. We learn to listen with our hearts. This is also called empathy. And at the same time, we hold space for their story to be told.
And the story will always, when allowed, follow a pattern. In birth, it is a pattern of contracting and expanding, of opening, of surrender, of breathing, and of letting go. If the story stalls or gets carried away on a tangent, we find our way back to the pattern and keep going. A lovely, and relevant example of this, is the entrainment that occurs between a mother and her newborn. The newborn’s heart beat and breathing rhythms are irregular and erratic. By staying in constant contact with the mother after the birth and in these first few weeks, the baby’s rhythms entrain to the mother. The mothers body ‘teaches’ the newborn’s how to find its own inherent pattern.
When I’m attending a woman during birth, I don’t say a lot. I sit, watch, and listen. If I hear her vocalisations begin to move into the shrill of fear, I match them with my own, gently guiding her down the octaves and back into that deep, primal base note of the Wombsong. This deep intonation that comes from the belly relaxes the jaw, which in turn relaxes and opens the sphincters. If she holds her breath, I breathe alongside her, finding the rhythm of the wave so she can ride it out. I offer a drink, a massage, or a change of position by way of gesture – depending on what her gestures have told me. Birth is a dance, which is not mine to lead, but I do know it’s choreography.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” ~ Voltaire.
The cry for freedom of speech and the right to be heard for every vulnerable minority under the sun has typified our society in this Orwellian era. (Should I point out that there are 7.5 billion vulnerable minorities on the planet?) Everyone has something to say, but no one wants to take responsibility for the things that they speak. Perhaps this is the problem.
So perhaps, we should instead not only listen to what others are really saying, but also listen to what comes out of our own mouths. Is it coming from a place of love or fear? Of care and concern or self-interest. Of patience or impatience?
The mother entrains her baby through the deepest love a human can give. It is instinctive, protective, nurturing, and mindful. The Holder of Sacred Space works the same. We are all vulnerable, but imagine if we were all Holders of Sacred Space.
The words we say can be a balm to the soul, or a poison that we will, in time, have to swallow ourselves. Therefore, don’t point the bone. Instead, let us choose our words wisely.
*the Midwife’s name has been withheld out of respect.
I am one of those people who see the patterns underlying all things. Not in a mathemagial member of MENSA wizard sort of way, but more holographically. Ethereally. Or as Goethe would have said, phenomenally. I see the patterns on which Creation was founded and made, including the incredible design of the human body. This ability to see patterns has given me a good ability to discern truth and understand the relationship between things. And as I’ve studied healing over the years, including the support I’ve given birthing women, I’ve learned that success comes when you work with that design, rather than against it. My paternal grandfather had a motto he used to live by. It was “plan your work and work your plan”. The Creator did this, still does it, and expects us to do also. Other professions seem to get this idea – of working to the design – except the healthcare profession. And science at large. And religion. Which is interesting because the world wants you to believe that science and religion have nothing in common, which isn’t true because both believe that human body is inherently flawed.
(Which also isn’t true.)
‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.’” (Rita Mae Brown in “Sudden Death” 1983. No, it wasn’t Einstein.)
So instead we have been caught up in the illusion of the quick fix – the ‘magic bullet’ if you will. It looks good on the surface and it can provide instant relief, but at best it’s a band-aid approach, and at worst it supresses the body’s innate healing intelligence. (I feel like I’ve said that somewhere before) And then epidemic opioid addictions result, and chronic illnesses like cancer proliferate, or complications with the birth process occur. And people wonder why. And then after a time, many consider this ‘normal’, and ‘that’s life’. But that’s not life, because the design and the patterns nested within it are dynamic and living, and the true reality is that Life begets Life.
The core message of all my thoughts that I share, is to work with the design, rather than against it. It just makes life a lot easier.
There is an underlying Torah – or guiding principle – that is woven into and sustains all creation, and perhaps one day I will expound on that, because that’s THE design that we collectively need to work with, but for now it is probably sufficient to just look at how to work with our personal bodily design. One person whose work I really admire is Steven Horne. I’ve referred to his insights in previous articles and in this article, I want to expand on a pattern which he noticed in his studies of healing that works with this design. I’ve since noticed it in the work of other successful healers, and indeed most traditional systems of healing. And it’s a pattern that I’ve also been working to for some time, because I’ve been working to the underlying Torah. As Life begets Life, truth resonates with truth.
Steven articulates the pattern as an ABC + D approach to healing. As a brief overview, the ABCD represents the following:
A = Activate the healing process. Here we engage and address the higher realms of spiritual and emotional states that underlie an illness when imbalanced. I personally begin this process with praying and meditating in faith on the universal guiding principles. Steven also suggests engaging faith, prayer and meditation as well as using positive affirmation techniques, and visualisation techniques. Through emotional healing work we work to identify unresolved emotional wounds and trauma, and then address them with the above techniques as well as using appropriate vibrational remedies such as flower essences, essential oils, and sound healing. In this first step, some of us also cast out demons (Yes, really. Wild, isn’t it?). Here we also address the stress response and begin to incorporate stress management skills into daily life.
B = Build. That is, to provide the body’s basic needs and begin to nourish the vital reserves, in order for the body’s innate healing process to occur effectively. These basic needs include ensuring there is good and adequate nutrition, ensuring proper hydration, ensuring good sleep quality and quantity, ensuring appropriate movement, and addressing any allergies or intolerances. This also leads into…
C = Cleanse. In order to be properly nourished (as covered by B), we need to ensure that we can absorb, assimilate, utilise, and eliminate effectively. In this step, we address the need for all pathways of elimination to be functioning effectively (liver, lymph, bowel, kidneys, skin, lungs) so that there isn’t any stagnation and congestion inhibiting the cells from receiving full nourishment, and we remove agents that do not serve our overall health and wellbeing. These deleterious agents include refined and processed foods, preservatives and other synthetic food additives, GMOs, pesticides, toxic cosmetics and personal hygiene products, exposure to electromagnetic smog, fluoridated water, toxic household cleaning products, etc. Steven also suggests doing a short cleanse or ‘detox’ a couple of times per year. I like the Ayurvedic approach to this of doing a short cleanse over the two equinox periods to help the body adjust to the change of seasons. These cleanses may be water fasts, juice fasts, or very light diets depending on the individual constitution.
When all of these ABC’s have been accounted for, we apply D.
D= Direct Aid. That is, we address the specific body system or tissue affected. Nested within this we take note of the individual constitutional pattern, as well as the energetic state of the tissue affected (using the Six Tissue State model, which I discussed here.) This is where we apply very specifically chosen remedies that match these energetic patterns.
You will often be working on all of these steps simultaneously as there is a certain amount of overlap that occurs. These are steps that the everyday person (ie: not a ‘certified’ health practitioner) can apply. And all of these can be applied to any health concern. Including the childbearing year. And cancer.
It wasn’t my intention to go into the dark and dank dungeons of the big ‘C’, but as Earth Poet and Herbalist, Stephen Buhner asserts, one must go where the golden thread of the story that wants to be told leads, and so it has led me here, so this is where we are going. Let’s see where we end up.
I’ve had the privilege of supporting several people who’ve been dealing with cancer over the years. I say ‘privilege’ because, like birth, to hold space for someone at such a vulnerable time in their life is an extraordinary thing. At such time many transformations are taking place on many different levels, so it’s a time of witness and walking alongside as the individual goes inward, becomes self-aware, becomes aware of their mortality and their God, and grows toward the Light. Regardless of outcome (although we pray for and do our best), we hold space for people to face the Void, and surrender to it. It’s important to note here though, that surrender does not equal defeat. Surrender is about trust. Trusting a process, trusting a design, trusting it’s Creator.
At this point, I should probably interject the disclaimer that I do not proclaim to cure cancer. It’s actually illegal for me to even say that I treat cancer. Which doesn’t bother me because I treat people, not diseases nor labels. And I endeavour to treat them how I would like to be treated. The ‘cut, poison, and burn’ mob (did I type that out loud?) are welcome to their mission to ‘fight’ cancer. I don’t claim any cures, of anything. My only claim is that I will endeavour, in all things, to work to the design, guided by the Designer, to procure the best possible outcome. And that’s it.
What I can do however, is share how certain healthcare professionals who did work to the design found actual healing for people with cancer.
Step into my TARDIS. We’re going back to 1911.
Eli Jones was an extraordinarily common-sensed American eclectic medical doctor with an equally extraordinary success rate in curing cancer (ah, that other forbidden ‘c’ word). In 1911, he published a book of his common-sense approach, very practically titled Cancer: It’s causes, symptoms, and treatment. He was a doctor who got to the point and made it well. I’ve quoted him before, here. The book is an easy read and although some of the more specific remedies he offers and their rationale of use might be lost on the untrained, his overall approach is one that anyone can employ, and should, and fits the systematic ABC +D pattern that Seven Horne articulates.
At the risk of outright plagiarism, I’ll let the good doctor speak for himself. Chapter One: The Causes of Cancer is superb.
“The medical profession have been theorizing as to the cause of cancer for many years. About once in six months we read under startling headlines in the public press, that the cause of cancer has been discovered! Students in the laboratory and with the microscope, now and then make this announcement to the world, that a serum has been discovered that will cure cancer! Vast sums of money have been expended in erecting cancer hospitals; institutes for “cancer research.” Remedies have been lauded time and again as a cure for this disease, yet the people keep on dying in the same old fashioned way. We have tried to deceive ourselves and the public with the comforting thought that cancer was not on the increase, but the fact is that the mortality from cancer in England is 4 1/2 times greater than fifty years ago. In the United States, in 1890 there were 18,536 deaths from cancer; in 1900 there were 29,222 deaths from this disease. At the present time the mortality cannot be less than fifty thousand annually. Dr. John A. McGlinn, in a paper before the Philadelphia Medical Society says: “That one man out of every thirty-two and one woman out of every eleven die of cancer. After the age of thirty-five one man out of every seventeen and one woman out of every nine die of cancer; one third of the deaths from all surgical conditions were due to cancer.”
It would appear from the above that cancer is not being cured, that it is still numbered among the incurable diseases. It has been the practice of many of the profession to cut out everything that looked like a cancer, but statistics will abundantly prove that a surgical operation not only does not cure cancer, but really hastens the death of the victim. A surgeon can only cut out what is seen and felt under the knife, while millions of cancer germs grow and multiply in the blood, the nuclei of future cancer. Another fact, the surgeon seems to forget that every operation is a shock to the nervous system, it lowers the nerve power, weakens the power of resistance to disease and thus encourages the invasion of cancer.
It is often remarked that after an operation “the wound healed up very quickly”, why? Because nature rebels against such mutilation and repairs the damage as soon as possible. While sticking to the old theory that cancer is a local disease and depending on surgical operations to cure it, the regular profession have not cured the malady. Is it not about time that we should abandon the theory of the fathers and do some thinking for ourselves? The men in this country who have treated this disease successfully have treated it as a constitutional or blood disease. From my own experience of forty years in the study and medical treatment of cancer in all its forms, I am convinced that it is the local manifestation of a blood disease. To say that a disease is incurable because someone else has said so, to sit calmly down and repeat parrot-like “it cannot be cured” is unmanly, is un-American, is cowardly. What are we waiting for, some savant in Germany, France or Italy to show us how to cure cancer? The victims of cancer are dying all around us; what can we do for these poor unfortunates? The object of this book is to get the profession interested in the rational treatment of the disease, that we may at least try to cure them. To treat the subject intelligently we must consider the causes why cancer is on the increase.
I honestly believe that if it were possible to keep the vitality of a person at or near the normal healthy standard there would be no danger of cancer. We find in cancer victims, weakened vitality and enfeebled nerve power; this gives us the key to the situation and tells us how to successfully combat the disease.Every epidemic like typhoid fever, pneumonia, diphtheria, la grippe, etc., weakens the vitality of the people and lets down the bars for the invader — cancer. Every war this country has ever had, every financial crisis, anything that causes worriment of mind and severe strain upon the nerves lowers the nerve power and weakens the vitality of our people and makes them good subjects for cancer, consumption, pneumonia, etc. Tea and coffee drinking weaken the nervous system. In all countries where they drink tea and coffee to excess, there you will find cancer on the increase. Excessive meat eating is another fruitful cause of cancer.
Insurance men tell us that if a man or woman at 40 lose 20% of their normal weight there is danger of cancer, consumption or Bright’s disease. Following out the idea of Dr. William Waugh of having adults examined physically once in six months we would be able to detect the above disease in the early stages. and so by proper treatment be able to stave off future trouble. The chemists and scientists for many years have tried to discover some powerful drug, some deadly poison, some deadly serum which. taken by the mouth or injected into the human body, would kill the germs of cancer and knock out the disease. They have overlooked one fact; a drug which would do all that would weaken the vitality of the victim if it did not hasten his death, any remedy or treatment, whatever it may be, that weakens the vitality of the patient lessens the chance of recovery.
The rapid increase of cancer throughout the civilized world may be explained by the following great causes of cancer:
Worriment of Mind. Worrying weakens the nervous system, lowers the “nerve power” and thus opens the way for the invasion of cancer. In all countries where you find insanity on the increase you will find cancer a close second. In Chicago where insanity has increased the fastest in the world, cancer has increased 812% from 1861 to the present time.
Vaccination. In all states. and countries where there is enforced vaccination there you will find cancer on the increase.
Meat-eating. Meat-eating is a prolific cause of cancer. In England the mortality from cancer has increased; it is 4 1/2, times greater than it was fifty years ago. The people consume 131 pounds of beef per head every year. Is it any wonder that the “Beef Eaters” have cancer? In twenty-five countries using meat largely, nineteen had a high death-rate from cancer, five a moderate and one a low rate. In countries where the diet is almost entirely vegetable there you will find very few cases of cancer. In Bombay, in 1875, the death-rate from cancer was only one in 10,000; in England 5.5 per 100,000. In Egypt cancer is never found among the black races who are vegetarians, among Arabs and Copts, who eat as Europeans. In the monastery of the Grand Trappe, where the diet excludes tea, coffee and meat there has not been a case of cancer for twenty-seven years.
Tea and Coffee. Tea and coffee weaken the coats of the stomach and the nervous system and produce various disorders in the human system. In all countries where the people drink tea and coffee freely there you will tend cancer on the increase. Our own country — America — has become a nation of “tea drinkers”; as a result, three out of five persons have some form of dyspepsia or indigestion, and cancer has increased from one in ninety-one in 1850 to one in twelve in 1890. In thirty countries drinking very much tea and coffee, twenty-five had a very high death-rate, five a moderate, and none a low rate. In America we are becoming a nation of nervous, hysterical people, and insanity is on the increase. It must be ever borne in mind that if the nerve power falls below the normal standard there is danger of invasion of cancer.
Alcoholic Stimulants. The use of intoxicating liquors is a fruitful cause of cancer. In all countries where they are used to excess there, cancer is on the increase. In England among the wine and spirit merchants, the death-rate is five times greater than other men. Beer-drinking towns such as Munich, Stuttgardt and Copenhagen have a high mortality from cancer.
What our people need is to be taught how to live. There must be temperance in all things. Good pure water, good pure air helps to make good healthy red blood. Unadulterated food, mostly vegetables, easily digested, leaving out tea and coffee, keep the nervous system strong and vigorous. Stop worrying. In this way we can protect ourselves against the dreaded monster — CANCER. A return to the “simple life” of our forefathers is what we need. Modern civilization, with all its luxury, high living and drinking, and filling the stomach with all kinds of food and drink (the most of it never intended for the human stomach), is only encouraging the inroads of cancer.
In a case of cancer, no matter how far the disease has advanced or how bad the case is, there are two things that we have to depend upon for a cure: First. We must raise the nerve power, the vitality of the patient at or as near normal as possible. Second. It depends upon whether the system of our patient will respond to the action of remedies or not. In other words, we must begin at the very foundation and build up our patient to strengthen his power of resistance against the disease.Many times I have noticed this fact that when the eye, the pulse, and the tongue showed the organs of the body secreting properly, good digestion, a strong, full, regular pulse, the disease itself would be at a standstill, but if the signs showed a weakened vitality, the disease would take on new life and activity.”
Keep in mind, that this book was published in 1911. Dear Eli Jones’s head would have probably exploded if he knew that the incidence of cancer in the USA alone was estimated to be 1,735,350 cases in 2018, equalling more than 4,700 new cancer diagnoses each day. According to the same report from the American Cancer Society’s journal, which predicted the above incidence, the lifetime probability of being diagnosed with cancer is 39.7% for men and 37.6% for women, which is a little more than 1 in 3. Now we could argue that the population of the US is significantly larger now than what it was back when Dr Jones’ was practicing, but given that above the factors he mentions as causes, as well as industrialised agriculture, environmental pollutants, xenoestrogens, pharmaceutical pollutants, and electromagnetic pollution has been added to the mix, I don’t think a correlation in incidence with population growth means a hill of beans.
Nothing much has changed, because you can’t use the same thinking that causes a problem to solve it. Refer to the definition of insanity.
In this opening chapter, what Eli does do is identify some of the key factors that he observed as possible causal factors. The first being ‘enfeeblement of nerve power’, or the weakened vitality of the patient. This is where we begin, and what Eli Jones recognised, with the need to address the ACTIVATION of the healing process.
Eli’s go-to treatment plan for activating the healing process and raising the nerve power was with medicated baths. He did this with Epsom salts – cheap, accessible to everyone, and very simple. He addresses this in Chapter Eight: The Medicated Bath.
“If the patient has a bath tub, put one pound of epsom salts in the usual quantity of warm water in the bath tub. The best time to take the bath is just. before bedtime and in the treatment of. cancer it should be taken as often as twice a week. The skin should be well rubbed until all the greasy, gammy stuff is removed from the skin and it becomes soft as velvet. The blood needs the magnesium in the epsom salts. It neutralizes the toxines, it soothes the tired nerves and makes the patient rest like a tired child upon its mother’s bosom. Any treatment for cancer would be incomplete without this medicated bath. Many a time I have had my lady patients tell me “Doctor, I love the epsom bath; it just makes me feel splendid.”
If a patient has no bath tub you may have them add one ounce of the epsom salts to a pint of warm water (use it in that proportion) and bathe the body all over with the mixture.
It will also be found to be a grand thing in many acute diseases, especially fevers. Used once in twenty-four hours or twice a day if there is a high fever. When the patient feels rather languid after the bath it shows that the epsom salts bath has done its work and it should be: used less often. In the treatment of any form of cancer this medicated bath should never be omitted; it is just as important as any part of the treatment.”
This is a wonderful idea, which we now know will soothe the nervous system by way of switching us over from the sympathetic (fright, flight, fight or freeze response), which most of us live in, to the parasympathetic (rest, digest, repair response) nervous system, which we need to be in to heal. This will also relax the person enough to begin to be in a better place to release stored or blocked emotional trauma, which is at the root cause of much cancer development. These emotional traumas may be from the individual’s living experience, it may be inherited via ancestral or familial living experience, or cultural/societal living experience. We might begin by asking where the illness is located. Traditionally, organs and systems were associated with specific emotions. Issues with the lungs may speak of unresolved grief, for the kidneys it is fear, for the breasts it is about how we give nourishment – particularly to ourselves, for the female reproductive areas it speaks to how we receive nourishment, the liver is associated with unresolved anger, and for the colon it might be about our ability to let go of past hurts. Or we might think of past trauma in our lives that we may have not allowed ourselves to process. So, we might ask ourselves, when was the last time I felt truly well, and what was going on in my life that changed that? In activating the healing process by acknowledging and releasing these emotional wounds or blockages, we can use flower essences and essential oils specific to the emotional wound and add them to the bath, as well as take regularly. We might even begin with the Bach flower remedy Star of Bethlehem for the initial shock of the diagnosis. A nice foot bath can be used if a full bath is not available and sponging all of the body with the solution is awkward. The French herbalist, Maurice Messague achieved excellent results just by using medicated foot and hand soaks.
Eli’s second fundamental approach was to BUILD up the patient ‘to strengthen his power of resistance against the disease’. We build ourselves up largely by what we eat, and how we nourish ourselves. Sugar didn’t seem to be much of a problem back then as it is now, or if it was, it wasn’t on Dr Jones’ radar, but sugar is a no-go when it comes to cancer, mainly because of the interplay between insulin and cortisol levels (the stress response) and a hormonal cascade that can lead to all sorts of problems such as insulin resistance and increased inflammation, and besides cancer cells thrive on it. I do like the following quote which draws us to looking at the individual and their unique constitution, because each unique constitution will benefit from certain foods over others, and different ratios of the macronutrients. We should reiterate though that across the constitutions, the foods should be whole foods, organic where possible, with no additives, preservatives, numbers, artificial colours, flavours, or isolates, and with a focus on an abundance of anti-oxidant-rich fruit and vegetables.
“Study each case carefully and adapt your diet to each individual case.”
He goes on.
“Now it is a well-known fact that our American people eat too much and too fast. They eat until their stomachs are full and they are in too much of a hurry to chew their food. They bolt it down and depend upon the stomach to get rid of it in some way. In addition to that they drink strong tea that weakens the nerves and muscles of the stomach. As a result of all this abuse, the stomach “goes on a strike” and refuses to do duty. Then we have some form of indigestion, dyspepsia, ulcer of the stomach or cancer. Now the real fact of the case is this, in most cases, patients would do well on one-half the food they eat and that food should be chewed over and over again before it is swallowed. When we eat our regular meals, only a certain part of what we eat can be digested and assimilated. The rest becomes refuse matter. It may produce autointoxication and toxins in the blood. In these conditions we find a fruitful cause of cancer. Now good red blood depends upon pure air, pure foodand pure drink, but if the food is not properly assimilated it will create toxins and not pure blood. To cure permanently any case of cancer we must have good digestion to make good blood, and when we can make good healthy blood, we can fortify the system against the inroads of cancer.”
In this stage of building with good diet, we may also consider the medicinal mushrooms which perhaps may be considered as much a nourishing food as a medicine. Chaga and Reishi are among the most studied mushrooms when it comes to immune-modulation or nourishing the immune system. The dual-extract powders are considered the most potent, as both the water-soluble constituents and those only extracted by alcohol are present. These can be made into a tea or a broth along with Astragalus – another immune nourishing herb or mixed into food and taken at least twice daily. Herbalist, Kiva Rose Hardin also reminds us that people who have been have been significantly weakened by this illness (or its treatment such as when undergoing radiation or chemotherapy) particularly in the latter stages, can gain nourishment and regain strength by using elm bark (a number of elm species may be used, as well as sustainably grown slippery elm – Ulmus fulva) even when no other foods can be tolerated, digested or absorbed.
Throughout the book, Dr Jones refers to the concept of cancer being a disease of the blood. He talks of the importance of clean or pure blood. As herbalist Matthew Wood notes, when the old doctors speak of ‘dirty blood’ or the need to ‘clean the blood’, they are in fact speaking of the Extra-Cellular Matrix – or the inner ocean that exists between the cells, the blood vessels and the lymph, and acts as a transitional repository for nutrient and metabolic waste material before they respectively enter or exit the cell. The importance of keeping this fluid matrix free-flowing and relatively clean is therefore paramount to the health of the individual overall, and especially more so when cancer is present. This is the CLEANSE stage of instigating the healing process, and the methods used will often overlap with the previous two. For example, we have already noted that the Epsom salt bath can draw and neutralise toxins from the body, and a clean and sensible diet can eliminate a lot of potential causative and extenuating factors. Cleaning up our lifestyles, dramatically reducing or eliminating environmental toxins, and ensuring we sleep well, move well, think well, speak well, is important, as it is that we eliminate well. This is really important. If you don’t eliminate and eliminate well, you become backed-up and stagnant and therefore the toxins we breathe in or ingest, as well as the waste products from our own metabolic processes, don’t get eliminated.
“Many doctors, in their anxiety to conquer the local growth neglect to look after the “general condition” of the patient and their vitality. Many patients have been lost in this manner. Be careful and examine your patients every day — the pulse, the eye, the tongue — so that you know exactly how they are.
Watch the tongue and see if your patients are digesting their food properly. If there is a coating on the tongue your patient is not digesting the food he eats properly. The strength which should be derived from the nourishment is not being obtained. In order to make good blood your patient must have good digestion.
If there is a hardness or tension to the pulse it shows a contraction of the capillaries, a focus of congestion somewhere, you are not obliged to ask your patient if they are suffering from pain for the pulse tells you that fact by its tension.
Your patient must have a regular movement of the bowels every day; the refuse matter must pass off as often as that and not be retained in the intestines to poison the blood. This is just as important as any part of the treatment; if you neglect this you may fail to cure your patient.”
Some alternative therapies such as Gerson Therapy, include enemas and colonic hydrotherapy as a key part of their protocol when helping patients who have cancer. If this is needed, a good probiotic should also be included as a part of the protocol to help restore the gut flora, which is also an integral part of nourishing the immune system.
The popular Essiac herbal tea, and other formulated herbal teas assist in this cleansing process by supporting the organs of elimination. Fasting and intermittent fasting have shown promise in restarting the body’s innate healing mechanisms as well as providing a good opportunity to cleanse the system. There are some parameters around fasting though that should be considered, such as the type of fast and when to fast. It isn’t wise to fast a person who is already considerably weak and depleted such as in the latter stages of an illness. These people need to be built up and nourished in an appropriate manner, such as with a porridge made from slippery elm. Fasting is perhaps more appropriate in the beginning stages of illness and the decision to fast therapeutically should be made with someone familiar with the process, or dare I say it, if a person is in tune with their own body – instinctively.
After covering these aspects of treatment and reiterating it at various intervals, much of the rest of Eli Jones treatise is then dedicated to specific remedies that he had used to treat the varied and numerous cases that came in to his care and attention. This is the DIRECT AID aspect of healing. The remedies and formulas which he worked with were very specific to the type of tissue, organ, or system that was affected. Here a skilled practitioner would also consider the energetics (for example, in the beginning stages the area affected may exhibit a lot of inflammation or heat and redness, in the latter we might see a very cold, depressed, or even withered and atrophied state of the tissues – and the individual as a whole.), as well as considering the innate constitution of the client in guiding their choice of remedy. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss specifics, and I have already tested your patience enough. (Although at this point, we need to address the myriad of Black Salve enthusiasts. Dr Jones also has something to say about the use of escharotics. That is, if people must use them, then use them ONLY while covering the other A,B,Cs and use them with an accurate understanding of the lesion that they are being used on!)
Some practitioners who are well-versed in homoeopathic practice might also consider any miasms– or inherited weaknesses that may be underlying the issue. And although, as herbalists or holistic therapists we don’t and are legally restricted to treat cancer itself, we will find that this Direct Aid often brings us back to the first step of Activation of the healing process. So, whether it is to try and remove underlying inherited weakness and clear familial or ancestral trauma or assist the person in coping with and accepting the journey that they are on, we may still have an effective and positive role here. Incidentally, there are a number of Australian Bush Flower essences that are specific to this particular aspect of support. These include the essences of Autumn Leaves and Lichen, which help people come to terms with their transition. Herbalist Jonathon Treasure, who has wide experience in supporting people with cancer using botanicals alongside conventional treatment, asserts that as practitioners we often find that our role also needs must transform alongside the transformation that is occurring with the person we are supporting. As I initially drew the comparison to the transformative process that occurs during a birth, here we walk alongside our client or loved one, holding sacred space. We must flow and adapt with their process, and we find that as we take this journey together, we as the practitioner or support person can’t help but let it change us. And I believe that this is also very much a key aspect of the healing that we offer.
As much as I have spoken about the role of the practitioner in this and drawn on Dr Jones work, these steps to healing are in fact steps that anyone can take, and I encourage that they should consider them whether they are dealing with their own health concerns or supporting a loved one with theirs. I have not gone into specifics, which may frustrate some of you, as each person is unique, and so will their journey be. In the case of cancer, these steps can be considered as both a stand-alone approach and in conjunction with conventional treatment if that is the direction that has been decided upon. In fact, employing these steps will improve the outcome whilst having conventional treatment because we are working with the design and supporting the person as a whole being. I encourage you to explore the concepts discussed here further. Begin to see life with new eyes and look for the patterns. And then work to the design.
Steven Horne’s ABC+D approach to healing charts are available from:
To be engaged by the livingness of nature, the person chosen to walk the green path of healing begins their journey by following the call of a plant. For many, we come to this path through a need for our own healing, and subsequently Veriditas enters into us via whichever plant we first engage with. Along the way our paths are shaped by various plant allies, teachers who remind us of who we are and what we are made of, and where we need to be going. The following account introduces you to one of my plant allies. My power plant if you will. The first account was written a year ago after my first meeting with the plant. The second part explores its nature more deeply and comes from our second, more recent, meeting. A different sort of monograph develops and will continue to develop as I go to sit with it on an annual pilgrimage.
The First Encounter.
“My beloved went down to his garden. To the beds of spices, to feed his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies.” (Song of Solomon 6:2)
There are plants of power that inhabit this world. Some might think of Cannabis or Ayahuasca or Iboga, or any one of the so-called entheogens that alter consciousness and take you on journeys to kaleidoscopic worlds of cosmic awakening. But in truth any plant might be a plant of power. For some, it might be as commonplace as nettle, or dandelion, or daisy. Rather than how many alkaloids, or psychoactive principles a plant may have, a plant’s power perhaps lies more so in where on your journey it meets you, how it speaks to you, and as equally importantly, your receptivity and response to it.
Almost always, the plant draws you to itself first, and capturing your attention, it begins to sing to you. Your receptivity to its song may be a tiny crack in the door, a trepidatious curiosity that looks past the chain and says, “Um, okay. I’m ready.” But are you truly ready? Do you then just lunge at it, ripping its metaphoric shirt off, expecting it to give you everything and when it does you’ve lost your mind, or do you tread carefully, respectfully, fully aware that it wants to teach you to come home to yourself and you must be willing to let it lead?
So, you check yourself, and when you are truly ready, truly receptive, you allow the plant to determine that first move. It begins to gently caress and coax, and whisper of promised ecstasy as it begins to open those parts of yourself that once for whatever reason, you had closed off. And you begin a dance as old as time, entwining serpentine, senses quivering as parts of yourself that had been shut down or closed off and perhaps long forgotten, begin to open and blossom once more. Or perhaps you blossom for the first time. A heady mix of fear and hunger drives you on as the dance gains momentum. Hunger, because your soul longs to feel the exquisite bliss of liberty, to slough off the old skin of stories that no longer serve you, the old belief systems that tie you down. Hunger, as you strive to open to endless possibility. And fear, because you know that in this awakening, old stories will emerge, and their demons must be confronted. And so, as the dance progresses and you allow yourself to surrender completely, you find yourself arriving, climaxing, at the edge of reason, where shadows disperse, the imaginal coalesces with myth, and suddenly – electrically – a brightness engulfs you, and waves of ecstatic freedom ripple, pulse, and throb through your consciousness. A consciousness now merged with the vast ocean of awareness that transcends the mundane world.
You have changed. Deep in your core, once hidden things are now exposed. You may not be aware of what has changed, but you feel different. Something -tangible- has awoken. You feel a little more bold than you did yesterday. A little more confidant. A little more free. The plants work is done. The paradigm has shifted. How you carry on with the energy that was generated is now up to you. How will you live your life from this new starting point?
Or does this make you feel uncomfortable?
I want to linger, just a little
in the land of the lotus eaters
where well-muscled men
caress my soul
and make love to my mind.
Plant medicine is sensory medicine. It asks us to engage our sense perception in our inner, and sometimes outer worlds in order to effect healing. Some plants, like the subject of this story – the Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea caerulea), invite us to awaken and explore our sensuality in and of itself. The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘sensual’ as; relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite.
To be a sensual being – to engage our senses and indulge our appetite, is the first thing we arrive into the world knowing. It defines our experience of the world around us and the level to which we perceive it. As newborns, we have various needs that must be met: nourishment, touch, safety. As newborns, our sensory gating channels, those neural channels by which we receive information about the outside world for processing, are wide open. This is why babies are largely kinetic in their expression. When they encounter something new – a bright coloured ball, dappled light filtering through green summer leaves, the prickly tickly texture of grass on chubby bare feet – their eyes widen in delight or wonderment and their whole body trembles as a result. They may squeal with joy, or draw a long gasp of air, or make some other delighted coo. This is sensuality. In this divorced society, we forget or supress this memory of being, and we tend to equate it only with sexuality, or food (which for some odd reason we have also applied the term ‘sexy’). Yet sensuality is so much more than sexuality. It is so much more than the gratification of the senses. To be sensual is to feel on multiple levels, and to imbue such meaning in our response to this feeling, that others can’t help but notice.
If we turn our attention to the energetic architecture of the body, the sacral plexus speaks to our ability to feel nourished, and therefore to enjoy life. Sitting just below our navel and centred in our pelvis, this energy plexus is the next progression up from our energy centre of survival, security, and feeling protected – our root. When the root is healthy, our next need is to delight in the things that life has to offer because we feel nourished. According to ancient understanding, this sacral emotional energy centre is also associated with pleasure, sensuality, passion, intimacy, connection, and creativity. Passion resides here, for whatever pursuit it may be directed. It is here in its physical cradle that the primal, sensual, sensate being that we once were arose from. I believe that in a healthy, balanced state, this centre for feeling, (and feeling nourished) dovetails with the perception that the heart employs and the depth that it offers to this feeling sense. A heart that gives nourishment must also be nourished. A clear connection between the sacral and the heart is then paramount. Steven Horne equates the sacral plexus with the navel energy centre on the Tree of Life model of energetic architecture. He describes the positive state of this centre as a person being able to feel worthy and deserving of love, of being able to bond with others in long-term loving relationships and feeling confident that one’s physical needs will be met in life. He describes this as the Philia aspect of love (in the Greek definitions of love, this is the familial aspect.) The energy here therefore develops with nurturing, particularly from the mother, and any emotional traumas here such as from abandonment issues can lead to physical issues related to digestion, addiction, infertility and other reproductive concerns.
Returning to this place of sensuality, Steven also describes that people with emotional wounds or blockages in this centre tend to live too much in their head, avoiding the body and physical life. Unfortunately, as the waters have been muddied around this area and sensuality has become synonymous with sexuality, much detrimental conditioning, rigid belief systems, and trauma has caused the sacral centre and the heart to close for many people. For them, only guilt and shame reside here. Their feelings, and their ability to feel, to create, and to be passionate about life has been cut off. Repressed.
Incidentally, in my own personal journey, I fractured my sacrum when I was eleven years old, at a time when I had just begun puberty and the shift in hormones and thoughts around my own sensual experience in the world began to emerge. The impact of the fall also left me with a permanent slight twist to my pelvis. This, along with birth and inherited trauma to the associated energy centre, created several wounds or blockages.
Therefore, do we dare to gently – tenderly – coax it open once more? Do we dare to allow ourselves to feel? To allow ourselves to be nourished and to enjoy life?
Sometimes the universe conspires against you – or perhaps secretly with you, and a plant begins to sing those first ethereal, enticing notes of its siren song. Sometimes this plant might be one that you least expect, and sometimes its reputation precedes it, its song recorded in the annals of antiquity. Nymphaea caerulea,or the Blue Water Lily is such a plant as this.
The ancient Egyptians also succumbed to the Blue Water Lily’s spell. It’s also known as the Sacred Lily of the Nile, being indigenous to the region, and perhaps its first recorded use was by the Egyptians. We see it adorning the walls of their temples and their tombs as a key motif in their artwork. It is a recurring motif in their funeral rites, erotic art, and rituals for healing. In fact, the dried flowers were found scattered all over Tutankhamens mummified body when his tomb was opened in 1922. Across the Atlantic, the Mayans also adopted the water lily into their ceremonial life, and we see it as a recurring motif in their artwork as well. For the Egyptians however, it represented surrender and rebirth. For one who has had the pleasure of swimming amongst these ethereal blooms on a warm Summers day, it is easy to feel why they were so revered. How captivating the scene of bathing amongst the papyrus reeds beneath an azure desert sky with the Lily’s heady scent infusing the air, a beguiling note played on the zephyr. Sublime. This is the Lily’s essence. Relaxing and euphoric. Often described as narcotic in nature, it is not the dull and heavy cold sedative that we might associate with the Opium Poppy and her chemical children so often employed to numb the pain of living in our harsh and cruel world. Nor is it the intoxication of alcohol and loss of self-control. Instead, it is simply a surrender into bliss, a gentle ride on a long and undulating wave of euphoria. A sensual experience that invites us to be who we are on our truest and deepest level. And to release any fear, shame, or unhealthy guilt attached to that. Blue Water Lily simply invites us to be our core essence, our ethereal integrated self. To be reborn.
The element of most obvious association is water, mutable and fluid, with the Blue Water Lily perhaps being one of its most archetypical plants. I really love Keith Robertson and Danny O’Rawe’s description of the qualities of the water element in their book Celtic Herbal Medicine(2018);
“ Water energy is moving and cleansing. Without the Water of Life nothing can grow. Water is a remarkable solvent that should really be a gas at room temperature, but its molecules are bound by light hydrogen bonds and so they follow each other up the capillaries of trees and over waterfalls in a gleeful dance. Water in the body surrounds everything bringing nourishment and taking away waste. It demonstrates its emotional nature by giving us the precious water of human tears. It is centred in the kidneys and the urinary tract but is also associated with fat, our drainage and immune functioning lymphatic system and our sexual life which requires emotional connections and fluid lubrication. If we are unable to let life flow around and through us as it should we can experience problems in these systems.”
This dovetails beautifully with the essence of the Sacral energy centre. From these aspects alone, we can begin to see where the Lily is going to begin its interaction. Interestingly many of the flower essences used for healing the emotional wounds of the sacral/navel energy centre are lilies. Matthew Wood also says that many of the lilies can be used interchangeably when treating issues in these areas.
The Second Encounter.
When I first met the Blue Water Lily, it was during a five-hour swim at a special swimming hole known as the Tea-tree Lakes situated in the sub-tropical climate of northern NSW. As I floated and swam and chatted to my friend who I was with, I kept feeling drawn to go and swim amongst these lilies that shone like jewels in the midday sun. At intervals, I’d breathe in deeply the exquisite fragrance. I drank in the Lily’s essence as it wove its way into my soul, and the most notable effects lasted a full three months after this first beautiful encounter. It inspired the piece written above, and yet I didn’t feel ready to publish it at the time. I still felt stuck, as though I was still seeking to do it justice. So, I began to work with other preparations of the plant over the course of the year. I experimented with drinking a tea made from the dried flowers, and taking drops of a spagyric tincture made from the fresh flowers. But that initial meeting and the stirring it caused within me paved the way for the second meeting not four days ago. And I feel that it had to work through the physical and clear the inherited shame and guilt related to sensuality then in order to reveal the deeper insights which came next.
The insights which followed have come much from observing the Doctrine of Signatures of the plant (that is, ascertaining its tissue and organ affinities or its sphere of action by its appearance and how it appeals to the senses). As the physical healing of the emotional wounds held within the spheres of physical sensuality gave rise to the heart-connection of compassion, this then opened up a higher vibration again, because suddenly I had the eyes to see it. That of the spiritual lessons to be learned and internalised.
“Consider the lilies, and how they grow. They neither toil or spin, and I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these.” (Luke 12:26)
The context of where the plant chooses to grow is as much a part of the Doctrine of Signatures as what the plant looks like, how it feels, how it tastes, how it smells, and how it sounds. In this regard, the Blue Lily that lives within my heart grows in a freshwater lake (a remnant of sand-mining carried out in the region many decades ago) close to the beach, so it has a sandy bed to anchor its roots into. The lake is situated within an indigenous reserve surrounded by groves of Tea-tree (Leptospermum and Melaleuca spp.) – Australian natives, and the lake’s water is tinged a rusty colour because of the tea-tree’s tannins and oils. The tea-tree itself carries many medicinal properties and an interesting history. Many will be familiar with the essential oil extracted from its leaves which has anti-septic and anti-fungal properties, as well as being an uplifting and refreshing scent. The tea-trees are so-called because early settlers used the leaves as a substitute for china tea (Camelia sinensis). The Australian Bush Flower essence of the Peach-flowered Tea-tree (Leptospermum squarrosum) is for people who experience extreme mood swings, who have trouble committing to and following through with various projects due to becoming easily bored, and hypochondriacs. It helps people take responsibility for their own health without being pre-occupied by it.
Even from this brief look at where the lily grows, we see a picture emerging.
The sandy bottom is symbolic of the foundations we ‘build our house on’. Our core values and belief systems, and what we put our trust in. It has been written;
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does them, shall be like a wise man who built his house on the rock, and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not do them, shall be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand, and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the wind blew, and they beat on that house, and it fell, and great was its fall.”
There are two aspects to where the lily puts down its roots that illustrate these words. The first is that in propagating the lily, it needs a soil mix of coarse sand, aged manure, and loamy potting mix. This creates a muddy, nutrient rich mire from which the seed can sprout and begin to send up its leaves and then finally a long upright stem. This mix needs the manure to hold it together or it will break up and the soil will float away when watering. The Lily itself doesn’t like to grow in turbulent or fast-moving water. Perhaps because it knows that it could quite easily get swept away. Once the roots are established though, in a lake, damn or pond, it snuggles in quite contentedly around the waters edge. Where it grows in the tea-tree lakes, the edges of the lake are re-enforced by the roots of the tea-trees, providing some stability, protection, and a foothold in which many of the lilies take root. This dependency is interesting in itself.
Water is usually symbolic of the emotional state of a person. Dreams of turbulent and rough seas often belie some inner emotional turmoil, whereas dreams of still millponds and lakes usually typify satisfaction or contentment around a situation. In this context, the lakes are still and serene. Swimming and floating there is very calming and relaxing, and a very peaceful experience. The lakes are away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation – even that of small country towns. The people who visit sense and respect the serenity, keep to themselves and sitting almost hidden amongst the groves of ti-tree, reveal themselves only to swim in blissful meditation. Occasionally, clothing is optional for some visitors but still a sense of peace and respectful distance pervades.
The water, being tinted with the constituents of the ti-tree is like swimming in a herbal-infused bath. After swimming there, people comment on the softness of their skin and hair, the freshness of their scent. It’s a cleansing experience. The worries and foolishness of the world is washed away.
From here the lilies verdant green round leaves float on the water’s surface, a covering for small freshwater fish, a landing pad for the iridescent dragonflies that dart and hover across the lake, or a shelter for small frogs and other tiny creatures seeking rest. Green is the colour of the energetic heart. It symbolises abundance, fertility, welcome and compassion. The fact that much of the vegetation that covers the planet is green echoes the compassion of Divine providence.
Green stems – sometimes single, sometimes a few, then arise straight and upright from the centre of the plant, with a single bud on each stem that blossoms into the Lily’s most precious jewel – it’s flower. The flower is ethereal, radiant and captivating – in design, to look at and to smell. The purple/blue hue of the petals are symbolic of intuition and spiritual vision – the ability to see both the forest and the trees, and the holographic pattern that sustains all of creation. The petals are arranged in a radiating pattern – like a bright and glorious star that permeates all things, sees all things. The centre of the lily flowers is, quite literally, its crowning glory. The bright white-merging with golden hue of its stamens reflect our crown, where we are infused in the womb with the light of Life and we connect with the Divine. (One could argue that it’s golden yellow centre could also reflect the solar plexus and its representation of intestinal fortitude and core grounding and connection between the spiritual and the physical, and perhaps it has that aspect as well, but my initial sense was of the crown and its openness to the Divine. The pattern of colours invokes a sense of the ethereal rather than the material) It also speaks of our Higher calling, or purpose in life. Again, we see these stamens tipped with the indigo of intuition and spiritual vision. We might also see the merging of male and female in these patterns. The divine expression of both attributes complementing each other.
I had opportunity to meditate on and integrate this deeper, more embodied essence of the Nymphaea caerulea two days ago. Having ventured some 700kms north of our home to sit with the Lily, and catch up with family and friends, my plans for the rest of our visit were thwarted when my car broke down. I was forced to cut my trip a couple of days short, as the car was unable to be fixed by the roadside assistance mechanic and the best option was to have the car towed all the way home. So, during the wait for the initial Roadside Assistance, and then the tow truck, and then the 8-hour journey back home in the cab of the tow truck (thankfully it was air-conditioned) I had ample time to reflect. I realised that the things of the man-made world are foolishness and unstable. The Lily reminded me to rise above this, to wash away my bad attitude and wash away the worries associated with my car breaking down and the initial panic of what I needed to do about it. It reminded me to have compassion for my sixteen-year old son who was my traveling companion and also had his plans to spend time with his friends changed. Above all it reminded me to put my trust in a Higher power, my Creator and God who sustains all, and for some reason allowed this to happen. It allowed me to raise my consciousness. As it turned out, if anything could be gained from the experience, it gave me opportunity to consider the Lily and how it grows, and I gained the vision to see its patterns and its teachings. To me this is true euphoria, because it doesn’t just reside in the sacral/sensual centre, it connects the spirit, the mind, and the body and points the focus back to the Divine to let it guide me and direct me.
The Blue Water Lily is a glorious creation. A beacon of peace, of soul nourishment, and a deep joy, a hope in a turbulent world. Perhaps next year, I shall make a flower essence from it and make it available to all. In the meantime, its scent lingers on my nose, its quintessential nature lives in my heart. The journey continues. I hope that you also have the opportunity to meet with this beauty and infuse your life with its joy.
Nymphaea caerulea (Blue Water Lily, Sacred Lily of the Nile)
Traditional Preparations & Usage: dried flowers steeped in wine. The dried flower smoked. Water infusions of the leaves and flowers. The starchy rhizomes have been traditionally eaten. It is also used as a water purification plant. Used extensively in Ayurvedic and Unani Tibb medicine in digestive disorders, to calm the emotions, as an aphrodisiac, and as a cardiotonic. It has also been used to regulate menstruation, in leucorrhoea and other female discharges. It has also shown anti-microbial and immunomodulating actions and the seeds, flowers and leaves are infused in a topical wash for the treatment of skin infections.
Potential Therapeutic Uses: Researchers in India found in 2016 that the seeds and rhizomes proved effective in controlling the blood glucose and lipid levels in persons suffering from Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Combines well with: rose and damiana (self-nurturing, useful for menopause)