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FULL CIRCLETHE SEGUE FROM ANCIENT CELTIC MEDICINE TO MODERN-DAY HERBALISM AND THE IMPACT THAT RELIGION/MYSTICISM/MAGIC HAVE HAD
By Laura Veazey
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Laura Veazey
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Journey Begins
Modern-day herbalism has its roots in many facets of history. Though herbs have been used medicinally throughout time, I have focused efforts on seven (7) areas of herbal medicine for research, comparison, and contrast:
Celtic herbal history (inclusive of healers);
Native American medicine;
20th and 21st Century herbalism in America, focusing primarily in the South.
I have endeavored to connect each facet, as with a dream catcher, therefore bringing the past to the present. Additionally, the role of magic, religion, and mysticism, and the subsequent impact and influence that they have had through the ages, will be addressed. Through this book, it is hoped that you will articulate why modern-day herbalism has struggled in some instances, and in other instances, has become a successful means of healing.
In the American Indian culture, there is a tool called the Medicine Wheel. It is a circle divided into four (4) segments, with each segment attending to the four (4) components of the human make-up.
The American Indian medicine wheel will be used as a map to guide the research in each facet, thus breaking components into four (4) areas:
Each of these facets has been affected immensely through history and lent a hand to wellness and disease issues. Each facet reveals how each person has been affected by risk factors, thus allowing for unhealthy living skills, then, what communities can do to help alleviate those risk factors and bring the wheel into balance, thus promoting a healthy life circle.
Herbalism has been used throughout history, though, for the purposes of this book, focus will begin with Ancient Celtic medicine and move forward to modern-day herbalism. Research will be undertaken to show the degree to which it was/is used, as well as what, if any, impact religion/mysticism/magic has had on herbalism.
Religion, mysticism, and magic have played a significant role in herbalism throughout time. The ancient Celts and druids, in particular, used mysticism and magic as a means of control over individuals.
Druids played an immense role in the lives of Celts and in Celtic society as a whole. In ancient Ireland, druids were broken down into three classes: Bards, Ovates, and actual Druids. A bard (keepers of history; writers, poets, and musicians) could actually make or break an individual through his expertise and opinion in verbal or written prose or song. The Ovate (sorcerers, mystics, and/or healers), was a dangerous one; a soothsayer or seer; one who made potions, devised omens, and attended to rituals and sacrifices. The third class were those who were actually classified as Druids. They were of the highest order of healer, teacher, philosopher, and/or lawyer. They were those who were the keepers of knowledge, history, laws, and traditions. They were given ultimate authority in all matters whether they be sacred or everyday.
The druids held themselves to be even above royalty. In fact, kings throughout history have been known to go nowhere without a druid by their side. Druidic priests have been known to call themselves the creators of the universe, so had been given the ultimate in respect and admiration, coupled with a fair amount of awe and fear.
Their power was incredible and level of knowledge vast. That knowledge was learned over as much as a twenty-year apprenticeship and was passed on and taught by word-of-mouth.
Druids were the keepers of traditional wisdom, thus enabling them to be accomplished in such tasks as dream interpretation and through the interpretation of ritual questions. It also helped in the construction of calendars, which were based on seasonal changes and feast days.
The druidic concern with moral philosophy made the priests very skilled at being judges. As judges, they were tasked with doling out punishments and rewards; the punishments ended many times in human sacrifice. Those sacrifices were sometimes public, an appeasement to the gods, or in private and perhaps as a means of correcting a perceived wrong, such as cowardice in the face of battle. They were typically done for religious and/or spiritual purposes. Some sects even practiced flesh-eating and considered it to be a wholesome remedy for particular ailments.
Celtic healers were both male and female. The Ovates were considered to be the druidic native healers and specialized in healing through the application of natural remedies, and the use of plants, herbs, and trees; working with the four elements; and at times, acting in an ancient version of modern-day psychotherapists.
Wicca is an off-shoot of the Celtic/Druidic tradition. It is based on belief in female deities and has a strong affinity for working with nature and the elements in rituals and healing, as well. Additionally, they believe in the "fey," also known as the faerie-folk.
What is known as American Indian medicine is a combination of both religion and medicine. Plants and herbs have been used to heal and in ceremony for thousands of years. Those plants and herbs have been used ritualistically and with magic and through the use of a medicine man/ woman or medicine priest(ess). The medicine man has been known through many more titles: doctor, man of magic, healer, diviner, and/or person of mystery.
This form of medicine, and in fact, the whole culture and way of life is built around putting one back into balance and harmony. Minor injuries or ailments are typically treated with herbal remedies using the "like cures like" (equated with the Doctrine of Signatures) concept. When there is no relief, the medicine person turns to the supernatural to explain and/or, bring relief.
Voodoo is a religion which began in West Africa, whereupon, slaves took with them to Haiti. It then came to the United States, primarily located in Louisiana. It combines elements of Roman Catholicism, such as having adopted the names of Catholic saints and using some of the Catholic traditions such as prayers, inclusive of the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, baptism, and using the sign of the cross.
Charms, potions, and amulets have many uses; poisons, healing, and protection. Trees, plants, and herbs are used along with other elements to make them. Magic, fear, and superstition are primary tools of a Voodoo priest or priestess.
Modern-day herbalism saw a decline in the 1950's, when an allopathic mentality took hold. Prescriptions of all sorts (ex., antibiotics, diet pills, tranquilizers, etc.) became quick-fixes. However, in the Appalachian region, herbalism and natural healing was and is a continuous part of the culture.
Though a majority of individuals in the area align themselves as Christians, there is a term used to identify the Appalachian culture and that is "Appalachian magic." Many of the original settlers in the area were from Ireland, so much of the magic, superstition, and beliefs came with them and were passed on to future generations. Obviously, the knowledge and use of herbs and plants for healing, potions, charms, and curses was passed on, as well. Faith-healing, witchcraft, snake-religion, Wicca, and Indian medicine are all considered to be bit and part of that culture, even today.
Definition of Terms
Throughout this book, several terms are used to describe terms associated with naturopathy and healing, especially as quoted from existing literature. However, for consistency of language, ease of understanding, and readability within the text, these terms have been employed as they are in conversational language or professional dialogue.
For consistency of interpretation, the following terms are defined as they are used in this research:
Celtic-"Abranch of the Indo-European family of languages, including esp. Irish, Scots gaelic, Welsh, and Breton, which survive now in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, Wales, and Brittany." (http:// dictionary.reference.com)
Christianity-"The Christian religion, based upon belief in Jesus as the Christ and upon his teachings" (http://www.yourdictionary.com).
Doctrine of Signatures-"The concept that the key to humanity's use of various plants was indicated by the form of the plant. The red sap of the bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), for instance, was believed to cure diseases of the blood, while the fused leaves of boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) were used to heal broken bones. The concept was employed by the herbalists of the Renaissance, and was accepted until the latter part of the 19th century" (http://education.yahoo.com).
Druid-"A member of a literate and influential class in Celtic society that included priests, soothsayers, judges, poets, etc. in ancient Britain, Ireland, and France" (http://www.yourdictionary.com).
Gaelic-"Of or pertaining to the Gaels, a Celtic race inhabiting the Highlands of Scotland" http://www.wordnik.com/words/Gaelic.
Healer-"A healer is someone who purports to aid recovery from ill health" (http://www.wordiq.com/definition).
Herbalism-" Western herbalism is a form of the healing arts that draws from herbal traditions of Europe and the Americas, and that emphasizes the study and use of European and Native American herbs in the treatment and prevention of illness" (http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com).
Magic-"The use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces" (http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/magic).
Medicine wheel-"The Native American medicine wheel was used for healing almost any illness. The Native Americans believe that the basis for most illnesses is spiritual, and focused on treating the source of the problem rather than symptoms. The medicine wheel focuses on balance and how everything is connected. The Native American Medicine wheel consists of four sections with four colors representing certain properties. The colors are Blue, Red, Green and White representing the North, South, East and West, and each section has a different aspect connected with it a certain animals" (http://www.indians.org/articles/nativeamerican-medicine-wheel.html).
Mysticism-"Vague or ill-defined religious or spiritual belief, especially as associated with a belief in the occult" (http://www. oxforddictionaries.com).
Native American medicine-"According to Ken "Bear Hawk" Cohen, "Native American medicine is based on widely held beliefs about healthy living, the repercussions of disease-producing behavior, and the spiritual principles that restore balance." These beliefs are shared by all tribes. However, the methods of diagnosis and treatment vary greatly from tribe to tribe and healer to healer" (http://www.altmd.com/Articles/Native-American -MedicineEncyclopedia-of-Alternat).
Religion-"A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs" (http://dictionary. reference.com/browse/religion.
Superstition-"A belief, practice, or rite irrationally maintained by ignorance of the laws of nature or by faith in magic or chance" (http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary).
Voodoo-"A religion practiced chiefly in Caribbean countries, especially Haiti, syncretized from Roman Catholic ritual elements and the animism and magic of slaves from West Africa, in which a supreme God rules a large pantheon of local and tutelary deities, deified ancestors, and saints, who communicate with believers in dreams, trances, and ritual possessions" (http:// www.thefreedictionary.com/voodoo).
Witchcraft-"a: the use of sorcery or magic b: communicationwiththe devil or with a familiar 2: an irresistible influence or fascination" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witchcraft).
Linkage to Traditional Naturopathy
Herbalism has been used throughout history. Naturopathy, as a holistic approach to healing, has herbalism as one of its tenets.
"Naturopathy is a philosophy which encompasses a view of life, a model for living a full life. The word naturopathy is a Latin-Greek hybrid which can be defined as 'being close to or benefiting from nature" (Classical Traditional Naturopathy Information on the Art and Science of Natural Health and Wellness, 2011, p.2)
"The roots of naturopathy are found in the ancient Greece of Hippocrates, who recognized and wrote about the healing power of nature. As a specific discipline, naturopathy is related to the European nature cure, which evolved during the 19th Century. Begun as a result of observing the healing effects of nature, these methods use fresh air, sunlight, water, diet, exercise, and rest to promote health.
Benedict Lust, a German immigrant who is recognized as the father of American naturopathy, first came to the United States in 1892 at age 20. Lust (pronounced "Loost") initiated a movement that he later named naturopathy, which he described as "first instruction, then inspiration, and ultimately growth." From the beginning, naturopathy has been deeply concerned with lifestyle.
The basic tenet of naturopathy is that human life is governed by the same self-regulating, self-repairing forces that care for all living things. Its methods are natural in that they utilize readily available resources such as food and water, but do not require specific products. The traditional naturopath, or naturopathic consultant, can assist clients with identifying the improvements in daily lifestyle that would support the body in self-healing" (Clayton College of Natural Health, 2010, para. 1).
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians defines Naturopathic Medicine as "a distinct system of primary health care—an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles which underlie and determine its practice. These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances. Methods used are consistent with these principles and are chosen upon the basis of patient individuality. Naturopathic physicians are primary health care practitioners, whose diverse techniques include modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods" (The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, 2010, para. 1).
Chapter TwoIntroduction of Related Literature and Research
The Native American medicine wheel has been used for centuries as a means of defining the different stages of life. As depicted, it is a circle, as in the circle of life with a cross in the middle (also used by St. Patrick in his conversion of Celtic pagans to Christianity).
In the Native American Indian culture, the cross actually points to the four directions and those directions signify specific states of the human being; spiritual at the north, emotional to the east, physical in the south, and intellectual in the west. Please note that instead of moving in what is termed a Eurocentric pattern and also the direction one uses in making the sign of the cross (north, south, east, west). Indians follow the direction of the sun. The direction of this study will be in using the medicine wheel to break down each of the components presented.
Bonwick (1894) described druids as being "spiritualistic conjurers, dealers with bad spirits, and always opposing the Gospel." He also depicted their role in time as being "evil spirits" and equated them as magicians.
The ancient Celtic society was entrenched in myth, magic, and medicine. Klemens (2008) describes in great detail the impact that druids (shamans and shamankas) had, especially in herbal/natural medicine, as well as in the healing arts and magic. In speaking about druid magic, he describes their use of the four natural elements and corresponding compass points and colors (closely related to the Native American medicine wheel).
Winston (1992) describes Cherokee medicine as being a "system of medical/spiritual knowledge and practices that developed over the last 3,000-4,000 years." In his article, he discusses herbal medicine; physical medicine; dreamwork; language/myths/laws; ceremonies; and the laws of nature. Additionally, he discusses the medicine priest's knowledge and the holistic perspective held by the Cherokee people.
Barish (2010) wrote about Appalachian healthcare in remote communities. He wrote about the unique features of such communities. Among those were "faith healing, including prayer, and family-taught remedies being the most commonly used complimentary and alternative medicine modalities."
Excerpted from FULL CIRCLE by Laura Veazey Copyright © 2012 by Laura Veazey. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsList of Tables....................vii
List of Figures....................viii
Preface Full Circle: A Segue....................xiii
I. The Journey Begins....................1
Definition of Terms....................8
Linkage to Traditional Naturopathy....................11
II. Introduction of Related Literature and Research....................14
III. Celtic and Druidic History....................23
V. Celtic Women as Healers....................32
VII. Native American....................43
VIII. Appalachian Medicine....................54
IX. Full Circle....................73
X. Conclusions, Implications, and Recommendations for Further Research....................84