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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I met herbalist Lindsay Wilson when she presented “Restoring Digestive Health,” a day-long workshop at the Organic Growers School’s Harvest Conference near Asheville, NC.

(Photo of Lindsay Wilson courtesy of Luisa Porter, Catfish Alley Magazine)

Her name was already familiar to me. Since publishing The Woman's Belly Book, I continue to delve into the body center's role in every dimension of our well-being. When I was looking into the connection between soil depletion and our ability to replenish the gut bacteria so important to our physical and mental health, I found Lindsay's helpful blog post titled Eat Dirt.

Along with a gastroenterologist and a naturopath, Lindsay figures in Give thanks for beneficial gut bacteria and feed them well, my recently published article in Asheville's weekly newspaper, the Mountain Xpress. "Our gut is a garden," she says, and you can read her suggestions for cultivating that garden here and here.

Now settled in Mississippi, Lindsay lived north of Asheville for several years. I was curious about her connection to Western North Carolina and asked her: What influence has your time in this region made upon the ways you understand and address digestive health?

Her answer details a deepening relationship with the natural world:

I moved to Spring Creek, just outside of Hot Springs, in the Winter of 2009-10. I became the Retreat Manager at a 30-year-old silent, contemplate retreat center called Southern Dharma. While working there, I continued to deepen my interest and awareness around digestive health.

As the retreat manager, I took all of the basic enrollment information from retreat participants. One of the questions asked about food sensitivities or intolerances they had. I was really surprised by all of the various digestive issues people had and that further solidified my interest in digestive health.

After my time there, I worked on a farm near Max Patch for a year or so. I grew a good bit of my food and foraged for greens, berries, and mushrooms as well. Even though I had always had a garden, working with the soil and the land on this scale was eye-opening. I began to have quite a few insights into the nature of our digestive complaints and our disconnection with the basics of life. I began to see that soil work...was indeed...soul work.

Living in the mountains was simply mesmerizing. I charted and took note of what was in season and how that particular food or herb was relevant to health of the body at that time of year. I named certain seasonal phenomena and observed nature because there was no distractions and only time. For example, I started to call the fruiting season the "berry wave," which was a steadily ripening flow of berries from mulberries in the early season to autumn olives in the very end of the season.

Basically, with the stark beauty of the Pisgah Forest, I began to see the impeccable timing of it all. Jessica Prentice's book Full Moon Feast was in my possession and I read it for the third time while living there. Her book was about certain indigenous and traditional cultures that had named the thirteen cycles of the moon.

These names were also connected with seasonal phenomena of a particular bioregion, something I began to call Seasonal Intelligence. I even taught two on-line courses on this, using the framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine and their five seasons and related organ systems. The participants and I met on the phone each season so that I could present a basic framework of how to use food and herbs in a seasonal context.

Living in the mountains was a real boon to my understanding of natural cycles and my place in it all.  I am forever grateful for the experience!

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    She's a terrific teacher. I met her last year at SEWWC.
Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, November 19

The continuing threat of global warming is evaluated. The future of human space exploration is considered. And the American Cancer Society changes its recommendation regarding mammograms. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I Used To Be Transphobic

Recently I have listened and read and watched the Pagan community face transphobia. Again. Denora wrote a summary here and offered the challenge “How will you enact change?”

I wasn't around in previous years. I long to see our Pagan community become a healthy and welcoming place free from transphobia. I have no easy answers but I’ve been encouraged to tell the story of my personal struggle with transphobia. I used to a fundamentalist Christian and that meant also being misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, a creationist, and then some. So I offer here a glimpse of my own struggle and transformation.

I briefly lived in San Francisco, or “sin city” as we called it, with a Christian Outreach group over a decade ago. Someone in said group once warned me not to go to the “wrong side of the Safeway”, beyond which lay the Castro, the place where “the gays” lived their sinful lives. I once crossed over to eat at a Thai restaurant and felt frightened and guilt ridden the entire time.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Love this!!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
SCORPION FAMILY: Being Formidable

An Order (Scorpionida) within the Class of Arachnida, Scorpions are well-known for their predatory and deadly nature. Since the Silurian Period (about 430 million years ago), these Arachnids have lived on the earth. Today, about 2,000 living species of Scorpions are grouped into thirteen families.

Contrary to popular belief, Scorpions do live in places other than hot and dry habitats. People would be surprised to know that these adaptable Arachnids also dwell in inter-tidal zones. Found world-wide (except in Antarctica), Scorpions can live almost everywhere, except for tundra regions. They will make their homes in trees, under rocks, in sand, in caves, and on mountains. Wherever there is a construction site that disturbs their homes, They will find their way into people’s houses to live. Furthermore as commerce expanded world-wide, so did Scorpions. For instance, these Arachnids were accidentally carried in shipments of fruit to England. Now, They can be found in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in the U.K.

People can readily identify Scorpions by their distinctive body shape. The segmented abdomens (opisthosoma) of these Arachnids taper into a curving tail (metasoma) with the stinger (aculeus) at the end. Although They have at least six eyes, Scorpions prefer to navigate by smell and touch. With the tiny hairs on their pincers (chelae), Scorpions can sense an Insect flying by. In addition, They have slits on their legs to pick up vibrations in the air and on the ground. To grab their prey, Scorpions use their strong front claws. Then, They suck liquid out of their prey with their “claw protrusions” (chelicerae) in their mouths. The toothed jaws of Scorpions shred their meal for their stomach to suck in the juices.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Druidry is all about relationship, and you cannot have relationship without some form of communication. It may not always be in words, human to human, but opening those lines of communication helps us to perceive that the world is more than just our own sense of self. When we begin to see that there are other perspectives, other points of view we also come to an awareness that the world is being experienced by each being individually, in a collective state of unity dictated by space and time.

Events around the world this year have shone a spotlight on discordance, in human to human relationship, and in human to other-than-human relationships. Violent attacks, disregard for the environment, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor and more can be attributed to an "Us" and "Them" mentality. When we remove this dualist point of view, and encompass a more holistic approach, we see that what we do to others, we do to ourselves. In Buddhism, it is acknowledged that suffering exists in the world, and that this suffering is caused by the illusion of separation. If we look deeply enough scientifically, anthropologically, and even spiritually we can see that there is more that binds us together than tears us apart.

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Assuming the Mantle: The Lessons of Anne Boleyn

This post by Heather Freysdottir on female sovereignty, and male attempts to erase it from the historical record, reminded me that about a year ago I wrote a related piece (a meaty 7,200 word article) that was published in the Walking the Worlds journal’s very first issue, which focused on ancestor worship. Galina Krasskova approached me to write the piece because she had heard about my work with Queen Anne Boleyn and was curious about the contributions a Christian Queen might make to a polytheist devotional practice. The journal buys one-time rights, with the understanding that after six months all rights to republication would revert to me. I have held the rights since June or July, and because I felt it deserved a wider audience than the people I was able to reach through the journal, I had intended to put it out as a short ebook–but then I got busy with the store and forgot to release it.

And then Heather’s post on forgotten queens (or queens who are remembered for the wrong reasons) reminded me that interest in Anne is growing among polytheist women. True, she was Christian, but her ardent belief in the importance of having a direct and intimate connection with her god (which was a new and startling notion in the 16th century, when she lived) is not so different from our own devotion to our deities. And even more than that, queens are part of our cultural and spiritual inheritance as women; studying examples of female power proves to us that such power is not only possible but within our own grasp–which is exactly why men have tried so hard to hide this evidence. It is beyond tragic that popular culture mostly remembers Anne as a sex kitten; this is one of the ways in which men love to paint clever women who have gotten the better of them, minimizing them by reducing them to the sum of their sexual parts. Anne was a scholar (her father used his clout as French ambassador to arrange for her to have an education mainly reserved for the children of royalty), a better musician than her husband Henry VIII, a good mother to her only daughter (the future Queen Elizabeth I), a devout evangelist, and a champion of the poor. (She wanted the funds from the dissolution of the monasteries to go to health care and food for the underprivileged; the king’s minister Cromwell used them to enrich the royal treasuries instead. Their power struggle over this is partly why he turned against her, and why he felt he HAD to vilify her.)

My ebook discusses why her remarkable life is more important than her violent and horrific death, how she came to matter so much to me, and why she should matter to ALL of us, as polytheist women, godspouses, and spirit workers.  

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Pagan News Beagle: Watery Wednesday, November 18

This week for Watery Wednesday we take a look at Japanese Halloween, Wiccan "churches," and beginner Pagan's book lists.

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