“The Activism is in the Power”
Review of “Let the Weeds Grow:
Herbal Medicine As A Subversive Act”
An intensive given by Susun Weed
at the Green Nations Gathering September 2003
Review by Jan Baxter
I really hoped this two CD set, given its title, would grant me permission to continue avoiding pulling the weeds in my garden plot. I already use my chickweed and lamb’s quarters, but unfortunately, others still creep in and I was feeling like I should be out there “weeding.” Instead, I thought maybe getting permission to grow weeds would be nice. And for that, I turned to Susun Weed!
But I’ll have to look for that permission elsewhere. (Luckily it’s easy to find in Susun’s work!) This CD set isn’t about pulling weeds or not pulling weeds. It won’t give you new and interesting ways to get your hands dirty or teach you how to make an infusion or tell you how to support your liver. But it will help you learn and understand what is at the heart of Susun’s approach to herbal medicine, at the heart of the Wise Woman Tradition. It is about power.
And it is about activism because, as Susun says, “Feeling powerless is the root of all activism.” And herbal medicine—using what the un-enlightened might call weeds—is about “having the power of your own health in your own hands.”
It was in drug counseling with a stepson that I first learned to “let go of the outcome.” A very difficult concept. Surely a healer, though, is all about the outcome, to bring a “patient” (a passive individual) who is “sick” (diseased or injured) to health (lack of disease or injury). But for Susun, the outcome is to help lead a person back to her own place of power, not to a place where she is symptom-free. From that place of power, she can make her own decisions about how to care for her health instead of being invalidated as sick people so often are in our society. And that is truly a subversive act.
Susun explains how health is defined in our society as the absence of illness. But in the Wise Woman Tradition, health means wholeness. If we are whole, we have all of our parts, the daylight and the dark, the happy and the grieving, the dark shadow side as well as the bright sunny side.
In this class, given at the Green Nations Gathering in 2003, Susun explains to a group of like-minded conference goers how to act out of a place of power, even when sick or injured, and how to help lead others to do the same. Susun tells stories of those who remain in their power even when badly injured. I believe these two stories—one about her daughter and one about her cat—are the kind of Susun stories that will stay with me forever. I’ve already been telling them to people. They are powerful and surprising.
She also explains how making and using your own simples instead of purchasing complex herbal formulations made by others helps you to keep your power, and why she sees licensing herbalists and using standardized herbal extracts as dangerous ways to give away your power.
Susun has a knack for stating things that, at first sight, seem to be contradictory but, as you think about them more deeply, are not only true, but also show great common sense. She does that again in this CD when she talks of how women have been taught that being “powerless” is, in fact, “powerful.” Actually, being powerless in this sense removes your responsibility for yourself. Because, of course, if someone else “makes” you take a pill or have a diagnostic test, then you don’t have to be responsible if it doesn’t work. You can simply blame others. This is powerlessness. She speaks of the difference between “Help me,” (because we all need others to work with us sometimes) and “Do me” when we ask others to make the decisions for us.
“We give our power away drop by drop,” Susun says. We don’t notice until we really need it. And then it isn’t there.
I vow not to give my power away any longer, to grow my own motherwort for tincture, to let my weeds grow without seeking anyone’s permission—even Susun’s—and to be as much of an activist in modeling how to claim my own power as I possibly can. Listen to this CD, and you will be inspired to do the same.
“Our bodies are hard wired for perfection. Your body knows nothing but how to be perfect. It doesn’t know how to be broken.”
There isn’t anything that a pill or surgery can do that your mind cannot do. Perfect health is the ground of your being. Go with it. Let go of what is in the way of it.
by Jan Baxter
Herbal Medicine as a Subversive Act - 2 CD set
Susun Weed. Green Nations Gathering 2003.
Herbal medicine is people's medicine. In a time and a place when people feel disempowered about their own health, herbalist Susun Weed encourages us to return to Nature for simple, successful remedies that put health care back in our own hands.
Spend less, consume less, visit the doctor less and be amazingly healthy. That's subversive.
CD1: One hour 2 minutes. CD2: 24 minutes.
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Llewellyn's 2010 Herbal Almanac
Llewellyn's 2010 Herbal Almanac:
Herbs for Cooking and Crafts, Health & Beauty, Growing & Gathering, History, Myth & Lore and it was written by Llewellyn. This edition of Llewellyn's 2010 Herbal Almanac : Herbs for Cooking and Crafts, Health & Beauty, Growing & Gathering, History, Myth & Lore is in a Paperback format. This books publish date is August 2009.
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