Thursday, January 14, 2010


What's For Dinner?

Food problems for many people today, and for most people who lived before us, are more about getting enough to eat than about what to eat. But those who have access to, and can afford, any food any time of the year, have become almost obsessed with discerning the right choices from the many types of nourishment offered by the Fourth River of Healing. In fact, advice on what to eat and how to exercise are multi-billion dollar industries in America at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

The Wise Woman Tradition has no rules, so we are free to eat whatever we wish. But too much freedom can be frightening. To narrow my choices, I looked at historical food choices worldwide, reviewed scientific analyses of nutrients in foods, and kept a firm focus on health as wholeness.

The best diet, I decided, is one that contains as much nourishment and as many choices as possible that are sacred, whole, abundant, seasonal, fresh, accessible, local, varied, wild, and storied.

Abundance includes consuming abundantly, and consuming that which is abundant. We increase health when we breathe abundantly, when we drink an abundance of water, when we enjoy an abundance of loving support, when we eat what is abundant in our environment, and when we ingest the wholeness of the world in each moment.

When we consume that which is abundant, rather than that which is scarce, we satisfy ourselves without guilt, blame, or shame, increasing our health even more.

Abundance gives rise to generosity. Abundance creates safety, security, and ease. We crave abundance, so we contrive it. We process and refine foods, add fake flavors, false colors, and preservatives. Is it any wonder that such food, eaten in abundance, creates disease/distress/death? Real food is unrefined, unprocessed, unbleached, unpreserved, unenriched, and when eaten in abundance creates health/wholeness/holiness.

Seasonal nourishment is in synch with the rhythms of the Earth. It helps us change with the seasons. Since out of season produce is often more heavily sprayed, choosing food that is seasonal protects our health by reducing the chemicals we consume. And it protects the health of the Earth because it reduces the amount of fuel required to transport and keep the food.

“ Ninety-eight percent of [tomatoes] sold in January, February, and March are from Mexico. . . . they are picked green, gassed to turn them red, transported in refrigerated trucks, and kept in refrigerated distribution centers.”
Vince Staten (1993)

Fresh is just picked, tender, intimate, and vital. Fresh is ripe, tasty, and nutritious. Fresh is full of nuances and subtleties. Fresh is bubbling with life force. In the Fourth River we breathe fresh air, drink fresh water, have fresh experiences, entertain fresh thoughts, and eat fresh food .

Fresh is in the moment: flours ground fresh, nuts freshly roasted, oils freshly pressed, vegetables and fruits harvested ripe, fish just caught.

Fresh is not raw. Cooked foods, fermented foods, dehydrated foods, even frozen and canned foods are fresh. (Because fresh produce rots on the way to market, it is picked green and may not develop its full array of nutrients. Produce grown for commercial canning or freezing however is allowed to ripen fully and picked at its peak of flavor, nutrition, and freshness.)

Accessible is free. That which is most nourishing to the health/wholeness/holiness of all is usually easy to get, free to everyone, and easily accessible. Scarcity, expense, and remoteness appeal to us, intrigue us. We are more curious about the rare thing than the common thing.

Strengthening and feeding ourselves with what is accessible from nature is easy, free, unhindered. Available, reachable, understandable. The glass become s half full. Weeds are powerhouses of nutrition, not enemies to be destroyed. Problems are allies of wholeness.

Local refers to a locus, a place. When we strengthen and feed ourselves from what is accessible it is usually local. When we locate ourselves within a family, the Fourth River brings us stories, photos, mementoes, sap rising up from ancestral roots. When we locate ourselves at a place on the Earth, even if only for a short while, the Fourth River brings us health in local weeds, legends, sacred spots. When we locate ourselves within ourselves, the Fourth River brings us home to ourselves.

Variety is more than the spice of life. Life is variety. We are stronger and more nourished when we use a variety of exercises and foods. Confining ourselves to narrow choices or limiting our diet by avoiding any whole food almost a lways leads us to malnourish ourselves. While there is not much harm in following a restricted diet for a few weeks or months, eating by severe dietary rules of any kind erodes health/wholeness/holiness.

We are omnivores, willing and able to eat an enormous variety of foods. Our early ancestors ate about 2000 different foods. Dr. Weston Price traveled the world observing native diets; he found that those who ate the most varied diets lived longest and had the fewest degenerative diseases. The Hopi cultivate hundreds of kinds of corn, while most twenty first century Americans eat only one hundred different foods.

Add variety by eating seaweed: try arame, hijiki, kombu, wakame, sea palm fronds, dulse, nori. Add variety by eating more beans: try black lentils, orange lentils, anasazi beans, split peas, pinto beans, lima beans. Add variety by eating whole grains: try brown rice, kasha, millet, quinoa, teff. Add variety by eating wild berries and wild greens: try dandelion leaves, chickweed or miner's lettuce, wild onions, mallow and violet leaves. Home gardens, ordinary vacant lots, even the pots of houseplants, offer us an enormous variety of edible weeds.

Wild food is our original food. Uncultivated, it is nature's gift to us. The nutrients in wild foods trigger cellular memories of health/wholeness/holiness. Even a bite of wild food (on a daily basis) has a profound effect on wellbeing and health. Wild foods are holographic and complex; they resonant in the whole body, reconnecting us to health and flexibility. Wild foods grow where and when they wish. Eating them opens our senses and nourishes the part of each one of us that is wild.

The nutrients in wild foods are more biologically active at the cellular receptors than the nutrients in cultivated food (yes, even organic foods). We’ve been co-evolving with wild plants for hundreds of thousands of years. Our cells, our bodies, our spirits, know how to u se the strength and nourishment found in wild foods to create optimum health for us.

Green Blessings, Susun Weed

Friday, January 1, 2010


What Are the Seven Rivers?

Whether we see ourselves as body-machines, dirty temples, or ever-changing perfection, we all want and need help with healing injuries, illness, and deviations from our healthy norm. But with a limitless number of techniques to choose from, not to mention a multitude of practitioners, how do we choose? Who can we trust? What do we do? The Seven Rivers of Healing give structure to our quest for health.

The Wise Woman Tradition encourages us to make use of every healing option. But we can't use them all at once. Where do we start? How can we gauge what is most appropriate? How can we avoid harming ourselves in our attempts to heal/change? The Seven Rivers of Healing is a ranking system, a way to order our choices and determine what to do first.

The Seven Rivers of Healing contain all the techniques and all the substances used for healing throughout all times and all places. They flow from the most ancient past to the inconceivable future, collecting every method of healing ever known and bringing them to us today. They apply to all aspects of our beings, all parts of our wholeness: physical, emotional, mental, symbolic, and sacred.

The Seven Rivers of Healing connect orthodox and alternative medicines. Their flow represents a truly complementary approach to health care. One that can carry us on the magic carpet of science into the Great Mystery. One that allows all people to honor their individual beliefs about life and death and what we do in between. One that honors the interconnectedness of all. One that helps us in our search for completeness and in our desire to leave the world a healthier place for our children and grandchildren.

The Seven Rivers of Healing offer us a truly integrative approach which invites the hard-nosed realist to try out energy approaches and brings the shaman into the operating theater. It arose, in part, from my distress over the lives lost by those who believed that modern medicine can only do harm. It arose, in part, from my distress over the damage done to those who believed that modern medicine can do no harm.

The Seven Rivers of Healing is a pattern based on the recognition that we can be harmed by that which claims to heal us. The Seven Rivers of Healing affirms that all forms of healing do work -- but not that they are all always safe or beneficial. The flow of the Seven Rivers of Healing follows the most important precept in healing: "First, do no harm."

The Seven Rivers of Healing are not limited to any one tradition. Whether you are most comfortable in the scientific tradition, the heroic tradition, or the Wise Woman Tradition, flowing with the Seven Rivers of Healing will broaden your vision of health and increase your healing options. For the purpose of this book, however, I will frame my discussion primarily from the viewpoint of the Wise Woman.

First, Do No Harm

Every healing option, every method and material has its place in The Seven Rivers of Healing. They are arranged in the Rivers according to the frequency and severity of their harm, including unwanted side effects. Thus, the First River carries healing options that never cause any harm. The Second River carries options that may occasionally cause very mild harm. The Third River carries options that may, at times, cause some slight harm.

The Fourth River carries options that sometimes cause moderate harm. The Fifth River carries options that always cause some moderate harm but rarely death. The Sixth River carries options that always cause moderate harm and can sometimes kill. The Seventh River carries options that always cause harm and frequently cause grave harm or death.

Techniques, treatments and diagnostic procedures from the first four Rivers, when properly used, rarely cause harm and rarely have detrimental side effects. (If they do, the effects are usually mild and short-lived.) Techniques, treatments and diagnostic procedures from the last three Rivers, even when carefully and properly administered, almost always cause some harm, sometimes severe harm, as a consequence of their use. In addition, they usually have unwanted side effects that can be severe and long lasting.

Interaction with our physical being increases as we move through the Seven Rivers. In the First River, we are alone: not so much as the gaze of another person touches us. In the Second River, we open our minds: thoughts and ideas enter us, hands touch us lightly. In the Third River, we open our senses: vibrations, sounds, colors, and subtle energies move around and through us.

In the Fourth River, we open our mouths and take substances into our bodies: we move ourselves vigorously, circulating fresh blood deeply into our open and receptive cells. In the Fifth River, we enlist the aid of strong touch, powerful plants, even acupuncture needles to help us open and change. In the Sixth River, we disable or ignore our natural warning systems so we may ingest isolated, synthesized substances (drugs and supplements) which have powerful actions on our bodies and minds.

In the Seventh River of Healing, we are opened with knives, entered with needles and tubes, opened with radiation, penetrated with magnetic fields, altered with psychoactive allies.

Not only are we more at risk because we are more open (and more opened)--physically and mentally, emotionally and psychically--as we move from the first to the last River of Healing, but we are also more at risk because the currents of each successive River flow deeper and faster, sweeping us toward our goal with more and more force and urgency.

Each River increases the reality of the life/death struggle/union. In the first two Rivers, we encounter the thought of death, we learn about it. In the Third River of Healing we dream of death, we fear death. In the Fourth River we acknowledge that death is needed to feed life. In the Fifth River we are rescued from death by strong medicines and heroic measures. In the Sixth River, we brush death's shoulder, using poisons for their healing power. In the Seventh River we mimic death with anesthesia. We break ourselves into pieces. We are killed and returned to life. Or not. All Rivers return to the ocean, to the All, to the Void.

Each River can take us to the healing we want. Each River alone could be enough to create the health we seek. But when we understand and use them all, sequentially, going only so far as we need to gain health/wholeness/holiness, then we find ourselves healing in unimaginable ways. With the Seven Rivers of Healing to guide us, we can remember the playful child we once were and explore our healing options with a light and amused heart.

Green Blessings,
by Susun Weed



Have you ever felt amazed and overwhelmed by all the different approaches to healing available to you?

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The newest work makes sense of the many differing approach to healing available to you.

The symbolic model of the Seven Rivers of Healing helps you place every method--from orthodox to traditional, meditation to medication, Reiki to surgery--into its appropriate place, discovering how and when it is useful.

Refreshingly, Weed does not ignore or vilify any technique, or try to present any one way as the only right way for everyone.

Instead she provides a route you can travel to find a path back to the healthy norm that is the essential you.

Like many world-changing ideas, your central belief seems obvious once pointed out: The best way back to your healthy norm is to use the safest methods first. Then, if needed, move on to more potent procedures that might cause harm along with their healing.

The Seven Rivers of Healing provides the information you need to find deep healing by returning home, returning to the source.

Whether or not you are currently facing an acute or chronic problem, Seven Rivers of Healing will provide you with life-changing, and maybe even life-saving, information.

Seven Rivers of Healing
46 week self-study course
By Susun Weed

To be continued-