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"We have to ask ourselves whether medicine is to remain a humanitarian and respected profession or a new but depersonalized science in the service of prolonging life rather than diminishing human suffering." ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying

Your Daily Biorhythms

Strawberry Lore

I know -- strawberry season is usually thought to be in June or July for us, in the Northern Hemisphere, strawberries are often associated with the menu for Ostara, and the Strawberry Moon is in July.  But air transportation and longer and opposite growing seasons now allow us to have fresh strawberries nearly all year round.  How lucky we are! 

Even a few decades ago, strawberries were a brief and glorious treat.  Those who've tried growing them know that not only do you require patience because there are very few of them for the first year or two, but they are very tasty treats for pests and we must compete with them in order to finally enjoy this wonderful fruit!

There are only about 45 calories in a cup of strawberries, which also supplies more than our requirement of vitamin C.  They also have potassium and are full of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, and antioxidants, which fight aging. Eight medium strawberries a day have been found to provide enough folate, or folic acid, to reduce amino acid in the blood and reduce the risk for heart disease!

Meditating on the little red berry can be as good for the "heart" as eating them!  Native Americans called them the heartberry, and the ancient Norse believed that Frigga hid the souls of babies who died in strawberries to carry them to Valhalla.  They are the perfect fruit, because there is no rind or pit to throw away, and fruit and flower have long been symbolic of love, perfect goodness, and innocence. The strawberry was an Anglo-Saxon symbol for a wanderer, and it is a Christian symbol for Jesus.  The five-petaled strawberry flower makes the plant a perfect pagan symbol, like the pagan five-pointed star. 

There are many websites with info on strawberries as well as delectable recipes using fresh or frozen fruit.  I particularly enjoyed "Wild Strawberry".

Zen For Healing

It is not good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness we recognize the value of health; through evil, the value of good; through hunger, the value of food; through exertion, the value of rest.  -- Greek saying

Often we take for granted just being ordinary. We feel the constant pressure to compete, to excel, and to be special. The fact is most people are average with respect to any particular human characteristic. That is the definition of average. And yet many are not satisfied with the average or ordinary and tend to be discontent and always striving. It is a great relief and healing when you realize that just being ordinary and your ordinary life are wonderful gifts.
When people are ill often they long to return to their ordinary life and to be able to do the things they ordinarily do like climbing a flight of stairs, going grocery shopping, or driving a car. Many times when I have taken care of young people with a serious illness like diabetes they’ve felt sad and frustrated because they had to stick to a special diet and take insulin while all the other kids could eat whatever they wanted and just be normal. They longed to be able to do ordinary things in life like go to school, get a job, get married and have a baby. Many worked very hard to accomplish these goals.

Zen practice helps you full appreciate your ordinary life. With awareness, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. You need to pay attention to what you are doing. Be one with each task, action, or thing. In this way you will discover your true nature and the true nature of each thing will shine through, illuminating everyday life. You will perceive the richness of life and feel blessed just to be an ordinary person.

-- From "Healing Zen" by Ellen Birx on Beliefnet

The Law of Balance is simply a statement for conserving personal energy and achieving the greatest proficiency. One's energy or power level must be kept on an even keel, too much or too little will kill oneself. This energy level is best maintained by avoiding extremes in thinking and action. One must be open minded, able to consider all alternatives, but strong enough to determine one's personal course in life. This requires the right amount of flexibility to be able to examine new ideas or concepts in order to keep the ones which would improve one's life and reject those that would not. In short, one never goes off on deep ends.

The Ancient Art of Medicine

With "roots" that date back thousands of years, the evolution of medicine and drug therapy has come a long way. The beginnings of modern medicine, with its emphasis on the early practices and philosophies of the Greeks, actually stretch back even further, to ancient Egypt. In Egypt, the Goddess Sekhmet was the greatest patroness of physicians and healers, but all the gods and goddesses ruled over some aspect of health. Over time, physicians became quite specialized in Egypt, but while herbs and concoctions of drugs were used to treat pain and disease, the magic of the gods did the actual healing.

The physician to the Gods, the God Thoth, was said to have given forty-two sacred books to humankind, containing all knowledge. Six of those books were said to contain the secrets of medicine. Thoth became identified with the Greeks' Hermes as the Greeks conquered and infiltrated Egypt and her culture.

Hesyre was the first known physician in history, ca 2700 BC. He was the "Chief of Dentists and Physicians" at the time of King Zoser of Egypt in the 3rd dynasty. Imhotep, the best known of all physicians of ancient Kemet, became Vizier to King Zoser. An astronomer, an architect, and a scientist as well as a healer, he was elevated to the status of a god, and temples were erected to honor him. The Greeks identified him with their God of Healing, Asclepias. By the 4th dynasty, some say that Peseshet had become the foremost female physician in the world. She practiced at the time of the pyramids and was titled "Lady Overseer of the Lady Physicians." She supervised a corps of ladies who were qualified physicians, not midwives, and also graduated midwives at the peri-ankh ("house of life" or medical school) of Sais.

"The knowledge of the Egyptian physicians to chemistry was so vast that some would attribute the origin of the word "chemistry" to "Kemet", the ancient name of Egypt. Drugs of different sources were used. Mineral, as sulfur, antimony and zinc were used especially in eye and skin ointments. Animal products, [such] as ox meat and liver as well as more than 160 plants (many still in use) were used in the form of pills, powders or suppositories (rectal and vaginal). Among the common plants used were senna, sycamore, castor oil, acacia gum, mint and linseed. Yeast was used for indigestion and externally for leg ulcers." ~ Sameh M. Arab, MD

In ancient Egypt, night blindness was cured by roasted and crushed ox liver, a rich source of vitamin A. Egyptian doctors knew to adjust dosages according to age in children, and learned the usefulness of enemas from the ibis bird, symbol of the God Thoth, which uses its beak to push water into its rectum to evacuate its bowels. They used minerals, such as zinc, in eye and skin ointments, as it is still used today. They even used onions, radishes, and garlic as health-promoting foods for laborers, all of which are today used in the preparation of drugs.

The Egyptians used light therapy and water therapy and even had an understanding of psychiatric disorders. The great temple at the island of Philae, or Elephantine, was renowned as a center for sleep and dream therapy. Divine healers would interpret the dreams of patients who spent the night in the temple in a kind of religious psychotherapy.

In the 27th dynasty, the medical schools and their libraries were ordered destroyed by the Persian king Darius, in 525 BC. He did this to punish the people because he mistakenly thought that their rejoicing during the harvest festivals, which coincided with his return after military defeat in Upper Egypt, was a mockery of him. He regretted it afterward and had the schools rebuilt, but the loss of the libraries to history was tragic. Other rulers ordered similar acts of destruction on libraries after him. As testimony to the highly organized importance of medicine in Egypt, however, there is a treasure trove of information still in existence. The oldest medical reference is a cuneiform tablet from Mesopotamia, but after the discovery of the Rosetta stone, a wealth of medical history still left to us by the Egyptians has been deciphered.

The rest of this article -- and credits for the articles it is edited and excerpted from -- is archived at the Fellowship of Earth Moon and Sky. Also archived at that link are links and descriptions of on-line alternative and complementary health resources, such as Pranic Healing, Ayurveda, Herbs, Flower Remedies, The Medicine Wheel, Reiki, and Tai Chi.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation is wishing yourself and all other living beings happiness. In other words, you send out thoughts of kindness towards yourself and love and goodwill towards others, including animals. Whatever good things we wish for ourselves, we also wish for everybody else. It is like a song, that you can sing to yourself and to others.

Here is a practice you may like to try:

Sit down or lie down comfortably and close your eyes.

Now turn your attention to yourself and say in your mind: "May I be well, may I be happy."

Then recall in your mind someone very dear to you and say in your mind: "May (s)he be well, may (s)he be happy."

Then recall to your mind your friends and also wish them well: "May they be well, may they be happy."

Next turn your attention to the whole world, to all people around you and say in your mind: "May all people be well, may all people be happy."

Finally turn your attention to the whole world, to all beings around you and say in your mind: "May all beings be well, may all beings be happy."

Finish by saying: "Peace, peace, peace"

-- From Buddhist Studies for Primary Students. Go to the webpage for many more writings and illustrations on this topic.


Lavender Antibacterial Spray

New research is proving that the old folk recipes using herbs and essential oils to kill germs, such as those used by 14th century doctors during the Black Plague, were based on good science. Many essential oils, such as the oils of lavender and thyme, are more antiseptic than phenol, the industry standard. Research is also showing that antibacterial plant oils may not cause drug resistance as could be the case with common chemical disinfectants. The essential oil-based spray, below, leaves a lovely, clean scent. It is a good choice to use for misting your cutting board after use.

Simple Solution: Lightly Lavender Antibacterial Spray

  • 1 cup water
  • 20 drops pure essential oil of lavender

Pour the water into a spray bottle. Add the lavender essential oil and shake to blend. Spray on the surface and let set for at least 15 minutes, or don't rinse at all.

  • Makes: 1 cup spray
  • Shelf Life: Indefinite

Helpful Hints: Look for small, colored (and recycled!) spray bottles at your local hardware store.

Caution: Make sure to never get essential oils near your eyes, or to put them directly on your skin. Make certain to use only clean spray bottles, and ones that have never contained toxic poisons.

  • Note that homemade herbal antibacterial sprays are not registered disinfectants.

-- by Annie Berthold-Bond, Producer, Green Living Channels. More Cleaning Solutions.

Page Contents:
  • Strawberry Lore
  • Strawberries Are Like the Heart
  • Zen for Healing
  • Feng Shui for Health and Energy
  • The Law of Balance
  • The Ancient Art of Medicine
  • Loving Kindness Meditation
  • Lavender Antibacterial Spray
  • More Topics from Science and Spirit

Light a candle for a loved one.
Light a candle for the world.
Light a candle for your self.

Strawberries Are Like the Heart

Hold a ripe strawberry, green stem intact. Say:

"Oh, sweet gift to the Seneca, I admire you. You are shaped like the heart to remind us that we are to live by the heart.

Your flesh is red, to tell us our heats should be moist with blood, never dry and brown and crackly."

-- Adapted from WomanPrayers: Prayers by Women from Throughout History and Around the World by Mary Ford-Grabowsky

We study the seeds on the outside. They are many, to teach us that there are many ways in the world to believe, to understand life. All are worthy of respect.

We finger the leaves, so we keep in mind that we must always stay connected to Mother Earth and appreciate her gifts.

Now, we eat this beautiful strawberry from the bottom up (in silence), relishing the sweet taste. For the last bite we eat berry and leaf together to help us remember life holds bitter tastes with sweet. For all, we keep a thankful heart.

Seneca oral tradition , Native American, recorded by Jose Hobday, on BeliefNet

Thank You for Strawberries

Fields of vegetation now yield their abundance:
Our Mother provided the seed and the nurturing womb of earth;
Our Father gave the spark of life and the warm sun's rays;
And so we have food.

Thank You, Father and Mother,
For giving us food, of endless variety:
The curious shapes; the spectrum of colors;
Aromas that make our mouths water;
Intriguing textures; and oh, the flavors!

Thank You for strawberries!
Like a heart they are shaped,
To live by the heart, we are reminded.
Thank You for giving us taste buds --
You didn't have to do that!

Thank You for all these edible garden pleasures,
Forgive my sometimes greedy appetite!
Today I praise you and ask for the grace
To appreciate the sustenance You give me daily,
To appreciate it so much that I don't need to be greedy.

Makers of everything delicious,
All day long I will notice Your genius and generosity,
and I will honor You with my appetites and my attitude!

So be it!

- Adapted from a Christian Prayer by Heather Kopp, Thank You for Strawberries on BeliefNet

Laughing Buddhas
The Magick of Mirth

Feng Shui for Health and Energy

Feeling a little sluggish lately? Always seem to have a sore back or a runny nose? Perhaps your feng shui needs adjusting.

Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe that to feel good, you must be surrounded by good chi, or energy. The art of designing your environment to enhance your chi is called feng shui (pronounced "fung shway"), and it can be practiced in every room, building, office, neighborhood, even your desktop. Although the ideas that follow may sound mystical to those who are unaccustomed to the notions of chi, and yin and yang, feng shui—which literally means wind and water—has its origins in the earliest Taoist traditions of ancient China.

Alive, Connected, and Changing

There are three basic tenets of feng shui: Everything is alive, everything is connected, and everything is changing. And it begins with the basic structure of your home. The placement of doors and windows can mean the difference between chi that is fresh and alive with energy, or stale and damaging. A room can have too much yin, or negative energy, if it has been unoccupied and dirty for a long time; cleaning, bright lights, and uplifting music can, literally, clear the air. Happy sounds are always an effective antidote to bad energy.

According to feng shui, every object, space, and living thing has chi.

"The better the quality of chi coursing through a thing, the healthier, more vibrant, or more beautiful that thing is," according to Patricia J. Santhuff, who often writes about the relationship of chi to health. "When our bodies are experiencing low or blocked chi, we experience fatigue or, if over an extended period of time, are more prone to develop health problems." The goal is to protect against negative energies and welcome those that bring health and longevity.

Start With the Bedroom

One of the most important places for practicing good feng shui is the bedroom, where it's easy to allow the energy to be "too yin," with lack of sunshine and fresh air—a combination that creates stagnant chi and can manifest itself in illness. Here's how the set-up of your bedroom can help your chi:

Sleeping in a room located at the end of a long hallway can cause the flow of energy in that spot to be too strong and can cause poor health.  If possible, a bedroom door should not open directly onto a bathroom, and a bed should never be placed against a wall that is shared by a toilet.

Bedroom doors should also not open onto a staircase, which could allow bad chi to enter the room, or face the corner edge of another room, which can block chi and cause circulatory problems.  Any bedroom that has been occupied by someone who was ill, should get a good airing, bright light, and a fresh coat of paint to create a burst of positive, yang energy.

Placement of the bed is equally important. Here are some taboos offered by Lillian Too in her book, Feng Shui Fundamentals: Health (Element Books Limited, 1997):

Never sleep with a mirror facing the bed. "A mirror in the bedroom is one of the most harmful of feng shui features—[as it] creates health problems connected with the heart. Mirrors above the bed are equally harmful."

A television counts as a mirror because it also reflects; if you must have a TV or mirror in the bedroom, cover it when it's not being used.

Never sleep with a water feature behind your bed. A painting of a lake or waterfall—or, worse yet, an aquarium—has the same effect on the heart as a mirror.

Never sleep with the sharp edge of a corner pointed at you. The sharp edge of a corner is a deadly form of poison arrow that brings the "killing breath." Use furniture to disguise the sharp edge.

Never sleep under an exposed overhead beam. If the beam is directly over your head, you may suffer from migraines and headaches. If it crosses at chest level, you can usher in problems with the heart, lungs, and other respiratory problems.

Beams are not a good feng shui feature in any room.

The Kitchen

Kitchens, too, are important places to practice feng shui for health. If your kitchen directly faces a bedroom, for instance, your home's yin (bedroom) and yang (kitchen) energies could clash and bring continuous illness to family members. Nor should the kitchen door be in a straight line from either the front or back door; good energy shoots through the home without dispersing, resulting first in "annoying illness," Lillian Too writes, then progressing to more serious misfortune. Solve this layout by hanging a mirror on one of the outside doors so positive energy will not leave so quickly.

Directions for Good Chi

Many feng shui books (including Too's) contain tables that help readers calculate the "best health direction" for their homes. The stove should always point in that direction (as should the head of the bed). The stove, which symbolizes the fire element in feng shui, should never be located next to the sink—which would bring a clash of the fire and water elements—and should never sit in the northwest area of the room, which would be tantamount to "setting fire to heaven's gate."

"This is because the trigram chien, which stands for heaven, the source of all good luck, rules the northwest," Too warns.

"Placing a cooker there will [set] fire to the source of good luck energy."

Feng Shui Everyday

Cleaning up clutter can help you relax, and oiling doors so they don't squeak can reduce irritation. Patricia Santhuff has some tips for when you "need an extra boost of energy for a particular project, or are having trouble decluttering:"

Add a windchime in the room or over the work area and ring it now and then. Some feng shui practitioners say windchimes foster clarity and creativity.

  • Vacuum and dust. This not only removes dirt; it actually freshens the chi.
  • Play some uplifting music.
  • Bring a desktop fountain into the area.
  • Energetically treat the room by using rattles or clapping, especially in corners and closets.

We should remember, too, that people—as well as spaces—need fresh chi in order to feel good and perform well. A few suggestions for raising personal chi:

  • Create something.
  • Clean your house, or just a drawer.
  • Call a friend (but don't complain!).
  • Buy fresh flowers for yourself.
  • Cancel a commitment you're sorry you made.
  • Explore some part of your city or area you're not familiar with.

And don't forget the old standbys for feeling better, because they still work:

  • Take a walk.
  • Do deep breathing.
  • Meditate.
  • Take a hot bath.
  • Eat well.

-- by Mary Mihaly, on Beliefnet


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