Our Mother Earth is a very special being. She provides for all our basic needs and she comforts us if we let her. During my two week sabbatical with her, after the death of my younger brother, I explored the surrounding woods and old home sites on a large acreage of land 45 minutes away from the closest town; and there I found my first wild medicinal and edible plants. It was the first time in my life that art wasn’t my only goal, my every waking thought. One time I even dream I pooped different colors of paint. So seemingly painting was even in my dreaming life. I was becoming internationally known at the time and I was fixing to let it go.
During my stay in the woods I became one with Mother Earth and she soothed my aching, broken heart. My younger brother was like my twin spirit. His death pulled the rug right out from under my world. I was wounded and angry. I shouted to God, “Is this all there is to life!” I demanded. My brother had finally found his high school sweetheart. Their young son was only 6 months old. Finally, I felt my brother had found true happiness. As I walked down the old dirt road to the cabin I noticed a Hawk feather in front of me remembering the hawk sitting on the telephone line observing us the day we laid my brother to rest.
My brother always tried to tell me about the magic in life…be it information about plants or stones…he was a geologist. I’d always shrug and tell him I’d ask him about it if I ever needed the info. Now I would never be able to do that. So I dug up wild plants and potted them up to take home with me. It kind of felt like a way that I could still connect to him somehow.
After the two weeks were up, my husband, Lloyd came to pick me up in his truck. It was kind of funny. When he showed up so did a black hunting dog. As we started packing we left the cabin door open, which led through to another door, out to a pier. The black dog just walked right through and out to the pier like he belonged there.
Lloyd asked if we had any aspirin or anything because he had a splitting headache.
“Of course not.” I replied
“Well, I might have to drive to Troy to get something.” He sighed. Troy was 45 minutes away. He was looking at an hour and a half drive on top of the hour he’d just driven.
“I found a plant named Yarrow. It’s supposed to be good for headaches. You want me to make you a tea?” I asked enthusiastically.
“Ohm. You sure it’s yarrow?” He asked skeptically.
“Well I think so. I tell you what, I’ll make us both a tea and if it’s poisonous at least we’ll die together.” I said cheerfully.
“Alright then.” He replied.
For some reason it seemed okay to him as long as we were to die together. We had not been married long and he is my other best friend. So I went about making a tea as best I could. I boiled some water and put some of the plant along with some mint in the cups. I wasn’t sure what it would taste like, but I figured the mint would make it taste better. And so we drank our tea and went back to packing up the truck.
About 20 minutes later he shouted, “Gina!”
“What? You okay? Are you dying?”
“No, my headache is completely gone!” He grinned.
Whew! Hum. That was pretty easy. It didn’t require the hour and half drive, nor the gas, nor the expense. It took a few minutes to make and 20 minutes to work. That looked like a miracle to me!
God was already starting to show me that there is way more to life than I ever suspected.
When we got ready to the leave, the black dog, barked, “Ruupert!”
It meant “Can I go with you?”
So Lloyd looked at him and with a flick of the hand, said, “Load up.”
And he did.
We called him Sam Rupert. Sam for short. He stayed with us for many years, as we moved from one place to another and then to the country, where Mother Earth would nurture us and the Holy Spirit would teach us and where God would help grow us up…of course we didn’t know all that then. And there Sam watched over our son and my younger brother’s son and my older brother’s daughter when they came to visit.
“We threw away the TV, ate a lot of peaches, tried to find Jesus, all on our own” like the song says.
Banana Peel Blocks Artery Disease Researchers from China Pharmaceutical University’s Department of Physiology have determined that a banana peel extract blocks the ability of oxidized LDL-cholesterol from sticking to and damaging artery walls. This means that the molecule blocks the process of artery plaque build up.
The molecule, 7, 8-dihydroxy-3-methyl-isochromanone-4 – also called XJP-1 – blocks the process of artery plaque build up by stimulating a metabolic process whereby it blocks the expression of two adhesion molecules called ICAM-1 and VCAM-1. These two molecules are typically produced when LDL-cholesterol is oxidized, turning the molecule into a free radical. It is this adhesion process that has been implicated in the process of artery damage, inflammation and the subsequent build up of plaque.
The researchers found that banana peel extract also slows down the process of inflammation that takes place among the arteries by blocking NF-kB and JNK/p38 processes. However, this inflammatory cascade is rooted at the suppression of the reactive oxygen species (free radical form) of LDL-cholesterol.
The build up of plaque inside blood vessel walls and their subsequent loss of elasticity – also called atherosclerosis – is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. It leads to an advanced form of hardening of the arteries – arteriosclerosis – and the release of clots that block arteries. When major arteries that lead to the heart or brain are blocked, heart attacks and strokes result.
The research was conducted using human endothelial cells in the laboratory in an environment that mirrored that of the bloodstream and artery walls.
The study was published in May’s Vascular Pharmacology Journal, an Elsevier Inc. publication.
The XJP-1 is a class of molecules called plant phenols. Plant phenols – also called polyphenols when there are multiple phenols in one molecule – are abundant in the plant kingdom. Examples of plant phenols include tannins, lignans, flavonoids, gallic acid, ellagic acid and many others. For example, the phenol epigallocatechin gallate found in green tea has also been shown to block the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol.
One night a woman came up to me and said, “If you can’t help me the doctors are going to remove all this tissue surrounding this Brown Recluse Spider bite. If it’s venom has gone into the bone they may have to remove my leg. Can you help me?” She asked desperately.
“Well, I don’t know. I’ve never done anything like that before, but I’ll try.” So I got together what I had and using the basic knowledge of herbs and also what I knew about brown recluse bites, went into action.
She was in so much pain she kept telling people to stay as far from her as they could, just in case anyone accidentally bumped her. We always had people at the house back then.
So I had her prop her leg up so I could get to it. I packed the nearly one inch hole with a comfrey/goldenseal salve I had made. I knew that comfrey was a cell re-generator and brown recluse venom was a cell de-generator. Then I took a plantain leaf that I had balled up and rubbed it between my fingers until it was dark and juice began flowing out. Then I stuck that in the big hole to cover the salve. Plantain pulls out poison and so does Garlic, which can pull out toxins from 1-2 inches away. I sliced a garlic in halve and put it on top of some olive oil I had rubbed on her skin surrounding the wound, so the garlic wouldn’t burn the skin. Then I sliced one side off of an aloe leaf and sliced through to almost the other side making a hinge so that I could apply the whole leaf over everything. Aloe is also a cell re-generator. Then I covered it with plastic wrap and taped it shut. She went on to bed for the night.
The next morning the young women is running toward me slapping her leg.
“No! You’ll hurt yourself! Stop!” I scream, not really even awake yet.
“No, that’s what I’m trying to show you! Look!” And she put her leg up into my face.
“Look it’s already healing!”
And it was.
All the poison that had been streaking throughout her leg was gone and where the hole use to be, there was fresh skin, no puss or oozing, just fresh pink skin. When she came to visit six months later you could barely see there had ever been a bite.
Over the course of a few decades now I've helped others in the same way. But I guess God wanted to me to find an even easier way. I wound up getting bit on three separate occasions. The last time it got me right on the stomach! I had waited three days, which is when it gets really itchy and red. The red and angry area was as big as a softball. That night I was slicing an onion when it really began to itch like crazy.
Holding the onion in my hand I thought to myself, 'well, it has the same properties as garlic except you don't have to put olive oil on the skin to keep it from burning. In fact, I had used it on sever and infected burns to help not only pull out the burn, but also to help regenerate the skin. I find onion to be a better option on bad burns because sometimes aloe can cause the burn to press inward which isn't good at all.
So I took a large slice of that onion, put it directly on the bite, covering the full inflamed area and then I put plastic wrap in place that went around my belly to hold it. I taped it and went back to work.
That night, maybe four hours later, I took the onion off and could not believe my eyes...all the redness was totally gone!
I went ahead and opened an aloe to put on it, but I don't think it was necessary. That was that...brown recluse spider bite healed in only four hours!
One day my younger brother and I were exploring the back forty. We lived on 86 acres near Wetumpka Alabama. He found me a beaver stick to ward off offending spider webs which often meant ginormous spiders. I was enthusiastically swiping away at the air between branches, boldly going where no man (or girl) had been before. The large stick came in handy for poking in the depths of mysterious holes in the ground too. You never know what might be living down there- but my young imagination was just ripe with curiosity, fairly bursting at the seams to find the creature that inhabited such holes. So there I stood industriously poking into a large deep hole in the woods.
Just then my brother turned to me and said, “You’re a Witch Doctor!”
I just looked at him with big round eyes trying to figure out if he was intentionally trying to insult me. You never know with brothers, they’re just like that.
“Why am I a Witch Doctor?”
“You just look like one.”
And that was that.
As time went by I would be called similar things. My oldest brother would just call me a Witch....and laugh with glee! Brothers are just like that.
And since then several people have called me other things, Shaman, Pejuta Win and white witch just to name a few. I’m really just me. Who a person is, is often more complicated than what they do or the names people call them.
But what I love to do most is create. Create art, create herbal medicines, create dairy free cheese, create a perpetual garden, create, create, create. I won first place at my first art competition at age four and again at age 12. I didn't receive first prize for either because they thought my parents helped me. My parents never had time for that. So early on I learned that art would be rewarding mostly to myself.
The definition of Witch Doctor is: somebody who practices healing, divining, or other magical powers.
The definition of Witch is: to cause or change something by use of the supposedly magical powers.
The definition of Shaman is: a spiritual leader who is believed to have special powers such as prophecy and the ability to heal.
The Lakota meaning for the word Pejuta Win is Medicine Woman, but in this situation meant ‘one who has a relationship with the plants.’
The definition of White Witch: a witch whose supposed magic is designed to do good or to counteract evil.
To be sure, it is certain that I am the ‘type’ of person that would have been burned on the stake for being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. I’ve thought of it many times, not because I believe myself to be a Witch, but because I know that most of the women who were burned at the stake were simple herbal doctors and midwifes. Women who understood the gift of God’s Creations and were using it to help keep family and friends as safe and healthy as possible.
I mean really! God created us and He also created what we needed to heal. It’s pretty simple really. But how many years has it taken to get to the truth?
When I started learning to recognize and use herbs for medicine I’d get phone calls from people wanting love potions or wanting to get rid of somebody. Honestly?!
I told the person wanting the love potion that I could indeed make them up one (oddly I do know one), but they needed to know that if they used it on another person, that person would dog their every step in life and if they ever fell out of love with them, well tooooo bad.
“So, how much of that love potion do you want?” I asked.
He stammered, “I don’t really think I need it.”
“Wise choice.” I replied.
Recently at a friend’s wedding I ran into Preacher Steve who told us about the Witch Doctors in Haiti. Those are bad bad guys. They believe in powers of darkness. I’m not like that. I know true power only comes from a Loving Creator.
If we seek magic in life, we need not look far, because magic is happening every micro second of every moment, created by a Higher Power so Great we cannot even imagine, but Who is reflected in every particle of creation. It is a course that very few really take, but it is the yearning inside everyone.
I never bothered to ask what life was truly about until my younger brother died. It pulled the rug right out from under my world. It changed the whole course of my life. The magic of life was reflected in my brother’s eyes and after he died, he shared his magic with me.
And I will attempt, in these pages, to share some of that magic with you. It is my greatest hope that you too will experience more of the magic of life and share it with others, so that we will all reflect that greatest of loving power that comes from our Creator.
Stay tuned. I will share more stories like this one in future blogs and in my new upcoming book, 'Witch Doctor, My Life Story.'
A recent visitor called me an angel. That about floored me...I don't think anyone has ever said that. She also asked me if my parents always know I was a genius. What? This is quite a different reaction than times passed. Then she told me I reminded her of a famous autistic woman...okay now we're getting somewhere.