The Atoms are Dancing, Roya Azal

Scientific Medicine, Heroic Medicine, Wise Woman Medicine and Muslim Women Medicine

“Man is the weakest of creatures because he is empty in himself. The central place of man is his heart. This is in the image of the Supreme Name of God, the hā’ of Allah, which in Arabic script forms a circle. This circle is at once a sign of the capacity of the circle to encompass everything, and also of its essential emptiness.” ~ Paul Ballanfat

“The Scientific Tradition defines truth as measurable and repeatable. The whole is the same as its most active part. Herbs are reduced to standardized extracts; only the active ingredient is important. Healing is fixing. Linear thought, linear time. Good and bad, health and sickness are always at war. (…).” ~ Susun Weed

Over the last weeks I read much of the works of US female herbalists such as Susun Weed, who has much practical knowledge to share on the use of plants for treatment and nourishment.

“Herbal medicine is the medicine of the people. It is simple, safe, effective, and free. Our ancestors used — and our neighbors around the world still use — plant medicines for healing and health maintenance. It’s easy. You can do it too, and you don’t need a degree or any special training. Ancient memories arise in you when you begin to use herbal medicine — memories which keep you safe and fill you with delight. These lessons are designed to nourish and activate your inner herbalist so you can be your own herbal expert.”

Susun Weed also wrote a book on “Wise Healing” which is a classic in the Western female herbalist scene. There are many facets in Susun Weed’s work I feel are very interesting and in this post I am focusing on her readings of healing traditions.

“The Scientific Tradition defines truth as measurable and repeatable. The whole is the same as its most active part. Herbs are reduced to standardized extracts; only the active ingredient is important. Healing is fixing. Linear thought, linear time. Good and bad, health and sickness are always at war. (…).”

“The Heroic Tradition is not one unified tradition, but many similar ones collectively known as the Heroic tradition. Predating the scientific tradition, the heroic view sees that the whole is a circle made up of all its parts — body, mind, and spirit.”

The Heroic Tradition is not one unified tradition, but many similar ones collectively known as the Heroic tradition. Predating the scientific tradition, the heroic view sees that the whole is a circle made up of all its parts — body, mind, and spirit. Sickness is caused by pollution of the body, mind, or spirit. Healing is the removal of the corruption, the detoxification. Puking, purging and bleeding. Removing curses. Cleansing the colon and the aura. Making everything light. We are all filthy sinners. We have to pay for our fun. No pain, no gain. If it tastes bitter it is good for you. Food is the first addiction, learned at the mothers’ breast. Control yourself. Control your thoughts. Control your appetites. Control you desires. If you want to get to heaven, follow the rules. If you are sick, it is your own fault. You were negative. You were bad. You ate the wrong food, thought the wrong thought, sinned. You stepped outside the charmed circle. You need a savior, purification and punishment. The Heroic healer saves the day thanks to rare substances, exotic herbs, and complicated formulae. Powerful, drug-like herbs (such as cayenne and golden seal) and vitamin and mineral pills are favored remedies in this tradition. Most books on herbal medicine, and many on nutrition, are written by men of the Heroic tradition. 

The Atoms are Dancing, by Roya Azal

The Atoms are Dancing, by Roya Azal. A copy of this art work is available, here.

“Wise Woman Tradition is the world’s oldest healing tradition. Its symbol is the spiral. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Life is a spiraling, ever-changing completeness. Disease and injury are doorways of transformation. Each one of us is inherently whole, yet seeking greater wholeness; perfect, yet desiring greater perfection. Whole/healthy/holy. Substance, thought, feeling, and spirit inseparable, intertwined. ” http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Spirit_WiseWoman.htm

“However, it is indeed necessary to purge oneself of evil to heal from illness and social ills, and that there is both wisdom and method in the acts of spritual purification we practise in Islam.”

I find Susun Weed’s exploration of the Scientific, Heroic and Wise Women medicine ways inspiring but believe she errors in parts, in particular when it comes to framing “Wise Women” as “Pegan Witches”. This is misguided I believe, but would require as a subject it’s own post.

In the context of Islamic medicine we can surely also identify the “Scientific Tradition” and the “Heroic Tradition” working hand in hand with each other. After all, modern Western medicine has it’s roots in Islamic (greco-arabic) medicinal knowledge. In Islamic medicinal tradition too, we encounter much purging of fluids (Hijama), repenting from sin, cleansing from evil, brushing out of what is believed to be polluted colons (a practice that probably killed Avicenna aka Ibn Sina) next to the establishment of scientific models and ways of producing precise medicine from specifically documented plants. Little is transmitted about female medicinal traditions in Islam in modern literature and academia, and what can be found focuses on classic mid-wifery, female genital health and birth aid, as well as Western notions of “persecuted wise women in Islam”. However, all these areas of study are Western historical views and speak more about the West’s view on “Wise Women” then about Islam. Women have always found ways to heal their families and aid themselves and each other in wise ways beyond the Western romance with spinning politically motivated yarn about women being under constant attack in Islam and that all wise women are witches. I also want to add that it is indeed necessary to purge oneself of evil to heal from illness and social ills, and that there is both wisdom and method in the acts of spritual purification we practise in Islam.

“There is nothing in gnostic Islam that per se prohibits “Wise Women Ways”, quite contrary, due to Islam’s emphasis on a holistic life style with a deep spiritual connection to the world, the worlds between and the here-after, I experienced it always as an aid for women’s spiritual self .”

There is nothing in gnostic Islam that prohibits “Wise Women Ways”, quite contrary, due to Islam’s emphasis on a holistic life style with a deep spiritual connection to the world, the worlds between and the here-after, I experienced it always as an aid for women’s spiritual self . What is perhaps missing at present is more public presence of Islamic women and their unique healing ways beyond “Science and Heroism”, but that doesn’t mean these women don’t exist – they are everywhere and they are indeed also finding each other.

Islam and the Muslim world is under severe attack from enemies outside and within the faith itself, and in this time of social upheaval and crisis I hope that the ways of the healing Muslim women will come into greater recognition without the suffocating attempts by various political forces on all sides to appropriate them for their agendas.

The Art of Islamic Healing on Etsy

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Roya Azal

Roya Azal ~ Woman, Blogger, Geek, Artist, Healing Spirit.

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