Women, Witches, Weeds
An intensive given by Susun Weed at Green Nations Conference - September 2000
c 2010 Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
mentor at the Wise Woman University
CD Women, Witches, Weeds
also available in MP3 for immediate download
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“Healing is Every Breath”
Who were the witches?
Where did they come from?
Maybe your great-great-grandmother was one.
The witches were wise,
Wise, women they say.
And there’s a little witch in every woman today.
I can’t wait until Halloween this year. I have always loved to look at the cultural images of witches that come out in October, but THIS year I will astound and amaze my friends and family with the depth of my symbolic knowledge. (I can hear my family groaning already.)
Do you know why witches have black cats—with crooked tails and backs raised? How about the pointy hat? And what about that broom? Susun Weed analyzes the cultural images of witches and the symbolism of their tools in a fascinating beginning to this four hour seminar, given at the Green Nations Gathering, Fall 2000.
Her story of the witches begins before the second book ever printed--the Malleus Maleficarum—or The Hammer of the Witches. Published in 1487, it became an instruction manual for witch-hunters and inquisitors. Its definition of a witch is “a person who heals without a license,” perhaps giving us a clue into the inquisitor’s motives as witches were tortured for their healing secrets.
Even today the word “witch” often produces extreme reactions in people. Susun reports how one of the organizations who wanted her to speak did not want to use her title because of the word “witch” in it, although the people who attended her talk came because they heard she was to speak on witches.
So what do witches have to do with weeds? Most of us now understand that witches were often wise woman healers who knew how to use herbs and plant medicines. And witches, of course, knew/know that healing is not just about life, but also about death. Susun speaks powerfully about this idea during this intensive.
Also, the witch is often a crone—dressed in the deep and nourishing black, the color of earth. Witches have long pointy noses and chins, because the cartilage in those areas of our faces continues to grow throughout our lives. Witches represent the crone aspect of women--our old age. Their cauldrons are soup pots full of healthy tonic roots and broths. Their brooms, power tools as well as digging sticks to help harvest those roots for the cauldron, and as planting sticks to bury the seeds of nourishing plants into the earth.
The most important understanding I am taking away from listening to this intensive is the explanation of the green skin of the witch. I always wondered why the heart chakra was green. Why not pink or red, like the blood coursing through it? Susun’s explanation, told to her by the plants, is very satisfying. The breath of life, which flows through our heart and lung combination unit, comes from the plants, as they breathe out oxygen for us and take in the carbon dioxide we breathe out for them. (Nothing is wasted in nature.)
The green of the plants and the green of the witch’s skin remind us of this connection. Green gives us heart, in the most literal way.
Susun does three interactive exercises with the audience during this intensive. The first one shows that strength and willpower are not nearly as strong as intention. The second is a twenty minute drumming trance, worth the price of the entire set, in which Susun takes us to “the within” inside of us, to our vibral core, to teach us how being open can fill us, how giving away allows us to receive, and how to get in touch with our own green ally.
The third exercise teaches an unforgettable lesson about the important differences between the cell wall of a plant and the cell membrane of an animal. You can look forward to finding out why you need to eat your meat raw and cook your greens!
Along the way in this intensive, you’ll learn about the four humors, about Chinese medicine, and how George Washington’s physicians killed him, about why “detoxification” or “cleansing,” techniques often suggested by those in Heroic medicine, really translate into “harm and destroy” in the wise woman tradition.
Also, Susun Weed once again underlines her central purpose in giving classes, writing books, and teaching apprentices. Herbal medicine, she tells us, is the people’s medicine. Using the herbs that grow near to you, you can nourish your body and create vibrant health.
She explains how using simples, one herb at a time, can empower you to be responsible for your own health and understand the herbs that can help you achieve perfect health. Buying carefully mixed formulas from herbalists will not empower you nearly as much, as you are then dependent on the herbalist to mix the potion for you and you have less of an understanding of each individual herb you are using. Using one herb at a time has more “heart” in it, says Susun.
There is a rather long question and answer session on these discs, so make sure your volume is turned up in order to share in the audience’s discussions and questions. I find it frustrating when I cannot hear the audience questions, although Susun is very good at “speaking to the mic” to explain that she has just made a terrible face, causing everyone to laugh, and making other informative asides.
Spend an afternoon with Susun and come away knowing how wonderful you are, how abundant life is, and how much fun it is to live in it the wise woman way.
© 2010 Jan Calloway Baxter
read other reviews by Jan Baxter
Optimum Nutrition - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
Herbal Healing for Women - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
Magical Plants - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
Elements of Herbalism: Harvesting - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter
The Visionary Art of Martina Hoffmann - Review by Jan Calloway-Baxter