The Wise Woman Tradition of Healing by Marysia Miernowska
It all began with a spiral.
A cosmic spin birthing a galaxy
and then this rippled into creation over and over again
and we are still very much part of that cosmic dance a rebirthing of self
over and over.
The earth birthed herself into being like a primordial mother
she delighted in birthing her children
the rivers, the rocks, the trees, the people, the birds.
And all of creation
then spun into more creation and at one point, they were hungry
and The Great Mother said "Now eat me!" and then I eat you.
The Wise Woman tradition of healing goes back since the beginning of our time on this planet. This is the tradition of the mothers, the crones, the midwives, the herbalists, the wise women, the shamans.
This is also one of the most unrecorded traditions of healing, and part of its magic is the fact it
often goes unseen. Some experts estimate that 99% of global healthcare provided these days is from a woman in the family. Women nurse others back to health with their teas, herbs, foods, broths, loving touch, unconditional love and care. Nourishment is the expression of the Divine Feminine in the hearth. Wise women heal by nourishing, supporting others in their transformations, by empowering them, connecting them to the wise woman and wise man within themselves. There are no gurus, no universities on this path. The power is not in the healer, the power is in the self.
So let us take a moment to call in all of the wise women of the past. The ancestors, the bones, the minerals in the earth, the rocks, the mountains, all that came before. Call in the women in your family, the healers, the mothers, aunts, grandmothers, the women you never knew, all women. We call in the archetype of the grandmother, the wise woman, the shaman, the village healer.
These wise women know how to heal. And they do it like a grandmother loves, stirring a pot of home grown vegetables, medicinal roots, magic potions with prayers for well being, healing, love and peace for all.
“The cure” in the Wise Woman tradition is deep nourishment. It is not a tasteless, odorless pill
meant to fix something in your body. It is earthy, messy, preventative. Unconditional love, earth based rituals, common herbs from the backyard, nourishing whole foods, connection to earth, moon, & spirit maintain health and wholeness.
So let us now call in the Mother. The nourisher, the giver of life. She who in the fertile darkness
of her womb grows another, building bones, and blood from her blood. Our womb blood is sacred blood, sisters. We call in the medicine of the primordial mother. She who bleeds and bleeds but never dies.With blood on her thighs. The Wise Woman Tradition is messy. It is messy, earthy, sensual, divine, and all encompassing. We dig in the earth, talk to the plants, kiss the flowers and eat them too. We lick the sacred morning dew from the leaves, rejoice in the natural springs, keep them clean and give them offerings of love and joy. We use our bodies to transmit energies of healing, love and sustenance as we digest those same energies from the earth that nourishes us.
The wise woman's role is to support transformation – in whatever form it takes, including death and disease. Death and disease are not seen as the enemy, things to be avoided, fixed and fought by all means, as in many other traditions of healing. They can be great allies, and are seen as vehicles of transformation. We are constantly rebirthing ourselves, recreating our world, on both a cellular and spiritual level. There is power and grace in knowing, honoring and moving within the cycles of nature.
This is a woman-centered tradition, though men are never excluded and there are many shamans, healers and men who work within this tradition as well. This tradition is rooted in deep reverence for the energy of the feminine, and when we work within this modality, we are calling upon the cyclical, nourishing nature of the feminine, the power from which rebirthing occurs. As herbalist Susan Weed beautifully states, “ Female energy is the void of all being: the all-consuming void, the all-birthing void. In the Wise Woman tradition, all health, all coming to wholeness begins with a return to the void.”
As an herbalist practicing in the Wise Woman tradition, I work with the plants, Plant Spirits, and make medicine in sacred space. The strongest feeling I am constantly getting from the plants and the earth is how infinitely generous they are. I am also continuously deeply humbled by how available this healing is to all of us. The plant world wants to heal us, to have us eat them, for us to care for them, caress them, give them our love. Plants and people are made to care for one another, to consume one another – we share breath after all. Every exhale of the plant is our inhale of fresh air, every exhale of ours is their in-breath.
The plants teach us how to care for one another. It is from this place of service to the ones we
love, to those who need healing and support, to the plants and the earth and the spirits, that we magically create transformation and move toward wholeness and holiness.
As we step into our inner knowing, there is work to be done on behalf of all the women who came before, all our sisters now, and all our daughters to come. Part of the work we need to do is to reclaim our lineage of mother-daughter wisdom. It is important we know our herstory. The oldest body ever found of a shaman was a woman's body. And yet, the white, male anthropologists of the first part of the century automatically assumed most shamanic graves to be of men. History as we know it is exactly that which it is called: His – Story.
We must also reclaim the words “Witch” and “Magic” and use them as the accessible tools that they are. A Witch is an ally and lover of the Earth who works within the cycles of nature. The word Witch comes from an Old English word Witan, which meant “to know” or “to be wise”. “Magic” is "the art of changing consciousness at will." (Dion Fortune) I also love Starhawk's definition of Magic: “The art of liberation, the act that releases the mysteries, that ruptures the fabric of our beliefs and lets us look into the heart of deep space where dwell the immeasurable, life-generating powers.” The term Shaman comes from the Evenki language of Siberia, and means “the one who knows.” The Wise Woman Tradition of Healing celebrates our inner knowing and empowers us to step into our birthright as creators of magic, as witches, as children and allies of the Great Mother.
We must also treat our bodies as holy, as one of our greatest tools for connecting to the sacred. Part of this means healing our personal and collective trauma. Stories were created about the “impurity of the woman's blood” when in fact-- or perhaps because – our blood mysteries are a great source of power. Our cycles move like the moon, in 28 day cycles. I ovulate with the full moon and I bleed with the new moon. I look at the moon up in the sky and as she becomes full I think of the seeds I planted on the new moon, and I feel my intentions and prayers growing like the moon. When we bleed, we shed ourselves. Bleed into the earth, sisters, whenever possible. The status quo is to bleed into tampons or pads with bleach and chemicals on them. Let us change the status quo. Collect your blood and give it to the plants. Diluted in water, it makes amazing, mineral rich plant food. We have the ability to gift ourselves to the earth.
The Wise Woman Tradition of healing is accessible and available to all of us. Everyone on this
planet has a mother. We are all parts of the living, breathing ecosystem we call Earth. As we
connect to our inner Wise Woman, we celebrate the cycles within our bodies that echo the waxing and waning of the moon, the tides of the ocean, our sacred blood mysteries, the seasons, death, decay and renewal. It is from this connection that we find the power to regenerate and rebirth ourselves.
I have been blessed by many wonderful teachers and wise women, whose knowing, loving and sharing contributed to this article, through me and my inner knowing. Herbalist Sage L. Maurer of the Gaia School of Healing www.thegreenwoman.com, Susan Weed whose book I referenced in this article, Wise Woman Herbal; Healing Wise. The Woman in the Shamans Body by Barbara Tedlock, PHD.
For a deeper understanding of Goddess worshiping cultures and the patriarchal movements that shaped their unfoldment over the past thousands of years, read the Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler. I cannot recommend this book enough.