Gaian First Aid Kit

Gaian First Aid Kit

The more time you spend in Nature and connect; begin to feel how a bird or a flower feels and open up your senses and intuition, the less likely you are to need a first aid kit. If that sounds preposterous, you really do need to get out more! When we observe things, especially living things, and muse, “How do you feel?” We rejuvenate our brains, firing up unused pathways and making new connections. Merging imagination, feeling and vision dissolves the imaginary veil between us and everything else and we become totally immersed in the sea of reality. In this space we have sufficient awareness and intuition to avoid the slippery rock as we cross the river and if we run into a swarm of mosquitoes our immune system will be so strong that we barely notice their bites.

Initially, this way of being takes concentration and practice, but after a while it begins to feel normal to feel like you are discovering the world for the first time. Do you remember how that felt as a child? How the plants, the birds, butterflies and animals talked with you? This is how we engage and participate with all life in the world.

However, sometimes, when you are in a rush or there are just too many things going on, you lose concentration and this is when we become more vulnerable to accidents and illness. It’s also when we tend to fall back on pharmaceuticals and the medical system, which are not good for us in the medium-term, even though they might appear to alleviate symptoms. (We try and keep chemicals out of our bodies and environment as much as possible.) That’s why we put together the Gaian First Aid Kit.

The Gaian First Aid Kit is what we use here on the finca. It’s made from natural ingredients and things we have thoroughly tried and tested over the past year. It might not cover every minor emergency, but it will help you through many of them. We also use these remedies for our dogs.

The Gaian First Aid Kit covers these issues:
• Headaches
• Insect bites
• Cuts and scrapes
• Skin infections (Staphylococcal)
• Food poisoning and stomach upsets
• Aches and pains
• Bruises and sprains
• Colds and flu

We go through the Gaian First Aid Kit in detail at our retreats, as well as the basics for making salves and tinctures. Plantain is abundant here and I always have some plantain oil to hand that’s been sun-steeped for 5-6 weeks, so retreat guests get to make plantain salve and take it home with them. Plantain salve is the most effective remedy to take the itch out of mosquito bites that we’ve ever found. It acts faster and lasts longer than any commercial preparation.

I’d love to hear about anything you find useful. (Please do not send me any info about things you haven’t tried yourself. So much of the information about natural healing remedies on the internet is the same stuff, shuffled and shared around and much of it doesn’t work.)

Our next retreat is Lammas 31st July to 3rd August.

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Lammas Permaculture Retreat

Lammas Permaculture Retreat

Our permaculture retreats focus on immersing ourselves in Nature so that our needs emerge in co-evolution with our environment. The essence of permaculture is not really about designing sustainable gardens, but recognising that everything we need is already here! We need to shift our perception. Sometimes this just happens, or you can prepare with shamanic work, sacred plants, mantra or mindfulness.

1. Relaxation

The first principle of permaculture is “observe and interact”. Our approach is to take a few steps back and start with relaxation. We can’t immerse ourselves in Nature, or observe and interact in harmony if we are tense and our minds are full of junk.

We use meditation, Qi Gong, yoga and sacred plants to bring ourselves into a peaceful state of mind, so that we can align with Nature on Her terms. Nature isn’t busy with thoughts, judgments and plans; She just flows.

2. Intent

Our next step is to invoke intent. Intent is not the same as intention. Setting an intention is to make a decision and impose it on the environment as an act of will. Intent on the other hand is a capacity, the force of life that manifests reality. It isn’t ours, but we have access to it.

Invoking intent is not about wishing or thinking or deciding anything. It is the perfectly articulated expression of a heart-felt desire that emerges from deep inside us, without any chatter or conflicting thoughts from the rational mind. This takes practice.

In The Power of Silence Don Juan explains how “intent is beckoned with the eyes” by moving to the “place of no pity” which is characterised by a specific shine to the eyes. The “place of no pity” is Don Juan’s way of describing the point where you get over your self-importance and are fully present, without mental chatter. The power is in the silence.

The ‘shiny eyes’ is like being ‘moved to tears’ in the presence of great love or beauty, humbled, fully present and self-less. To bring yourself to that state and then focus the attention is to act with intent.

We can’t do any better than to start with the intent to be fully present with Nature!

3. Observation

The act of observation involves so much more than just seeing. When we look at Nature, do we see what is really there? Or do we see what we expect to see, or what we have been conditioned to see? When you look at an untended garden, do you see weeds or a cornucopia of healer plants?

 “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

It is much easier for us to “project” what we think we see onto reality than to be able to witness what is actually there. Without relaxation and conscious observation what we  “perceive” or take into our experience is only a narcissistic illusion, our fantasy, and not real at all.

When we are relaxed and have invoked intent our powers of observation are liberated.

4. Feeling

Feeling is a direct sensory experience not to be confused with our emotional responses, which tend to be ego-modulated. Although we might feel through our sense of touch, we might feel hot or cold, wet or dry, we are essentially decoding this information via our hearts.

To quote from Stephen Harrod Buhner’s wonderful book, The Secret Teaching of Plants:

“The whole body is cradled within the electromagnetic field generated by the heart. The information embedded within that field is communicated to the external world through electromagnetic waves reaching out from the body. It is communicated within the body through the blood stream, which conducts electromagnetic impulses throughout the body…….

But the heart is not only concerned with its interior world. Its electromagnetic field allows it to touch the dynamic electromagnetic fields created by other living organisms and to exchange energy. Like all nonlinear systems that display self-organization and emergent behaviors, the heart is supremely sensitive to external perturbations that may affect its dynamic equilibrium. The heart not only transmits field pulses of electromagnetic energy, it also receives them, like a radio in a car. And like a radio, it is able to decode the information embedded within the electromagnetic fields it senses. It is, in fact, an organ of perception. “

Simply put, we need to stop, breathe and feel the biosphere in which we exist.

5. Acceptance

Acceptance is related to observation. We need to accept what we observe, even if we don’t like it, so that we don’t waste our energy. Acceptance is like an anchor that keeps us connected to reality. For example, you might not like the fact that your garden is on a north-facing slope, but if you cannot accept that you will waste a lot of time and money by trying to do things that will not work in that situation.

Acceptance is about non-resistance; it’s got nothing to do with approval or agreement, it is just a conscious acknowledgement of what is.  It is the foundation for everything that comes after.

At a deeper level it is an expression of unconditional love.

6. Desire

Desire is the basis for creativity and creation and to suppress desire is completely unnatural. Our aim is to recognise, accept and express our desires in a way that is in harmony with Nature.

What do you want?  What is your Highest Desire?

7. Imagination

 “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Albert Einstein

“The imaginatio, or the act of imagining, was thus a physical activity that could be fitted into the cycle of material changes that brought these about and was brought about by them in turn.”

C. J. Jung

As we imagine we are also imagined and this is the key to co-evolving with Nature.

The ‘peak permaculture experience’ is about Love and Oneness, not about yields or usage; everything emerges from immersion.  In our permaculture retreats we connect deeply as we work on projects or participate in workshops.  We are always learning how to apply the wisdom of natural ecosystems to insights in our lives, our communities and in the garden of our heart. We will practice stopping, dwelling in the wonderful present moment, taking our time and doing everything in mindfulness: walking, sitting, eating, working, relaxing, having fun playing in the garden and becoming aware of all the wonderful conditions that support life in us and around us.  In this way we learn to look at our own lives and all the elements that come together to create what we are living right here, right now. Is this what we really want? Is this what the world needs? What seeds can we water more, which ones should we be careful with?

Our next retreat is Lammas 31st July – 3rd August.

Activities:

  • Introducing Mindfulness and Meditation
  • Qigong
  • Yoga
  • Introduction to Effective Micro-organisms and how to use them to enhance productivity in the garden
  • Principles of Gaian Healing and how to make them work in your life
  • Making natural shampoo, toothpaste and non-toxic household products that work
  • Introducing muscle-testing and how to work with your bodies innate intelligence
  • Introducing the Gaian First Aid Kit and making an essential salve and tincture from weeds.
  • Stargazing
  • Nature walks
  • Cooking outside (basic alchemy)

Contribution £250.  See Retreats for more information.

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Medicine, Alchemy and Cooking

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”   Hippocrates 431 B.C

Food as medicine doesn’t sound that appetising does it? The usual diet for many westerners is neither food nor medicine; it’s just chemicals pretending to be food. Likewise, our “medicine” is chemicals designed to mask symptoms; not medicine at all. Food as medicine was the norm for thousands of years and still is in other systems.

In the Ayurvedic system, one of the oldest and longest standing in the world, herbalism and nutrition are a single science, and no healing can be truly successful that disregards one or the other. Specific foods are prescribed therapeutically as herbs, or in combination with herbs. Eating correctly, according to your body type, is the most important aspect of Ayervedic healing.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is rooted in the Ayurvedic system, food is regarded as indispensible in regaining the yin-yang balance and healing. Traditional Chinese Medicine designates four uses for food: diet, medicine, tonic, and abstention.

Doctors are not required to advise on nutrition in the UK, it is covered in just a few hours in the first year of study. Their job is to diagnose, prescribe and refer. It doesn’t really have a lot to do with healing. Hippocrates turns over in his grave one more time.

Hippocrates was considered the “father of medicine”. He is well-known for rejecting primitive medicine and its superstitions and magic in favour of a scientific and rational approach. He is also famous for establishing a code of ethics, doctor/patient confidentiality, note-taking and patient record management. It is less well-known that he insisted his students study astrology, saying, “He who does not understand astrology is not a doctor but a fool.”

The Greeks had medicine long before Hippocrates. Their medicine originated Egypt, the home of alchemy. The historical and cultural links between alchemy and medicine have been systematically destroyed over many generations, but the memory still remains in the endo-psyche of our species. What does that mean? It means that if you sit quietly in nature, or look into the fire and pay attention to your body you will experience specific sensations and feelings and these will direct you to exactly what you need. It never fails, but it does take practice and this is how we get to cooking.

Alchemy can be arcane and complicated or as simple as bringing together a container, a substance and a catalyst. Purists might argue that cooking isn’t alchemy, as the substance that is cooked is not transmuted; a carrot is never transformed into ice cream, no matter how skilled the cook.  However, carrots protect you from heart disease and cancer, are anti-inflammatory, can improve your eyesight and support your brain and liver. I don’t go along with the notion that everything works exactly the same way for everyone all the time. Sometimes I want a carrot and that’s exactly when I need it.

Cooking as alchemy needs to be outside with a real fire. The first stage of alchemy is called the nigredo, blackness, suffering; the medieval manuscripts are full of references to putrefaction and death. In psychological terms it is about depression and the dark night of the soul, but in cooking as alchemy we are not talking about anything that intense. But wait until you are hungry before you start the process. Feel your hunger. If you have a health issue or are stressed about anything, feel that too and don’t push anything away. Then look at the flames for a while.

Flames have a wonderful way of quietening the mind and gradually begin to think about what you would like to eat. Of course, you will have had an idea before you start and you will have certain food available, but make sure you have a good supply of different ingredients and spices to hand. Notice the flavours, spices and textures that appeal to you. As you allow the recipe to emerge notice how you feel about different ingredients as they come to mind – the White Queen is always present in the feeling.

This process of feeling your responses to different ingredients corresponds to the albedo, or purification stage of alchemy. The purification is in the process of identifying and selecting the ingredients that make you feel good when you think about them. This is how you free the spirit from the physical matter of the food. It’s not about following a fixed recipe, this food is perfectly tailored to your needs at the time you are making it. If a new combination comes to you go with it. The Red King guides you to discover something new, or a different combination. The cooking corresponds to the rubedo or reddening stage. In this stage the spirit is reunited with the food, through heat, and a new “wholeness” is achieved through the combination of the ingredients and the intent brought into the process.

This is something to play with and is fun to do in a group. The alchemical marriage takes place in the merging of the ingredients to create something new. And where is the Philosopher’s Stone? Perhaps in the way you feel when you eat food prepared in this way.   With time and practice you will find yourself guided to the foods that support your healing.

Cooking is just one aspect of the practical alchemy of healing that we enjoy here. We work with the local healing plants, grow much of our own food and make most of our household and personal care items. It’s all alchemy!

Our next retreat is at Lammas and runs from 31July-4th August 2014.

Yolanda

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Lammas Alchemy Retreat in Galicia 2014

Lammas Alchemy Retreat in Galicia 2014

Lammas is midway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox; the turning point of the seasons, where the waning summer element of Fire meets the Autumn element of Water. The Great Work of alchemy is the union of opposites and this transmutation creates a third entity, the Child of the Conjunction, or the Philosopher’s Stone.    All alchemy is rooted in nature, as it is through interacting with the elements and developing our awareness of existence beyond ourselves that we find our true selves.  This is the theme of our alchemy retreat in beautiful, unspoilt Galicia.

Lammas is the festival of the grain. The name Lammas is said to come from “Loaf Mass,” the celebration of the bread made from the first wheat sheaf of the harvest and shared amongst the community. In Ireland it is known as Lughnasa, after the Celtic Sun King Lugh, who created the tradition of feasting and games at the request of his foster mother Tailtiu, “The Great One of the Earth” and she was a goddess of sovereignty, looking after the harvest.

The origins of Lammas/Lughnasa are unknown, but any occasion celebrating grain and harvest leads us back to the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the reimagining of the story of Demeter the Goddess of Grain, Harvest and Fertility and her beautiful, innocent daughter, Persephone. Persephone was abducted and raped by Hades, the Lord of the Underworld and in her grief and rage Demeter caused nothing to grow while she searched for her daughter. Eventually she found her and Hades agreed to her release. However, Persephone had eaten some pomegranate seeds while in the Land of the Dead and this meant that she was obliged to return there for a third of the year as Hades’ Queen. Demeter refuses to let anything grow and we have winter until Persephone returns, bringing spring with her.

This is the time to celebrate the power of the Sun and Fire and to be grateful to the Earth for the harvest to come that will feed us through the winter. It is the time to recognise our personal harvest; what have we achieved? What have we learned? What do we have to share with each other? The visible fruits of the land, how the Sun and rain have turned the seed in the Earth into grain remind us of the processes at work in our day-to-day lives. Now is the time to think about the inward journey. For us the alchemy of Lammas lies in the transmutation of fire and water, the Yang and the Yin, heart energy and kidney energy.   What do we need to dissolve to encourage this process?

There will be plenty of time for contemplation, reflection and discussion on this alchemy retreat.  The area is so peaceful and beautiful.  We’ve planned workshops and activities that allow us to work together and develop skills that are practical and useful, that also strengthen our connection to the Earth, from which our sovereignty derives.  Fear and stress dissolve when we spend time outside and learn how to take care of ourselves and the Earth. These are skills that fall under the permaculture umbrella, enlightened with mindfulness and flavoured with alchemy!  Transformation here does not involve hard work, just allowing the experience of living a more natural lifestyle.

Workshops/Activities:

  • Introducing Mindfulness and Meditation
  • Qigong
  • Principles of Gaian Healing and how to make them work in your life
  • Making natural shampoo, toothpaste and non-toxic household products that work
  • Introduction to Effective Micro-organisms and how to use them to enhance productivity in the garden
  • Introducing muscle-testing and how to work with your bodies innate intelligence
  • Introducing the Gaian First Aid Kit and making an essential salve and tincture from weeds.
  • Stargazing
  • Nature walks
  • Cooking outside (basic alchemy)

This is an outdoor retreat. Most of us don’t spend enough time outside; we’ve lost our connection with the Earth and we need the resonance of the Earth to function at our best and be healthy. The experience of sitting outside, eating outside and even showering outside (with hot water) makes us feel content and strong and able to deal with whatever life throws at us more effectively. It’s why we go camping after all!

“As the sun transforms the seeds within the harvest, I too am able to transform my experiences into new seeds for the future. Lammas assessment helps me to gather the seeds of new directions that I will take with me into the dark of the year. This is the alchemy of Lammas.”

Glennie Kindred “The Alchemists Journey”

It’s hot here in August, but the nights are cooler. We have a tipi in case it gets too hot, or it rains. We have beds and bedding, but you need to bring your own towels. All meals (vegetarian) are included from Thursday evening onwards and we have an honour bar for beer and wine. We’ll pick you up and drop you off at Monforte de Lemos, but you’ll need to make your own way there from the airport. There is a direct train at around 6pm or buses throughout the day, with a change at Lugo. See How to find us for more information.

The price is £250 per person. (12 places maximum – 10 booked.) £100 on booking and £150 by 25th July 2014.   Arriving on the evening of Thursday 31st July and leaving on the morning of Monday 4th August 2014.

Use the contact form below for enquiries and we’ll send you the payment details via email. We are contactable by phone, but the reception is unreliable, so please leave a message if you don’t get through and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

UK mobile: +44 788 768 1706     Spain mobile: + 34 616 247 355

  • Rio Cabe in summer

 

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