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:
• 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.
All healing is Gaian healing. Healing has far less to do with you than you think it does. Most likely you, or the “you” you think you are, is responsible for creating whatever it is that needs healing. But the healing process itself has very little to do with you!
“What?” you might say, “How can that be? It’s my body after all.”
Is that so?
Try holding your breath for three minutes. Or why not try breathing underwater? Or how about making that niggling pain you’ve had for ages go away? Or how about returning your body to the physique you had in your twenties? Or can you stop a cut from healing? It’s your body after all.
Now you want to ‘get realistic’. But what does that mean? Are you thinking about consensus reality, what is considered to be ‘normal’? That is a limited reality and experience of life. It has been narrowly defined by scientists who focus on what they can see and measure with their instruments and programmed into you from childhood by parents and teachers trying to make you conform. It is predictable and mechanical, but real life isn’t like that, is it?
If you cut your finger with your sharpest knife in the kitchen, it hurts and you feel a sudden shock at the red blood splattered on the counter. You rush to the sink, heart pounding, afraid to look at the damage, so much blood against the white porcelain. You wrap it in a tea towel and empty the bathroom cabinet looking for Band-Aids. Eventually, you get it strapped up and you hold it gingerly for the rest of the day and hope for the best.
In scientific medical terms you have had a laceration and your healing will go through a four-stage process:
Hemostasis – in which the damaged blood vessels in the wound are sealed off. This occurs within minutes
Inflammation – this is the clean-up phase in which debris and bacteria are cleaned out, often resulting in pus. This lasts up to four days after the injury.
Proliferation – this is the regeneration of new cells, which lasts 4-21 days.
Remodelling – this last stage can last up to two years as the strength and flexibility is gradually restored to the wound site and scarring reduced as much as possible.
Which scenario feels more real to you?
Probably the first, because most likely you have had a similar experience and you instantly bring together memory, feeling and the visual image of the blood on the counter and in the sink. In that moment, as you see that image in your mind, you are no longer present in your everyday or ‘normal’ consciousness. You have slipped into a dream-like state and you do it many times a day without even realising it.
Our lived experience is based on feeling and imagination much more than it is observation. We are actually far better at it than we are at observation
However, this is the definition derived from laboratory conditions and experiments on animals. In real life healing is rarely this linear or timely, because it depends on what is going on in your life. Suddenly, we have introduced a new variable, the context, or more specifically the scenario in which you exist at that time. This includes your environment.
Way back in 1984 a landmark study ‘discovered’ that post-operative patients with a view through a window over a park recovered more quickly than those looking at a wall. Since then many studies have ‘proven’ that the visual presence of plants has a statistically measureable benefit on physical and mental health. Yet more studies have gone on to identify which health conditions benefit most, what kinds of nature exposure have what effect, how much exposure is needed and even where the benefit might come from, such as humidity, air quality and even safety. (Absence of plant life might suggest that the area is somehow unsafe, which causes stress.)
All of these studies are fundamentally flawed. They assume that ‘we’ are somehow separate from the environment in which we exist, when we can never be anything other than another player in a continually changing scenario. They assume that there is only limited intelligence in this ‘backdrop’ to our personal dramas. They fail to consider feeling as a factor, despite the science of psychoneuroimmunology and the growing recognition of the interdependence of mental and physical health. They insist on a model in which our bodies are bound to breakdown and need experts to fix them. The entire paradigm of medial science is redundant, as determined by science itself! We do not exist in a mechanical, Newtonian Universe.
How do we encourage healing then?
Yes, you have to feel it to heal it, but what is the “it” in this question? It isn’t just the pain or the problem; that doesn’t quite work because that tends to get you more involved in your problem. The “it” is everything, especially Nature.
Every thing has a secret feeling; it’s individual essence, or secret kinesis, that is not apparent until we really look at it and connect with it. This connection joins us in a relationship and it changes both ourselves and all that we observe. These changes are subtle, but deep and always aligned to our highest potential. We exist in a sea of intelligent life in which every vibration wants to harmonise with every other vibration. In Gaian healing we learn to hear the hidden song of every living being, not via our ears and physical senses (although we use them too) but through the secret kinesis of how another being feels and what that means to us.
Anyone who begins to focus on their own healing discovers the plant healers sooner or later, swiftly followed by that overwhelming sensation of too much to learn. However, to learn for yourself does not take that much. You do not need to become an herbalist to support your own healing. If you spend time in Nature, barefoot if possible, Gaia will give you personally exactly what you need at that specific time, you just have to pay attention.
“Mother Earth was the first physician and healer. Some day, everyone will realize that she alone owns the true pharmacy in medicine, for all drugs are made from Her garden, or a chemical substitute that replicates the effects and benefits Her plants.”
Our healing and the healing of the Earth are deeply intertwined, we cannot have one without the other and we need this to be the way we live our lives – not just something we do when we are sick. Our disconnection from Nature and the illusion of our separation is the source of our disease and re-immersion is the elixir we seek.
“When all is said and done, the faith that informs the often chimerical art of alchemy comes down to one notion: we can achieve rejuvenation by deep participation in the processes of the biosphere. In short, immortality within Gaia-Sophia. The “Delectable Stone” is the Elixir of Life.”
We made an outdoor shower for retreats because it’s such a lovely thing to do – showering in nature! We looked at lots of options for outdoor shower construction, but the key issue is location and access to water.
We decided to put it just outside the fenced area to the cabin, so any early risers using it don’t get startled by the dogs. Izzy can jump the fence, but she is much smaller than the dobermanns. The area we chose is very secluded, with woods all around and accessed through grapevines.
The cabin is mounted on flat rocks and made of the same chestnut as the tree bog. The local chestnut wood is very cheap to buy unfinished, with bark edges, directly from the wood mill. We decided to put in a small stainless steel basin, as we thought it would last longer and a kitchen style tap, as this allows more room to fill water bottles etc.
The shower platform is also made of chestnut planks and attached to the cabin. It is mounted over a pit filled with rocks, with a drainage trench that leads out to the woods. We’ve set large rocks around the shower platform and planted the border with jasmine, ivy, bamboo, fern and small conifers. We put bamboo canes up against the fence and around the area where the shrubs are a bit sparse for additional privacy. When you step out it’s warm and steamy and smells of jasmine. I can’t wait to try it!
We considered all sorts of options for solar heated showers, but that just wouldn’t give us enough hot water for 10 people to be able to shower in a day! We finally decided on an outdoor instant propane water heater especially for camp sites. It attaches to a hose from the tap by the gate and we can take it down easily in winter.
Our water supply is from our own well and Galicia has some of the cleanest water in the world. The well is deep, 143M and the water is soft and beautiful. We have an excellent pump, so pressure is good too. We are not connected to mains water or sewage here, so all our grey water goes onto the land, therefore we do not use any commercial soaps or shampoos. One of the first things we’ll do on the retreat is make a batch of shampoo and body wash to use in the shower!
We decided on a tree bog for use by our guests this year as it’s a great natural and easy option for summer use. We will only be running retreats in the summer and only for a limited number of people, so this seemed to be the perfect solution.
A tree bog is essentially a small shed raised over a hole with trees around. The trees eat the ‘humanure’, so it is a very ecological solution. Our tree bog is mounted on a frame and keyed into flat stones. It is on agricultural land so we couldn’t use any concrete or anything that might be considered to be a permanent structure. The walls are made of rough cut chestnut slats. The chestnut is local and very cheap. Every other slat goes to the ground for sturdiness and the sides of the hole below floor level are filled with straw. The side planks of the floor are removable, as are the front steps, so that the straw can be replaced as necessary. The roof is made of corrugated polyester – not the best option, but one of the most cost effective.
It is not quite a metre from the floor to the ground beneath the hole. We looked at many designs and everyone said it must be a metre, but we couldn’t find any explanation as to why! it just seemed to be something that was said and repeated. We needed to ensure that the structure was secure, so we worked out our own designs and construction. We’ll see how it works out!
The bench has a proper toilet seat and compartments either side for loo paper and sawdust. We find some sawdust works well as we use it in our composting toilet in the cabin. We’re oiling all the wood with raw linseed oil, which is a good and environmentally sound solution, especially for exterior wood. It dries relatively slowly, but only takes a couple of days in the heat. It’s a bit yellow at first, but that seems to fade. We won’t do the interior this summer, but will probably do it before winter.
We haven’t planted all the trees and shrubs around yet, but there are substantial woods behind the tree bog and we have transferred some local willows an bamboo. There are young oaks growing around too. The local farmer can’t understand why we insist on allowing the trees to grow in the fields. He wants to cut them all down and keep open fields of grass, which he says is to prevent fires! We think keeping the trees is more useful in preventing fires, but we are newcomers here.