Darkness into Light

This is my favorite time of year.  Not only does fall bring amazing colors in the landscape, but apple cider, squash pies, crisp air, and fall festivals.  My favorite festival of the year is the lesser known one of Samhain, which occurs on November 1st.

This is a Celtic born holiday.  Samhain is a Gaelic word which translates as “summer’s end.”   The Celts viewed the year as divided into two seasons: the light season and the dark season.  Literally the days are getting darker and shorter.  May 1st, Beltaine, is the beginning of the light season.fall-leaves-tree

The Celts felt it was very important to honor the opposing forces of light and dark.  They saw all of life in opposing pairs, the same way that the Chinese view life in their concept of yin and yang.  Light and dark, cold and hot, far and near, all of life can be divided into two categories: the dark or yin forces and the light or yang forces.

It is interesting to note where the Celts viewed this continual process starting from.  Their day began and ended at dusk; their year began and ended on November 1st.  Both of these cycles start with darkness.  They understood the world as springing from darkness, the way they saw their seeds needed time underground before they became  fertile plants.  Darkness was sacred because the old needed to die before the new could be born; there was a certain amount of incubation needed to produce life.

The Chinese have a similar view.  They too believe that the yin, or darkness, is what the yang must spring from.  There is always some aspect of both yin and yang in all things and in varying degrees and ratios.  However, if there is not enough yin available, life will not appear.  

Many times in our culture we do not appreciate the yin enough.  We see times of incubation as a nuisance; we see the darkness as something that needs to be cured or cut out.  What we fail to see is that the cycle starts in the darkness and without it the full beautiful life that we want to live would not be possible.  We want to believe that we can be in the womb for nine months and then go, go, go for the rest of our lives.  But this does not honor the interchange of yin and yang, the very cyclical nature that we are.  We will invariable have times of lower energy; the problem occurs when we do not honor the yin and instead push through.  This is what creates a culture addicted to caffeine and suffering from chronic fatigue.  The more we honor the yin and replenish, the yang will then have a base to spring forth.  

I always feel a lot of energy in the fall; I believe my body feels the yin time of year approaching and knows that soon it will fall into quieter energy patterns as the darkness envelopes us.  Understanding and listening to these cycles has also allowed me to appreciate winter.  I allow myself these quieter energies because I know that the darkness will eventually turn back into the light.

A short Homeopathic Proving for Heracleum mantegazzianum

hogweedA short Homeopathic Proving for Heracleum mantegazzianum

a.k.a Giant Hogweed

by Armand J. Crolli, NC

© 2013, Armand J Crolli

 

The whole herb was wild-crafted and washed. Samples of the fresh root, stem, leaves, flower and seeds were weighed and used in the making of the tincture. The diluent was a 40% alcohol solution and enough added to achieve in all probability, a 1:9 to 1:10 dilution of the whole fresh plant, which is approx. 80-85% water content, to make a tincture comparable to the French Homeopathic CoContinue reading

Body of Knowledge

I had an epiphany the other day.  I realized I knew me more than I thought.

self awarenessSomeone asked how Oriental medicine worked.  I began talking about my own experience with the modality.

I have received Oriental medicine since 2009.  I originally came to this path because of numbness in my hands and feet.  

That issue has passed.  Why was I still going?  I am sure they were looking for a one or two word “problem.”  Instead, I started telling them this whole “crazy” list of symptoms:

  • a feeling that I have in my midsection, a feeling of uncomfortable fullness
  • this feeling always mirrors my mind being too full; it gets worse when I am closer to my monthly cycle  
  • this feeling of fullness affects my breathing, which creates a particularly painful feeling right underneath my diaphragm  
  • my clothing feels tight even though I have not gained any weight
  • everything feels heavy, as if my stomach is going to fall into the earth
  • my eating is irregular and so is my digestion when these symptoms are present
  • when I feel this way, I want to disassociate, use anything to get away from how it feels to “be in my skin”
  • this feeling is worsened by lack of movement, and alleviated by movement

And then I realized: I was learning pattern discrimination.

Pattern discrimination is how Oriental medicine diagnoses.  What I was doing was not just pattern discrimination in general Oriental medical terms, but my pattern discrimination.  I was learning my body and learning how to read my body’s cues.  

We are not taught how to read our own body’s cues; at least I certainly wasn’t.  I was taught that I could not understand anything about myself without the help of some intermediary; and this intermediary came in many forms:  physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  I was taught that I needed this intercession in order for me to gain any “knowledge” about myself.  

For most of my life I have discredited my own self knowledge in deference for everyone else’s expertise.  

All of our practitioners here ask for something different.  They ask that I be aware of my body and be able to voice that awareness to them.  They have taught me that various signs that I say are “silly” or are “just a peculiarity with me” are important for just that reason: because they have to do with me in particular, not what someone else says I should feel or experience.

The practitioners here have helped me to learn my language.  They have also given me the tools to navigate my own terrain.  This has taken time and effort on my part; however, this not only empowers me but allows them to treat me better.  The more that I have self awareness and voice that to them, the more they can really shine as practitioners.

And you know what?  All of this self awareness allows me to not only feel better in general but function better in my life.  I will take that body knowledge any day.