Women, wisdom: for NLJ, Corinna Wood speaks with herbalist Amanda McQuade Crawford about learning from curanderas and healing--for ourselves and our planet.[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
Amanda McQuade Crawford Amanda McQuade Crawford, B.A., MNIMH is an herbalist, and teacher. She received her BA in Medieval History from Vassar College, but later went to England where she could study herbal medicine in a depth that was not possible in the United States where herbal medicine had no legal status. is a clinical herbalist herb·al·ist
1. One who grows, collects, or specializes in the use of herbs, especially medicinal herbs.
2. See herb doctor. , teacher, and the author of two books on women's health Women's Health Definition
Women's health is the effect of gender on disease and health that encompasses a broad range of biological and psychosocial issues. : The Herbal Menopause Book and Herbal Remedies for Women. Amanda learns from plants, curanderas, and physicians around the world. Amanda will be in the Asheville area this October 3-5 as the Keynote Speaker at the Southeast Women's Herbal Conference.
NLJ NLJ National Law Journal
NLJ National Liberty Journal
NLJ Nested Loop Join : Can you clarify exactly what are curanderos or curanderas?
AC: In Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. , where I am now, there is a very good program at UCLA UCLA University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA University Center for Learning Assistance (Illinois State University)
UCLA University of Carrollton, TX and Lower Addison, TX that defines folk healers and curanderos according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. what the curanderos say themselves. That definition is "One who cures." There are many hierarchical levels according to the curanderos: homesteaders, spiritual healers, herb healers, and masters of all of those ... and more.
NLJ: Are curanderos specific to a certain culture?
AC: They're all over the world, and they would recognize each other as "curing" people, as healers.
NLJ: Are most curanderos women?
AC: Yes, most curanderos are women, called curanderas. There are more women healers than male healers.
NLJ: And how do you differentiate curanderos from shamans? Are most shamans men?
AC: Shamans are not necessarily men. The word "shaman" came to us from Siberia but has come to mean "a medicine person who intercedes with the world of spirit as well as the world of matter in order to bring about healing." So, of course, that definition includes women.
NLJ: Can you talk about your training with curanderas?
AC: I studied with curanderas in both familiar and foreign cultures. In the Southwestern U.S., there are many "Botanica bo·tan·i·ca
A shop that sells herbs, charms, and other religious or spiritual items, especially those associated with Santeria.
[American Spanish botánica, from Greek " herb shops and healers from many vibrant Mexican, El Salvadoran and other communities. I cannot count how many hours I've spent in the kitchen chatting over food and kids about traditional plant uses!
I have been friends with curanderas as far away as rainforests in the Amazon, where my friend Socorro treats all of the people in her community out of her three-bedroom hut thatched thatch
1. Plant stalks or foliage, such as reeds or palm fronds, used for roofing.
2. Something, such as a thick growth of hair on the head, that resembles thatch.
3. Dead turf, as on a lawn.
tr.v. with palms and without walls. Just down the river, a white American The term white American (often used interchangeably with "Caucasian American" and within the United States simply "white") is an umbrella term that refers to people of European, Middle Eastern, and North African descent residing in the United States. M.D. has another health clinic, and the people go back and forth between those two women easily.
Some of the curanderas I have studied with aren't even sure how to spell that word, and many of them have been in Celtic cultures Welsh wise women, whose second language was English, have shown me their gardens and their recipes, handed down through families for hundreds and hundreds of years. I learned in Scotland and in England and also from my Irish grandmothers.
NLJ: I didn't know this about you and your experience.
AC: No, I usually have a suit on, and I talk very scientifically, and people think that's kind of what I do. That's just my disguise, that's my costume, so that I can get into universities and talk about spirit!
NLJ: How do you see the role of elders today for those of us who are developing our skills as healers?
AC: The role of elder is one that we must honor, and we need to learn from them before they pass. Many profound healers have been lost to us recently--Jeanine Parvati Baker, William LeSassier.
At the Green Nations Gathering in New England, many elders of the First Nation are respected teachers, with young, mostly Anglo, urban audiences. The links through the ages of their wisdom are links that newer healers invigorate in·vig·or·ate
tr.v. in·vig·or·at·ed, in·vig·or·at·ing, in·vig·or·ates
To impart vigor, strength, or vitality to; animate: "A few whiffs of the raw, strong scent of phlox invigorated her" , and evolve, for the changing needs of their communities.
There are many adjustments and gifts involved when we embrace our elders. A lot of the elders in healing don't teach a systematic way, with their class notes all typed out for you, you know!
NLJ: As you've phrased the question yourself, how can our study of this deep wisdom evolving from the plants help us to change humanity's current destructive direction into something creative and healing?
AC: Though I am an herbalist, deeply committed to activism and change, my passion these days is less about teaching people to use chamomile chamomile or camomile (both: kăm`əmīl', –mēl') [Gr.,=ground apple], name for various related plants of the family Asteraceae (aster family), especially the perennial Anthemis nobilis, for upset stomachs caused by overeating overeating
eating too much food too quickly; leads to acute gastric dilatation in dogs and horses, acute carbohydrate engorgement in ruminants, dietetic (dietary) diarrhea in young calves and foals, abomasal tympany in bottle fed lambs and calves. than it is about fundamentals. If there is no clean water, forget about herb tea to heal our ills!
Each person must choose the causes that move them the most, and though we will see big companies and governments pay lip service to "going green," each person who speaks and acts on one issue makes all the difference. We are cells in a greater body, and when a body is ill, it doesn't require every cell to change its function; even a few immune cells, a few liver cells, a few nerve cells, to expand their function--an unpredictable, complex cascade of healing flows from those few changes.
Corinna Wood is the director of the SE Women's Herbal Conference and Red Moon Herbs. Corinna lives and works at Earthaven Ecovillage, an intentional community in Black Mountain, NC. For more information on the Conference, or to learn about Corinna's Wise Woman Immersion courses, visit www.sewisewomen.com or call 877-739-6636.