Harmony, serenity and empowerment are words that come to mind when I think of this wonderful class from Dr. Arzu’s “Bush Medicine Walking the Talk”. A diverse class of keen individuals, ready to discover the growing world around them, and share their experience. Each person coming from all different parts of Punta Gorda to gather under the Palapa at Dr. Arzu’s home on a Saturday, or to cozy in at ProWorld on a Wednesday over these past two months. Eager, ready and inspired to learn and to apply the learning from each session together.
Before this class, Kelly and I would go hiking through the jungle along the riverside, trek throughout the farmland admiring the intricate plants as they reached high and burst their mosaic of color and scents across the land… each one so different from the last. They are all so full of life, and some express their vitality by moving gently as we touch them: right before our eyes they are open then closed. The tapestry of color and the texture that plants in the jungle create is astounding… and before developing an understanding of the medicinal properties of some of the plants we see, they were just that, a tapestry in the jungle.
How empowering is it to begin to understand the world around us, and to acknowledge the greatness and guidance that the plants offer, as so many cultures of Belize do. The focus of this class was on the knowledge from the ancestors of the Garifuna culture (in combination with Dr.Arzu’s scientific knowledge as well). The traditional, Garifuna culture belief is that healing is spiritual in nature and in essence, plants will guide us to healing… a natural, revered and intuitive process.
“To the Garifuna people, healing remains in the realm of the divine. Spirituality and
healing to the Garifuna cannot be separated, and are one in the same. Illness is believed
to be caused by the loss of connection between realm of man and the realm of spirit, it is
blocked. Healing is merely the reconnection of these two realms. The role of the healer in
this tradition is to reopen the connection, and thereby restoring health to the complete
individual.” -Arzu Mountain Spirit.
It is through the wisdom of their ancestors, that the knowledge of the plants spiritual nature and healing properties has been passed down to each generation, and is, through time, being acknowledged and proven by science in some respects. Before any scientific study, traditional cultures have been utilizing plants as medicine for thousands of years… and the traditions continue with success today. Being guided by the plants healing properties, common ailments, conditions and stressors are alleviated and healed, and the body is restored.
Each day, I am heart warmed by the knowledge of the people around me, their passion for the earth and what it can offer, in terms of health and wellbeing, this is truly up lifting. A nourishing part of daily life. It’s not only the Farmers, Natural Healers, Doctors or the Massage Therapists that offer their wisdom, for example… it is most members of this beautiful culture, that seems to express this connection. It is an aspect of life that was taught from an early age for most: how to utilize and respect the earth and the plants around us, is the primary focus when an ailment is to be addressed. As I am walking up the driveway along the path to our house, a friend tells me, “this can be mashed and used as shampoo for shiny hair!”, another shares: “take this to relieve your stomach ache, boil it for five minutes”, and after swimming in the sun for too long: “open this leaf and smooth this into your skin to relieve your sunburn”…. as they pick a plant nearby. Being able to recognize and identify and listen to the plants healing properties seems to be an intuitive nature of the friends in Southern Belize… so wonderful, inspiring and refreshing.
Being immersed here has lead us to utilize and savor the plants around us to treat the health conditions here and there that arise as we live and travel… and I am so grateful we have tried… they work! Their has been some that are sweet and delicious to eat and drink and there are others that are more bitter and strong (or should I say very bitter and strong!). Each has delivered it’s desired benefit thus far and provided some comic relief as well: for the bitter concoction, Kelly and I would almost “dare” each other, and laugh at our expressions as we each shoot back a glass of sorosi and garlic that we made as we each gag our way through, but after one or two days we are feeling better… the gag was well worth it! Others, such as Moringa, I have grown accustomed to using regularly to drink the leaves in the morning for alertness and energy (and a bit of protein boost), and to use the dried flowers with my yogurt and fruit, delicious! I still have yet to try the bark, root, and beans… but with this wonderful tree, we can!
It is humbling, encouraging and inspiring to learn about the beautiful plant world around us and the gifts that the earth has to offer; this introduction has ignited my passion to explore more, try more, make more, indulge more and share more about these incredible treasures in our back yard, up the street, in the jungle or down the path. Feeling connected.
With sincere gratitude,