Now, don’t be scared off by that word “witch.” Its true definition is “Wise One.” She was the natural healer and midwife for many centuries, using herbs and skills passed down through many generations to help peasant populations. She birthed the babies, assisted the dying and helped heal the sick. Witches were often the only practitioners of medicine for entire villages. Many of their remedies are still used today.
Hundreds of years ago, European ruling classes began training men at the university level to become physicians, thus paving the way for the medical profession as we know it today. This fascinating history is well-researched and reported in a book called Medicine Women: A Pictorial History of Women Healers by Elisabeth Brooke.
Women had been deeply involved in the healing arts for centuries before this. And in the midst of the new practice of medicine, they continued their own healing practices, using extensive knowledge of plants, herbs and roots. To their ultimate detriment, they also relied heavily on what could be called intuition, a sixth sense. For the new ruling class, this was all too mysterious. It seemed to go against their interpretation of God’s law.
Along with the cultural change that the new European ruling classes inspired came the notion that healers were not following a proper code of conduct. Indeed, some of their practices were so strange (rituals, nighttime celebrations and so forth), the ruling classes thought that the devil could very well be assisting these women. Healings that occurred in ways that didn’t make sense were deemed too magical, unnatural and thus against God.
During this time, woman-as-healer was turned into the wicked witch she is caricatured as today, complete with evil intentions and scary spells; a big crooked nose and dark, draped clothing, a broomstick and a loud cackle. In a Google search to define the word “witch,” a variety of definitions come up, including a woman who practices black magic; an ugly, ill-tempered old woman; a woman having a compact with the devil; and even “a woman who is not submissive to her husband.”
Because of the mysteries and misunderstandings of old-fashioned herbal healing, women healers (and a large number of male healers, too) were eliminated. They were silenced through fear or violently killed. But the practice lived on. Many of the traditions rituals and celebrations can be found incorporated into our modern holidays. Plants that sprout from the earth have healing qualities, and this simple fact isn’t easy to ignore.
In honor of the millions of people today who use the earth’s bounty to heal, and in honor of both male and female healers – which include our wonderful university-trained physicians, as well – I offer you this “Witch’s Brew to Heal the Flu.” It’s the appropriate time of year for it!
I think you’ll find it to be a welcome “magical potion,” helping you to feel fine throughout this flu season. It is very good for when you feel you might be coming down with something or when you are already in the midst of a cold or flu. To make your “brew,” use a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass pot.
- 3 quarts water
- 8-10 pieces of fresh ginger (cut into 1/2” pieces)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- The juice of two lemons
- 2 tablespoons crushed garlic (don’t be afraid of garlic – better to smell like it than to spread germs to others!)
Simmer all ingredients for 8-10 minutes. Drink as warm as possible. This can be left on the back burner of your stove for a few days to be reheated as you go along. Drink 3-4 cups a day, as needed.
NOTE: The information contained in this post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor should you delay medical advice or treatment based on any information I might offer.
Read more by Dr. Grant on her blog, Dr. Grant Holistic
Image by turtlemom4bacon via Flickr