In pre-industrial societies disease was not seen as a ‘random assault from outside’ but as a deeply significant life event integral to the sufferer’s whole being – spiritual, moral, physical and life course – past, present and future.
In modern culture this whole aspect of treating disease is lost. Disease was interpreted as packed with moral, spiritual and religious messages as one of the many ways through which ‘God revealed his will to mankind’. Other philosophies of medicine such as Ayurvedic or Tibetan think similarly, in these, disease even has a karmic aspect.
Around the tenth century in Europe – after the so called ‘Dark Ages’ – women, the original stewards of the land (men did ‘animal husbandry’), were dispossessed of it by the new patriarchies of the Church and State. This male hierarchy hid the things they were most afraid of, namely the fact that it is women who hold the key to the processes and powers of life. They took them as their own, decreeing laws about how we should behave to impose control and inventing ‘original sin’ allied to the curse of Eve and the demonisation of women..
From the early Middle Ages there came a prolonged persecution of women involved in healing. Some sources estimate 5 – 9 million women were destroyed across Europe during this persecution although others claim this a gross exaggeration. Essentially the role of women as healers was discouraged as part of a shift to a patriarchy. This resulted in the destruction of indigenous folk medicine in Europe.
The roles of women in mothering and ‘home-making’ and its many associated skills are still regarded as worthless according to our primarily fiscal values based on GDP. One of the most important things for our future, bringing children into the world, is totally financially unsupported.
When a patriarchy took over, one of the things that happened was that ‘healing’ and ‘spirituality’ were separated out. This shift left our culture bereft of many means of self-healing as a personal journey. The world of spirit and physic were separated and became even more so during the great ‘Age of Reason’ that began with Descartes and continued with Newton and Darwin, the tail-end of which many are presently clinging to in desperation and a degree of applied self-interest. Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) was a central influence on the 17th century revolution that began modern science and philosophy. His ‘Method of Doubt’ was published in 1637:
“I resolved to reject as false everything in which I could imagine the least doubt, in order to see if there afterwards remained anything that was entirely indubitable”.
The philosophy of ‘Cartesian dualism’ became part of our science, where the mind and the body are seen as essentially separate. Misguidedly (it was not Descartes’s intention) this philosophy contributed to the mechanistic and rational philosophy of the universe adopted by our culture. Descartes was one of the first people to suggest that ‘phenomena could be understood by breaking them down into constituent parts and examining each minutely’. His view of the human body as a machine functioning within a mechanistic universe took prevalence within the Age of Reason.
“Consider the human body as a machine. My thought compares a sick man and an ill-made clock with my idea of a healthy man and a well made clock”.
This attention to analytical detail is still at the heart of our scientific research methodologies. Even during the time of Sir Isaac Newton the human body was viewed as an intricate biological machine. The Universe was an orderly, predictable but divine mechanism, a ‘grand clockwork’. Although hundreds of years have passed, Western scientific medicine still holds the same basic philosophy, but is more sophisticated in studying biological mechanisms at a molecular level. Our cultural values are more biased towards examining constituent parts as unrelated than ‘seeing a whole picture’.
The first Newtonian approaches were essentially surgical. The body was seen as if it were a complex plumbing system. If it went wrong the offending piece was removed or bypassed. These days instead of using knives, drugs are often used to do more or less the same things.
Humans though are far more than walking sacks of chemicals. The animating life-force central to other medical systems is an energy that is not addressed by modern scientific methodology and there are no medical models that explain what it is and what it does. It is misguided by the concept that all illnesses are cured by physically repairing or eliminating abnormal cells. This reveals a deep conflict between ‘Western’ and Eastern’ medical philosophies that has its roots in the division of science and religion.
Degenerative disease cannot be treated effectively under a philosophy of reductionism. Research has failed to find effective cures for modern diseases because it is looking in the wrong places with the wrong tools.
Modern disease needs to be understood as a ‘whole’ disease in relation to each individual’s experience and the culture of which they are part. It has multiple causes that vary with each patient. General ‘same cure for everybody’ pills are only produced in the interests of drug manufacturers and they occlude self-healing as an option.
In a world going toxic, you owe it to yourself, your friends and your family to protect your very being, increase your immunity to modern disease and limit harm to our planet. With WildFood Wizard you enter a place of nutrition, of living lightly on the earth and enjoying radiant health. By bringing more of nature’s healing gifts into your life you will find a quiet joy, feelings of belonging, links with natural seasons and cycles – and nature wants you back.
We all know time is running out for our culture on planet earth. You can help by taking a step into a healthy relationship with the natural world around you. Start the journey back to nature with WildFood Wizard, available in hardback, paperback and for the Kindle. Just click the cover image to find out more…