After reading Donna Moon’s article, 5 Steps To A Vibrant Life, in the Spring 2018 edition of She Who Knows, I knew it was time to take action for my body. I started with the third step, body brushing. Dry skin brushing is something that has been on my radar for almost 30 years. I have owned various soft brushes in that time but I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have actually entered into the practice. Living off-grid I don’t get to do full body immersion bathing very often and this Winter I have not been to the pool once. So, after I had purchased an absolutely super-duper new brush, complete with detachable handle for ease and comfort, I was ready to commit myself to new habits.
The first time I used the brush I can honestly say that, on certain parts of my body (namely, thighs), it was as if I was sanding a piece of wood! Small piles of dead skin built up just like sawdust as I went over and over these neglected areas and great clouds of “dust” filled the air, causing much perturbation to my husband as he worried for his lungs! That night I slept soundly and awoke feeling refreshed rather than still tired which is my usual disposition in Winter.
I have been brushing regularly now for almost three weeks and, last week, I had my bleed. Usually I really do suffer with period pain but this time I sailed right through with no pain or lengthy discomfort, and no clots or sickness, just a wonderful, healthy flow and beautiful, sensual feelings that all women should be able to experience at this time of the month. Of course I can’t be sure that this was due to the body brushing, but nothing else has changed in my life, and it makes sense that sweeping away toxins and greatly improving the circulation would benefit the womb.
Now, my body asks to be brushed. It cries out for the soft sweep of bristles on my skin, it is excited at the tingling feeling that each stroke creates as blood rises to just beneath the surface, and it delights in the soaking in of oils that are now massaged into its layers. How things have changed! No more living inside a crust! But rather in a body that delights in a new found freedom and lightness, and that wants to dance with the sweetness of Spring!
Damiana Cavanha is from the Guarani tribe, who are thought to have been one of the first peoples to be contacted after Europeans arrived in South America.
“We decided to fight and die for our land,” she said
Once occupying a homeland of forest and plains in Brazil totaling some 350,000 square kilometers, the Guarani hunted freely for game on their homelands, and planted manioc and corn in their gardens. During the past 100 years, however, almost all their forest land has been stolen from them and turned into vast, dry networks of cattle ranches, soya fields and plantations of towering sugar cane.
A decade ago, cattle ranchers intimidated Damiana and her family, evicting her from her ancestral lands. She has since lived in squalid conditions by the highway; her husband and three of her sons have been run over and killed on the road.
In September 2013, however, she led a courageous and dangerous ‘retomada’ (re-occupation) of the sugar cane plantation that has taken over her ancestral land. A ‘retomada’ had long been Damiana’s hope and solace: the goal that sustained her through the brutal years of eviction, fear, humiliation, malnutrition, bereavement, illness and depression.
“We decided to fight and die for our land,” she said. Sadly, Damiana and her group were brutally evicted in 2016. It took around 100 armed police to remove them. The eviction was widely condemned by Survival International supporters around the world.
For tribal peoples, land is life. It fulfills all their material and spiritual needs. Land provides food, housing and clothing. It’s also the foundation of tribal peoples’ identity and sense of belonging. Activists like Damiana are standing up for their right to their ancestral land, and they need a platform to speak to the world.
On the other side of the Atlantic are the Bushmen, the original people of southern Africa.
Between 1997 and 2002 almost all Bushmen were taken from their homes in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and driven to eviction camps outside the reserve, where they were not only deprived of their ways of life, but humiliated by endemic racist attitudes.
“Let them call us primitive. Let them call us Stone Age people. Our way of life suits us. We have seen their development, and we don’t like it” said a Bushman woman, Xlarema Phuti.
Xlarema is a healer, and was forcibly evicted by the government to New Xade, a government eviction camp known as ‘the place of death’. Xlarema talked to Survival International about the healing powers of the Bushman’s traditional trance dance, and the sadness she has experienced since being evicted from her lands.
“When I’m dancing in the trance dance I talk with the ancestors to help me heal the sick person” she said.
In countries like Botswana, Governments and multinationals are trying to silence tribal peoples. They brutalize and murder them, and they steal their lands. They call them backward and primitive – but they’re not. They have perceptive things to say about almost every aspect of life today.
These are just two of the inspiring stories of women’s courage and heroism Survival International has witnessed in our work with tribal peoples. We’re doing everything we can to support them, and to give them a chance to determine their own futures.
Interested readers are encouraged to join Survival at https://www.survivalinternational.org/
So what is dirty? Other than your laundry, though you may feel shamefaced by that too. You must have examples jumping to your mind, I know you do, let them arrive. Perhaps dirty is that affair you had, or wish you’d had. Maybe it is the sexuality beyond the sexuality you profess to your partner, the things you would really like to do. Dirty could be your guilt. The thing you said, the way you said it. Your truest dirt may be found in a web of lies and misgivings that you tell the world, that you tell yourself. Maybe your dirt is the grit under your nails, the art you create, and the food you prepare, full fat and astonishing. Your dirty is your humanity. It may be discovered holed up with a host of emotions, lust, greed, passion, excitement, love, hunger, fear, hate, adoration, expectation, envy, empathy… Your dirt, your filth is not the excrement of life, but the enacting of it. The things you regret, the things you most certainly don’t. It is our dark. It is that which captures you even when you try, so hard, to turn from it. It is the dark night of the soul, the questions of existence that sneak up and choke you. It is the fireworks set off, on magical occasion, to enlighten your being.
Whilst divinity… That is allegedly something altogether other. It is the connection to a truer, higher, less than human self. Your divinity is purportedly unsullied, it is prayer, incense and magic. It is your connection to intuition. It is not all ‘the light’ though. That is a myth. It is the depth of feeling, the karma, the justice meted out against all you have felt and done. Divine is your feeling of ‘something more’, your inner knowing, the light at the corner of your eye, the shadow at the end of your bed. Divinity was birthing your children, or losing your mother, or finding a lost lover. It was what you learned, how it shook you, where it took you, emotionally, spiritually, transcendentally. It is the shimmer of enlightenment that raises you up and bounces off your well-intentioned words of comfort and love. Divine is unseen, harder to grasp, but you are a woman, you need not see it, you need simply feel it. Allow yourself to feel it.
Alice Grist is a bestselling spiritual author, artist, tarot professional and mother of two young girls. Her work (in all it’s forms) focuses on empowering real modern women to their intuitive spirit.
Find her at www.alicegrist.co.uk
Ideally, the bleed is a time for rest, for going inward, doing as little as possible and taking good care of ourselves. Many women really honour themselves in their Moontime, by having carved out space and time to truly rest and relax. The reality for some of us though is that life continues as usual, and there can be very little extra time, space or energy to give to our bleeds.
Just recently I’ve been so busy that, on numerous occasions, I lost track of when my blood was coming, so it often surprised me and I found myself completely unprepared for it. Not only had I not allowed myself time in my schedule for rest, but also I could not fully settle in my home as it was neither clean nor tidy and, probably worst of all, I had not shopped or cooked beforehand and, apart from a few sunflower seeds and the odd tin of plums, my cupboards were literally bare! This lack of preparation manifested as stress during the bleed and compounded unhelpful feelings of exhaustion and frustration.
It doesn’t have to be like that though. With forethought and a little planning it is possible to really nourish oneself at this time. Luckily many women have an urge to clean and tidy in the pre-menstrual stage and this is a natural readying for rest. Food is such an important element and it’s wise to stock the cupboards well beforehand. It’s worth making a soup and/or stew that will last a couple of days or have something available in the freezer. There are even some delicious ready meals around these days. The onus is on nourishment and ease.
It’s a good idea to plan and shop for all meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner - as well as any snacks and drinks you’ll need to see you through. Personally, I like things that are warming and easy to digest, so I go for smoothies made from fresh fruits, nuts, seeds and kefir, and then vegetable and soft pulse soups and stews with things like quinoa and tempeh. I don’t know about you, but I can eat like a lioness at this point in the month, so having plenty is good. Sugar-free, dark chocolate makes for a delicious, nutritious treat/snack and nettle tea (fresh is best) is a great drink for bleeding women, restoring the iron in our bodies, with some mint too perhaps, to ease the stomach and help to nourish us from the inside out.
Next month I’ll definitely be heeding my own advice and getting myself sorted for some seriously delicious, restful Moontime!
Cheryl Tipple-Trepat - is a writer, artist and Editor of She Who Knows Magazine.
Autumn arrives and she beckons us home to the hearth - after a Summer season of family holidays, festivals and weddings, I have arrived to the satisfying feeling of landing in the warmth and familiarity of home. It's a great time to begin afresh, with the beginning of the new school year and new courses, it’s a perfect moment to get everything in order - cleaning, making medicines that will see us through the Winter, stocking up cupboards with plums, blackberries and apples, tidying my desk and sorting my paperwork! It's a full and satisfying time.
Lighting the fire and welcoming in the spirit of Autumn, I ask her to hold my family and me in these quieter months that we may be nourished and restored, rested and renewed. It's a great time to commit oneself to a creative project and make your own personal intentions for the journey you intend to travel through the darker months, and where you wish to be when you emerge in the Spring.
Many other creatures are tending their homes too, and in Autumn the spider can be seen in her newly woven web waiting patiently for her Winter store of food. This morning as I walked through the wood, I noticed I had absent-mindedly destroyed quite a few of these meticulously woven webs as I trod my way down the path. Feeling somewhat regretful, I took to stepping over these carefully woven webs so that the spider can catch, not just her food, but also her Winter dreaming.
So, if you are inspired, when your nest is prepared, light the fire and/or candles, fill the air with sensual smells and make intentions, spoken from your heart to the flame, that you may dream through the Autumn months, catch nourishment in the web of your womb and come home to the hearth.
Isabella Lazlo - I am a Mother, a Performance Artist, Writer, Bodywork Practitioner and a Facilitator of the Deep Feminine. I sing and drum with the ancient call of the Earth, awakening and stirring the memory of our ancient, wild roots. I bring the depth of my journey as a woman, alongside a wealth of experience and knowledge in somatic movement, bodywork, creativity and feminine awakening. I am passionate about the intelligence of the moving body and through my performance practice I explore the capacity of my body to speak deeply and directly to women of their own lived experience.
Leia Yaniv is a Writer, Researcher, and Academic currently studying her Masters in Gender and International Relations at Bristol University. A background in Dance/Bodywork and Drama fuels her continuing interest in Social Science. An amalgamation of these fields provide the backdrop to her ongoing creative writing and journalism, which reflect her passionate interest in the history of/ and also current notions of Film, Gender and Capitalism. These remain her particular areas of study and expertise.
A plastic-free day!
Today I needed a few things. The first was laundry liquid which I bought a jar of at Earth.Food,Love, the zero waste shop in town. Ordinarily I put 20p into the powder machine at the launderette and, every time I do, I tell myself that I need to buy some more Earth-friendly stuff, but then it slips my mind until I’m there doing the exact same thing the following week. Since I’ve been house sitting though I’ve got into Laundry Liquid and the one available in the shop is amazing – it smells divinely of lavender and is so concentrated you hardly need to use much.
Next I need olive oil but the zero waste shop has not as yet been able to get it in big enough containers so I buy a glass bottle elsewhere. It has a metal lid which I know has plastic on the inside but, right now, in my few spare minutes lunch break from work, I don’t feel there are better options.
Today I need pins and the options are a plastic box of plastic-headed ones or a plastic wheel of plastic-headed ones. There’s not much in it really so I opt for the wheel and feel rubbish that I don’t have more time to find non-plastic ones somewhere else.
Today is the last day of the house sit and, again, I’m rushing around the local health food shop in a few minutes of lunch break trying to buy supplies for our hosts for their return. I buy kefir and celery, both of which include plastic – the kefir in the lid and the celery in the wrapping. I also buy kefir for myself. I feel like I’ve totally failed on being plastic-free and it’s due to time and energy and not having the space to think of other things I could have bought.
Today I am thoroughly exhausted and also have an infection on my foot. I read up on how to treat it naturally and I need salt and bicarb to do so. I have neither, so my husband pops to the local supermarket and buys both along with a – dare I say it – ready meal for me for later since I can’t actually get of bed. The ready meal is, of course, in plastic and feels like the ultimate sin whilst the bicarb is in a plastic container that can be refilled in the future and the salt comes in a glass pot with a plastic lid – again, it can be refilled. I have also read that kefir will help this infection and I feel the need to have it every day so I am going to. I would ideally like to get some water kefir grains and someone was giving some away earlier in the week so I’ll see if I can track them down.
I need medicine for my foot today and the best thing I can find is a locally-made talc. Unfortunately it comes in a small plastic container but I feel this is an emergency. At least if I need more I can probably get it straight from the supplier in a paper bag. I also buy loose teas at Neals Yard and ask them to put them in paper bags rather than plastic. They willingly oblige although they too use the plastic-coated labels that come through the scales. All my food purchases in the health food shop are plastic free but I also want kale to juice and here it only comes in a plastic bag. Luckily I know that the Greengrocer at the bottom of town sells it loose so I make a special trip to get it. It takes a bit of extra walking and time to get there but it feels good to have made the effort.
I remember that I can make pancakes with gram flour and water, no milk required. I’m so pleased and it makes me realise how simple it can be to make important changes to our consumer habits. I am able to buy peas in the natural packaging of their pods at the farm shop and I take my own vegware container for a takeaway salad. Everything else I buy is loose veg and eggs in a cardboard box.
After both a breakfast and a lunch of chickpea pancakes – hope I don’t go off them - I
make my way into town to buy groceries and head straight for Earth.Food.Love, the zero waste shop, with a basket full of large empty jars that I fill up with seeds, grains and nuts. Next I head to the health food shop and buy loose veg. This whole challenge is starting to feel a lot easier. I’m not even really thinking about all the plastic-wrapped food on the shelves anymore, I just know I can’t have it and the discomfort of still wanting it or thinking that it’s going to make my life easier, has gone. It does help to keep watching clips of turtles with plastic straws stuck about 5 inches up their nostrils or caught in plastic bags which have deformed their shells as they’ve grown, or divers collecting plastic trash from the sea bed and children playing amongst rubbish in rivers and, although I often feel like my little effort won’t really make that much difference, I’m encouraged to read of whole towns and cities elsewhere in the world who are also embracing this challenge and I hope that, like me, those people are finding ways to sustain this after #plasticfreejuly is over.
Again, today all of my purchases were plastic free – apart from the inside of the lid of the jar of kefir, which I’ve talked about before. Occasionally it feels a bit like the food we’re eating at the moment is very restricted – I’m not sure we’ve ever consumed this many pumpkin seeds on consecutive days before – but I am finding myself being more creative with ingredients and most of our meals are now made completely from scratch. I did buy some nut burgers today because I had a very long day at work and I have found a brand – GoodLife (I feel they deserve a plug) – which doesn’t use any plastic packaging, only a cardboard box which, I’m finding, is rare these days! I have to say, I’m also starting to feel really good in myself now too which goes to show that conscious living is good for you and the planet!
Had a takeaway lunch from an amazing Dosa stall on the market. Not only does the man who runs it grow a lot of the vegetables he uses, but he also serves the dosas on a thick paper plate with wooden cutlery. What a great, sustainable-as-possible food outlet! Later I went for a cup of tea but decided to track down a café that served it loose rather than in bags having recently found out that most – yes MOST – teabags contain plastic! Unbelievable when you think that a teabag HAS to be heated and often soaks for a while. I’m not sure what “grade” the plastic is but we were living with plastic free teabags for quite some time before these were introduced surely? I’m wondering what is the point of plastic in a flipping teabag??! As usual with sustainability in mind, it’s time to go back to the “old ways” – loose tea made in a pot or just a small amount in an infuser or the bottom of the cup. This summer I’ve been drinking teas made with herbs and flowers picked fresh from the garden, the allotment or the wild. They are so much more potent since teas sit around in teabags for a long time before they make it into our cups and can be a low grade substance to begin with anyway. I found one café out of the five I enquired at which served tea loose so I took a paper cup of it away and declined a lid. The woman behind the counter told me I could take my own cup in too if I wanted so, another time, I will.
Again, I bought lots of veg for dinner and wanted to get my husband some meat but there’s nowhere in town that sells organic meat that isn’t pre-packed in plastic so I decided I would make us some seed and bean burgers later on. I haven’t made burgers/sausages from scratch for a really long time because I haven’t had the time, space or energy but tonight I will. Good habits are developing!
No plastic was bought today!
I almost managed a plastic-free day today except that my foot infection had got so bad that I decided to go down the pharmaceutical route and bought some medication for it which came in small plastic bottles that can’t be re-used.
The last day of #plasticfreejuly and I really mess up! I so wanted to end on a good note but I spent the best part of the morning grappling with a printer that just wouldn’t work and got myself into a total, running-late, freaking out kind of state. I had to get a parcel off to the drop-off point which is a tiny shop in the area. Since it was almost lunch time and I would be in a meeting for the rest of the day and I hadn’t really eaten any breakfast, I knew the wise thing to do was to buy food in this shop. For a small store on a housing estate it does really well with some interesting things to buy though not much that wasn’t wrapped in plastic in some way. I grabbed a large packet of crisps which look like they’re in a foil packet but there is plastic involved too. I could kid myself that there isn’t but I know there is. Apart from that, I did fulfill the plastic-free remit, buying the food for dinner at the farm shop where everything was loose and the sausages could be wrapped only in paper.
Today I bought milk – in a plastic bottle – but not for me, so I don’t feel it counts.
I pretty much managed a totally plastic-free day today. I shopped at the local farm shop where all the veg I bought was loose and both the butchery and the cheese counter obliged to only wrap in paper rather than extra plastic bags. Unfortunately the labels they stuck on each packet were plasticky and, when I opened the can of beans I’d bought there, I found it had a narrow strip of plastic film inside it. I’m wondering what becomes of this film though. I imagine that cans get melted down in the recycling process so does this little strip simply get burned away? I will do some research.
Later my husband picks up some of my prints from the framers. They have a plastic wrap around the outer edges to hold them together and protect them. I don’t feel like I’ve “bought” this as such although it is very much single-use plastic that has just ruined my day!
I pop into a supermarket for a lunch snack and there’s not a great deal in there that doesn’t involve plastic! ALL of the organic fruit and veg are wrapped in it. I don’t even bother scouring the shelves for anything that isn’t but manage to get some onion bhajis from the deli counter in a paper bag – it does have a plastic sticker on it though. Later I pop to the greengrocer’s where everything is gloriously loose. I fill the basket with lots of lovely fruits and vegetables. Something else I need is a birthday card – they’re ALL wrapped in plastic of course so I decide to make my own instead.
I’m bleeding today and it’s one of those days when I just want to eat and eat and eat. I’m working in the restaurant all day so I’m able to eat there but later on I need a snack and it can’t be sugary. I go to the health food shop but, apart from fruit which isn’t filling enough, there’s nothing available that isn’t wrapped in plastic. I fancy a smoothie – filling and easily digested – but there are none here so I go for a glass jar of kefir. I know it has plastic on the inside of the lid but this feels like an emergency situation and I will re-use the jar.
I don’t buy any plastic today whatsoever. I’m house sitting for a friend and she’s left mozzarella in the fridge to be eaten up so we still get to have a treat!
I don’t buy anything with plastic today apart from the sticker on the sausages at the farm shop again.
Today my husband bought two sacks of compost. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that, of course, the bags are plastic and, since I was giving him the money for one of them, I inadvertently bought it.
Today I needed to go to the Post Office and also wanted to buy some fish for my husband’s dinner. I decided to venture to our local small town though, with further thought, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get fish that wasn’t wrapped in plastic there. I remembered that there’s a Fish Deli in the next town along so I went there instead. I told them I was doing Plastic Free July and they said they only ever wrap the fresh fish in paper anyway. Next I needed something for myself so I took a pot of their homemade hummous, in a vegware container. Since my last vegware purchase I’ve read that they have to be in a temperature of at least 40 degrees to break down. What are the chances of that in the UK? Perhaps it is possible inside a vast rotting heap in Summer though I’m not so sure. Bio-plastics certainly do assuage consumer guilt, but do they really work in practice? The best thing to do seems to be to take your own containers everywhere you can and shop in places that will accept them without question. The woman in the fish deli told me that they are all about sustainability so she was glad to hear I was shopping there especially because of it although I paid over £10 for two items so not very personally sustainable I have to say!
Everything was pointing to a Spanish omelette for tonight’s dinner except that old fall-down, the milk. Fortunately, still being on my house sit, there was a large carton of milk in the fridge and it was still usable, so I made a huge omelette! Apart from that I only bought a few loose fruits but instructed my husband to get his own sausages since I wasn’t venturing anywhere that wouldn’t wrap them in plastic. I almost bought a tin of beans but that little plastic film inside would have scuppered things so instead I used peas (from the house sit freezer) which my husband doesn’t really like, so I hid them in the depths of the omelette and he was none the wiser.
I have to admit that so far this week I’ve been looking forward to the end of this month when I can buy anything at my own convenience again. However, there’s a big part of me that really can’t continue to do that. I’m feeling that if I can get my shit together I can get better at this. I can soak dried pulses ready to cook the next day, I can switch to water kefir, I can keep taking my own containers out shopping and I might even be able to source milk straight from the dairy in one of them. I live off-grid, without a fridge, so I shop pretty much everyday for food anyway and don’t eat a huge amount of dairy products or we use them up very quickly. Summer has, as usual, been pretty hectic and I haven’t been in a good groove with myself but rather just about getting by with some half-decent nutrition. When Autumn comes I’ll be much more ready and able to come home to myself and lick this thing!
Isabella Lazlo is a mother and an artist dedicated to bringing through the voice of the feminine in service of healing and re-balancing upon our Earth. As Editor at She Who Knows, a new and inspiring woman's magazine, she weaves an ever-expanding rich tapestry of voices from today's leading women, the inspirational, impassioned, heartfelt voices of women who care for our Earth and serve as midwives in the birth of a new world.