Radical self care for earth-based women
Like most women, I wear many hats. To sustain the energy levels that my life requires–without the use of caffeine or other stimulants–I have learned that I need to practice what I fondly refer to as radical self-care. The word "radical" means of the root. And self care is indeed at the root of our health. Here are some of my favorite self-care practices for earth-based women . . .
Drinking herbal infusions
One of my favorite daily practices is herbal infusions—strong, medicinal teas brewed with nutritive herbs such as nettles, oatstraw or red clover, which nourish the body with needed minerals and vitamins.
An infusion is a potent, powerful, medicinal tea. To make an infusion, the plant material must be steeped for a long time. I find the easiest way to do this is to prepare it before going to bed and drink it in the morning.
As a lifelong student of the plants, I prefer to make a "simple"—one herb at a time. That way, I can get to know that herb . . . what color does the infusion turn? how does it taste? how do I sleep? You could rotate through several over the course of a week if you like.
To prepare an infusion
1. Put one ounce (approximately a cup) of dried herb into a quart jar.
2. Fill with boiling water and put a lid on.
3. Let it steep for 4-8 hours.
4. Strain the herbs out with a kitchen strainer.
5. Drink hot or cold over the next day or two, keeping the rest in the fridge.
If you find you don't like the taste of a particular herb, you might sweeten your tea with honey or stevia–or just add a pinch of mint into your brew the next time.
For a concise reference on making herbal infusions and other medicinal preparations, you may want to grab a copy of my Wise Woman Medicine Making Chart.
Nourishing traditional foods
My radical self-care includes nourishment for the body—good water; local, organic produce; fermented foods (like yogurt and kimchi); and healthy fats (like organic butter and coconut oil).
In the Wise Woman Tradition we love our bodies, and feed our bodies healthy, whole food—rather than looking at our bodies as dirty, needing to be “cleansed” or purged of impurities. Instead of dieting and fasting (which reinforces an adversarial relationship with our bodies), we turn our focus to nourishment. We include a wide range of fresh, wholesome foods—both cooked and raw, from a variety of plant and animal sources. And that includes healthy fats.
Yes. Fats. As women, we are culturally conditioned to be afraid of eating fat. Fats have been demonized in both mainstream and alternative nutrition, but we need to have healthy fats in our diet to encourage the smooth functioning of the hormonal system. Despite the recent low-fat fervor, healthy fats—from sources such as organic butter, olive oil and coconut oil—are an essential component of nutrition for women and growing children.
Healthy fats support the adrenal system, the menstrual cycle and women in menopausal years; give us concentrated energy and reduce sweet cravings; and assist in the digestion and absorption of the minerals and other nutrients in our food, in turn supporting the hormonal, nervous, and immune systems.
And a well-kept secret is that including healthy fats in our diets can actually support us in reaching our optimum body weight. Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, and Eat Fat, Lose Fat, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig are wise woman favorites on the kitchen shelf.
Laying on the earth
The Wise Woman Tradition is grounded in the Earth and her cycles and encourages us to remember that with every breath, we receive her gifts. Stepping back into right relationship with our Mother requires us to let go of the concept of being “other” than the land and the creatures that inhabit it.
As children, we were naturally drawn to run barefoot—to lie in the sweet summer grass, to play amid the autumn leaves, to sit on the ground. It’s time to reclaim that joy.
A large body of research has verified what ancient people knew about “earthing”—lying on the Earth for guidance and comfort. Even just a few minutes a day of simply lying quietly in the park, in your yard or garden or in the woods benefits physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Lie on the Earth, belly down, to receive nourishment and healing energy. Lie on your back to release and let go of tension, grief or anger—energies that may be “stuck” in your body; allow them to flow through you into the soil to be absorbed and transformed in the healing arms of the Mother.
Much like snuggling with a beloved, laying on the Earth allows your mind and body to rest, relax and receive.
Even if you can’t fully recline, simply taking off your shoes and walking for a while in the grass or sitting on a rock or log and feeling that attachment is calming and restorative.
So go on . . . wiggle your toes.
Following our natural rhythms
Radical self-care means loving ourselves at our roots—body and soul. I've found activities that both relax and enliven me, and weave them into my weekly flow as much as possible—yoga, hiking, journaling, time with close friends, bodywork, baths and connecting with nature.
One of the most radical parts of radical self-care requires us to take the initiative to structure our lives to correspond more closely with the rhythms of nature–the rhythm of the day, the week, the month and the year.
Women have more energy when we get up with the sun (instead of an alarm clock), take a moonday around the onset of moontime, and slow down during the winter months. It may seem impossible to create a life like this, yet we can all take small steps that move us in that direction—toward a level of self-care that can feed the energy for our lives.
When I engage in radical self-care, my energy levels are strong. I sleep well and I wake eager to work, to contribute to the world and to be in service to the women and the earth. May we all be so nourished.
Corinna Wood, seasoned teacher and mentor along the wise woman path–from herbs to self love
"I was initiated into the Wise Woman Tradition at the tender age of 22, by Susun Weed and a beloved patch of nettles. Today, I support women with inner growth and healing tools to ground you in your own innate wisdom, needs and desires. My teachings on heart and soul healing draw on earth wisdom of our foremothers––the shoulders on which we stand––to navigate the challenges we face as women in the world today."