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Mothers and Soldiers

Mothers and Soldiers both have a day of remembrance in the national calendar, and most people think the similarities stop there. An anthropologist could write several books on the interesting cultural phenomenon that while mothers definitely face pain, and combat injury, hostility, violence, ridicule and even today, sometimes death, in pregnancy and childbirth, it simply isn’t done to talk about it, as one can for the military. A woman killed by the father of her child makes the news a couple times a month, but the pain, danger, labour and sometimes permanent injury that mothers face during pregnancy and birth is never discussed; as if the location where pain happens makes a difference!

Part of the perceived difference may be in the culture’s perception of soldiering as active, and having a baby is perceived by the culture as passive – when everything goes well. If some problem arises, everyone is quick to blame the mother – which shows a schizophrenic kind of view of pregnancy and labour!

Soldiers have a mirrored result – good outcomes result in medals and honour, and bad outcomes result in generals or politicians taking blame. Raw Tibicos suspects this is the result of confusion about gender roles in intimacy. Soldiers have historically been mostly men, and mothers are by definition, are women. Traditionally, male soldiers showed great vigour with long rod-like weapons . . . perhaps no more need be said about that side of perceived gender roles . . . on the gentler side, there is scandalous confusion over the difference between “passive”, as in “passive like an inanimate object”, and “receptive”, as in, “let me guide your energy”.

The ancient world understood this: understanding of the immense importance of receptive-guiding-energy is why Sophia (wisdom), Liberty, Truth, Fate, Justice are all female. All of these are essential for human life – all must be sought – but never conquered – just like the essential nature of receiving. Would any of us want Wisdom, Liberty, Truth, Justice, or even Fate, that was inert, lifeless; passive?

Yet, as soon as one becomes expectant, the modern world wants the mother to be like a doll, allowing medical interventions for her body and her baby, without opinions or participation in the birth process. The process of birth is a sacred dance between mother and child, giving and taking on both sides – a breath here, a position adjustment there – small, constant adjustments that make the difference between life and injury – or worse. Where in today’s culture do we give expecting mothers the Sophia needed to be the heroines of their own dangerous passage from innocence to motherhood? Those readers who have experienced labour; how many of you were empowered by those around you to be the star of your own body’s birth? How many of you were pushed into second or third place, behind the medical establishment’s interventions, opinions, and needs? Where are the medals and honours for exceptional bravery and self-sacrifice? Raw Tibicos suspects that the answers to these questions would sadden all of us who care about happiness.

Those of you who are not mothers; when have you seen a movie or other portrayal of labour where the mother is the Sophia – the guiding wisdom – of the birth? Have you even once seen the labouring mother’s needs or requests validated, honoured?

If readers have the idea that mothers should be honoured as soldiers are, that is only a part of what this is about! Let’s return to the notion of vigorous, obvious action, as contrasted with receptive, grounded, channeled agency. Today’s concept of “staying healthy”, falls into the archetype that we just rejected. On the one side, a war-like state with our bodies – jogging, starving ourselves, eating unpleasant foods, taking mountains of powdered supplements. If that fails, culture decrees an utterly passive, inert reliance on the medical world to fix us.

Shall we be the heros and heroines of our own health, in a channeled, wise, receptive way? Raw Tibicos has a collection of suggestions to live more healthy, joyful lives, with interventions that should be so soft and natural that when sought (but not conquered) these practices become invisible supports, as invisible, yet valuable as Wisdom, Liberty, Truth, and Justice. These were originally sent in the newsletter, but repetition and context doesn’t make them less valuable:

  • How about any activity that gets one’s hands in the soil? Starting about twenty years ago, scientists began finding that some of the bacteria that make our guts healthy can be replenished from soil bacteria —  as a seller of a pro-biotic beverage — Raw Tibicos probably shouldn’t have mentioned that soil bacteria are also beneficial!   Additionally, a recent study showed that the components of healthy soil help wounds clot quickly.  It is comforting to know that if one is injured, far from help, and handful of dirt might save the day and stop the bleeding.  Proof that gardens are indeed, blessed!
  • Use Nature’s original disinfectant —  Sunlight!   With so much being closed, it’s a great time to discover some off-the-beaten path walks, and less-travelled times.  Scientists are discovering more and more how linked human life is to actual sunlight.  The staff at Raw Tibicos are universal in this, we all feel that time outside is essential for health! If you do not already know what your Minimum Daily Nature Time is, this might be the chance to experiment!
  • On the topic of ourselves being linked to the natural world, it is easy to forget that we evolved without artificial light. If one has trouble sleeping, adjusting your indoor lighting to reflect the sun’s natural rhythms may be all the remedy that is needed for a good night’s sleep.  When the sun is high, turn on all the lights inside, and when the sun is down, dim inside lighting to the minimum possible, as close to the light of candles as possible.   Twenty years of experimenting with this, have shown Raw Tibicos that physical energy and “sunny good nature” are quickly affected by bright electric lights at night!   Give it a try, and see if there is any reaction in your household —  at the worst — lower electric bills!
  • On the subject of artificial light, perhaps we have all noticed that it differs from sunlight? We have all experienced red, tired eyes with blurry vision, from spending too much time looking at computer screens?  This is because our eyes are adapted to the ultimate in full-spectrum light —  the sun.  The imbalances in artificial lighting cause a wide range of human imbalances, ranging from blurry sight and splotchy skin, to documented behavioural and health problems with school children.  This is another quick and easy experiment to try:  1). try to limit regular fluorescent lighting, and if not, try to put physical distance between you and it 2). use computer glasses to balance the blue light, and 3). consider spending some time in front of some of the red/ infra-red lights that are sold, to counter-balance all the too-blue!
  • It seems as if science is daily making new discoveries about the previously-unsuspected benefits of new and old plants.  This one is good for inflammation —  that one has antioxidants — it can get overwhelming!  We often forget about the healing power of the plants that are so familiar, they get called ‘spices’, many of which were originally included for their healing powers.   Has it been a while since you tasted rosemary?  It makes a great tea!  How about some tarragon on your eggs?  Chopped basil on your salad?  Turmeric and ginger in your hot milk?  Sumac on fresh fruit?   Give your spices a daily work out and I think you will find that they will work for you —  A word about plants:  plants often carry the nickname “master chemists”, as unlike human chemists, plants have access to more chemical compounds, and can vary their growth according to need.   Science has found that plants quickly become more bitter in response to an animal or insect eating their leaves —  not only in the plant being browsed on, but also its neighbours change leaf chemistry!  This rapid adaptability of plants has led many herbalists and foodies to speculate that we can rely on our plant friends to carry some of the burden of keeping us healthy, of responding to the shifting nature of disease, by working with these master chemists.
  • On the subject of chemistry, please remember that our skin absorbs many items right through it, into the blood!  Any unhelpful substances absorbed by the skin, must be filtered through the liver and kidneys, which is fine much of the time, but perhaps a burden when one is fighting an infection.   Ayurvedic tradition asks that one only put edible items on the skin; that seems an attractive way to think of it? How often do we think of our skin as delicious?
  • It is true that not every micro-organism is beneficial to humans; being so small, often they cannot tolerate the wide range of conditions that larger beings can. For this reason, fever is one of our body’s most effective defences against infection, which is why doctors often let a fever burn itself out —  and perhaps why if we get a chill, we are more prone to getting sick.  Generating heat like that does place a strain on our bodies  —  however, we can get all the benefits and none of the downside, by having a hot bath —  or sauna for those lucky enough to have access to one — and there is the additional benefit of stress reduction!  This might be a good time to treat yourself to a daily hot bath — as a preventative measure  —  stop a just-caught virus before it gets a foothold!   If you are bored, or curious, you can always check to see the impact by taking your temperature before and after the bath  — I know one couple who did this, and the change in body temperature was surprising.

Seven tips for a healthier life; playing outside, a nice hot bath afterwards, be careful who your (skin) associates with, limit night-time bright lights, eat well cooked and nicely spiced food; have herbal tea rather than soda — all of them the kinds of things our mothers tell us to do! It also sounds like the list of things soldiers miss most – that and the healing from laughter with loved ones. Picking one at random – the sun actively shines on us – but does that make us passive? Aren’t we all – plants, humans, animals – receptive to the sunlight – channeling the gift of sunlight into work and play?

It has been said that our everyday habits become character: our character becomes our Fate! In this way, Fate becomes the best symbol of the receptiveness that is the ultimate gift for every mammal, from our mothers. Let’s hold close to our hearts the vision of mothers and babies in an intimate dance of birth; let the feminine energies of Wisdom, Liberty, Truth, Justice, channel our life-force like a baby toward health. Do we require active, warlike, interventions to mechanically stretch our children to make them grow? No! Our children receive nourishing food, healthy environments and joy in learning, and they grow without effort creating their own Fate. Can we do less?

If you like this series of articles, please do support the work by purchasing @RawTIbicos products, here: soupkefir.ca — even you don’t like this writing, please consider purchasing, anyway, as twenty-five years is a long time for testing; many of the products are extremely good! Information provided is for entertainment only, no medical or other advice is offered.

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Help! The Dog Ate My Dinner!

WAR – isn’t our culture comfortable with war? War on Drugs, War on Cancer, War on Poverty, War on Terrorism, War on Viruses – If this blog were titled War on Bad Food, it would click into today’s gestalt without a seam. Only one problem – experts, observers and victims – all – have seen no decline in the objects of War. Shouldn’t drugs, cancer, poverty, terrorism and viruses know that civilized people have ganged up on them and all their works, and slink away, out of sight and away from harm?

Drugs, cancer, poverty, terrorism and viruses – it’s a motley crew – one collection of chemicals, one metabolic disfunction, two unwanted results of modern economies, and one by-product of life – and the techniques of war have failed on all of them. It reminds Raw Tibicos of a dog we once had, a large Bernese Mountain Dog with a dominant personality. A dominant personality – in a dog – or a drug, or a disease, or a social problem – means that the dog enjoys challenging your status quo more than he enjoys praise or being a good team member. The maxim, “Any attention is good attention,” was written by a dominant dog. . . and perhaps perfected by The War on X, where bad news brings in more funding?

People think of peace as the opposite of war – but it is a lot more than that – peace is actually an active verb. Just as war requires both material and a certain way of thinking, so peace has its own infrastructure and peculiar ways of thinking. If war is two stags locking horns and wrestling for victory, then peace is each stag with his own grazing area and family to raise. It can be difficult to understand ourselves by simply gazing into the mirror; what is hard to see in ourselves can be easy to understand when watching other beings do the same thing. Let’s continue by looking at the household dog; the dominant Berner, mentioned earlier.

Picture yourself, hungry, sitting down to a fabulous meal – featuring @RawTibicos veggie mixes and water kefir, available here: soupkefir.ca – and a 120 pound dog, clad in the Berner dinner jacket of black back fur and white fur necktie, sits down next to you and calmly begins chewing on the table! Just in case you haven’t noticed, he leaves his jaws locked on the table, swivels his eyes toward yours, full eye contact, and gives the table a challenging bite. Dinner is perfectly cooked, the absolute right temperature for eating, smells are steaming up from the plate, the water kefir glass is frosted, and your loved dog is commanding your mad attention, because he thinks that your hunger is stronger than your desire for a well-behaved dog. Your Berner has nothing of importance to lose, but if you dash after him, then your dinner might get lost to the Golden Retriever on the other side, slyly pretending to be asleep! Isn’t this exactly what the War on Drugs, Cancer, et al, feels like?

This is a blog about bringing spirituality back to food, and so of course, the answer lies in the perfection of the human spirit. It is true that sometimes spirituality is spoken of as war. Wars are famously bad for the pleasures of the table – so we will use the metaphor of a ladder – which leads much better food.

At the bottom of the ladder is our old rival War – choosing teams, finding weapons, trash talk, it’s all about “I need”, and “You must”. We are good, they are bad – we don’t need to say much here, as our culture is stuck on this rung. Here is the hero who smacks the bad Berner, the dog with the dominant character, who already has his teeth out for the table. Things escalate from there, to the delight of the golden retriever.

Next on the ladder – spoiler alert, this ladder only has three rungs – is neutrality. Neutrality hangs on the rung of freely-entered into contracts, trade, negotiation. I’ll trade what you want, to get from you, what I want. On this level we have the saint who comes prepared with dog biscuits. One for the Golden, for being good, and one for the Berner who has now moved his mouth from chewing wood to drool on the biscuit in your hand. The saint hands Dominant Dog his biscuit; trade made, dinner gets eaten hot – at least until the Berner wants another biscuit. Everyone feels good at this level – the dogs got biscuits, dinner got eaten hot, the saint feels smug, and so does the Berner. Sound familiar? Badness had its reward – neutrality was maintained – good had something on account, too. There is a better option, but there is also a worse one – things could descend to war later in the year.

We at Raw Tibicos prefer the view from the peak, so let’s keep climbing. On the top rung, love reigns alone. Not “peace and love”, which brings up visions of irresponsibility, youth, trampled lawns, loud music, and indifferent meals. This is a love based on experience, and strength – the kind of love that good neighbours have. This is the love that can give for no reason, for no expectation, simply because love has enough to share. This is the love that leads us to have dogs in the first place, and belongs to the world of extra zucchini, checking when the house next door is empty, watching out for your friends when they have drunk too much, helping someone else to a benefit that you won’t share. On this level, our neighbour-character deescalates by looking eyeball to eyeball back at the Berner, taking a huge bite of the steaming succulent dinner, conveying to the dog by energy, attention and pleasure, the knowledge that the food on the plate is much better than the dry wood of the table.

There are dogs who would react to changing the focus, by biting more than the table. A relationship of love had already been built between this dog and the owner, and so the Berner, unable to have attention on command, with no answer to his challenge, released the table and lay under it.

Some people yearn to climb the ladder themselves, and others fight to bring everyone to their level. It can be so hard to climb the ladder – that many of us who have climbed, don’t want to step back down – I mean, those of us who have educated our palates to proper food are reluctant to step back to junk. However, is that a reason to circle the wagons, and refuse to share what we know about healthy, clean, delicious and nutritious food? Some people prefer stale chips and cheap beer, and we cannot pull them to where they do not want to go! Having dinner with this group means accepting stale chips and cheap beer, maybe without complaint. Others are looking up the ladder, hoping for help climbing to a better spiritual relationship with food.

Wisdom lies in knowing that the ladder exists, descending if needed, climbing back when done, and enjoying the view from the top. This is real food spirituality! How simple, to grow a better world, through love and sharing the gifts of our souls, redirecting attention from what is lacking, to the extra in our gardens! Why should those who love war, be able to keep down those of us who prefer to climb, for ever?

In this blog, some of those looking to climb are not even people – how does the story of the dogs’ dinner end? Yes – to answer the question – after releasing the table when redirected, being a good dog throughout the rest of the meal, both the Berner and the Golden got table scraps. Much better than dry wood! As one memorable vet said, many years ago, “Dogs are not like us – they need vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins.” ?? This vet was advocating commercial kibble – perhaps not knowing better food exists?

We began this discussion with the thought of love, rather than war, and before closing it, Raw Tibicos feels that one more animal metaphor might be appropriate. Love is more complicated than war. War is harm, and that can take many forms – monosodium glutamate, corn syrup, antibiotics left in the meat, trans-fats, glyphosate residue, dyes that cause anxiety, etc – war involves impediments. War only exists on the bottom of the ladder. Love, however, has levels. Love at the bottom of the ladder is the love of the wolf for the sheep, the love of the master for his slave, the love of convenient junk food. This is a selfish love; and being human, we have probably all experienced this. Raw Tibicos has experienced selfish love!

At the top is the kind of love a mother gives her child, the love that says, “how may I help?” without judgment, or the love a chef gives a meal, food which will be eaten and forgotten, but in which the love becomes part of not only the experience, but also the nutrition. With food, we can test the love! Cook two meals, exactly the same – one cooked by an unhappy, resentful chef, and the other – the same in material terms – cooked by a happy, love-filled chef. When Raw Tibicos tried this experiment, there were actual, measurable differences in the experience and results of the meal. Sounds crazy? Test it for yourself, and see if you look at food – or war – or even dogs – in the same way?

Information provided is for entertainment only, no medical or other advice is offered here.