Lá Feile na Bríde

Even though we are all becoming very tired of the social restrictions associated with Covid, Jan31st/Feb1st is still an opportunity to celebrate. It is the feast of Brigid, who is goddess/saint of fertility, healing and iron work. As with all Irish feast days it commences the evening before hence Jan31st is the start of the celebration. This feast may be used as an opportunity to reflect on the bounty of nature, the many different forms of healing, and the beauty of craftmanship. She is associated with many holy wells in Ireland and a cross woven from rushes, St Brigid's Cross, is freshly made on the eve of her feast and hung over the fire or on the door to protect from fire. She is also seen as a liminal figure, traversing different worlds.
This month also sees the feast of St. Gobnait who was advised to settle where ever she would see nine deer. This happened in Ballyvourney,  and it was here she established her monastery  and her apiary. The Harry Clarke stained glass window depicting her with bees is to be seen in the Honan chapel, UCC. She is, of course the patron saint of bees and bee keepers.

Therapeutic Place

One of the features of Irish healing is the importance of place, be it a holy well, a pilgrimage, or a fairy tree.  This close association with place allows us to integrate the Japanese practice of FOREST BATHING very easily. More importantly, it has been recognised that Forest Bathing is beneficial for our health  and reduces stress and all its accompaniments.


What is medicine?

If the worldview of a society governs what we think of as medicine what is the worldview that informed the development of biomedicine and how does this differ from Irish indigenous medicine? 
 Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon were two of the most influential scholars whose thought influenced the development of modern medicine. This was because they considered nothing to be true unless it could be objectively proven. This need for certainty, immediately blew any subjective experience such as fear, joy, intuition and dreams beyond the realm of  the new science.

What is medicine?

I thought about this question recently as I watched the 'Black Lives Matter' protests in the US.  The question came to mind because I realised that how we see the world is dominated by the culture in which we live, or more importantly, by the dominant culture within a country.  Our perception of medicine is  derived from our social values and beliefs. 
If we examine what medicine is, we can see that it is made up of three components,  ill health, diagnosis, and treatment. No matter where we are in the world, be it the depths of the Amazon,, the bronx in New York or a  village in the Turkana, these three components remain.  
The differences come in the diagnosis of the illness and its treatment. Both of these are governed by the knowledge of the person diagnosing and treating  and his/her insights into the illness. This knowledge is governed by the worldview / cosmology of the society to which he/she belongs.

Plantain/ Plantago major

Plantago major or Plantain may now be seen growing at the side of the road or in old pasture. It is often seen in areas where there is a quite a bit of gravel. It is also called waybread as it was eaten by travellers on the road to ward off hunger.

It is herb that has many uses and is used in all traditional medical systems. All parts of the plant may be used. It needs to be washed carefully as the cup shape of the leaf can harbour a lot of dust. It is a herb that is cold and dry, so it is not a herb to chew if you’re feeling cold as it will make it make you feel even colder. However, the cold nature of plantain is useful if you have a bruised leg or other injury as it will reduce the swelling and inflammation very quickly. To use it, pour boiling water over a leaf and when the leaf has cooled, lay it on the injured part and keep in place with a bandage. Replace every three hours if necessary. Woundworth is another name for it because of its ability to staunch bleeding. It may also be used in burns and in this case, pound the herb and put the pounded herb through the white of an egg. Apply to the burn