Herbalists go native

Herbalists go nativeAs North Coast plant maven Nancy Kissam likes to point out, every geographic area has “its own medicine chest.”
“It's not like everyone was sitting around waiting for the Europeans to come with theirs,” she says with a chuckle.

Many of the familiar herbs used culinarily and for folk remedies with Old World roots have New World counterparts. Even closer to home, California itself has many local herbs that served the needs of Native American tribes and settlers.

A Few Moments on the Waterfronts

A Few Moments on the WaterfrontsRiverside Park at 81st Street, Manhattan, 3 p.m.: Journeying

A drum beats methodically 20 feet from the Hudson, attracting curious looks from joggers, bikers and baby strollers. Seven women, dressed mostly in earth tones, lie in a circle around their shaman, Olivia Olkowski, 47, who leads the journey. Ten minutes later the drum ceases and a conversation begins. Discussion focuses on letting go of bad habits, facing a traumatic experience in one’s past and overcoming obstacles.

The women are all part of the New York Shamanic Circle, a nonprofit organization that promotes healing and earth-honored living. On the first Sunday of every month, the group members meet outdoors, weather permitting, to embark on their spiritual journeys. This month’s session utilized elementals found here on the Hudson waterfront—earth, water and sky—to achieve an altered state and access the subconscious mind.

Into the unknown

 Into the unknownAt the centre of the lush Guatemalan rainforest in El Peten lies the complex considered the epicentre of Mayan culture – Tikal. At its centre is the Gran Plaza, an acropolis flanked by two giant temples. One afternoon in July, a young Mayan shaman prepares the altar facing the acropolis to conduct a rite of prosperity. He has chosen the day carefully – it’s the auspicious day of the mono, the monkey. As the shrieks of howler monkeys form an acoustic backdrop, the shaman goes about his duties, setting up four candles at the cardinal points. He seeks blessings for a commercial venture, to bring its promoters the qualities a monkey embodies in Mayan lore – resourcefulness, intelligence, agility of thought and action

Growing debate in SKorea over traditional medicine

Growing debate in SKorea over traditional medicineKim Nam-soo has stuck needles into generals, actors, tycoons and at least one president for more than six decades as South Korea's acupuncturist to the stars.

Grateful patients say his treatments combining acupuncture with the ancient practice of burning herbs on the skin do as much good, or more, as Western medicine in treating everything from arthritis to diabetes, burns and even cancer.

Australia's First People - Their Social and Emotional Well-being

AustraliaAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians make up 2.5 per cent of the Australian population and continue to suffer disproportionately from the consequences of European settlement. The life expectancy for Indigenous Australians is 10 years lower than that of other Australians; the death rates for Indigenous people are twice as high across all age groups; and intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death from external causes for Indigenous males between 2001 and 2005.1 Although definitive national data about the incidence and prevalence of mental health disorders among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is not available, it is clear there are enormous disparities in mental health outcomes for Indigenous people.