Friday, March 16, 2012

F is for Food

Your body is a temple.

You are what you eat.

Food is sacred.

These sayings aren't just old cliches, axioms we have learned to associate with feeling guilt about our choices and shame about our bodies. These ten words are the gateway to true love... love of the body.

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spirit beings having a human experience."
-Yogi Bhajan 

We have bodies and for the foreseeable future, we need bodies. Yet most of us live our lives in a perpetual state of war with our bodies, spirit trying to claw its way out and be free to soar in clean air and green land. We try to "whip" them into "shape" (as if there was one kind of perfect human shape) and we talk about our "diet" as if it is a quick-fix industry like any other.

The food and drink that goes in your mouth builds the cells of your body. The air you breath, the chemicals you use, even the people you share space with, all of these things are broken down and remade into the person you are right now. You aren't a static thing moving through space. Your cells are recreating themselves as we speak, your organs and fluids transporting important building blocks to the places where they are needed most.

Your body was meant to be an efficient hunter and gatherer, to roam the land and run after large prey, to learn to tie knots and set traps even. It was not meant for midnight donut drive-thrus and running on the treadmill under fluorescent lighting then bathing in chlorine.

Unfortunately for most people, very little of our chemical intake is under our own control in the short term. While we can realign our lives with certain principals and make efforts to make changes in the future, and advocate for systemic change through activism, the one thing we can most easily control today is our food intake. How do we live for the bodies we are in?

1) Eat lots of vegetables and some fruits, in particular non-starchy ones. Corn is not a vegetable, it's a grain. White potatoes also do not count. Focus on leafy greens and colourful things like peppers and berries.

2) Avoid grains and legumes, including their oils (corn and soy). Even if your grains are organic and sprouted, soaked or nixtamalized, making them a regular part of your diet not only involves a lot of work, but a heavy carbohydrate load, which should be used to eat lots of fruits and veggies!

3) Get "plant fat" from healthy sources like avocado, coconut, nuts (NOT peanuts, these are actually legumes), or if you must, an organic and cold-pressed seed like sunflower or grape. Other great fats come from animal sources, along with your protein.

4) Get animal fats and proteins from quality sources where the animals are fed an evolutionary-appropriate diet (roots and roughage for pigs, grass for cows and sheep, insects and seeds for chickens) and try to buy locally. Not only will this help you get to know your farmers and the farms they keep, but locally grown vegetables will be fresher and more nutrient dense, not to mention seasonally appropriate.

None of these are "hard and fast" rules, and eating one piece of birthday cake or one banana shipped from Mexico isn't going to kill you.But every time you eat something, think about what purpose its contents will serve in your body. Look at the overall picture of your intake and see how it is reflected in your health and your body, both physically and energetically. See how you can make slow changes (like grow your own vegetables! or visit a farmer's market!) to begin building a better and stronger you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

E is for the Elements: European or North American?

While most Wiccans and other neopagan practitioners in North American have readily adopted the standard Western European elemental associations - Earth in the North, Air in the East, Fire in the South and Water in the West - this has never sat well with me.

The aboriginal peoples of North and Central America conceived of these notions in a slightly different manner. Like many cultures, Mesoamerican people conceived of a "World Tree" which defined the three dimensional world. In the North, we find the realm of the white Wind and the Mind. In the East is the land of yellow Fire and Spirit, where the sun rises. In the South we have blue Water and the realm of emotions. And in the West, where the sun sinks down into the horizon again, we have the realm of the red Earth and the Body.

But the map does not end there. In the center, we find The Void, that from which all things are born, the "I Am" and the Nothingness. Above us we find the Heart of Sky, that which throws down lightening bolts, the light around which our planet moves, the darkness in the center of the Galaxy, the point from which the Universe was born and to which it will return. Below us we see Heart of Earth, that which sends lightening strikes up to meet the sky, the fire in our blood, the hot core around which all life on our planet revolves.

Have you ever wondered about the origin of modern elemental associations? Do you think that the land itself speaks these associations to us? Do you resonate with the elements of your land or of your teaching?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A is for Adventure... Awesome? Or Awful?

Adventure is one of my seven core values. I celebrate one each day of the week, and Sunday is typically my Adventuring Day, when I dream, make plans, and carry out actual adventures!

The thing about and adventure is that you can never be sure whether they will be awesome or awful until you try it out and see...

awful Look up awful at
c.1300, agheful "worthy of respect or fear," from aghe, an earlier form of awe, + -ful. Replaced O.E. egefull. Weakened sense "very bad" is from 1809; weakened sense of "exceedingly" is by 1818.

Full of awe? That's too much, like staring directly into the sun.

awesome Look up awesome at
1590s, "profoundly reverential," from awe + -some. Meaning "inspiring awe" is from 1670s; weakened colloquial sense of "impressive, very good" is recorded by 1961 and was in vogue from after c.1980.

Just enough awe is how much we want... just some.

We want to revere our lives, but sometimes respecting it can be hard, and we may not enjoy fearing for our lives, but perhaps the stress of outrunning a jaguar was better for our bodies than the stress of sitting in an uncomfortable seat watching a giant-screen horror flick.

How do you know that the thing you're about to do is going to be an adventure? You resist it. Some part of your body cries out for it, but then resistance kicks in. Not a gut instinct telling you "No! Danger!" by that aching nag in your limbs that says, "I'll just check my email first," or "What will the neighbours think?!?"

Adventure doesn't come easy. Sometimes you can find yourself in the middle of an adventure quite unexpectedly, but the primary aspect of adventuring is hard work. You can never plan enough for an adventure, because nothing ever goes exactly as planned on an adventure. But all adventures make good stories, stories you can tell yourself to weave your own Hero's Journey, your own "Tale of Awe" - whether the experience was awesome or awful, you'll have something to tall your friends at parties and your grand kids around the fire.

“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.” — Wilfred Peterson