A Triskelion of Healing

This season has been full of illness for me, and for many I know. I have spent long days in bed because that is the only option I had at the time. Some of those days were full of fevers and fever dreams. Though I have yet to enjoy this state, I have been learning from it since I was a child. It provides a place where I float in all of the things that need mulling over before the next stage can be attained. It is a time to face the things I need to face and the things I need to let go of. It is always a very difficult time because I am a person who is most comfortable in the change and flux of actively lived life. Voluntarily entering darkness and seclusion to rest and regenerate is a regular part of my practice. So is being forced to do so by sickness. Some parts of what I do I have chosen, and some have been chosen for me.

In a culture that puts so much emphasis on entertainment, on always putting out the smiling face and on doing so much to avoid looking closely at what is uncomfortable or downright unpleasant, there is often little space for prolonged time with difficult states. When a person becomes ill, the first response is often to immediately rush off to those priests of Science who maintain the temples they call Hospitals. The urge is to demand an immediate response from them that will relieve us of the illness, but also of the need to take responsibility for it and for what it might teach us. I am not anti-Medicine. It is an amazing tool for gathering information about and changing the composition of the physical body. This way of working has brought many blessings into my life.

But an illness is not only a defect of the body. It is not simply a broken piece that we can fix in the shop like a car that needs a new tire. As I see it, sickness, like the rest of life, has solid physical components like the huge amount of mucus that this seasons flu has brought. Things that are very present in a visceral and unavoidable way. Things that would fall into the druidic realm of Calas. They are that which is solid and does not change often. This is the realm that Science and Medicine are very good at working with.

But it has been a long time since I listened very well to any voice that attempted to convince me that this solid, separated way of being is all that there is. The other two druidic elements of Gwyar and Nwyfre call to me with a stronger pull and my experience tells me that it is they who are common and present everywhere all of the time. Calas is the rarity in Existence. This does not devalue it in any way. It simply points out to me that to think only of it would be missing most of what I am dealing with when I am trying to heal. Spending time contemplating the realms beyond, behind and within the physical is not unusual for a person on a path like mine. But looking to these places while ill is less common and less comfortable.

I feel, based on my experience, that the fluid, changing realm of Gwyar is where most of an illness resides. This is because when a person has a good relationship with the element of change in life, that person will also have a more powerful ability to heal from an illness. Understanding how the process of change happens within my being helps me be healthy. Losing the understanding or control over the change I am part of can lead to all kinds of sickness, make a small illness worse, or lead to the disconnection from the physical that is death if the control is completely lost. For me this isn’t a theoretical hypothesis. I know what it feels like because I have been on the edge of losing my ability to participate in the processes of change my body was involved in more than once over the course of this lifetime. I know exactly what this looks like because I have watched it happen to others who I was close to.

There is a point where the flow of Gwyar stops temporarily and all forces acting upon that being in that moment take a sort of breathe or pause. This forms a doorway composed of a moment from which can be born many different outcomes. If these moments go back towards the balance that active participation by the person involved can attain, then the illness turns and the person gets better. I count myself fortunate to be in that category. The times when I saw the eerie calm of that special kind of moment are years in the past, but I will never forget them. If the flow of change goes the other way, the person dies or goes insane as a result of having lost their ability to participate consciously in the change that they are part of. The other forces involved in the change make all the decisions and the person loses their voice in the song of life. I will also carry with me always the times when I saw this happen.

These are the most extreme examples I have been a part of, but there are many less dramatic versions of the same moment during any illness. Each of them requires a decision from the person who is ill. In order to make these type of difficult conscious choices, especially when the body is weak from serious or prolonged illness, some source of power or energy is required. As I see it, this is where the hard-to-define source point that is Nwyfre holds a large portion of the key to curing the illness. Nwyfre is the source of energy that can be drawn on to power the work of healing. This can let the ill person once again actively participate in the relationship with Gwyar that can bring the relationship between all the forces that make up the being back towards balance and result in health.

These things I learned from the time alone that comes with sickenss. But how do I actually make use of them? They are beautiful words and lovely concepts, but where is the praxis? For me, this is in several places. Once is working with Medicine to observe the Calas portion of sickness. I can use this to answer questions such as “Does I have a bacteria living in my body that is harming me?” As long as I do this without being taken in by being taken in by Science’s sense of dominion of the power to define what is and is not included in existence, it is a very helpful tool. But it still leaves the other aspects of illness untouched.

For me, one of the best ways I have found to access Nwyfre so that I can bring myself to a state where I can actively manage the flow of Gwyar within and around me is through the use of herbal medicines. In order for these to work, I need to not only follow the procedures for their storage and ingestion, I need to connect with and form a relationship with the plants they come from. As with any relationship, I learn something in the process. One of the things I learned this time around turned out to be that there appears to be an imbalance in the way that energy flows between humans and these healing plants. As part of my attempts to correct some of this, I offer this poem in honor of the plants that have been eaten by humans for healing purposes and for the flavors that are helpful, but are often taken without respect for what they bring.

I have long been a fan of many flavors and other sensory experiences that are considered gross by many around me. In addition to the satisfaction they bring me personally, I have felt for many years that there is another dimension to why I like them and celebrate them. I do  enjoy them, but I also do it for a deeper and more necessary reason that I could not quite articulate before. The gift of my most recent illness is the answer to the question, “Why do I feel that I need to publicly love these experiences?”


The sharp bite

Of capsicum

The bitter power

Of elecampane


The sour scourge

Of citrus peels

The insistent pinch

Of sorrel stems


The salty stench

Of living kelp

The yellow tang

Of ginger fresh


All these things

And their sisters in seeming

Too strong, too wrong

Too different, too strange


Seen by so many

Seen as something

To be avoided


Drunk with a grimace

Choked down

Or tolerated


So we can take

So we can use

So we can heal


I say “Thank you”


To the Roots and Stems

To the Leaves and Flowers

To the Life and Death

Of the Plants that Healed


I love you back


For your strength

For your roughness

For your texture and smell

For all that you gave


I sing to your tribe


You have healed me

And asked no questions

You are part of me

and I honor you




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