A Wooden Book to Care With
During my years in adulthood, I’ve gravitated toward natural treatments in personal hygiene: a waterpik versus flossing, a coconut oil swish versus mouthwash, a no ‘poo hair regimen versus dandruff shampoo and constant hairwashing, a deodorant with no aluminum in it. The list goes on.
I’ve also read many books that originate from stories of our history: stories of travellers trekking through the forest, and they encounter a tiny cottage amidst the trees and a woman who lives there. Most often, she is old and wizened, but the travellers are soon amazed at her healing food made from her garden.
She leaves the cottage and comes back in an hour, holding plants picked from the woods around her. Each plant is to be made into a remedy to heal each of the travellers, and they are amazed at her knowledge. They go on their way a few days later, rejuvenated by her care, her food, her medicines.
Sometimes, these women are called witches because their healing and cooking knowledge seems like magic. But a bunch of plants and knowing how to use them are not magic. Instead, they are put into tiny, glass bottles and sold as essential oils today.
When I try essential oils, that’s how I imagine us: women practicing a (legitimate, effective, proved) medicine to rejuvenate and revitalize and protect. When I crack open my new tome all about essential oils to treat an ailment or a sickness, I imagine it to be packed with knowledge passed down by wise women for centuries. I use it very carefully, and my imagination can see a similar book on a wood cottage table, made of vellum or parchment, browned with age and use.
I’m new at essential oils. I’ve recognized that women gravitate toward these. I received a booklet about essential oils in the mail from a cousin, and it is full of specific testimonials— all from women. I won’t be spending hundreds of dollars all at once, buying a hoard of tiny, precious bottles; I’ll be learning, bit by bit. Bottle by bottle. Elixir by elixir.
I haven’t tuned out Western medicine altogether. I see the value in immunizations. And Western medicine is expensive too. But most of it does not smell good or feel good in application. Swallowing pills is more uncomfortable than an oil massage. A poultice is less invasive than swallowing foul syrups every few hours. But sometimes, I don’t have the healing answer. And sometimes, it sounds more authoritative coming from someone who works in an office and wears a white coat and carries a computer.
But the vision of that precious book made of parchment on that wooden table surrounded by a vast resource of forest just won’t go away. So I hope to learn some of it.