RUIN AND BEAUTY

DEENA METZGER'S BLOG

Category Archives: Medicine and Culture

Meeting the Times November 9 2016

Yesterday, two experiences early in the day assured me of the existence of spirit. Then I was, as are many of us, mystified, stunned and fearful as the unimaginable came closer. Donald Trump was elected president. For some the world shattered.

I have to ask: What are we called to at this moment?

Let me say what I must directly. We are stricken. We don’t know what is coming toward us, what we will be called to meet. And we don’t know what to do or how to do it.

I am thinking about the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. Despite adversity, they have created a village. It formed on behalf of endangered and violated Water and on behalf of sacred land and the ancestors. The elders created protocols for entering the culture of Standing Rock:

“Ceremony and prayer are the bedrock of Indigenous peoples’ connection to land and water and are central in protecting them. Actions are ceremony and along with meetings, usually begin with prayer.”

A small group of us will join those at Standing Rock from 11/29 to 12/2. It is more important than ever to stand there on behalf of Water.

There are sacred circles of standing stones across the globe.  Dan Berrigan spoke wisely in the midst of the Vietnam war: “Just don’t do something, stand there.”

Several people met at my house on election night. No one should be alone tonight, we said.  We agreed that rather than watching the returns constantly, we would spend the night in silence, prayer and council. We invited spirit, we passed a prayer pipe several times; we listened deeply.

A core question repeated itself: How do we meet this moment?

For myself, there is a clear call to divest myself from all the systems in which I am / we are embedded that have led to these dire circumstances. Even as they will beckon more powerfully, so determinedly must I refuse them. I am aware of a similar need to disentangle from Western and colonial mind that have brought us to this brink.

Watching a tsunami of fear and analysis which is reifying the divisions and the danger, I will not declare war or name enemies.  i want to walk the No Enemy Way.

It is a time for living the medicine without compromise or accommodation. We are being called to lives of exquisite integrity.

Let us try not to be self-righteous; let’s try to be courageous.

In the darkest times, we have seen people abandon each other out of fear and to serve power. We saw it in this election. Let us try not to be like them.  In the darkest times, we have seen people join with and sustain each other.  Let us be those people.

We are being called, once again, to meet what we must.  Perhaps this is not just a spiritual opportunity but a spiritual demand.

In our circle last night, simple ways repeated themselves:

Invite spirit.  Listen deeply.

Move with heart and prayer.

Bear witness.

Create, confirm and sustain community.

Stand in communion and community with each other, with all others. Stand in the community of all beings. The 19 Ways became increasingly relevant: http://deenametzger.net/19-ways/

Protect the Mother, Earth, as the primary, daily, on-going activity.

***

Last night we consulted the I Ching. Question: How do we meet this time?

Hexagram 50. The Vessel. (No changing lines):

Ding is a ritual vessel that signifies connection with the spirit world and the ancestors. It is divination… submitting questions to the oracle, as well as the right moment to act. …It offers nourishment to the warriors and sags and the sage-mind in all of us brightening the eye and ear. It suggests a mandate, a fate conferred by heave that is also a duty or responsibility. It means becoming a true and responsible individual.

1972, I marched with thousands of people in Santiago, Chile, in support of President Allende and the Unidad Popular. One year later, I was in Cuba on 9/11/73 when the brutal golpe in Chile occurred. For the next years, I recited the names of those I had met in Chile as if saying a rosary to protect them. (It was not all I did on behalf of Chile to end the horrific violence. I was devoted.) Whether coincidence, magic or the power of prayer, those whose names I said, were not killed by those who were torturing and murdering.

Today we are putting all the names into the circle. We call you into the circle. Let us stand with and love each other and the Earth very well.

Mitakye oyasin, all our relations.

***

Advertisements

REVISIONING MEDICINE 2004 – 2014 AN INVITATION

Join Us For a ReVisioning Medicine Council foR Physicians, Psychotherapists, Health Professionals and Healers

Feb. 15-17, 2014 in Topanga, California [Los Angeles area.]

In the old days, when a people were gravely threatened, the Chiefs, Medicine People, Healers, Shamans, and Elders, the spiritual leaders of their communities, called Councils. They looked for solutions to problems by aligning themselves with the ancestors, the Natural world and their wisdom traditions. They were careful to consider dreams, signs, myths and stories. Recognizing that illness is often the consequence of having violated the earth, the community and the spirits, they searched for systemic responses to assure healing. The spirits, animals and plants, even the elementals, communed with them, extending teachings, blessings and wisdom. In times of crises, they gathered, as we are gathering now.

This is an invitation to a ReVisioning Medicine Council to be held in Topanga, California, Feb. 15-17, 2014.

A core group of physicians and healers have been consciously exploring ReVisioning Medicine since 2004.

Deena Metzger convened the first gathering after giving the keynote address at the annual meeting of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA). In that talk, she identified both medical practice and the earth as the patients we were called to heal.

  • ReVisioning Medicine is a council that honors and relies on deep dialogue between medical and health practitioners and medicine people – healers, pipe carriers, shamans, energy workers, dreamers, story tellers, sound healers, indigenous elders and practitioner – as peers. To address healing with heart, complexity and profundity, we gather a broad based healing community to inform and sustain each other.
  • In a circle of trust and camaraderie, ReVisioning allows each person to examine the gulf between the original call to be a healer and the increasing limitations and distortions imposed on medical practice by different aspects of corporate and institutional medicine, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and government.  It is so important now to have working connections that support the expertise and the heart and soul of our work. Through ReVisioning, healing teams emerge – teams that gather around patients and also improvisational, impromptu teams of and for the practitioners as well.
  • ReVisioning is an on-going creative process.  In the ten years we have been gathering we have learned that community is essential to healing, that community, itself, heals.  Those who come together for ReVisioning create a community, albeit far flung across the country, that continues to support each individual’s exploration and activity on behalf of a new medicine.
  • Based on Council principles, everyone’s unique intelligence, medicine tradition and wisdom is appreciated. ReVisioning Medicine is a spirit-based medicine, as healing is a spiritual practice for medicine people. It promotes alliances between the patient and physicians, healers, the family and the natural world. Such partnership has major implications in terms of diagnosis and treatment as does including ritual and ceremony in the healing process.
  • Medicine determines culture.   Therefore our medical practices need to change for individual, social and environmental health to improve and flourish.   Medical practice itself is one of our patients.  So we gather physicians who can carry seeds of change to create circles of support so that physicians and health practitioners can return to their original calling as true healers.
  • At ReVisioning we ask: Can medical people also be medicine people?  Can a physician serve the community in the best ways that medicine persons served theirs indigenous communities? Can we speak honestly and from the heart about the grief and vision we carry around medicine and healing? Can we examine together what we must step away from and what we want to change? Can we create medical practices and treatments that do not harm people or the environment?
  • With the hope of approaching the entire Story of an illness or affliction, and seeing how it may affect both an individual and the community, we seek to expand the narrow medical focus, looking beyond symptoms, the physical and emotional components, beyond testing, seeking many ways of knowing and a range of possibilities for treatment. In the intimate process of healing, we also learn and carry each other’s stories, what we have suffered and how we have triumphed, we recognizing the healer in ourselves and each other and support the path we are each called to walk.
  • We have each experienced, participated in or witnessed unexpected healing events; this is a safe place to explore them and consider their import. We begin to imagine on-going alliances as we become true healers in a time of history that requires such transformation.
  • ReVisioning gatherings are always small so that true exchange can occur.  While the days together are planned, they allow for spontaneity and improvisation. We always hope to spend time on the land and in silence or solitude.  When possible we sit around a fire in the old ways to access inner wisdom.
  • Someone volunteers to be the focus so that together we might discover the deep story of an illness and illuminate the coexisting paths of healing that extend beyond the “patient” to the people and the earth. Particularly attentive to and respectful of what the patient knows about his or her affliction, we listen carefully for the Story. We call this exploration Indigenous Grand Rounds.
  • Over the years, we have worked with such Volunteers who have been afflicted with various cancers, heart disease, leukemia and kidney failure (from playing in uranium tailings on the Reservation) agent orange poisoning, (Viet Nam), chemical sensitivities, and other ailments. (A good percentage of our Volunteers have been also been participants working in conventional medical fields.) We always try to focus on someone whose affliction has ramifications for the society as a whole and to see how non-conventional ways of healing might inform us and the patient in new ways.
  • The Volunteer for our February 2013 gathering was a 21-year-old woman who had suffered continuous pain since she was 18 months old, later accompanied by depression and fatigue.  We were acutely aware of the great number of young women suffering similar often undiagnosed afflictions or variously diagnosed as lyme disease, fibromyalgia, etc.  We were, and were not, surprised to observe that that the young woman’s energy increased with her willingness to explore and comment upon the field of her suffering.  She, who had because of pain insisted that she not be touched, embraced each one of us at the end. A few weeks later, her mother wrote, “M is doing great!  She is lifting weights, running a mile, doing yoga, dancing, hiking and meeting new people. She is even boxing.
  • The Volunteer for the Nashville Council, September 2013, was a woman who had suffered chronic pain in her arm for six years. We (and she) did not know when she was invited that she is one of the Great Storytellers.  In telling her story, she detailed the ways historic, religious, political and economic circumstances combine with medical and institutional abuse to exacerbate symptoms and illness.  We do not know yet if / how her physical condition will resolve, but it was confirmed that sometimes listening to the story, without pathologzing, can be the medicine.
  • We are very concerned with iatrogenisis. Too many are suffering the side-effects of prescribed medicines, and/or complications from medical or hospital treatments. One physician, using a short hand, referred to the majority of her contemporaries as practicing “pharmaceutical medicine.”
  • Physicians also become patients and endure iatrogenic events. An M.D. colleague, who was planning to attend ReVisioning, suffered acute kidney failure in 2011 from the prescribed medication for rheumatoid arthritis. Despite having insisted that rigorous research precede treatment, he became the victim of a protocol that was known to cause harm.
  • If we are free to think differently about the nature of illness and healing, as well as the relationship between common illnesses and modern life, we might seek other interventions, invent treatments that do no harm to individuals or the planet.  ReVisioning calls us back to the original call to physicians to heal and not do harm.
  • We also gather to support each other on our individual journeys.  ReVisioned Medicine is reciprocal medicine, based on relationship, collaboration, on taking care of each other.
  • During the last meeting in Topanga, a physician asked for community support. He was torn between the restrictions of corporate for-profit medicine and his heart’s call to a spirit based, indigenously informed, humanitarian medicine.  He was relieved to discuss the heartbreak of his devotion to his patients and the compromises he was forced to make.  Deena met with him in October 2013, in the city where he is currently practicing medicine.  He has formed a deep healing alliance with a medicine woman who lives in this area and also attended ReVisioning.  Far from being lonely in a new city, he is creating unexpected healing possibilities for his new patients.
  • ReVisioning Medicine seeks to bring medical wisdom together with time tested indigenous ways and contemporary vision. Cooperation between western medicine and non-western healing practices is implicit in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but these are still parallel systems operating from different perspectives. A new collaboration is essential.  Integrating the old, old medicine of Story, right relationships and respect for the communities of all beings, can bring us back into alignment and health. When medical ways and medicine ways are aligned, then community itself is healed as are many of the grave ills and illnesses of modern life.  ReVisioning Medicine brings all the ways into a unified and dynamic council; it is, we believe, the future.
  • A few days after the Nashville Council, one physician wrote: “My connection with patients was subtly different this week. I found the willingness for more risk-taking, and the directness on multiple occasions led to some remarkably beautiful sessions. There were shifts in some long- term patients, with whom I’d begun to feel resigned to the status quo. I feel very grateful to you all.“

***

ReVisioning Medicine in Topanga, February 2014 

As this will be the ten-year anniversary of ReVisioning Medicine, we expect this gathering of medical and medicine people from across the country and even the world, will deepen our understanding of how we may collaborate to create and restore a medical/medicine culture that seeds health in every interaction.

Deena Metzger will be leading the gathering again in alliance with Kjersten Gmeiner, MD, Karen Mutter, DO, and Muz, Richenel Ansano, formerly of Global Medicine Education Foundation and now with the NAAM Foundation, the National Archeological – Anthropological Museum of Curaçao.  Joining them will be Lawrie Hartt and Danelia Wild, dedicated healers and musicians who have been carrying ReVisioning Medicine since its inception and Tobi Fishel, PhD, Director of Psychological Services at the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health (VCIH) and Associate Professor in the departments of Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics who organized the ReVisioning Council in Nashville, September 2013.

To reserve a space and for more information, including fees, interested parties please call or write to Deena at deenametzger@verizon.net  310-455-1089 or Kjersten Gmeiner, M.D. gmeiner.k@gmail.com 206-679-5429.

***

Essays on ReVisioning Medicine and healing can be found Deena’s website:http://deenametzger.net and her blog, www.deenametzger.wordpress.com.

These include: Thinking About Healing; Illness Heals the World; On ReVisioning Medicine and the Possibilities of Miracles; The Soul of Medicine (Deena’s address to the AHMA in 2004); Illness Can Heal the World and Healing in the Community. Her books related to healing include, Tree: Essays and Pieces, a journal of surviving breast cancer, Entering the Ghost River: Meditations on the Theory and Practice of Healing, and From Grief Into Vision: A Council.

Peace and Blessings,

Deena and Kjersten

%d bloggers like this: