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© Reba Fraher July, 2010


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Why Are American Women Depressed?

“Mystery is a part of being a woman. Reflection is another word for resonance.
The yin is the reflecting energy; the yang is the direct energy.
As women, we are the reflective energy. Women’s mysteries are based in nature,
the real physical world.”
– Lynn Abbot

Women experience depression twice as often as men do. The average age of onset of our symptoms is in the early 20’s.

Years ago women would look forward to gaining their first grey hair, because it was a sign of wisdom and maturity that commanded respect. We’ve lost that reverence for old age by our constant battle to look and feel younger. In my 21 years I’ve seen the cosmetic market literally explode with new serums and creams that promise to wipe away wrinkles and erase age. Are we back to the days of a snake oil salesman?

More women are taking antidepressants than ever before. This could be attributed to a feeling of trying to “do it all” and remaining unfulfilled. Women are still pigeonholed by many cultural norms. Most of us think that we won the battle with the Feminist Movement of the 1960’s. Wrong! Women are still generally compensated less by their employers than are their male counterparts. Modern advertising is also adding to the confusion. Why are we trying to look thinner while wearing tighter, skimpier clothes? Perhaps our standards are set unrealistically high.

The issue is self-image. Generations ago most girls began their menstrual cycle around age 17. Today the norm is closer to age 11. When girls reach sexual

maturity prematurely they begin to bully each other more; a sure sign that they are not happy with themselves. Girls are growing physically fatter today than they did generations ago, which also adds to a lack of self-image. This inevitably leads to bad choices, such as over consumption of alcohol and drugs in order to be a part of the crowd. This weakness often leads to unprotected sex with strangers. There is also a sense of wanting to “delay the real world”, which shows a real lack of self-responsibility and determination. This could be a way of trying to deter that feeling of trying to “do it all”. Young women see their mothers’ disenchantment and are disinclined to live their own lives like that. They want to party and have fun at any cost. This behavior creates an overwhelming feeling of depression for girls who are not in touch with their emotions.

How can we remedy this situation? It begins by teaching our daughters gratitude, self-responsibility and intuition. As women we are losing our feminine mystery, and our connection with nature. By acting in discord to our natures, we are defying our balance – and suffering by it. Women are gifted with an abundance of reflective energy. So take time to reflect periodically and discover your inner truth. Don’t listen to the snake oil salesmen are peddling. Follow your inner truth and lead healthy and happy lives.


Archives


Medical Marijuana in the U.S.A.:
A Political Issue that Affects all our Daily Lives

It’s all about who stands to gain and lose money from this debate. The government protects big business. Thus we have limited choices for pharmaceuticals and for food. We buy what the government tells us to. “It [medical marijuana] might hurt funding…Besides, the doctors said thoughtfully, you could never use marihuana. Marihuana causes people to ‘get high’. And we all know just how life-threatening euphoria can be” (Robert Randall in Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine). Pills are all these companies understand, so they made a synthetic (and much less helpful) THC tablet called Merinol.

The government knew in 1971 that marijuana was an effective and better drug for glaucoma than drugs already on the market. “At least three bureaucrats point-blank told me, ‘Oh we know marihuana helps glaucoma. We have lots of data…’ They knew, but did not want anyone else to know” (Robert Randall in Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine). Meanwhile the government continued to undermine this evidence with TV ads saying that one joint would potentially make you a drug addict with mushy brain cells and thereby ruin your life.

[Now commercials list laziness and a lack of sexual prowess as the horrible side effects of smoking pot. This says a lot about how priorities change and

how the media attempts to brainwash a much savvier generation. As it is, I don’t know of many people my age who haven’t smoked recreationally in their lives.]

When was the last time you told you mom you felt ill and she actually whipped up a home remedy for you? Now mothers go out to the local CVS and buy pills. We are no longer relying on the wisdom of our ancestors for health concerns.

Do we know what is in these pills, or even pronounce the name? We probably don’t need the pills we take daily. A doctor told us it might help and so we pop them in 3 times daily. The FDA hurries to get drugs on the market and often times don’t do proper testing to make sure they work and aren’t harmful.

Have you ever seen a commercial for a new drug that lists a bunch of horrible side effects at the end? They say them quickly, hoping you won’t hear that you may experience diarrhea, dry mouth, insomnia, aches and pains or even death because you couldn’t stand that nasty headache any longer.

Painkillers are really expensive, hard to obtain from a doctor, and they work very little for pain relief. (My own experience with getting tonsils out!) Doctors would rather give a child a morphine drip than a joint. Which is more harmful?

Known Uses: (Only a partial list)

  • Aging
  • Chronic Pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Asthma
  • MS
  • Autism
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • ADD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Violence
  • PTSD
  • Alcoholism and other drug addictions
  • PMS, cramps and labor pains

Benefits: Cannabis in non-addictive (thought is reputedly “habit-forming”), has never caused an overdose or death, causes little to no harm, has been used for thousands of years by humans all over the world, and is the world’s 4th most popular drug (behind caffeine, alcohol and nicotine).

Everyone could grow their own supply…resulting in:

  • Plants would be monitored and controlled (no pesticides, chemicals, etc.)
  • Drug cartels would take a serious business hit
  • There would be less need for police and government officials
  • Less dangerous to go out and buy
  • Cheaper for consumers to buy/produce
  • No more harmful pills for simple conditions
  • Less people in our crowded jails
  • Everyone would feel better and be happier!

Testimonials:

1. Robert Randall (would have gone blind without medical marijuana): “They discovered that my disease could not be controlled using conventional glaucoma medicines. Left on those drugs I would go blind…In the end UCLA determined that marihuana was not merely beneficial; it was critical to the medical maintenance of my vision.”

2. James E. Dwyer (age 60): “I have been able to treat my health problems with it [marijuana] when no legal medications have been as effective…I have also used marijuana as a general analgesic. It dissipates most of the minor aches and pains of living past a half-century…I have been smoking marijuana in water pipes for twenty years without throat or lung problems…apparently twenty years of smoking marijuana has not ravaged my body, as some of our political leaders would contend.”

3. Joe Hutchins (age 51, living with systemic sclerosis for 32 years): “When I left General Electric I was taking seven different medications daily. Looking back on it, I can’t imagine how I functioned at all. I was a legal junkie, addicted for many years…Now I refuse to take any more prescribed drugs. I only want to use the one drug that helps me, marihuana. After my last hospitalization I continued to smoke marihuana and began to feel better…But the biggest improvement was in my mental health.”

4. A 43 year old software engineer (suffering from asthma): “Most of my friends in college used marihuana regularly, but I avoided it because I was afraid it would make my lungs even worse. Fear of the law was also a concern, since one of my friends was arrested 3 times for possession…I tried various doses of and combinations of anti-asthma drugs…the prescribed dose was insufficient during the day and too much at night…Then I remember from the Peter Sellers movie I love you, Alice B. Toklas that you could bake marihuana in cookies, so I tried that and found that it gave me rapid and effective relief without a rebound effect.”

There is hope for marijuana to some day become a legal form of medicine. As it stands twelve states have medical marijuana research laws and only fifteen states have never passed a positive medical marijuana law (NY Times). According to public opinion polls in 1999, 73% of Americans were in favor of legalizing marijuana. Then again in 2004 a survey conducted by AARP found that 72% of senior citizens were in favor of legalizing medical marijuana (NY Times). Also, it is due to the fuzziness around the Constitution that it can be argued that we should be allowed to use medical marijuana because we have the right to avoid pain and death under the 5th and 9th amendments of the U.S. constitution.

Marijuana is not a cure for many conditions such as cancer, AIDS and MS, however it can provide a better quality of life than any other current medical treatment. Wouldn’t you rather see your loved ones in relative comfort and able to eat and enjoy life rather than simply withering away. It isn’t about “getting high” for many people, but rather it is a daily necessity in order to be a part of life. For those who need the comfort it is our duty to vote for the legalization of marijuana.


Hemp and Spirituality,
Do They Inherently Conflict?

There is an undeniable need within the human existence to search for an answer, and to possibly transcend humanity itself.  People are always looking for knowledge, and often use drugs as a means of gaining this enlightenment. 

Terrence McKenna in Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution, suggests that humanity has been forever searching for a tree of knowledge, and he gives various qualities that this plant must have, such as, “the plant we are seeking must be African”, since Africa is the cradle of humanity, it “must require no preparation; it must be active in it’s natural state”, it “must be continuously available…easily noticed, and plentiful” and it “must confer immediate and tangible benefits” (pg. 34).  According to these stipulations, the plant humanity has been looking for must be hemp. 

To begin with, cannabis has been a part of human existence for thousands of years.  There are records of Scynthian sweat lodges that included burning hemp around 700 b.c.  Many religions look to it as a gift from God.  The bible itself makes many references to cannabis and refers to it as “The Healing of the Nations” in Revelations 22:3.  Islam even allows use of hash, even while outlawing alcohol consumption, and even has a feast day in honor of the patron saint of cannabis on April 23rd.  The hemp plant was spread across the globe by human means.  As people traveled across land bridges and floated off across the oceans, they carried hemp with them. 

It is possible that hemp was the first crop to be cultivated by mankind, therefore sparking the first agricultural revolution.  According to Terence McKenna, in The Great Book of Hemp, “all of the mental functions which we associate with humanness…may have emerged out of interaction with hallucinogenic plants” (pg 74).  The ancients of many cultures believed plants to be the intermediaries between heaven and earth, and were therefore looked to for answers.  The ancients also associated hemp with the feminine element in the universe and honored it.  Even the growing and caring for a cannabis plant reflects the values of honoring the feminine. 

The language of a story is much the same as the uses of cannabis.  For example, people say that they “weave a story” or “spin a yarn”. These descriptions are similar to the way one could weave or spin hemp to create fabric.

However, cannabis is also a psychoactive drug that can affect a person much the same way as a story can intoxicate the listener and create emotions for them.  Terence McKenna asks the question, “does this shared vocabulary reflect an ancient connection between the intoxicating hemp plant and the intellectual processes that lay behind the discovery of the art of weaving and storytelling?” (pg. 157). 

Almost every habitable place on earth has been home to cannabis users at one time or another, and most were using it for spiritual reasons. The common thread among all religions that endorse cannabis seems to be an emphasis on using for spiritual reasons and to not overindulge.  In a national Jamaican study conducted on the use of cannabis, it was concluded, “ganja permits a sense of religious communication, marked by meditation and contemplation” (1970).  People often assume that Jamaicans consume mass quantities of ganja.  The truth is quite the opposite though.  Many Jamaicans do not even smoke, but prefer to drink a weak ganja tea, and “heavy smokers” usually consume about 4 spliffs a day.  Use of the “Holy Herb” is meant to be shared among groups of people, and done in honor of the King of Kings.  When smoking, Jamaicans often take a puff or two, and then put the joint down for a while before partaking again. 

There has also been a pattern throughout recent human history for a younger, more disgruntled generation to “discover” cannabis anew and use it to gain a new perspective on life, and to escape present restraining circumstances.  According to Terence McKenna, the reason for this attraction to cannabis by young people is that the “sense of limitation…instantly fell away” (pg 61) when they consumed hemp and were free to express themselves in anyway they wanted.  This can be seen in the Romantic Movement, the Bohemian explosion in Europe, the Impressionists, and in the American 1950’s and 1960’s. 

In my own opinion, people should focus more on what their actions are in everyday life rather than telling another person what they can and cannot consume.  If smoking a little pot helps someone gain some semblance of enlightenment, who am I to say that it is wrong?  As the bible says, “it is not that which goeth into the mouth that defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth that defileth a man” (Matthew 15:11). If it helps another person gain spiritual connection by using cannabis, who’s to say that they should stop?  It may not be the answer for everyone, but hemp is not a harmful plant. 


Hemp 101

When you think of hemp, you no doubt imagine a bunch of high school or college age hoodlums acting like junkies; maybe something like this… 

Chuck&Bix
Photo by Kaliflowa

Contrary to that distorted reputation, we look further and find that hemp is an ancient blessing that humanity has used since the dawn of time for many reasons.  Hemp grows everywhere. When I was in high school there was a rumor going around that there was a forest of weed plants somewhere out in the depths of town. The news was not far-fetched, for hemp takes almost nothing to grow. Just throw the seeds in the ground and it will flourish. From Canada all the way down to Argentina hemp can be found growing freely in the wild.

Many people see hemp only as an “evil drug”. This is exactly how we’ve been surreptitiously programmed to think. Current ideology dictates that people are supposed to contribute to society in some way, and any fun or leisure is seen as an indulgence. This sense of wrong-doing perks our Puritanical origins, prompting the public to condemn any and all offenders of the law. Even if the law is counter-productive, we go along with it because of brainwashing. We’ve been bombarded with negative “facts” and imaged of the drug culture since day one. How could we not believe hemp to be a bad substance? Let’s look into its history.

There have been many names for the hemp many over the generations. Before the 1930’s the term “marijuana” didn’t even exist; it is a fictitious name invented to spark public hatred of Mexican immigrants. Some popular euphemisms used today are nugget, tree, pot, and green. They are used in an attempt to be vague and elusive. It was even termed “hippie lettuce” on a TV program about marijuana’s history in America. However, there are more respected names used by other cultures, such as the Jamaican words ganja, kali, herb, and of course the Rastafarian term “healing of the nations”. Even “narcotic” is thrown in sometimes for good measure. Fear, fear, fear.

It would be easier for the propagandists to keep people fearful of cannabis if there weren’t so many positive applications obtained from the plant. High quality paper and textiles can be made from the hemp plant. I once saw a great pair of hemp pants that I sadly couldn’t afford, because the price of hemp textiles if kept high by the power of the cotton industry.

Building supplies can also be made of hemp, and are stronger than wood due to the inherently, strong, fibrous nature of the plant stalk. Inside the stalk is a substance of pure carbohydrate that makes an excellent, non-allergic, form of baby food.  America’s tall ships built for war, trade, and travel could not have existed without hemp, for lack of sails, rope, beds, clothes, and other nautical uses that require imperviousness to salt water.

The mashed seeds of the hemp plant (which are about 35 percent protein) are often eaten to sustain cultures in Africa during times of famine.  The stalks and leaves can also be used as healthful animal feed, and poultices for injuries. Picture a cow happily munching on hemp and enjoying the sun, as opposed to one penned and for-fed corn with additives of synthetic hormones and antibiotics

Hemp can readily be made into many materials, even plastic-like substances to make household furnishings.  Save the trees! There are even rolling papers for joints that are made of hemp plantcellulose, making it a much cleaner way to smoke than using other commercial rolling paper.  One benefit from these “papers” is that they are clear, giving one an interesting view of the inner beings of this beautiful plant.  Watching it burn also looks really cool. Its smoke (said to be good for the Earth’s atmosphere) is remarkable in its form as it wafts skyward. No wonder the Rastafarians know it as a sacred offering.

Did you know that Henry Ford made a car almost entirely out of hemp, even the fuel and panels?  Until investigation I had no idea that hemp could be a potential source of biofuel. And what is biofuel anyway?  According to Dictionary.com, biomass is a noun meaning organic matter, esp. plant matter.  I began researching this and found that there are some very good reasons why hemp fuel would be a good investment and should be looked into more seriously. Unfortunately the seriousness of keeping it banned is more profitable to those who deny its worth.

The hemp plant, as well as many others, can be converted into charcoal. This can either be used as is, or can be converted into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which are the main components of Methanol (a.k.a. fuel).  Hemp seed oil (of which the seed is about thirty to forty percent) can also be burned and used for fuel, similar to diesel fuel.  This oil can also be refined to create gasoline. 

There are some great benefits gained by this unleashed energy source, such as much less sulfur pollution being cast into the atmosphere (which is a main component of acid rain). Recycling waste products like lawn clippings into useful materials, cleaning of the atmosphere through the recycling of co2 and oxygen.  And best yet, harvesting is a natural process that doesn’t disturb Mother Nature.  As a struggling student, I for one would appreciate the lower fuel costs that this transformation would bring.

Some of our Founding Fathers were avid hemp supporters, many of whom, including George Washington, grew it along with their other yearly crops as a barrier to protect them from insect and animal nuisances. They recognized hemp to be a renewable resource that can produce up to four crops per years. It also replenishes the soil as it grows. Where are the founding fathers to be found today when the world is imperiled by haste and waste?

The conclusion I’ve drawn is that public opinion of hemp needs to change.  Before the Temperance Movement of the 1920’s gained momentum, people were falling over each other to purchase tonics containing cannabis, as well as hash chocolates, to ease the symptoms of many common ailments. What’s happened to America’s sense of liberty that we are banned from buying for using a harmless yet vital plant? We need to begin valuing quality and sustainability again, much like our forefathers; farmers who recognized their responsibility to tend to and care for the land.

gangaPhoto by Kaliflowa
(On right) A typical Jamaican Backyard. In Jamaica where there is little medical care, cannibis sativa is grown for medicine; its leaves for poultices, its stem for rope, its cortex for baby food, its buds for enlighentment and mental depression, and tea. In third world countries, unswayed from King James and his version, the natives see cannibis as "The Five-fingered Hand of God" and "The Healing of the Nations".

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