A new way of looking….at plants

Curandera, sociologist, anthropologist Eda Zavala

On Sunday hubby and I drove out to Boyce Thompson Arboretum for a medicinal plant walk with Peruvian native Eda Zavala. Eda lives in Lima and holds degrees in Sociology and Anthropology. A descendent of the Wari people, she has studied with indigenous healers for the past twenty years, uncovering the secrets of the medicinal plants of the Amazon. Although the Sonoran desert’s medicinal plants are different than those she encounters in the jungle, the Arboretum’s Curandero Trail offered a fine setting for the insight of this enlightening woman.
In a short introduction she reminded us that the entire world is made up of energy, the people, the plants, the mountains, rivers and oceans. The botanical healers of the Amazon trade energy with the plants of the jungle in a form of communication that allows them to learn the medicinal qualities of the plants. Eda noted with a laugh and a twinkle that the curanderos or men healers are the maestros, the true masters. They need only approach a plant, take a bit of the leaf in their fingertips, rub it, smell it and taste it to learn the healing properties of the plant. The curanderas, the women prepare for a plant gathering trip into the jungle with eight days of ritualized purification. They abstain from certain foods and from sexual relations. They drink sacred flower water and sleep with dried flowers beneath their heads so that their entire being will resonate with the plant. They maintain this pure state for one to three months after their return, as they work with and process the botanicals.
Eda said that when she approaches a plant she discovers right away whether the plant is masculine or feminine and that her communication begins with this knowledge.
A member of the group asked if she was concerned about tasting a plant that might be poisonous and Eda was shocked. “Oh no, that would never happen,” she said. “The plant, she would tell me that she was not one to be tasted.” She related that the indigenous people of Peru do not suffer from cancer, diabetes, AIDS or mental disease. She said they do deal with arthritis, infections, digestive issues and parasites that require everyone to purge every three months. I was glad to have made the drive out to hear Eda speak. She is a woman who radiates warmth and generosity. “When you come to the Amazon,” Eda told all twenty five of us at the end of her talk, “I will take you into the jungle and show you the plants there.”


One response to “A new way of looking….at plants

  1. How cool! There are so many things to comment on here that I don’t know where to start…maybe a trip to the Amazon would be a good place to begin!

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