When comparing systems of healing in the world, none could be more different than that of the Wise Woman and the Modern Scientific traditions of medicine.
Approaching health in their own unique ways, each has a differing set of ideas that defines its methodology and terms of treatment.
In this article, I make a point of investigating some of the contrasts between the two.
Wise Woman Healing
The Wise Woman tradition is, firstly, about a natural way of being for the individual. It recognizes health as being entwined with the Earth, and believes in a respectful relationship with nature and all living things.
Containing greater wisdoms from 50,000BC to now, it is known as the oldest system of healing, with its knowledge derived from lineages of midwives and crones.
It is a healing philosophy that places strong emphasis on herbs that are always easy to find and easy to prepare into remedies that are simplistic and inexpensive. Other invaluable elements of this tradition include nourishment and compassion, whether local, organic, vitamin-rich foods or loving words.
Aside from its focus on healing with plants, the way of the Wise Woman is a woman-centered tradition that fully acknowledges the feminine as deserving of strength, unconditional love and empowerment in a world, and the medical profession, as established from a masculine view.
Each woman (and man) is regarded as highly unique and treated respectfully for who they are. It does not discount women’s experiences as being ‘wrong’ or needing correction by drugs or surgery. Instead it honours the natural cycles inherent in womanhood and promotes weaknesses as strengths.
In this tradition, everyone is regarded as having the right to be empowered in their own healing, and to see disease and illness not as ‘enemies’ but as vehicles for personal transformation. The Wise Woman way of thinking is about adopting a flexible and growing awareness and understanding of the self.
Its aim is always towards the integration of the person so healing may be achieved in wholeness. The Wise Woman tradition thus allows a person to learn about themselves and their body, not only for better health but a higher awareness of life.
Modern Scientific Tradition
In considering the life of the planet, modern science has only existed for a short time (from 1500AD to now) and has had significant impact on human health, with a separatist view of Life and the physical body. Labeled as conventional and orthodox, it has led, from the times of Newton and Descartes, to a form of medicine that is highly reflective of society’s increasing reliance on technology and synthetic materials.
With advancements in chemical and scientific research, the Modern Scientific system subsequently treats medical issues through the prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs, vaccinations and invasive surgery. Physicians, trained in this school of thought, have also learnt to see the public as one entity – of which all people are one in the same.
In the Modern Scientific tradition, it is a foreign concept to consider a person as having the power and ability to heal themselves. Authority over a person’s health is automatically assumed by doctors of this tradition whereby, at a medical clinic or hospital, a diagnosis and final decision of treatment and prognosis is made by the practitioner – not the patient.
Credit: Michael Connors / morgueFile
Nature vs Drugs
While the Wise Woman tradition looks upon a person as a whole and sees the interconnectedness between mind, body and spirit, Modern Scientific medicine maintains the belief that any sickness or disease is a problem in itself that needs to be fought and cured. The body is seen as some kind of machine, which is in need of fixing when parts suffer and break.
The Modern Scientific tradition is one very much built on analytical thinking. It is dependent on laboratory testing and measurable results. Reliable and repeatable drugs are favored for the solving of medical problems, that in the light of the Wise Woman tradition, would be possibilities for positive change.
While plants are recognized as being important substances, such as in Germany where herbs are prescribed by doctors, they are worthy only of the active ingredients they offer scientists, by way of examination and elimination.
As a tradition that isolates and removes parts from the whole, the Modern Scientific tradition of medicine takes what benefits a plant may have and discards the rest, similar to how a patient is viewed incompletely and treated in parts.
In comparison to modern medical science, the Wise Woman tradition sees plants, as well as the person as already perfect, and is invisible in its actions and attitude of love, peace and harmony.
It realizes the source of all being and does not seek to separate or oppose. It makes it known to us that the Earth and humanity are inter-related and is an option of being in the world that is helpful, hopeful and sharing with all women, all people, animals and elements.
With a person’s intention dictating choice of technique for healing self and other, it would thus seem to me that Wise Woman understanding is a wiser way.