part 1 - This interview was aired worldwide April 7 - 13, 2003 but
the information is timeless.
HEALTH:THE WISE AND NATURAL WAY
Justine: Susun, welcome.
Susun: Green blessings. I’m so glad
to be with you today.
Justine: Thank you so much. I want to go
back to some of the beginning. I know that you left high school
when you were in your junior year, and went onto college.
Justine: To UCLA and you stuck it out till
your junior year, and then you went out to let life teach
you. So tell us-- There’s a story behind that. Tell
us about that, Susun.
Susun: I was a mathematics major at UCLA
and my primary focus was in artificial intelligence. I often
laugh and say, “You see without me they haven’t
really had much success in the past quarter century”
<laughing>. And basically I interacted in some very
significant ways with natural intelligence and began to realize
that I was far more interested in the intelligence of nature
than in creating any artificial intelligence. This was somewhat
aided and abetted by the fact that I got pregnant while taking
birth control pills. The doctors denied that I was pregnant
for five months until my baby was kicking so hard they couldn’t
Now what year was that?
Susun: This was 1965.
Justine: Now, they were still very strong
pills at that time.
Susun: I was one of the very first groups
of American women given birth control pills. There were no
sonograms. We had no idea what I was gonna give birth to and
the papers of course were filled with pictures of Thalidomide
babies. It was a very scary time for me.
Justine: Very scary.
Susun: And that pushed me into herbal medicine
‘cause I wasn’t going to put so much as an Aspirin
in my body.
Justine: How was the birth?
Susun: Easy and fine. I’m a bit of
an exhibitionist but even for me having prenatal exams with
30 interns crowded into the room looking between my legs at
UCLA Medical Center was a little much. So we decided to move
to Manhattan, my husband and I where we could be completely
anonymous. And we of course completely anonymous and completely
broke. And so I went for my prenatals at Bellevue and I made
friends with a nurse there and told her I wanted a natural
birth. And she said, “There is no such thing as a natural
birth in a hospital”. So what I did was I simply waited
until I was virtually ready to push the baby out before I
took the bus to the hospital. That was kind of a funny scene
too you know, I’m standing up on the bus. There’s
no way I could’ve sat down. And everybody wants to let
this obviously hugely pregnant woman sit down and I’m
going “Uh-uh, no. No I’m not sitting down. It’s
OK”. And of course because they never expected that
a prima – that’s somebody who’d never had
a baby before – would wait so long before I came into
the hospital. And they put me in a labor room, and when they
came for the first check and saw that the baby was crowning
they swung into action, but they were really too late to drug
me or do much of anything.
Justine: And they left you in that labor
Susun: No, they did. They took me into the
delivery room. And they actually strapped me down with big
leather straps because I wanted to – I didn’t
want to labor on my back ‘cause it was uncomfortable.
Justine: Of course not. I mean they’ve
discovered now it’s not natural.
Susun: Exactly. And then when my baby was
born I actually broke the straps to sit up and touch her.
And they threatened to tranquillize me if I didn’t stop
being disruptive in trying to touch my baby. Yeah, 1965 was
not a great time to have a baby out. I wanted to nurse her
and they told me that she would die, that breast milk wasn’t
adequate for children. And to really reinforce that it wouldn’t
work they would give her a bottle of sugar water before they
brought her to me to nurse. When I discovered what they were
doing I of course checked my baby and myself out of the hospital
against doctor’s orders.
Justine: That’s an amazing story and
one not unfamiliar to many women in that era.
Susun: Not unfamiliar. And you know what
it is, was my natural intelligence that in a way had to then
compete against their artificial intelligence.
Justine: Now tell me so many of us succumb
to it but you had this voyeur attitude. Where did that come
Susun: Oh, I’m sure it came from my
parents. ‘Cause my parents were always very clear that
-- I mean my parents taught me to question authority. My parents
said, “Just because somebody’s an authority doesn’t
mean that they’re gonna tell you the truth. You have
to go and look and discover and walk on your own. What you
can really believe is what you really experience yourself.”
And so they really helped me in a very dramatic way to know
that my reference was first and foremost myself. And in my
teachings that’s exactly the message that I try to give
to women. Not what I say. I don’t want you to believe
what I say. I want you to believe the messages of your own
senses. If I give you an idea through something that I say
and then you try it out and your senses say “Yeah!”
Justine: So that’s really a very Buddhist
principle because Buddhists say, “Don’t follow
me because I say it. Try it out and if it works then that’s
what informs you”. So that’s the way you teach
Susun: Exactly. Exactly. You know I am very
public about being a High Priestess of the Goddess, a Wise
Woman -- and that means a witch. And the legal definition
of a witch is a woman who heals without a license, and since
I don’t even have a high school diploma we’d certainly
have to say that’s true. And Justine, I don’t
think that there’s been a two year period when I haven’t
lost a job because of it.
Justine: Hmm. Even now?
Susun: Oh yes. As a matter of fact, I was
supposed to teach for the La Leche League last week, and the
National Board said that they couldn’t have me teach
because I was a witch and I might say something about that
while I was teaching. And I of course was quite outraged and
said, “You mean, you wouldn’t allow, you know,
a Rabbi or a Baptist or a Jehovah’s Witness to teach
for you because they might say something about their spirituality?”
I said, you know, “You’ve got a lot of ways that
you can pick on me. My dad’s Jewish. You could be prejudiced
against that. My mom’s Catholic, you might wanna be
prejudiced against that. I have taken refuge as a Buddhist.
You could be prejudiced against that.” And they said,
“Well this has nothing to do with religion”. But
of course, it does.
Susun: A witch is a powerful woman. It’s
still a threatening word.
Justine: Right. And the images that we use
in our culture to depict witches have not been very positive
Susun: But if people were to take a picture
of you and I right now they’d see witches, wouldn’t
they? We even look like them.
Justine: We do actually!
Susun: She’s dressed up in this beautiful
black scarf with this gorgeous silver pin, which looks kind
of like a snake biting its tail just shining at me. Alright?
And I have this like big beaded thing hanging down between
my breasts that’s all glittery. So, we definitely look
the pair of two old hags, my dear.
HEALTH:THE WISE AND NATURAL WAY
Audio tape , 1 hr.
Today, Susun Weed is one of America's foremost authorities
on herbal medicine and natural approaches to women's health.
Susun engages in a fascinating, candid and controversial dialogue
about women's health, natural healing and the "wise woman"
tradition. Susun exposes the illusion about menopause and
hormones, addresses the HRT/cancer connection and shares information
about bone density. She reveals her knowledge about powerful
anti-cancer herbs, and how to prepare herbal infusions with
reverence. (Interview hosted by Justine Toms). Topics explored
in this dialogue include: seeing yourself as a hologram keeps
you healthy; herbal infusions, how they fully nourish your
body; and, the six steps to personal healing.
Susun Weed's complete interview is available from Ash Tree
Mail $12 to Susun Weed PO Box 64 Woodstock, NY 12498
or order online at www.wisewomanbookshop.com
Greetings! I have been doing an herbal apprenticeship
in my homeland of Michigan with a student of Susun's this
year...Jackie Rushton. I have learned a lot...What an experience!
Last night I watched her copy of Susun's video Weeds to the
Wise! I have been reading Healing Wise as a bible of sorts
for several years now and exploring the web-site...One thing
that remains the greatest challenge is to change the way I
think to that of the Wise Woman tradition...and then implement
that into my life. In some ways, it is so simple...and that
is what creates the problem...my mind is so in the habit of
thinking heroicly and scientifically so my mind rejects the
simple, natural and soooo right solutions. However, when I
stop and rest in the Now, I see that my mind is not what is
in charge and I make the Wise choice. Thanks for everything!