While I was really hoping to announce the release of my forthcoming (and over-due) translation of the Divine Farmer's Classic of Materia Medica, we are still fine-tuning it. It is a precious text that needs to be treated with reverence and presented correctly. So please be patient and accept my apologies for the delay. Any day now though....literally!
In the meantime, I have a sweet little story to share with you: A friend recommended that I check out the work of Jane English, translator, publisher, shaman, nature photographer, and apparently just somebody whose work I would really relate to. Plus she lives in Vermont, a place I know nothing about other than a book I deeply treasured as a teenager, "Die Farm in den Grünen Bergen" about the life of Alice and Carl Zuckmayer, writers who emigrated there from Germany during the second World War to start a farm -- the connection to my own life is obvious to anybody who knows me.
Apparently I need to learn more about this area since my daughter is dreaming of going to college there. So I did check out Jane English's work, and sure enough, found a gorgeous calendar of photographs of her Vermont pond for my daughter's 18th birthday. Plus a deck of "Wisdom Cards" very much reminding me of my beloved Yijing but reflecting the ancient arctic wisdom of her shamanic teachers from Greenland. What a strange find through a strange connection! While I originally got them for me, they turned out to be the perfect gift for my daughter's 18th birthday, to send her off on her life's journey.
This past weekend, I was busy teaching a weekend "Chinese Culture Immersion Retreat" for our students in the School of Classical Chinese Medicine at the National College of Natural Medicine. As part of this retreat, my fellow teacher Dr. Brenda Hood and I always bring our favorite art and philosophy books and toys related to Chinese culture and set up a little library and display of tea pots and accessories, incense burners, calligraphy supplies, chops, and similar items. As I was returning my books to their places in my bookshelf on Monday, all of a sudden I had this bizarre realization that one of my oldest, most beloved books in Chinese philosophy was actually authored by the very same woman, Jane English! She was the translator AND photographer behind the gorgeous Tao Te Ching edition that I had bought in Taipei when I myself was 18 and just getting started in my journey with Chinese culture. Oh how I loved that book and how much that book influenced me as I was just the same age as my daughter is now!
Here is an excerpt from Chapter Two.
And even wilder, when I contacted Jane and told her how much I appreciated her work, she pointed me to her other work, on the experience of Caesarean birth, expressed on the website "Caesareanvoices.com." Just read her brief transcription of a talk she gave on Four Perspectives on her experience as a Caesarean-born person here. Her artwork and her writing are so powerful! Highly recommended for anybody who is juggling that strange delicate balance between ancient wisdom and a modern reality full of technological interventions, which is such a relevant issue for anybody involved in Chinese medicine, but particular for people involved in fertility. How do we as individuals, as a culture, and those of us who practice medicine, grapple with and embrace the technological interventions that have so powerfully shaped us to the core of our being? This is an issue much on my mind these days as I am preparing to give a talk on the connection between fertility and yangsheng at the Integrative Fertility Symposium in Vancouver later this spring. I conclude this blog with a painting of hers. You can find more Cesarean art at this page on the caesarianvoices website. Feel free to comment on this conundrum...