JAMU IS EVERY WOMAN'S BIRTHRIGHT

In the workshops that I teach on the use of plant remedies for health management, I have noticed how easily women learn about edible and medicinal uses of plants. This ancient knowledge should come naturally to us; it is our birthright. This is a little bit hard to swallow for modern women who were raised above ground level in sterile concrete cities. But I have hope. Women are deeper than the veneer of their make-up, and I want to peel this off, to save their lives. We can learn to remember once again.

I have struggled all my life, that is to say, not in the context of poverty, but excesses of all kinds; emotional dependency; material comfort; social status; security. Each stage of unravelling meant a certain loss to deal with. I am not always right, and I love myself for some of the bad choices I made. I learnt. So can you, but are you woman enough for the exciting journey into your Self? This may sound like an arrogant remark, and I make no apologies to all the warriors to be who I hope will take their medicines with some honey. Ah yes, honey, that manna of freedom that will coat every nerve of your senses till the end of your days. This is the path of the medicine woman. We are all by our birthright, medicine women. 

As a child I recall the intoxicating scent of Obat Peruik ( a Jamu tonic to help detoxification, alkalinise the blood and restore the gut ) emanating from my mother's kitchen. This brew listed almost 20 or more plants boiling in a clay pot. My mother, like so many women of her time, had implicit faith in Jamu and its power to deal with every chronic pain, gassy abdomen and flagging libido. They did not rely on scientific analysis or placebo studies to convince them. They relied on their womanly instincts. Meanwhile, I grew up, got smarter than my mother and began the journey into the grey clouds of forgetfulness.

Jamu is the Javanese vernacular to denote a variety of tonics made from plants. The practice is based on age - old folk remedies that Indonesian women used for the health management of their family. I learnt that an Indonesian woman will take care of the peace and harmony in her household and she was schooled in the ways of Jamu to treat everyday health needs. This is the way of the wise woman who healed not only her family, but herself too. 

I never forgot that moment in my mother's kitchen. At the height of menopause and my misplaced hormones, I remembered the healing scent of Jamu as if it were the gentle touch of my mother. It would be simpler to live conveniently with synthetic medications that ask no intimacy between you, but your timely dedication of their consumption. No, I recommend the warrior’s way, because dealing with raw nature will get your hands stained with the mark of pure authenticity that is the way to real healing for every woman.

Remember your birthright.