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Juliette of the Herbs

28 Nov, 2016

“For we are all wanderers in search of happiness, and staying mostly where we find it in aplenty” Juliette of the Herbs

This remarkable women is one of the most important herbalists of our time. Juliette De Bairacli Levi, has my respect and admiration not only for the contribution she made to healing naturally but too the way she lived her life. We share a common love of many places she lived and grew herbs, treated animals, being a holistic vet, and lived among the gypsies all over the world, further acquiring more herbal lore for humans and pets. She is also a fellow Scorpio! Her beloved dogs, afghan hounds, were never far from her side. She lived on my doorstep at one time, in the New Forest, mostly in remote places without power or water, in Spain, North Africa, Turkey, Israel and Greece and planted her special gardens wherever she went. Go girl. Really an inspiration and when you consider the time, (born 1912) it was ‘not the done thing’ for solo women travellers to be rambling about the world with children in tow. She raised her two children by her side and taught them how to live in accordance with nature, eating largely a raw food diet and bathing local ponds and wells. Now deceased, she was the author of a great many books some of which I possess and there is a film about her life simply titled ‘Juliette of the Herbs’, as indeed, she was. You can get it and further info here. http://www.valleystream.co.uk/juliette-of-the-herbs.htm

Her book, ‘Wanderers in the New Forest’, now fetching £32.00 on Amazon, has been amongst my collection for some time. She describes her cottage on my old stomping ground, which I had to visit of course, as an idyllic life among her friends, the gypsies, who were free to roam at the time, during the 1950’s. Although I wasn’t born until the 60’s, I still remember seeing gypsies in the Forest when I was young. And went they were ‘forced’ off the forest, some of the herbs and grasses were lost when they left. The Gypsy lifestyle, roaming, foraging, catching their food, making their own medicine from natures garden meant they were naturally drawn to the riches of the New Forest. For hundreds of years it was home to many gypsies for its abundant herbs, medicinal plants, game and natural springs supplying themselves and their horses and pets. There still remains the wells at Godshill, Juliette speaks of in her book, one, open for the animals and one, covered for humans. The gypsy community was steeped in rituals and customs. The ridge at Godshill, by a certain holly tree, was where gypsy women went to give birth. Sometimes a tent was erected and men weren’t allowed anywhere near the scene, often not holding their babies until after they were christened.

Of course, I took a picture of her little house, while wandering, in search of happiness one Sunday in the forest with friends, and I share it with youhere; 

It is not dis-similar to my Spanish finca, and equally as off-grid. She was hard-core this woman, no utilities for her, and cold baths in the well! 

This is an excerpt from an interview she once gave;

Trinity Herb:What are your thoughts on gardens and do you have one?

Juliette de Bairacli Levy: “The main purpose of having a garden is to have the garden as a teacher and friend. If you have a problem then the garden will give you the plants you need. You are always learning from your garden. I’ve had ten gardens and miss them all. When I start my garden I always start with Rosemary and Southernwood. They are my two favorite plants. My children say I cure everything with Rosemary. It’s true. Even if they have had very serious injuries, merely bathing in a Rosemary bath has cured them. Rosemary is very antiseptic. It is beloved by the bees and the butterflies. Such a lovely name too – Rosemarinus – dew of the sea. Southernwood, my other favorite plant, is in the Artemisia family. Artemis was a great herbalist, and Southernwood is a wonderful protector of women and newborns. I’ve done miracles with it for animals that were unable to pass their young ones.

Of all the remedies I’ve used, the best one is the laying on of the leaves. For very bad wounds on people and animals I put whole leaves direct on the wound and hold the leaf in place with gauze. Ointments and bandages, when removed, pull off the scab, but the leaves don’t, and they also draw out the toxins, and heal the wound, with no pain whatsoever. Mallow is a wonderful leaf. So are Nasturtium and Geraniums”. (Source; http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/July09/empower.htm)

You can feel her passion for her gardens and herbs and see it in her writing. She left many places due to the environmental damage created by man that she could not bear. This included one of her favourite gardens in Greece, due to the hunting every year of the song birds which broke her heart. I too live halfway up a mountain in Spain and tend my garden, similarly as did she and chronicles her time there in her book A Spanish Mountain Life. I too, will bang an old saucepan when the hunters come, to let the birds know in advance, so that they can fly to relative safety. If I am as contented and happy as she was, and can plant my garden, look after the environment and share what herbal knowledge I have with others on my retreats, I will feel I have accomplished something of value. Inspiring and exciting to find a kindred spirit, who lives on in the legacy of her written work. 

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