HOLISTIC HEALTH

 


 By Anthony Browder  

“The quality of our health is influenced by many factors: finance, sex, culture, and ethnicity. Of profound significance is the degree to which the European model has been used as the standard against which all others are measured. This is exemplified by the phrase “in the pink” which refers to a person of European ancestry who is in good physical condition. “In the pink,” refers to the observable phenomena of oxygen-rich red blood coursing through the arteries beneath pale “white” skin...

Because of the high concentration of melanin present in the skin of Africans, we can never be in the pink. Our skin is not as translucent, and it is much more difficult to ascertain when we become flushed. Consequently, we must use a different criterion to observe and express the health status of African people.

Our bodies comprise many systems: reproductive, circulatory, digestive, and others, that must all work individually and collectively to achieve the state of wholeness we call health. Modern medicine is just beginning to acknowledge holistic approaches to health that have been practiced in other cultures for thousands of years.

Traditional African healing is holistic and is based on the healers’ understanding of the interrelationship of a person’s mind, body and spirit, and how they all interact with nature and the universe. The Western approach to health is predicated on the belief that the mind is separate from the body, and the soul is nonexistent because it cannot be seen, weighed, or measured. Such an approach to medicine considers the body to be unaffected by universal forces.

Most health care providers are unaware that the caduceus, the universal symbol of the medical profession, actually symbolizes an ancient holistic approach to medicine. This symbol is of African origin and it represents the physical, mental, and spiritual components of the human body as defined by ancient African priests, scientists, and physicians.

The caduceus is a modification of a Kemetic symbol that was associated with healing. The caduceus represents the human body and the systems within the body that must be properly maintained and balanced for good health. It comprises a staff with two serpents intertwined around it and a globe on top of the staff with wings projecting from both sides.

The origin of the caduceus can be traced back to the African civilization of Kemet in the Nile Valley. At the temple of Seti I (c. 1300 B.C.E.), there is a wonderful relief carving of Djhuiti, the African Netcher, or God, who was associated with the science of medicine. Djhuiti holds in his left hand, two staffs with a single serpent intertwined around each. Each staff and serpent represent the upper and lower geographical regions of Kemet. They also represent the upper and lower regions of the human body.

Djhhuiti was acknowledged in Kemet as the God of science, medicine, mathematics, and writing. He was also associated with measurement and was considered a master of the spoken word. Djhuiti was regarded as the divine articulator of speech and possessed the ability to bring objects into existence via the spoken word. He was referred to as Thoth by the early Greeks who visited Kemet.

The word thought was derived from the Greek word Thoth which referred to the cognitive abilities of Djhuiti, the Kemetic God of divine speech...

Much of the medical and scientific terminology used today originated from the Romans and Greeks who acquired some of their concepts from the people of Kemet. When Kemet was conquered by Greece in 332 B.C.E., it was renamed Egypt After this conquest, many elements of kemetic science, philosophy, and culture were infused into Greek culture and, over time, were attributed to the Greeks. One such example was the Hellenization of Djhutiti who became known to the Greeks as Hermes, the God of Medicine. Greek depictions of Hermes show him carrying a staff with two serpents intertwined around it. This instrument was called the Staff of Hermes and eventually became known as the Caduceus.

When the Romans conquered the Greeks, and gained control of Egypt in 30 B.C.E., they integrated elements of Greek culture into their society. Subsequently, the Greek god Hermes became known to the Romans as Mercury, the God of Medicine. The Roman god Mercury assumed all of the attributes of Hermes, and The Staff of Hermes was referred to as The Staff of Mercury.

Mercury was synonymous with speed as it is the planet which travels the fastest around the sun. It completes its orbit in just eighty-eight days....

This symbolism also served as a profound metaphor for a specific activity that takes place within the human body. Modern neurologists view the brain as the central processing computer that coordinates myriad functions within the body. To ancient scientists, this same process was expressed much more poetically. To them, the brain was the sun within our “internal solar system.” The chemical messages from the brain (our sun) were transmitted throughout the body via the circulatory system, onto the other organs (or planets within the body). These chemical messages are called hormones and they direct the activity of specific organs and tissues in the body. The word hormone was derived from the Greek word Hermes, who had the dual responsibility, as did Mercury, of being the God of Medicine and Messenger  

Most hormones in the body are produced by organs called endocrine (ductless) glands. They secrete hormones into the bloodstream which distributes them throughout the body...The pineal gland, which was once considered a vestige organ, is now acknowledged as the master gland in the body. It secretes hormones that affect the secretion of hormones in the other endocrine gland

Within traditional African societies and in numerous cultures throughout the world people still celebrate adolescence—the transition of a child into adulthood that begins at puberty. This period is marked by an onslaught of hormonal activity that produces dramatic physical changes in the bodies of males and females. A rite of passage was usually initiated in the thirteenth year of life and prepared youth for the beginning of a mental, physical and spiritual metamorphosis into adulthood. A rite of passage was essential if youth were to learn how to function as adults and sustain the harmony, integrity, and stability of the village. The idea of an entire village raising a child is not a worn out cliché, it is a fact of life.

The attributes of Djhuiti, and the meanings associated with Thoth, the caduceus, Hermes, and Mercury have been lost over the ages, but the process they represent will continue to exist as long as there are humans on earth. When people are separated from the deeper meaning of life, they suffer many hardships. Those who have forgotten the importance of rites of passages will produce children to whom life has no value or meaning.

Not only has the significance of sacred rituals been forgotten by Africans in communities throughout America over the years, critical values have been lost at a time when they are needed most. In these modern times, single-parent families are becoming the norm and, extended families are practical nonexistent. The closeness of the village no longer exists. Children are producing children at an increasingly younger age and they lack the life skills necessary to pass knowledge on to the next generation. To further compound matters, we have witnessed a continual decline in the age that youth reaches puberty. Today, it is not uncommon for a female to begin her menstrual cycle as early as 8 or 9 years of age. Research indicated that this change, as well as the tremendous increase in the size of our children, closely parallels the growth of the fast food industry over the past thirty years.

Almost two generations of children have been raised on fast food. The chickens, cows, and pigs that are served in most restaurants were previously fed a diet of growth hormones in an attempt to minimize the time span between their birth and slaughter. The same growth hormones fed to livestock continue working inside the bodies of youngsters long after they have eaten their “happy meals.” These chemical substances now wreak havoc within young bodies and are accelerating the onset of puberty...

Children deserve to be raised by thoughtful adults who will protect them as youth and prepare them for adulthood. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes culture to sustain a village. Where there is no culture, there is no village, and the people will perish.”

SOURCE: Browder, Anthony T., From the Browder File Vol. II: SURVIVAL STRATEGIES FOR AFRICANS IN AMERICA. Washington D. C., The Institue of Karmic Guidence, 1996. P. 67-73

 

ARF EDITORIAL COMMENTS:

Afrikans worldwide have been deeply traumatized by over 600 years of foreign invasions, conquest and domination that has most assuredly had devastating consequences and we are all affected physically, mentally, spiritually, as well as socially. Once we have first accepted the fact that we are not well as a people we can begin the process of healing ourselves and the approach must be holistic as what affects one aspect affects the rest. The Afrikan Renaissance Foundation is one link in the long chain of Afrikan-centred movements attempting to help us heal from the long succession of psychological devastation.

 

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