Healing Seekers In Madagascar
By: Amy Greeson –
Our Healing Seeker’s team just returned home from a trip exploring, discovering, and attempting to understand the many methods of healing in Madagascar. We worked for three weeks filming the second of our documentary series. We trekked all over this tiny island, which is located off the southeast coast of Africa. Because of the isolation of the villages within this country, many hours were spent traveling … by plane, foot, boat, off-road vehicle, and even by carts pulled by zebu. From this beautiful land and its people, we learned priceless information and invaluable lessons. We will continue our research with several of the plants that we discovered, which are so worthy of further exploration. As I reflect, a significant lesson, that became a recurrent theme for me, involved my deeper appreciation of the value and the ‘power of one.’
So often, I believe, we lose the truth of who we are (at our very core) because we direct our attention and energies elsewhere. Maybe it’s just easier to follow a well groomed path than to create our own. Sometimes we fail to even try, misbelieving that there is little that we are truly capable of doing. However, if we do, we often discover the most spectacular opportunities that may transform not only ourselves, but our world. Inevitably, we are also reminded that all of life is truly connected – all people, cultures, animals and plants, and environments. It may only take one event – one brief moment in time – to awaken us to this interconnectedness.
Ironically, we simultaneously also begin to glimpse the power we inherently have as individuals. I believe that the human race becomes empowered by the congruency of the individuals. Madagascar not only awakened me to a deeper level of this congruency, but to the potential power that every life form has to change the world.
Three weeks is a short period of time to deeply immerse and understand a culture. We were honored to travel this land, to be with these beautiful people, and to witness and participate in a variety of healings. Healings were performed with plants, with spiritual guidance, and combinations of practices. Several of the healers, called troombas, embodied or possessed spirits, which would cause them to go into a trance. An experience would go something like this: we would locate and ask permission to see a local healer, who would kindly invite us into his or her small home. (Remember that by western standards, these villages are extremely poor and undeveloped. There is no running water, no sewage, no electricity. Small wooden frames serve as prideful homes.) Although I consider myself open-minded and quite intrigued with spiritual paths, I found this practice to be initially numbing. Never before in my travels and encounters had I experienced such a method of healing. Only after the initial quivering ceased did I begin to open my mind and heart to understand and appreciate this practice. Please imagine having a conversation with a quiet, reserved man in a secluded village, and within a few minutes of his praying and summoning his spirit, there appears a complete transformation. His voice changes slightly, his appearance alters, as well as his demeanor and mannerisms. (I’m realizing that it is impossible for me to put into words what we captured on film.) They were remarkable experiences, and although quite different from any previous ceremonies any of us had experienced … they were powerful.
I realized that this culture understands how vital guidance and spiritual healings are for health, balance, and well being. They comprehend that when Creator (the name given to God/Spirit/etc.) ‘calls’ a person to follow his or her path, he or she is given unimaginable guidance, support, and power.
We met many beautiful people during our journey, each unique and each a teacher for us. Whether they were singing native songs to call in the crocodiles, or laughing at me almost tipping over in a dug-out boat, or teaching me about therapies for diabetes, they were gracious. They eagerly shared their vast knowledge. Information was often given so quickly that we found it difficult to write fast enough. (Another wonderful thing about filming … we were able to capture it all on video.) tipping over in a dug-out boat, or teaching me about therapies for diabetes, they were gracious. They eagerly shared their vast knowledge. Information was often given so quickly that we found it difficult to write fast enough. (Another wonderful thing about filming … we were able to capture it all on video.)
Undoubtedly, many plants in Madagascar likely hold some of the secrets for cures and treatments. Take for example the rosy periwinkle. This plant is used for many things, including diabetes. However, its greatest contribution to date has been with the development of two powerful chemotherapy drugs, vincristine and vinblastine. Want to know why most cases of childhood leukemia are now treatable? Rosy periwinkle. It is disheartening that only a handful of Madagascar’s more than 10,000 known indigenous plants have been studied extensively for their medicinal potentials. We continue to lose life species at an alarming rate. One must hope that we have not lost or destroyed too many cures. One must insist exploration and discovery continue, and demand the preservation of our environments. If one plant can save thousands of children from what was once a deadly cancer, why would it not be logical to believe there already exists in the natural world the secrets and solutions for every disease and condition? When we seek to explore, to discover, to observe, to listen … then we will further understand the power of each one.
During our journey we met Olivier Bahrer, a most remarkable man who was handsome, kind, intelligent, and wise beyond his years. Twenty years ago, Olivier was told that a particular region in Madagascar was home to perhaps the world’s most diverse habitat for frogs. Amazingly, he was also told that the area was slated to be logged in the near future. Even though he had no direct involvement with the research or preservation of frogs, or had abundant wealth, Olivier refused to sit idle. He sought out the man who owned the logging rights to this land and bought them. He then purchased the 5000 acre tract of land and established a protected private preserve. Next he created a building for a small laboratory in the middle of the forest, and built a distillery. The locals now collect plants to manufacture high-grade essential oils that are exported. Olivier continued his amazing work, creating a local health clinic that has tremendously diminished the cases of malaria and has reduced infant mortality rates, and believing every child deserves an education, he organized the building of the local school. Amazingly, in the process, the community has learned to become sustainable. One man’s passion, devotion, and dedication … the power to make a difference … the power of one.
It’s the power we all have … this power of one … this power to join together … this power to change the world.