The Works of Catherine Berendsohn

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The Power of A Seed- From an Organizer of the first March Against Monsanto in Miami Florida 2013

As I review some of the research I did back in 2013 when I was an organizer for the March Against Monsanto Miami, I feel a deeper personal connection to the themes of brutal control of that which reproduces in the world than I did at that time. My sense of moral outrage at the crushing bully tactics that big corporate bodies employ on good farmers, silencing them as they eradicate and threaten our natural food heritage lines of the earth- all for exploitation and profit- hit me with a deeper hollowness than they did four years ago. I feel worn and tired from learning far too much about these things.  I remember then that I had a brightness and thundering in the face of injustice, knowing this was wrong to do to others and a threat to all of our food and genetic lineage. Now I sit to write this without fervor, but it is something that needs to be put in a bigger context. So for that purpose I will endeavor to write about it.

I'm marching for Her

The deep wound of the earth is connected to all the topics rising to be addressed now with the marches taking place across the face of the planet. And at the heart of them all is a mentality. It is a brutal mentality. A pattern of control and suppression of the loving possibility of life for narrow profit of one at expense of another. Today I am going to look at the control of power. The deepest right, the power of life. Today I will look at the power of a seed. And the history of the healing power of plants, of the health they give us, the natural laws they orchestrate to in their own rhythms, and the deep pattern that I see repeating as the overthrow of matriarchy and the overthrow of nature's self-perpetuating order by the operations of controlling forces within mankind. 

The suppression of seeds and control of genetic lines has a long history. As mentioned in the above film "Seeds of Fear" even in the old Testament Pharaoh kept seeds from the Israelites as a form of control and suppression. What I would like to look at now is a bit closer to the rise of our modern era. It is the connection of the rise of the medical institutions with the burning of the medicine women of Europe.

As a little girl around Halloween I would read one of my illustrated history books about the Salem witch trials. I had a series of a bunch of topics, from the Titanic to Pocahontas. Now the witch trials have a much clearer implication as I see how they are continuing to play out today. What is very important about it for our modern times particularly for this article, has to do with bigger forces moving into place in that era. It had to do with the assault on the old world systems of health and medicine which were carried by the wise keepers of plant knowledge. That old woman making tinctures over her cauldron? She was the town midwife, the lore keeper of ancient earth based beliefs as well as, very significantly, plant based knowledge. 

http://Witches, Midwives, and Nurses- A History of Women Healers

As outlined in this article "Witches, Midwives, and Nurses- A History of Women Healers" published in 1973 by the Feminist Press at CUNY, the mass hysteria of witch hunting in Europe that took place between the 14th and 17th centuries was tied greatly to control of the church and suppression of the peasant healers which were mainly autonomously operating women. Much of this comes from misogynistic fears, a suspicion of women as sexual threat and the fact that self operating healers were empiricists:

 "The witch-healer’s methods were as great a threat (to the Catholic Church, if not the Protestant) as her results, for the witch was an empiricist: She relied on her senses rather than on faith or doctrine, she believed in trial and error, cause and effect. Her attitude was not religiously passive, but actively inquiring. She trusted her ability to find ways to deal with disease, pregnancy and childbirth – whether through medications or charms. In short, her magic was the science of her time."

The article continues with this description of anti-empirical thought of the Church. Realize this has nothing to do with the teachings of Christ, but with the fearful controls of an institution made by man, as this is the real theme at play against the seeds of the world, reproduction, silencing, and violent eradication and abuse we are looking at: they are instruments of control-

"The Church, by contrast, was deeply anti-empirical. It discredited the value of the material world, and had a profound distrust of the senses. There was no point in looking for natural laws that govern physical phenomena, for the world is created anew by God in every instant. Kramer and Sprenger, in the Malleus, quote St. Augustine on the deceptiveness of the senses:

... Now the motive of the will is something perceived through the senses or the intellect, both of which are subject to the power of the devil. For St. Augustine says in Book 83: This evil, which is of the devil, creeps in by all the sensual approaches; he places himself in figures, he adapts himself to colors, he attaches himself to sounds, he lurks in angry and wrongful conversation, he abides in smells, he impregnates with flavours and fills with certain exhalations all the channels of the understanding.

The senses are the devil’s playground, the arena into which he will try to lure men away from Faith and into the conceits of the intellect or the delusions of carnality.

In the persecution of the witch, the anti-empiricist and the misogynist, anti-sexual obsessions of the Church coincide: Empiricism and sexuality both represent a surrender to the senses, a betrayal of faith. The witch was a triple threat to the Church: She was a woman, and not ashamed of it. She appeared to be part of an organized underground of peasant women. And she was a healer whose practice was based in empirical study. In the face of the repressive fatalism of Christianity, she held out the hope of change in this world."

The article then details the larger picture of the continuing themes that all power must be derived from men, therefore establishing the basis of the medical institution, which was acceptable medical treatment for the upper classes. I find it interesting that the great need for self directed women healers arose from the churches' stance on health for the peasant masses, this was the healthcare platform in that era:

 "...in the same number we reckon all good Witches, which do no hurt but good, which do not spoil and destroy, but save and deliver...It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death.

Witch-healers were often the only general medical practitioners for a people who had no doctors and no hospitals and who were bitterly afflicted with poverty and disease. In particular, the association of the witch and the midwife was strong: “No one does more harm to the Catholic Church than midwives,” wrote witch-hunters Kramer and Sprenger.

The Church itself had little to offer the suffering peasantry:

On Sundays, after Mass, the sick came in scores, crying for help, – and words were all they got: “You have sinned, and God is afflicting you. Thank him; you will suffer so much the less torment in the life to come. Endure, suffer, die. Has not the Church its prayers for the dead?” 
(Jules Michelet, Satanism and Witchcraft)

When faced with the misery of the poor, the Church turned to the dogma that experience in this world is fleeting and unimportant. But there was a double standard at work, for the Church was not against medical care for the upper class. Kings and nobles had their court physicians who were men, sometimes even priests. The real issue was control: Male upper class healing under the auspices of the Church was acceptable, female healing as part of a peasant subculture was not.

The Church saw its attack on peasant healers as an attack on magic, not medicine. The devil was believed to have real power on earth, and the use of that power by peasant women – whether for good or evil – was frightening to the Church and State. The greater their satanic powers to help themselves, the less they were dependent on God and the Church and the more they were potentially able to use their powers against God’s order. Magic charms were thought to be at least as effective as prayer in healing the sick, but prayer was Church-sanctioned and controlled while incantations and charms were not. Thus magic cures, even when successful, were an accursed interference with the will of God, achieved with the help of the devil, and the cure itself was evil. There was no problem in distinguishing God’s cures from the devil’s, for obviously the Lord would work through priests and doctors rather than through peasant women."

And I would like to point out some of the more disturbing thoughts this is based on, that a woman could not have her own power to stand on, or ability, or anything resembling a dignity of action, it had to come from a man- namely Satan- because a smart and capable and good woman is something not to be believed as possible. Here are some of the examples of institutionalized misogyny listed:

"The medieval Catholic Church elevated sexism to a point of principle: The Malleus declares, “When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil.” The misogyny of the Church, if not proved by the witch-craze itself, is demonstrated by its teaching that in intercourse the male deposits in the female a homunculus, or “little person,” complete with soul, which is simply housed in the womb for nine months, without acquiring any attributes of the mother. The homunculus is not really safe, however, until it reaches male hands again, when a priest baptises it, ensuring the salvation of its immortal soul.

Another depressing fantasy of some medieval religious thinkers was that upon resurrection all human beings would be reborn as men!

In the eyes of the Church, all the witches’ power was ultimately derived from her sexuality. Her career began with sexual intercourse with the devil. Each witch was confirmed at a general meeting (the witches’ Sabbath) at which the devil presided, often in the form of a goat, and had intercourse with the neophytes. In return for her powers, the witch promised to serve him faithfully. (In the imagination of the Church even evil could only be thought of as ultimately male-directed!) As the Malleus makes clear, the devil almost always acts through the female, just as he did in Eden:

All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable...Wherefore for the sake of fulfilling their lusts they consort with devils...it is sufficiently clear that it is no matter for wonder that there are more women than men found infected with the heresy of witchcraft...And blessed be the Highest Who has so far preserved the male sex from so great a crime ..."

 

These beliefs led to the systematic murder of women that can be estimated to be in the millions:

"The extent of the witch-craze is startling: In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries there were thousands upon thousands of executions – usually live burnings at the stake – in Germany, Italy and other countries. In the mid-sixteenth century the terror spread to France, and finally to England. One writer has estimated the number of executions at an average of 600 a year for certain German cities – or two a day, “leaving out Sundays.: Nine-hundred witches were destroyed in a single year in the Wertzberg area, and 1000 in and around Como. At Toulouse, four-hundred were put to death in a day. In the Bishopric of Trier, in 1585, two villages were left with only one female inhabitant each. Many writers have estimated the total number killed to have been in the millions. Women made up some 85 percent of those executed – old women, young women and children."

This does not include the specific incidents of Salem Massachusettes. I have walked those streets and heard the stories. I did not feel a spooky thrill of a ghost tour, but a sad chill and disturbed confusion at it. Now I am understanding where these ugly demons really live. I see it in the twist of a man's face I have trusted my whole life since childhood. I see it in the attack of nature. In the control of the feminine mysteries of the wonders of the body. In the control of a seed. 

We do not often pay enough attention to the old adage "history repeats itself". These events are often mostly glossed over, referenced in a history class, but there does not seem much attention besides at Halloween given to the mass murder of millions upon millions of women in Europe, the Angloid massacre of the women of their own people. This was also largely an attack on the ancient indigenous healing traditions of ancient European practice. So why do I talk about it now? Because this horrific abuse has not disappeared. It still is the underlying platform. It happens one attack at a time, and now the big bullies are still the outgrowth of those first rearing institutions. The institutions now are corporations, multinational bullies, and the fear of women and control of the masses has taken form in the usurping of the first female power, the power of life to follow its own pattern, its own genetic code, and that is the power of the seed itself. Women are the seed of humanity. I was struck by these signs at the Million Women's March in Washington D.C. that I participated in with the women of my family. Educators, healers, empiricists of life experience, carriers of dignity and knowledge and family story. The Earth is our Mother because we were born of the gentle orchestrations of the garden of life, the Devine haven breathed life by the unseen Mystery of Spirit.  By the oxygen of plants, the order that gives us healing, well being, and balance. We, the seeds of the Earth, have been buried by a brutal controlling system so ubiquitous its devastations are enstated unquestioned in societal norms. But the cost lies strewn in the face of our future. This is the right of our connected lives- to our bodies, our genetic heritage for our children still to be born, of our tillers of the soil to get to do something as simple as plant seeds, to be fertile by bees and the rhythms of nature undisrupted by the belittling controls of man. These attitudes of the abuses of the dignity of Life, and of Her Rite to execute Her sacred charges on Her own autonomous powers, are desecrations of the Stewardship of Mankind to the loving care of the Garden of Life that we have here. The power of man is to uphold the sacredness of Life. This means the respect of the power of woman, this means the future, this means that which grows, to care for and respect the power of a seed. 

When I worked on the Monsanto campaign, it was obvious the cry of nature with the collapsing of the bee colonies, the threat of the terminator gene, a gene to cut off the rights of plants to procreate on their own infinitely beautiful abilities as they have for millions of years, not for any benefit but the control of seeds for the financial exploitive profit of companies like Monsanto, with its history of horrifying chemical monstrosities like agent orange used in operation Ranch Hand in the Vietnam War as herbicidal warfare that damages genes, resulting in deformities in exposed victims.

Agent Orange- The Atrocities of War  Click link to read more

Agent Orange- The Atrocities of War 

Click link to read more

 

Be warned, the photos yielded by an agent orange search on the internet are horrifying, I have posted some below. But it matters to realize:

 

the-same-people-who-sprayed-agent-orange-on-vietnam-are-spraying-your-produce
victim of agent orange Vietnam

This is why 2017 is now the sixth consecutive year for the worldwide marches against Monsanto. Because they have infiltrated the EPA, the agency that is supposed to regulate these companies to protect people from corrupt agendas at the cost of our lives and well-being, they have bullied farmers, ruined lives, all with a brutal pursuit for profit without concern for the disruption of our health and even our genetic code. This statement is taken from the March Against Monsanto website:

http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/press-release/

Keep GMOs out of your genes

"WORLDWIDE–Hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens will hit the streets May 20th, 2017 for the 6th international March Against Monsanto grassroots campaign. The global events will take place in hundreds of cities on six continents with the objective to further educate and raise awareness about Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds and the increasingly toxic food supply. A focal point of this year’s events is Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which has been detected in air and rain samples, the breast milk of nursing mothers, childhood vaccines, prenatal vitamins, and baby formula."

In 2011 right out of college at Florida State University, I lived in Tallahassee Florida and I became an intern for Sustainable Tallahassee. I worked under Executive Director Sharon Liggett and I did research on various topics. Tallahassee is Florida's state capital, but it is a small city with a fluctuating populace, businesses have a cap on patrons that shifts based on whether people are in school or in session. So the Green Sector is a great boon to providing a new economic stability for the city. The smaller size also means it is possible to have better city planning incorporating innovative new sustainable technologies and architecture into the city design. It was a dream position for me. But a lot of what I researched was assigned to me about health effects. Particularly a report on PERC, Perchloroethylene, a dangerous chemical used in dry cleaners that seeps into us and the environment, as well as a report on breast milk, that disturbed me deeply. As I worked on it I realized the way women's breast milk creates their baby's immune system naturally has lead to a build up of toxic chemicals that are getting more concentrated with each generation over the last couple hundred years, and we are now passing the alarming parts per billion to have unknown consequences in my generation. This knowledge would come back to me after I began working on the beginning of the Miami Marches.

It was historic to be a part of that time. I was engaged originally because a friend of mine who was one of the people leading the first meeting needed help. She was very much the epitome of the wise midwife, the Earth based sage, the healer and mother and grass roots organizer. She was pregnant and needed to step back for herself so I stepped forward. I am very glad to know such a brave world changing woman.

That first meeting was quite the hallmark, many key players meeting for the first time in what would become a huge effort of great motivated force. That was the day I met Aaron Spence, and he pushed to set up a Miami March not just a Ft. Lauderdale one. He would plan the march route and pull the permits with many opposing hoops to jump through. It became his life like breathing, and a great vision of making and working together with many powerful innovative people like ourselves, young and educated and ready for change. Some included Melissa Vallecillo on the fundraiser, Bruce Stanley as an organizer for the campaign, Nina Marie as shirt designer for fundraising, Angelica Ramirez as an organizer, these are some of my friends I worked closely with and still do for different reasons, there were legion organizers and volunteers. It was amazing and the most successful campaign I worked on as the young adults were social media versed and great with personal energy to get the word out, find support, venues, and outreach. I think the great moment when Aaron spoke at the rally was a high point, he had done so much and faced pressure like never before, and later many of those moments of spirit to push through that take place behind the scenes to make it possible are forgotten. I sadly leave out so many sagas here, but we did it, all of us, and I got to witness those moments when a person faces down all their own limits to do something that seemed impossible. It made me stronger to get to do that myself. It was like focus through birth pains, the effort to give birth to a new world. We labored hard, the work was long, and there was a joy in its fire.

 

 

 

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses- A History of Women Healers - released by the Feminist Press at CUNY in 1978                                              https://www.marxists.org/subject/women/authors/ehrenreich-barbara/witches.htm

Agent Orange Article-                                                                    http://www.theamericansixties.com/agent-orange.html

  Seeding Fear documentary promoted by musical performer Neil Young-                                             http://www.music-news.com/news/UK/91064/news