Saturday, January 11, 2014

Herbs Rock!: Songs about Herbalists, Medicinal Plants, and Food as Medicine

If I were to make a mixed tape (yes, as in a cassette tape cuz I'm from the days before cd's and mp3's and all that...) of songs that weave together plant medicines, respect for traditional healers, and food as medicine, here's where I'd start - with the songs posted below.  Please add more suggestions to the comments!  (And I ended up making a playlist here, just imagine it's a cassette!)

What do songs/music videos have to do with self-care, herbal remedies, and community health?  Lots!  With even minimal exposure to mainstream radio, videos, televisions, or the interwebs, you've probably seen or heard images and lyrics that are offensive in many, many ways.  White people stealing music styles and dance moves from communities of color without any kind of accountability, awareness, collaboration, solidarity, or anything else that may make it anything other than cultural theft.  Music videos where all the microphones are in the hands of cis-gender (non-transgender) men, while any women present are silent and scantily-clad (if clad at all) eye candy.  Violently homophobic lyrics.  It goes on and on and on.

In a world full of creative, brilliant, and down-to-earth music-makers and other artists, we really don't need to limit what we take into our beings to what mainstream media is serving us.  Whether we're tearing up the dance floor or just relaxing at home, listening to the music (and supporting the artists) that feeds us creates a more nourishing, reciprocal cycle.

The music that I listen to when I'm making remedies is part of the medicine.  Sometimes I listen to radio programs like Democracy Now!, Making ContactFirst Voices Indigenous Radio or Moccasin Tracks.  Or I listen to the music and words of Climbing PoeTree, Ras K'Dee, Erykah Badu, GoapeleArrested Development, Lila Downs, and RuPaul.  All that positive consciousness, collective vision for healing and liberation, and you-can-do-it!-ness goes into the remedies, whether I'm pouring Heart Elixir: to open, heal, and protect the heart for Self-Care Kits: for emotional first aid or I'm simmering syrup to blend with infused herbs for Speak Truth! Throat Spray (made with gratitude in honor of whistle blowers and truth tellers, past, present, and future!)

Your mind is sacred.  Take care of it, protect it.
By the fabulous Julio Salgado  shop here
(check out QUIP - Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project here and here)

Red Beans & Rice by Spearhead (Garlic clove...Licorice root...Ginger...and Food as Medicine!) in English/en Inglés

Be Healthy by Dead Prez  (fyi you may just want to end the song at 1:51, totally not suitable for work) in English/en Inglés

"El Yerbito Moderno" by La Sonora Matancera with Celia Cruz (aka Queen of Salsa) en Español/in Spanish

Yerbatero by Juanes in Spanish (and check out what happens at 3:16!!) en Español/in Spanish


La Cumbia del Mole by the multi-lingual artist Lila Downs, where she sings about many medicinal/culinary herbs.  How many names herbs/spices do you hear? After you listen to the original, you can listen to the English version here and the Spanglish version has disappeared, but maybe we can check it out later because life is so much richer in more than just one language.   en Español/in Spanish

I had to include the video of Palomo Del Comalito by Lila Downs, because corn is so sacred to so many peoples - it's definitely a medicine, feeding much more than the physical body.  Though my ancestors do not have this kind of relationship with corn, I included this song in this list because it is a form of plant spirit medicine. en Español/in Spanish


Flores by Danay Suárez  (“Flores” es una canción que habla de resistir / “Flores” {"Flowers"} is a song about resistance) en Español/in Spanish

What songs, foods, plant medicines, artists feed you and your spirit?

(Want more music (in both Spanish and English)?  See the links posted on the So You Want to Learn Spanish?! Hooray! English-only, No Way! post)

Additions:  (keep the suggestions coming!!)