Saturday, May 14, 2011

Aloe And Other Stuff

by Robert L. Gisel

"Four vegetables are indispensable for the well being of man:
Wheat, the grape, the olive and aloe.
The first nourishes him,
the second raises his spirit,
The third brings him harmony,
and the fourth cures him."
Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)

  Does anyone but me find it intensely interesting that some common household items of today, like wheat, olives, grapes and aloe, have been the same regularly used items of yesteryear? We're talking about way back, surprising millennium, where we are fortunate enough to have recovered a record of it. How far back these common place items really go is a preponderance for archeologists and Indiana Jones. For the rest of us it could be good food for thought.

  Aloe, for instance, goes back at least 5,000 years and more likely 10,000. Pictures of aloe have been found on ancient Egyptian temple walls. That could take it back 8 to 12 thousand years ago. There are references to Cleopatra beautifying with aloe and Alexander the Great conquering territories of aloe fields for this herbal medicine to heal and relieve pain in his warring troops. Not some of the oldest references to aloe, but household names, like Elvis, John Wayne and John Travolta.

  Aloe was possibly not used in embalming, as is said in some places; it doesn't show up in descriptions made of the actual procedure and recipe by which Egyptians made mummies. The Biblical reference to Jesus’ body being covered in myrrh and aloe doesn't specifically relate it to embalming. These both also have medicinal healing applications and, while some scholars take variance with the actual outcome of that event, there were large amounts of aloe and myrrh brought in when Jesus’ body was removed from the cross. Also, aloe and myrrh were said to be among the gifts of the three wise men at his birth, obviously intended for miraculous life. Leaving that debate, 2 millennia ago is still a rather late date for aloe.

  Of the other indispensible vegetables we know the grape goes back that far, 8-10,000 years, and one can suspect that includes olives. Hollywood has made sure their movies of ancient times have grapes on their sets lest we forget that thousands of years ago opulence and grapes went together. Have to keep that stereotyped image to support the history books that would have us believe stylized versions of the past. However, in a Biblical reference to grapes Noah is said to have grown them on his farm (Genesis 9:20-21). That would date this chosen fruit to before the great flood, whenever that was.

  Isn't folk lore a wonderful thing? That my avocado plants could be the subject of history thousands of years from now is a fascinating supposition, a new volume of folklore but for the fact that, unless the Internet crashes, you'll be able to read of it here, first hand.

  Wheat? But of course; how else could you break bread with the apostles. The Sumerians are said to have been "foraging for grains" 8,000 years ago, that we know of. Apparently International Harvester wasn't yet marketing combines. Still, in some respects society is the same old same old it has been for thousands of years, or could we say tens of thousands. Makes one wonder.

  This reference to aloe for the medicine cabinet in the domas is fascinating, though. A long time ago medicines were naturally grown foliage, in contrast to our chemically derived medicines of today. It is dubious that the modern chemical contraptions, regardless how touted their said medicinal benefits, are any better than nature's fare. They are, evidently, more marketable, and believed to be good for profits. Okay to make a profit, not okay to foist off foreign chemicals that the body cannot fully assimilate as do the real medicines provided by nature.

  The quote at the top from Christopher was pulled off the Infinite Aloe blog post from whence my mind was set to thinking. Thinking; one of the few things probably not remediated by aloe.




No comments: