Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What really happened with the Poly motion at the Green Party convention.

(Detailed informational links below)

I sent this blow-by-blow to a Green member list to give you some idea what happened from my own perspective. The Greens are fiercely democratic and any small group can put together a motion for us all to vote on and discuss. If you really want to make a difference in Canada, become a card-carrying Green! I can say that with upmost confidence...

And just for the record, the media really DO hear what they want to hear, and it's usually sensational. I said "I'm a member of the poly community" and "my husband will be most put out that I didn't consult him before I made these speeches." What I meant of course was I hadn't had time to give him a heads-up that I was exposing some of our private views in a public forum. What some bored and nasty reporters heard was a confession to having an affair! In a convention, no less! When a story isn't good enough, just make it up, I suppose... That's what can happen when you aren't using the same playbook... Definitions

This was entirely an internal democracy issue, and does not in any way reflect the Party's position on any other policy. Rather mundane, all things considered... The resolution was submitted by a small group of well-meaning students from York University who had heard of the criminalization of poly and wanted to do something about this obvious discrimination. They were not acting on anyone's behalf, they did not consult with the poly community ahead of time, nor they did not clarify the language in their motion. Though their hearts in the right place, they were in essence completely clueless to the implications of their motion to the community they wished to protect and the Party itself. http://greenparty.ca/blogs/15909/2010-08-22/polygamy-point-clarification

I have been a polyactivist long before I was a Green Party candidate, and therefore felt it was my duty to attend the workshop for this motion, since I was one of the few people who could speak reasonably to the problems at hand. One other Green polyactivist had come from even further away than I had to speak on the motion since it was so vital for him to address it. However, the resolution was so badly worded that the original motion was "decriminalize polysexual", which is something else entirely. I was able to help clarify the language somewhat, but in an hour and half, the learning curve was just too great to iron out all the flaws in the wording. I did my very best to ensure that the sponsors of the motion had some grasp of the issues involved, as well as the implications for the Party. They went with "Decriminalizing polyamoury", which is still correct, but not what they really intended. Polyamoury is only illegal if it's in a committed relationship, and usually living together. The more committed, the more illegal. If you're just sleeping around, that's just fine, but don't make families out of it. I'm pretty confident that the intent of the motion was to protect poly families, so the wording rather failed in that... We were able to make some progress with the motion which was then voted on and it was adequately reworked enough to survive a vote and present to the party, while doing damage control with the ham-fisted language and implications. It still did not cover what the sponsors originally wanted, but they didn't know enough to know that...

A few reporters arrived during the lively, if small, debate of about 20 people and we voted on whether they should be there. I saw nothing unusual in that, but this was my first BGM, and didn't know that it was not common. There was no "highjacking" by a small wing-nut group, nor was it a "closed session". The drama queens that started that rumour and convinced a reporter of that wild accusation should all know better. The Sun reporter asked me for an interview after the session, and I took the hit, since I was one of the most experienced members on this issue. I thought if she were going to get someone's thoughts on it, I'd do one of the best jobs. The story was very fair but exposed my private life far more than I had intended for national media, and the reporter in question has since apologized to me and retracted a bit of the story. She admitted later that even she didn't realize the implications of what the criminalization of this lifestyle can do to families and was hardily sorry for causing me such distress. I didn't even get a chance to consult with my husband on this great impact on his life, and I'm very grateful he's still talking to me, since none of our extended family knew anything about this before now.

When this motion was presented for plenary, obviously, now that my head was in the noose, it behooved me to speak. In for a penny and all... When it was my turn, I don't even remember which of the facts that I usually use in my improvised speech. I had had almost no time to prepare but I have so many points that I often discuss. I only had two minutes. I don't remember if I pointed out that nearly all Native cultures were almost entirely poly in some form or another before the imposition of Christianity and it's enforced monogamy. I know I was passionate about the impact on children who are taken from their homes or where custody is altered due to a parent's poly lifestyle, but I don't think I brought up other legal issues like family health insurance, estates, or who gets to visit in hospitals; the very same issues that the LBGT community had up until a very few years ago. I mentioned the monotheistic monogamy, as opposed to the polytheistic polyamoury, as well as the global and historic precedent for poly in nearly all traditional cultures. The human rights aspect of this cannot be understated, as it relates to religion, culture, language, and family groups, as well as so many legalities, I argued, but the problems of the wording of the motion could not be ignored. Though I very much supported the spirit, the language was inaccurate, incomplete, and did not reflect consultation with the community it was intended to protect.

Since we had voted down many motions that weekend already whose language were not adequate to the intent of the resolution, I knew that this one would also in all probability suffer the same fate, and I was not mistaken. The point may soon be moot, however, as the Charter challenge has been undertaken by the poly community in the newly formed Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association. By the time it makes it to the Supreme Court of Canada, it should nicely co-incide with the next BGM and hopefully we won't be left behind in the dust of other parties shouting their support for poly and human rights. http://polyadvocacy.ca/

I also had the very great privilege of having the trust of many, many Greens coming out as poly to me after the resolution, but most will not take the step of identifying as such, since some are very highly placed in the Party. I think there are more polys in the Greens than most, what with our commitment to justice and all... Though rarely has anyone been charged, poly is still criminalized with draconian heavy-handed wording, so it is therefore considered immoral and none of them as yet will take the risk of coming out of the closet. Polys hide like rats as it is right now, and it's hard to get out of the habit, especially when your job, kids, extended family, and home are at risk. I also took on the task of answering the many questions on the motion posed to me by other Greens not in the community who wished to learn more and spent much of my time on that humble duty.

The dialog will not be stopped now and I am deeply honoured to have played my small part in these events by helping to move forward the conversation of poly rights in Canada. It has been a great strain on my family and our relationships but my work with the Greens has always been the most rewarding and effective work I have ever done.

If you wish further reading on the topic, I provide more links on poly cultures below. And please remember, that when any family from the many poly cultures around the world immigrates to Canada, they must give up more than those from monogamous cultures. They have to pick one spouse and their children, leaving the rest behind forever. More than two adults are unlawful, after all... I can't imagine how that *wouldn't* be a human rights issue, quite frankly...


Today, most Americans think of monogamy as the "normal" form of marriage. But as it turns out, strictly monogamous practices are in the minority. In fact, cultures that practice some form of polygamy outnumber monogamous cultures by the hundreds [ref]. http://people.howstuffworks.com/polygamy.htm




Poly orgs and groups in North America:







Poly blog:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Colours of Magic, Racism, and Reclaiming Traditional Balance

At the Standing Stone altar...
I believe Wicca has done the world a great disservice in the modern labeling of magic. Not that magic types shouldn't be labeled. It's very helpful to categorize when one is looking for reference material in a library for example, or to indicate who might be a better match to work with. And colours designations themselves are not the problem per se. Colours to describe forms of magic are traditional all over the world. However, the current use of colour terms has some very unpleasant connotations and perpetuate associations that we as spiritual practitioners must acknowledge and be aware of, especially if we decide that we must deal with the issues they present.

"White" magic is by implication almost the only desirable magic nowadays. Many practitioners, especially those who are new, go out of their way to explain that they practice only white magic. One can only assume it is because this colour has implications in English that is consistent with the image Wiccan writers and leaders wished to perpetuate. White is by implication, then, desirable, clear, pure, shining, and filled with light. And practiced by Whites. "Black" magic, on the other hand, is undesirable, dark, sinister, and practiced by the unscrupulous victimizers. And Black. These same implications have also applied to the possessors of the skin colour called "black". But why not "constructive and destructive"? Or "positive and negative"? Or even "yin" and "yang"? By the most powerful suggestions, then, the practice of Wicca has translated into delineations along racial lines. How many 'whites' can imagine a 'black' Wiccan vehemently denying that they practice 'black' magic, and only practice 'white' magic? What exactly is wrong with 'black' magic, then? And doesn't that have implications on the colour of their skin? With current usage, if I say "Black witch" or "White witch", do you know if I'm referring to the type of the practitioner's magic or the colour of their skin? By these associations, does that mean that Red magic is only practiced by North American natives? Or Yellow magic by Asians? What about Brown? Green magic must only be for space aliens...[1]

There is of course a long tradition of associating Black and Night with fear and negativity, in the Western World especially, but it becomes greatly exaggerated with the advance of Xianity and the suppression of paganism, particularity women's traditions. Modern Witchcraft, in it's evolution of thealogy, can draw upon other rich traditions and classic depictions of magic, and does not need to perpetuate the popularized Xian view of magic that associates black with harm, evil, and Satan. I accuse the newcomer Wicca as the primary source of the infection, because much of the rest of the pagan world still goes by an older system, the traditional three "gunas" found for thousands of years in most cultures. They represented the three aspects of the Goddess in her Creatrix/Virgin, Preserver/Mother, and Destroyer/Crone modes, distinguished by White, Red and Black. Being of the Celtic persuasion, when I have used those colour designations, I envision the Creatrix magic as primarily Bardic and Inspirational. Red magic is the Preserver, so I see healing, love, etc. Most cultures place fertility in this colour, although a few reasonably place this in White for birth. I guess it depends what result one hopes for. Black Destroying Crone is for battles, curses, balancing the scales, removal of cancerous circumstances or images, or the destruction of other things that have outgrown their usefulness and need to be replaced.

It is nearly impossible to discuss and manifest balance in the world with the inadequate and limiting nomenclature of the Wiccan White and Black. The White=Good, Black=Bad presents us with a very unsophisticated tool to represent our spirituality. The traditional gunas give much more freedom to our thealogy. Black, White, and Red magics have negative and positive forces in them that must be explored by the seeker. There is positive and negative destruction. Without destruction, there is no creation. The pure blank page must be destroyed to write poetry on it. The crumbling building must be destroyed before a new one can be built to house a family. The remains of last night's dinner must be put on the compost to rot and create new soil. There is negative creation. There are many ideas, constructions, and institutions that have mostly caused harm in the world, and would have been better had they never been created. Red magic negativity can express itself in harmful relationships or love obsessions, or in healing that truly believes interventions on unwilling subjects is 'for their own good'. Such unsophisticated terms also reduce our ability to deal with destruction as good and necessary, and creation as not always the best choice. As women, it reduces our power to deal with destruction in any reasonable manner, leaving us with far less skill or experience to tackle issues under the Destroyer auspices even in our own lives, such as marital arts or abortion. This is what the Goddess in all her aspects is really about: expressing and celebrating our power as women, in all it's dread and magnificent forms.

If we are to use a system of colour classification to broadly describe certain specializations and preferences, and I personally find it can be quite elegant and robust, there are many conventions to draw upon. Brown usually speaks of animals and other nature magic. Blue is most often Water and it's creatures. Purple is considered more on the astral plane: like travel and divination. The Indigo Children or Tribe are often said to be such. I know a Red Witch who absolutely emits sexual karuna energy, and my apprentice is envisioning herself as a Red and Brown witch. She is learning the aspects of healing, for horses and other animals as well as humans. I have heard of Orange, Lavender, Mauve, and other forms of specialization, but I'm not as clear on what their particular areas of interest are. I use Green magic to describe the primary form I focus on, that is, healing, herbs, kitchen witchery, environmental work, etc. By implication, it is seen as primarily positive. Using that to designate myself gives those who don't know me an excellent basis for how I work and what my interests are. It has helpful thealogy aspects to meditate on and I find it inherently more useful than the term "White". As well as not perpetuating any nasty stereotypes.

Green Magic is in fact a great example of the ongoing evolution of the Colour System. Green Witchcraft as a term is far more recognized than it was even ten years ago. It's almost become an agreed upon designation. That didn't come overnight, nor without controversy, and it was not in wide use until very recently. I believe that this helps demonstrate several important points: that the interest in colour designation will not fade away, that we can choose to alter the current uses, and that we can agree upon and transform colour terminology to best reflect our practices of magic and our philosophies. The Colour System does not, will not, and should not go out of use, but we can change those aspects of the modern designations that are non-traditional to witchcraft and offensive to our egalitarian philosophies.

One of the other significant benefits to the Colour System is one not widely practiced currently, but again gaining in popularity. Since many witches dedicated to a particular type of magic will often find they are most comfortable with that colour around them, they will occationally find that an aspect of their religious practice is to wear only those hues. Rather than finding it limiting, it is a vibrant expression of their spiritual practice and dedication that they can take with them in their day-to-day living, as well as provide a meditative concept. It has the same discipline as religious dietary regimes and other spiritual practices. If during the training as pagan nuns, they dedicate themselves to a Colour of Magic, I encourage them to explore the rather radical discipline of dressing in only those colours as part of their spiritual practice; in effect being garbed as a nun all the time, even if those around you never know. Some will even begin to dream that they need to have those colours enfold them. Most who take on this discipline usually choose one particular shade of their colour, and almost always mix it with Black, often seen as the traditional colour of witchcraft itself. Some use a few more colours, to indicate their different preferences. A symbolic metal will often also be selected for jewellry and accents. Gold and gold-like metals such as brass is usually for the sun and masculine energy. Silver is for the moon, of course, and copper is traditionally associated with Venus, Love, and Red Magic. White Gold would be a combination of Silver and Gold aspects, Red Gold with Copper and Gold, Bronze is often used by warriors, etc...

I personally have taken on this practice for decades. I have only worn the Colours of Dark Green, Black, and Silver since the mid-90's when I dedicated myself to living my Craft every moment of the day. With this discipline, I am constantly a Green Witch, and I am always displaying that concept to myself and those around me. For those of you who would worry about being seen as even more of a weirdo in dedicating yourself to your Craft in that way, the rest of the world, including some who have known me for years, don't usually notice the perpetual colour choices of a wardrobe. Unless it's only one colour, for some reason... I've also saved an incredible amount of money on clothes, since everything I purchase goes with everything else, and I always look put together, for the same reason. Imagine going into your closet blindfolded and coming out matching! It's really a dream...

I am obviously a huge fan of the Colour System, and find it wonderfully helpful in my own practices and assisting my students find where their own interests might lie. It is a traditional, valuable, and vibrant part of our heritage. When considering the negative, positive, and possibly neutral aspects of each colour, the Colour System gives rise to a very robust and intricate system of designations that can help us accurately define our theaologies with beauty. However, there are some serious flaws in how the Colour System is currently being used in modern Paganism. As it is in the process of evolving, it can be deliberately altered to more suit our needs as a spiritual tool, yet without continuing to perpetuate the stereotypes of the English language or our practices, to ourselves and the general public. To do this, it is vital that we insist upon purging the racism and self-loathing in the current use of the terms "White Magic" and "Black Magic", and instead begin to explore the more traditional aspects of those colours, and how they might better serve our modern sophisticated ideas of magic, it's practitioners, and our philosophies. I, for one, look forward to the day when our designations evolve to a more sophisticated level; when I can speak of magic without someone fearfully interjecting, "But you only practice White Magic, right?"

No. No, I don't. 

Footnotes and further reading:

"Red, white, and black are the main sacred colors in Zulu symbolism. In combination, as particularly in the clothing of diviners, who also code medicines as white, black, or red (Ngubane 1977), these colors suggest an understanding of the universe and the cycle of life within it. White is associated with the ancestors, concepts of purity, calm, and good intentions, and light and divine enlightenment. In some contexts, black represents darkness, evil, death, and defilement. In other contexts, black is linked to the ancestors and carries positive connotations-it evokes the dark rain clouds necessary for the sustenance of life, for example, and Zulu pots, some sculptural objects, and the leather skirt of marriage are blackened to please the ancestors. Red is the color of blood, menstruation, and fertility, and red ochre is strongly associated with the earth and women and their fertility; white clay is associated with the ancestors (Berglund 1989)."

"Ornamentation of everyday use items seemed to be an obligatory component of their creation. Earthenware, ceramics, pottery, tools, vessels, dishes, pottery moulds, internal walls of houses (as shown by clay models) all exhibit a compulsory ornamentation: painted in varying earth-colours, such as white, red, ochre and black, and sometimes carved with incisions or encrusted. The decoration of items or spaces are geometrical incorporating symbols of nature (sun, moon, stars, rain, birds, trees, branches, seeds, flowers, water) and with magical symbols of the supernatural world (the eternal circle, teeth, rhombus, crosses, endless meanders, snake-patterns, lines) are so universal and repeated, that it is unlikely that the decorations were random or coincidental. Umansky believes that these ornament-symbols are of two types: “those aiding to find food and to grow crops, and those protecting people and the results of their labour”. He notes that “some items carried both the symbols of fertility and of protection, intertwined in an integral picture of the cosmos”. Videiko also supports the idea of using ornamentation as a form of protection: “the floor and the walls were painted with red and white colours and decorated with geometrical ornamental patterns to protect the inhabitants from evil spirits” (The Trypillian Culture: Introduction)."

"Graves gives the colours white, red, and black as the colours symbolic of the moon goddess. These are moon colours because the full moon is white; the moon appears red in certain atmospheric conditions and solar eclipses, and black just before the new moon. In occult tradition, white symbolises the goddess as Spring; red is Aphrodite, and black the death aspect of the goddess, say Atropos (the third of the Fates)." 4

Monday, August 9, 2010

High Magic, Low Magic: Designations Help Define Our Styles

Under my Apple tree....

I personally find designations handy. They express no limit, only a specialization. It certainly helps you anticipate how easily you can work with another and how your styles and knowledge will mesh. I know, for example, that I don't usually get on well with high magicians, or Iron John style wizards. That's darn handy to know when someone tells me that he is a necromancer and a cabbalist.

As I label myself a ReClaimist, matriarchal, bardic green witch, most of you will have an idea of what I am currently working on, where my knowledge areas lie, what my focus is, and how I express my spirituality. That doesn't mean I'll stay like that forever, or that I'm not interested in other forms of worship, but it certainly makes it easier for us to find others of the same style. Rather like nametags at a convention.

I not only see no harm in it, I encourage folks to find a useful label for their personal style practice. Makes them feel more validated, too, especially when they are first starting out.

High magic is usually the term for what the wizards do. It's rather like a Catholic mass, with all the ritual words in a sacred language, pomp and finery, ordained divine conduits, and strict adherence to detail. The power in high magic comes from without... the great universal energy that is harnessed by the correct performance of the ritual itself, with some measure from the performer (s) , but not much. They are mostly lending energy for the conduction of the spell to take place, which is why there is such an emphasis on hierarchy in high magic. It is vital that the ceremony be followed exactly with the correct people taking care of their assigned functions. The more powerful as spell, the less room for error.

The big draw for this kind of magic is that it offers a great deal of power in a relatively short period of time, but with a corresponding danger level as you ascend. The goal is to eventually control and submit the entire Universe. Nearly all wizards are male, white, and have terrible ego issues. They are usually still at the age where they feel invulnerable, since it's required that you eventually wrestle with demons, for example, and incur the wrath of extra dimensional entities by enslaving them or their friends. It is often spelt with a 'k' to delineate it from low magic. Wizards often find that sort of window dressing appealing.

Low magic is usually what witches do. Its goal is to make you one with the Universe, and therefore blissful, content, wise, with all your needs provided for. To unleash and accept your Goddess within, which is the same as the Goddess without, by giving full release to your Goddess self. This means that much attention is paid to your own instinct and the answers that are right for you, as your Goddess cannot ever be wrong, you just have to get better at hearing her. So our spells are more like mediation, sometimes with helpful symbols or foci like incense, statues, herbs, and other paraphernalia.

Most experienced witches don't bother with it, however, unless they are trying to working on something much harder than usual. To effect change in the Universe, we try to use the Butterfly effect, to tug on the string of the Great Weave that will most affect the change we want. In trying to find the string, we learn how the Universe works and so increase our wisdom. And the Universe is vast, so She often can't get to something as quick as She'd like.

It is therefore our job as Her representatives to draw her attention to inequities by blessing those who need it, to injustices by cursing those who deserve it, and other maintenance of the Continuum, thereby increasing our understanding and interaction with it.

Wicca is like high magic for witches. It calls upon the spirits and entities in a very ritualized format with specific assignments to the members, but primarily uses the inner energies of the group or individual to do the prescribed task. There is therefore no backlash if done incorrectly. But they do seem very fond of their accoutrements...

Most women choose the style of Low magic because it is more like their usual style of being: persuading and joining, rather than controlling. The sex of the practitioner doesn't enter into it, other than gender training in their culture helping them have certain inclinations... That explains the overwhelming majority of practitioners in the Middle Ages being clergy. They often went into the priesthood for reasons OTHER than piety, like power and wealth, they were learned, and they had access to all sorts of magical formula, arcane materials, etc. So High magic, or ceremonial magic, was almost entirely Christian and clerical in the Middle Ages.

It is indeed all the same power. However, I can cure myself, clean my house, or get rid of my weeds and insects in my garden through chemicals created in a lab, or I can use chemicals in herbs and natural liquids. Some are just as dangerous to the environment and myself but most aren't.

Chemicals, like magic, are all made of the same components essentially but how they inter-react and perform is completely variable depending on how they were generated and used. They can be naturally gentle and persuading, or they can be artificially harsh, brutal, and destructive.

You've probably have heard of the phrase "As above, so below". Only one interpretation is rendered as "As in Heaven, so it happens down here." Another, more widely used and helpful meaning is "Change or events Outside affect the Internal, and vise versa." 'High' in the case of magic means 'external', 'low' means 'internal'. ONLY when hierarchy becomes so predominate in this culture, and High implies more powerful, and consequently more male, does High and Low magic take on some connotations that some people today take umbrage with. It's not a personal insult to our style.

Now. When was the last time you enslaved a demon, deity, or angel to unwillingly do your bidding? How about binding your local ghosts, fairies, and spirits as your personal gophers? I don't remember when it was that I forced the dead to come back in an unquiet rest to speak about the secrets of the Universe... High magic involves the use of formula and ritual to achieve just such dog collars on the Powers of the Universe. It isn't the end in and of itself. The spell is usually to DO something, but it is the elemental being that figures out how to achieve the goal.

This kind of style offers much to recommend it to those that want a lot of power fast. Sure, High magicians have to keep their will focused on the spell for it to work, but only for the ritual itself. For the results of the spell to be efficacious, it doesn't have to be PERSONAL, internal power that is bringing it about. That's what the Harnesses of the Universe are for, like Jewish magic squares, Keys of Solomon, which can energize, activate, and execute many different kinds of spells simply by being performed correctly. However, the perils increase correspondingly.

I've seen a young wizard tell me that Hunters from the spirit world are stalking him, and we did a little complex ritual around a lamppost to confuse them so they can't follow. I mean, I never saw them, but that doesn't mean they weren't there, so I won't doubt his word. Much. But I'll tell you. I've never done anything in my magic work to invoke their wrath in the first place.

I am not comparing levels of power here. A very experienced or instinctive witch who is close to the Warp and Weft of the Universe can indeed stop a storm with a thought. Unfortunately, that takes a great deal of Enlightenment to reach that point, so most of us don't get there in a hurry, if ever. Now, it takes a wizard of far less experience, personal power, and self-mastery to achieve the same ends by going through the rigmarole to capture the power of the Storm God and just fire away or let Him do the work. It's not easy, but it's a hellova lot easier than becoming one with the Forces of a Hurricane and personally knowing on an unconscious level what strings to pull.

With these kind of benefits attached to High magic, including the hierarchy, the feeling of mastery and the practice of invincibility, it's no wonder that most wizards are men. But there is no such thing as a free lunch. Most powers that are so bound in High magic are not only interested in becoming Unbound as soon as possible, they would also like to wreak revenge on the mortals who dared to commit such an atrocity.

Which is why my little wizard friend was almost PROUD at the Things following him. The quality of a wizard is told by the quality of his enemies, after all... I don't know of many women who have the same disregard for personal safety as many men do, either, btw...

Now, the next time you try to harness the Angel of Life and Death to cure yourself of cancer by invoking the Necronomacon and creating a doorway to Hell in your closet, rather than simply lighting a candle and envisioning the cancer going away, then you can tell me that High magic and Low magic are the same.

You must admit, the first one, if done correctly, has a much greater probability of curing you quickly and permanently, but so much can go wrong. The latter requires a deeply Enlightened, experienced, or otherwise powerful witch, and you might not be able to find one before you croak, but at least you don't have to worry about your relatives falling through to the Second Circle when they put their coats away at your wake.

Reprinted from Witchvox.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Achieving a Healthy Optimum Weight Naturally - Trey's Plan is Free, and you'll never diet again!

At the Alberta Legislature, just after the birth of my second baby.
He was 9 lbs, 11oz, btw...

I'm not promoting a book right now, or asking for grant money, or want to have my name forever immortalized by associating it with a fad diet. I've worked in the industry for more than 15 years and I'm constantly amazed at the misinformation that is continually repeated, particularly in diet and weight. I lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of those 'professionals' who are more interested in the health of their own fame or pocketbook, rather than that of those who rely on their knowledge. So I'm going to give you all the actual, unembellished truth - for a change. Here's the magic cure.

First, I'll go into the basics, then take on some of the myths.

I loathe fad diets and all they stand for. Atkins for example is one of the most dangerous fad diets ever created, especially for diabetics and others with chronic health issues. ("Potential Atkins diet danger exists for diabetics in that recommended carbohydrate intake is as low as 1/5 of the recommended minimum for diabetics. Diabetics or those with sugar/glucose sensitivities should consult their doctor before following a dietary plan that so inadequately provides the minimum carbohydrate recommended...One important Atkins diet danger relates to the excess acidity from a high protein/high fat diet)." 1 . So I normally don't go into the details, but as so many people now have to be deprogrammed from the "Carbs are bad" nastiness, I'll have to flesh out the background. So to speak.

Plants fuel themselves by turning sunlight into chemical energy, and use it right away or store it as carbohydrates. Vegetarian animals run entirely on the stored plant energy of carbohydrates, and use it right away or store it as fat. Carnivores, on the other hand, are optimized to convert energy from consuming that stored in the bodies of other animals as fat. They get all of their protein and most of their amino acids from their prey, rather than producing them in their own bodies or getting them from plants, as vegetarian animals can. And then there are the "omnivores", which are actually quite rare. It is impossible to eat everything. Most animals considered omnivores are plant eaters, with a supplement of a few types of protein. Like bears, which live very nicely on plant products, with some fish or deer in season and such. The omnivore argument has been one of the worst banes for North Americans who use it to justify eating everything from raw seafood to all meat diets. They can't possibly 'eat everything', so we shall dismiss the usual omnivore argument as irrelevant for most humans.

Compare the vegetarian animal and the carnivore. Of the two, which do you think humans most resemble? Can you, say, be dropped in the middle of the mountains naked with no tools and have you chase down, kill and eat an animal raw with your bare hands for a nice lunch? Or would you instead stalk a berry bush that can't run faster than you, where you don't have to light a fire to cook, and you can have all the energy and nourishment you need to survive? You guessed it. Humans are almost entirely vegetarians. We survived long enough as a species to be able to supplements our diets with game by hunting with tools BY EATING PLANTS. Our bodies run largely by converting CARBOHYDRATES, not fat. We produce all our protein aminos in our own bodies, rather than getting it from animal flesh. Such chemicals break down in heating anyway, so if we were carnivores cooking our meals, we'd be dead. In fact, if we eat too much protein, our bodies cannot handle it and begin to break down rapidly. 2, 3, 4 , 5 . It's extremely hard to find an overweight vegetarian. Many lose a significant amount of fat just by eliminating flesh from their diet. There are exceptions, of course, but they generally have other issues as well.

So. How does that little lesson in the cycle of life affect our middles and bottoms? In the most fundamental ways. It is your body's job to keep you alive, no matter what. And it does an excellent job of that. Salads and other low energy, high vitamin and mineral foods are the oil in your engine. You need them to keep you running smoothly, and if you get too many, then they usually just go unused. And you can still manage on lower amounts; you just aren't as efficient and your parts wear out quicker. But carbs are the fuel for your gas tank. You need them to keep functioning at all. Your body and your brain run mostly on glucose derived from carbohydrates. If your body feels that it's not getting enough carbs to function, every time it gets slightly more than what it needs, it will STORE every bit it can get to provide fuel for later. And how does it store fuel? As fat! Your 'spare tire' is really your extra gas tank!

There are a few points that seem elementary but bear repeating. Unless you have a very, very rare hypothalamus condition, or other serious illnesses that does not allow you to easily lose weight, the only way fat is being added to your body is by GOING THROUGH YOUR MOUTH. No one is injecting it into you in your sleep. Unless you have a serious disorder, you, and you alone, are completely responsible for the food you ingest, and how you look, feel, and act. (I accuse no one of anything. Eating disorders are a terrible thing, but they are almost ALWAYS based on PTSD, or other forms of mental trauma, self-esteem, or other issues. It is NOT a born biochemical condition, though mental health does create a feedback loop with physical health and vise versa.) However, the good news is that since it is entirely under your control, therefore you can control it. I find that much more empowering that the shrug and declaration that it's just 'in the family'. Fat is NOT handed down to any significant degree. How your family deals with food is. Trauma is. If everyone in your family looks like that, maybe it's because they have always eaten the same, and have similar issues. I guarantee you, if you are from North America and moved to India, totally changing your diet, lifestyle and movement regime, you would not have the same shape as the rest of your family.

And again, even if this seems simple, if it goes through your mouth, other than surgery, the only way to remove fat from your body is to use and excrete it. That means when you start cleaning your body out, you will pump the waste through your bowels. Especially when laxatives are recommended to you to lose weight. Yes, they will work. Until you stop taking them. Unless you changed your lifestyle habits, your body will not relearn how to deal with your food, and it'll be right back on again.

It is most definitely what you eat (ask a diabetic), but it is also how you eat it. Eating food with reverence and less stress increases the ability to process, to increase efficiency, and to ensure a lower level of fat retention. If food were given the same reverence and respect some of our ancestors gave it, we might not experience many of the problems we have now. It is also always an excellent idea to chew your food very well, however, it is a myth that most digestion takes place in the mouth. Saliva begins to digest mostly simple sugars from a chemical point of view. But the smell, texture and qualities of the food prepare your mind, and therefore the rest of your body to receive it. Seeing and smelling a cake, for example, prepares your body with completely different enzymes than say, seeing and smelling a casserole. One of the reasons that the art of cuisine in most cultures stresses the presentation of food as well as the taste, smell and quality.

Eating fat doesn't mean it goes on your body as fat. Plants have fat, too. We press it as 'oil'. There are good fats and bad fats. As mostly plant eaters, good fats for humans are mostly from...plants. Raw, too. They cleanse the body, lubricate the joints, make cell walls more permeable, and remove bad fats. Processed oils are killers. Cooked and processed oils turn to transfats, that stick in your blood and never quite go away. Bad fats are mostly from transfats and animal flesh. They will kill you dead, after they've filled your body with nastiness, pain, and suffering. Consider ignoring the cholesterol advice your doctor gave you. Women's bodies are designed to create a human body inside it and produce the milk it needs, including all its fats. We require and handle fats much better than men. Women generally require about 30% body fat, obviously good fats, to maintain optimal health just walking around, much more when pregnant and nursing. Men need about 10%. Current cholesterol tests and subsequent advice are all based on men. Our cholesterol health is based, like much in our lives, on ratios that were designed with only men in mind. Optimally, women should have about 1 to four bad to good fats. The actual amount should even increase, depending on pregnancy and menopause. That means that when your doctor tells you that you should cut down your cholesterol or your fats, find out what your actual numbers are. Most are reluctant to tell you, and in all probability, you don't have a problem at all. So eat your good fats, avoiding the bad ones, and know that they are helping you reduce your...fat.

Sweets don't make you fat. If simple sugars aren't used by your system, they simply pass on by. The fructose in that apple will simply not be turned into fat. Go ahead. Eat only apples for the next month. In fact, eat nothing but candy for the next month. Boy, will you lose weight. But try to eat only McDonalds... Just watch "Supersize Me" for that horror story. It's the BAD FATS that are the culprits. Honest. Refined sugars only poison you, making it harder for your body to combat the bad fat buildup. Which makes it a good reason to avoid them, too. But they don't make you fat.

Men are prone to what's known commonly as 'beer bellies' or 'beer gut'. In the industry, we call it 'deer gut'. It is hardly ever stored fat, since most of the men you see with it are not very fat anywhere else. It is almost always undigested food, and almost always meat related. This is because meat takes over 12 hours to digest in the most efficient human systems. If yours is not that efficient, well, you get the idea. Eat meat with every meal and you can see the problem. Europeans, Asians, and most other peoples on the planet rarely ate meat, unless of course you were fortunate to be rich. There are a few exceptions. Peoples that lived off more meat centered diets, like Native North Americans and particularly Inuit such as the Dene rarely have these issues. They usually have other problems, such as the slow death from a gluten and sugar centered diet; wheat and refined sugar being unknown until the Europeans showed up. Women, too, get bogged down with undigested food, but as their viscera can adapt to carrying around a baby, they keep it mostly internally, and just have their internal organs much more squished.

And now for the magic bullet to change the shape of your body, and how it deals with food:

Human beings are not meant to eat every 6 hours; at 6 in the morning, at noon, and at 6 at night. We optimally function if we have an infusion of carbs at about every 3 and one half hours. Eating good carbs, like rice, potatoes, pasta, etc. every three and one half hours gives your body the fuel it needs when it needs it. It takes only a few DAYS of this dedicated regime for your body to realize it no longer needs to store the carbs necessary for your survival, and makes the decision to release the extra gas tank to save on moving the extra weight around. I have seen people achieve their ideal weight in usually about two weeks and miraculous fat loss in very short periods of time that was completely safe, effective, and best of all, as permanent as the continuation of this lifestyle concept. It works for people who are too thin, as well. They have enough calories to achieve efficient growth, and pad out in whatever shape is most optimal for them. Many of these ideas are found under the concept of 'natural hygiene'. One of the first mentions of this concept in North America was the book Fit for Life in the 70's. There is much more to be learned and used by those who are interested. 6, 7
That regime alone, of consuming good complex carbs every three and one half hours, is sometimes referred to as the Hypoglycaemic Diet. It's a diet in the old sense of the word, of an eating routine, not a fad diet, in the modern sense of unhealthy quick weight loss. I've gone on that regime at various points in my life when I needed to focus on my food habits. The one time I did it intensely was with a partner, my roommate at the time. He was about 60 pounds overweight, and I was about 20 pounds under. We helped each other eat at the proper times every day, and took turns making the meals. I'd do potatoes in the morning, or rice in the afternoon, with veggies on the side, whatever. Small meals, where we were not hungry, and without combining more than one complex carb. Very simple. Within one week, I was more filled out. Within a month, he had lost 40 pounds. Easily. Naturally. His body no longer needed to hold onto it. I had gained twenty, and was stronger than I have ever been. In a month and a half he had lost fifty. He had no idea he was carrying so much extra.

Another excellent choice for learning to pay attention to and increasing your body's efficiency or shedding/gaining the proper amount of weight is fasting. Fasts are not starvation. That produces the opposite effect of a fast. A fast is a resting of the digestive system, usually one day of prep, then the fast, then the last day of winding down. The first day would be like eating soups, plain rice or potatoes; simple uncomplex food your body can digest well without making too much of an effort. On the last day, as you come out a fast, it's vital that you gear up slowly again. Salads, soups, breads; plain foods will help your system get back into gear without missing a beat. If your colon is still hard at work eliminating on your last day of the fast, as many have reported, you know darn well it isn't recent food you're getting rid of, since you haven't eaten any. Fasts should never make you feel hungry. You should have enough calories in the fast in some form to complete your daily activities, fibre in some form to fill you up, as well as vitamins and minerals. They can be done for as many days as you like, but usually it's wisest to start with one, then go to three, done on a weekend. Experts can do ten, and usually go on them once a year, like spring cleaning. One feels like crap, as it were, for the first two days of the fast generally, as much of the contamination of the cells is leached out. Then, by the fourth, one's energy returns greater than ever. Keep that in mind when planning your schedule, and don't be discouraged by what you feel like at first. For many types of healing, it gets worse before it gets better. Fasting can be done at any time and gives your body a rest for dealing with complex foods, while providing it with everything it needs to continue it's daily activities satisfactorily. As fasts are simply regimes used in a lifestyle, there as many different kinds of fasts as there are people.

Fruit fasts or cleanses add fibre, vits and minerals, and moisture to the body. They clean out your digestive tract and balance enzyme and acid production, which when out of synch is usually termed 'heartburn'. One can eat any kind of fruit achieve this benefit, even what are called semi acid fruits like dates and bananas. All fruit servings of whatever kinds, mix or match, must always be eaten alone, however. No water, no coffee, no juice. Otherwise it just dilutes the enzymes and ends up sloshing around in your belly, taking hours longer to digest. Any type of food other than fruit requires different enzymes at a different pH level to digest, making it impossible to balance anything out, when two or more different pH levels and enzymes fighting for control of the digestive environment. A litmus nightmare. An efficient digestive system requires at least one half hour to digest fruit sufficiently before anything else can be added, so judge your own system accordingly. In a weight loss regime, this is can be easily combined with the Hypoglycaemic diet. The fruit fast when you first wake up for the day until a half hour before your first meal helps to clean out the system and make it more efficient, then eating every three and one half hours all day. This is the fastest, most efficient, and energy producing way to get rid of fat and achieving optimal weight for nearly everyone. I just recommended it to a friend. One could actually see the difference on him in less than a week.

The Master Cleanse is all the maple syrup, lemon juice, and olive oil you can drink for a number of days, usually three. There are those who put some cayenne pepper in the mix, and always keep your fibre up in the form of, say, oat bran pills so you don't feel hungry. It's a pretty intense fast, for the brave and/or desperate. The Juice fast or Liquid fast are much less so. And there are so many others, in any combination. Fasts are as individual as personal diet regimes. The Internet is a great source for ideas.

And now, exercise. Exercise uses up calories when stress is applied to muscles. Enough stress and they signal that they need amino acids building blocks to create more for the future. Is there fat mentioned in there? No. Fat is stored energy, but it takes a good deal of energy and work to release it, and your body doesn't like doing that if it can help it. It also takes quite a while. Fat doesn't 'transform' into muscle, and will often as not stay right where it is when calories are demanded. In fact, your body will use up every bit of carbs available before it starts on the fat, like the meal you ate before you came to the gym, and the sugar in the coffee. It will also signal that you are very hungry, and entice you to plug in carbs and glucose into your system as quickly as possible. Most people eat significantly MORE when they are on a training program, not less. As a fat reduction program, increasing one's activity level are not particularly helpful. However, as a toning program, like teaching your body to sculpt itself in the way you prefer, it's a great idea. A training program to train your body to have everything in all the right places should be considered a supplement ONLY to a weight reduction program, and ONLY if you have already altered your eating patterns. Otherwise, you just fall into the old trap of working out, and eating, and not losing weight. Or gaining it, as muscle indeed weighs more.

Serious food allergies will cause serious weight problems. Test yourself for allergies using the rotation diet, not the standard skin tests. Those don't help show how the foods interact with your digestive tract. If you do indeed have a serious food allergy, it will gum up your system and induce all kinds of illness. Avoid all foods that you show reactions to. This often is the undiagnosed issue behind so many chronic illnesses.

This is basic info, but quite frankly, it is extremely simple to achieve one's optimal weight. Your body will know what it is and it probably ISN'T what your doctor or trainer has told you it is. Your body does its job and will naturally equalize to your ideal size, given the proper tools. Don't read ANY fad diet books. Don't drive yourself crazy with highly complex and disciplined programs. Don't give anyone money to help you 'get in shape'. YOU are the only one who put on the fat. Only YOU are going to remove it. Throw out your scale. If you REALLY feel the need to monitor your weight, use the one at the gym or the doctor's office. And no more than once a month. Your clothes will tell you. The mirror will tell you. Anything else is quantifying gone mad.

This isn't really a book, of course, but it should more than start you off on a new way of thinking about your body. It's not portion control, it's not your metabolism, it's not caloric intake, it's not your genetics, though all of those can play a part. How much weight you carry and where it goes is almost entirely under your control. Take back your life, and never worry about dieting again.

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