Essay Example on 3 Ancient Healing Traditions: Scientific, Heroic & Wise Woman

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1617 Words
Date:  2023-01-10


Healing in the traditional society varied between different communities. The methods of healing were based on different beliefs and structures in a certain community. There are three healing traditions. These include:

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  • Scientific tradition
  • Heroic tradition
  • Wise woman tradition

These traditions formed the basis of the traditional medicine and healing process. Every tradition has its own symbol, structure, and mode of operation. These three traditions are not necessarily limited to traditional herbs and any medic or physician can use any technique to produce results depending on what he/she believes. Susun S. Weed, a herbalist, Author and voice of the wise woman way states that each of these traditions is contained in every one of us and it is for us to identify the part of ourselves that think that way (weed, n.d). This paper seeks to identify the major variations between scientific and heroic traditions with a major emphasis on the heroic traditions


The scientific tradition is based on fixing whatever diseases or ailments one is undergoing. This tradition is symbolized by the straight line. The straight line measures are static, it separates, its stable, it defines, it is phallic, it makes a mark, it slashes and cuts, among other reasons. According to scientific theory, life is a struggle to outsmart death. Consequently, our major defense against death is the immune system helped by modern scientific medicine (Weed 1). The modern scientific medicine can be seen from western medicine. Basically, one could refer to the modern medicine as refined or processed herbs. Processed herbs have been the centre of discussion with KwaZulu- Natal healers recently debating the legitimacy of processed and whether this practice falls within the canon of tradition (Flint 13). Our bodies are like machines according to tradition. Ochsner J, 2010, states that our bodies are machines beautifully engineered and constructed with the best materials and no planned obsolescence. In this tradition, there is a battle between life and death, good health and sickness, right and wrongs.

Heroic Tradition

Heroic tradition is a collection of several heroic traditions which believes that the body is a summation of the soul, the mind and the body. It is symbolized by the circle. These three components have to be dealt with if healing is to occur. This can be achieved by purifying the mind, controlling the mind and clearing the spirit (Weed 48). These three components are unequal. Each one of them has its own level and function. The soul takes up the highest level and it is the purest part of a human being. The spirit is also free and unbound. This part is unconcerned of the worldly matters you encounter daily in as much as it is actively involved. The body is a tangible part of a human being and is directed into contact with the world. The mind acts as the intermediary between these two parts. The body also acts as the physical housing of the soul or rather as the temple. The Bible, from a Christian perspective, states that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6: 19 states that "or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" This confirms the fact provided by heroic tradition. Since the body is controlled by natural instincts, poor decisions and negative consequences can only be avoided by specific rules and regulations on our meditations, thoughts, words and even actions. The heroic tradition is based on the principle that the harsher the rules and the more difficult the techniques, the better (Weed 49).

This tradition suggests that diseases are caused by thoughts which consequently lead to bad or wrong actions. This tradition suggests that the body will virtually cease to exist when we are in a state of purity where excretions such as mucus, urine, feces, sweat, and menstrual blood will halt completely or reduce noticeably. (Weed 49). The tradition states that in this state of purity, we are not prone to diseases, sicknesses; we are not subject to sexual diseases as well as the whims of emotions since we are cleansed. Health is considered as a pull between the highest level which is the spirit and the lowest level which is the body where the balance is a cycle thus the symbol of a circle.

While the cure of sicknesses in the scientific tradition is restricted to medicine, whether herbal or not, the cure in heroic tradition is punishment. "When the body drags us down, when the mind fails and gives in to negativity when the spirit is clouded and our light dims, then we sicken, we suffer, and we die. To live, be happy, and to get well, we must clear away the clouds, stay in the balance and keep the body disciplined" (Weed50). This shows that the sickness comes from deep within beginning with our mind which later corrupts our souls and later manifesting in the body in the form of a disease. And if the disease comes from deep within, then the cure also comes from deep within as well. The first step to getting well is admitting that we have done wrong and something needs to be done in order to get back to purity. The tradition states that the punishment absolves us, cleanses us and heals us through balancing the wrongdoing and making way for forgiveness (Weed 50). In today's world, punishment is viewed as a tool to reduce problematic behavior and increase good morals in society. Some punishments work while others do not work depending on the type of punishment and who it is administered to. There are advantages and disadvantages of punishment in today's world. One of the disadvantages is that when administered consistently, the person might get used to it making the punishment ineffective meaning the consequence does not work as a deterrent behavior ("What are the advantages and disadvantages of punishment in schools and colleges?"). In this context, similar principles are applied in the heroic tradition. It advocates for strict and harsh punishments in order to cleanse ourselves from the wrongdoings committed. According to heroic tradition, deprivation is the proper punishment, especially deprivation of the fresh such as fasting, dietary rules, excessive exercise, and bitter tasting medicine (Weed 50).

In heroic tradition, rules are crucial since they help us avoid sickness and pain as well as guiding us on what is right and wrong. They establish boundaries which prevent us from doing right or wrong. Unlike the scientific tradition which focuses on healing an individual part of the body and consequently an individual person, heroic tradition focuses on healing the masses and saving the people from pain and suffering. This also constitutes the benefits achieved from having people who acknowledge good and evil and follow the rules the way they are supposed to be.

Weed 55 states that combinations of substances (such as different herbs herbs and flower essences, or herbs and vitamins) and combination techniques (the business cards of many heroic healers list six or more techniques that they specialize in), are believed to expand the scope of the remedy enabling it to affect the largest number of people and becoming closely guarded secrets: "patent medicine." These results, however, confuse patients since they are not sure which technique and combination were effective thus keeping them hooked to the remedies.

The heroic tradition claims that happiness and health is a rare commodity and should not be acquired easily. This means that for one to acquire both happiness and good health, one must fight hard for them. Consequently, rare herbs, substances, and techniques are highly favored by the heroic tradition. For one to acquire them, they have to endure hardships

Characteristics of the heroic tradition

One of the major characteristics is the reliance on vile-tasting, strongest acting stimulant and sedative plants in the herbal nation, a penchant for exotic herbs, and an emphasis on herbal combinations (Weed 56). Bitter- tasting herbs are the trademarks of the tradition.

The major herbs that characterize the heroic tradition include:

  • Cayenne
  • Goldenseal
  • Lobelia

There is a combination of remedies where different plants are ground together, combined and put in capsules giving druglike credibility to heroic tradition.

This tradition is also frequently accompanied by religious beliefs (Weed, n.d).

Wise Woman tradition

This is one of the oldest healing tradition envisioning flexibility, and the availability to transform. It is symbolized by the spiral. Its major focus is to provide nourishment and integrate the unique individual's wholeness. This is unlike the scientific tradition which focuses on curing and fixing health-related problems individually. This tradition relies on compassion, simple ritual, and common dooryard herbs and garden weeds as primary nourishers but appreciates any treatment appropriate to the specific self-healing in process. (Weed, n.d).


Susun S. Weed gives several examples of experiments one can perform to determine which tradition works for him/her such as asking yourself what each healer from all the traditions would advise in case of sickness. This enables one to understand the essence and benefits of each tradition and to know which one best fits him. Heroic tradition is more into one's belief while scientific tradition is more into tangible facts.

Works Cited

Weed, Susun S. "Healing Wise (Wise Woman Herbal Series)." (1989).

Flint, Karen Elizabeth. Healing traditions: African medicine, cultural exchange, and competition in South Africa, 1820-1948. Vol. 103. Ohio University Press, 2008.Ochsner, Alton. "Thoughts on the human body." The Ochsner journal vol. 10,1 (2010): 44-7.

"What are the advantages and disadvantages of punishment in schools and colleges?" eNotes, 14 May 2016, Accessed 4 May 2019.

Susun S. Weed. The three traditions of Healing. Retrieved from:

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Essay Example on 3 Ancient Healing Traditions: Scientific, Heroic & Wise Woman. (2023, Jan 10). Retrieved from

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