Clay as a Remedy
CLAY AS A REMEDY
The four essential elements offered to us from our Earth — earth, air, fire and water — have tremendous healing power.
Clay is of the earth element and retains the planet’s electro-magnetic energy. It is a purifier — like fire, water and air — despite the fact that it is dirt! Healing with clay connects us to Earth’s forces and creates a reciprocal relationship. As we become healthier humans we have more passion and energy for tending to the planet.
Clay is considered by some to be alive because of its instability and tendency to transform its chemical and physical components over time. While clay is not a cure all, it is a natural remedy that can have an enormous impact on body mind and spirit when used in a variety of different ways. Potters, for example, experience a unique healing effect of clay through its willingness to “listen.” When you push or pinch, clay responds. The inherent nature of clay is to move as instructed, pliable at the creator’s hand. Some potters describe this as a reconnection with the forces of nature, a spiritual connection that permeates the soul, the physical body, the whole self. An amazing thing to witness is a room with 8-10 kids and wheels going. At times, you can hear a pin drop because the clay is so mesmerizing. Working with clay is incredibly therapeutic.
Physical therapy and art therapy are two treatment modalities that have long recognized clay as a source for client restoration. Simply working clay in your hands is great for arthritis or any other malady that requires keeping the hands moving without calling for any sort of skill or expertise. It is also recognized as a great medium with which to work through emotional crisis or troubles through the art of sculpting, with or without intention.
Try this clay meditation when you want to get grounded. Take a hunk of clay and chose one of the following: pinch, poke or smear. Give yourself 15 minutes and do this one activity to the clay. You can use different fingers or even body parts getting creative but stay focused on not straying away. Let’s say you chose poking. Poke with one finger at a time, then two, then three, etc. Poke softly, poke with gusto, poke in a straight line, poke at an angle, but be careful you don’t start pinching! When your time is up journal about the experience. What came up, how did you feel, was it pleasant? Often times the most beautiful creations come from these meditations without intent.
There are thousands of different kinds of clays, each unique in its mineral content determined by geological location and the weathering that has occurred. Some clays are suitable for eating (bentonite), other clays are suitable for industrial use, and still other clays are used to bathe in or apply to the body. Clay is a term used to describe an earthy, mud-like sediment composed of very fine particles of minerals, pliable when moist and hard when dry or fired. Clay differs from mud in its particle size and purity. Mud generally has more “debris” in it and does not have the same stickiness or retain its shape as clay does.
Clay is created during the cycle of rock formation. When magma cools it becomes an igneous rock. One of the most abundant igneous rocks is granite. When granite decomposes it breaks down into feldspar, quartz, mica, potash and kaolinite, which is also known as “pure clay.” There are many classifications of clay, including primary and secondary clays. Primary clays are found at the site of the “parent rock” and secondary clays are clays that have moved and changed due to ice, water flow and weathering. As the secondary clays travel, they can pick up and leave behind different minerals resulting in thousands of varieties depending on its location and what has happened to it. Some good places to search for your own local clay are in riverbanks, ocean shores, or construction sites.
Clay’s healing impact on the body has been known for thousands of years and used around the world. Rich in minerals, clay provides two benefits: it pulls toxins out of the body and it also re-mineralizes. Clay is used in skin care products because of its pulling power. It is the best way to provide a deep pore cleanse. Clay baths are used to pull toxins, heavy metals and chemicals through our largest organ — the skin. Clay’s natural pulling power results from its negative ions seeking the positive ions found in toxins, which either adsorb to the surface or absorb into the clay. Poultices and packs made with clay are used on bug bites, bee stings, headaches, burns and more, pulling the poisons or toxins out and helping the body to healer quicker. I once had the privilege of giving a clay footbath to a very, very sick woman. As she soaked her feet, she said it felt wonderful to squish her feet around in the mud at the bottom. She felt so relaxed and pampered. We were both amazed at the toxins we found at the bottom of the bucket that the clay had pulled through the skin on her feet!
Usually when I mention eating clay, most people imagine taking a hunk of clay and chewing on it. Thankfully this is not how it is done! Most health food stores carry clay in powder or liquid form. It is mixed with a glass of water for drinking and, in most cases, doesn’t taste like much. Eating clay can be beneficial for many disorders such as diarrhea, parasites, ulcers, allergies, anemia and more, as clay contains minerals and energy that our body’s defense system needs. Ideally, clay should be taken to build immunity so that if you are exposed to a contagious illness or if you are approaching a time of lowered resistance, your defense system is prepared. How much clay to eat and how often is determined by individual needs and what goals are being accomplished. For long-term use, 1 tablespoon mixed with water once or twice a day is a good guideline to follow.
Our Earth has provided us with a powerful natural medicine — itself! Clay is sacred; honor the Earth and you will be honored with receiving its wonderful energy.
*Originally written Dec 1, 2007 for Spirit of Change Magazine.