Gift to the Hummingbird – Soap Stories

Mayan storytellers have passed on a heartwarming story about a hummingbird’s wedding day for hundreds of years, and it’s one of the Native American legends featured on Zion Health soaps – Song Bird.

It’s a long and involving story with many colorful characters, and a read through makes it sound almost like an avian soap opera.

A long time ago, the Hummingbird (known amongst Mayans as Tzunuum) was actually a very plain bird. She didn’t have any bright feathers in her plumage, but she was proud of her expert flying abilities.

One day the plain Tzunuum got engaged, and she was full of joy but also concerned about her lack of ornament. She didn’t have a wedding gown or a necklace to wear on her special day.

Fortunately, her friends all pitched in to help. Flycatcher made a crimson necklace out of his feathers, and Spider wove a beautiful gossamer wedding veil. Oriole wove her a stunning wedding gown, and for the ceremony the Azar tree laid down a lush carpet of petals.

When the wedding day arrived, Tzunuum was so surprised, happy and grateful that she could barely twitter her vows. The Great Spirit so admired her humble, honest soul that he decreed that the hummingbird could wear her wedding gown for the rest of her life. And so she did, passing it on to every hummingbird thereafter.

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Why the Moon leaves the sky – Soap Stories

This time on Soap Stories, we’re going to hear the Menominee legend that explains the lunar cycle. It’s one of the featured Native American legends on Zion Health soap – Moon Dance.

The Menominee are a Native American tribe from the Midwest – their ancestral lands stretch from Wisconsin to Michigan, where they have lived for longer than possibly any other regional tribe. Menominee culture is rich with entertaining and meaningful stories, and their legend about the new moon goes like this:

The Sun and his sister the Moon lived together in a wigwam in the East. One day, Sun set out to go hunting and was gone a long time.

As time passed, Moon became more and more worried about her shiny brother, and went into the sky in search of him. She searched and searched for 20 long days all over the sky. She actually searched so long that she died for 4 days, then returned to life to continue her search for 20 days more.

If this timeline sounds familiar, that’s because it matches the lunar progression! For 20 days the moon travels all over the sky “looking,” then for 4 days the moon “disappears.” This ancient explanation for planetary movement highlights the deep connection between the Menominee and natural cycles of sun and moon.

How Coyote Stole The Sun – Soap Stories

Today on Soap Stories, we’re going to talk about how Coyote stole the sun. This is one of the featured Native American legends on Zion Health’s natural clay soaps – Eagle Sun.

The Zuni people are a Native American tribe whose ancestral lands lie in the southwest, and they have an awesome story about how the sun and the moon first lit up the sky. It’s a classic Coyote yarn that has been passed down through oral tradition for many generations, and it goes a little something like this:

In the time when all the world was dark, Coyote and his friend Eagle spent their days hunting. Eagle, having sharp eyes, was able to catch plenty of rabbits in the dark, enough to share with Coyote who was, well, a bit less successful than Eagle.

“All I can catch are these gross little bugs,” Coyote complained. “It’s too dark out here, I can’t hunt for squat. There should be some light in the sky to help me see.”

“You’re right, friend,” said Eagle, “there should be some light. I have heard of a place in the West where we might find some.”

So they traveled through the land, crossing many rivers, until they came to a Pueblo where the Kachina spirits were having a ceremonial dance around their sacred light-holding box.

Naturally, Eagle and Coyote hatched a plan to steal the box and bring light back to their hunting grounds.

What happened next? Well, watch this animation by students at the Colorado Art Institute to find out:

The Sacred Significance of the San Francisco Peaks

San_Francisco_PeaksDoing a little research today, I came across some remarkably interesting facts about the scenic San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, AZ. These volcanic mountains are an integral part of the region’s ecology, holding the largest freshwater aquifer for many miles in its hollow caldera – the same vessel that once was pulsating with hot lava!

San Francisco Peaks are also home to an incredible variety of plant and animal life, thanks to the fact that it contains at least four distinct climates: Ponderosa forest, Conifer Forest, Subalpine Forest and even Alpine Tundra. This diverse range of elevations and rainfall make the mountains absolutely breathtaking to behold.

But the importance of the San Francisco Peaks to the surrounding area and peoples extends far beyond the physical. Thirteen different Native American tribes believe that these mountaintops are more than just enchanting… they’re inhabited.

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A Kachina spirit totem over the SF Peaks

For the Hopi people, the San Francisco Peaks were like an axis mundi, a physical and spiritual landmark that anchored their place in the world. The cloud-covered mountains are said to be the realm of the Kachina spirits, the mostly benevolent astral beings that in times of legend taught the Hopi all that they needed to know to survive.

The Kachinas often take the form of clouds, and they are summoned to Earth by the annual rain dances of the Hopi tribe. Living in the Arizona desert, the first rain of the season is understandably a cause for celebration. During Kachina ceremonies, Hopi tribespeople will don elaborately carved wooden masks, which contain the spiritual power of the Kachinas they represent. These masks are treated with great respect, and are controversially sold to collectors for many thousands of dollars.

Amazingly, the Hopi people were able to determine when the Winter Solstice had arrived by using the San Francisco Peaks. When the sunset would align between the peaks and their settlement in the Black Hills, they knew that a new11456045125_4f79d4a6ba_z    year had begun – with a new planting season and the growth of new life. Through many generations of careful study, the Hopi were able to use the peaks as a method of calendar keeping!

Unfortunately, the San Francisco Peaks are also a classic example of the friction between the ancestral traditions of native tribes and the interests of modern land development. The popular ski resort Arizona Snowbowl made a move in 2002 to start creating artificial snow to augment natural snowfall.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, wait. Snowbowl was going to cut costs by producing that snow with treated wastewater… like sewage. Understandably, native peoples were incensed by this crass capitalistic plan and actively protested the building of the wastewater pipeline for over a decade. In 2012, a federal court ruled in favor of Snowbowl using wastewater, so for the last two ski seasons vacationers have been carving powder on a sacred mountaintop on snow made out of… well, you know. Desecration much?

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“What we do to the mountain we do to ourselves”

From a certain point of view, you could say that it’s just recycling, or even a wise use of wastewater. I’m not so sure.

Anyway, the San Francisco Peaks are an amazing piece of American geographic and cultural history. For the tribes that have an ancestral claim to these mountains, the beauty and mystery of the peaks will be a source of inspiration for generations to come.

Arnica – A ferocious floral facial

skip-brown-panned-view-of-man-leaping-over-rocky-stream-on-the-appalachian-trailIt’s a clear morning on the Appalachian trail. With your trusty hiking stick, you press on up a rocky incline, listening to a trickling brook burbling a few feet from you. You keep your eyes on your feet as you plan out your steps, stealing a few glances up to the bright blue sky and the lush vegetation that surrounds you.

As you crest the hill into a level clearing, your ankle starts to complain. Maybe you strained it when you were crossing that log bridge earlier, playing hopscotch on the mossy wood. You sit down to rest up your aching leg, when out of the corner of your eye, you spot a handsome yellow flower.

Well hello there!

Well hello there!

Using your extensive knowledge of local flora (aka your smartphone) you identify this bloom as Arnica – a much beloved annual flower that has been used in alternative medicine for centuries. Turns out, Arnica is known for its ability to relieve muscle aches and pains (amongst other things) and could be the perfect way to relieve that ankle. What luck to find it growing happily on the side of the trail!!

Enough with the narrative already

Arnica is a special kind of flower, one with more uses than it has names – and it has a few names. Known variously as mountain tobacco, wolfsbane and leopard’s bane, this flower has some of the most badass aliases out there. I know, wolfsbane. Straight out of Game of Thrones!

Never leave home without it

Never leave home without it

This yellow blossom is packed with natural compounds that relieve pain and fight infections. Arnicin, thymol and other organic chemicals make Arnica a powerful anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. Native Americans traditionally use arnica as a remedy for back pain, and clinical trials have shown that arnica is effective at relieving muscle pain in injured athletes.

The Catawba tribe went so far as to brew arnica into a tea, but modern doctors advise against using arnica internally – too high a dose can be toxic. When applied to the skin, however, the active ingredients in arnica can be very effective indeed.

Modern products with ancient arnica

Arnica can be found in many alternative medicines and body care products, most commonly for treating pain or improving skin health. The anti-inflammatory power of arnica helps to eliminate blotching and promote smooth, even-toned skin.hyd_facemask_p1-250x250 IMG_2092-250x250

Adama Minerals uses arnica in several of its facial products, including the Natural Clay Face Scrub and Rose Clay Hydrating Face Mask. All of these products help to ensure the look and feel of your skin through the soothing use of natural herbs like Arnica.For healthy skin powered by time-tested herbal remedies, give Arnica a try today!

Dynamic Detox Duo: Kanwa Clay and Green Tea

Did you know that behind water, tea is the single most consumed beverage on the planet?  Think about it – people all over the world take time out of their day to sip a steaming mug (or perhaps a frosty tumbler) of brewed tea leaves, whether it’s for breakfast or before bedtime or, in the UK, even a meal of its own: tea.

Rolling hills of caffeine

Rolling hills of caffeine

Humans have done a lot for the little tea plant. We’ve brought it with us all over the world, grown millions of acres of it and even created great works of art in the name of tea. In 7th century China, the poet Luwuh wrote scriptures about the divine nature of tea and the sublime ways that we consume it. I mean really, he got into it.

The first cup moistens my lips and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness, the third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs. – The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration, – all the wrong of life passes away through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth cup calls me to the realms of immortals. The seventh cup – ah, but I could take no more!

And for all the crazy things we’ve done for tea, it’s good to know that tea loves us back. Research has shown that all varieties of tea can provide people with major health benefits, lengthening our lives and making us happier and more comfortable. Green tea, made from the unfermented raw tea leaf, has perhaps the longest list of healthful benefits.

The health benefits of green tea

Drinking green tea every day can give you a lot more days to live. It may not be the potion of immortality that it was believed to be thousands of years ago, but it’s not a bad candidate for the job.

Brewed green tea contains a high concentration of antioxidants, specifically polyphenols, which help your body fight and resist free radicals. Free radicals are believed to be a primary cause of aging and can lead to cancer and heart disease. Flushing your body with antioxidant-rich green tea can significantly reduce the damage done by free radicals and help you live a longer and healthier life.

On top of that, studies have shown that green tea can help regulate cholesterol levels in the body. Drinking green tea reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines and raises levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the body.

Green tea helps the body naturally get rid of junk that it doesn’t need and maintain a healthy equilibrium. Small studies have found that drinking green tea can help people with diabetes by regulating glucose and lowering blood sugar levels.

So on its own, green tea is a strong ally for good health and a long life. But what if there was another compound out there that could partner up with tea and offer even greater illness-fighting power?

Why would I ask that if I didn’t have an answer

Turns out, tea has found its crimefighting partner in the form of a detoxifying mineral. This Boy Wonder, scientifically known as Calcium Montmorillonite, has a long list of superpowers of its own. When ingested, this clay naturally encapsulates and removes harmful heavy metals and contaminants from the body, and leaves behind helpful minerals to support bone density and skin health.

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So – when brewed together in one cup, green tea and Calcium Montmorillonite make a super detoxifying duo. Together they overpower disease-causing bad guys and give your body a healthy boost of antioxidants and minerals.

Try a sample of Kanwa Detox Tea at Adama Minerals Today!

6 Surprising ways to use Kanwa Clay for your health

Painted Hills

The Painted Hills, Oregon

An unassuming brown mineral found in small deposits all over the world may hold the key to aging gracefully, and its versatility of use can make it an enjoyable and easy part of anyone’s daily health regimen. Calcium Montmorillonite clay, known as Kanwa amongst Native American tribes, has a panoply of health benefits for the hair, skin, digestive system and beyond.

Indigenous cultures in the Americas have used Kanwa for centuries for internal and external detoxification. When ingested Kanwa can treat stomachaches and promote bone density and when applied topically it helps ensure healthy, energized skin and hair.

A 1991 study of the Pomo Indians revealed that Kanwa clay was an important part of their diet. When mixed into their daily meal of acorns, Kanwa clay deactivated dangerous plant toxins and made their otherwise inedible porridge safe and nutritious.

The uses of Kanwa don’t stop there. Kanwa can even be used to purify bodies of water; the chemistry of the finely textured clay surrounds and encapsulates bacteria, turning these unwanted contaminants into harmless fossils.

Recently, healing clays like Kanwa have become increasingly popular amongst people of all ages, and for good reason. The following are six ways to incorporate Kanwa into your morning and evening rituals and reap the health benefits of this “living clay.”

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photo by Tim McFarlane

1: Face mask.

Kanwa clay is a natural skin softener and cleanser, and making it into a facial pack is one of the best ways to experience its power. You can find pure Calcium Montmorillonite clay in bulk and mix it with water to make a healing facial paste. You can add a splash of apple cider vinegar if you’re feeling adventurous.

Kanwa face masks are also available pre-mixed from Adama Minerals, who offers a full spectrum of different blends. Kanwa helps to moisturize the skin as it extracts toxins, and when you apply it to your face you know its working. You can feel it pulsate!

2: Supplement

For hardcore health fans, taking Kanwa straight is a surefire way to tap into its healing power. Mix a spoonful of Kanwa with water and drink it down, and as the mineral passes through your digestive system it will attract and remove any harmful toxins.

Kanwa clay isn’t a laxative, but a good word of advice is to start with a small dose and see how your system reacts. When looking for Kanwa as a supplement, be sure to buy only food-grade clay – not a clay bath.

3: Detox Teahealing-detox-jasmine-green-tea-24-bags-1357531873

Taking Kanwa as a mineral supplement may seem daunting, so a much easier way to get Kanwa into your diet is to sip it with a refreshing cup of tea. Adama Minerals has a line of Kanwa teas that range from Green to Mint to Chamomile. Brew it up and savor the energy boost from the tea and the gentle uplifting cleanse from the Kanwa.

4: Lotionlotionpurple

The skin benefits of Kanwa can be enjoyed in a variety of forms, and by far my favorite is to use it in a moisturizing lotion. Kanwa naturally fights dryness with its moisture-boosting chemistry, and it even helps to relieve itching by pulling any toxins out of the skin.

The DIY community online is chock full of great recipes for homemade lotions, and Kanwa is a great ingredient to add, especially if you have any left over from face masks. Adama Minerals makes a line of moisturizers and body butters that have to be smelled and felt to be believed.

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Clay? In a soap? You read that right. Kanwa pairs great with organic oils to form a skin health promoting duo, moisturizing and cleansing without any unnecessary chemicals.

Once again, Adama Minerals makes a line of Kanwa soaps that will change the way you look at bar soap forever. For those of a more liquid soap persuasion, they also have a Body Wash available on their website.

6: Bath

When you want to take a little extra time to relax, a Kanwa clay bath is tough to beat. Mix a few scoops in with a nice hot bath and let the clay do the rest. Soaking in a mixture of Kanwa clay gives the mineral time to work its magic, and when you come out of the tub you’ll feel like a whole new human. You can find tons of mineral bath recipes online, blending the detox power of kanwa with other soothing herbs for an extra healthy soak.