Thursday, June 4, 2009

Juliette de Bairacli Levy 1912-2009

Juliette de Bairacli Levy was born in privilege and grew up with everything. As a young woman, she studied veterinary medicine in the United Kingdom for two years before departing the discipline in disillusionment. Vivisection and animal experimentation were the reasons why. She decided she'd had enough, and wanted to find another way. This brought her to the gypsies and peasants of the world, and she respectfully sought to learn their ways, before they completely disappeared from the earth.

And in so doing, she kept that from happening.

She was called the Grandmother of Herbal Medicine. She passed away last week.

One of her many publishers worldwide, Ash Tree Publishing, provides a partial biography, but her life was so amazing it took a documentary (Juliette of the Herbs) to cover it all:

In the 1940's, while traveling in America, Spain, France, North Africa and Turkey, Juliette gathered herbal remedies from the nomadic and peasant peoples of these lands. When her Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable was published in 1951, it was the first veterinary herbal ever to be published as before this time, the art of farriers, gypsies and peasants had been passed on only by the spoken word.

Thus Juliette became THE pioneer of what is known today as holistic animal care. She went on to write The Complete Herbal Book for the Dog. Both these books together with Juliette's Illustrated Herbal Handbook for Everyone and Natural Rearing of Children have become classics and many generations of humans and animals have been raised and healed on these books.[...] Juliette's two children, Luz and Rafik, were born in the early 1950's. She took her children to live in Israel where they raised owls, hawks, dogs, goats, donkeys and bees. Juliette became famous for saving her hives of bees from shell attack during the Six Day War. In Israel and later when she moved to Greece, Juliette continued to write, to raise Afghan Hounds, to garden and to gather herbal remedies. As well as her herbal books, she has written several travel books, two novels and three books of poems.
One of her poems was titled Gypsy Lane - a rhyme recalling the gypsy manner of death:

You shall die, and I shall die!
Take our places in the sky.
You and she, and he and I,
When the time comes, all must die.
That's a game we would play,
Man and woman, girl and lad,
In gypsy camps far away,
Laughing times, yet passing sad.

Poppy crowns for everyone,
Red rose for the fairest one.
We would shout, King Death to come,
Laughing loudly, turn and run.
Then more the cry! Who will die?
Nor he, nor she, and not I,
Want that fearful power to fly.

We would pass the hours that way,
Bed with Gypsies by cool streams,
Golden days of dance and play,
Harp and flute and tambourines.
But poppy crowns droop and fade,
Feet grow weary, hearts afraid.
Time kills all in Gypsy Glade,
Flower and tree, man and maid.

Gone the Gypsies, every one,
All who played the Gypsy game,
Left the earth, its mirth and fun,
Starry nights and hyacinth lane.
None can play that game alone,
Thus I want to hear the cry,
Come now! Leave thy earthly home,
Join the Gypsies in the sky.

She is there now, this wonderful and amazing prophet who blazed the trail for so many of us.

Play in the sky, Juliette.


CrackerLilo said...

Sad and amazing how it so often takes someone's death to make others appreciate their life. Thank you for sharing this!

Rootietoot said...

I'm becoming a believer in`holistic animal care. My dogs (4) and cats(2) are important members of the family,and do really well on the holistic diet and suppliments from the garden. I'm not ready to go all the way there with my kids, but the critters are thriving with it.

the watercats said...

I am the proud owner of Juliette's herbal handbook for everyone and it is the most magical, common sense, intelligent, informed, mind blowing, beautiful and brilliant book I own. Her ability to pass on her unbelievable wisdom in such a matter of fact, non-preachy way is a truelly rare thing.
I was un-aware of her incredible life and sad passing. Cheers for posting this, I'm going to make an effort to find out more about her (and re-instate my quest for a copy of the handbook for stable and kennel).. The poem is just lovely....