The Good - Juliette de Bairacli-Levy
originally printed in The Ecologist,
Juliette de Bairacli Levy, traveller, writer
and champion of gypsy herbal medicines, is herself the greatest possible
advertisement for her work. Born in 1912, (at 11 am, on the 11th day of
the 11th month), she is still an active speaker and lecturer, travelling
the world to share her love and understanding of the natural cures of
Born into an Egyptian-Turkish Jewish family, this eleventh-hour baby
spent her childhood years in Manchester, England, eventually going on
to study veterinary medicine at university. Her desire to help animals
began at the age of just four - after the death of a loved puppy she
became determined to do everything she could to alleviate animal suffering.
University, however, was not what she wanted it to be. Appalled by
the vivisection and animal experimentation that beset the studies that
were going on around her, she abandoned her formal education, opting
instead to find out how animal care could be achieved without harming
a single creature. Before long, she was travelling the world, spending
time with gypsies and peasants wherever she could, learning the rudiments
and skills of natural herbal remedies, returning to England in the late
1930s to set up her own dog distemper clinic, treating and curing hundreds
of dogs with herbs and natural diet alone.
The arrival of World War II sent de Bairacli Levy into the Land Army,
where she gathered and used sphagnum moss to tend wounds. Once the war
was over, she moved to Yorkshire, successfully treating sheep in their
many hundreds, all of them suffering from Black Scour, and all of them
previously considered lost cases by 'conventional' vets. Her work was
so effective that notice was bound to be taken, and it came in the form
of Sir Albert Howard, founder of the Soil Association and father of
many of today's organic methods.
'Sir Albert arranged a meeting with meat The Farmers' Club in London,'
she recalls today, 'and there I met with that great man, filled with
nobility and kindness, and I was urged by him to write my herbal books
for both domestic and wild animals.'
And write she did. In 1951 she produced the Complete Herbal Handbook
for Farm and Stable, the first veterinary herbal text ever to be published.
It recorded for the first time a wealth of herbal lore that she had
absorbed on her travels through America, Europe and Africa, lore that
had been handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth
alone. Before long, more books followed, and Juliette de Bairacli Levy
had become the pioneer of recorded holistic animal care.
Not that her approach to herbal remedy stopped with animals. The Illustrated
Herbal Handbook for Everyone, and Natural Rearing of Children have become
such classics in the last half-century that her publisher receives more
inquiries about her than any other of their writers: no mean feat, as
her publisher is Faber and Faber, who number TS Eliot, William Golding
and Ted Hughes among their authors.
In the 1950s, with her two young children Luz and Rafik, de Bairacli
Levy moved to Israel where animal husbandry became a family affair.
Owls, hawks, dogs, goats and donkeys were all raised in this caring
menagerie - de Bairacli Levy gained great local notoriety when she saved
her hives of bees from shelling during the Six Day War. The books continued
to appear, and de Bairacli Levy developed a focus in particular on care
of Afghan hounds. Today, her 90th birthday little more than a year away,
she lives on the Azores.
To Juliette de Bairacli Levy, a slight
and delicate woman of great mental fortitude and strength, the current
foot and mouth outbreak suffered in Britain and many other parts of
the world, is a damning indictment of the failure of the agricultural
community to provide the type of care for animals she has been championing
for nearly eight decades.
'Why have farm diseases become so widespread?' she wrote in March.
'In our present time, we can let the Bible answer this. The earth is
sacred. Yes! Totally sacred, every inch of it. The "spilling of
blood" upon the earth is classed as a deep sin. It is stated in
the Bible that the only person who can cleanse the earth of blood, is
the person who shed it.
'And yet, look at the modern so-called slaughter-house, also known
by the horrible name of abattoir, with the blood from the terrified
animals being slowly bled to death by a wound from those terrible metal
hammers which crash down upon the head of the victim. The only future
for the animals, if there are any left after the killing by the hundred-fold
from foot and mouth disease, is to make sure that kindness laws are
She recalls the cattle reared by her old friend Sir Albert Howard in
India, cattle who often 'rubbed noses over the fences with the native
cattle suffering from foot and mouth,' yet never caught the disease
Today, de Bairacli Levy is still in touch
with those farmers whose sheep she saved half a century ago. Their still
naturally reared animals are in perfect health. Only very recently,
she spoke to the farmers by telephone, to make sure they weren't losing
their way during these disastrous times. Her words were simple. 'I reminded
them of the importance of molasses, garlic and Ivy, to be hand fed to
COPYRIGHT 2001 MIT Press Journals
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group
Return to Juliette's homepage
Herbs for Natural Health
by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Foreword by Rosemary Gladstar
Paperback - 236 pages
Published by Ash Tree
Retails for: $15.95
Common Herbs for Natural Health includes:
lore and uses for 200 herbs including cosmetic, culinary, and medical
recipes. Juliette de Bairacli Levy is famed for her mastery of herbal
lore and her many books on living in tune with nature. Re-indexed,
re-designed, and expanded.
"This is the book that got me started in herbal medicine.
It's solid gold; not only useful but incredibly fascinating."
A Gypsy in New York
Author: Juliette de Bairacli Levy.
In this richly detailed memoir, Juliette de Bairacli Levy – one of the founders of American herbalism – offers us a rare documentary. It is at once an herbal, a travel book and a compendium of Gypsy lore and Gypsy ways. 210 pages,
A Gypsy in New York in our Bookshop
Spanish Mountain Life
Author: Juliette de Bairacli Levy.
This jewel-like memoir by noted herbalist and traveler Juliette de Bairacli Levy details her personal struggle against typhus fever, during which she gave birth to her second child, Luz, who had to be suckled by a nanny goat. As ever we are embraced by Juliette's love of nature and animals, and welcomed onlookers as she relates with people whose lives are far different from ours. 114 pages,
Spanish Mountain Life in our Bookshop
Summer in GALILEE
Author: Juliette de Bairacli Levy.
Join Juliette de Bairacli Levy – Gypsy herbal veterinarian and mother of two toddlers – as she spends an eventful summer swimming in the waters, and the history, of the Sea of Galilee, in the modern state of Israel. Juliette trains her observant eyes, and lovely descriptive prose, on the people, places, plants and animals around her. 240 pages,
Summer in GALILEE in our Bookshop