Ep. 18 Martha Johnson- How Science Draws Us Closer to God

Ken Krogue: Hello everybody! Thom Harrison and Ken Krogue with the Eternal Core podcasts. We’ve got Martha Johnson with us today. It’s a pretty neat experience that you’ve had, some of the research that you’ve been doing. Can you tell us a bit about it? We’re really interested here.

Martha Johnson: Well, lots of angles to pursue, but the issue that I think’s most at central to the Eternal Core project would be, a lot of my work has been with the aborigines of Australia. So, you know, to take a look at their perspectives on healing and spirituality within healing, has been one of my life’s kind of focal points.

Ken Krogue: Now, you mentioned they were quite averse to being in the public eye. So you’ve had to really engender their trust and hold on to that trust. Well, we appreciate… And this is one of the first times you’ve ever really talked.

Martha Johnson: Really stepped out in a real public way.

Ken Krogue: And there’s a book coming?

Martha Johnson: There’s a book forthcoming now. It’s dependent upon a lot of different factors as to when that’s going to happen. So I don’t really talk too far and wide about it either, although I’m not averse to talking about it. It’s just, there’s no telling when all the cogs will come together in such a way that it’s the green light to go.

Ken Krogue: Gotcha.

Thom Harrison: What cultural barriers were there in gaining trust and being able to be admitted into their centuries long process of healing.

Martha Johnson: A lot of, you asked about the trust. The trust was dismissed so horribly through the infiltration of the Western culture into their culture. Colonialism, you know, with all the dynamics of that. Then we’ve seen that played out across the world globally. It really is very stark there in the Australian history. Captain Cook landed in 1770. 18 years later, yeah 1788, the first fleet from Britain came, landed in Botany Bay. Then, you know, colonization slowly took over. And as they interfaced with the aboriginal people, it was not only… Some horrific clashes is not unknown in the history. But, anthropologically, the white fella would come in and try to understand, or try to study these folks, but they always felt misrepresented, terribly misrepresented. And, you know, made out to be cannibals, made out to be many things, savages, many things that they’re not, simply because their cultural structure is different. Their way of life is so very different in its paradigm. They didn’t have the guns. So they lost the land to those who had more gun power.

Thom Harrison: So a similar process is what happened here with our Native Americans.

Martha Johnson: Very sad to say.

Thom Harrison: But sometimes it almost looked like trying to extinguish a whole culture or is that too strong?

Martha Johnson: No, that’s not too strong. And, you know, genocide was on the minds perhaps explicitly for some. You know, I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. But, when you start to look at the history, it’s pretty hard to avoid some of the evidences that there was intentional elimination of the race in the name of white supremacy, quite frankly. And it’s gut wrenching and heartbreaking that people, the aboriginal people, are still suffering from that mentality being imposed upon them in very abusive and fatal ways.

Thom Harrison: A very strong sense though, of a very long history of practicing medicine and helping with herbs and things of that nature. So, what were some of the surprises? What were some of the things that, when they finally let you in, that you went, “Oh my goodness, this is wonderful,” or “This is interesting.” Help us understand.

Martha Johnson: Well, let me back up a half step with a quick little telling of how it was that I was introduced to them. I was sick with chronic fatigue, Epstein-Barr syndrome for a number of years. So many of the things that had helped me to get well, work off the conventional maps of Western medicine. And I learned very quickly, as I was excited to find new things that were helping me. And I’d share that with a friend or two, or the parents of some friends, or whomever that I thought, “Oh, they’ll be excited with me.” I would get answers like, “You know, I have a psychiatrist you might want to go visit.”

Ken Krogue: Interesting.

Martha Johnson: And they may have been very sincere, but the take that I got from it was, “You think that what I’ve just told you about is quackery, and that I need my head examined.” That was the message that I got. And more than once, I mean multiple times. So I learned pretty fast to shut my mouth about things that I was getting some help with. And then I was introduced to a book, Mutant Message Down Under, Marlow Morgan, printed in the 80s, early nineties, perhaps. That really turned me on to what is at work, the cultural structures of belief in other cultures.

Thom Harrison: Healing message down under?

Martha Johnson: Mutant message, and we are the mutants. The white fella is the mutant. Yeah, we’re the ones who have been morphed. And I can’t say that I don’t… I agree with that.

Thom Harrison: Interesting title.

Martha Johnson: It is very. And I took that book in and recognized, as different as the cultural trappings were, and this woman’s going walkabout with the aborigines through the outback. Some just astonishing experiences that she has with them. She’s a white woman from Missouri. The book is a little controversial, won’t go there, but it captivated me. So, with that, some friends got assigned through their church assignments to Australia. The wife and that couple started asking around, and it was not long at all before an aboriginal family was inviting me, as a BYU student, to come and learn about their culture. And she said just over the phone, “Yup. She can come live with us. She can stay in the shack out back.” So for seven months, on and off the first go, and then over the next many four years consistently, in and out of Australia for months at a time. Sometimes in Sydney, sometimes in Darwin, sometimes down in Elliot and the outback, where this family’s people were from, and their community still is–their camp.

Thom Harrison: You can see why I wanted Martha on the program. What a fascinating experience to spend in the outback with these individuals.

Martha Johnson: And, what took me there was to say, basically the premise was, if you change the cultural paradigm, you change access to healing, because you’ve dropped judgment. So, when you get judgment out of the way, and allow things to be whatever they are on their own merits, there’s things that work for us. And provide healing that otherwise are blocked when judgments in play. Judgment is every bit a pathogen as any other pathogen there is. As any germ, parasite, you know, virus, bacteria, fungus, whatever it may be. Judgment needs to be on that list.

Thom Harrison: And across cultures. Any time we have major judgment, we are creating more of a pathogen.

Martha Johnson: Absolutely. And I want to be quick though to identify that when I talk to judgment in that sense, I mean it in the condemning sense, not the discerning sense.

Thom Harrison: Yeah, very functional. Discerning judgment is a whole different animal.

Martha Johnson: And needed every day, needed minute by minute. But condemning judgment, that’s what we’re asked to leave behind. That’s not our seat to take. And when we do that, we’re sitting in someone else’s chair.

Ken Krogue: Well said. Beautiful.

Martha Johnson: So, we need to get out of his seat and allow others to, you know, express themselves in ways that are true to who they feel they are. And that’s what I went to the native or to the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific to look at. I did some cross cultural comparisons with the Samoans and the Fijians, native healers in both places, the Maori in New Zealand. My thesis centered around doing that cross cultural comparative, a little bit with the Native Americans here in Montana.

Ken Krogue: What were you trying to find?

Martha Johnson: I was looking at how do they know to do? What do they know to do for healing when healing is needed by tradition? And what do they understand are their beliefs around it? How do they know to do it? And what do they believe is happening? And, you know, so much of those people’s tradition is based in the earth. You know, it’s the connection between the children of the earth and the earth, the mother earth.

Ken Krogue: Verse the world here in Western culture.

Martha Johnson: Right, Western culture. So that’s the first thing you have to do. When you understand, and trying to understand the aboriginal people or any of those indigenous cultures of the islands, is drop this categorical worldview that the western scientific method uses. We’re really good at dissection, and specialization, and taking things apart. We’re not so good at holding things together in their whole, and understanding how they work in totality, and their holism. So we can speak to that a lot, but we’re having to come from a long time back to catch up to what these other indigenous folks have held for centuries and centuries with tremendous results.

Martha Johnson: I mean, even in Samoa, when I worked there with some of the native healers, those who are of most sound reputation, I’d sit and watch. I watched a woman come, who had been sent from the hospital. She was in her later years. But, she had just had a stroke, and the hospital sent her to the native healer to be healed. She was on her like eighth or ninth day of coming each day. But, she was walking in, whereas before they had had to carry her in. So, in those settings, a lot of times the western medical people are present. But, they are learning more deference for and working together with the native healers to their credit and to the people’s benefit.

Martha Johnson: So that’s part of what started the thesis work down there in Australia was working with a group, or with a woman, the grandmother of this family, that invited me to live with them, who had developed a program addressing neonatal and maternal health care issues, primarily low birth weight babies. And the way she did that, she coined the term, the title for the program is Strong Women, Strong Babies, Strong Culture. It was immensely effective, especially in the first four years when she was its primary director. But she was, wisely enough, commissioned by the northern territory health administration to do this. Because they were seeing anything they were doing from the European model was only making circumstances worse.

Martha Johnson: So, they could see that this woman, Lorna Fejo is her name, had tremendous influence. She was a domestic worker in a hospital, a custodian, basically worked in the kitchen at times. The women would come from the camps, into the hospital, find Lorna, have a chat with her, and leave, obviously having been satisfied by whatever it was she did or said for them or whatever it was. So they sent her out to the camps to do the teaching under her direction. How would you teach basic lifestyle, good health choices to these women in a way that’s culturally sensitive. So she came up with this title, Strong Women, Strong Babies, Strong Culture, to demonstrate the link between how these women could affect their culture by raising strong children. And it was their aboriginal identity to do so. So she spoke with them in culturally sensitive ways and reintroduced them to their ceremonies interestingly enough.

Martha Johnson: So I was invited to observe and participate to some degree. But, when it was time for ceremony, I was asked to not be there. And I was fine with that, out of great respect. Now, for a lot of folks in the Utah or greater western United States, you know, community, we were familiar with temples of the Latter Day Saint Church. So there’s a lot of understanding around how we hold, those of us who are members of that church, hold that very sacred. So we speak carefully of it outside of the temple. It is the same and then some with the aborigines. They’re even more defensive of it in both functional and dysfunctional ways, because they’ve been so abused by misrepresentation. So those things that they hold sacred, they don’t want just to let anybody handle that.

Martha Johnson: I was privy to some ceremonies like the smoke baby ceremony. Now you can see, for example, that you say, “Smoke baby” to a European oriented person, and you’re going to think, “Oh, you’re prepping them to eat that child” So there’s the assumptions, and off they run, you know, putting feathers in their anthropological caps. But yet, doing wrong by the people that they’ve studied. A smoke baby ceremony is in fact orienting the child to their position between heaven and earth the moment they arrive from mother. It’s a very sacred experience, but they do allow others to see it. It’s a blessing on every part of that baby’s body using a combination of foodstuffs and medicines that are gathered from the bush. Bush tucker, bush medicine that are gathered and prepared in particular ways over the fire. There’s two fires, and they do it just so.

Martha Johnson: Watching the woman do this, that was showing me how to go about it, and it was like watching my mother in her kitchen, just working so fluidly. You know, knew where everything was, and how did, and the whole time she’s chanting softly under her breath. I’d been prepped enough to know that what she was chanting was very specific and very blessing-esk, and connecting this child to heaven and this spot on earth as this child’s place of orientation. And doing so to strengthen, to fortify, to give constitutional fortitude, you know, for that child’s life. They would do it again if ever there was a need. They did it for me for a child who had a horrible, you know, infection of some sort, a lot of mucus, to try to help clear that out. And I wasn’t there long enough to document that indeed it had. I take their word for it.

Martha Johnson: But, those are the kinds of experiences that I was able to have being there with them. As far as its effect on me, mind blowing. I mean there’s only so many cockroaches you can sleep with before you crawl out of your own skin. And that’s perfect, because to take on a paradigm that is that holistic, you kind of do need to crawl out of your own skin in a sense. When you’ve come from the world that is so indoctrinated around, quite frankly, you know, ethno and Egocentrism. We’ve been pretty, as a western culture, pretty sold on ourselves and to our great disservice.

Ken Krogue: It’s all about I, I, I.

Martha Johnson: Yes. And there’s a place for, you know, personal accomplishment. Okay, we get the point, but after a while, can we come back together? And that’s part of my intent is to help bridge a gap between our world and their world. To help our world understand, these folks have a lot to teach us. And to help them understand that there are many of us now who get the wrongs that have been done by our people collectively to them. And we would like to like to make amends. So like to join together in a way that says, “Let’s move forward and heal this world together in a really mutually affable way.

Thom Harrison: It’s interesting the similarity between what you’re talking about, and some of the traditions and ceremonies of the African culture.

Martha Johnson: Sure.

Thom Harrison: And the Native American cultures. And I think all of those indigenous cultures have these ceremonies.

Martha Johnson: They do.

Thom Harrison: And it’s wonderful to hear the connectiveness of those. It almost sounds to me like there was some help from some other side to create the structure to be so uniform throughout the world. Before the ego and Western medicine structure came in, or European medicine, which just poo-pooed it all.

Martha Johnson: Right. Yeah. That sense of fragmentation is the taking apart of. Now there’s a lot to be learned from the scientific method. I don’t want to throw that under the bus, but unless you bring it back together, you will not see it in its integrity. And therefore, you can’t really learn of it’s life-giving property. So, you know, who is it that likes to take things apart, to destroy and separate? And who is it that wants to bring things together and make them one?

Thom Harrison: And how did Peter say it? “Through Christ, all things hold together.”

Martha Johnson: That’s right. That’s right.

Thom Harrison: In one religious structure, you know. That’s one of my most favorite sayings that all things come together through that connection with deity.

Martha Johnson: And to bring the scientific to that, because there’s so many great scientific minds who are God fearing. Louis Pasteur, for example. He said, “A little science leads us away from God. A lot of science leads us back to him.”

Ken Krogue: That’s beautiful.

Martha Johnson: Isn’t that?

Ken Krogue: Absolutely.

Martha Johnson: Yeah. And so, you know, I think there’s lots to be learned from good, really well done science. As long as we keep an eye on, how does what we are studying through our narrow microscope fit into the bigger picture? So we don’t get duped into thinking this is all that there is to see. And forget that we cannot only do this, but it can synergistically do this. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are so myopic by nature.

Ken Krogue: What were some of the mind opening, eye opening experiences? The first epiphanies you had while you were there, that you realize, “This is a different approach.” Do you remember? Can you walk us through just a couple of them.

 Martha Johnson: Yeah. Waiting with, no, you know… Waiting under a bullwaddy tree.

Ken Krogue: Well, you knew right where to go. Waiting. There was a whole different world?

Martha Johnson: Well, and we had arranged, my friend and I, she was younger than I. She’s the daughter of the family that invited me to come live with them, and the granddaughter of the woman Lorna Fejo, who did the program, the Strong Women’s program. She and I had arranged, or she had arranged with one of her cousins, to come take me out, bush tucker hunting. You go Bush Tucker hunting.

Ken Krogue: Okay.

Martha Johnson: So we met out in front of the roadhouse sitting on a low fence, under a tree. Somewhere near about that time that they’d be coming, had my watch on, my cargo pants, and my boots. And, you know, my little backpack with my notes and my little recorder. And I was going to play the part of the researcher. And I got dressed down by the weight. That taught me a lesson I have never forgotten. We waited for three hours, I guess, something like that. Finally, my friend Jessica turned to me and said, “You know, Martha, it’s not a waste of time to wait.”

Ken Krogue: Interesting.

Martha Johnson: And that right there epitomizes so much of the difference between the Aboriginal Perspective and paradigm and the Western European and American, impatient Paradigm. So I took my watch off. I threw my planner back in my backpack. And, I don’t know that I’ve ever used a planner since.

Ken Krogue: That would be hard for a lot of us.

Martha Johnson: And I took… I’ve not worn a watch since. Okay, all right, so my phone, I’ve got. I carry a phone, yes, I do. But, I really, I have grown very uncomfortable in time. That’s one of the effects of being with them on me is that I really don’t like worshiping time. It really is a waste of time to do that.

Ken Krogue: And time, I’ve said to my teams, that stress is caused by self-imposed deadlines. And, you know, a lot of times when we have some big event or something about to happen, the stress goes up as we set our own constructs in time. It sounds like this people that you got to spend so much wonderful time with, that’s something they’ve been able to set aside.

Martha Johnson: Yeah. It means something different to them. In fact, one of the opening lines of the book is we’re introducing Lorna when she’s born. As her voice comes into the book, after the setup, she says, “I don’t know when I was born. To the aborigines, dates are something you eat.”

Ken Krogue: Interesting.

Martha Johnson:  So she was born round about when the conkerberries we’re on.

Ken Krogue: A season, not a day.

Martha Johnson: A season, and when the conkerberries we’re on. So yeah, she was born somewhere late September, early October. There’s a little hunch that she and I might have the same birthday.

Ken Krogue: Oh, that, I wouldn’t bet against it.

Martha Johnson: Yeah, she and I kind of have a vibe about that. I was born in early October, and she could, there could be, very much the same birthday. But that’s how they measure time.

Ken Krogue: So what about, more along the lines of physical and emotional health versus physical health. What were some of the insights you gained around that side of it?

Martha Johnson: Okay. So from the perspective of a more holistic, big picture point of view, you have to… You know, and again, looking to how the aboriginal perspective is to hold all things together. They don’t compartmentalize in their purest.

Ken Krogue: It’s all together.

Martha Johnson: It’s all together in their purest of lifestyles. They are doing everything from a spiritual perspective, and everything from a physical perspective and everything from an emotional perspective. It’s all one. So to separate them out and talk about them in category or compartment or whatnot is kind of, it’s very strange to them. They can. Those who are of, you know, of our time, they’re very conversant with that, but it’s not their native way. So to understand healing and health care and mental health and such, you look at the totality and the holism.

 Martha Johnson: So, to consider coming into one’s best health, you know, their optimal sense of wellbeing, and not consider how they relate to God, it just boggles the mind. You can’t get to that kind of health without reconnecting to God. And who is God? God is not just an individual. Though he is that, they do believe in the rainbow serpent. Some of the tribal dialects will refer to him as Baiame. There are traditions that a white God came to them in white robes and taught them in their sacred places. There are those traditions. That would be very much in keeping with, you know, the Book of Mormon Story.

Martha Johnson: But, God is… That we are more one with him than we are hierarchical. And our sense of place in heaven and earth is, you know, they believe in the dreamtime. Well, it’s akin to the spirit world in our structure of thinking. But it’s much more fluid for them. I think just by nature, they have a capacity for spiritual intuition that they have not lost. Now, some have. I want to be, you know, let’s be real. Let’s be fair. There are some who are so out of place in the Western world that’s been imposed upon them, that they have fallen deep into addiction and horrible lifestyle habits.

Martha Johnson: You know, you remove them from their land, or you contain them to a parcel of land, through some sort of fencing, or some sort of restriction imposed by a government, and you may as well have skinned them alive. It is that disruptive to their sense of who they are, where they belong, and what they are to do. If they can’t be connected to their land, to the place of their birth, and the place of their ceremony. And if they can’t follow their song lines, and do their walkabout, and receive in those critical places, informations that are shared between tribes or between totems, and from the dreamtime, then they don’t know who they are. They’re a shell of themselves.

Martha Johnson: So, you know, you look at that and you consider, bring that to us and consider where are we? I think we’re anesthetized by our materialism. And we’ve become kind of to just, what is our connection with heaven and earth? We have forgotten the temple that we are intended to be. We don’t… We are not remembering that. But, when we restore ourselves to something of that feeling, and start to follow it, and then become that connection between light and land and love and law. When we bring those together, there is life. And if ever a people live that in antiquity, the way that anybody has, it’d be the aborigines.

Martha Johnson: Now they suffer the same kinds of problems that any people have when it came to forces. There was jealousy, and pride, and all those kinds of things. And they killed their profits. You know, according to those that you would speak with if you went to, and spoke with, a Latter Day Saint aborigines, they would find themselves in the Book of Mormon and say, that’s what happened to us too. So you remove the prophet of the Lord, the Prophet of God from the people, and the center cannot hold. So their disconnection started to occur in that way. So very much, I mean, how many times have we seen this played out through global history?

Martha Johnson:  So to bring it back to the individual’s need for healing and health, that reconnection between heaven and earth that is us. Restoring that is the overarching guide for how to be restored to your health. So what role does God play in that? Every role. And that’s, you know, for the aborigines even going to get Bush Tucker or Bush medicine is a spiritual experience for them. How to compose it? Where to go find it? How much of it to use? When to use it? And that’s part of what Lorna did in the Strong Baby, Strong Women, Strong Culture. How did I say… Strong Women, Strong Baby, Strong Culture program. She reoriented them to how to go do those things and gave it place in ceremony. So they recognized, “Oh, I am an aboriginal woman, therefore I will go do it like this.” And wouldn’t, you know…

Ken Krogue: She reminded them.

Martha Johnson: She reminded them, she brought them back to a sense of who they are, and whose they are in connection with heaven and earth. And allowed that veil to get thin again, the way that it is so innately with them.

Thom Harrison: When we open ourself up to all this cultural wisdom, it allows us to open to other ideas and other ways of healing and other constructs that maybe we’ve never considered before. And that’s one thing I love when I chat with you is you’ve been open to those things. And you just don’t hold yourself in a place of, “It’s got to look like this.” And yes, there’s room for science, and there’s room for western medicine, and there’s room for pharmacology. But, there’s also room for all these other things.

Martha Johnson: Everything take its place at the table, so to speak. That’s where we’re going to really come to true enlightenment is when all the gifts come to the table, including the scientific gifts, including the spiritual gifts of these native peoples. When they can all come to the table and judgment doesn’t get to come with anybody.

Thom Harrison: And we’re hoping that in the Eternal Core conference that you are seeing all of these different gifts of these individuals we’ve had the wonderful opportunity to talk with and to interview. And we’re bringing these all together on the 29th and 30th of March at Little America. So come join us. We’re so thankful that you would come today and share with us. And we look forward to having you at the conference. Thank you so much Martha.

Martha Johnson: Thank you both. It’s been a privilege.

Ken Krogue: You know, one last question, if you don’t mind.

Martha Johnson: Not at all.

Ken Krogue: We’re, one of our next episodes is with Dr. Tony D’angelo. And he’s bringing also some more elements of eastern medicine, Qigong. Was there any, you know, really big ‘ahas’ from this experience that you had, that you would help us. Maybe a little bit of a teaser of what you’re going to be talking about at the conference. Just one more little tidbit that you think might really be helpful that we could take with us and be thinking about between now and the end of March. A bit of wisdom that you might’ve gained in your four years over there.

Martha Johnson: Well, and actually, it’s been longer than that, but that was the initial part. And then, I’ve been back and forth many times in the pursuit of getting this book written. It’s a biography of Lorna. But in that, we’re teaching basically, how she would share her beliefs with a wider book reading audience about what her life has been like. Teasers to get you to come back. You know, really it is, I guess it’s a reemphasis of what we’ve just been talking about it. And you bring up Qigong and the eastern approaches to healthcare intervention or to health and wellbeing. One of the things I learned in Samoa, among other places, the center of life is in the eastern tradition of the *Shatandi and the *toala, in Samoan. It’s that place in the core, you know. That center of gravity within the body where the healing is either going to happen or it’s not.

                  *These are spellings based on pronunciation*

Martha Johnson: So, as you go to interface with other ailments and whatnot in the body, if you are the healer, you start here as these healers would say to me. “It hurts here, you start here. Hurts here, you start here.” So what does that say about core to tap into your Eternal Core? I think there’s terrific, terrific meaning in your title, Eternal Core. So when we take our core to its eternal source, then the veils start to thin and light starts to flow. We are that point of connection between all of these components that have to come together in order to give life. So how do we bring into our culture right here today? And you know, Happy Valley, USA, this indigenousity, this aboriginality that can restore us to our sense of who we really are. To reconnect us with mother earth, and to put us back in that direct, immediate, nobody in between, connection with our God. How can we do that in the way that the early aborigines did?

Ken Krogue: Awesome. Thank you. Sorry, I had to throw one more in there, Thom.

Thom Harrison: No that was beautiful.

Ken Krogue: Thank you so much.

Thom Harrison: Thanks Martha.

Martha Johnson: Thank you.

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