Snake Oil: The Art of Healing and Truth-Telling

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FaithWords, Mar 12, 2013 - Social Science - 224 pages
"In the world of snake oils, you have to see the world a little differently. Where others see poverty, you see riches; where others see weeds, you see flowers; where others see sickness, you see openness."

Becca Stevens calls herself a "snake oil seller": She takes natural oils, mixes them with a good story, sells them in an open market and believes they help to heal the world. Becca is the founder of Thistle Farms, one of the most successful examples in the US of a social enterprise whose mission is the work force. She is also the founder of its residential program, Magdalene. The women of Magdalene/Thistle Farms have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction, and the natural body care products they manufacture-balms, soaps, and lotions-aid in their own healing as well as that of the people who buy them. The book weaves together the beginnings of the enterprise with individual stories from Becca's own journey as well as 20 women in the community.

In Snake Oil, Becca tells how the women she began helping fifteen years ago have been the biggest source of her own healing from sexual abuse and her father's death as a child. Wise and reflective, Snake Oil offers an empowering narrative as well as a selection of recipes for healing remedies that readers can make themselves.


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SNAKE OIL: The Art of Healing and Truth-Telling

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A memoir of hands-on healing.Concerned that abused women and victims of prostitution, sex trafficking and drug addictions often have no place to turn for help, Rev. Stevens founded Magdalene and ... Read full review

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Reviewed by Mary DeKok Blowers for Readers' Favorite
Snake Oil by Becca Stevens is like an embrace for the soul, like a meditation in the sound of her voice. An audio book, read by the author, it
is part memoir, part healing, and part inspirational all at once, sort of a trinity of books, three in one. Beginning with the story of her childhood, Stevens recalls the death of her preacher father in the act of serving others, and the man who stepped in in the guise of helping this family. Instead, he did things that prompted Stevens to search for healing throughout her life. Her childhood was not all tragic; there was the old man who would bring her sandwiches and fresh peaches to share as they sat outdoors and talked. There was outdoor play with siblings and neighbors, old-fashioned play, not like today with video games.
At some point in her adulthood, Becca Stevens confronted the man who had abused her, in an amazing act of mercy and guidance, only urging that he get some help. This was extremely healing to her and she would then go on to create a healing ministry using herbal preparations. Throughout the book, she speaks of plants with a reverence you have to hear to believe, as if they had souls. Seemingly, they communicate with her soul. Interspersed with the stories are recipes for healing oils you can make at home. They are the creation of Thistle Farms, making healing oils for women, which becomes a business to support shelters for women, who prepare the oils and balms to sell.
So Snake Oil comes full circle, from home remedies used in her childhood, to remedies used and made as therapy for women who need love and hope. It was healing just to listen to this book being read aloud. I urge all women to get this audio book.

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About the author (2013)

Reverend Becca Stevens is an Episcopal priest serving as Chaplain at St. Augustine's at Vanderbilt University, and founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms, a community and social enterprise that stands with women recovering from violence, prostitution, addiction and life on the streets. Magdalene, the residential model, serves women for two years at no cost to residents. Thistle Farms employs residents and graduates who manufacture, market and sell all natural bath and beauty products in over 200 retail stores across the globe.

Stevens was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity and inducted into the Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2011 she was named one of 15 "Champions of Change" by the White House. To date, she has raised more than $14 million for the organizations she supports. Stevens lives in Nashville with her husband, Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon, and their three sons.

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