My Goddaughter Victoria drinking from a fountain in Hochgallmig, Austria Brigitte’s mother, Margit, had a very strong attraction for older natural healing traditions. She went out of her way to learn traditional methods of healing from family, friends and neighbors. Many of Kneipp’s and Priessnitz’ techniques are still orally circulating among villagers. In addition, Margit would read books and articles on hydrotherapy. She endeavored to raise her family as close to nature as possible. She tried to keep the household self-sufficient, went out of her way to avoid artificial products, while valuing those things of quality and purity. She kept a well stocked garden of herbs and vegetables, and raised goats, cows, chickens, and rabbits. Brigitte and her mother really cherish the fact that the water that they used for their everyday activities came directly from a spring running out of the mountain they lived on. The water was so pure and clean and full of vitality. They drank it, bathed in it, cleaned with it, watered the plants and garden with – it was a part of their lives that they did not take for granted. Brigitte loves to tell the story of her first day in America, pouring herself a glass of water from the sink, putting it to her lips, taking a sip, and immediately spitting it out all over the counter. “This is not water, what is this stuff” she asked me baffled.
Margit would use traditional hydrotherapy techniques on Brigitte and her siblings. For instance, when Brigitte was sick with the cold or flu, her mom would give her a sweat bath, wrap her up tightly in blankets and have her drink a lot of hot herbal tea. She would sweat all wrapped up for about an hour, and then would change into her pajamas and rest in bed. The tea, often times salbei (sage), was always picked fresh from her mother’s garden. The combination together always reduced her fever, and brought on a quick end to her ailment. Margit enjoyed using Kneipp’s cures on her children. In particular, Brigitte fondly remembers being sent out with her brothers and sisters into the freshly fallen snow – barefoot. They would run around hooting and hollering, fully enjoying the experience. After a few minutes, they would return indoors and have woolen socks put on their feet. They would cuddle up in a blanket, lie down and rest and relax. She remembers this experience as making her feel good and strong throughout her body. Of the walking in newly fallen snow hydrotherapy technique, Kneipp says in his book My Water Cure.
We distinctly remark in newly fallen, fresh snow, which forms into a ball or clings to the feet like dust, not in old, stiff, frozen snow, which almost freezes the feet and is of no use whatever…. I know many people who have walked through such snow-water for half an hour, an hour, even one and a half hours with the best result…. The regular duration of such a walk in the snow is 3-4 minutes…. Generally, the verdict upon this means of hardening is: ‘Nothing but folly and nonsense’ – because people are afraid of catching colds, of rheumatics, sore throat, catarrh, and every possible complaint. Everything depends on a trial and a little self-conquest; one will soon become convinced how groundless prejudices are; and that the dreadful snow-walk, instead of causing any harm, brings great advantage.