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How to find a medicine man

Medicine man , also called medicine person or healer , member of an indigenous society who is knowledgeable about the magical and chemical potencies of various substances medicines and skilled in the rituals through which they are administered. The term has been used most widely in the context of American Indian cultures but is applicable to many others as well. Traditionally, medicine people are called upon to prevent or heal the physical and mental illnesses of individuals as well as the social ruptures that occur when murders and other calamitous events take place within a community. Some medicine men and women undergo rigorous initiation to gain supernormal powers, while others become experts through apprenticeships; many complete a combination of these processes. The medicine person commonly carries a kit of objects—feathers of particular birds, suggestively shaped or marked stones, pollen, hallucinogenic or medicinal plants, and other items—that are associated with healing. In some cases an object must be physically removed from the patient e.

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I Visited a Chickasaw Healer

But his family, friends, and tribal brothers and sisters—as well as the hundreds of people who've witnessed demonstrations of his remarkable healing power—know him as Rolling Thunder, a native American Indian and heir to a traditional role among his people: that of inter-tribal medicine man. In the manner of most such healers, Rolling Thunder deals more in matters of the spirit than of the flesh and—although he doesn't "do anything for show"—evidences of his ability have been said to astound the most skeptical of observers.

For example, it's reported that several years ago Rolling Thunder agreed to conduct a healing ritual for a research group at the Edgar Cayce Foundation in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In addition to curing three patients with documented medical histories who were selected beforehand by doctors at the conference , he treated a man who had severely crippled hands.

However, Rolling Thunder first had to describe the individual's ailment so that the reluctant patient could be located in the audience and brought forward to be examined. After the healer told the audience to look for someone with gnarled, twisted hands hidden in his pockets, the "volunteer" was found, brought to the stage, and cured of his handicap.

When he was questioned later about the incident, Rolling Thunder explained that the sick man's spirit had come to him the night before the ceremony and insisted that he promise to treat the man, since the unfortunate individual wouldn't have the courage to come forth and ask for help at the meeting himself.

Born in Oklahoma to Cherokee parents, reared in hardship, and later married to a Shoshone woman, Rolling Thunder is a modern-day Indian who's trying to preserve the heritage of his ancestors. Therefore throughout his adult life the medicine man has devoted his energies to various Indian causes such as opposing the Bureau of Land Management's systematic destruction of pinon trees on Shoshone Indian land , as well as to easing the pain of persons who come to him asking for assistance.

Rolling Thunder's traditional name means "speaking the truth," and he does offer a message about native Americans that's sometimes grim and sometimes optimistic, but that always represents his true beliefs. The tribal healer's vision of reality is based upon the tragic past of his people and upon their close relationship to the earth, a special kinship between humanity and its environment that can provide inspiration for the simpler, back-to-the-land lifestyle so many folks yearn for these days.

However, this native American offers an unusual attitude toward living lightly on the planet, one that is entirely spiritual in its origin. During the course of his training in traditional native healing arts, the young Cherokee developed an awareness of and sensitivity to the spirit contained in all living things.

He has words of wisdom for the modern homesteader who wants to return to his or her "roots" in the soil, and to live a life that's quite literally close to the land. He advises: "Love the earth, treat it gently, and it will reward you. Rolling Thunder also has much to say to practitioners of the various wholistic healing therapies. Since he's an inheritor and protector of ancient tribal secrets, the medicine man is naturally somewhat reserved when speaking with outsiders about such subjects, but willingly shares much of his knowledge with anyone who is seriously interested in his work.

During several hours of conversation which have been edited to produce the following transcript , the two also discussed the past sufferings of native Americans, their present problems, and the future of this "nation within a nation.

You don't simply read a few textbooks or go to a special school and then start hiring out your services. It doesn't happen that way. You just know it's meant to be, at least you do if you're an Indian. Many people have asked me—as you do now—how one knows that. Well, it's partly instinct, and partly the result of a deliberate search. Usually, a young Indian finds out his or her purpose in life at about 12 or 13 years of age.

At that time, the youngster climbs to the top of a high mountain—or another similarly remote site—in some sacred area, and stays alone there for as long as three days while an older person waits at a distance.

The searcher carries no food or clothes—just a blanket—and spends the time fasting and praying. Eventually, a vision comes, revealing what he or she is supposed to do in life.

Upon returning from the vigil, the young person describes the revelation to the wise elder. The the then two go together to the medicine man so he can interpret its meaning for them. Finally, the tribe has a big ceremony to formally name the young person and reveal his or her life's mission.

I learned my destiny through the events of my early years. I've been told that before I was born—during my father's youth—those hills had all been Indian territory, but the land was gradually taken away from our tribe and we retreated to the wooded areas to live.

The Depression was on when I was a youngster, so we had to make a living practically with our bare hands, just as our ancestors had done. At about the age of 15 I built my first house, a log cabin with a separate smokehouse and a corral for goats and hogs. I lived alone there for quite a while, and worked about an acre of land with a hoe and a shovel. Those were mighty rough times, but they taught me a lot about nature and about ways of living in harmony with Mother Earth.

I learned how to forage for nuts, berries, and roots in the forest and how to catch fish by setting traps in the water. I also taught myself to recognize all the local woodland plants, although I never got to know many by their English or Latin names. Instead, I made up my own labels for each one, and I learned how to use them for food and medicine. So you see, a lot of my early training took place during that period, and that education helped me once I learned that I was meant to become a medicine man.

I'd been doctored—in my sleep—the night before by a sun god and his helpers, and when I awoke I knew something was different. I felt this great power within me! But I had to learn to live with the tremendous force, to watch every thought or emotion I had, 24 hours a day. Since the force is so strong, you see, it has a great potential for misuse, and it could really hurt someone if it were employed in a negative or destructive way.

It's difficult for a healer to adjust to that new-found power. We all have to learn to guard every thought, every word, and every feeling, since the power could use any such "channel" to affect someone in one way or another. I believe the healing force contains the strength of the Creator—or Great Spirit—as well as the energy of the thunder and the lightning and that of all living beings. I sometimes also ask the stars or the sun to help me, or I may call on the great medicine men and tribal chiefs of the past.

As a medicine man, I attempt to bring such forces together so they'll convey their healing power to the sick person. In our Indian healing ritual, we take into account not only the patient's symptoms, but—more important—his or her whole lifestyle. The medicine man has a way of understanding what is meant to be, according to an individual's progress and development. You could almost say that Indian healers carry portable "X-rays", since they have to be able to see into the person, to analyze his or her sickness, and to discover what originally caused it.

It's very important to look deep into the patient, deeper than the skin. In fact, any infection of the body has its roots in a spiritual impurity. Every case of sickness or pain is a form of payment of a debt, either for some mistake in the person's past or for a future wrong.

But that doesn't mean we're not supposed to do anything to remedy the situation. The medicine man's task is to find out what that debt is, and to learn how it can be repaid in another—usually less painful—way. On the other hand, sometimes a certain sickness or pain should be endured, because it's the best possible way to pay the debt involved. If such a pain is made to go away, the price may become greater in the long run. Anyone who is sick, obviously, thinks he or she wants to get well, but the person's spirit knows when it's right—or at least necessary—to be ill.

At any rate, what's happening to the body isn't the main problem, so true healing requires looking at more than the flesh. When a modern M. If the doctor doesn't understand what the problem really is, yet prescribes chemical drugs so the person won't feel anything or finds some troubled part of the body and cuts it out and throws it in the trash, those actions are probably unnecessary.

They certainly couldn't be called healing. As I've said, medicine men have to consider deeper factors in the course of treatment, so we always take many days to look into a case, and then we may decide not to accept it at all if we feel it isn't the correct time for the person to get well. Of course, a new healer can watch another's procedure and get some idea of what to do, but the novice gradually develops the substance of a personal ritual, including the songs, prayers, and chants that are used.

However, a few general guidelines apply to the methods of almost all native healers. In the first place, it's best to conduct healing rituals in a natural setting, in the open air. If too many people started coming to my home to get doctored, for example, it could be bad for my household. I've had trouble here before, when I've treated people with mental or emotional disturbances, with problems staying on in the house after the patients were relieved of them.

My home is where I live and rest. I don't want negative forces hanging around. Second, I never charge anything for healing. It's said, among our people, that if a medicine man sells his services or commercializes his ability in any way, he'll lose his power. I don't make any guarantees for my cures, either, simply because nothing is absolutely sure in this life! However, if a person comes to me with an open mind and an open heart, chances are good we can find the answer to his or her problem.

Basically, the Indian medicine man examines the patient closely—on both a physical and a spiritual level—to determine what forces should be used to heal that person. Then he calls upon the power of the particular forces that are needed, usually by means of prayer and special chants. I also like to use my hands a lot, mainly to transfer energy. You see, hands can serve to transmit the energy that flows between the two halves of the body, negative and positive. It's really a spiritual force.

Prayer is a particularly powerful tool that medicine men employ in the course of healing. I believe that prayer isn't just a ritual to be observed in church on Sunday: It's a meaningful exercise that should be practiced 24 hours a day. It can be used to achieve incredible results.

Long ago, when an Indian would shoot a deer with a poisoned arrow, he'd make an offering, a prayer for that deer. Then he'd cut around the place where the arrow had entered and throw only that small piece of meat away. Whatever poison might remain in the deer was eliminated, we believe, through the prayer ceremony.

In the same way, it's my contention that it's possible to pray certain poisons right out of a patient's body. Herbs can also be used as "helpers.

It's necessary to know where and when to look for the plants, and then—once you've located the necessary one—show to approach them correctly so that they'll yield their special energy to you. When I go out to collect herbs, I can usually feel their presence before I actually see the plants, and often they simply appear when—and where—they're needed.

In fact, there have been times when I've gathered summer flowers while snow was on the ground I'm sure you've noticed that plants usually grow in clumps.

Well, that's because they tend to live in families or tribes, just as human beings do! When you want to cut off an herb's leaves or flowers, you should first pay your respects to the chief of the group by making a small offering I use tobacco, or some item that's of personal value to me. Then you should communicate with the plant and tell it that you're going to take leaves from only a few of its tribal members, and that they're going to be used for a good purpose, for healing.

I never harvest more than half of a medicinal plant's foliage—so it can continue to reproduce—and if I find a stand of herbs that consists of just one or two individuals, I always pass it by. Now I know such precautions may sound silly to some people, especially those who think wild plants are nothing more than weeds. But to me, they're not weeds.

Navajo medicine man

Once, there were many spiritual leaders on the Navajo Nation. But those numbers have dwindled. One of the survivors is an elder named Wally Brown, and he's determined to preserve the heritage of his people. Above: Wally Brown rests in front of a loom inside a hogan at the heritage center.

Outside Oklahoma City, the day after Christmas, I found myself lying on a massage table draped in Native American quilts. No sooner had a bear blanket covered me than the Chickasaw medicine man began dusting my body with a feather covered in white sage powder.

A medicine man or medicine woman is a traditional healer and spiritual leader who serves a community of indigenous people of the Americas. Individual cultures have their own names, in their respective Indigenous languages, for the spiritual healers and ceremonial leaders in their particular cultures. In the ceremonial context of Indigenous North American communities, "medicine" usually refers to spiritual healing. The terms "medicine people" or "ceremonial people" are sometimes used in Native American and First Nations communities, for example, when Arwen Nuttall Cherokee of the National Museum of the American Indian writes, "The knowledge possessed by medicine people is privileged, and it often remains in particular families.

Rolling Thunder: Native American Medicine Man

But his family, friends, and tribal brothers and sisters—as well as the hundreds of people who've witnessed demonstrations of his remarkable healing power—know him as Rolling Thunder, a native American Indian and heir to a traditional role among his people: that of inter-tribal medicine man. In the manner of most such healers, Rolling Thunder deals more in matters of the spirit than of the flesh and—although he doesn't "do anything for show"—evidences of his ability have been said to astound the most skeptical of observers. For example, it's reported that several years ago Rolling Thunder agreed to conduct a healing ritual for a research group at the Edgar Cayce Foundation in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In addition to curing three patients with documented medical histories who were selected beforehand by doctors at the conference , he treated a man who had severely crippled hands. However, Rolling Thunder first had to describe the individual's ailment so that the reluctant patient could be located in the audience and brought forward to be examined. After the healer told the audience to look for someone with gnarled, twisted hands hidden in his pockets, the "volunteer" was found, brought to the stage, and cured of his handicap. When he was questioned later about the incident, Rolling Thunder explained that the sick man's spirit had come to him the night before the ceremony and insisted that he promise to treat the man, since the unfortunate individual wouldn't have the courage to come forth and ask for help at the meeting himself.

Medicine man

Origins The healing traditions of Native Americans have been practiced in North America since at least 12, years ago and possibly as early as 40, years ago. Although the term Native American Medicine implies that there is a standard system of healing, there are approximately nations of indigenous people in North America, each representing a diverse wealth of healing knowledge, rituals, and ceremonies. Many aspects of Native American healing have been kept secret and are not written down. The traditions are passed down by word of mouth from elders, from the spirits in vision quests, and through initiation.

When a non-Indian asks this question, I do everything possible not to burst out laughing.

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The shaman and the medicine-man.

B elow are some unique sites related to Native American Indians or their healing ways. Some are sites of friends or neighbors, and others are resources that I have found to be very creative, useful or comprehensive. If you wish to make a suggestion to add a site to this growing list, please contact us here.

SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Medicine Man

Holy man lived by "hollow bone" philosophy - by Georgina Lynn Lightning Frank Fools Crow repeatedly said the more humble and unselfish a person is, the more willing Wakan Tanka and his helpers of the four directions are willing to work through them. Few holy people have been as open about their spiritual practices as Frank Fools Crow, the ceremonial chief of the Teton Sioux who allowed his powers to be written about in books by non-Native authors. Before he died at the age of 99 on Nov. Mails, a Lutheran minister who wrote about him in several books, including the well-received Fools Crow—Wisdom and Power.

Private Healing Session With Navajo Medicine Man, Sam Tso

We are excited for this rare opportunity to offer individual session with a Native American Medicine Man. He was born in Arizona and raised by his family in the traditions of his people. He served as a translator for the Navajo elders in the legal battle for his family and community's right to remain on their ancestral homelands. In the aftermath of the Manybeads lawsuit, Tso continues as a carpenter, silversmith, rock carver, storyteller and teacher. His work as an activist continues on behalf of all people whose rights are being denied or questioned. A healing session with Sam is one hour and a completely and totally transforming experience. During a session, he incorporates the knowledge he has gained over the years.

Holy man lived by "hollow bone" philosophy - by Georgina Lynn Lightning. In his lifetime, he struggled to find someone to pass his medicine to because so.

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SHAMAN DAVID CLOUD - SPIRIT WALKER, NATIVE AMERICAN MEDICINE MAN

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Native American Medicine

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