The Native American medicine tradition hasn't gotten as much publicity as either the healing traditions of India [Ayurveda] or that of China [TCM = Traditional Chinese Medicine]. This is truly a shame for many reasons – but especially because the Native American plants grow on this continent, rather than thousands of miles away. Naturally this means Native American herbal remedies are more accessible … and cheaper, a cause for joy in today's sad economy.
Native American Medicines And Their Healing Tradition
Today, our culture has the belief that an outside agency is the source of healing. That is, the doctor and or the medicine are responsible for our recovery. That is in complete contrast to the much wiser Native American medicine tradition which believes that healing comes from three sources:
1. The skill of the healer in knowing what plants and ceremonies to perform …
2. The essence and properties of the plants ….
3. Most importantly, in the power of the person being healed …
Too many folks today take no responsibility for their own health but instead give all their power away to the medical establishment. This is a great shame. Yes, plants may assist us in healing, but ultimately responsibility lies with our own bodies that want to be healthy and in balance.
The Roles Of Native American Herbal Medicines & The Shaman
Native Americans revered and trusted their shamans who were chosen based on innate talents and skills with the herbs and other healing modalities. It might be assumed that this is like our faith in doctors but it isn't at all. The basic and irreconcilable difference is that modern doctors see the body as a 'thing' to be healed. It is almost as though we are statues that have come to life. The Native American healer, in contrast, saw her/his job as reconciling the patient with spirits and the spirit world. The plants and herbal remedies were chosen for their efficacy in doing just that.
Ceremony was an indispensable part of the Native American healing tradition. Ritual helped the healer to understand the problem so that she could choose the best plants and medicine for the person and his or her disease. The mind and body of the patient would then be cleansed so that the remedy would be as effective as possible.
Today even those of us who are interested and aware of other traditions like Native America, Ayurveda and TCM still give the power to the herb or supplement rather than realizing that we are the ones who heal ourselves, or no one does. Nature always seeks balance and our bodies do likewise. This process is known as "homeostasis" and is the source of recovery. If plants and other medicines work properly it's because they have removed the obstacles to recovery.
What We Can Learn From Native American Healing
All indigenous healing traditions know that the body is not made up of "parts" but is a unity which includes spirit. As long as we persist in defending this split between mind, spirit and body, our healing will always be inadequate. The Native Americans knew better and were wiser than we.
This doesn't mean we need to dance around the campfire, although that can certainly be a powerful practice. But by using the power of Native American herbal remedies – and most importantly, their holistic attitudes – we can find genuine healing in a very toxic world. WE are the healers we are seeking.