In 1981 I had the good fortune of meeting the medicine woman Brooke Medicine Eagle. Brooke, like many teachers to come in my life is a mixed blooded healer. Thus, what she shared often has come under great scrutiny and judgment by both the ‘traditional—true blood’ indigenous people and by the pure white Anglo Saxons. I begin this writing wondering why truth contains qualifiers. “A true teacher, a real shaman, a tremendous teacher all must have some kind of authentic, time-honored credentials or blood rights.”
In 1975 I had retired because of poor health from a successful teaching and writing career in Public Education. Western Medicine failed to relieve the chronic life threatening state I was in without massive cranial surgery. Nothing like facing death to stir up one’s priorities. My greatest gift from that time was the ability to respond to an inner calling to return to the land and regain a sense of safety and communion with the Earth. Six years into my pursuit and still in debilitating pain EastWest Journal (now the Yoga Journal) premiered on their front cover a cross cultural medicine woman, Brooke Medicine Eagle. When I read the enclosed article, I knew she would become my teacher of peace making, with myself, with my community, with nature. As fate has it, within six months I would meet and train with her at a local hospital’s pain clinic.
Where to begin regarding the treasures she shared with us – the Medicine Wheel, the gift of Feldenkrais grace filled movement, the metamorphical stages of human development, the sacredness of prayer and ceremony with healing, the component of active imagination in mind of matter mending – all of these are essential to regain well being. The most significant of all tools shared though, was the teachings of WHITE BUFFALO CALF WOMAN, sometimes referred to as the elder sister quite like Jesus, is known as the elder brother to many Indigenous People’s.
As the myth is told of the Elder Sister, she returns to the land when the people forget why they have chosen to be here. As the story goes WBCW gave the people tools to help them remember their commitment to walk the good, true and beautiful pathway in good relations with all the family of life. For me the Elder Sister’s teachings deserve to be refreshed in the hearts and minds of all people at this time of turning of the Millenium.
Another cross cultural Cherokee medicine woman is Dhyani Ywahoo and her pamphlet Peacemaking in All Our Relationships In Honor of the Gandhi-King: A Season for Nonviolence A Season That Never Ends—Attributes for Peaceful Living in Our Everyday Lives she writes “Three principles of awakened mind guide enlightened action: will to see the Mystery as it is, intention to manifest one’s purpose for the benefit of all, and courage to do what must be done. . .All peoples, all religions, trace their roots to the one Great Tree of Peace. Through perceiving the common factors of human condition and mind, we see ourselves as relatives in the Family of life….These teachings are like a road map; they guide us to live each day in full recognition of one’s relationship with the world. We are reminded that the power to manifest peace exists in each of us.”
Ultimately I have learned that peace begins within myself, my own inner family and then it can be reflected out to the greater Family of Life. If I have any disowned parts within, they ignite fear, greed, shame, judgment, negativity, addictions and pain. It takes great courage, patience, discernment and communication skills to make peace with unhealthy life patterns, to let them go and forgive one’s self for any involvement and then know how to receive appreciation, validation and approval for life sustaining qualities. I have learned that illness, especially cancer, grows rapidly in the part of our being that has lost voice. What possible benefit can come from a life chapter of dis-ease, imbalance? Finding your unified connection with the highest good, the god of one’s heart; the voice that can only be heard when the mind has been stilled and trust has returned.
Recently another cross-cultural teacher of mine, Dr. Angeles Arrien wrote that “Human beings are here for two reasons: to learn about and express love and to create…Creativity is about bringing the mystery of the deeper feminine into all aspects of life.”…”From a traditional society’s point of view, our gifts and talents come from the mystery, and not bringing our gifts and talents into the world is a way of desacredizing the mystery.” As the interviewer stated, “we need to call upon the part of ourselves that is cloaked in mystery, so that we might shed our cumbersome, limiting patterns of fear and soar to new heights of possibility, thinking, and inspiration.
This often unexplored human potential may be woven with some component of our past that is being called into our present in order to better create our future. “If more people could understand and embrace their deeper gifts,” says Angeles, “then collective wisdom becomes more easily grasped…The more that people show up with their gifts and talents, the more wisdom and creativity they can access. And of course if we follow what has heart and meaning in our lives, we will access what has fire. Fire then, will naturally connect us with more creativity and wisdom, so that we can move out of power-driven society into a wisdom society.”
A small gem of wisdom that has helped me come home to all that I am is that “healing and curing are different.” One can be healed of an imbalance, regain an inspired relationship with life and still pass over. When an individual is cured, all symptoms disappear. It is much easier to be healed and live life fully, moment to moment than to be cured. The only place I can fully be alive is in the present moment. When one has come to the edge of death/the great mystery/the unknown and returned to this physical realm often they are steeped in a knowing that is unequivocally divine.