Native American cultures instinctively knew about everything that we are discovering in science now. Quantum theory, nutritional healing, natural medicine, the microbiome and the plant internet. It’s all there in the traditions if you look for it. The social structures of these cultures inherently understood and practiced the universal truth of masculine/feminine balance, and enjoyed a deeply spiritual connection to each other and rest of the natural world. And then the Europeans came along.
I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota, native home to the Oglala Lakota nation. It's impossible to live here and not feel an abundance of sacred energy. As I am about to embark on learning the basics of clinical herbalism, I can’t help but absorb every piece of information that I can find on the Oglala and their tribal healing practices. I suspect that they know so much more about the truth of nature than is currently available mainstream. In my research so far, the information that I have found points to this. The following is only a glimmer of what Native American culture has given the world...
We write our own story of life. Native cultures utilized signs and symbols to enhance their spirituality and to interpret life. Totems and visions such as animals appearing out of nowhere and a perfectly timed double rainbow cannot help but produce awe even in the most concrete mindset. We create our own mythology based on how we perceive our world. Native wisdom embodied this and psychologist Carl Jung began to unravel the idea with his theory of synchronicity. Jung speculated that there exists a collective unconscious in humanity expressed through archetypal images and ideas where we can attain primal wisdom. Through this knowledge, we begin to understand that there is more to our present existence than meets the eye.
Right now, most of the world is letting society write their story and they don’t even realize it. It might go something like this; Life can be really scary. You have to work really hard doing things you don't like if you want to get ahead. Life is stressful. It's because I'm an introvert. It's because I'm broke. Following my dreams is unrealistic. The terrorists are out to get us! Ebola will kill us all! Zika will kill us all! Trump will save us! Clinton will save us! Conventional medicine will save us!
We need to start asking ourselves; whose story is this? Then choose a new one. The one that is ours. Our deepest one. Yes, it's that simple according to Native wisdom. Believing these cultural myths is a choice. Just because many others make it their reality, doesn't mean we have to. Pretty cool right?
Trees, rocks, the earth, and us...everything in the natural environment is connected energetically and can biochemically heal us. Recently, an article came out in the New Yorker describing the work of Merlin Sheldrake, a British Biologist who has been studying the hyphal connections of fungi to other plant life in forests that is now being dubbed as the plant internet. This research is showing that plant networks communicate with each other and the older plants actually nurture the younger plants to help them grow. Who knew there were plant parents? If this wasn't amazing enough, microbiome researchers have found that not only do humans, soil and plant life have diverse microbial populations, but we also trade beneficial bacteria when needed; a sort of primordial collectivism. So wild, yet totally makes sense! All living things are self-organizing, self-healing ecosystems. It is logical that there would be system-to-system healing as well. Doesn't it make you re-think how we interact as a species with our biggest living co-system, the earth?
The more scientists look, the more they discover that microbiomes are the beating heart of every ecosystem, large and small.
Native American traditions regard nature as the original sacred healer, therefore, they utilize all that is available in an attempt to correct any health issues. They work with and through nature to heal. Indigenous healers never got to the point where they thought they knew better than the inherent intelligence found in the natural environment. Modern healing trends such as earthing and forest bathing are actually rebranded Native American and ancient Eastern spiritual healing techniques. Reverence for nature gave the original tribal healers successful outcomes and they enjoyed peaceful healthy communities. Diabetes and cancer that plague modern natives (and non-natives) are white man's diseases. These health issues didn't exist in their culture prior to adopting the diet and capitalist industrialist lifestyle that Europeans brought over and expanded in America.
Natural plant medicine has virtually no harmful side effects, works and has been used extensively throughout history. Virtually all spiritual traditions utilized plants and herbs at one time or another for acute healing of wounds and other complaints like digestive issues and pain. It's a challenge to find current information on local indigenous pharmacopoeia. In the 1990's a scholarly paper was written on the subject of plant medicine practices at the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. At the time plant medicine healing was virtually non-existent due to overwhelming social issues such as the loss of elders (the ones to who traditionally pass down the oral history), as well as the extinction of plant life (due to the lack of interest in native medicine over the years). But in 2013, the Oglala Lakota College introduced a native herbs course sparking a renaissance of interest and re-education into the practices.
It is also speculated by scholars that many spiritual traditions (including Christianity) used different forms of psychoactive plants. While peyote was often used in Native American practices, many other cultural traditions had their own regional version of this mind-opening plant. Government approved studies have been conducted at John Hopkins University over the past 10 years on the treatment with psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms) on a variety of health conditions. So far, there have been impressive positive results with mental and emotional issues such as; anxiety, OCD and depression as well as significantly improving the mental health of those with terminal illness and cancer.
I even recently ran across an article on my Facebook feed posted by Dave Asprey, CEO of Bulletproof, on psychedelics and microdosing. I'm not sure how this will all play out with the social taboo stigma and legal issues that surround these substances. It will be interesting to keep an eye on. On a related note, The Reality of Truth is a documentary film that delves into this topic. Christian spiritual leader Joel Osteen is shown in the film hinting that manna from heaven may be some type of mushroom. Hmmmm. Moving on...
Being alone with ourselves, taking a journey to our inner world for a period of time produces the greatest positive life transformations. Even today, most modern spiritual thought leaders borrow from Native American ideas. Shapeshifting was integral to transformation and moving closer to spirit in the folklore. Taking on an alternate reality through creative visualization is a profoundly healing experience. When we become too self-focused, we tend to be less compassionate and more rigid in dogmatic beliefs, thus, more susceptible to outward expressions of disease. I like to practice a version of shapeshifting as people, or groups of people. For example, if I'm feeling hurt by someone, I will visualize myself as that person and try to feel out the nuances of that life. It always helps. But, you can also be a rock, an animal, anything you want! As long as it takes you outside of yourself for a period of time, it will have mental and spiritual benefits.
An extended version of this would be the vision quest. The traditional practice usually entailed the seeker to go out into nature alone, without any distractions and stay there until the goal of making contact with spirit has been achieved; usually 3-4 days. Like shapeshifting/creative visualization, there are ways that this ritual has been modernized through such examples as transformation intensives, silent retreats or simply listening to our instinct to go out in nature for a day hike or weekend camping getaway.
With ancient practices such as shapeshifting, the vision quest and meditation, we become open to the idea that multiple realities can exist at one time; this is the gateway to consciousness. This theory is being scientifically realized through studies in quantum physics. There is a felt butting-of-heads between Newtonian/Darwinian materialist scientists in physics and biology with the Quantum set. How do we prove something that goes completely against our current reductionist scientific paradigm? We create a new one.
The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all of its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (The Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. ~ Black Elk
Disclaimer: The author of this site encourages you to consult a doctor before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.Unlike the bulk of Americans today, the Native tribes did not need things to be scientifically proven to them to know that they exist. What is so mind blowing is that how they lived, the way they regarded nature and their role in the web of life is currently being scientifically proven. Makes it hard to not have high respect for their aboriginal wisdom and at the same time, it begs the question; how did we get to our current situation? A place where so many people are disconnected from themselves? Although, I appreciate science in the realm of helping us better understand our world, I often wonder if people don't use it as an excuse to avoid looking inside themselves for answers?
"Well, science says that is wrong, even though 10 years ago they said it was good for you and 30 years before that they said something else. But, now. Now, its bad, so I'm sticking with that." Sounds a bit crazy written in black and white. This idea that science will take care of all of life's mysteries is a problem. A double-edged sword. It takes someone willing to think outside of the accepted doctrine to successfully integrate science and spirituality. Thankfully, more and more of this type keep popping up and contributing to the collective consciousness. I will leave with this quote that pretty much sums up the reason why we need to do our own research, decide for ourselves what is true for us and to fully create and live our own story.
Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all of the time. ~Danny Roddy
Disclaimer: The author of this site encourages you to consult a doctor before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.