Spiritual Healing the Native American Way With Herbs and Other Spiritual Helpers
Dream Catchers are Spiritual Tools
Heal the Spirit
Spiritual healing the Native American way with herbs goes beyond the physical health to reache the core of the illness or disease. For one to be healed physically, the spirit of that person must be healed - and this is where the spiritual healer, medicine man, or medicine woman will begin.
This simply means that in order to be healed, one must obtain harmony and balance within body, mind and soul. One must also have the desire to be healed and the belief that the healing method will work . If the belief, the faith, is not there, then the healing may not work.
Before you can heal your body from illness and disease, you must arrive at the place where you can heal your spirit. You must be ready to be healed and believe that the method you have chosen will work for you.
There are many different reasons why one needs healing and different ways to achieve that goal. Generally, when we think of 'healing' we are thinking of the physical body and its ailments. There is also the psychological perspective.
Healing of the mind or emotions is no less important than making sure your body is functioning and working properly. The most important need of healing is that of the spirit. If the spirit is broken or lost, there is no help for the mind and body until the spirit is restored.
Depression can Break the Spirit
Lost Soul Retrieval
There have been cases where a medicine man or woman or a spiritual leader have been called upon to retrieve a lost soul and bring it back to the body so the person can heal and function as they used to.
This has been done when there is suffering from depression or other soul damaging illnesses. A 'soul damaging' illness is any illness that has broken the spirit and has left one incapable of functioning mentally or emotionally.
It is important to realize that within the Native American cultures, there are many different tribes. Each tribe is very unique unto themselves. Their healing beliefs and rituals vary with each tribe and with each healer. So, this is general information on healing in the Native American way.
The use of herbs for healing is an ancient practice. Archaeologists have found that cultures from the earliest of times learned to appreciate nature's plants for not only a food source, but their healing qualities as well.
Understanding the secrets of nature is the first step in learning how to heal with herbs. This is the oldest form known to humankind of caring for one's health. Herbs are an essential part of traditional healing.
There is a plethora of herbal remedies that have been used by people since time immemorial. Herbs have been used by ancient peoples all over the world for healing. There are at least 35,000 plants and herbs that can be used for medicinal purposes - yet even the greatest of spiritual leaders and healers do not stretch their knowledge and powers too thin by trying to learn all of the herbs and their uses.
A great deal of the power of herbs depends on where they grow. It is wise to use herbs for healing that grow in your own local area because they have the properties to deal with specific diseases and illnesses pertaining to the area they grow in.
Sacred White Sage
Southern California near the San Bernardino Mountains was the home of the Cahuilla people. They lived off the land and gathered plants, roots, seeds and tree parts. The women made a tea from roots of the sage.
This medicinal tea was given to women after they gave birth, to help them heal and gain their strength back. The healers also burned the sage leaves in rituals and general purification purposes. The smoke from the leaves warded off evil spirits and other negativity. Both white sage and purple sage are used for rituals or teas. White sage is highly prized and sacred to Native Americans.
Respect and Prayer
Native Americans treat the herbs with great respect and pray to the spirit of the plant to release their powers of healing. They then give a prayer of gratitude before gathering parts of the plant. They never take more than what is needed and do not take all they need from one plant, but choose several plants to take a little from each.
They also do not take from the "Elder" plant, which is the largest and oldest of the group, for it is from the Elder that all the others receive life.
Pharmaceuticals treat the symptoms of a disease. They often do not treat the underlying cause of the illness. The Native American healer uses herbal remedies and soul searching in such a way that treats the person.
Prior to any healing ceremony, the healer will converse with the patient and his or her family to find out exactly what the person’s life is like and what their emotional or psychological problems are. They then treat the person by preparing an herbal remedy that will heal the underlying cause which in turn eliminates the symptoms.
In addition to the sacred herbs a Native American healer uses, there are many other spiritual tools (or helpers) used. From ancient times these spiritual tools are an integral part of healing in the Native American way.
Spiritual helpers are ancestral spirits, animal totems, the spirits of nature - spirits who give guidance and wisdom. Great Spirit, The Great Wisdom, Wakan Tanka, The Great Sacred, The Creator, is the One the healer prays to and asks for guidance and does so in each direction of The Four Winds, the Sky and Mother Earth - these are the six Sacred Directions.
Receiving Medicine Power ~
I cured with the power that came through me. Of course, it was not I who cured, it was the power from the Outer World, the visions and the ceremonies had only made me like a hole through which the power could come to the two-leggeds." "If I thought that I was doing it myself, the hole would close up and no power could come through. Then everything I could do would be foolish.— Nicholas Black Elk - Oglala Sioux
Totems and Imaging
Totems (animal spirit, power animal) are personal animal symbols that provide courage, strength and wisdom to the spirit.
The totem is discovered on the person's vision quest, usually when still a child. It can also be a symbol of the entire clan, tribe or a family. Totems act as guides for the person's entire life.
A person may have more than one totem to be called upon for different situations (IE: bear for courage and strength; deer for nurturing; beaver for determination; buffalo for sacredness, abundance, great strength; badger for courage, aggressiveness, healing). Even though different totems may be used throughout life, there is always the one main totem that is for life - the one that a person will always communicate with for both physical and spiritual purposes.
Imaging is used by a medicine man or woman or spiritual leader when healing. They use imaging to do away with the disease - for instance, imagining Badger digging out the diseased part, then to imagine Eagle carrying away the diseased part or the evil forces that trapped the spirit.
Eagle is Sacred to Native Americans
Another form of healing is the vision quest.
A young Native American who goes on a vision quest does so with the intention of gaining wisdom, courage and a higher level of status within himself or herself, the family and the tribe or clan. It is a spiritual quest.
To prepare for a vision quest, one must fast prior to leaving on their journey. They then seek a place in nature that feels right for their quest and sit down. Often, all they have is a blanket to wrap up in. They will not eat or drink anything and just focus on their spirituality and wait for an image to come to them.
Throughout their lives, a Native American may go on a vision quest in order to help understand an issue or problem they are facing. Their spiritual image (totem) will often give them the answers they are seeking.
Vision Quest is not to be Taken Lightly
Enter Into the Silence
Often, in silence is the only way to hear - to listen to the voice of your soul. One sometimes must quiet the mind and push away any outside noise in order to listen to the silence and eventually the inner voice, which is one's spiritual guide. To be in the silence, to be the silence may give one the answer needed.
© 2010 Phyllis Doyle Burns