Ancient Wisdom: Healing Secrets of the Native Americans

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I am reading Healing Secrets of the Native Americans by Porter Shimer. All quotes in today’s blog are from his book.

Today we look to pharmaceutical companies for our medicine. Native Americans looked to nature, especially the plant world, for remedies and cures. Nature was (and is) their pharmacy. Do you know that a large percentage of modern pharmaceutical products derive their healing abilities from plants common to our environment? One example is aspirin. The ingredients in aspirin are chemically similar to pain relieving compounds found in the bark of the willow tree. For centuries, “Tribes in California used a willow bark  to make tea that relieved back pain (page 116).”

It’s not that early settlers were unaware of Native American use of plants for medicinal purposes. In 1650, Dutch explorer Adrian van der Donck wrote, “The Indians know how to cure very dangerous and perilous wounds and sores by roots, leaves and other little things (page 10).” And in 1714 John Lawson wrote in his History of North Carolina: ” Among all the discoveries of America by the French and Spaniards, I wonder why none of them was so kind to the world as to have kept a catalog of the illnesses they found the natives able to cure (page 10).”

So why didn’t the early (or later) settlers keep track of this information, or at least adopt Native American remedies? Unfortunately it was because most of them incorrectly and rashly viewed Native Americans  as ‘ignorant savages’. What a tragic mistake! They would have benefitted, even on a personal level, from learning this Native American wisdom. It was left to our later scientists to re-discover what Native Americans had known for thousands of years. It makes me wonder, what other ‘Ancient Wisdom’ have we not yet re-discovered?

Ancient Wisdom: Wisdom from the Blackfeet Nation

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By late November, 2012 I decided to cancel my cable TV. I had the cheapest package available, $30.00 a month for about thirty-some channels. So I bought a digital antenna and connected it to my TV. I now have access to over twenty channels and, much to my surprise, four of them are associated with WTTW, my all time favorite. Sometimes signals fade, but I patiently wait until the station comes back. Most of the time it is not a problem.

So one day I was checking out my new line of digital channels when I came across a new one, FNX. At first I confused it with FX, but this was FNX. As I watched I realized that every show was oriented toward American Indians and other indigenous cultures. The light dawned! FNX stood for First Nation Experience. It features indigenous cultures exclusively. I watch it periodically and I can tell you it has expanded my awareness of indigenous issues and taught me much about cultures I knew nothing about. If you get it, I highly recommend it. The subject of this blog is based on a segment of one of those programs.

Not long ago I was watching FNX and a woman who is the Chairperson for the Blackfeet Nation in Montana came on. The host of the show exchanged pleasantries with her and then asked her to explain the importance of the Circle in terms of family life in her tribe. Her comments follow:

At the center of the circle is the child. There are many helpful circles around this child. The inner circle is the mother. The mother is responsible for the health and welfare of that little child. If the child needs attention and the mother is not around, the second circle takes over. In the second circle are the aunts and older cousins. Likewise there is a third circle consisting of the grandmothers. The fourth circle is made up of uncles. The fifth circle belongs to the grandfathers. The outer circle belongs to the father. While each inner circle ultimately supports the child, the father protects all of the family members within his circle.

As the child grows, cousins an aunts help educate the child in regard to customs and the child’s responsibility to the family and the tribe. In the teen years the grandmothers take over, making sure the child becomes more responsible and well behaved. Ultimately the uncles, grandfathers and father help educate the child as well. Of course this is true for all children in the tribe, girls as well as boys, and creates a wonderful network of family support for each of them. This is a wonderful family concept. It’s more intricate than any family structure I have heard of.

Next Blog: Journey – The ancestry of my heart TLC issue

Ancient Wisdom – Spirit Guides

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Like shamanism itself, the idea of communicating with spirit guides dates back at least 40,000 to 50,000 years. While this idea has fallen out of favor in Western civilization, it has persisted in various places throughout the world even to this day.

When I went to grammar school I learned that each of us have a Guardian Angel. As the prayer to the Guardian Angel stated, they were there “to light, to guard, to rule and to guide” us. Over the years I noticed that I got good ideas from my inner voice, but I never focused on my guardian angel as much as I should have. In fact I sometimes ignored the good ideas, and later regretted it.

As I ‘matured’ I learned the value of paying attention to that voice. The more you listen for it, the more likely you are to hear it. As you know, in shamanic practice that inner voice may represent a message from a power animal as well as a human-form spirit teacher, or perhaps our guardian angel as well. Yet most Western people today think of spirit guides as something that are imaginary. It’s unfortunate. As human beings we have predispositions to make decisions in a certain way, limiting the variety of our choices. When we listen to spirit guides, we open our hearts and minds to a greater variety of possibilities and therefore a greater number of positive outcomes.

Sometime after Marilyn died in 1998, I read a book about souls, reincarnation and the time between lives. I read it again recently. Titled Journey of Souls, by Dr. Michael Newton, it was based upon his experience using hypnotherapy and life regression techniques to help his patients. He accidentally discovered patients who described previous lifetimes in great detail, and sometimes the past life contained answers to their current problems. He decided to specialize in past life regression and as a result wrote the book which was based on hundreds of such cases.

One chapter is titled “Our Guides”. On page 107 Dr. Newton states, “I have never worked with a subject in trance [past life regression] who did not have a personal guide.” He went on to write that most people have more than just one guide and that different guides possess different attributes, each of which are useful to the person they are helping. The doctor found that each guide has a name and that while some names are ‘ordinary’ by our standards, some are whimsical sounding or even unusual. I can personally attest to the unusual name because one of my guides, whom I refer to as the Ancient One, told me his name once and I had to ask him to repeat it a couple of times before I could figure it out. It’s not like any other name I know.

The doctor’s conclusions were that guides are highly helpful beings; none of his clients ever feared their guide. The guides also give us a positive outlook on Self that helps us in our mundane world. He says that it is easiest for us to hear the guides ‘voice’ if we are relaxed but focused and open to hearing the message.

While not associated with any form of shamanic practice, the doctor’s statements affirm my personal experiences with spirit guides. I also find it interesting to note that the shamanic journey itself provides us with a relaxed but focused method of communicating with our spirit friends. As with any practice, the more frequently we journey to the spirit world, the more worthwhile our experiences will be.

Next blog – I don’t know what it will be yet. I’m waiting for inspiration. Come on, helpful spirits!

Ancient Wisdom: “What Plants Talk About” (from PBS Nature Series)

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Plants are not animals but behave like them: they have no eyes or ears but find their own food; they have the ability to defend themselves; they have no brain but cooperate with, communicate with or compete with their neighbors; and they nurture their young.

All plants are complex and have complex feeding behaviors. They hunt with their roots – 80% of their nutrients are below ground. They forage, feeding on delicacies they discover. This is the plant version of hunting.

The wild tobacco plant, when attacked by hornworm caterpillars, emits chemicals to attract caterpillar predators. In one case they produce daytime flowers which attract hummingbirds that eat the caterpillars. When one tobacco plant is attacked, nearby plants ramp up their protective chemicals even through they have not yet been attacked.

Competition. We know that plants vie with each other to get sunlight. But one, spotted nap weed, fights underground by emitting chemicals that kill nearby native plants. In turn, lupin grass launches chemicals that kill nap weed but protects the native plants.

Animals use kin recognition. So does the plant called the sea rocket. It sends out fewer roots when its siblings are starting to grow nearby, but grows many more roots when other plants invade their area. This kin recognition is accomplished through chemicals emitted by their roots.

The Douglas fir tree can grow for approximately 1,000 years if left undisturbed, and it nurtures its young, even young which may be growing beyond the reach of the mother’s roots. The mother tree sends nourishment to the saplings through a network of roots and organic material that surround the mother as well as the saplings. Fungi colonize the tree’s roots and unite many trees in an organic feeding system. The nutrients are passed from the roots to the fungi which passes them to other fungi and eventually the roots of the saplings. Carbon is one of the elements passed in this manner.

The existence of this system was proven by scientists who covered the branch of a mature Douglas fir in a plastic bag. Then they injected radioactive carbon into the bag. The next day they returned with a geiger counter. They found that the system of roots and fungi around the injected tree were radioactive. They traced the radioactivity to the trees nearby and found that the branches of these trees, especially the younger ones, were now radioactive.

The question scientists are working on now is “How can plants do this without a brain?” Their theory is that the plants are interconnected by a neural highway that we have not yet discovered.

If you believe in the ancient saying, “As Above, So Below and As Below, So Above”, the findings of these scientists point to an interconnection of all life that has been spoken of by spiritual and religious leaders for thousands of years. This raises the question of whether plants and humans can communicate. Can we tap into the plants’ theoretical’ neural highway? We’ll look into this issue in a future blog.

Next blog: Day #2 of Shamanism and Creation

Ancient Wisdom: Brain Waves

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According to Wikipedia, brain waves were first discovered in the early 1900’s. Alpha waves were discovered first (thus the name). The other three types of waves were discovered later. In descending order, beta waves (14 to 30 cycles per second) are where we spend our waking or fully conscious state; alpha (8 to 13 cps) occur when we are relaxed with our eyes closed; theta (4 to 7 cps) are the level where people have psychic experiences like astral travel; and delta (0 to 3 cps) occurs when we are in deep, dreamless sleep or unconscious (source: http://www.sleepdisordersguide.com).

Although ancient people did not express thoughts about brainwaves, they understood the importance of entering into a trance state in order to experience what they referred to as the spirit world. They entered the theta state through rituals that included the use of drums and/or rattles beaten at the theta rate. Perhaps this was accidental. Perhaps it was at the urging of helpful spirits. Regardless of how it happened, it became a common practice for people throughout the world thousands or tens of thousands of years before electricity and modern medicine were invented. Modern science is only recently catching up to this ancient knowledge and it has yet to officially recognize the importance of the theta brain wave connection to the spirit world.

As with all shamanic practices, spirit walking is evolving over time. In the past it was used to primarily to find food and the other necessities of living. But times have changed. The quote which follows is from Awakening to the Spirit World, page 19:

“By comparison today, we see a wide range of people integrating shamanic practices into their lives. More and more people of today’s world are beginning to realize that the path of direct revelation brings us into relationship with the world of things hidden, through which we may learn that everything that exists is alive and has a spirit (and a voice), and that there is a field of energy that connects us to all of life. This awareness is shared by tribal shamans at one end of the human continuum and by quantum physicists and Zen Buddhists at the other.”

How will we use this knowledge? While it is up to us to decide, the most obvious, and beneficial, conclusion is that we must use it to improve ourselves and our world. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new age where the concerns of materialism and ego will be set aside in favor of creating a world where the needs of all people are met, where all people work together for the common good of mankind. I hope so. If I knew how to add audio to this post, I’d end with John Lennon’s song, Imagine.

Let me know if you enjoy reading about Ancient Wisdom (below). Thank you.

Ancient Wisdom – Life on Earth

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I read that some Hawaiian people believe they are descended from ancestors who came from a group of stars named the Pleiades. The Pleiades are located near the constellation Taurus and can only be seen in the northern hemisphere in winter. Also known as the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades are about 440 light years away. I find this Hawaiian idea interesting and thought provoking. However I realize that this idea would have been ridiculed when I was a child. Back then, before space travel and modern astronomy, people thought that such ideas were primitive fairy tales. They knew exactly how the Earth had been created, in seven days, as described in the Bible.

A couple of months ago I saw an online article in Yahoo News about an Astrobiologist named Professor Charles S. Cockell. The professor read about Moore’s law, the one that says the complexity of computers increases, by doubling the number of transistors per integrated circuit, every two years. He read how a mathematician had used Moore’s law in reverse and determined that computers began in 1960, just after the first microchips were invented. Professor Cockell decided to use the law to see how long ago all biological life had been created. The Professor substituted neucleotides for transistors and genetic material for circuits. His result indicated that all life began about 10 billion years ago.

Since the age of the Earth has been estimated at 4.5 billion years, it meant life existed in the universe before the creation of earth. So was new life created here or did it come from somewhere else, and if so, how? Many scientists now believe that life on Earth began when meteorites from other parts of the universe crashed onto our planet. Inside the meteorites were bacterial spores. Once on Earth, these spores grew and became the building blocks of life here. Maybe the Hawaiians were right all along.

Perhaps the knowledge of ‘modern man’ isn’t as new and highly advanced as we think it is. As you probably know, there other examples of Ancient Wisdom being supported by modern science. If you know of some, leave a comment and I’ll include them when we explore more Ancient/modern ideas in future blogs on this subject.

Next blog: More journeys and a special gift from the Ancient One

Ancient Wisdom

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In every age, mankind thinks that it’s ideas are the most modern, the most correct and that people of past times were primitives who knew nothing and lived less valuable existences than modern man. We of the twenty-first century are also guilty of this false belief.

Starting next week I am adding a new category to my blog called Ancient Wisdom. It will be for periodic posts that will relate modern day knowledge and science with the legends and beliefs of our ancestors. Topics will include the beginning of life on Earth,  the unity of all creation and other topics which will demonstrate that our ancestors are far more intelligent than we have been taught.

I hope in this way to honor our ancestors whether they are connected to us genetically, energetically or spiritually. They pave the way for us. If we are lucky, we will meet them when we journey and can thank them for past, present and future help to mankind.

May our ancestors continue to bless us all!

PJM

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