Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Shamans Past and Present

Wuan Geronimo Flores

Wuan Geronimo Flores claims to have inherited the gift of his great grandfather, Geronimo: the ability to heal through the movement of energy. Flores has the capacity to speed up his own energy, and to transfer this quickened force into a patient, thereby, helping a person to become spiritually centered, so that their ailments can disappear.

Flores does not need to know the nature of a person’s illness, because symptoms are physical manifestions, and Flores works on a more subtle level. He will look beyond appearances to get to the root of a problem. He says of his work: "The healing, which incorporates Native American and universal [principles], takes place in a sacred space. This is the part of an individual’s home that is special to them, a place they gravitate to, where they feel the most secure and comfortable. We go to that place and the person lies down. Ever since I was a child, one of my talents has been getting people to relax deeply by putting them in a trance-like state. Then there is the actual moving of energy, the speeded up energy from my body going into theirs. All the while I am concentrating on the individual, and that can be achieved through different ways: through chants, prayers, or just through central focusing.

"This is very visual for me. I start seeing a picture of the person. As I concentrate, the image of the person gets transposed, until there are nothing but stars floating in space. I see the exact same body, only now it is made of nothing but starts. I see metallic dots of blue, silver, purple and black filling up the space and raining down on the person. The colors are calming and cooling, almost as if they are utilizing a certain frequency for the person’s relaxation. Once a person has calmed down--they may even fall asleep--the energies that they were holding on to are easily released.

"I will see different things, depending on the person. One man had AIDS, although I didn’t ask him what he had or how he got it. But on an energy level, he looked like a meteorite, an astroid, a cavern. He was submerged in a swamp, with tiny pollens ticking away from the inside. That’s what his body was going against.

"Once that was removed, his body naturally healed itself by reproducing cells that he needed to get rid of the disease. And sure enough, about two weeks later, his cell count went from 4 to 300.

"So,that’s what I do. I work as a guide, and I work on avery deep level. My aim is to release energy blockages so that a person’s own energy can take over and restore balance."

Native American Healing

Introduction to the Shaman from Native American Healing

Native American Healers


The Shaman

Unlike western cultures, where people choose whether or not they want to become doctors, a person receives a calling to become a shaman or medicine person. Sometimes this ability runs in families, and other times one naturally feels summoned to enter into this work. John Grim, author of Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway explains that the term shaman refers to a practitioner, from an indigenous culture, who has had an exceptional experience of the cosmic power that pervades the world. These individuals are able to bring this power into rituals to affect healing experiences.


Often healers experience some illness in their youth that leads them to be withdrawn and introspective, and causes them to seek out their advice of an elder. The person will become reflective and begin to feel a special obligation towards the work of helping others. This is a tremendous responsibility. A person must develop and maintain a special relationship with the spirit world, and bring that special relationship with spirit to the person or situation in need.


Many times, the shaman will receive revelations concerning particular objects to be used in rituals. These can vary and may include something from nature, a song, or a combination. Items can accumulate over a period of years, and are known as medicine bundles. But medicine bundles are seen as more than material objects; they are a collection of experiences. More specifically, these represent encounters with the sacred world that have been revealed through particular objects.


Medicine bundles are very personal and private, and meaningful only within a cultural context. Grim notes that it is inappropriate for non-Native peoples to place medicine bundles in museum out of curiosity, as these are an integral part of tribal identity and transporting them from a people would inflict deep wounds upon their heritage and identity. Besides, outsiders can never fully appreciate their significance. However, it may be appropriate for non-Native people to try and understand the significance of medicine bundles to Indian cultures to increase an awareness and respect for their customs and traditions.


Plants play an important role among medicine objects. Many indigenous healing practitioners had a profound understanding of local plantlife based on a sacred classification. In other words, they understood how one should approach a plant, which parts of which plants are to be used for treating specific maladies, and the idea of reciprocity, respecting the plant as a being of equal worth, being thankful for its help, and leaving an offering, such as a prayer, for the plant that is taken. A deep intimacy of exchange exists at all times.


The understanding of how a shaman functions is difficult for people of western cultures to understand, as their views of the world are so different. Yet it is something most people today need and yearn for. Grim explains: "What makes the shaman’s role so fascinating, in the late twentieth century, is the cosmological setting in which a shaman functions, namely, shamans bring people into the presence of the spirit beings who are in the world and in the cosmos. This is something very beautiful. It’s so difficult for us to understand in mainstream America where our cosmology, for the most part, is either the story of Genesis or the story of science. While the Genesis story is seen as very meaningful for Christians who hold that as their cosmology, it does not have the immediacy of entry into their daily life. It’s a cosmology which tells where the world came from, and perhaps explains early parents, the fall, why women suffer in childbirth, and why we were driven out of the garden. But it is not a cosmology that brings spiritual presences to our lives today. It’s a story that explains. The scientific cosmology is also an explanatory story, but one without interest in sacred or spiritual meaning. Scientists are reflective, but they work within certain limits. Their cosmology is a description of the world as it appears to them through their empirical observation.


"We live in this world, then, where the cosmologies that are available to us provide no intimacy. And yet we experience constant intimacies with this seasonal world, with this world of resources, with the clothes that we wear on our back. I want to suggest that the human is constantly interacting with this world. And our interaction demands some respect and attention. That attention can be trivialized or it can be deepened. And shamans are personalities who live in deepened relationship with their cosmology, and who assist their people to deepen their own personal and community relations with the world around them.


"We yearn for that in mainstream America. We yearn for intimacies of exchanges with our world. Does that mean we become Native Americans? That’s a foolish thought. It means we need to recover our own cosmology. Well, what is our cosmology? I think that’s what we need to re-explore. We yearn to recover that shamanic presence, that capacity to literally draw healing capacities from an exchange with the world around us, to literally heal our communities. Environmental degradation is woven right into these questions we’re talking about. One reason why Native people are connected with this issue is that they have intimacies with their homeland. They have regard for that mountain, desert, body of water. When one reverences something, quite often one doesn’t trash it. So, these natural exchanges between a people and the life setting in which they find themselves, those individuals called shamans, I tend to see as a mode or way of being that all people are being called to recover. We are being called to bring this sense of wonder back into our daily lives. So, the shamanic journey is not simply someone sitting with a drum, or a group of people withdrawing and taking drugs in order to get into some altered state. The shamanic personality is a challenge to the late twentieth century to recover right relationships with our bioregions, to begin to understand the earth again as something that has always nourished us. It will continue to provide for us. But it also needs our care and concern. That is the shamanic ritual now."

Native American Healing

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Standing up against Stereo Typing

I have reluctantly watched television at times and see the stereo typing of many races of people and of their culture.  


The African American people were able to finally deter many of their portrayals in the media but I do not think there has been very much "standing ground" overall amoung the Native American people as represnted in the media, and what is mentioned usually involves the word "casino".  


I do not mean that as a people we have not protested the abuse and use of the Native and their lands, but there are times that a certain commercial and of "native" portrayal or culture will just bother me as the following letter states that I sent to Subway today.  


Dear sirs,  


I have never taken the time to write with my concerns related to television commercials until now.  


I am one quarter Seminole. I am also an army "brat" and lived in Alaska for four years with the Eskimo people which also happen to be Native American.  


The commercial that you have advertising the "hot" subway sandwich being delivered to an igloo with what are supposed to be an Eskimo family portrays what appear to be a people of Asian or Oriental dissent and not of the Native American Eskimo people and or of their living conditions in Alaska.  


Both portrayals are incorrect and offensive. I request that you portray all races of people with their correct heritage and that you portray their society as it is without the stereo types. Eskimo's do not "live" in snow Igloos nor do they look Oriental or Asian.  


Thank you.