Herbs, Magic and the American Indian

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Good Morning!  or Afternoon!

I’ll be giving away a free e-book of your choice (except SENECA SURRENDER, which is not released yet) to some lucky blogger.  So come on in and join in the discussion.

With the advent of modern technology (I was just reading an article about vaccines and nanotechnology implants and how microchips — or nanochips can be added to vaccines).  I read both viewpoints (good and bad) and looked at all the things that can go wrong (or right), and I thought it might be prudent as well as a little fun to have a look at herbs, American Indian style.

I guess there’s always been “black magic.”  Many years ago I met someone who had at one time been a witch (not a good one), who had seen the error of her ways and had changed her whole life.   It was the first time I had run head on with the fact that there really is “good magic,” and “bad magic.”  Good magic would of course promote health and the feeling of well-being.  It would aid one in survival and help one’s family and friends.  Black magic would of course be the opposite.  It would promote death and destruction of oneself, one’s family and friends.  Perhaps even of the whole human race.  In some ways I view this nano technology when it is married with vaccines as a bit of black magic.

Getting back to Native American, however, from different studies I’ve done, it’s now pretty apparent to me that there were witches and people (men and women) who engaged in the black arts in most of Native America.  Witches were feared and if one were suspected of being a witch, one might be driven out of the tribe.  Medicine men (or women) often countered the “spells” of those whose intentions were hardly helpful.  Often in order to counter these “spells,” they used herbs.  They also used song, and the power of one’s personality and wit to drive out the evil spirits.

I’ve often thought there was something very different and very special about the American Indian medicine man.  (Medicine in Native America meant originally mystery to do certain things, often having to do with healing or helping others.)  After reading much about them and about many of the cures that they delivered, I’ve begun to think of them in a very special way, indeed.  Often they were called upon to counter an evil spell, to heal the sick, to foresee the future for the tribe or war party.  They were generally very able not only in their physical body and mind, but in spirit.

But getting back to the original subject, which is herbs and “magic,” did you know that these medicine men or women, when going hunting for herbs, would first prepare their baskets (where they place those plants they had picked).  The baskets would be sprinkled with tobacco and would remain this way overnight.

Early the next morning the medicine man or woman would pray — actually all the American Indian tribes I’ve studied prayed first thing in the morning.    Then in the crisp autumn morning, the medicine man or woman would start on his/her journey to hunt for herbs.  The medicine man or woman would bring bundles of tobacco or wampum, beads, silver ornaments, quilled bands — many different things to offer as a sacrifice to the spirit of the plant.

They collected many different things — apple roots, hickory bark, sassafras, mandrake, prickly ash, wintergreen, elder bark, golden seal, ginseng, male fern, mint, sheep sorel, witch hazel, spruce, boneset.  The way in which the plant was picked was also important.  If one wanted its medicine to work and to cure, then one spoke to the plant first.  It was the Seneca prophet, Handsome Lake who is quoted as saying, “Now let this be your ceremony when you wish to employ the medicine in a plant:  First offer tobacco, then tell the plant in gentle words what you desire of it, and then pluck it from the roots.  It is said in the upper world that it is not right to take a plant for medicine without first talking to it.”

Can you imagine Big Industry to do that today?

Often the medicine man or woman would chante a song, singing to the plant to tell it what one intended and to let the plant know that seeds would be planted so that the plant would continue to live.  Then when the plant was at last pulled, its seeds would be planted, as one had promised the plant.  Only in this way would the plant help to remedy the ills that would often befall those in the tribe.

Did you know that prior to the white man coming to this continent, there were no contagious diseases in America, except maybe one or two.  It was also believed that the air, sun, pure water and exercise were remedies for many common ills.  Many thought of sunlight as food, thus, when the white man came, blocking himself off from the sun by wearing so many clothes, the American Indian considered him unintelligent, and was not surprised when he seemed sickly and ill.

Of course now we know that Vitamin D3 comes mainly from the sun — and nutritionalists are finding this vitamin (D3) to help in so many of our modern ills.

The medicine man or woman would bring his precious find back to his home and would dry them, being careful not to let any impure person come near them.  Medicine men and women were often very successful.  But whether it was because of their herbs, their personal power or a certain magic that they developed over time, is hard to discern.

But I thought, after reading about this nano-technology and those who would seek to profit from this technology by subjecting another to his whims (against the other person’s will), it might be nice to look at those things that help, those remedies that heal and those things that have been with man probably as long as there has been a man alive.  Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s blog and hope you’ll come on in and leave me a message, maybe quoting things (remedies) that help to bring hope and happiness and well being to those in one’s care.

On October 27th, SENECA SURRENDER, will be released — and so I thought I would leave you with an excerpt concerning a particular herb, from the book.

SENECA SURRENDER by Karen Kay — an excerpt

 

Her touch was as cold as a blizzard in the dead of winter. He reached out for her, but she giggled and moved out of his grasp.

He followed her. “Wait for me,” he called, but she had the advantage of floating over the grasses and tree trunks.

She stopped suddenly, allowing him to catch up to her. She gazed up at him and smiled, her round and pretty face mirroring her delight. Then she pointed to the plant that grew directly beneath her feet.

He recognized that plant. It was one his grandmother had often collected. Its root was used for…

He awoke from his sleep suddenly. Where was he?

Glancing around him, he realized he had never left the cave. It had been a dream, of course. Looking up, he took note of Little Autumn in the foreground, working over the fire, and he sighed.

Ah, she was beautiful..

She was stoking the flames of the blaze in an effort to cook something, which smelled very much like a stew. The aroma of it was intoxicating and rich with the scents of bone broth, wild spices and fresh herbs, and as he inhaled deeply, his stomach growled.

Narrowing his gaze on her, he studied this woman more closely. Her beauty was, indeed, without comparison, and remembering all she had told him earlier, he found it singularly odd that, indentured servitude or not, she had never married.

Her hair had escaped the knot she’d used to tie it back, and golden-blonde tendrils fell in loose ringlets around her face. Her dress was simple, a casual affair consisting of a tight-laced structure that made her waist look as if he might span it with his hands. Petticoats that were stiff and hooped on the side brought her a measure of dignity, though the front of her gown was dangerously low at her chest, beneath which her nipples played an enticing game of peek-a-boo with him.

A curl bounced around her face while she worked, and he knew a desire to twirl its softness around his finger so he could study the differences in its color, from pale blonde to tawny to daffodil. She was a delicately built woman, small and feminine, and without consciously willing it, his loins stirred to life as he watched her at her task.

To counter the effect she was having on him, he sat up, yawned and stretched. “I believe I know how to keep you from becoming pregnant.”

She clasped her hand to her chest and sent him a surprised look. “You gave me a fright, sir. I didn’t know you were awake.”

“I have roused myself only recently.”

“Yes, you have been asleep for some time. I’m glad you were able to rest easily and long. I have meanwhile made us a soup for our supper. There were many roots and vegetables that you collected, and I have used some of them.”

“It smells like a feast, and I am hungry.”

She picked up one of the shells that he had fashioned into a bowl and using it, scooped out some soup. “Shall I bring the stew to you?”

“I can come there to you.” He struggled to get to his feet. It wasn’t as easy as he’d thought it would be, and he had almost collapsed before she rushed to his side to steady him.

“What are you thinking?” she scolded. “You need rest in order to recover. One would suppose, the way you are acting, that you battle with bears daily.”

He smiled. “Almost.”

She helped him to sit back upon his bed, then straightened the blanket and pine boughs around him. “I’ll bring you the soup.”

“Good.” He shut his eyes. “Good.”

She was gone only a moment. “Careful,” she said as he made to take the shell full of broth and vegetables out of her hands. “It’s hot.”

He grinned at her and caressed her fingers as he accepted the shell. When she didn’t pull away, he stared straight into the depths of her gentle blue eyes, as though by doing so, he might see into her soul.

He murmured, “I was watching you as you worked.”

“Were you, sir?”

“Yes.”

“And what did you see?”

“A beautiful woman. A woman I would like to spend the rest of my life with, if only things were different.”

She gazed away from him. “But they are not different.” She pulled her hand away from his. “Do you like the soup?”

He took a sip. It was very good. “You spoke true. You are an excellent cook.”

She smiled at him, and as she did so, it was as if the sun shone upon him, even in this dark and dreary cave. It was the sort of grin that made him feel as if he were seventeen again, complete with all the wild impulses of the very young. So lovely was she, he might likely die a happy man to simply look at her.

Upon that thought, he drank the rest of the soup without once dropping his gaze from hers. Indeed, with his eyes, he caressed her. At last, the stew was gone, and he handed the shell back to her.

“Would you like some more?”

Nyoh, yes, please.” He watched as she came up to her feet and stepped toward the fire, admiring the feminine sway of her hips as she moved. When she returned, he again caught her hand, only this time he didn’t let it go. “I have found a remedy for one of our problems.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, I have come to realize there is a root that grows with profusion in these woods, and that, if I prepare it in the correct manner, it might well keep you from becoming pregnant. I used to watch my grandmother make medicine from these roots. Hopefully, it is not too late in the season for me to find this plant and pull it up, roots and all. I will begin a search for it as soon as I’m able.”

As he stared at her, he took note of the rosy color flooding her countenance, even as she glanced away from him. But she didn’t withdraw her hand from his.

In due time, he said, “In my dreams, Wild Mint showed me this root. I had forgotten it. But I was never apt at learning all that my grandmother knew, though she did try to instruct me.”

Sarah frowned at him. “It is a shame your grandmother wasn’t able to teach you all of her skills. I’m certain she knew much more about these things than I will ever know. But, sir, I would like to note an observation.”

He nodded.

“Has it ever come to your attention that you speak of Wild Mint as if she were a living being?”

“Indeed I do. That is because she does live, but no longer in the flesh…”

 

SENECA SURRENDER — Due for release October 27th, 2016.  The presale is on.  Pick up your copy at:

http://www.amazon.com/Seneca-Surrender-Warriors-Karen-Kay-ebook/dp/B01M3QAE67/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477331109&sr=1-1&keywords=seneca+surrender+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

Seneca Surrender Gen Bailey 3 Web

Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.

18 Comments

  1. I love the study of herbs and how they had been used. I enjoyed your post and the excerpt very much.

  2. Hi Debra! Thank you so very much!

  3. This post is very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Many of the drugs in use today were originally derived from a plant source. Prior to that, the roots, leaves, seeds and bark of plants and trees were used to treat illness. I have great respect for herbal medicine, but it is not innocuous and can cause harm if prepared/used/stored incorrectly. As with any medicine, herbal or pharmaceutical, you need extensive training and knowledge to use it well and accurately.

  5. Hi Karen!

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this. Yes, one needs to be informed on the useage and prep. of herbs, etc. Some seeds (like the beans of the castor plant) are extremely poisonous in even small amounts. It’s a plant, but deadly. So I do believe this is why your medicine man or woman was trained in this so thoroughly.

  6. As always, Karen, this is a fascinating post! I remember several times when I was young (and home from school because of a cold) my father would tell me that I needed to sit out in the warm sunshine for a part of the day instead of staying in bed. It always made me feel better too!

    Love the excerpt!

    1. Hi Kathryn!

      Wow! What a great thing for him to tell you. Do you think the remedy might have something to do with vitamin D3? I’m going to remember this advice. Thanks Kathryn!

  7. I always love reading your post!!! I guess I need to get out in the sun more. I take a Calcium supplement with Vitamin D3 in it. Looking forward to your new book too!!!!!

    1. Hi Arlene!

      Isn’t that an interesting fact to dig up in research? That the American Indian considered the sun “food.” And it really is — not only to plant life, but to us, too. Hard to get that D3 from other sources. But that’s why, when the American Indians first confronted these strange people who dressed in such a way that they starved themselves of the nourishment of the sun — well, they thought those people were a little silly. : )

  8. There is much to be learned from history and the lessons they learned. Thank you for an informative and fascinating post. Doris

    1. Hi Doris!

      I couldn’t agree more! There is so much to be learned. Thank you so much for coming to the blog today. : )

  9. That was a very interesting post. I learned a lot. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  10. Hi Melissa!

    You bet! And thanks for coming here today. : )

  11. Congratulations on your upcoming release of Seneca Surrender. Love the cover–very eye-catching. I always enjoy reading your posts with your insights to Native American life. This post is no exception.

  12. Oh, Robyn, thank you so very much! What a delightful thing to say.

  13. I attended a lecture today that dealt with Folk Medicine in the Appalachians. We covered the plants, how to prepare them, what they were used to treat, and how effective they were. Lots of good information. Many of the cures were taught to the settlers by the native americans, and some were from plants they brought over with them. Some of the cures are still being used today. Some have been studied by the medical community and found to be effective treatments.
    Best wishes for a successful rerelease of SENECA SURRENDER.

  14. Hi Patricia!

    Sounds so very, very interesting. Something I’d like to learn, too. And thanks for all your well wishes. : )

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