Rugged, Dangerous, and Wild: The Timeless Elements of Western Romance
Something strange and majestic happens when you chase the sun across the Mississippi River. Your heart fills with promise and wonder. Your mind races with dreams of what could be. Your skin tingles with the fear and excitement of the unknown. Your very soul connects with those long since passed who risked all they had to experience a new world.
It’s easy to see why the most thrilling, adventurous, and romantic stories take root in the American West. Unlike other fiction genres, Western Romance doesn’t differentiate between historical and contemporary. All the stories share an understanding that no matter how hard we try, the land won’t be tamed, and neither will the human spirit.
Here are five timeless elements of Western Romance:
Who doesn’t love a story where the hero or heroine must face terrible odds to achieve their heart’s desire? The West has its fair share of natural danger to keep the characters on their toes: earthquakes, drought, dust storms, flash floods, wildfires, landslides, tornadoes, avalanches, etc. Seriously, in Yellowstone National Park, boiling water shoots out of the ground. At the summit of Pike’s Peak, there is a rocky area called The Devil’s Playground because lightning bounces from rock to rock. And if that doesn’t raise the stakes enough, there are human foes driven by desperation or greed to get what they want and need. See that man with the sharp-looking Stetson and shiny revolver? He’s probably an outlaw, train robber, greedy oil tycoon, or shady real estate developer.
Do you know why so many characters in western novels are hot-tempered? Because they realize that any time they walk outside, they could be bitten by a snake or killed by a grizzly. They could be wearing a prairie dress or yoga pants, and it doesn’t matter. The threat is still there. In addition to scary animals, there’s the chance one might get lost in a forest, break down in a desert, or fall off a mountain.
Authors know that if you want to push a character out of their comfort zone, drop them into a western setting. Unless you are in one of the big cities, the West still has a rustic quality to it. Cell phone coverage is spotty. Wi-Fi is rare, and you can drive a hundred miles and never see a road sign except for Wall Drug. Even historical characters must learn to accept fewer “modern” conveniences than those on the East Coast. Sweet Bostonian schoolteacher, were you used to electric lighting and a warm bath? Here’s a lantern, pail, and a map to the creek.
The first character of mine that I fell in love with was a desperate pastor who flees to Montana for a fresh start. Be it 1821 or 2021, there’s a certain romanticism in leaving one troubled world behind and beginning all over again with new dreams, new foes, and maybe a new love. Who doesn’t love a good fish-out-of-water story?
Show me a western novel, and I’ll show you a feisty, hard-headed, and determined hero or heroine willing to work to the bone to get what they’re after. Rules, traditions, and societal expectations didn’t often fit in the wagon on the Oregon Trail or the saddle pack en route to Texas. To survive the Old West, characters need grit, fortitude, and self-reliance. Generations later, their modern-day equivalents need confidence, drive, and even a touch of swagger to make their dream of a happy ending come true.
YOUR TURN: What do you love most about Western Romance? Would you say it’s timeless?
If you’d like to know more about my contemporary rustic romance novels, including my Madison River Romance series, please visit my website at http://www.JanineRosche.com or connect with me on Facebook.
Prone to wander, Janine Rosche finds as much comfort on the open road as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor, and experience redemption is woven into her Madison River Romance series. When she isn’t writing or traveling, she teaches family life education courses to college students, takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs, and embarrasses her four children and husband with boy band serenades.
Most readers know me for my historical romances about lighthouses, orphan trains, and bride ships. But a western? Whoa! What’s that all about?
No, I’m not switching genres. My friends here on Petticoat and Pistols have the western genre well covered! But I am delving into a five-book family saga set in the high country of Colorado in the ranching area of South Park.
The Colorado Cowboys Series has all my usual trademarks—deeply emotional characters, fun plot twists, and sizzling romance. But this time the package includes hunky cowboys!
Most of the time when we think about cowboys in Colorado, we think of the ranches on the eastern plains, not the mountainous high country. But believe it or not, ranches started popping up in the mountains very early in Colorado’s history.
One of the first ranches in South Park (near Fairplay), was Hartsel Springs Ranch, founded as a homestead in 1862 by Samuel Hartsel. He started his ranch by buying oxen brought into the mountains by men arriving to mine for gold. The oxen were often worn out and worth little after making the long trek to the West. But Samuel fattened them and then turned around and sold them as beef to the mining community.
By 1864 Hartsel decided to branch out and diversify his livestock. He went to Missouri and purchased a herd of shorthorns that he then drove to Colorado along the Santa Fe Trail. It was a tough trip, but he eventually completed the cattle drive and made it back to his ranch with 150 head of short-horned cattle.
Hartsel went on to become a very successful rancher, capitalizing on the rich grassland in South Park that fed his cattle. He also took advantage of a natural hot spring near his land that he developed and used for tourists who wanted a chance to bathe in the “healing waters.”
A Cowboy for Keeps, the first book in the series, is inspired by this real life cowboy and ranch. The hero, Wyatt McQuaid, is attempting to make a go of homesteading and ranching. But with all the obstacles he faces, he’s having a hard time making a new home. When Fairplay’s mayor offers him a deal, one that involves taking a bride in exchange for cattle, Wyatt can’t resist.
If you like hunky cowboys, mail-order brides, and marriages of convenience, then I invite you to give A Cowboy for Keeps a chance!
Leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of the book! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) I will choose a random winner on January 16.
What’s your favorite thing about cowboy stories?
Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. She lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats. Visit her at jodyhedlund.com
I’m excited to announce that I have a new sweet holiday release.
A Home for the Holidays is the story of a world-traveling engineer who has never had a place to call home, except for during the four years he spent in Holly, Idaho, living with his aunt while attending high school. Jason Regan has no time to celebrate holidays, and no reason to settle down…until a Holly, Idaho judge sentences him to 100 hours of community service at the local animal shelter for a decade-old unpaid parking ticket. Jason is, in effect, sentenced to Christmas.
Tess Evans is a recovering lawyer who now runs Forever Home animal shelter. She is thrilled to have a new volunteer, even after discovering that it’s the guy she’d crushed on in high school; a guy who had no clue that she was alive until a blabby friend told the world. But Tess will do her best to put her embarrassment behind her to join forces with Jason to empty the shelter by Christmas.
This series introduces my new small town series Holly, Idaho, so I’m giving away a Holly Jolly Christmas mug to one lucky commentor.
Here’s an excerpt from my story:
“Hold on!” Tess Evans hung up the phone as her dad attempted to open the door to Forever Home while balancing two cinnamon lattes and carrying his toolbox. Pete Evans had a proclivity for doing things on his own, be it raising three motherless daughters or opening a door with his hands full. He was usually successful, but in this case, he was about to lose a latte.
“Really, Dad?” Tess said as she rescued the top cup of steaming coffee just before it toppled.
“I almost made it.”
Tess took the other cup from him and set it on her desk. Pete set down the other, then jerked his head toward the door leading to the dog kennel area. “Will Lisa be done feeding before her coffee gets cold?”
“Judging from the decibel level, I think she’s almost done.” Morning feeding was always a loud and happy time as the food trolley rolled along the concrete aisle between rows of kennels. But once the dogs had their meals, barking stopped as eating commenced, and the sound level dropped accordingly.
“Why the big smile?” Pete asked as he set down his toolbox.
“I don’t need you today.” Tess was still feeling slightly dazed from the phone call she’d just received from justice court.
“You don’t need me?” Her dad sounded shocked, but Tess read the relief in his gaze. Despite having a very tight schedule on his latest project, he stopped by the shelter every Tuesday morning to spend an hour nailing things back together. The problem with retrofitting an old garage into a new animal shelter was that there were a lot of hidden issues that poked their heads up at the most inopportune times. She and Lisa had painted the place cheerful colors—yellow and aqua—and kept it sparkling clean, but they didn’t have the time or the skillset to deal with loose concrete bolts and flapping siding—the latest ills.
“I have a new warm body.” Which was nothing short of a miracle this time of year when everyone was so busy. There was just one teensy part of that good news that kept Tess from doing a full-on happy dance.
“Cat? Dog? Iguana? No, wait. You said warm body, not cold. Scratch the iguana.”
Tess smiled. “No, Dad. A human. One with building skills. Judge Nelson sentenced a guy to community service and decided that I needed the most help right now. I get him for one hundred hours.”
“One hundred hours?” Pete tipped his chin toward the ceiling as he did a quick mental calculation. “Twelve days? That seems like a healthy sentence.” His eyes narrowed. “What, exactly, did this guy do to earn that much community service?”
“Parking ticket. And it’s twelve and a half days.” Judge Nelson’s assistant had emphasized that the entire sentence was to be served, down to the last hour. No early outs due to holiday bon homie.
Her dad’s eyebrows lifted. “Did he park in the mayor’s reserved space?”
“The ticket is years old. I think Judge Nelson gave him ten hours for each year it wasn’t paid.”
Pete gave a short laugh. “That sounds like something the judge would do. Who is it?”
“Jason Regan.” The instant the name left her mouth, Tess felt her cheeks go warm, and gave herself a mental kick.
You are not the same geeky girl who crushed on the man long ago.
Law school had changed her, given her confidence, leadership abilities…migraines. But if she hadn’t gone, hadn’t buried herself in research and paperwork for eighty hours a week, she wouldn’t have known how happy she was not doing that, or that her true calling was managing the animal shelter her late grandmother had started five years ago to take the pressure off the regional shelter that Holly shared with the nearby town of Everly.
Her dad’s forehead creased. “Must be an out-of-towner.”
“No,” she said in a casual voice. Too casual? “He was a senior during my sophomore year. He left right after high school. Mae Regan is his aunt.” It seemed best to leave out the part about him being her unrequited crush and utterly oblivious to her existence, except for one small incident in the school cafeteria. Oblivious, that is, until gossipy Melissa Braddock had read the signs, guessed the truth, and ratted Tess out to the general school population.
“Just doing you a favor,” Melissa had said when Tess had confronted her in horror after word had gotten back to her. “How else will you get his attention?” The amazing thing was that Melissa really believed she had done Tess a favor.
But Tess would give Jason this—he never treated her differently. Meaning, of course, that he hadn’t given her so much as a side-eye. Her hope was that the news had never reached him, or if it had, he’d brushed it off as so much gossip.
“Jason Regan…” Her dad’s eyebrows drew together. “Oh, yeah. He was the kid with the mean three-pointer.”
“That’s the one.” Tess shooed away her embarrassed teenage self as she confronted her new reality. “He’s mine for one hundred hours, and I intend to get every bit of work out of him that I possibly can.”
Mr. Regan was going to be a terribly busy man, and she was close to betting money that he wasn’t as amazing as she remembered him. Backyards got smaller and all that stuff. She’d probably take one look at him and wonder what the big deal had been.
To enter to win the holiday mug, tell me the place where you most enjoy spending the holidays. Please note that I’ll be on the road tomorrow, but will answer comments when I get back home. I’ll announce the winner on Friday, October 30.
The Scots who came to settle the mountain regions of the United States were a hardy lot, especially those who hailed from the Scottish Highlands. They felt at home settling in these areas few other immigrants wanted – areas like the Appalachians or the Rocky Mountains. A large amount of my heritage can be found among this group. Eighty-three percent of my ancestry come from the British Isles with a mixture of Scot, English, and Irish.
This is what happens in Mountain Storms, the first book in my In from the Storms Trilogy. Ian MacGregor was wounded in the Civil War and left Maryland to hide away in a mountain cabin in Wyoming Territory. He had been rejected because of his war wounds and wanted to move from society. Aileas Campbell stumbles on the cabin in a snowstorm after she runs away from unwanted attention. Neither suspect the adventure they’re about to begin or the changes God has in store for them.
The family saga continues in Past Storms. Jeannie MacGregor, at seventeen, feels imprisoned in the secluded mountain cabin with her taciturn brother, so she runs away and goes back to her aunt in Maryland, hoping to have a social life and find a suitor. But nothing turns out as she expected, and within a few years, she finds herself on a train back to Wyoming with her young daughter in tow. The unexpected interest of three men there surprises her, but only one man makes her heart beat faster. However, he’s the new pastor, and what would a man of God want with someone like her. He could hardly find a more unsuitable wife.
In Dust Storms, Brady Sharpe, Aileas’s stepbrother, wanders his way to Texas after Aileas refuses to leave with him. He tries ranching and becomes a foreman but never feels he truly belongs. After catching some cattle rustlers, he decides to leave but discovers a young woman in desperate need of help. He does his best but ends up deciding to take her back to Wyoming and get Aileas to help her. In their journey, they battle many storms, including a major dust storm and storms of the heart.
I loved writing this trilogy. Originally, I hadn’t planned to write Dust Storms, but when I finished Past Storms, Brady said I needed to tell his story, so I did. This has happened before in my character-driven novels. Readers seem to like this series, too, because these books have been my best-sellers for months.
I would like to offer one of you the chance to win a free copy of Mountain Storms. In addition, as long as they last, I would also like to give free codes for audible editions of one of the 3 books to any who have an Audible account (which is free but required to redeem the code). You can email me at email@example.com, and I will send you the code for the book you request. Have a blessed day, ask me any questions you’d like, and I hope to hear from you soon.
I am so pleased to announce the release of the first book of my Sweet Home, Montana series, A Ranch Between Them.
This is the story of Katie Callahan and Brady O’Neil. Brady and Katie’s brother were best friends in high school and Katie had a mad crush on Brady. Brady’s home life wasn’t the best and he didn’t feel like he was worthy of Katie, so he kept his distance. Time passed, as it does, and they went their separate ways–Katie to a corporate career in the city, and Brady to the rodeo circuit.
When the story opens, Brady’s suffered a career-ending injury and and has signed on to manage the Callahan Ranch while he heals, unaware that Katie, tired of city life, is coming home to stay. (I just love doing things like this to my characters.)
This scene is from the first chapter of the book, after Katie has rescued Brady from an ATV accident–something he would have been able to do himself had he not been inured.
After parking the truck next to the main house, Katie half expected Brady to bolt—or to come as close to bolting as he could with his injuries, both old and new—but instead he turned toward her and regarded her for a long moment from under the brim of his ball cap, giving her a moment to study him back.
He’d been good-looking in high school, but now he bordered on spectacular with his dark hair and green eyes. The planes of his face had become more pronounced with age, as had the laugh lines around his eyes. She doubted that Brady had laughed a lot lately, but the lines made her realize how much time had passed since they’d seen one another. They’d both aged, changed. They weren’t the people they’d once been.
“I’m hurting, Katie.”
The candid admission startled her. Brady O’Neil admitting weakness. Brady, who’d refused to go to the clinic. Brady, who’d never let on that his parents were not the loving parents they appeared to be. Nick had clued her in on that small fact.
“Hurting inside or out?” She half expected him to pull into himself after she asked the question, refuse to answer or deflect the question. He didn’t.
“Out.” His jaw shifted sideways, and he sucked in a breath before saying, “Both. Which is why I need my space. Maybe, before I go, I can explain everything. But for now…” He made a frustrated gesture. “Like I said, I need my space.”
“Do you think I’m going to try to mother you, or smother you or something to that effect? Because that isn’t the case. I’m here to sort my life out, too.”
There was color in his cheeks. This wasn’t easy for him, but now that he knew she was going to be sharing his domain, he was establishing boundaries. Like she would encroach where she wasn’t wanted. Although perhaps he had cause to think that. She hadn’t exactly taken the hint when he’d tried to shut her out when they were teens.
“What makes you think I’m going to insinuate myself into your life?” she added.
“You’re a helper, Katie, and I don’t want help. I want to find out what I’m capable of alone.”
“Well, we now know your capabilities in the wrecked four-wheeler department.” Katie instantly held up her hand. “Low blow. Sorry. But what makes you think I’m going to pay any attention to you at all?”
“Katie,” he said softly, “you rescue things. Puppies, kittens, leppie calves.”
Okay. So, she’d rescued a few orphan calves. Some abandoned puppies. A few kittens. Big deal. She propped a hand on her hip. “And that’s your big fear? That I’m going to try to rescue you?” She lifted her eyebrows in a speaking expression. “Like I did today?”
Brady didn’t bite.
Katie let out a frustrated huff of breath. “Fine. We’ll make a no-rescue pact. I won’t rescue you, again, and you won’t rescue me.” She lifted her chin. “Not that I would need rescued.”
He cocked an eyebrow and the color rose in her cheeks as she got his point. “I can now change a tire by myself, and if I get stranded after midnight, I have a cell phone.” And a lot more street smarts than she’d had back in the day.
“How about instead of a pact, you treat me like Ed Cordell? An employee of the ranch.”
Ed, the former ranch manager, had kept to himself, did his job and did it well. He’d been all business, and Katie had never been able to warm up to the man. But he’d kept the ranch running smoothly, she’d give him that.
“If you’re asking me to treat you like Ed, you’re serious about this leave-you-alone thing.”
“It’s not personal, Katie,” he repeated. “It’s what I need right now.”
Katie lifted her chin. “If you need to be left alone, I’ll respect your wishes. Believe it or not, I no longer need to tag along where I’m not wanted. I’ve changed over the past decade.”
She frowned at the unexpected remark, but before she could come up with a comeback or a question, Brady held out a hand. Katie stared at it for a second, feeling as if she was teetering on the brink of something dangerous, which was crazy because how dangerous could it be shaking hands with a guy who didn’t want her—or anyone for that matter—around? She resolutely put her hand in his, her nerves jumping as his warm, work-roughened palm made contact with hers and his fingers closed.
Katie nodded briskly before pulling her fingers free. “Deal.” She felt as if she’d just gotten a slow-motion electrical shock. That was the only way she could describe the tingle that gripped her body when they made contact, ultimately making her stomach tumble.
The vestiges of a crush from the distant past. That was all it was.
She reached for her door handle, her heart beating harder than before, and still feeling the warmth of his fingers on hers. She pushed her hands into her back pockets and met Brady’s gaze. “This is where we go our separate ways, living our parallel lives on the Callahan Ranch?”
He gave his head a slow shake, those mossy green eyes full of an emotion she couldn’t quite read as he said, “I doubt we’ll be able to do that, but when we do meet—”
“You’re Ed to me.”
THE GIVE AWAY! If you’d like to win a copy of A Ranch Between Them, all you have to do is to tell me in the comments if you had a mad crush in high school. 🙂
The winner will be announced on Thursday afternoon, so stay tuned!
Do you remember the excitement of getting the Wish Book in the mail? To me, that event marked the beginning of the Christmas season. My brother and I would pore over the pages, marking the things we wanted. One of my most fervent wishes was to receive a full-on cowgirl outfit, so those pages of the Wish Book were always well worn by the time Christmas rolled around.
Because of my Wish Book cowgirl outfit mania, I thought I’d share some catalog pages showing western wear from bygone eras. Do these bring back memories for any of you? And was anyone lucky enough to actually get one of these outfits? (If so, I’m officially jealous.)
Aren’t these outfits great? Playing the game I played as a kid, I would have wanted either the boy outfit with the rearing horses on the chaps, or the red girl outfit.
Roy Rogers was such a huge influence on me–and everyone else, it seems–back in the day. I didn’t know anyone who tucked their pants into their boots back then, but Roy carries it off well. And, now that I have fancy boots, I’ve been known to do the same!
I always thought that boys got the best western clothing. Look at the cool fringe jacket hidden in the lower corner. One thing that I really like is the fake boot tops in the lower left of the picture above. What a great way to handle not needing or being able to buy cowboy boots. I was one of the lucky ones in that regard. While growing up, I had four pairs of shoes for the year–school shoes, dress shoes, sneakers and…yes…cowboy boots. But if I hadn’t had cowboy boots, I would have had the tops to make my school shoes into cowboy boots.
Oh my goodness! Leopard print cowboy wear! Does it get any better than that?
Okay–I can’t help myself. I still want a full-on 1950s cowgirl outfit. I wonder if I have time to shoot off a quick letter to Santa?
Now the give away part! I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate, that you can put toward a cowboy outfit or something else of your choosing. Just leave a comment to be entered. The winner will be announced in the comments on Wednesday, so check back tomorrow afternoon.
One caveat–I am going to the dentist today, so my replies will be a little late, but I’m excited to check in with everyone.
I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
Today our special guest at the Junction is Jodie Wolfe. Jodie will be giving away a copy of her book To Claim Her Heart to one lucky commentor. We’re thrilled to have you here today, Jodie!
Thank you for inviting me here!
Almost twenty years ago my mother-in-law introduced me to the history of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. It was a topic especially dear to her since she had several relatives who participated in the race. In 1998, we made a trip from Kansas to Texas, stopping in Oklahoma to see the original permanent homestead. By then, it was crumbling, but I could already picture characters taking up residence on the property.
September 16th marks the 125th anniversary of the last great race for land in the United States. The run took place from nine different starting places in Kansas and Oklahoma. Almost 6.5 million acres were up for grab. It’s estimated that over 115,000 showed up to race.
My book, To Claim Her Heart gives a small glimpse to what life was like during this time. I had the pleasure of including some of the history from my husband’s family. Two fun items that are the most fascinating involve outlaws and quilts.
When potential land owners gathered for the race they came on foot, rail, bicycle, horseback, or all types of conveyances. Some came with nothing other than the shirt on their back while others came with wagons fully loaded with all their worldly possessions in tow. One of the things my husband’s relatives carried with them was a quilt that had been passed down to the oldest daughter in each family.
This Rose of Sharon quilt is believed to have been stitched anywhere from 1834-1854. I’ve learned that they were ‘signature’ quilts—one of the twelve different covers typically stitched for a bride of wealth. This one was quite unique. It was typically brought out on special occasions, like a wedding anniversary.
I’m blessed to own this priceless quilt originally stitched by my husband’s great, great, great, great grandmother, Magdalene Tomber, when she was a girl. With having no sons, my mother-in-law gave it to me. One day I’ll bestow it to one of my granddaughters.
One other fun fact in my story again involves my husband’s family, and the Dick Yeager Gang. I won’t spoil it by telling you about it here since the depiction in To Claim Her Heart is pretty close to what happened. Let’s just say… what would you do if an outlaw showed up at your door?
In celebration of the release of my book, I’ll be giving away one copy. Here’s the back cover blurb:
In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.
Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.
Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.
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?”
“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.”
“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.”
“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: