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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Community Medicine

Years ago, right before my initiation as a healer, during a VERY dynamic time of change... I had a dream.
In this dream the home of my birth was an Animist village of people living close to the earth. On top of the well box in the middle of my back yard man appeared dressed in black buck skins and bone jewelry.
The man was holding a sack and every one in the village turned to see him speak.
"I have stolen the collective medicine of your tribe. If you do not all give me your own personal medicine I will destroy the collective medicine of your people, dooming you all. You have until sun down."
The people knew what to do they went and gathered up their personal medicine and dressed in their finest regalia and set out to give this man in black their medicine.
I was outraged that my people would just surrender to this mans demands! I went into the house painted my face and picked up my ceremonial knife, took it from its sheath and ritually stalked the man...
As I walked around the out side of my house I saw that every one was preparing to give their medicine or had already done so. this fueled my rage. Not only was i enraged at the man who saw it fit to threaten my people, but I was enraged that they had allowed him to do so.
I was met at the back side of the house by a member of my own people sitting at a small table covered in cards. He was busy cataloging peoples personal medicine. Behind him was a room with another man in it, and the room was filled with box's of peoples medicine.
" Come to drop off your medicine?" the man asked.
"Yes...." I said, lying to him.
"What is it?"
This stopped me dead in my tracks. "I... I don't know."
"Oh well life is run by chance, so just pick one of these cards and that's your medicine."
I gave him a skeptical look and picked up a random card turning it over. on the back side was a picture of a wild rose.
"OH wild rose! That's allot like hawk medicine, wild rose medicine is wild love, that's a good one! Go ahead and drop it off inside."
The rage drained out of me completely... If my personal medicine was wild love then how could I kill this man in black. I walked into the room full of medicine in a daze, I was confused. Before me stood the man in black but now he was in a tie-dye T-shirt arranging boxes. He said to me while piling them up happily, "Oh just set it any where I will get to it in a minute..."
"I can not harm this man," I thought, " my medicine is wild love..."
I walked out of the room, muttering my medicine is wild love over and over again to my self, and out of my dream into a half waking dream, where information about what medicine was and its relationship to man and nature filled my now lucid mind.
I was shown what medicine is, and how one finds it within themselves through ones relationship with nature. I was shown that we all have a medicine to help heal all of the sickness in the world.I am currently in a college program about growing community. I took this coarse as a way to further my community development skills so that I could further assist in the development of bioregional animist communities. The night after my first class I could not sleep... the memory of the dream entered into my head and I could not stop thinking about it... I was exhausted but the memory would not leave me alone to sleep.
I had always felt the dream would make a wonderful community ritual there was so much meaning in it...
I saw that the dream could be made as a ceremony to teach about the collective medicine of a community. The man in black represented adversity and how adversity can threaten community. Every one had to give of their personal medicine to protect the community. Those that did not know what their medicine was would not understand this and would have to find out what their medicine was.
We all have medicine and our personal medicine is to be given away for the benefit of the community, not just the human community but the other-than-human community. Because all other-than-human-persons benefit from the authentic wellness on another, the other-than-human community gives its medicine to the larger community as well including human persons, it does so in such a way that shows us that our personal medicine also lays in nature that what is within us is also out side of us in the natural world and it show us this so that we can give of our medicine wisely to aid the whole of life.
As I lay awake trying to sleep fitfully I saw how small communities of human persons could enact this dream, and how it could teach them bioregional animism as well as about their responsibility to give back to life as life for the benefit of the community. I saw how it could teach about how communities can work WITH adversity, and the things that threaten community, and I saw how they could learn how ways of doing this could come from trans-rational ways of knowing, learning and problem solving, in ways that lead them to a deeper understanding of themselves through relationship with their larger community of human and other-than-human-persons.
As an example, if I was to do this with my class I would take a bag of stones for every member of the class and I would pass the stones out asking them to have an intention for the wellness of the community they are a part of in that class ( just as an example) and then blow their intention into the stone as a way of symbiotically putting their life force, their breath into the intention, animating it the intention, Giving it a life of its own...
Then I would ask the community leader to hold onto the pouch of stones and put it some where safe. At some point much latter down the line I would call the class together for a community "event" in which I or some one unknown to the class, to arrive dressed in black holding the pouch of stones. What would happen next would be an enactment of the dream. Many of the participants may not know their own personal medicine and the actual concept of "medicine" might be out side of their world view. So for ease, and to go along with the dream. Cards could be made covered with plants animals and forces of nature as well as types of places in ecological systems ( streams, lakes, ponds & mountains etc..) with their symbolic attributes added to them. Sources for making these symbolic cards could be taken from both Ted Andrews books as well as Jamie Sams. Though I don't fully approve of other-than-human-persons being viewed strictly as symbolic vehicles for human experience, other-than-human-persons can be related to symbolically, which does not make them symbols themselves. Something about this could be placed on the table with the cards. The participants could then give their cards the man in black who is now wearing colorful non-threatening colors and style.
After the last participant has given their personal medicine the community could gather and talk about their experience. After the discussion the dream as well as my interpretation of the dream and the foundation of the event could be shared to further show the importance of trans-rational cognition in the process of learning and growing and maintaining health in community as well as within ones sense of self.
This community ceremony empowers its members to find the medicine within themselves through the natural world, through trans-rational means. Showing them that they were all born with medicine to heal the sickness in the world, to mend that which is broken.
I participants were interested in pursuing this concept of personal medicine and community medicine deeper they could be encouraged to go out into nature and develop relationships with the other-than-human-persons in their larger bioregional community, and seek out their personal medicine or medicines through their relationships with
the ecological world. Through this relationship dynamic they could utilize various trans-rational methods comfortable to them to discover that the medicine is within as well as out side of themselves, seeing how trans-rational forms of cognition dissipate dualistic notions of inner and outer reality as well as self and other, cultivating altruistic action int he process as well as deeply grounded and centered personal growth based on place and the physical world.
I might add that the process of finding ones personal medicine as well as giving it to the community is an act of self healing as well as personal discovery, it can be painful as well as liberating and joyous, ultimately life changing
and requiring deep commitment and is not to be done with a half hearted attempt. This work I call a medicine quest, or medicine seeking. Often times one finds that the medicine they are seeking is in some way connected to the pain they hold within themselves and is one with adversity itself, that they might find it to be the poisonous parts of themselves or the world around them, and that they must actively transmute that poison into medicine before they can give it away... this can be a path of deep personal healing and growth. Thus requiring a deep commitment to wanting to help. Actively seeking this medicine themselves could be encouraged after the public event.

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