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Please Define Medicine
By Sister Cyber
Last evening, I was reading one of the books I recently purchased
and I realized that I see the
term "Medicine" used quite often in this way, yet
I do not really know what it is, or rather, I am
not really clear on the meaning.
I read something about a lost child using "the medicine
of their parents" ...
Then there is the "Medicine Wheel" ...
There's also "Totem Medicine" ...
I saw reference to a "Medicine bag or pouch" which
I've never heard of at all...
I also saw reference to a "Medicine Shield" another
thing I've not heard of...
And of course, there are "Medicine Cards" which is
actually what I was reading about.
Can you tell me what "Medicine" means in this way?
I'm pretty clear that it doesn't mean
Hmmm... Or DOES it?
MEDICINE: n [ME, fr. OF, fr. Lmedicina, fr. fem. of medicinus[/i[
of a physician, fr. med]
1a: a substance of preparation used in treating disease
b: something that affects well-being
2a: the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health
and the prevention, alleviation, or
cure of disease
b: the branch of medicine concerned withh the nonsurgical treatment
3: a substance (as a drug or potion) used to treat something
other than disease
4: an object held in traditional American Indian belief to give
control over natural or magical
forces; also : magical power of a magical rite ~ medic[/b]vt.
MEDICINE MAN (another "Medicine" term I forgot to
n1801): a priestly healer or sorcerer esp. among the American
Hmmm... I noticed that those were the only two references to
Medicine found in the dictionary I
used. I guess they don't know about Medicine Wheels, Medicine
Cards, or any of that other stuff.
I'm sure there was something on that in this site somewhere.
I probably couldn't give you a good
definition so I'll try to find what I think is somewhere on
this site. (wish me luck, unless Cinn or
someone else passes along who can answer your question ). Although
the dictionary gives an
idea I personally find that definition too static. Anyhow, off
Good question Sister Cyber, The term Medicine refers to our
abilities and talents, the gifts we
possess to share with the world. In some ways it is a healing
ability, a Healer or Medicine
Wo/man would who would have knowledge of plants and minerals
that heal is a good example.
They would serve in that capacity, that knowledge and the skills
to use it is their personal Medicine.
Each creature-teacher has its own body of knowledge and gifts
that it brings to teach, enlighten,
and share with us. This is their Medicine. It is the spiritual
side of our nature that we develop
and bring into the physical reality of our daily lives to share
with others, or to serve our own
needs. Our personal "power" if you will. Some of us
are Healers, some are Seers, some are
Storytellers teaching the ways, and there are countless combinations
that allow us to adapt to the
roles we are given and the paths we walk. But
is the power within the spirit,
within us, within the animals, within the plants, the minerals,
the spiritual essences and
understanding of them so we can wield them.
I suppose you could say it is the magic of life. You might hear
of someone's great-grandmother
who could Heal or who was a Seer or a Dreamer, and this gift
might show itself in successive
generations being passed down through lineage. This is the Medicine
of the Parents, or
Ancestors. If someone needs that gift or ability to help someone
or a situation they might call on
the Ancestors (by right of bloodline) to bring it forth so they
may serve with it.
The "Medicine Wheel" contains the sacred spiritual/religious
teachings of the indigenous people,
their Medicine Stories are woven into the symbolism of each
stone. Each placement around the
wheel (most have 36 stones) represents a body of sacred knowledge,
therefore it's "Medicine",
and to study that knowledge allows one to open to find their
own way of working with it through
their spiritual abilities and development.
The term "Totem Medicine" refers to the body of knowledge
and teachings, the magic contained
in them, that the creature-teachers bring to us. Those Totems
we walk with share their
"Medicine" with us and it becomes a part of our own
nature to wield it, to call upon them to
work through us, or to apply what they have taught us to do
with our own gifts and abilities that
are akin to theirs. However we can call upon the teachings of
any creature-teacher and they can
choose to work with us or not. If we do that, we must have right
intent to be able to tap into it
and be accepted by them.
A "Medicine Bag" contains the items we use in sacred
ways to serve our path and those
individuals who have need of such services. Often like a purse/pouch,
it serves to make these
things portable, shielded and safe. It is a sacred bag, and
the contents are not displayed other
than when in use. They are shielded from others, kept sacred
and clean in this way.
"Medicine Pouches" tend to be smaller and vary in
size according to the need. They might
contain items such as stones, feathers, or herbs, etc. that
one would carry to ward of negative
energies, to cure a disease, to bring good luck, to attract
certain Spirit Helpers, any number of
A "Medicine Bundle" is a portable altar, it contains
the sacred tools needed by the shaman/ess
or Medicine Person for their ceremonial work. This could include
the Sacred Pipe, a smudge
bowl, wands, rattles, flutes, small drums, feather fans, sacred
herbal mixtures, any number of
items and the contents will vary according to the Medicine that
person carries with them.
"Medicine Shields" are another sacred item. They are
crafted and painted symbolically to reflect
the Medicine of the person that possesses them. Often they are
adorned with items that reflect the
Medicine, perhaps a Crow feather to bring in the essence of
someone working with Crow, or the
talon of an Eagle, or the claw of Bear, or the hoof of a Deer,
or the tooth of a Buffalo. There are
many types, some to say who we are, some to help protect us
or our homes and loved ones, some
to journey and bring forth the Medicine. They can shield us
and they can act as a portal, but for
one who understands the symbolism used on them they speak volumes
about the individual who
is the owner. In years past they were often hung on a pole outside
the Tipi to tell others of the
Medicine of the person who dwelled within.
The "Medicine Cards" bring forth the teachings, tell
the Medicine Stories, and offer insight into
one's life through divination.
A "Medicine Path" is a path of service and a way of
life that an individual follows. Every single
person has some form of Medicine to bring into the world with
them, some gift or ability or
combination of abilities that allow them to tap into the spiritual
nature of life and connect with it
so that they can bring forth change or serve in some capacity.
This is our "Personal Medicine"
and those who walk the Medicine Path are going to develop their
Medicine to a much greater
extent than the average person might; obviously because they
need that development and
knowledge so they can apply their skills to serve others. I
hope this has helped a little. It will
make more sense to you as you go along. *Soft smile*
I guess they don't know about Medicine Wheels, Medicine
Cards, or any of that other stuff.
LOL....it's an oral tradition of teaching and most dictionaries
keep things very scant in
description. You might find that Medicine is too broad a term
in the dictionary and an
encyclopedia would serve you better. I would look up Medicine
Wheel to find that defined rather
than the term Medicine itself. You see? And you might want to
look into a Native American
dictionary or encyclopedia rather than a standard one as that's
going to be too clinical.
Yeah what she said LOL.
There is a section on here about the Medicine Wheel. Check out
the Index page 3 (below) and Index page 8 (below)
where there are a number of pages on 'Medicine' things.
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