Until the 20th century almost all reports about indian healers have been written down by missionaries, physicians and partially from militaries - so in the most cases from people who are opponents of the beliefs and ethics of the indians. There has been written a lot about shamanistic methods of indian healers. All this reports, including newer observations of the 20th century, are based on statements of the 17th century by guys like Pierre Biard, Father Jacques Gravier, Paul LeJeune, Jean de Brebeuf, Baron de Lahontan, Louis Hennepin, Josephe Jouvency or Ales Hrdlicka who wrote in length about heathenly-primitive traditions and rites. They wrote about fetishism and rattle dances, ghost turning , magic spells and demon cults, exorcisms and summonings.
One can and should not understand the contemporaries of that time - no matter how honorably the motives for their reports have been - not separately from those confessions which they followed from deep inside their hearts: the physicians with their "medicine" of that time and their claim to be the only valid base of comprehensive healing art, and the missionaries of their puritan christian religion and their imperturbable dogmas, for which all other believers were heathens and devil worshippers. One may not forget also that the by far outweighing majority of such reports was directed to medical organizations or church committees which didn't like statements, which would have deviated from the dominant teachings. The reports of contemporaries from other scientific, technical and military ranges were subject to similar conditions, too. One must also assume indian healers never described their practices - that happened only in recent time - and that the spiritual background of indian rites likewise remained in the darkness.
Under these conditions all interpretations of contemporary chroniclers must be rated as extremely superficial, often wrong impressions, which were far distant from a realistic evaluation. The more strangely it may appear that since that time such interpretations are more or less uncritical taken over and constantly repeated as "source data". In contrast to this it appears justified to quote Indian healers themselves, for example the Sioux medicine man John (Fire) Lame Deer. His expressions were written down with the utmost care by the American journalist Richard Erdoes from 1964 to 1972 and 1972 published as memoirs of the healer under the title Lame Deer - Seeker of visions. Alvin M. Josephy, Autor of the book Indian Heritage of America , wrote about the volume; "He [ Lame Deer ] corrected so many wrong information and stereotypes about Indians, about their value conceptions and their way of life that we should be ashamed how little we actually knew about everything, what he has reported to us. He is as an individual and as a representative of his people someone, who all readers should learn to know - not only those, which are interested in Indians, but each American.
Lame Deer deplores himself over the fact that the common term "medicine man" is misleading: "medicine man", that is a word of the white man such as Squaw (woman), Papoose (child), Sioux or tomahawk (war hatchet) - words, which there are not in the Indian language. I wished, there would be more suitable words, in order to make clear, what means medicine man, but I cannot find any. Therefore I think that we must be content with the word medicine man. However it does not clarify the many different meanings, which come an Indian into the sense if one says medicine man.
We have different names for different humans, who do different things. You have for it only this single inconsequential word. First we differentiate between the healer (Pejuta Wicasa), the man of the herbs. He does not heal with herbs alone, he must have the strength for healing. Then we have the priest (Yuwipi = the bound), the man, who possesses the strength of the raw hide and the ability to find healing minerals. We speak also of the seer (Waayatan), the man of the visions, who can foresee events, which happen in the future. Then there is the conjurer (Wapiya), which you would call witch master. Among them are also some charlatans. Another kind medicine man is a holy clown (Heyoka). But the more I think over it, the more firmly I believe I that the real medicine man is the holy man (Wicasa Wacan). It can heal, prophesy, speak to the herbs, determine the minerals... however all this is for him without great importance. These are only development stages for him. The Wicasa Wacan left them all behind him. He has the largest visionary insight ability. He would like to be only himself, far from the crowd and everyday things. He loves it to feel to meditate, to lean against a tree or rock, to feel the earth under him and the weight of this large flaming sky over himself. In this way he fathoms the things. Closing the eyes, he sees much more clearly. What you see with closed eyes counts.
The holy man loves the silence, coats themselves with it as with a blanket, a loud silence with a voice such as rolling thunder, which reveals much to him. Such a man loves it to be at a place where there is no other sound than the humming of the insects. He sits, turned towards the western horizon, and asks for assistance. He speaks to the plants, and they answer him. He listens to the voices of the animals. He is one with them. From all organisms continuosly flows something into him, and something flows out of him. I do not know, where or what, but it is there. I know it.
This kind of medicine man is neither good nor bad. It lives - that is all. White people pay a priest to be <good>, to behave in the public, to wear a collar and to keep away from a certain kind of women. But nobody pays an Indian medicine man to be good, to behave himself and act respectably. The Wicasa Wacan acts, as he is. He is granted freedom, the freedom of a tree or a bird. This freedom can be beautiful or terrible - it does not mean much.
Medicine men - herbal healers as well as our holy man - all have their own personal way of acting after their insights. The great spirit wishes that humans are different. It lets someone love a certain animal, a tree or a herb. It makes people be felt drawn to certain favourite places on this earth, where they feel well and say: <That is a place, which makes me happy, where I belong to.> The great spirit is one, but also many. It is part of the sun, and the sun is part of it. It can be in a thunder bird or in an animal or a plant.
A human being also is many. What ever forms the air, the earth, the herbs, the minerals, is also part of our body. We must learn to be different, to be able to feel and sense the various things which we are. The animals and plants are taught by Wacan Tanka, the great spirit, what they have to do. They are not all alike. There are many different birds, some build nests, some don't. Some animals lives in holes, others in caves, others in shrubs. Some don't have a home at all.
Even animals of the same kind - two deer, two owls - differ in its behavior from each other... I studied many plants. The leaves of a plant, at the same stem: None of it is exactly like the other one. On the whole earth there is not a leaf, which resembles exactly another. The great spirit likes it so. It marks only roughly the life path for all creatures on earth, shows them where they have to go, but it leaves it to them to find their own way in order to arrive there. He would like that they act independently in accordance with their nature, as it their internal drive plans.
If Wacan Tanka orders this the plants, animals, even small mice and beetles, how much may he abhor humans who are similar to each other, like he human abhor, do the same thing, rise at the same time, wear the same kind of designer clothes, drive in the same subway train, perform the same work in the same office with their eyes focused at the same clock, and worst of all, always think the same. All creatures serve a purpose with their existence. Even an ant know this purpose, not with the reason but somehow she is aware of it. Only human beings have reached a point where they do not longer know, why they exist. They do not use their reason any more, and they have forgot the secret knowledge of their body, their senses or their dreams. They make no more use of the knowledge, which the great spirit put in everyone of them; they are not even more aware of this, and so they stumble blindly along the path to nothing - a paved road, which they excavate and smooth themselves, so that they can faster approach the large empty hole, which will devour them at their end. It is a fast, comfortable superhighway, but I know where it leads, I was there in my visions, and to think of it makes me tremble."
Of visions is spoken when people talk about "medicine men" - particularly those of the prairie Indians. The interpretations of contemporary correspondents concerning this go far apart. Some regard it as pure swindles of self-appointed mages, which serve the purpose to affect naive minds. Others understand it as dream experiences or trance states induced by drugs. That state of awareness, which is called "face", does not correspond to this indian vision. Also medical explanations, which refer to hallucinations, caused by strong hunger and thirst conditions, offer only superficial reference points for what we could understand by "vision".
Vague reports, old and also newer ones, mention that indian healers are both able to feel by a special susceptibility oscillations from humans, animals, plants and minerals and to possess the ability to visit remote places in present, past and future and notice events there clearly. That was dismissed until recently as shamanistic charlatanry. There are however reports about unexplainable material influences, about shamans who move things without touching them, who bend metal bars or exchange thoughts with other distant medicine men. The healer Rolling Thunder confirmed these abilities, which are known under the terms Telepathy and Psychokinesis already for a long time, but are taken more seriously only in the recent years. Scientists work hard to explain such phenomena with the working of electromagnetic impulses. But experiments in the years 1966 to 1963 accomplished by Leonid Wassiliew in the Soviet Union, to interrupt such "bio information" between two telepathically talented media by Faraday's cages (screens of iron lead compound systems) show that such screens are not effective. The physicist John Taylor of the University of London came 1978 to similar results. In numerous test series he scanned all applicable ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum with measuring instruments. There was no reference to electromagnetic waves. Taylor examined also different possible Psychokinetic triggers of gravitative, nuclear and radioactive nature, without being able to explain the phenomenon. The results of the Taylor investigations were published at the 2.Novemher 1978 in the British science journal Nature. In its book "Superminds" documents Taylor not only cases of levitation (physically unexplainable free floating of persons or objects - a phenomenon, which also indian healers mention again and again over centuries), but it also confirmed expressly the so-called "Geller effect" (Uri Geller bent metallic things, like spoons or forks, without touching them, brought stopped clockworks back to running etc..): "We did not find concrete reference points for effects of electromagnetic or ionizing radiation during the bending processes " said Taylor. "Also there was no sign with the samples for the fact that rises in temperature or current passages would have taken place. So can be said with absolute security: The Geller effect actually exists, and it also acts over a distance!"
Trapper, mountain men and rangers of the 13th and 19th century have repeatedly reported about indian "medicine men" who achieved amazing telepathic achievements, who began to float freely, who guided the sick into a condition which one is able to recognize today easily as a kind of deep hypnotic trance Tiefenhypnose, or which bent steel-pipes without touching them. Behind such phenomena most humans today suspect charlatanry - and nobody can criticize them in view of the lack of authentic information.
Only since 1971 indian healers gave up their up to then complete restraint. At 15th April this year the Menninger Foundation had invited to the first international conference over a new branch of science, the consciousness research , into the White Memorial Camp in Council Groves, Kansas. The participants came from Iceland, Japan, West Germany, Canada and all parts of the USA. For the first time a "medicine man", the Cherokee Rolling Thunder, spoke as an adviser about "the self-control of mental conditions". Rolling Thunders speech appeared so interesting and sensationally, but his explainations were at the same time also plausible and so incomprehensibly was the following demonstration of one - for the medical professionals impossible - healing of a sportsman gotten sick heavily (who Rolling Thunder had never before seen!), that the Menninger Foundation assigned afterwards its member Doug Boyd as a director of a research team to submit the methods of the Indian healers of an «investigation of the independent control ability of psychological and physical conditions».
Rolling Thunder permitted the team of the Menninger Foundation to examine its work from July 1971 to May 1972 in one "voluntary controls project". After that Rolling Thunder was invited by the Association for Humanistic Psychology to participate as a speaker in a conference about psychological welfare and self-healing procedures which took place on 6 May 1972 at the Berkely University in California.
Doug Boyd summarized the entire statements of the Indian healer and his personal control experiences in a report, which was published 1974 in the USA and 1981 in a German translation. The results of the research work confirmed that the Indian had amazing abilities and knowledge, which partially appear scientifically justified, but there are also parts which are still unexplainable.
At the beginning of the project Boyd still shared the skepticism of his colleagues as an orthodox scientist. After conclusion of the investigations he regarded himself as "an admiring pupil" of the Indian healer, who had also given him "far more than only scientific explanations on the way".
Also numerous other scientists which are open for new research possibilities came in the meantime to similar results. None of them believes that indian medicine and herbal lore could replace the conventional medicine with its technical power, but they all more or less think that one should dedicate more attention to indian knowledge and abilities. Most scientists agree that the modern apparatus medicine has gone into a fatal direction. They are convinced of the fact that indian healers can obtain crucial impulses for a pause, for new ways, possibly even for a turn.
Indian healers have the same opinion: "We Indians must work in our fashion, and you must deal with your tasks, whatever they are, in your way. We won't tell you what you should do, because we also don't like it if one says to us, what we have to do. You finally do not lay the claim to know all things of this world - about medicine or whatever. And not all knowledge can be packed into books. The universal knowledge includes the whole nature, all life in itself, and there is too much of it, than one could accommodate it in books. I state that we Indians have some knowledge as well as other humans have some of it, and that is exactly the reason, why we should share our knowledge. It would help us a lot, if we could divide... We Indians are the guardians of the country. Where ever you go in this country - if there are still Indians, if there have some survived, there will always be some among them which still know the law of the life, the earth and the winds. That is our task, like others are enabled to perform different tasks. We should co-operate, in order to make the life for all of us worth to be lived... Your ancestors have not just encountered a heap of savages. Your constitution was taken from the constitution of the Irokese, many of your best medical drugs have you got from us: Turpentine, chinine, camphor, cocaine, curare, the pill and even the Penicilline, which we took from decayed oak trunks and knew already for a long time before you. We had to keep secrets and hide much of our knowledge. Much of it is even held in books; but these things should not be made public (yet). We do not want to come into troubles. We don't look for the competition and do not believe in it. We flow in the river of nature, and the spirit shows us the way - the spirit of the fraternity and community.
We all wander through many lives. We have many lives, and sometimes we are able to bring these different lives together. We move from a life into the next, and thus there is no reason to be afraid of death. There is no death, only a change of worlds. Those, which argue with psychological welfare methods and other psychological phenomena, would welcome certainly useful hypotheses - however they would probably not expect to hear from an American Indian something about reincarnation. But nevertheless this was a fundamental conception and life attitude, which was shared by nearly all cultures. < heath > means pure in the old Greek, and < primitive > means first. Those are not negative terms. They mean neither barbaric nor ignorant... The medicine strength does not become extinct. In the opposite, it revives in many of our young people again. Years ago it was said that some day there wouldn't be any more healers, but that did not deceive us, we knew that we would not become extinct. We knew that one day this strength, nearly over night, would return. Now the time has come, the strength flows back in strong streams."
Indian healers, their abilities, knowledge and methods were interpreted several times by scientists. Most Indians explained later that such interpretation attempts missed the core by far. Therefore I want to do here without them and to quote the opinions of indian heaalers literally. Everyone may interpret this information in his own way.
Doug Boyd and its group of scientists experience the medicine man Rolling Thunder during herb collecting in a swamp completely undisturbed by mosquitoes while the other members of the team got stung badly. Rolling Thunders explanation for this is: "There is a certain basic attitude, which one can keep himself up. Mosquitoes will not bother you, will not even touch you, if you are able to maintain your good basic attitude. Such attitudes produce certain oscillations and body smells, which can keep the mosquitoes away. You can produce a self-smell, which they cannot bear with the best will. A reason, why they inject poison in you, is to make you nervous so that the others also can smell you. If the poison works, you feel provoked, but if you cannot be provoked also these poisons do not work. Even if you are stung, you do not have to swell up on your whole body. You can hold your whole situation under control by the smell, which you produce. This kind of control is not a simple thing, but it is also nothing impossible, because you can take it into the hand. Everything is steered from your inside." The medicine man advises these people who cannot do this: "[ You can also ] take simply some vinegar. With this you can make a beginning. Vinegar produces a certain smell, which is also disliked by the mosquitoes. They will not pester you so badly anymore. Take it with each meal and also when bathing, a few spoons into each bath."
The group of scientists collects certain leaves of a healing plant with Rolling Thunder. These plants are over and over covered with ants, which make the leaf collecting much more difficult. The medicine man then obviously seems to communicate> with the ants :
"I observed Rolling Thunder and saw that he wiped only with the finger over the leaves, as to lead the ants together and they actually crawled away. This repeated itself. Each time, when he waved at a leaf, the ants left it in whole groups. I saw how he pointed with his finger down a stem and a group of ants marched away in the indicated direction, as if its finger was a magnet and the ants small iron particles."
A little later the group encounters a large rattlesnake. All stood still immediately. Boyd reports; "Rolling Thunder bent down himself to the head of the snake and stretched out its hand. The snake wound itself and raised its head, in order to meet the hand. His hand and the eyes of the snake were hardly a centimeter apart from each other. Both began to move. If the hand went forward, the head went back. If the hand withdrew itself, the head followed. Rolling Thunder moved his head back and forth, and the rattle of the snake rattled. Now he stretched both hands out, and the snake swung slowly between them back and forth, first to the one side, then to the other one. Rolling Thunder and the snake were opposite each other in eye level. The whole was a kind of dance. Rolling Thunder stopped, and the snake became calm, absolutely motionless."
From statements of medicine men it can be concluded again and again that they regard the earth and all life on it as an organism, a body, which arises from one being. They feel one, in an unity its with the forest, the plants and animals and stones and landscapes. Into this are also included the destructive effects of technology, industry and military - and those of the sciences, which create the theoretical requirements for the global destruction.
Indians have always had big problems to understand why for instance psychiatrists do not seem to be able to see the connection between the cause of mental illnesses and the gigantic aggression which is done to nature and its whole being, including environmental pollution, destruction of the forests and landscapes. Each traditional Indian still has even today a sensitive feeling for these connections, is capable of understanding such interchange effects between humans and nature.
Doug Boyds research team was concerned intensively with the question, how Rolling Thunders healing strength functions. Is it real a strength, or does concern it power? Is it perhaps only a Placebo effect which is effective? Or are these phenomena connected with Hypnosis? The Indian healer tried to give a scientifically understandable explanation:
"The human body is divided into two halves, plus and minus. Everything that forms an unit in itself, consists of two opposite halves. Each energy body consists of two poles, a positive and a negative. We can direct this energy, exactly in the same way as we are able to hold our physical body under control. By leading this energy consciously, we produce forces. We can also learn to direct these forces at the correct way, at the correct place and at the right time... These hands are connected with the poles, one side minus and one side plus. The physical laws of the electricity are valid everywhere. It is already in itself a kind of spiritual strength. Therefore we can state in certain way that we work with electricity. You saw, how I spit on my palms, raise them and clap them together. At least it looks so for you. Serves a completely special purpose. In this moment I could lay the hand on someone and deliver a dangerous strike to him, not only within the physical range. There are always the same basic rules, the same techniques at work, but they can be used for good and evil purposes. For this reason there is a good and an evil medicine strength. The conception, which I discovered in many modern humans that there is neither good nor evil, that everything is alike, is a complete nonsense. I know, what they want to say with this, but they do not understand it. Where we stand here in life, there is good and evil, and they better should recognize this.
As long as so many humans accept the modern competition, the desire to make profit at expense of others, and still believe that it is a good thing; as long as we still exploit other humans and other life; use nature with selfish, unnatural means; as long as we perrmit that in these mountains hunters filled with Whiskey destroy other life only for their entertainment, spritual techniques and forces are potentially dangerously. One of the most important basic principles is that others may not be harmed, and this principle includes all humans, all life and all things of this world, too. It means that one should others neither control nor manipulate, that one should not try to take problems of others into the own hand. It means no living being has the right to cause harm to another being or control it. Each living being has the right to shape its own life after its own conceptions. Each being has his own identity and destiny. In order to fulfil this destiny, each being has the strength of the self-control, and this is exactly where spiritual strength begins. If some of these fundamental things are recognized, the time will be ripe to reveal even more."
These "basic principles" North American Indians follow almost uniformly, as far as this can be retraced on the basis of appropriate reports about their nature-religious rites, ceremonies, prayers and symbols. So before each hunt spritual ceremonies and deep prayers were held where the potential victims of the hunt, the prey, were asked for pardon in advance and they were told why the hunt and their death are necessary for surviving of the humans. It was promised to kill only animals whose loss would not endanger other animals, the new generation or unprotected herds. Likewise indian herb collectors work in this fashion for ages. Herb patches, which appear small or weakened, are left untouched. With other herb patches first a dialog with the "chieftain" is held, and the reason is explained to him, which makes the use of the herb necessary and meaningful. One even receives instructions from the "chieftain", which leaves may be taken by which plants. To indicate the fraternal solidarity a sacrifice is brought to the herbal patch in advance, mostly some tobacco, if necessary a small coin, but always something, which represents a value for the collector. The collector is aware of taking only a few leaves of certain plants carefully, so that they can live and prosper further and are not damaged. Likewise it behaves, if seeds or roots, bark or branches are needed. Similar rituals take place before collecting stones or earth, likewise when harvesting edible plants, vegetables, grain, berries or roots. The Indians have a view, an internal understanding for the family and kinship formation of such plant patches, recognize in them the "chieftains", the "ancestor mothers" from families, kinships and clans and leave these, in a small circle of trusted friends and relatives untouched during the harvest. These remaining islands in indian fields and plantations, untouched fruit bushes and trees caused only understandingless and head shaking in white people. They never understood or even wanted to understand the connection with substantial indian basic principles. The internal understanding for this integrity of all living beings was already taught to Indians as infants in the most careful and empathic way, which led to the fact that this view became the natural component of their entire attitude of mind.
The statement of the Indians of the fact that plants have a soul and they are also able to express feelings, was smiled at until recently. However, it could be proven by expanded scientific attempts in the meantime that plants react like humans, that they have feelings and a memory ability, optical and acoustic impressions and can very probably differentiate between harmony and discord, threat and friendship. The scientists, who call such reactions biological signals and regard plants now as organisms with a soul, think already - in the usual technocratic manner - how they can open mankind "breath-taking perspectives" from such realizations. Visions of extreme cold and heat resistance, of larger fruits with smaller or no seeds, of immense growth increases, of adventurous hybrid breeding and so on rise in them.
Indian healers shudder upon such thoughts. The Chippewa healer Sun Bear warns of overeager claiming on all levels, in particular in handling plants:
"Something, of which people must be aware when handling herbs is, not to become too dogmatic. Many become acquainted with something and immediately have the feeling to know all answers now. They perceived perhaps only a completely small little and then announce this as the whole core of the knowledge. If today someone suffers from a heavy blood poisoning or infection and there is danger to life we cannot tell him that he has to clean himself with herbs.
One cannot be dogmatic. One has responsibility for his life. One helps with what in this moment is available as the best means. If we need antibiotics, in order to save a life, then we use them. But a time will come, when many people must learn to judge how they have to treat most diverse diseases by themselves. Other they will not be able to survive... Sometimes with these conditions of the development one must use the medicine of the white man for the illness of the white man also. We [ medicine men ] accept that, but we try to remain as healthy as possible. I do not believe that the professional medicine can offer much useful for the diseases of the future. The only one, which will be able to protect humans, is a closer relation to the country and the balance with the natural forces. There are [ everywhere ] herbs within a circle of eighty kilometers against almost any illness, which can occur. If the time comes that one cannot receive herbs anymore over far distances, it will be good to know those which grow in the environment. Some herbs, which come from other countries, were always smoked or exposed to whatever process. That is everything very doubtful. One should adhere to such, which were treated completely naturally. Herbs affect both our mental and our physical condition. In old times medicine men did not give always the same herb for the same illness, even if it looked as if it concerned the same symptoms... Most people will have to relearn how to gain real experience and consider the teachings, how a herb actually works. They must learn that it cannot as work fast as a chemical. They must get accustomed to the fact that herbs need somewhat longer. We use herb teas for many of our illnesses and problems... The more love one puts into the cultivation of herbs, the more will he get back. One receives a better gift in return [ from them ]. I believe, many begin to understand now gradually that these changes come from mother earth. Destruction and cleaning are necessary, because humans have been seperated from the harmony with the natural forces. But if one returns to harmonious balance, begins to estimate plants again and uses them in a good way, then they will also serve you again. Each individual part of the universe is part of the whole one; we are all part of the medicine circle."
Wabun, the companion of the Chippewa Heilers Sun Bear, a former Life magazine lady journalist from New York, who observes since years the indian healers in every detail, describes its experiences with indian healers as follows:
"The earth is a wonderful, patient teacher. If you open yourself a little bit, she is ready to teach you everything you need even if you come from New York City like I... Which I learned above all, is never to limit the definition what an indian healer is. It is not only someone, who works with herbs... Usually one assumes people who are well informed about herbs are something like medically educated people of a certain kind. In past times their work might have covered all that, which one attributes today to specialists, like internalists, psychologists, faculty advisors or teachers - they could perform all these functions at the same time.
There were many women among the natives, who were healers, and their training was the same as for men. One studied from a herbal expert, learned what he knows, and connected the learning with the own impressions. The only restriction, which applied to women, was the time of the monthly cycle, the menstruation. That was justified not on fear (for instance of impurity), but on understanding. The women understood the strong changes, to which they were subjected during this time, and they understood that these influences had to be led carefully, so that they brought advantages and not disadvantages for the community. I can only confirm this from my own experience. There is hardly anthropologistic information about this. If women only try to notice their feelings during the menstruation soberly then they will notice that they are less concentrated than at other times. If they learn or if one teaches them to direct this unfocused energy then they can achieve great things. But there are only very few women, who are able to get in harmony with their own energy and strength sufficiently for achieving this or to teach other women how it can be done. Many herbs, sometimes mentioned as female herbs, deal with menstruation or pregnancy - they are used only by women, not by men. Concerning birth control, I have met several healers who state to have this knowledge but they all say that it would be abused and that they did not want to pass it on therefore...
Many people, which are concerned with herbal lore, do in the same encyclopedic way, which is used by humans of this society also to learn about other things. They read thirty books concerning a topic and bring themselves with it in disorder. I think, if one liked to become a herbal healer, one reaches this goal faster, if one lets himself be instructed by the herbs themselves.
For the natives there were four terrestrial ranges: First is that of the minerals; they can exist without the assistance of any other range. Second is that of the plants; they can exist with the assistance of the minerals. Third is that of the animals; they need the first two ranges, in order to be able to live. And we humans represent the fourth range of the creation and at most dependent. We cannot exist without the assistance of our brothers and sisters from the other three ranges. Although insight and imaginative powers and the strength for fulfilment are given to us, we are on the other hand weaker than the organisms of the other three ranges. If you go collecting herbs, express therefore: I need this herb to heal with its assistance the illness of another. Explain to the herb, why you pick it and what you expect from it. Go not and reach for it. Give it time to listen to what you have to say, before you pick it. Insure the plant that you will also return your body to mother earth, so that the life on earth can continue and the cycle remains closed. As it gives its life, so we return ourselves, our life, our energies, so that others can live. The earth is a very patient teacher, and one of the teachings, which we have to accept from it, is those, to be patient. One must proceed carefully, in order to learn the rules, so that one does not insult living beings. One must listen and wait. Let the things come in such a way to you, as it is their nature. That is perhaps the best lesson for people, if they like to learn herbal medicine from native healers: Be patient, be more respectful."
One may that indefinable energies, which indian healers call vitality, oscillations, vibrations or also electricity not take literally after our technical nomenclature, but should be aware that Indians themselves know very exactly, what is meant, and try to use the common terminology only in order to clarify these things for us. In reality the suitable terms for what Indians mean, are still not contained in our scientific expression register at all, because what seems to be well-known for them, we simply do not know yet, we are not able to classify it yet.
According to the opinion of the medicine man Semu Huaute the fact that scientists dismiss so gladly the abilities of the Indians as "supernaturally" - equivalently to nonsense, is characteristic for the extraordinary ignorance of such people. Thus Indians observe for instance birds, because their behavior can give very much information to a connoisseur, for example about the degrees of the air pollution, the condition of humans, the level of fear, animosity and depression of an area, even the condition of the soil of the entire area or about an approaching earthquake or a tidal wave, about changes of the climate, forthcoming heat or cooling break-downs. Also the appearance of plants, their alignment to or away from surface winds, their kind of the grouping or their disturbed propagation which suggests a depressive seed growing, all this can indicate despair or resignation; the condition of the earth's crust, which is determined by small living beings, which react on disturbed harmony or vital threat in a completely certain way, by withdrawing themselves; the kind of cloud formations, which adapts always characteristically to the ground shape, but reacts completely differently under disturbances - all these phenomena are, so that healer, known and interpretable by attentive connoisseurs not only optical or acoustic, but also in their spiritual radiation in an exact way.
Instead of recognizing such an ability as real science, as an analysis based on most detailed and most exact observations and in innumerable years stored empirical values, civil white ones would call this ironically "supernaturally" and would reject it. The true irony would lie - so the "uneducated Indian" - nevertheless probably clearly in the fact that especially those, which would have destroyed the natural equilibrium of the earth in shortest time use a term like "supernaturally" to whisk away many of the fundamental nature phenomena, which they rather like to ignore. The Indians would be humans, who are most natural, and for the most supernatural humans look best among the civil white technologists, who know so miserably little about the nature and manipulated nevertheless so much.
The Sioux healer Lame Deer is surprised because the white ones misunderstand the symbolism with which indian life is richly filled since so thoroughly:
"From the birth to death we Indians are merged into symbols as into a cover. The carrying cradle of a baby is covered with indications, which are to ensure a lucky, healthy life to the child. The mocassins of the dead ones have soles, whose beads are arranged in completely special kind, in order to facilitate for them their journey. For similar reasons most of us do have tattoos at our wrists - not as the tattoos of your sailors, daggers, hearts or naked girls, but only one name, a few letters or symbols. The owl woman, who guards the way to the spirit places, pays attention to these tattoos and lets us pass. They are like a passport... I see symbols on each day of my life in the form of certain roots or branches. I read reports from stones. I dedicate special attention to them, because I am a Yuwipi man and this is my thing. But I am not the only one. Many Indians do... Nothing is so small and unimportant that it would not possess a soul. The Gods are beings which are seperated from each other, but they all unite in Waca Tanka, the great spirit. It is difficult to understand - something like the holy trinity. One cannot explain it, without returning to the "circles within circles" phenomenon, to the spirit, which divides itself into stones, trees, tiny insects and sanctifies these with its presence. And there these myriads of things which constitute the universe and return to their origin, united in the one grandfather spirit."
Lame Deer and other Indian philosophers point out that also the everyday experience area of the Americans and Europeans is "paved" with symbols like that: what have the Christian cross, the forming of the cross with the hand, the other religious symbols been, or the staff of Aesculapius with the snake for the medical profession and pharmacists, or the uncounted university -, school- and business specific trade marks, or the multitude of the road signs and warning signs. All these symbols cause determined and intended associations, are indications of the affiliation, give hints in the traffic, which permit you to participate safely, to follow a direction and to reach a goal. The Indians mean that their symbols differed from those of other humans only in the fact that their symbols always were more of the mental and never of the material kind. Their symbols also pointed out affiliation, above all however nature-religious connections - so they were also a kind of road signs for the movement of humans within nature, for their humble relationship to all living ones, reminder, memory and obligation at the same time. Indians do not understand that for example the IBM or ITT symbols or the Ku-Klux-Klan-signs should be the most usual thing of the world, but their symbols which were taken from the alive nature are regarded as barbaric, heathenly or primitive fetish signs - and practically only for one reason: because one can understand nothing about it or wants to do so.
The statement of different Indian healers, also certain stones (so-called holy stones, healing stones) exercised a healing effect, would possess a spiritual strength, which is exhausted during wrong handling rapidly, with more correctly however regenerate, was always dismissed as charlatanry of the representatives of scientific teachings. Only gradually biochemists begin to suspect that there may be much more in it than so far accepted. One found out that certain minerals and crystal lattice structures contain extremely fine and numerous complicated "bio information potentials", that for instance titanium crystals could revolutionize possibly in the near future the entire microchip technology, because their storage capacity would amount to a much-millionfold of the today producible chips.
There are only two sorts of small stones, which Indian healers use for certain purposes and only under certain circumstances. According to the statements of the scientifically uneducated Indians it is very difficult to define these minerals exactly. They seem to be molybdenum and titan containing grown crystal structures. At the moment metallurgical investigations are in progress, because one noticed inexplicable, with normal technical means not measurable, but in the influence of tumor growth clearly detectable effects of such stones. The explanations for this are given by the involved scientists very generally and reservedly. But so much can be said: These certain minerals seem, if they are brought in contact with tumors, partially stop their growth while the crystal growth of the minerals increases at the same time in the microscopic measuring range. It seems to exist also reverse phenomena: Some crystal structures shrink, while tumor growth is accelerated at the same time .
That "eyes are the mirrors of the soul", is a very old realization. Eye diagnostics claim to be able to determine illnesses from the changes of the iris segments. Orthodox physicians contradict to that violently. Indian healers measure great importance to the view of the eyes (of humans and animal).
One gets the impression from the again and again hawked expressions of indian Healers over the meaning of the human (and animal) gaze that with this "strength of the radiant emittance" for sensitive humans can be feelings information connected with it, which covers very wide ranges. It is interesting in this context that all North American Indians avoided it carefully in chats, discussions or negotiations to see each other into the eyes. They looked in principle past each other. They obviously felt the view directed toward the eyes of the conversation partner as a hurting challenge, as the attempt of improper influence. Such direct looking was allowed only between opponents. One was convinced of the fact that a reasonable exchange of ideas could take place only if each partner could articulate uninfluenced, calmly and thoughtfully the messages out, which to convey he was assigned, that all influence leads to harmful spontaneous reactions, to errors, misunderstandings and illusory results, which could be positive for no side.
White interlocutors interpreted this thoroughly respectful attitude always wrong. That "Indians can never see into the eyes", interpreted them as signs of cunning, vileness and falsehood, dishonesty and dishonor. The fact that the "straight and open view" into the eyes of the other has been for the white ones an indication of an open heart and probity could never been understood by the Indians on the other hand; for them such a custom was a striking proof for the lack of knowledge of the nature of humans and the own self of the white ones, an expression of an undeveloped mental condition and a barbarian aggressiveness. The experiences which the Indians had made so far in contact with white ones and their "open views", seems to prove their judgement rather true.
The countless rituals and ceremonies, into which indian life was formally embedded - especially the many ritual and ceremonial dances - and which itself also those healers extensively practiced, were regarded from both of the early European and later American commentators over centuries in rare concord as demonic infernals were regarded. Both Shaman and group rituals and ceremonies of mass dances (for example the sun dance, the spirit dance or the winter spirit dance), which were for Indians of large therapeutic effect, were considered excesses of a blood and devil cult. The events were prohibited by law continuously from 16th to far in the 20th century and punished with harsh legal sanctions. Still until 1951 for instance in Canada after the so-called "Potlatch law" each person, who participated in such dance ceremonies or was involved in the preparations for this, was punished with prison between two and six months.
So persistent such prejudices are particularly in scientists that on the occasion of a death during a spirit dance of the Salish in British Columbia (that had completely different causes) in December 1972 a press campaign started with the goal of forbidding all such rituals again strictly and of placing offences under draconic penalty threats. The professional medicals and psychiatrists supported these demands. On 20th February 1973 the newspaper The Province published an interview with the speaker of the Canadian association of forensic psychologists. There it is stated: "the danger of such ceremonies consists of the fact that aggression and animosity can seize easily possession of the involved ones... the whole become demonic and satanic. Up to the collapse of any moral it is only a small step."
During a judicial negotiation at the 21. Februar 1974 a researcher team of the specialist areas psychiatry, anthropology and sociology of the university of British Columbia (Canada) spoke about the medical-therapeutic meaning of this indian healing dance. The scientists had been occupied in detail with the topic and came to the following result:
"This ceremony, generally known as Salish spirit dance, was revived after a period of colonial suppression. It is targeted at the young people to divert them from egocentric and asocial striving, from forbidden drugs and alcohol - which are for all active dancers taboo. The introduction to the ceremony serves a total personality change, a back meditation of the participants on the ideal standards of the traditional Salish culture, whose moral measure limits - as we peoples scientists know from the reports in former times - have been far superior to the euro-american civilization. Like all other effective methods of the reorientation of the personality this introductory treatment contains hard training and missing luxuries additionally to instruction and admonishment. The motivation of the participant is tested in these trials, in whose process he develops a stronger and healthier personality. I state hereby that our western society would be prepared better to meet the challenge from alcohol and drug abuse to if similar, culturally sanctioned methods were at the disposal to us. That effective treatment procedures are not whole without risks, will the psychiatrist, who takes refuge to electrical shocks in order to help a depressive patient, not surprise... We came to the result that many indian patients profit from an integration into these native therapeutic activities more than from exclusive contact with western methods. We think, one should persisting or reviving native healing practices regard as an important support in the total health care for the indian population, the western medical expert knowledge in this region stands fully for the order."
A long-term study, which was attached by the Canadian group of researchers to these initial investigations, led to a surprising result:
Changes in the western spirit of the time led around 11970 to a revival of the traditional healing ceremonies spreading rapidly among the Indians: Since that time the tribes in the northwest introduced again the "Spirit Dance", the tribes to the west the "Sun Dance", in the southwest the "Gourd Dance" and east of the Rocky Mountains the Peyote cult, which spread from Mexico to deep inside of Canada. The therapeutic success of these revived ceremonies seems to be overwhelming after all available facts. Thus ever more durable healings are observed from alcohol and drug addiction, from manical depression and aggression and also a rapid decrease of the suicide rates among the participants. None of the countless modern psychotherapeutical measures could show ever a healing ratio of more than 98 per cent, how it was documented by the Canadian researchers. The ritual practices of indian healers are, so the scientists, rehabilitated as durably effective therapies even in apparently hopeless cases. "Fasting, thirst, pain and missing luxuries in connection with highly intensive drums in frequencies, by which it can be expected that they produce accelerated echo in the cortical hearing center of the human brain" reported Wolfgang G. Jilek, a member of the Canadian researcher team, "become in these ceremonies used to facilitate the entrance into a changed consciousness condition which is so intensive that it causes a durable personality change."
Also scientists attributed harmful, addicting and hallucinogene effects to the Peyote cult (Peyote, Lophorora williamsii, is a small, grey-green cactus, which contains Mescaline beside other alkaloids), this is why - until today - everyone, which participates in it, must risk draconic punishments. All these prejudices were based, so Jilek, mainly on "the negative attitude of educators, legislators, scientists and law executors and the animosity of the churches", which formed opinions about things, from which them nothing concrete would know.
Scientists, who examined this complex very thoroughly, found out however that the statement of Indian healers, which claim that the Peyote cult according to its actual destination is a therapeutic movement, rightfully can be said. Already 1971 published the American Journal of Psychiatry under the title "Peyote use with the Navaho: Obviously without hesitation" a work of Robert L. Bergman, in which among other things also the well-known psychologist and hallucinogene researcher Karl Menninger is quoted: "Peyote is a better remedy for alcohol than everything that missionaries, the white man, the American medical society and the health departments could ever offer." An epidemiological confirming study among the Indians of the Saskatchewan province came to the same result: In 99 per cent of all cases alcoholics were durably cured by participation in Peyote ceremonies.
These and other investigations proved that the therapeutic effect with alcohol and drug addiction was justified not in the use of the Peyote, but rather in the "setting" created by the ritual ceremonies! Similar therapeutic effects have also other ceremonial dances, with which neither Peyote nor any other hallucinogene substance are used.
In the meantime ever more psychologists and ethnologists in the USA tend to view that the psychotherapeutical effects of indian rituals, which have been an integral component of all North American Indian cultures, equal to which provenance, have ensured over hundreds and thousands of years health of mind and soul.(Translated from the german original text)