To The Duke

To The Duke

Friday, July 29, 2011

Native Americans and Witchcraft

As most of you know, Cactus Country is publishing its first anthology on September 3rd.  I guess I shouldn't be amazed at the overwhelming number of submissions we received--it was the famous western writer, Dusty Richards, who sent out the call. Writers from all over the country sent hundreds of worthy stories, articles, poetry and art work. One submission by well-known western writer John T. Biggs is about Native American Withcraft.

I did some research and ran across a site devoted completely to the Cherokee pracatice of medicine. Here is the first paragraph from that site and a link to reach the site yourself.
Didanawisgi is the Cherokee word for medicine man. A common thread woven through all Native American remedies is the idea of “wellness” a term recently picked up by some in the modern medical professions. A state of “wellness” is described as “harmony between the mind, body and spirit.” The Cherokee word “tohi” - health - is the same as the word for peace. You’re in good health when your body is at peace. The “medicine circle” has no beginning and no end and therefore represents a concept of “harmonious unity.”

As you'll see, Cherokee Medicine, which they've been practicing for centuries, is much like what our doctors are talking about now as being "new." One of my grandfathers was part Cherokee. We didn't know his true history until after he died and my uncle reseached our family. We knew we had Native American blood running through our veins, but not even what tribe until after Grandpa died. He talked about things from his past, and it was plain that he knew the ways of the Native American, but for the most part it was something he didn't share. There were times though, when he got older, that I'd follow him through the woods while he gathered herbs and bark from trees. I wish I'd paid more attention because I realize what my grandpa was doing was practicing Cherokee medicine. And perhaps if I'd known then that they refer to it as Witchcraft, I would have been more interested. What kid doesn't perk up when you say the word witch.

The one thing I vividly remember Grandpa doing was gathering and burning sage for healing.  Sage has a musty smell to it and whenever I step into a shop that sells herbs, that smell takes me back. And I noticed a couple years ago while visiting the Grand Canyon, that most of the Indian shops there sold bundles of sage with directions on how to use it for well-being and peace of mind. Hummm, I think I might take a trip downtown today and see if I can't find me some sage.

And for more contemporaty information about Native Americans go to

Red Cloud and his famous Warbonnet
This site has a neat historical picture gallery of famous Native American headdress and their symbolic uses.