Such "plastic medicine people" are fooling around with mental
health and in ways for which they are not properly trained by experts. It
is not a question of dispute over who is right and who is wrong and who
Furthermore, the views set forth by The Great Round publications that "rituals are generic" and can be borrowed from one group or another and passed around reflects abysmal ignorance as to the very specific qualities of ritual as it is elaborated by the collective psyche of a given group of people, and it is valid for them alone. No ritual can be borrowed. No ritual can be created as an innovation by one individual. In indigenous groups, innovation occurs only as it emerges from a vision or a dream of a member of that community and bears all the marks of having a collective meaning, and must pass the scrutiny of experts in that community. The contention, for instance, that the "Prune Dance" began to be practiced by these New Age people because some white man dreamt of the world as if it were dried up like a prune and therefore needed a new ceremony to juice it up, is a severe misunderstanding of the true nature of dream. That white man's dream referred to his white world and not to any Sun Dance, which is an Indian ceremony. It might have meant that this particular man's env-ironment was like a dried prune. The white man's arrogance is boundless.
And while indeed the Spirit exists for each and all, and manifests in many ways, the way a human group relates to the earth is very specific. Each ritual, item, song or action exists in a very real context of family and social life in a group, and carries meaning within this very group, and not for other
To borrow bits and pieces and create some hodgepodge for one's own benefit,
financial or emotional, and as one wishes, is indeed the American way, but
it is also very sad. It is as if Americans were so spiritually bankrupt
that they did not have any inner resources to draw from and had to borrow
from others the source of any inspiration. To peddle such hodgepodge to
others for a fee, be it vision quest, sweatlodge or other ceremony, is
taking advantage of the gullible and disoriented and to profit by it. This
is the true essence of charlatanism.
In Native American traditions, the holy men and women, the spiritual advisors and medicine people hold different functions in society and have very different training. But all are sustained by their community without benefit to themselves. In return, they know that their primary responsibility is to their community, and should they depart from that path, seeking fame or glory or financial gain, they are leaving their true vocation and will be shunned. True humility and service to others are indeed their remarkable qualities. They do not market themselves, do not publicize their skills and do not issue flyers. They work hard in silence and in true dedication to the welfare of others and they know well the dark forces which can overcome them should they depart from their obligations.
Indian medicine men and women train from childhood. They are not allowed to practice until they have undergone a long experience of the powerful spirits or psychic forces they will encounter first in themselves, long before they are singled out for specific healing tasks by others. They do not appoint themselves. Rarely does a medicine man or woman come to practice
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