Fast fashion, fast food, and now fast herbalism. Today online courses are making it easier than ever for common folk to learn and study herbalism. Except in these institutionalized fast paced programs the biggest part of what it means to be a traditional medicine holder, healer, or rootworker is beaten up side the head and buried for dead. Speaking to plants and learning with traditional healers is certainly a first step into reclaiming our heritage traditions from a decolonial, slow, and ceremonial heart. Traditional medicine tending is the only way to relate to the sacred plant ancestors. It is how we honor the authentic medicine persons who have come before us, and who were present in our lineages. There are songs, dances, chants, deities, and elemental tending to that cannot be understood except from the traditional healers and those who have skillfully taken the time to study with them.
Traditional Healers are not Dead
Every tribe and every village all over the world has a traditional healer. Whether that healer live in a cob hut or a trailer on a reservation. These people exist, and their community village people rely on their knowledge, and the passing down of these traditions in a customary way to the next generations. Winona LaDuke Anishinaabe activist speak at this years Earth day summit for Women working the Earth, among many other Indigenous women around the world, and she shared with us about the 7th fire. This fire is the time we are living in today, where people are slowly reawakening after having been violently forced to attend residential schooling and being ashamed to live a culturally relative existence. We are coming from two to three generations of severe assimilation, colonization, and a sleepless slumber of forgetfulness. Our recent ancestors in the Western frontier of the genocidal raping of Turtle Island has left us with many clues and hints. For our family it was the fertility dolls, Black angels, African cloths, and the Uncles with the long straight black hair who rode horses really good. Tracker an Apache Mother, Azteca Dancer and Spirit Runner said it very eloquently, " There are Native Medicine peoples who harvest the wild medicinal plants on Turtle Island for those who are in need of medicine. Go to them instead of wild crafting and over harvesting traditional Indigenous medicine sources for profit and or gain"
Erika Buenaflor said it is okay to appropriate your ancestors. Now we get so much backlash around this potential act of revival, gatekeeping, and preservation. When in reality as Michelle Song mentioned, we need to follow the rematriation path towards the reclamation of our ancestral ways. It is a slow process, a journey that takes time, Elders, Aunties, encouragement, travel for many, and we may not always know where to start. It is as simple as our dialect, the beautiful throaty nasaly sounds our Indigenous tongue holds. We can start by generalizing an area, content, country, nation, tribe, and ideally village.
Until We are All Free
When the Eagle flies with the Condor , a prophecy will fold inward to birth anew. We are living in these times where the Condor represents the melanin, those dark colored underworld fishing earth dwellers who hold deep ancestral and cosmic wisdom. These people are us. Compare this to the Bald white eagle who represents the ego, force, and leadership which has been appropriated by YT colonizers. The Eagle is a symbol of their violent military, their printed paper money, and in short capitalism. The Eagle did not choose to be branded and auctioned off for the YT capital agenda. Nor did the Eagle wish to be separated from his natural habitat in the wild, among many sacred animals held near and dear by the Native peoples all over Turtle Island where the Eagle does fly. One association we can pray for that undermines their agenda but speaks to the historical truth of the wild feminine stories that embody all kinship, is that the Eagle takes each of us under his wing and nurtures us to freedom. This freedom I speak about is not for the colonial western americanized hypocrits who cannot grow their food, tend to their young, or protect the waters. This freedom is for the Indigenous around the world.