Where Sun Dances Heal

Five thousand years ago 10 African bushmen in the Kalahari
Desert dancing around a bonfire capture the attention of their
ancestors, who save a boy’s heart by transferring !num (spirit)
into his ailing body. Meanwhile, in the plains of North America
twelve men gather inside a sweat lodge to pray to Wakan Tanka and
wrap the sick one inside the skin of a black-tailed deer. Hours
later, a vision of an eagle appears, followed by the arrival of the
Bear Spirit, which breaths on his neck and pumps blood to the man’s
heart once again.

‘As a means of helping communities heal disease, stay in balance
with their environment, and remain in the right relationship with
each other and spiritual domains, shamanic medicine has survived
the winds of time for at least ten thousand years,’ writes Bonnie
Horrigan for Science and Spirit. ‘It was the first medicine mankind
had and, in the beginning, it was the only medicine.’

But our modern Western culture struggles to understand shamanic
healing because God does not play a role in our medicine. ‘Rather
than seeking divine grace,’ Horrigan continues, ‘we strive for
knowledge, self-reliance, and control.’ Simply put, what we do not
truly understand, we dismiss. Anthropologists hit a wall when
trying to understand the Earth’s slowly dying tribal cultures
because they constantly filter tribal beliefs through their own
cultural lens.

But Profiles of Healing, a series edited by
anthropologist Bradford Keeney, offers a remarkably filter-free
view into the personal worlds of still-living tribal medicine men
and shamans, Horrigan writes.
Jacob Wheeler

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Sun Dances Heal

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