Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing
After reading a New Age-y book about "Coyote Medicine," I need a book about Klingons bashing each other to cleanse the palate.
So far, the Klingon book is better.
Al is so right. I teach classes in cultural history. Interesting to see the reaction to the fact that there are several Native American cultures and religions. Schools have a lot to answer for.
I teach English comp, and I just had a student write a paper on the ways in which Native Americans are stereotyped. The first ones he mentioned are the notions that Natives are all gone and that they all had the same (Plains type) culture. That made me very happy.
He justifies the use of the "Coyote" title. "Coyote Medicine" is about tricking a disease and surviving it using unconventional means.
On the other hand, he mostly does Lakota-style sweat lodges and vision quests. Which is odd since he's part-Cherokee and his teachers came from various tribes.
If you're going by what he practices, "Coyote" doesn't work for a predominantly Lakota approach. And he sometimes uses crystals for "energy," which pushes him (further) into the New Age category.
I'd fault him for mashing different tribal traditions into one undifferentiated bundle. But if they work in some cases, that's all the patients will care about.
Most of the ceremonies seem to be about helping a patient make a mind-body connection. It would be interesting to focus the same psychological attention on patients using non-Native, non-ceremonial means. It might prove that the ceremonies are unnecessary to achieve the "holistic" results.
In terms of learning that spirits/ceremonies can be helpful in healing, it would help a lot of people to understand there really are other ways that can work, including the mind/body that Rob mentions. I referred the book to Rob based on his agnosticism. I thought it would be interesting for him to read of cases where spirituality is a proven healer.
It's basically the placebo affect, but dressed up in ceremonies. Placebos have proved to work in many cases. Were the ceremonies and "spirits" necessary to cure people, or did activating their defenses by whatever means do the trick? That's the question here.
It would be interesting to hear his thoughts on New Agers in general. And to hear what a Lakota medicine man who scorns New Agers thinks of this book.
For more on New Age beliefs and practices, see Serpent Mound Vandalized with Crystals and Tonto as a "Spirit Warrior."