Manataka American Indian Council









Medicine for the People

By Jim McDonald,


Long, long ago, when the two-leggeds first rose up from the Earth, they were stricken with awe by the beauty of the Creation that gave birth to them.  Everywhere they went, they looked at, smelled, touched, and listened to all that surrounded them; the trees, plants, insects, birds and animals with which they shared their home on this Earth.  To travel only a short distance often took much time, for there was so much beauty to be experienced between here and there.  It was in this time that the two-leggeds mapped the travel of the stars in the heavens, listened to the spirits of animals and learned the medicines of the plants that grew upon the Earth.


And for ages, harmony existed betwixt humankind and Nature.


But as time passed, the two-leggeds became ever more involved with their own deeds and thoughts, and less did they delve into field and forest to learn from their Elders, the plants and animals that dwelt there.  Now, when they would walk from this place to that, they would without notice tread upon the delicate flowers and small creatures that once they marvelled at.  They would hunt and kill without offering thanks or expressing their gratitude, and they seemed to see the Earth only as theirs to be used for shortsighted ends.


So it was that the plants that grew upon the Earth called council with the Creator, deep in the Center of the Earth where all roots meet.   And they asked the Creator what should be done about the youngest of the Earth's children, who now walked without respect upon the Earth's belly, who took of them without asking and without listening, and who now seemed to think nothing of their place upon the Earth.  The Creator said to the plants that in the morning they would know of the descision to be made.


That next morning, as the sun rose it shone upon a new plant that grew among the others.  Distinct it was with three jagged leaves, white flowers and berries, and like Ivy it climbed up trees, stood on its own and covered the forest floor.  Surely believed the plants, the two-leggeds would see this new plant and wish to learn of its medicine.


But, alas, the Creator's children saw it not, even as it spread before them throughout the forest.  They walked upon it, tore it away from the logs they wished to burn, and pulled it from their gardens without seeing it as new.


... and then, they began to itch, and a reddening rash, like the flush of anger, spread over their bodies.  Only then did the two leggeds see this new plant; only then did they learn of its medicine.  But time and again, they would fall into their own minds and again forget, until again they were aflicted with this new "medicine".


Some, though, did become aware, regained their respect and wonder.  They learned that this plant, this poison Ivy, had come to them to call them back to attention, back into their bodies, back to the present moment to see what lay before them, and to watch closely where and how they walked upon the Earth.

So it was that Poison Ivy came into the world.


2000-2008 jim mcdonald

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