Native American medicine rests on the core belief that all life is interconnected, and that everyone and everything has a corresponding presence in the spiritual world. Not only living things including plants and insects, but also inanimate objects such as rocks and wind, are believed to contain spirits. The web of life and the connectedness of body and spirit are fundamental to the related belief that the spirit world can influence the activities of the physical world, and thus promote health or cause illness. Shamans were and still are employed primarily to access and influence the spiritual forces that govern the physical world.
Thoughts and ideas are believed to have the power to influence events. The Navaho and other tribes, therefore, do not speak of death and dying for fear of causing it to occur. In modern times, this inhibits planning and can create other difficulties when Native Americans are hospitalized with serious or terminal illnesses.
Native American healing systems blur the line that Westerners draw between religion and medicine. For example, a common Native American practice, particularly for young men, was an exercise known as the vision quest. In the vision quest, a young man would travel away from home, out into the wilderness for several days of fasting and prayer This ritual was assumed to encourage the spirits to provide the boy with a "vision" that would dictate the course of his life and his role in the life of the tribe. Many shamans and healers were called to their profession as the result of a vision quest.
Native American healing is characterized also by its communal nature. Many healing ceremonies are conducted in groups, and individual patients often are surrounded by chanting or praying family members when receiving treatment at home or in a hospital. This is in marked contrast to healing in many other systems, which presume a one-on-one relationship between care-giver and patient. It differs also from Western systems that encourage a high degree of confidentiality between doctor and patient.
Communal healing reflects the belief held by many Native American groups that an imbalance or disharmony in an individual is a threat to the harmony and wellbeing of the entire community. This view flows from the Native American emphasis on the interrelatedness of life and all of nature's creations, and on the overriding importance of the tribe as a whole.
Was this article helpful?
The Path Of Receiving Supernatural Healing As Jesus Healed. In ancient times faith healing was widely accepted as the only form of healing for both physical and mental health problems. As the development of science had not yet come about or even existed, this process was considered authentic, especially when positive results were achieved.