Best Audience: Herbalists and Spiritual Seekers who want to connect more authentically with the Wisdom of North American Native Healing and Medicine
Books on Native American healing and medicine are many, at least if you live in the United States of America. Most, however, feel kind of new-agey. I have nothing against the New Age movement. They’ve done some amazing work to open the consciousness and minds of the American and World public and bring some beautiful spiritual practices to mainstream audiences. Often, though, new-agey books feel somewhat ungrounded and fantastical. I was looking for a work that would give me some insight into the mysteries of the Native American connection to our land as well as some idea of how herbs take part in Native American Healing practices. Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing by Kenneth Cohen delivered just that.
For someone like me, who wants a taste of Native American medicine but doesn’t have a local teacher, Cohen’s work in Honoring the Medicine goes a long way toward delivering. From his personal practices and learning, he delivers tangible, real connection to the practices of our Native Ancestors. He focuses on respect throughout the text, always returning to personal experience as the true teacher we each need to find to fully understand the ways of the peoples of this land. I appreciated the practices, ideology, and philosophical stance Cohen shares through Honoring the Medicine. For me, he opened the door to better forming my own connections to my native land (despite my not being in any way a descendant of the Native American people who have walked these hills and valleys for thousands of years).
He also offered insights into how Native American culture has shaped and been shaped by the energies and Spirits of this specific land while holding a stance of deep respect for the Elders under whom he studied and the mysteries and traditions they strive to keep alive and protected. I walked away feeling the knowledge I’d gained in reading his work and trying the practices he offered in no way mars the sacredness of the traditions he represented but instead offered me a personal connection to their power I cherish. While I cannot say that Cohen has given me instruction in Native American Healing or the Medicine of this Land, he has given me an understandable view of the ways of our Native Ancestors, herbal practices included. I particularly appreciated that, being of largely European descent himself, Cohen was able to offer the kind of understanding that comes only from truly having his feet rooted in both worlds, that of modern American society based on European traditions and that of the Native peoples of this land we share.
For those who seek a real connection to the ways of Native American Healing as practiced by any specific tribe or tradition, Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing by Kenneth Cohen will offer you the first door to that path. You will need to find a teacher who knows the ways you wish to learn and then be accepted, earning the knowledge you seek, just as with all true Spiritual learning. If you’re looking for an understanding of the overall way that most Native traditions approach life, death, and all forms of medicine, then Cohen’s work will deliver. Those who seek the right way to approach an authentic study of Native American ways will find a framework in Honoring the Medicine toward that end.
The Bottom Line: Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing by Kenneth Cohen has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.
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