June 2, 2015
Medicine Children is the name of the first book I am going to write this year. A friend recently encouraged me to start compiling and sharing my information and research on this project in blog form, so as not to wait until the project is complete before having people read and hopefully share in the discussion this topic will surely provoke. So... the beginning...
The book will be an exposition about families raising children in the USA, whose adult members participate in indigenous ceremonial cultural practices, including the use of enthoegens, or psychoactive plant medicines. Examples of parents and children in this situation include members of the Native American Church, the Unaio do Vegetal, and the Daime Church, to name just a few. There will be stories from people involved in these traditions, as well as factual information from the cultures from which these practices arose. There will be information about the general aversion to and prejudice against psychoactive substances in our culture, and about the concurrent (and in my mind sadly ironic) labeling and drugging of our children with pharmaceuticals. There will be discussion about children and teens using these medicines, historically and currently, and stories from real people about the impact these medicines and ceremonies have had on them personally, in their relationships, in their family units and in their communities. There will be many of my own musings and questions, for which I'd love an interactive audience - I intend for this process to help me clarify what goes in the final book, and your thoughtful feedback will help!
From the Book's Foreword:
I am a part of an indigenous medicine tradition from the Colombian Amazon. The medicine, similar to the more well-known ayahuasca, but called yagé
by my elders, has changed my life, healing deep, previously un-healable wounds and offering me more internal presence, peace, and happiness than I have ever experienced in this life, after years of chronic depression, addiction, and drug use. I decided from the first to be open with my two children about this path. When I began my daughter was 9 and my son 13. I let them know that they were welcome to come to ceremony with me and experience (take) the medicine any time they wished. I let them know that as they reached their teen years, if they were 'typical' teens tempted to experiment with 'substances' - things that changed their normal conscious state - that this was another way to go: to experience this changing of consciousness with a seasoned guide who could help navigate through unknown territory with clarity and wisdom, in a safe container, as opposed to experimenting with substances in the company of other youth, in unknown and sometimes unsafe circumstances, which endeavor, although well-intentioned, might accurately be better described as 'the blind leading the blind.'
I was further encouraged to open this door for my children by the first shaman I ever met. He had occasion to visit my home before our first ceremony together, and upon meeting my nine-year-old daughter, said (through the translator)," If she ever wants to attend one of our medicine ceremonies, she is always welcome to come, any time. We would love to have her." I asked him if it were typical for children to take this medicine and he said that in his country they drink it whenever they want. In the US it was (and still is) not at all common for children to drink the medicine, but in this case he had seen something in my daughter's spirit which prompted him to invite her (I think it was her natural light and clear nature, but I am only guessing). Anyway, after my first ceremony I remembered his words, and it felt natural and right to give both of my children a standing invitation to participate. My daughter decided to participate in her first ceremony right before her 13th birthday. My son attended later, at age 18. More of their stories, and those of other medicine children, will follow.
I hope you will share this with friends and people who will find this conversation interesting, and please share any stories you might have about medicine and medicine children with me and with other readers of this blog.
Many continued blessings!