IT’S A PUZZLEMENT


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It’s a dilemma that has been occupying my mind for some time now. How do all those pills we take know where to go? Seriously, I’m pretty sure there are not street signs directing this one to the heart, another one to the stomach, and a third to your headache. Yet each morning, we religiously sort them out and pop them into our willing mouths. If you take 6-7 pills, how does each one know where to go?

The ache and pain ones are very big business, and almost everyone at some time or other takes them, even for a sore finger, or an aching muscle from too much digging in the garden. But how do they get the message that that is what they are for?

Dr. Advice believes that the pain pills go directly to the brain, but I don’t see them making you any smarter than before you take one. Sometimes I think they stop off for coffee in some hidden corner before they get wherever they are going, since it takes them so long to do their job.

And they come in such delicious-looking colors; pink ones, blue ones, jelly-looking ones, (those are supposed to really be good for us), and many different shapes. They even give you small pill-cutters in case they don’t want us to to take the whole thing. I am taking one which needs to be cut into quarters! Now why in the world didn’t they simply cut the prescription mg. down? I’m not sure they really know what they are doing. Maybe that’s why they call it a “practice”.

Those are just the ones the doctor tells you to take. There is such an enormous array of over-the-counter medicine and vitamins it is truly mind-boggling. Do they make us feel better, or even look better? How about old-age wrinkles; is there a pill for them? I could make a million bucks selling them at the retirement homes.

The Native American Shaman has it made; he can do a little chanting, blow some smoke over you, and maybe prescribe a small dry hallucinogenic mushroom and you can float away in a soft blue haze and imagine yourself well.

My lovely aunt, whom Dr. Advice always thought resembled the movie star Ginger Rogers, recently passed away at the age of 99, and to my knowledge, never popped a pill in her life. What does this tell us?
Well, I’m feeling so good about myself right now but I think I’d better go take another pill just to be sure.

SHAMANS AND KUSHTAKAS


North Coast Shaman
Happy Tlingit Shaman, sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

chilcat blanket
Chilcat Blanket Tlingit

Shaman and Kushtaka! Both struck terror in the hearts of the Tlingit and Haida people, for both possessed frightening supernatural powers. The shaman, healer and seer, battled the kushtaka (Tlingit for Land Otter Man; in Haida, gageets) for the spirit of a man in danger of drowning or dying of exposure. Stories of kushtaka exploits, though they may no longer evoke the spine-tingling chill of earlier times, still have the power to mesmerize those who hear them.

The Tlingit and Haida universe abounded with spirits. In this world, the boundaries between animal and human realms were blurred. Early people could hear an omen in the hoot of an owl, or a chilling curfew in the croak of a raven. Should you hear the hoot of an owl, be prepared, it may be heralding very bad news if you are of the North Coast people!

The Chilcat blanket is quite an intricate robe, each family handing down the blanket from generation to generation.

The shaman mediated between the spirit world and the human realm. He was a figure of great power in most Native American cultures. Both the Southwest and North Coast people overflow with tales of the supernatural, so if you are feeling low, see your local Shaman! The cure may be worse that the cause, but it’s worth a try.