Good medicine -- and bad [Medicine men, and witches]

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at
Tue Nov 26 15:02:35 MST 2002

Note by Hunterbear:

For months, now, our website page on the then forthcoming Skinwalkers [PBS]
film -- which now includes as well my November 24 review of the just and
finally shown production -- has been drawing a fair number of visitors.  But
Sunday's visitation to the page [obviously before and after the showing] was
almost 150 and Monday's was about 200.  In addition, my review of
Skinwalkers has been widely posted on Native news and other outlets
and is appearing on various websites.  And I've been getting a good many
inquiries about Skinwalkers and their witch context which I've answered,
of course, with careful discretion.

Here's one of my responses -- this to a Native colleague in California,
interesting in learning more about good medicine and bad, with
especial reference to the Navajo [Dine'] setting:


Thanks much for your very interesting comments. If you have, readily
available, a link to your paper on Bear medicine, I'd be interested in
getting it and going to the piece.  Don't let this request be any
inconvenience -- and, in your letter, you've already given me a look into a
California dimension of which I know little.  My oldest son, John Salter
III, now in the Fargo area, got his MA in English from UND in '88 and then
spent several extremely interesting and productive years as director of the
Roundhouse Council, the primarily Mountain Maidu program out of Greenville,
CA.  He also linked-up closely with other Native directors of comparable
programs in the central and northern parts of the state.  From him, I heard
some interesting things.

What I'm saying in my Skinwalkers review is that I believe that "good
medicine" and "bad" are real in every sense -- including that of
supernatural theology.  In short, I'm a believer -- who often has to do
battle with agnostics and atheists on some of these radical [Left]
discussion lists. Our own family religious beliefs are a now very
 old mix of Jesuit Catholicism with Wabanaki and Iroquois beliefs.
But I grew up within and immediately around the Navajo, and with
close Laguna connections as well, so I'm pretty ecumenical.

A Navajo medicine man trains intricately and rigorously, as I mentioned, for
as many as seventeen  years before he's a full-fledged practitioner.

Although not much is known of "witch preparation and sociology," it seems
clear that a full-status  witch trains very intricately and rigorously as
well. [Skinwalkers are lesser-degree witch-types who, usually working for a
full status witch, travel into the field planting spells and robbing.]

None of this, good medicine or bad, is hokum -- nor is it "psychological

Anyone who has observed a medicine man at work in a healing capacity always
recognizes the presence of a very significant non-tangible and intensely
positive  dimensional force. The physicians of  U.S. Indian Health Service
[PHS] in the Navajo country -- and in many other Native settings as well --
are very respectfully aware of this.

It's not at all uncommon for a person to be suddenly or insidiously and
slowly stricken with a profound and mysterious malady -- and to then bring
in a medicine man  who will, with all careful speed, locate  the "spell"
which a Skinwalker had secretly planted  at night -- say, just outside or at
least very close to, the victim's hogan.  The medicine man will immediately
destroy the spell in several ways, heal the victim, and purify the general

If there is a "rational" or "western" explanation for this -- good medicine
and bad -- it would probably lie in the realm of one particular
parapsychological dimension especially:  telekinesis [TK] which is now more
often called psychokinesis [PK.]  This, in essence, is mind-over-matter.
The existence of TK [or PK] has been amply proven in a myriad of spontaneous
cases over the eras of human existence -- and, within the last century,
under rigorous lab conditions.  In the latter context, this has been global
in scope:  e.g., the early research by William James at Harvard, decades of
work by J.B. Rhine and Laura Rhine at Duke and J.G. Pratt at University of
Virginia -- and an enormous amount of TK [or PK] research in the USSR and
Czechoslovakia over many decades [work which still continues even though the
Red East has changed.]

Boiled down to the very basic essence, this means that certain people can,
in thinking good thoughts, make things bloom and live -- whereas others, via
thought, can make things wither and die. The potential for all ESP -- TK/PK,
telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, etc -- may well exist in all humans
[and animals as well.]  Much "Western" thinking and narrow scientific
methodology can  frequently suppress [but not kill] this -- but tribal
thinking encourages its conscious development and usage.  And there are
certain people, who for good and ill, appear to have this much closer to the
surface and more readily at hand.

The practitioners of good medicine are far more numerous -- and, in the last
analysis -- far more powerful than those of bad medicine.

For my part, although I am a member of  the very staid and august American
Society for Psychical Research [which studies various ESP phenomena,
including TK or PK -- and the survival of the human personality beyond
bodily death], I much prefer the traditional Native theological

At the moment, the most interesting thing around here was a group of
frightened mule deer a couple of  mornings ago -- in all probability
spooked by a successful mountain lion  -- that all came rushing down
an extremely steep slope in a rugged setting a few miles from our
house, at pre-dawn. They came very close to me.  I had walked 'way up
there in the early morning moonlight, quite large lion tracks in the snow
immediately ahead of me. It's possible whichever lion [there are several
living in that particular deep valley/canyon] was hungrily involved
with the deer and had just gotten one -- and the frenetic survivors
came close to trampling me as I was climbing up the very high slope.
I do hope the lion did get a deer -- and I'm grateful the panicky deer
didn't get me. After a life thus far of close calls that began early, it
would really not look good  at all to be "done in" by deer.

Take care and all best always --  Hunter

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
[formerly John R. Salter, Jr.]  Micmac / St Francis Abenaki / St Regis
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

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