What the root peoples have to say

Ce que les peuples racines ont à nous dire - De la santé des hommes et de la santé du monde, by Frederika Van Ingen - Editions Les liens qui libèrent (LLL), January 2020 - 368 Pages

How can the knowledge of the root peoples inspire us in our approach to health, and in the ways we relate to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us? Frederika Van Ingen went to meet the Catawba shamans, Kogi medicine men or Maasai healers to discover their ancestral knowledge... and what they have to teach us.

For the Lakota of North America, the Kagabas of Colombia, the Tibetan Amchis, the Quechuas of Amazonia and many other root peoples, health is first and foremost synonymous with balance. In the eyes of the shaman, the healer or the medicine man, illness is a symptom: that of an imbalance that has its source beyond the person. It is a look that changes everything: our bodies are the cells of the world, our groups and societies its organs, and our physical and psychic ills, the signs of a disease of the living that inhabits us.

Here Frederika Van Ingen explores how these caregivers use this knowledge to heal ailments, often with surprising effectiveness. Sweat huts, plant diets, sand paintings, shamanic journeys, trances, rituals, offerings, symbols, tales, myths, songs, dances, arts in general: their healing tools, at first glance mysterious, possess true universal levers of action. Recognized by millennia of experience that we ourselves have forgotten, the knowledge of these peoples is an essential source of inspiration for restoring our own equilibrium, that of our bodies and our thoughts, as well as that of our societies.

This book is an exploration of a paradigm common to root peoples across continents. The inextricable link between inner balance and the state of the world, health as a manifestation of the relationship to self and the environment.

In all these ancient medicines, we realize that the common denominator is man and his environment: the earth, the cosmos, and the individual who is there between them as a link.

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Health as a barometer of balance

"A man in balance on the inside is therefore a healthy man! In all the traditional systems of representation of the world, health, sickness and healing are indicators, symptoms, which give information about the quality of the story that is woven in the heart of man himself, in his relationship with other men and with the world. Thus, whether in Africa or Siberia, it is not uncommon for a healer or shaman to prescribe as treatment acts of forgiveness, reconciliation, rituals that resemble challenges, offerings or changes in behaviour towards his relatives or nature. These seemingly "magical" acts will repair the individual's relationship to his or her world. And if the systems of representation seem very different according to peoples and religions, when we bring them closer together we realize that they are often only superficially different. And that, above all, the system furthest removed from that cultivated by these millennia-old peoples is ours! » […]

The disease, a symptom of imbalance of men and the world

"In our modern view, the onset of the disease can be explained somewhere between genetic inheritance, statistical Russian roulette and the maintenance of the "mechanics" of our body. Thus, depending on our lifestyle, our age, our sex, we have a percentage of "chance" to develop this or that pathology [...] And if the disease does develop, our surgical techniques restore the functions of the physical body to allow the mechanics to go a little further, our medications relieve the symptoms and our advanced treatments, fight, transform the mechanics, or substitute for its internal disorders. Of course, this vision is quite valid on the level of the individual and his body. And this is what our medicine is all about. But it focuses on the physical part of the person, what penetrates this envelope [...] Since the invention of psychology, it is sometimes interested in the thoughts, feelings and emotions that go through it, especially when they become uncomfortable and disturb the relationship. But in reality, it relies only on the visible, the measurable, the reproducible, and considers that what is not visible does not exist.  If we adopt the point of view of the root peoples, our vision forgets a whole range of possible causes, and even a whole range of life. » […]

Healing and caring, repairing the bonds

As our ancestors have always remained in touch with the Earth, it is naturally towards it that the attention of the root peoples is directed when it comes to healing: if the "great intelligence" that underlies life invented imbalance, it also invented the remedies to rebalance it. In fact, it is in nature and particularly in plants, and sometimes also in animal or mineral substances, that these peoples continue to draw their pharmacopoeia. […] Plants have always constituted the essential part of the pharmacopoeia of people living in nature. […] Alas, this knowledge is in decline. […] Because the "big problem today, which can be found everywhere on the planet," explains ethnobotanist and ethnopharmacologist Jean-Pierre Nicolas, "is the loss of knowledge: traditional practitioners are no longer always able to manage the question of doses and toxicity, knowledge is no longer transmitted, and secondly because plants are disappearing, because of the destruction of environments or excessive sampling. "A widespread problem. Faced with this loss, several peoples have decided to take the destiny of their pharmacopoeia in hand: they are writing down in books a knowledge that has always been based on oral transmission ... […] »

Frederika Van Ingenjournalist and author of Wisdom from elsewhere to live today (Edition Les Arènes, 2016), explored the themes of medicine, ecology and psychology, before discovering that they were brought together with great coherence in the millennial vision of the root peoples. His research focuses on the bridges to be created between our modern world and this ancestral knowledge. She also runs the "Cercle des passeurs"..

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