The Wind is My Mother: The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman

bearheart_smile By Jenn Donahue

Bear Heart is a full blooded Muskogee Creek Indian and one of the last “trained” Medicine Men. Bear Heart received his name during a vision-quest. While meditating on a mountain-top he comes face to face with a bear. Rather than running, or fighting the bear, he calmly communicates with the bear and shows his respect for the bear. Bear Hearts states that The Bear is his father, as his father came from the Bear Clan. He connects with the bear’s heart and is given the name “Bear Heart.”

The job of Medicine Man is not a job that you apply for. In order to be considered for this important role, you must show that you have what it takes, and the medicine man in your community must choose you to take his place. Bear Heart never expected to be chosen, but he was chosen by two separate healers, to take their places. Both Daniel Beaver and Dave Lewis approached Bear Heart about teaching him the ways of a healer. Bear Heart was trained to be a Medicine Man in the traditional way. This involved fasting for days, meditating and even sitting wrapped around a tree for hours at a time with no idea what to expect.

Throughout The Wind is My Mother, Bear Heart discusses both Indian and Christian morals and how they fit into our lives. A resounding message heard though this novel is learning from the evil. Bear Heart explains that each thing that happens to us causes us growth. He believes that we should thank the Creator for the bad as well as the good, knowing that both have a role in our lives. Bear Heart prays for those who hurt, him as well as those who help. ” When something terrible happens to you, say, ‘Thank you’, because there’s a lesson there.” Bear Heart points out the fact that there is a lesson in just about everything.

Among the Native American teachings are many things that Americans ignore. Native Americans have a deep respect for their elders and the environment. Bear Heart talks about praying for an animal and thanking it before it is killed. He blesses the ground and thanks the Creator before digging a fire pit, thanks the tree for wood and even says hello to the grass. At three days old Bear Heart was taken by his mother to be introduced to the four directions, the earth, the sky and all of the world that surrounds us. An Indian’s respect for his elders is above all others. Native American’s do not speak to their elders without being spoken to. They are believed to be the most knowledgeable in the tribe and to deserve the utmost respect.

The power of laughter is never one to be ignored. Bear heart tells about a Native American group with low cholesterol though their diet was rich in cholesterol. The only answer that could be found was the fact that the people eating it were joyous and laughing while eating, allowing their bodies to properly digest the food, As Americans we often gulp coffee and eat a bagel whilst trying to beat traffic. This is not healthy for our bodies, nor is it healthy for our souls. Bear Heart uses humor as medicine regularly. He will treat a bereaved person to a treatment of laughter and truly believes in the motto of “Laughter is the best medicine.” Bear Heart describes how he will often console someone for their loss and then turn on the humor and leave them laughing.

Bear Heart tells us about humans inability to let go of things. He explains that we need to deal with things and move on, lest we be held back. He tells the story of a monkey, banana and a pumpkin. There is a hole small enough to insert the banana and the monkey can get his hand in. The monkey will grab onto the banana and hold on. He cannot get it out of the hole, yet he continues to hold on to it. We can be the monkey, and blame he pumpkin for our inability to move, or we can let go.

The stories conveyed in The Wind is My Mother are both thought provoking and touching. The reader learns many great lessons, both about being a Shaman and about being human. I found the thoughts of Bear Heart to be completely fascinating and would highly recommend this book to a compilation of fascinating stories, told through the voice of modern day Native American Shaman, Bear Heart. Reading Bear Heart’s book is like sitting around a campfire with Bear Heart himself. You can almost see the smoke swirling as he talks of sending his voice up to the Creator, and hear his deep serene voice gently telling the stories of his life. While listening to his story telling, you begin to feel a change in yourself and in your heart, that comes from the messages he carries.
The Wind is My Mother


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