In sickness and in health

African healer Credo Mutwa in “Shaking out the Spirits: a Psychotherapist’s Entry into the Healing Mysteries of Global Shamanism” by Bradford Keeney says this about disease:

“Every one of us exists in two worlds at once. There is another earth existing side by side with this earth. In the other earth, we are all cannibals. When a person develops cancer, we believe it involves the cannibal counterpart of ourself from the other world that is slipping into this world to devour us. When a person is attacked by cancer, he must never show fear or else he makes himself weak. Disease, being a living animal, is ahead when you are afraid. In the religion of the Great Mother, you must not call anything or anyone an enemy. If you do this, you make it stronger. … When you have cancer, you must never panic. You must fight your sickness with a great calm. You must, above all, realize that what kills you is not so much the actual disease itself as it is your own mind that is tempted to surrender to the disease. Take your mind and occupy it fully in a very exciting project or occupation. This will give the body time to heal itself. This I know. I have kept diabetes, tuberculosis, and cancer at bay with this understanding.”

I believe there is a hidden message to this. I believe that this is telling us in a roundabout way how to prevent disease. From learning how to heal sickness, we can learn about how to create health.

Here it is – If you engage yourself in an exciting project, in something of great purpose and meaning, then you will prevent disease from striking at you. Laziness, sloth, inactivity causes disease. It opens the door.

It is when we do not live out our purpose in life that we get sick. We were created for much more than eating chips on the couch and watching reality TV. We were created for so much more than engaging in gossip and worrying about what latest trend we should follow.

God has created us to do good in this world. God has created us to be a force for change. We weren’t created for ourselves.

The prophet Micah tells us – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NIV)

The prophet Isaiah tells us more (Isaiah 58:6-7)

6 Isn’t the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him,
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?

We are created to heal others – to feed, clothe, and house them, and to rescue them from all kinds of prisons (mental, physical, educational, psychological). We are to be the hands of God.

We have to take care of these bodies that we have been given. They are delicate machines and need to be maintained. It is important to do this so that we are in our top form to be able to do the will of God in this world. Yet we must remember that we must do this only so that we can serve God. We must never believe (like so many modern ideas say) that we should just take care of ourselves. Self-less service is why we are here, not self-ish gain. We were not created to bask in waves of delight for delight’s sake. God most certainly wants us to be happy, but even more certainly wants us to be useful to others.

These thoughts from “The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary” might help you see a way to help yourself so that you can help others, or a way to remind others how to unlock their own healing from within –

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:
1. When did you stop dancing?
2. When did you stop singing?
3. When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
4. When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.”

So healing is to be found in dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence. Do those things and you will get well. Do those things and you will prevent sickness. It isn’t really about when you stopped doing these things – so much as starting to do them again right away.

Bead Shaman

I love to invite people to my home to help them create their own custom jewelry, or to take orders for it. I am like a shaman, but with beads. I use beads this way for myself, and I know there are others who have this need but don’t know how.

This is about more than just making a necklace or a bracelet. This is about making beaded items that have energy and meaning.

Making jewelry for the beginner isn’t easy. Perhaps you need only three beads, but you have to buy the whole strand. That is way too expensive for individuals. Perhaps you have an idea in mind but you aren’t sure how to do it. Perhaps you don’t know how to use crimp beads or clasps.

This is where you need expert help. There is an art to making things look simple.

Now, this doesn’t mean that making jewelry is simple.

Sometimes I’ll try to get across an idea and I just can’t do it with one design, so I’ll try with another. Sometimes even that doesn’t work. The beads are beautiful, they just aren’t beautiful together. This happens a lot more than I would like. When things happen in my head they work great. In reality the colors don’t work together or the proportions are off or the textures clash. I’m starting to realize that I’m better off if I just don’t think about it too much and just start trying it out in reality.

Sometimes I’ll buy a strand of beads just because I want to work with them. They are beautiful or rare or have a texture I’ve never seen. This happens a lot. When bead shopping, it is best to buy whatever catches your fancy then, because you won’t see it the next time. I’ll make something, and then have beads left over.

But being a bead shaman is more than that. Perhaps it is pretentious to say the word shaman, but I can’t think of anything else that comes close. How else can I describe an ability to create exactly what someone needs and I’ve not even seen them? How else can I describe being able to use beads as medicine?

If someone is grieving, giving them beads that are sharp or angular will only make it worse. Smooth beads, and ones that are oval or round, will be more soothing. Giving them beads that are neon colored will only make them hurt. Colors need to be muted.

This is part of what I mean. It is about knowing the effect that color and shape has on a person.

Knowing the history of beads is important too – where did they come from? Who made them? Are they used for any ritual purposes? What is the material? All of this knowledge comes from years of study. Beads aren’t just beads. They have layers of meaning.

Sure, there are books that talk about the powers of gemstones, and I know some of that. But I’m more interested in the other layers of meaning. For example, knowing that the majority of beads in one necklace were made by refugees gives the necklace a certain kind of beauty that isn’t apparent to the eye.

I love making power necklaces, and that other people can sense it. I love that I made a necklace in honor of the Holy Spirit and a lady wore it to a meeting in defense of her disabled child and prevailed.

I have studied beads over half my life, and there is always something new to learn and share about them.

The best thing anybody can do is give me a rough outline of what they want – a color, or a particular stone that they like – and then let me do the rest. A lot of this is by feel, and for that to work the person has to trust me. I’ll make exactly what they need, even though they may not realize it at the time. And when I make it, I pray for them. That energy goes into it too.

Beads are prayers made visible, and are stories in miniature.