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Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
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Dream Herb Shaman Medicine: A Discussion
Article ID: 13289
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Alfred Willowhawk, DMsc, RMT, CTM, Shaman [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: July 4th. 2010
Times Viewed: 4,375
What is Dream Herb, and how is it used? Is this something new? Is the usage of this herb an excuse for recreational and illegal usage of natural and legal herbs?
Well, it is NOT new, nor is it an excuse for recreational usage of substances.
The preparation and usage of Dream herb is sacred, and should be utilized with respect, and for the purpose intended.
Shamans and shamanic practitioners all over the world have been helping individuals for generations utilizing naturally occurring substances that when combined sacredly, and appropriately can be utilized in a myriad of ways.
Dream Herb as shaman medicine is one of many ethnobiologicals that are used by shamans in most parts of the world. While this is a common name for the herb, there are at least four distinct plants that are considered Dream Herb. These are Calea Zacatehichi, Valerian seeds, African Dream Root, and Entada rheedi. One more plant Salvia though not used as a dream herb, also produces the active ingredient a crystalline alkaloid C21H26O8.
According to Wikipedia the definition of this plant Calea Zacatehichi, is also known as Cheech, and Bitter Grass. It is a plant used by the indigenous Chontal of the Mexican state of Oaxaca for oneiromancy (a form of divination based on dreams.) The plant naturally occurs from southern Mexico to northern Costa Rica. It has been scientifically demonstrated that extracts of this plant increase reaction times and the frequency and/or recollection of dreams versus placebo and diazepam. It is also employed by the Chontal people as a medicinal herb against gastrointestinal disorders, and is used as an appetizer, cathartic anti-dysentery remedy, and as a fever-reducing agent.
According to Chontal medicine men, this plant is capable of "clarifying the senses", and call it the "leaf of God". They utilize it in several different ways, one is to smoke it and drink it as a tea, and the other is to place it under their pillow before going to sleep and receive answers to the question they are seeking an answer to will come in a dream.
Traditional medical uses include, treating gastrointestinal disorders, and is used as an appetizer, cathartic anti-dysentery remedy, and as a fever-reducing agent.
In controlled experiments this herb has in fact to been found to increase the superficial stages of sleep and the number of spontaneous awakenings. The subjective reports of dreams were significantly higher than both placebo and diazepam, indicating an increase in hypnagogic imagery occurring during superficial sleep stages. A collection of interviews and written reports concerning the psychotropic effects of these preparations on 12 volunteers has been published. Free reports and direct questioning disclosed a discrete enhancement of all sensorial perceptions, an increase in imagery, mind thought discontinuity, void flux of ideas, and difficulties in retrieval. These effects were followed by somnolence and a short sleep during which the majority of the volunteers reported lively dreams.
There is also reported a feeling of well-being is said to persist for a day or more with no unpleasant side effects. Leaves show some experimental anti atherogenic and CNS depression activity and the plant contains 0.01% of a crystalline alkaloid, C21H26O8. This alkaloid is the same one found in Salvia.
In the movie Adventures in the Next Dimension, viewable on Google videos in the original German with English subtitles, we see a German Film crew as they follow several individuals on a quest for physical and spiritual health from Peru, to Sweden. These practices may seem strange to individuals of western medical mentality, yet there is no doubt that the people involved and captured for the film have been spiritually and physically healed.
In the first segment, the group of seekers is asked to coat themselves in mud and to walk around for the day. This in itself seems a strange request. The reason the shaman requires it is to show the group several things.
First, we are all the same, regardless of our ethnicity, race, or gender. Try walking around naked for a day in the jungle covered in mud. Visually, other than the obvious gender differences, all the people are 'grey', one race, one family. As the day continues, the group begins to interact as a family.
Secondly, there are several preparations that each member goes through, including a purgative, and several discussions on the nature of the ceremony in which they will participate.
Shaman Medicine with Dream Herb
Whenever it is desired to know the cause of an illness of the location of a distant or lost person, dry leaves of the plant are smoked, drunk and put under the pillow before going to sleep. Reportedly, the answer to the question comes in a dream. The human dose for divinatory purposes is a handful of the dried plant.
According to the Journal of Ethno pharmacology 18 (1986) 229-243, the psychotropic effects of these preparations this study reports utilizing direct questioning disclosed a discrete enhancement of all sensorial perceptions, an increase in imagery, mind thought discontinuity, void flux of ideas, and difficulties in retrieval. These effects were followed by somnolence and a short sleep during which the majority of the volunteers reported lively dreams.
These results show that zacatechichi administrations appear to enhance the number and/or recollection of dreams during sleeping periods. The data are in agreement with the oneirogenic reputation of the plant among the Chontal Indians. All this suggests that Calea zacatechichi induces episodes of lively hypnagogic imagery during SWS stage 1 of sleep, a psycho physiological effect that would be the basis of the ethno botanical use of the plant as an oneirogenic and oneiromantic agent.
This means that Dream Herb when utilized by individuals who are experienced in the changes in perception of reality, like shamans, it is very useful.
Shamans across the world use a variety of substances and techniques to enhance their ability to see more than the physical reality. After they find the non-physical cause of a particular ailment they can remove it or assist the individual in removing it themselves.
Therefore, Shamans, who utilize these herbs as shaman medicine, is a very potent way to help individuals who are suffering from a large number of maladies to become well.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 18 (1986) 229-243
Unterwegs in die Nachste Dimension, Google Videos
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Alfred Willowhawk, DMsc, RMT, CTM, Shaman
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