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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Meditations with the Cherokee Search

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Book Review:
Meditations with the Cherokee: Prayers, Songs, and Stories of Healing and Harmony

Author: J. T. Garrett
Trade Paperback, 144 pages
Publisher: Bear & Co.
Publication date: 2004
List: US$12.95, C$20.95
ISBN: 1879181592
Price & More Info: Click Here

The author is a member of the Eastern band of Cherokee from North Carolina. He is a public health director in that state, and has worked for the U.S. Public Health Service, Indian Health Services. He has trained as a practitioner of Cherokee Medicine. All of this gives him a unique perspective, as well as a highly individualized approach to sharing that knowledge with others. He obtained permission from various elders to share this information with non-Native Americans, so to fail to do so would be the height of rudeness.

Unlike many authors, he strives to make the subject of meditation not only accessible, but fun as well. There are no long, drawn out preparations is this book. Nor are there dire warnings about the need for protective preparations. Instead there are simple directions; easy to understand descriptions; and constant assurances about the ability of anyone to engage in the practice of meditation.

The meditations are simple and easy to follow, but that does nothing to decrease their effectiveness. The purpose of these meditations is to show, in the words of the Cherokee, "We are all related." These are meditations which anyone can undertake and benefit from.

In the New Age community, as well as in the Pagan/Wiccan communities there has been a great deal of assimilation (or as some have referred to it, theft) of Native American spirituality. If one wishes to use Native American imagery and ritual work in their own workings, there is an obligation to observe a couple of major points: First, one should familiarize oneself with the culture being borrowed from, to make sue that things remain in context (more about this in a moment); and Second, one should acknowledge the source of the borrowed material and offer appropriate thanks. Less importantly, but still not to be overlooked (in my opinion) is the fact that there is not, and never was, a "Native American religion", There were, and are, ways of life specific to the tribes, and these vary.

We now return to the context issue. In most Western magickal traditions there are certain colors associated with the directions (blue in the East, red in the South, green in the West, and black in the North as one set of examples). Native Americans have different associations ( the Cherokee use red, gold or yellow in the East, white or green in the South, black in the West, and purple or blue in the North). It is obvious, at least to me, that it could be jarring to the spirits invoked if the colors they are used to being associated with are not used by a practitioner. This is where the problem of mixing systems raises its head. If you use Native American imagery, use the appropriate symbols and colors. If you don't feel comfortable doing that, then you shouldn't use that imagery.

If you take the time to do the meditations Mr. Garrett presents, with an open mind, you will find yourself being drawn into a much more intimate relationship with the world around you. You will find that it is easier to bring yourself into balance with life.

Reviewed by Mike Gleason

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