The Medicine in the Sky
I've been reading bedtime stories to the kids from Ernest Thompson Seton's "Woodland Tales" and we find lessons in each and every tale. Last night's story (Tale 71) really struck a chord with me. I am afflicted with some new allergies that seem to only bother me when indoors. Within minutes of leaving the house I feel better, can breathe easier, and my nose stops running.
Tale 71 spoke to me so much that I've decided to include it in its entirety here for your enjoyment:
This is one of the greatest and best secrets of Woodcraft--The Medicine in the Sky.
Let me tell you a story about it. There was once an Indian who left his own people, to live with the white man, in the East. But the Great Spirit was displeased, for he did not mean the Indian to live in houses or cities. After a year, the red man came back very thin and sick, coughing nearly all night, intead of sleeping. He believed himself dying.
The wise old Medicine Man of his tribe said, "You need the Medicine of the Sky." He took it and got quite well and strong.
Another Indian, who had gone to visit with a distant tribe of red men, came back with some sickness on his skin that made it very sore. It was far worse than Poison Ivy, for it began to eat into his flesh. The Medicine Man said, "Sky Medicine will cure you." And it did.
One day a white man, a trader, came with chest protectors to sell to the Indians. He was sure they needed them, because he did; and, although so well wrapped up, he was always cold. He suffered whenever the wind blew. The old Medicine Man said, " We don't need your chest pads, and you would not if you took the Sky Medicine." So the trader tried it, and by and by, to his surprise and joy, no matter whether it was hot or cold outdoors, he was comfortable.
This man had a friend who was a learned professor in a college, and he told him about the great thing he had learned from the old Indian. The professor was not old, but he was very sick and feeble in body. He could not sleep nights. His hair was falling out, and his mind filled with gloomy thoughts. The whole world seemed dark to him. He knew it was a kind of disease, and he went away out West to see his friend. Then he met the Medicine Man and said to him, "Can you help me?"
The wise old Indian said, "Oh, white man, where do you spend your days?"
"I spend them at my desk, in my study, or in the classroom."
"Yes, and your nights?"
"In my study among my books."
"And where do you sleep?"
"I don't sleep much, thought I have a comfortable bed."
"In the house?"
"Yes, of course."
"Listen, then, O foolish white man. The Great Spirit set Big Medicine in the sky to cure our ills. And you hide from it day and night. What do you expect but evil? This do and be saved. Take the Sky Medicine in measure of your strength."
He did so and it saved him. His strength came back. His cheeks grew ruddy, his hands grew steady, his hair ceased falling out, he slept like a baby. He was happy.
Now what is the Sky Medicine? It is the glorious sunlight, that cures so many human ills. We ask every Woodcrafter to hold on to its blessings.
And in this wise, O Guide, you must give it to the little ones. Make it an honourable exploit to be sunburnt to the elbows without blistering; another to be sunburnt to the shoulders; another to the waist; and greatest of all, when sunburnt all over. How are they to get this? Let them go to some quiet place for the last, and let the glory fall on their naked bodies, for ten minutes each day. Some more, and some less, according to their strength, and this is the measure--so long as it is pleasant, it is good.
In this way they will inherit one of the good things of the woods and be strong and hardened, for there is no greater medicine than the Sun in the sky.
Thanks for reading,