RED PATH

Red Path - Our collection of Native American Regalia, jewelry and artifacts are Native American made and come with a Certificate of Authenticity. Items include : ceremonial pipes, dance rattles, war bonnets, medicine bags, spirit masks, dance bustles, breastplate chokers, ceremonial fans, lances and a lot more. Great for a Powwow.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

APPRENTICESHIP

I am considering taking an apprentice or two sometime in the Spring of 2015. I want to pass on my knowledge to someone who will dedicate their life to help others. If you have the desire to learn and the willingness to help others, you may be the one whom I am seeking. You may send me an email if you are interested. Please tell me who you are and why you feel the desire to become an apprentice. smithtw77@gmail.com

Sunday, June 29, 2014

SOME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN NEOSHAMANISM AND CLASSICAL SHAMANISM

The following is an excerpt from James Endredy's book Ecoshamanism that I feel points out the differences.

'Neoshamanism most commonly refers to the practices surrounding the revival of interest in shamanism by modern people, spurred on primarily through the hugely popular work of authors such as Mircea Eliade, Carlos Castaneda, and Michael Harner. Core shamanism is at the center of the latest neoshamanic revival; it was created by Michael Harner and is distributed by his Foundation for Shamanic Studies. Classical shamanism most often refers to the practices employed by indigenous tribal shamans, both historic and current. Much of modern-day neoshamanism has gotten so far off the path from classical shamanism, and has become so commercialized, that the easiest way to begin understanding the differences between neoshamanism and classical shamanism is to simply note some of the differences between the two. The biggest distinction is that much of what is labeled as shamanic in our consumer-driven culture...listening to cd's of drumming, watching videos of bizarre body postures, reading shamanic fantasy stories conjured by city dwellers, replacing soul journey with guided imagery techniques, among many others...are not to be found in the practices of any shamanic tribes. Now, I firmly believe and give credit to the work of popular neoshamanic authors and workshop leaders for significantly raising the consciousness of the Western world toward shamanism. But I also know that many people are ready now for a deeper and more authentic encounter with the shamanic world. Another obvious distinction between neoshamanism and classical shamanism can be seen with regard to service. While neoshamanism has at its core the personal and spiritual development of its practitioners, classical shamans endure extreme hardships and dangers in order to fulfill their obligations to the communities that they serve. Unlike the personal growth atmosphere of neoshamanism, where a modern person feels a longing to become a better person and explores shamanic techniques to "find themselves" and so more fully realize their true human potential, classical shamans have a completely different goal; to serve the community."

Much of this is very similar to some whites who practice an imitation of American Indian medicine ways. Some of the tribal Elders have spoken out against those in the white community who conduct sweat lodge ceremonies for profit and feel (rightly so) that it is sacrilegious. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

SHOULD KRATOM USE BE LEGAL?

Thailand is considering legalizing kratom as a safer alternative for meth addicts, and U.S. researchers are studying its potential to help opiate abusers kick the habit without withdrawal side effects. Is that a good thing?




The leaves of the herb kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), a native of Southeast Asia in the coffee family, are used to relieve pain and improve mood as an opiate substitute and stimulant. The herb is also combined with cough syrup to make a popular beverage in Thailand called “4x100.” Because of its psychoactive properties, however, kratom is illegal in Thailand, Australia, Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists kratom as a “drug of concern” because of its abuse potential, stating it has no legitimate medical use. The state of Indiana has banned kratom consumption outright.

Now, looking to control its population’s growing dependence on methamphetamines, Thailand is attempting to legalize kratom, which it had originally banned 70 years ago.

At the same time, researchers are studying kratom’s ability to help wean addicts from much stronger drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. Studies show that a compound found in the plant could even serve as the basis for an alternative to methadone in treating addictions to opioids. The moves are just the latest step in kratom’s strange journey from home-brewed stimulant to illegal painkiller to, possibly, a withdrawal-free treatment for opioid abuse.

With kratom’s legal status under review in Thailand and U.S. researchers delving into the substance’s potential to help drug addicts, Scientific American spoke with Edward Boyer, a professor of emergency medicine and director of medical toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Boyer has worked with Chris McCurdy, a University of Mississippi professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacology, and others for the past several years to better understand whether kratom use should be stigmatized or celebrated
[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

How did you become interested in studying kratom?
A few years ago [the National Institutes of Health] wanted me to do a bit of consulting on emerging drugs that people might abuse. I came across kratom while searching online, but didn’t think much of it at first. When I mentioned it to the NIH, they suggested I speak with a researcher at the University of Mississippi who was doing work on kratom. [The researcher, McCurdy,] assured me that kratom was fascinating, and he started to go through the science behind it. I decided I needed to look into it further. Talk about chance favoring the prepared mind. I no sooner hung up the phone when a case of kratom abuse popped up at Massachusetts General Hospital.

How did this Mass General patient come to abuse kratom?
He was a [43-year-old] successful software engineer who had been self-medicating for chronic pain [as a result of thoracic outlet syndrome, a group of disorders that occurs when the blood vessels or nerves in the space between the collarbone and the first rib—the thoracic outlet—become compressed, causing pain in the shoulders and neck as well as numbness in the fingers]. He had started with pain pills, then switched to OxyContin, and then moved to Dilaudid, which is a high-potency opioid analgesic. He had gotten to the point where he was injecting himself with 10 milligrams of Dilaudid per day, which is a large dose. His wife found out and demanded that he quit.

He read about kratom online and started making a tea out of it. For the most part, this helped him avoid the opioid withdrawal he had been experiencing. After he started drinking the kratom tea, he also began to notice that he could work longer hours and that he was more attentive to his wife when they would speak. He began experimenting with ways to boost his alertness by adding modafinil [a U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved stimulant] with his kratom tea. That’s when he started to seize and had to be brought to the hospital. I have no idea how that combination of drugs caused a seizure, but that’s how he ended up at Mass General Hospital. Nobody there had heard of kratom abuse at the time. [Boyer and several colleagues, including McCurdy, published a case study about this incident in the June 2008 issue of the journal Addiction.]

The patient was spending $15,000 annually on kratom, according to your study, which is quite a lot for tea. What happened when he left the hospital and stopped using it?
After his stay at Mass General, he went off kratom cold turkey. The fascinating thing is that his only withdrawal symptom was a runny noise. As for his opioid withdrawal, we learned that kratom blunts that process awfully, awfully well.

Where did your kratom research go from there?
I had a small grant from the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse to look at individuals who self-treated chronic pain with opioid analgesics they purchased without prescription on the Internet. This was an extremely restricted population, but it nonetheless measures in the hundreds of thousands of people. About the time I started the study, the DEA and the state boards of pharmacy began shutting down online pharmacies, so sources of pain pills for these hundreds of thousands of people in the United States dried up instantaneously. A number of them switched to kratom.

How many people are using kratom in the U.S.?
I don’t know that there’s any epidemiology to inform that in an honest way. The typical drug abuse metrics don’t exist. But what I can tell you, based on my experience researching emerging drugs of abuse is that it is not difficult to get online.

How does kratom work?
Its pharmacology and toxicology aren’t well understood. Mitragynine—the isolated natural product in kratom leaves—binds to the same mu-opioid receptor as morphine, which explains why it treats pain. It’s got kappa-opioid receptor activity as well, and it’s also got adrenergic activity as well, so you stay alert throughout the day. This would explain why the guy who overdosed described himself as being more attentive. Some opioid medicinal chemists would suggest that kratom pharmacology might [reduce cravings for opioids] while at the same time providing pain relief. I don’t know how realistic that is in humans who take the drug, but that’s what some medicinal chemists would seem to suggest.

Kratom also has serotonergic activity, too—it binds with serotonin receptors. So if you want to treat depression, if you want to treat opioid pain, if you want to treat sleepiness, this [compound] really puts it all together.

Overdosing and drug mixing aside, is kratom dangerous?
People are afraid of opioid analgesics because they can lead to respiratory depression [difficulty breathing]. When you overdose on these drugs, your respiratory rate drops to zero. In animal studies where rats were given mitragynine, those rats had no respiratory depression. This opens the possibility of someday developing a pain medication as effective as morphine but without the risk of accidentally overdosing and dying.

What barriers have you run into when trying to study kratom?
I tried to get an NIH grant to study kratom specifically. When I went to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they said they’d never heard of that drug. When I went to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, they said this is a drug of abuse, and we don’t fund drug of abuse research. They want drugs that are used therapeutically. [A team led by McCurdy, who confirms that it is difficult to get funding to study kratom, did manage to secure a three-year grant from the NIH Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence to investigate the herb’s opioid-like effects.]

So the study of this type of substance falls to academics or pharma companies. Drug companies are the ones who can isolate a particular compound, do chemistry on it, study and modify the structure, figure out its activity relationships, and then create modified molecules for testing. Then you have eventually file for a new drug application with the FDA in order to conduct clinical trials. Based on my experiences, the likelihood of that happening is reasonably small.

Why wouldn’t large pharmaceutical companies try to make a blockbuster drug from kratom?
At least one pharma company [Smith, Kline & French, now part of GlaxoSmithKline] was looking at it in the 1960s, but something didn’t work for them. Either it wasn’t a strong enough analgesic or the solubility was bad or they didn’t have a drug delivery system for it. To the state of the art pharmaceutical business thinking in 1960s, this compound was not sufficient to be brought to market. Of course, now that we have a country with many addicted people dying of respiratory depression, having a drug that can effectively treat your pain with no respiratory depression, I think that’s pretty cool. It might be worth a second look for pharma companies.

There are reports that Thailand might legalize kratom to help that country control its meth problem. Could that work?
They can decriminalize kratom until they’re blue in the face but the reality is that kratom is indigenous to Thailand—it’s readily available and always has been. Yet drug users are still opting for methamphetamines, which are stronger than kratom, not to mention dirt cheap and widely available. I suspect that Thailand is just trying to say that they’re doing something about their meth problem, but that it might not be that effective.

Is kratom addictive?
I don’t know that there are studies showing animals will compulsively administer kratom, but I know that tolerance develops in animal models. I can tell you the guy in our Mass General case report went from injecting Dilaudid to using [$15,000] worth of kratom per year. That kind of sounds addictive to me. My gut is that, yeah, people can be addicted to it.

What are the dangers posed by kratom use or abuse?
It’s just like any other opioid that has abuse liability. Heroin was once marketed as a therapeutic product and later was criminalized. Yet OxyContin [a painkiller with a high risk for abuse] was marketed as a therapeutic but has remained legal. You put the proper safeguards in place and hope that people won’t abuse a substance. Speaking as a scientist, a physician and a practicing clinician, I think the fears of adverse events don’t mean you stop the scientific discovery process totally.

ENTHEOGENS

The word entheogen is a neologism derived from the ancient Greek. Entheos literally means "god (theos) within", translates as "inspired" and is the root of the English word "enthusiasm". The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthe means "to generate". So an entheogen is "that which generates God (or godly inspiration) within a person".

The word entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology (Carl A. P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Richard Evans Schultes, Jonathan Ott and R. Gordon Wasson). The literal meaning of the word is "that which causes God to be within an individual". The translation "creating the divine within" is sometimes given, but it should be noted that entheogen implies neither that something is created (as opposed to just perceiving something that is already there) nor that that which is experienced is within the user (as opposed to having independent existence).


It was coined as a replacement for the terms "hallucinogen" (popularized by Aldous Huxley's experiences with mescaline, published as The Doors of Perception in 1953) and "psychedelic" (a Greek neologism for "mind manifest", coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond, who was quite surprised when the well-known author, Aldous Huxley, volunteered to be a subject in experiments Osmond was running on mescaline). Ruck et al. argued that the term "hallucinogen" was inappropriate due to its etymological relationship to words relating to delirium and insanity. The term "psychedelic" was also seen as problematic, due to the similarity in sound to words pertaining to psychosis and also due to the fact that it had become irreversibly associated with various connotations of 1960s pop culture.


An entheogen, in the strictest sense, is a psychoactive substance used in a religious or shamanic context. Entheogens generally come from plant sources which contain molecules closely related to endogenous neurochemicals. They occur in a wide variety of sacraments of various religious rites and have been shown to directly provoke what users perceive as spiritual/mystical experiences.

I have used a few entheogens in ceremonial and ritual work, but I'm neither endorsing or condemning their use. They shouldn't be used by anyone unfamiler with how they may affect the body.



Sunday, February 2, 2014

Buffalo Woman, A Story of Magic

  I am offering some old American Indian tales. Enjoy!

Snow Bird, the Caddo medicine man, had a handsome son. When the boy was old enough to be given a man's name, Snow Bird called him Braveness because of his courage as a hunter. Many of the girls in the Caddo village wanted to win Braveness as a husband, but he paid little attention to any of them. One morning he started out for a day of hunting, and while he was walking along looking for wild game, he saw someone ahead of him sitting under a small elm tree. As he approached, he was surprised to find that the person was a young woman, and he started to turn aside. "Come here," she called to him in a pleasant voice. Braveness went up to her and saw that she was very young and very beautiful. "I knew you were coming here," she said, "and so I came to meet you." "You are not of my people," he replied. "How did you know that I was coming this way?" "I am Buffalo Woman," she said. "I have seen you many times before, from afar. I want you to take me home with you and let me stay with you." "I can take you home with me," Braveness answered her, "but you must ask my parents if you can stay with us." They started for his home at once, and when they arrived there Buffalo Woman asked Braveness's parents if she could stay with them and become the young man's wife. "If Braveness wants you for his wife, we will be pleased," said Snow Bird, the medicine man. "It is time that he had someone to love." And so Braveness and Buffalo Woman were married in the custom of the Caddo people and lived happily together for several moons. One day she asked him, "Will you do whatever I may ask of you, Braveness?" "Yes," he replied, "if what you ask is not unreasonable." "I want you to go with me to visit my people." Braveness said that he would go, and the next day they started for her home, she leading the way. After they had walked a long distance they came to some high hills, and all at once she turned round and looked at Braveness and said: "You promised me that you would do anything I say." "Yes," he answered. "Well," she said, "my home is on the other side of this high hill. I will tell you when we get to my mother. I know there will be many coming there to see who you are, and some may provoke you and try to make you angry, but do not allow yourself to become angry with any of them. Some may try to kill you." "Why should they do that?" asked Braveness. "Listen to what I am about to tell you," she said. "I knew you before you knew me. Through magic I made you come to me that first day. I said that some will try to make you angry, and if you show anger at even one of them, the others will join in fighting you until they have killed you. They will be jealous of you. The reason is that I refused many who wanted me." "But you are now my wife," Braveness said. "I have told you what to do when we get there," Buffalo Woman continued. "Now I want you to lie down on the ground and roll over twice." Braveness smiled at her, but he did as she had told him to do. He rolled over twice, and when he stood up he found himself changed into a Buffalo. For a moment Buffalo Woman looked at him, seeing the astonishment in his eyes. Then she rolled over twice, and she also became a Buffalo. Without saying a word she led him to the top of the hill. In the valley off to the west, Braveness could see hundreds and hundreds of Buffalo. "They are my people," said Buffalo Woman. "This is my home." When the members of the nearest herd saw Braveness and Buffalo Woman coming, they began gathering in one place, as though waiting for them. Buffalo Woman led the way, Braveness following her until they reached an old Buffalo cow, and he knew that she was the mother of his beautiful wife.For two moons they stayed with the herd. Every now and then, four or five of the young Buffalo males would come around and annoy Braveness, trying to arouse his anger, but he pretended not to notice hem. One night, Buffalo Woman told him that she was ready to go back to his home, and they slipped away over the hills. When they reached the place where they had turned themselves into Buffalo, they rolled over twice on the ground and became a man and a woman again. "Promise me that you will not tell anyone of this magical transformation," Buffalo Woman said. "If people learn about it, something bad will happen to us." They stayed at Braveness's home for twelve moons, and then Buffalo Woman asked him again to go with her to visit her people. They had not been long in the valley of the Buffalo when she told Braveness that the young males who were jealous of him were planning to have a foot-race. "They will challenge you to race and if you do not outrun them they will kill you," she said. That night Braveness could not sleep. He went out to take a long walk. It was a very dark night without moon or stars, but he could feel the presence of the Wind spirit. "You are young and strong," the Wind spirit whispered to him, "but you cannot outrun the Buffalo without my help. If you lose, they will kill you. If you win, they will never challenge you again. "What must I do to save my life and keep my beautiful wife?" asked Braveness. The Wind spirit gave him two things. "One of these is a magic herb," said the Wind spirit. "The other is dried mud from a medicine wallow. If the Buffalo catch up with you, first throw behind you the magic herb. If they come too close to you again, throw down the dried mud." The next day was the day of the race. At sunrise the young Buffalo gathered at the starting place. When Braveness joined them, they began making fun of him, telling him he was a man buffalo and therefore had not the power to outrun them. Braveness ignored their jeers, and calmly lined up with them at the starting point. An old Buffalo started the race with a loud bellow, and at first Braveness took the lead, running very swiftly. But soon the others began gaining on him, and when he heard their hard breathing close upon his heels, he threw the magic herb behind him. By this time he was growing very tired and thought he could not run any more. He looked back and saw one Buffalo holding his head down and coming very fast, rapidly closing the space between him and Braveness. Just as this Buffalo was about to catch up with him, Braveness threw down the dried mud from the medicine wallow. Soon he was far ahead again, but he knew that he had used up the powers given him by the Wind spirit. As he neared the goal set for the race, he heard the pounding of hooves coming closer behind him. At the last moment, he felt a strong wind on his face as it passed him to stir up dust and keep the Buffalo from overtaking him. With the help of the Wind spirit, Braveness crossed the goal first and won the race. After that, none of the Buffalo ever challenged him again, and he and Buffalo Woman lived peacefully with the herd until they were ready to return to his Caddo people. Not long after their return to Braveness's home, Buffalo Woman gave birth to a handsome son. They named him Buffalo Boy, and soon he was old enough to play with the other children of the village. One day while Buffalo Woman was cooking dinner, the boy slipped out of the lodge and went to join some other children at play. They played several games and then decided to play that they were Buffalo. Some of them lay on the ground to roll like Buffalo, and Buffalo Boy also did this. When he rolled over twice, he changed into a real Buffalo calf. Frightened by this, the other children ran for their lodges. About this time his mother came out to look for him, and when she saw the children running in fear she knew that something must be wrong. She went to see what had happened and found her son changed into a Buffalo calf. Taking him up in her arms, she ran down the hill, and as soon as she was out of sight of the village she turned herself into a Buffalo and with Buffalo Boy started off toward the west. Late that evening when Braveness returned from hunting he could find neither his wife nor his son in the lodge. He went out to look for them, and someone told him of the game the children had played and of the magic that had changed his son into a Buffalo calf. At first, Braveness could not believe what they told him, but after he had followed his wife's tracks down the hill and found the place where she had rolled he knew the story was true. For many moons, Braveness searched for Buffalo Woman and Buffalo Boy, but he never found them again.

                                                                 The First Fire
In the beginning of the world, there was no fire. The animal people were often cold. Only the Thunders, who lived in the world beyond the sky arch, had fire. At last they sent Lightning down to an island. Lightning put fire into the bottom of a hollow sycamore tree.
The animal people knew that the fire was there, because they could see smoke rising from the top of the tree. But they could not get to it on account of the water. So they held a council to decide what to do. Everyone that could fly or could swim was eager to go after the fire. Raven said, "Let me go. I am large and strong." At that time Raven was white. He flew high and far across the water and reached the top of the sycamore tree. While he sat there wondering what to do, the heat scorched all his feathers black. The frightened Raven flew home without the fire, and his feathers have been black ever since. Then the council sent Screech Owl. He flew to the island. But while he was looking down into the hollow tree, a blast of hot air came up and nearly burned out his eyes. He flew home and to this day, Screech Owl's eyes are red. Then Hooting Owl and Horned Owl were sent to the island together. But the smoke nearly blinded them, and the ashes carried up by the wind made white rings about their eyes. They had to come home, and were never able to get rid of the white rings. Then Little Snake swam across to the island, crawled through the grass to the tree, and entered it through a small hole at the bottom. But the smoke and the heat were too much for him, too. He escaped alive, but his body had been scorched black. And it was so twisted that he doubled on his track as if always trying to escape from a small space. Big Snake, the climber, offered to go for fire, but he fell into the burning stump and became as black as Little Snake. He has been the great blacksnake ever since. At last Water Spider said that she would go. Water Spider has black downy hair and red stripes on her body. She could run on top of water and she could dive to the bottom. She would have no trouble in getting to the island. "But you are so little, how will you carry enough fire?" the council asked. "I'll manage all right," answered Water Spider. "I can spin a web." so she spun a thread from her body and wove it into a little bowl and fastened the little bowl on her back. Then she crossed over to the island and through the grass. She put one little coal of fire into her bowl and brought it across to the people. Every since, we have had fire. And the Water Spider still has her little bowl on her back.