Canvases Tell Stories of Aboriginal Dreaming
For several millenniums, the indigenous people of Australia told stories in different ways. Sometimes, they shared tales by word of mouth. Other times, they drew pictures in the sand or painted their bodies.
But none of it was recorded permanently, simply because they never saw a need for it.
Then, in the 1970s, something changed. An art teacher named Geoff Bardon asked a group of people from the Papunya tribe to paint their stories as murals on a school wall. This led to a contemporary art movement of other Aboriginal people recording their own stories on canvas.
As North Coast plant maven Nancy Kissam likes to point out, every geographic area has “its own medicine chest.”
“It's not like everyone was sitting around waiting for the Europeans to come with theirs,” she says with a chuckle.
Many of the familiar herbs used culinarily and for folk remedies with Old World roots have New World counterparts. Even closer to home, California itself has many local herbs that served the needs of Native American tribes and settlers.
Riverside Park at 81st Street, Manhattan, 3 p.m.: Journeying
A drum beats methodically 20 feet from the Hudson, attracting curious looks from joggers, bikers and baby strollers. Seven women, dressed mostly in earth tones, lie in a circle around their shaman, Olivia Olkowski, 47, who leads the journey. Ten minutes later the drum ceases and a conversation begins. Discussion focuses on letting go of bad habits, facing a traumatic experience in one’s past and overcoming obstacles.
The women are all part of the New York Shamanic Circle, a nonprofit organization that promotes healing and earth-honored living. On the first Sunday of every month, the group members meet outdoors, weather permitting, to embark on their spiritual journeys. This month’s session utilized elementals found here on the Hudson waterfront—earth, water and sky—to achieve an altered state and access the subconscious mind.
At the centre of the lush Guatemalan rainforest in El Peten lies the complex considered the epicentre of Mayan culture – Tikal. At its centre is the Gran Plaza, an acropolis flanked by two giant temples. One afternoon in July, a young Mayan shaman prepares the altar facing the acropolis to conduct a rite of prosperity. He has chosen the day carefully – it’s the auspicious day of the mono, the monkey. As the shrieks of howler monkeys form an acoustic backdrop, the shaman goes about his duties, setting up four candles at the cardinal points. He seeks blessings for a commercial venture, to bring its promoters the qualities a monkey embodies in Mayan lore – resourcefulness, intelligence, agility of thought and actionGrowing debate in SKorea over traditional medicine
Kim Nam-soo has stuck needles into generals, actors, tycoons and at least one president for more than six decades as South Korea's acupuncturist to the stars.
Grateful patients say his treatments combining acupuncture with the ancient practice of burning herbs on the skin do as much good, or more, as Western medicine in treating everything from arthritis to diabetes, burns and even cancer.