Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing

Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing

Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing

Inspired by his Cherokee grandmother’s healing ceremonies, Lewis Mehl-Madrona enlightens readers to “alternative” paths to recovery and health. Coyote Medicine isn’t about eschewing Western medicine when it’s effective, but about finding other answers when medicine fails: for chronic sufferers, patients not responding to medication, or “terminal” cases that doctors have given up on. In the story of one doctor’s remarkable initiation into alternative ways to spiritual and physical health, Coyote Medicine provides the key to untapped healing methods available today.

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3 Comments so far »

  1. Phil Kotofskie said,

    Wrote on October 16, 2012 @ 10:27 am

    36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Essential Reading on Holistic Medicine, June 22, 2003
    By A Customer
    This review is from: Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing (Paperback)

    This book blew me away. I have reread much of it so many times and bought multiple copies for friends. I have filled the margins of my copy with notes and filled notebooks with essays and thoughts inspired by Dr. Mehl-Madrona’s book. It is nothing short of miraculous itself, in addition to describing medical miracles and how they are brought about by spiritual intervention and Native American healing.

    A child prodigy, Lewis Mehl-Madrona hitchhiked to a local college while still in high school, read philosophy science voraciously and was the youngest peacetime graduate of Stanford Medical School. The more impressive since his childhood was at times difficult.

    At medical school, Dr. Mehl-Madrona became interested in shamanic traditions and attended some sweat lodge and tipi ceremonies. Here he encountered otherwordly phenomena such as blue light, sparks, sensorial stimulation and miracle cures in cases that were deemed too far gone by western doctors. Most importantly, Dr. Mehl-Madrona learned how shamans talked to patients, asked questions about their families and lives and spent long periods of time with them. The author learned that shamans tap into the inner healer of the patient, and consider themselves only partially responsible for any cure.

    At the same time, Dr. Mehl-Madrona was encountering negligent and dehumanizing healing practices in his western medical pursuits. A few spine-chilling tales display the callousness and arrogance that exists in some hospitals and clinics. One example: two obstetricians made a bet concerning the fastest C-Section birth and the winner, very triumphant at seventeen minutes, accidentally tied something shut in the woman’s internal organs. It was fixed and the woman even wrote a letter of thanks to the hospital! Such is the blind and sometimes unjustified trust the public has in the medical establishment.

    The book is wonderfully woven with many colorful strands of storytelling. On one level, it is a memoir of Dr. Mehl-Madrona’s journey to reconcile his western medical training with holistic and in particular Native American healing. He is part Native American, so this pursuit poignantly reflects his mixed heritage. Poignant because Dr. Mehl-Madrona often felt like an outsider in all areas of his life, as a Native American man, as an American man, as a western doctor and as an aspiring and ultimately successful shaman.

    Another strand of his story is the Native American tradition of healing itself, which we discover in almost the same timeframe that he does. We are introduced to the traditional practice of storytelling as a healing technique at the same time that he is. Early in the book, when the doctor is a resident, he is tending a man whose medical condition is exacerbated (and perhaps caused) by his intensely critical nature. A wonderful passage in recounts Dr. Mehl-Madrona’s tentative attempt at telling a story to the cynical patient, himself a psychologist, who groans with sarcasm as the story begins. As it continued, he was intrigued, however, and even hazards a guess at the meaning, to which guess the doctor gives an ambiguous confirmation. The great part of this passage is how Dr. Mehl-Madrona successfully enacts the role of enigmatic shaman even though he himself is still unsure of the story’s meaning.

    Coyote Medicine also discusses the role of the supernatural in shamanic healing, and the perception of magic and nature. For anyone who ever sat in the woods or even on his aparment steps late at night and felt a mystical connection to something unseen and bigger than himself, Coyote Medicine is a kindred spirit.

    At one point the author goes on his vision quest and meets his power animals and is given shamanic healing tools. We as readers are present at many important moments in his life, including personal and family struggles (his first wife, according to the book, seemed to wrestle his children away from him and resented his shamanic efforts), professional travails (Dr. Mehl-Madrona’s questioning intelligence, sense of dignity for the patient and also his holistic beliefs created friction with several different western medical institutions). When, at the end of the book, the author finds an accepting partner and on a professional level, a venue where he could combine holistic healing with Western, we feel as thought a close friend has triumphed in the face of great odds.

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in healing, either for herself or others, and also about finding one’s own individual path, as difficult as and untraveled as it might be, but that is true to the traveler.

    Many blessings on this book and thank you Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona.

    Robert Murray Diefendorf, Author of Release the Butterfly

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  2. Mary E. Hyland said,

    Wrote on October 16, 2012 @ 11:21 am

    13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Take the risk and make the leap, January 9, 2003
    By 
    Phil Kotofskie (United States) –

    This review is from: Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing (Paperback)

    Coyote has always been a special animal to me, so the title jumped out at me. The two feathers and physician’s symbol on the cover present a beautiful balance. The physician’s symbol has the twin serpents and the two wings of the one. In the background is the four, the Mystery.

    Lewis’ experiences are related in an interwoven manner. He rushes through life in the quest for medical expertise and validation. In doing so, he trips himself into bouts with infinity as his beautiful plans fall through, day-by-day, year-by-year. However, his rapidly depleted physical/mental being is slowly but surely filling from the inside out. The book is a wonderful, candid sharing of one human’s journey to clarify his purpose, his vocation, and to realize such.

    He seems like a powerless pawn at times. Have you felt that way? I have. It takes courage to choose the walk toward balance with a fellow being. Lewis had to learn the way of the warrior to survive his path as a healer.

    The sweat lodge accounts are beautifully done. I felt it better than any other accounts I have read. Although I have not participated in a lodge, I have experienced years of “spirit stuff”. He is talking from experience. Lewis tells us without violating the trust of his friends, manifested or otherwise.

    The visions he describes are direct accounts, rather than attempts to relay deep knowings into a form the reader may understand. Visions come in dreams, in rituals, in waking, everyday consciousness, you name it. If we need it and are open to input, we will receive guidance. A vision is experiential, so there is no way to relay the richness and life of such an experience.

    Ya gotta walk the walk–it’s the only way.

    I laughed pretty good at his experience learning to talk with the desert. I too learned this while out alone walking in the desert. At first I thought my spirit friends were nuts–and said so–but I did it and learned a lot. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

    There were tears of joy and tears of sorrow while reading this book, and a lot of laughter. Thank-you for making the great leap and taking the risk of sharing, Lewis!

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  3. Anonymous said,

    Wrote on October 16, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Moving, educational and inspiring., August 8, 2001
    By 
    Mary E. Hyland (Sunderland, Ontario, Canada) –

    This review is from: Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing (Paperback)

    This book is a well written merging of two subjects. The first is a personal sharing of Lewis Mehl-Madrona’s upbringing and life experience as a half N.A. Native, his pursuit of a medical degree and specialty and his increasing disillusionment with the “science” of medicine as it is now widely practiced. The second is about Lewis’ discovery of N.A. Native spirituality and shamani sm. He leads us on a winding path of discovery that introduces us to the intriguing characters who use shamanism to heal others, often while their own lives are in disarray, to those who sought healing and perhaps most importantly, to the spirits who assisted in the ceremonies. While pursuing this path of curing the individual, rather than the symptom, it seems that Lewis will lose site of his original goal to obtain his medical speciality. But, as so often occurs, as he helps others to heal, the path circles around to encompass his own needs and he completes his original path, a more well-rounded and enlightened human. More capable of understanding. More capable of giving what is really required. I found the writing to be powerful, the personal drama riveting and the glimpse into the ceremonies, symbolism and spiritualism of the N.A. shaman both moving and educational. After all these years of hearing the stories shared by N.A. natives, but not really understanding, I finally “got it”. This book slaked a thirst I didn’t know I had. Lewis not only shared his story but acted as a teacher and I know that I’ve grown as a result. I highly recommend it and hope that we’ll hear more from this writer.

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