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Didanawisgi Medicine

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Didanawisgi Medicine
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What are the Medicine People?

Didanawisgi-This is the Cherokee word for roughly "Medicine Man". This is one of several titles given to a group called the Medicine-People: As both women and men partook in the medical practice. The majority of practitioners over time have traditionally been men. A woman, however, can practice without discrimination and will enjoy the same rights as her male peers. Women are not limited to treating their own sex exclusively, as seen in some other cultures. Cherokee medical practitioners work(ed) on a prevention-based system: often working to cure "the whole" and not a specific illness and symptoms. Just as many modern-day doctors learn from more experienced doctors, then branch off into what they wish to work with- Medicine people vary in the areas they specialize in.

Medicine men and women study under older and more experienced medicine people to learn "the trade", and it does not happen fast. It may take years to learn the various treatments, herbs, rituals. Usually the medicine people have their books written in code/missing sections so that only they can read them.

Here's a quote straight from the Cherokee Nation Resource Center: " It is unwise to try to interpret the Cherokee writing in these books and use them without the proper training. Most are written in cryptic fashion, leaving out major portions that the practitioner has learned verbally, written in code or even written backwards ."

Different Types of Medicine People : (as suggested by Mooney)

  • Ones with generalized knowledge of treating ailments, performing rituals
  • Ones skilled in attending cutaneous wounds only
  • Ones skilled in treating diseases only
  • Ones specialized in specific rituals, such as cleansing /incantations/etc
  • Ones deemed "divinator" who are reputed to foretell future events

7 Areas of Knowledge : (as suggested by a source I will provide below)

  1. Ceremonies
  2. Conjuring
  3. Dream-Work
  4. Herbal Medicine
  5. Language/Laws
  6. Laws of Nature
  7. Physical Medicine

The Raven Mocker:
A dreaded Cherokee witch, who supposedly can rob others of life.

I suggest reading this story to learn where this image came from:


In Cherokee folklore, the medicine people were some of the only ones who were able to recognize and protect others from the raven mocker.

Cross-Over Exercise:
( Taken from the works of JT and Michael Garrett:
Medicine of the Cherokee - the Way of Right Relationship, Walking on the Wind

The Cherokee Medicine Men and Women teach a way to get out of a rut or "cross over" from one direction (or state of being) to another. A Cross-over exercise is a way of getting out of an energy rut or a comfort zone that requires the shifting of mental energy.

Find (or visualize) at stream or river of water that can be crossed by walking over a bridge. It is important to touch the water (you may not be able to physically get to it, so visualize it), and even rub some of the water on your forehead. Be sure that it is a clean stream in Nature. Give thanks to the water and say to yourself out loud that you are going to experience Cross-over so as to move yourself in the direction of healing. (The bridge can be visualized mentally, if you are unable to physically go to a Cross-Over location in a natural environment.)

Stand at the start of the bridge and clear your mind. Slowly walk across the bridge while looking ahead, rather than down at the water, with your eyes slightly opened to be sure you are walking safely. "Feel" the sense of energy movement as you continue to move slowly. If someone is crossing in front or behind you, just stop and let this person pass. Continue to move across until you feel a sense of calm, then "feel" which is more comfortable: looking up the stream, or looking down the stream? Where are you on the bridge?

Then continue slowly across to the other side. Once you have crossed, explore your feelings. Go ahead and write down what you feel, so you can look at it later. The messages will tell you the direction with which you are connected. Sometimes you get very subtle messages, or a picture of something that may not fit until you think about it some more. Take your time.

Recommended reading:
Cherokee Medicine Man: The Life and Work of a Modern-Day Healer
By Robert J. Conley

An adaptation of The Swimmer Manuscript
James Mooney's work(s)
JT and Michael Garret's work(s)

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