Edited and with an Afterword by Debra Roberts
Celebrated author Ted Williams’ account of his lifelong engagement with
traditional wisdom, spiritual knowledge, and his search for higher consciousness among the Six Nations of Iroquois.
"This is a collection of remembered experiences around the themes of emotional, spiritual, and physical healing, which he began to perform during the 1970s. Some of the topics that his anecdotes and stories touch on include animal omens and spirits, the consequences of violating moral norms, healing herbs, ceremonies, the sacred, and seeming coincidences that are not coincidences. Williams writes in an easy, appealing style about his own experiences and those of his friends, his family, and other reservation residents. The stories take readers into the heart of Tuscarora life and culture in the 20th century."
"Native American healer Williams (1930-2005) shares incredible stories of vision quests, songs of power and the healing abilities of Indian Medicine in the follow-up to his much-lauded 1976 title, The Reservation. A member of the Tuscarora Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy, Williams gives the uninitiated a fascinating glimpse through the Longhouse door into Iroquois history and spiritualism. The reader learns of the Peacemaker, who founded the Iroquois Confederacy; of Hiawatha, who cured all psychological illness; of the Great Law of the Great Peace; and of the Thanksgiving Address that starts and ends each ceremonial event. Williams explains how Indian Medicine is a cross-discipline ability—at once physical, spiritual and psychical—to tap into and use the energy of the universe. Many of these short tales involve the supernatural world: witches, ghosts, scrying, shape shifting, energy spots and healing by hands; for instance, Williams relates the time he healed his own back—broken in an encounter with a falling tree—with energy from his hands. Williams provides many such compelling, campfire-story glimpses into everyday events of Iroquois society that modern Americans would consider something close to miraculous. This enjoyable read will prove both challenging and heartening for those with an open mind."
"Big Medicine has a big heart. This book is a treasure trove of wisdom and wit, a tribute to the living legacy of Native peoples. Mark Twain would be envious of this book. Read it, savor it, your life will be enriched."
—Kenneth Cohen, author of
Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing
"I’ve been waiting over twenty years for this book. . . . The Reservation is a touchstone of American Indian literature. Big Medicine from Six Nations is its companion piece. . . . [Williams’] agenda is emphatically Haudenosaunee, with an eye to the seventh generation beyond his."
—Eric Gansworth author of Breathing the Monster Alive
Big Medicine from Six Nations is a series of reminiscences and essays by the late
Ted Williams on the themes of "medicine" (physical/spiritual/psychic healing). Williams intertwines the lore and lifeways of his Tuscarora upbringing, illustrating the dynamic encounter of tradition and innovation at the heart of contemporary Haudenosaunee culture. At the same time, he writes with an irreverence, irony, and good humor unmistakably his own. Colored by his wry wit, Big Medicine from Six Nations amply fulfills the promise of its title. It offers a fascinating view not only of herbal medicine but also of prayers, omens, feasts, vision quests, sweat lodges, spirits, and the sacred teachings of the Great Law of the Great Peace. But readers will find that there is more to this book about the "spiritual mechanics" of humankind writ large.
View other books in this series/subject, The Iroquois and Their Neighbors
Ted Williams died in September 2005 having just finished this book. He is the author of The Reservation (also published by Syracuse University Press), a modern classic of Iroquois literature.
Debra Roberts is a documentary filmmaker, book editor, theater director and performer, dancer, choreographer, and creative consultant. She lives outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband and family.
6 x 9, 256 pages, 13 black-and-white illustrations