J.T. Garrett,
Meditations With the Cherokee:
Prayers, Songs & Stories
of Healing & Harmony

(Bear & Co., 2001)

Meditations With the Cherokee is a self-help book that will provide endless hours of reading entertainment. The anecdotes, stories and recounting of ceremonies will captivate the reader's attention and send imaginations soaring. So even if you do not plan to utilize the exercises and techniques given, it is still a wonderful read.

J.T. Garrett spends a few pages introducing us to the concept of Cherokee medicine and the Old Wisdom. Cherokee medicine is not a cure-based system. Instead, it is a prevention-based system that incorporates all aspects of a person's world: inner being, family, Spirit World, Animal World, Plant World and the universe. It is the combination of the physical, mental, spiritual and natural realms. To achieve wellness, we must have a strong connection to all things and have harmony within and around us, in all our relationships.

Garrett begins his instruction in the introduction by explaining that Old Wisdom starts with the appreciation of the beauty of Nature and Mother Earth. The first step is the Rule of Acceptance: we should learn to accept and appreciate things for what they are instead of feeling a need to change them. We cannot improve on creation and are likely doing well to manage to "clean up our own mess."

If the introduction does not hook you, the first chapter will. Garrett teaches us to reconnect to the beginning through two exercises. The first is to create your own sweat lodge in a darkened room or area in your home. The second is to create your medicine bag. Next, he tells us a story about creation. Exercises follow that connect us to the Sun and Moon, Nature, the direction of East (for beginnings) and Fire. Scattered among these exercises are anecdotes of Garrett's experiences. He ends the chapter with a meditation. The remaining chapters are composed in the same manner.

Garrett's writing style is like a personal conversation. His directions and instructions are easy to understand and simple to follow. His stories and anecdotes will warm your heart and you will quickly begin to feel as though you know him. This book does move at a brisk pace and there are no lulls. You are propelled forward from one part to the next, with great anticipation of the upcoming exercise.

This is a masterpiece of Native American teachings and wisdom. You can read it for the soul sake of enjoying the stories and anecdotes, but at some later point a passage will pop into your mind and stop you in your tracks! It is a powerful book that will change how you view your relationship to the world around you. Once you finish this manuscript, the sun's rays will feel just a tad warmer and the moon will seem a bit brighter.

This book gets my strongest recommendation. I have read his other books and feel this is his best for the general community. His other works include: The Cherokee Herbal, Medicine of the Cherokee and The Cherokee Full Circle. The latter two are co-authored with his son, Michael.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 15 February 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.