Today I went medicine picking with a group of college staff led by Rob who is an Aboriginal counsellor. We went north of Winnipeg to the surroundings of Libau (about 30kms away). Rob said that we would be picking sage - only thing is - I had no idea what it looked like. Rob took us down a very long dirt road and we arrived at what looked like a remote location to start picking. He asked us to pick about 6-7 bundles each so that the college's Aboriginal students and staff - really anyone who wants to partake - to have enough over the winter for the smudging ceremonies. This is similar to how Hindus cleanse themselves before starting a religious function.
Rob gave each of us some tobacco to offer to Mother Earth as a sign of respect for taking some of the sage. Then he cautioned that we must be careful because there was lots of poison ivy around the sage. And was there ever!! I am not sure I would have gone if I knew that. I was already hesitating because it was a scorching day and I have an allergy to sunlight - to be made worse because I was already having a severe allergic reaction to some cream I put on my legs a week ago that had huge welts on several areas on my legs and thighs.
|Rob explaining (Darka listening) about harvesting medicine|
|Some sage we harvested|
|John flying his kite|
We had a huge harvest. The weather was extremely hot and working in sand made it hotter but there was a nice breeze so it was not unbearable. We had a nice brown bag lunch and then John decided to go fly a kite - quite literally! After we were done picking, one of the women had a wood tick on her hand. OMG, a wood tick! That's the same kind of wood tick that causes Lyme Disease.
You can imagine what I did as soon as I got home - pulled off my clothes, brushed myself off from head to toe and had a long shower so that poison ivy oil was not left on my skin. I for sure would have not gone if I knew about the poison ivy and wood ticks but I felt satisfied that I had picked a lot of sage. We had about half a trunk of a mini van full of it. I'm sure after it is dried and stripped from the stem, there'll be enough to last for a good year. I learned a lot about Aboriginal medicine and maybe I'll get another opportunity to harvest other medicines. Made me feel like I was a kid all over again. I know people used to harvest neem, soldier rod, kungapom leaves, dunks leaves, lime leaves and all sorts or herbal remedies that were used for many ailments. I shouldn't say any more or some pharmaceutical company will read this blog and go after those herbs and then sell them back to us for a fortune. Another good day.