In the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) culture, it is believed that our intentions influence our power of co-creation. As a child, I was always hearing of the various cultural rules that governed our daily lives but it wasn’t until I became an adult that I started to understand why these rules existed. These seemingly odd rules governed everything from how, when, and where we harvested food/medicines, to how we named our infants; but, they all served one purpose: to maintain a balanced flow of love within our spiritual selves so that we may live the ‘Good Life’. Love is understood to be the connection between ourselves and the Creator, and the intention to bring love was called bringing ‘good medicine’.
The 3 understandings of the word ‘Medicine’
Anishinaabe people have three understandings of the definition of the word ‘medicine’:
1. Western medicine
2. Herbal medicine
3. Medicine (the type only spoken of in hushed voices)
This mysterious third understanding of the word ‘medicine’ is closely related in meaning to the word ‘intention.’ Many Native American tribes have this belief in good (and bad) medicine or intention, and they believe that intentions have the power to influence our physical reality.
Bringing ‘Good Medicine’ into your life
Many people sought to influence their reality in a positive way by ‘bringing good medicine’ or good intentions into their home and into their lives. There are countless ways in which a person could bring good medicine into their lives including harvesting medicinal herbs, conducting ceremonies, and by being mindful to put only good intentions into your actions. Being authentic and honest is another component to ensuring that your intentions are positive and full of love. If you are doing good deeds for purely selfish reasons while trying to appear selfless – you are still unsuccessful at bringing in ‘good medicine’.
A traditional teaching in creating ‘Good Medicine’
One of the intention teachings I received as a young woman was regarding the creation of a Ribbon Skirt, a traditional ceremonial skirt used by women. I was told to work on my skirt only when my heart was full of love, and my mind at ease. It was crucial that my skirt be created with the intention of pure, unconditional love for myself. It would be the skirt I would be healed in, the skirt I would use to connect with my ancestors, this skirt would be my literal connection to my past and my future – this was to be no ordinary piece of fabric. I was told that when I sat to work on my skirt, that I was to focus on the unconditional love I felt for myself and to direct all of these energies into the skirt’s creation. Every backstitch was created consciously with love. This skirt will aid me every single time I wear it because it is ‘good medicine’ that I created for myself using love and conscious intention.