Meeting the Medicine Men: An Englishman's Travels Among the Navajo

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9781857885071: Meeting the Medicine Men: An Englishman's Travels Among the Navajo
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Meeting the Medicine Men is a unique, fascinating and magical journey into a culture that has endured since the Ice Age, but is now under serious pressure from the modern world. A chance meeting with a young Navajo Indian propels an English traveller out of his middle-class London life and into the world of North American Indian Medicine Men. Here people genuinely believe that witchcraft can bring ruin, even death, and only Medicine Men have the knowledge to do battle with witches, lift curses, and restore the sick to health . Larger than life, Blue Horse is one of a dwindling band of Medicine Men traveling the vast Navajo reservation of New Mexico and Arizona, ministering to the victims of evil spirits. Charles Langley, a former London newspaper executive, finds himself becoming first Blue Horse's 'bag carrier and chauffeur' and eventually his assistant and trainee. He sees the Medicine Man perform feats: foretelling the future, uncovering the hidden past, curing the sick and communicating with spirits. He is even introduced to peyote, the sacred cactus eaten to induce visions during some the Indians' most sacred prayer ceremonies. A man of science, Langley is at first bemused by what he sees, and attributes Medicine Men's success to chance, lucky coincidence, or plain fraud. But easy explanations won't do. Vowing not to 'leave his brains at the teepee door', Langley sets out to study the accumulating evidence that Navajo Medicine Men really can cure the sick, change events of long ago, and foretell and influence the future. Along the way, across the beautiful southwest famous for its fabled route 66 and breath-taking scenery, he meets startling characters such as Reuben, the young Navajo wannabe Medicine Man, whose misfortunes with women open the way to a terrifying nocturnal vision quest. And The Singer, one of the Navajo's most senior Medicine Men, who cures his executive burn-out with a two-night long traditional blessing ceremony.

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Review:

Langley penetrates the Indian reservations of New Mexico and Arizona to investigate the mythic power of the Navajo medicine men, taking part in traditional healing ceremonies and rituals. Travel writing with an MBS twist. --The Bookseller, 4 April 2008

Langley's book is an almost perfect blend of memoir, Navajo culture and travelogue. The Tuscon Citizen --The Tuscon Citizen

Synopsis:

'I thoroughly endorse this book and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did' - From the foreword by Emerson Jackson Sr, Navajo Elder Navajo Indian Nation, Window Rock, Arizona. A chance meeting with a young Navajo Indian propels an English traveller out of his middle-class life and into the world of North American Indian Medicine Men, a world where people genuinely believe that witchcraft can bring ruin, even death, and only Medicine Men have the knowledge to lift curses and restore the sick to health. Along the way, he travels across the beautiful Southwest, famous for its fabled Route 66 and breath-taking scenery.

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