Spirit, World

Cherokee Wisdom for Living the Great Life

Cherokee Wisdom

A wise and thoughtful Cherokee medicine priest, David Winston, told me that the Cherokee believe that humans are here on Earth, in part, as caretakers of the Great Life.

Creation gave us all gifts, and the gifts are the basis for that specific species’ offering back to Creation. The bee makes honey, the maple tree runs sap, and a silkworm spins silk.

Our gift as humans is our large cerebral cortex, and our offering – or role—is to find our way back to the path of being truly human and to leave the earth better than we found it by using our problem-solving abilities.

We can’t make honey or maple sap, but we can be caretakers of the planet in a way not possible by any other species.

The Cherokee believe humans couldn’t shoulder the responsibility of our cortex; it was too much. The trauma of this failure was so severe that the human spirit shattered into two pieces. The heart splintered off into one piece and the shadowy side of human nature into another piece, with the two broken parts vying for control.

The result of this shattered spirit is the “John Grabs All” mentality toward the earth – the deeply broken and disharmonious relationships with ourselves, families, communities, and the Great Life.

Weaving our hearts and shadow back together is very hard work, which the Cherokee call remaking yourself. Our greatest challenge, David believes, is to heal so that we may find our way back onto the path to fulfill our sacred spiritual contract and become caretakers and fully human.

Adapted from Home Enlightenment, by Annie B. Bond (Rodale Press, 2005).

By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home  (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment (Rodale Press, 2005), Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).