Rolling Thunder was an aboriginal North American medicine man born into the Paint Clan of the Cherokees. The Paint Clan was the clan of the medicine people, Rolling Thunder’s grandfather was a traditional chief and medicine man. Rolling Thunder’s life was dedicated to the performance of ceremonies, rituals and healing to honor the Great Spirit. He was trained in the traditional way to be a medicine man. He began learning the medicine path from a young age and became an inter-tribal medicine man with teacher from many tribes. Rolling Thunder had a message to share with the world about and he introduced many American’s to a world the likes of which they could not imagine, the world of a North American aboriginal medicine man.
The history of cruelty toward American Indian society is an outrage and a despicable injustice on the part of the U.S governments and others. Rolling Thunder became involved in legal battles with the U.S. Government over land rights and was a vocal supporter of American Indian rights. He spoke at the United Nations and also at the World Symposium on Humanity. This political involvement made the U.S. government nervous and Rolling Thunder was being watched by the CIA.
Rolling Thunder was foremost a medicine man and could help cure illness using a medicine tradition very different then the allopathic medical system in hospitals today. He was willing to demonstrate his abilities to heal others and this drew a great deal of interest from sections of the American public and curious scientists. He would give herbal remedies, suck illness out of peoples and sometimes lay hands on the person, in many of these cases the result was improved well-being for the recipient but for others it may have no noticeable effect.
Rolling Thunder saw the entire ecosystem of the Earth as one living entity of which we are a part, the stars and the heavens are included in this organism. In order to heal the entire picture must be taken into account. Our actions toward the soil, plants, animals, space and each other has a huge impact on our well-being and happiness. These subtle factors are always considered in the awareness of the medicine people. The most important factor is a deep respect for the whole web of life. This respect and appreciation is expressed through daily ceremony and continuous awareness of the preciousness of all life. In traditional American Indian view all life is a part of the Great Spirit and by honoring all life we honor the Great Spirit.
Rolling Thunder says; “Too many people don’t know that when they hurt the Earth, they harm themselves, nor do they realize that when they harm themselves they harm the earth… understanding begins with love and respect. It begins with respect for the Great Spirit, and the Great Spirit is the life that is with in all things… Such respect is not a feeling or an attitude only. It’s a way of life. Such respect means that we never stop realizing and never neglect to carry out our obligation to ourselves and our environment …” (Krippner, Villoldo pg. 58).
Rolling Thunder’s way had a deep spiritual dimension. The Great Spirit has all the power and all of us are a part of that Great Spirit. Ceremonies and prayer are performed for spiritual reasons. The spiritual dimension is the most important requirement for a traditional American Indian medicine person and the Indian medicine way cannot function without the spiritual. His cures and herbal medicines work not just because of the chemical components but primarily because of the spiritual medicine he infused.
Rolling Thunder says, “Every physical object in nature has a spiritual side; therefore, these objects can be spiritual helpers to the medicine man. The medicine man must know the laws of nature and understand the spiritual side of things, then these objects can be a helper. This is why my medicine cannot be duplicated. One fellow I doctored had my herbal mixture analyzed and discovered what plants were in the mixture. He thought he had discovered one of the secrets of my medicine, and put together a similar mixture. Well, that mixture did not work. He had duplicated the physical part of the mixture but did not know how to handle the spiritual portion…When I find a plant I have never seen before, I can hold it in my hand and tell what its uses are. It will communicate with me. It will sing its songs and reveal its secrets.” (Krippner Villoldo pg. 61 – 62).
For Rolling Thunder this spiritual dimension opens into expanded human potential such as communication between plant and human, past lives, telepathy, spirits, healing and other interesting abilities. Rolling Thunder drew a lot of attention to himself because of his ability to heal others using spiritual healing methods which western medical doctors had never seen. He was open to using his spiritual medicine to help people regardless of race or religions and allowed other to observe on some occasions. Rolling Thunder believed that helping others helps the whole of the earth to live in greater harmony regardless of race.
Rolling Thunder says, “Traditional people cannot be healers of any kind unless they understand spirituality. Native healers recognize the spirituality of all things that have life… Spirituality would be defined as complete peace, perfect balance, and harmony with oneself as well as all living things… It means understanding the relatedness of mankind with all other forms of life.” (Rolling Thunder 16). “Healing is a spiritual thing; I believe in healing the whole being…They (medicine people) look at the original cause of a particular illness. All physical trouble beings on a spiritual level.” (Rolling Thunder 20).
Rolling Thunder says that he does not preform the healing but rather the Great Spirit works through him. Rolling thunder said, “Many times I don’t know what medicine I’m going to use until the ‘doctoring’ is going on; I sometimes can’t remember what I’ve used. That’s because it’s not me doing the ‘doctoring.’ It’s the Great Spirit working through me.” (Krippner Villoldo pg. 56 -57).
To Rolling Thunder the whole creation is one Great Spirit of which all things are a part. The world is not purely material but rather there is a powerful and primal spiritual side to all things. This spiritual dimension is integral part of reality and when understood leads to greater wisdom, knowledge, sacrifice for others and humility before all life. Rolling Thunder was not a pacifist and worked diligently to spread his message and to open greater justice and understanding for his people. He was generous in sharing information to other cultures about his own people’s way. He shared his people’s vision of life with the world showing how the spiritual dimension is real and alive and how we need to start by honoring all life.
By: Transpersonal Spirit
Boyd, Doug. Mad Bear Spirit, Healing, and the Sacred in the life of a Native American Medicine Man. Touch stone Simon and Schuster. NY. 1994.
Boyd, Doug. Rolling Thunder A personal Exploration into the Secret Healing Powers of an American Indian Medicine Man. Delta Book NY NY 1974.
Krippner, Stanley and Villoldo, Alberto. The Realms of Healing. Celestial Arts, CA. 1976.
Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder Speaks A Message for Turtle Island. Clear light Publishers Santa Fe NM, 1999.