Pacific Forest photo (c) Claudia Jocher 2016


M'Hoq Toq's voice is written this way.

Nerida's voice is written like this.

This is the place of strong medicine. Very, very strong medicine. People have forgotten how to use it.

Wrong dosage. Wrong preparation. Wrong time to pick.

Harvesting is crucial. Preparation should be meaningful. Dosage should be small. They try to measure it with some instruments they have.

This plant needs to be prepared by people of knowledge.

Not by the measuring and numbers that come out of instruments. It won’t work.

Are you talking about vanilla?

[Heavy rain outside.]


Or kava?

Kava Leaves photographed in Oahu, Hawai'i by  Forest & Kim Starr  via Wikicommons.

Kava Leaves photographed in Oahu, Hawai'i by Forest & Kim Starr via Wikicommons.

It’s a big root.




It was called a different name before. Ancient people had a different name. It was so powerful it was traded with other populations.

They use it in a wrong way. It’s wrong preparation and wrong dosage.

They used the smoke.

They used the smoke?

For respiratory problems. They used it with the smoke. Small dosage.

Oh, they burned the root?

It was soaked. It was dried. It was ground. It was soaked again. It was never fermented. Fermentation makes the wrong part of the root stronger. This will damage other organs.

Soak it, dry it, grind it.

Small amounts.

Smoke for inhalation in sweat lodge. Has to be picked in the season when it’s dry.

If the plant is too big it’s no good.

Okay. Medium sized plants picked in the dry season.

Younger plants.


Older plants were used externally.

For what?

Photograph by  贝莉儿 NG

Photograph by 贝莉儿 NG

Pound the leaves til a kind of a sap comes out. Put it on externally.

For infection?

For all kinds of ailments.

Oh, from the young plant.

From the older plant. The younger plants are used soaking, drying, grinding, smoke.

Of the roots.

Yes. If the plant is too big or too old, or picked in the wrong season, the parts of the plant that are damaging other organs, are too strong.

So it has to be picked in the spring time when the juices are fresh. This is for the leaves.

The roots -- for grinding, soaking and drying, where you use the smoke -- are used in autumn, when all the juices get back in the wood.

Uh-huh. It might help the children with their lung problems.

Small, small dosage.

Yes, coming into the tent briefly.


Or perhaps using the smoke without the tent for the children.

It makes them sleepy.


Preparing the root would take someone who can read the energy of the root, to get a best possible result.

Yes. At the moment here they forbid anybody but the men to use the root.

This is not how it was supposed to be. It was, back then, worth as much as the shiny metals you use now. Shiny metals and crystals. Very clear crystals, very hard crystals.

Rough diamond in matrix. Pic via  Wikicommons

Rough diamond in matrix. Pic via Wikicommons


Coming out of coal.


It’s nice to see you, old friend, and to hear about the medicines from this place.

I’m impressed that you read the energy of this place and can tell me about the plants and medicines of this place. It’s a wonderful skill. It’s a great way to expand knowledge.

You might have difficulties to get people to listen.

At the moment, yes.


But time is our instrument. Energy can grow.

Some of the wise people put some of the powdered dried leaves and smoked it in a pipe. It can take you to different places. It helps see things more clearly.

But it’s small amounts.

There is a small, more remote island, that has a high quality of the root.

You could take a trip with a boat. When they paddled, it used to take them a day or two.

That one has some particles or elements in it that it gets out of that special soil, it comes from deep inside the planet. This place is more or less what you would call a volcano. So the plant is rather undisturbed.

I’ve seen a cone shaped island not far from here. Is that how it looks?

This is how it looks. Steep hill. It grows in the shady parts of that island. It has to be soaked in clear rainwater, for -- hmm, how should I put this? The period when the moon grows. It has to be soaked from no moon till full moon.

And then it has to be dried until the moon disappears again. And then it has to be ground.

And dried again?

And dried again.

People used, like, tree branches. They were hollow. They filled it in there and they -- after they ground it -- they pounded it into the hollow. So it was like a stick full of medicine. And they could break off little parts to put in their fire.

You don’t put it in the flames. You wait till the flames are gone. You put it in a fresh leaf of that plant. Wrap it. And then the smoke would come out.

That’s very clever.

Small amounts. It’s very powerful.

So breathing smoke will help you --

It would be able to cure disease that your scientists and medicine men and women think no one can cure.

Mmm. Disease where the cells are disordered and growing the wrong way?

You could call it that. It is killing cells and encouraging the good cells to reproduce. It’s like a renewing thing.

How about disease where the blood vessels are damaged and need to be regenerated? Can it help with those?

It does the rejuvenating of the cells in many parts of the body. That is, in a general way, how it works.

So it’s a tonic?

Very powerful. Special care has to be taken about the dosage. Small amounts.

"Vapour baths of North American Indians" drawing from the  Welcome Collection .

"Vapour baths of North American Indians" drawing from the Welcome Collection.

So if we are using something like a sweat lodge and we have a piece of this tree trunk with, say, half a finger by a quarter of a finger, amount of this ground powder on the coals, people should only stay briefly in the sweat lodge to breathe, perhaps a couple of minutes, and then come out?

Children, short time. Depending on the size of the children. It’s the weight not the age. If you take the wrist of a man, (don’t take it the wrong way), you take the wrist of a grown man, that would be the inside of the hollow branch. The size.

Around the wrist.

Yes, the same size. You make a slice.

Not from the wrist.

"A slice about the size of a man's finger," Agriculturalist picking cacao. Photo by  Elias Falla .

"A slice about the size of a man's finger," Agriculturalist picking cacao. Photo by Elias Falla.

Yes. [Laughing]

[The rain has finished. Then, after a few minutes, strong wind picks up outside.]

A slice about the size of the man’s finger. You wrap this in the leaf. You put it, once the fire’s gone, on the coals.

You put it there. And if you have a sweat lodge where you can have two families in there, this would be enough for all of them. Grown up people can stay there longer. It makes them sleepy.

So if people use it as they do now, by fermenting it, they use the things that people after soaking it, threw away. Do you understand?

So the ones currently who are using it are using what we would call ‘scraps’. They’re using the rubbish part, now.

The things they used to discard. Yes.

That’s right.


Because now they’re soaking it in alcohol and squeezing it out and they’re taking what they squeeze out. And in the old days we would squeeze that out and throw it away. Because we’re interested in the dried part that’s left.


I see.

Yes. Except if you have the sap of the young plant. It’s used externally on the skin.

Yes, I think people are still doing that.

It helps with skin problems. But it goes into the body and it can help with joint problems.

Mmm, I think they’re still doing that now, aren’t they?

Not in the way they are supposed to. They think the bigger the plant the better.

Right. And that’s not true?

No. The sap tends to be stronger in young small plants.

You can’t -- you can’t use plants that are too big and that are growing on soil that’s not good already.

The things you don’t want from the bad soil are going into the plants as well. It’s counteracting, in the plant, the good things that you would need.

So some of the soil here is poisoned now?

We wouldn’t call it poisoned. Not.

Just not good.

If someone is preparing to make medicine or has been, for all this, what you call, time, since ancient times, they used to travel far to get the best plant they needed.

Back then they knew only the best things will make the best medicine.


They were all very careful with preparing it. And it was tiny amounts they needed.

Sometimes it took them a period of six or seven moons, the cycles of the moon, to prepare it.

But the results actually healed problems.

It is not the same if you think you grow these plants as big as possible, you grow them in a place that’s very convenient, and you harvest it whenever you like.

This is combined with wrong dosage. And people who don’t understand what they are doing, because they don’t understand the energy of the plants.

They just read what their tools show them; their instruments. It’s not going to work or it might work in a way that they don’t expect. They don’t have control. They use a system of trial and error.

They try things, it doesn’t work, they take more of this plant.

They just need a different quality, then they might even need less of it.

Yes, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

And the quality of the preparation. It has always been what you would call a science. But it has been real scientists who did it, the medicine men and women, not the ones that look into books and copy numbers of recipes.

It had to be taught from one generation to the next, how to achieve the maximum power.

I very much appreciate you bringing up this old knowledge again. It’s an important seed to plant. Good things can grow from this.

It takes very special care. It doesn’t take much of what you call money. It takes very special care. It’s about quality and dosage. And the preparation.

Because not everybody is the same. They are individual bodies. It needs an individual love.

And it needs a healer that can read the energy of the person and the plant, to get the dosage and circumstances correct.



It took a long time to study how to prepare, how to collect, and how to make or mix medicines.

They were taken at a very young age. And they were educated.

When one had enough knowledge about a specific plant group, they were given to a different medicine man to expand knowledge. They were like exchange students—you’ve given one of your scholars away and you got another one back. That’s how they got educated.