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Spirit of Osha Root
Spirit of Osha Root

by JoAnne Dodgson

Spirit of Osha Root:
Living Your Truths, Wild and Free

Osha grows in the high mountains near my home in New Mexico. Osha has long been an herbal remedy for the peoples living here, bringing relief from colds, flus, viruses and bacterial infections.


Osha is also fondly called Bear Root, so named in North American Native Peoples’ stories which describe the bears’ special affinity for this plant. Bears are known to eat Osha when they come out of hibernation to cleanse their digestive systems in preparation for spring foraging for food.


Bears are also known to chew on the root and spew and rub the mashed plant and juices onto their fur. Bears are great teachers for us two-leggeds about the medicinal properties of this mountain plant.


Hand in hand with her effective gifts for physical healing, Osha has taught me about her wild essence and how she goes about living her life. This plant so beloved by the bears simply does not appreciate being taken from her natural habitat. She isn’t easily domesticated. She doesn’t grow well in farms, garden plots or containers.


Osha holds her ground with unwavering commitment to the truths held in her heart. She is unwilling to acquiese, to be controlled by someone else’s agenda and shaped into something other than who and what she really is.

Osha only roots where she flourishes and thrives.


With respect for her own existence, she loves her unique and sacred purpose. Osha boldly claims her wildness and uncontainable aliveness, knowing just where she belongs in the intricate web of life. She’s deeply rooted all the while abundantly free.


Osha Root once instructed me during a spirit journey that I needed to get to know her as a living plant. It only then became so evident that the primary way I knew Osha was as dried wildharvested roots.


So if I was wandering around in the mountains, I could easily walk right by without recognizing this plant in her green leafy form. I would have no idea I was in the presence of my very dear friend.


The Spirit of Osha was calling me to see her, to know her holistically, to embrace and understand more fully who she really is. I realized our relationship was not truly being cultivated if I only saw her within a limited frame of reference and point of view. This eye-opening and heart-expanding teaching from Osha has stayed with me for many years.


Among the diverse plants I share in ceremony and healing, Osha is the one to whom people are inevitably drawn. After encountering Osha Root, they passionately head off on a quest to find some in an herb store or wildharvest from the land.


When watching friends soak up the smudging from the burning Osha or chewing bits of root or sipping osha tea, I sense the Spirit of Osha Root passing on her teachings:


Remember your wildness.

Hold sacred your instinctual sense of home.

Cultivate relationships with those who really see you - all of you.

Root yourself only where you naturally flourish and thrive.

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I’m delighted and honored to share with you the gifts and teachings from the Plant, Animal and Spirit Nations in my medicine bundle for Throwing the Bones Ceremony. Bone Throwing is an ancient Peruvian healing art, a Calling of the Spirits Ceremony, which offers extraordinary guidance from the vast perspectives and doctoring shared by the Spirits in the bone bundle.


My apprenticeship as a Bone Thrower in the ways of Ka Ta See began in 2006. For several years, I have been engaged in extensive studies and intentional cultivation of personal relationships with the Spirit Nations who have come to be part of the bone bundle. In 2012, I received permission to give Throwing of the Bones Ceremony with individuals and groups. My teacher, Kay Cordell Whitaker, apprenticed with Chea Hetaka, a Peruvian elder in the Ka Ta See lineage. The art of Bone Throwing is a traditional medicine way passed on among the women in Chea’s tribal culture in the Eastern Andes.

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