Animal Medicine Cards: A Doorway into the Natural World

Twenty years ago, Jamie Sams and David Carson published Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Way of the Animals, a system of animal divination. The set, with its beautifully crafted deck of cards and book, is as relevant today as when it was first created – perhaps even more so.

Carson regards the medicine cards as a gift from Native American elders whom provide advice on how to live in harmony and balance with the natural world. They feature teachings passed down through the generations: life lessons from the animal kingdom. In the deck, each animal represents an aspect of the human heart and mind.

There are 44 animal cards in the Medicine Card deck, all significant animals on Turtle Island (North America). Although each animal has many lessons to teach, Carson said he and Sams chose the most important one. Each teaching is a mirror that reflects the scenarios the diviner is creating and suggests how to use a specific animal medicine to live more harmoniously.

According to Carson, the animal lessons are best received in silence. “Silence of the quiet mind is the sacred fertility of the receiving spirit,” Carson said in an interview with the author. “If you use this divination tool in silence, you will find a wondrous new world speaking to you through the ways of your fellow creatures.”

The Intention of the Medicine Cards

“The purpose in creating this system of divination was not to cover all the teachings on animal medicine that have ever been,” Carson explained. “Our intention was to open a doorway of understanding for those who seek the oneness of all life. Animals have deep meaning for everyone.

“For example, the eagle is spiritual in every tradition. Eagle medicine is the power of the Great Spirit, the connection to the Divine. It is the ability to live in the realm of spirit and yet remain connected and balanced within the realm of earth. If you have a crick in the neck, you have Eagle disease – you walk and look at the sky when you should be paying attention to what’s around you.”

How to Learn from Animal Encounters

Of course, there are many animals not in the cards, and each one has a lesson to teach. Carson noted that anyone can learn these lessons by observing the animal’s behavior and habit patterns and asking the spirit of the animal to share its medicine.

““When an animal crosses your path, take time to find out what they have to teach you,” Carson suggested. “Take a pinch of tobacco, a drum, and go out and talk to the spirit of the animal. Ask, ‘Why are you on my land? What do you have to teach me?’ If you see a rattlesnake, for example, it’s very powerful, holy medicine. Snake represents the umbilical cord and is the symbol of the midwife. It also relates to the planet Venus. Snake is perfectly balanced energy. It is the energy of wholeness and cosmic consciousness. This medicine teaches you that you are a universal being.

Seeking Wholeness with All That Is

“When you call upon the power of an animal, you are asking to be drawn into complete harmony with the strength of that creature’s essence,” Carson added. “Gaining understanding from these brothers and sisters of the animal kingdom is a healing process, and must be approached with humility and intuitiveness. Many of these lessons are ones we need to travel the Good Red Road. These are the lessons of being human, being vulnerable and seeking wholeness with all that is.”

High HDL Cholesterol May Lower Cancer Risk

New research published by the American Association of Cancer Prevention presents intriguing findings about the link between cholesterol levels and cancer. The evidence suggests that cholesterol levels may point towards the existence of certain kinds of cancers. Researchers’ understanding of cholesterol has changed quite a bit over the years.

What Is Cholesterol?

For many years now, patients have been warned by their doctors to lower their blood cholesterol readings if the laboratory analysis indicates a total cholesterol level of 200-250 or more. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy, sticky substance produced by the body. While it is found in certain foods such as meat, eggs and dairy products, changing the diet reduces cholesterol very little; the body appears to regulate its own cholesterol levels. According to Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, M.D., P.h.D., author of the book “The Cholesterol Myth”, high cholesterol, especially high LDL cholesterol, is a symptom of inflammation.

Within the total cholesterol count are two separate counts: HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol, and LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol. Much of the newer research indicates that it is not so much the total number but more the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol that hints at health or problems to come.

High HDL Cholesterol Desirable to Protect Against Cancer

A pair of studies published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention and reported by the American Association for Cancer Research in October 2009 link high HDL cholesterol to possible cancer prevention. According to the study, researchers followed over 29,000 men from the Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study for 18 years. In this long-term study, researchers noted that “Higher levels of HDL cholesterol were associated with a 14 percent decreased risk.”

Cholesterol forms a portion of the cell membrane and some cholesterol is absolutely essential for overall good health. Researchers at UT Southwestern published an article in the journal Science in which they reveal that cholesterol in the cell membrane actually helps control cell division by facilitating “communication” in the cell during division. Without cholesterol, the cell can divide uncontrollably, which is what happens in cancer.

Cholesterol Level Confusion

The idea that high HDL cholesterol levels may lower cancer risk, particularly prostrate cancer, coupled with the notion that overall lower cholesterol levels may lower the risk of cancer is confusing for many people. It helps to remember that having a high HDL number doesn’t meant that the overall cholesterol reading is high. Rather, it means that the HDL cholesterol level is higher than the LDL level. The total readings still recommended for health and wellness are around 200-250, depending on which source is cited.

Key Takeaways on Cholesterol and Cancer

What should the average person take away from all this new research about the link between cancer and cholesterol?

  • The body needs some cholesterol for basic health. Too low levels may be just as bad as levels that are too high.
  • The overall cholesterol reading should be around 200-250, with the HDL reading much higher than the LDL reading.
  • Low cholesterol levels may not be healthy. This can be a sign of cancer.

The biggest takeaway from all of these studies is that the cause and effect of cholesterol and cancer is by no means established. In fact, many of the so-called “truths” about cholesterol have been shattered in recent years. Dietary cholesterol, once thought to be the primary driver of high cholesterol levels, is now thought to have only a small effect on total blood cholesterol levels. The lay person should do what he’s always done for good health: eat a balanced, whole food diet, get plenty of exercise, and ask his doctor any questions he may have.