It’s Here! Fresh off the press, Wolf’s new novel
THE MEDICINE BEAR
The first boxes of this exciting book have arrived, and Wolf is currently signing copies for mailing out to all who ordered one. I highly recommend it! As I wrote for its pages:
The Medicine Bear is a powerful novel of love, healing, devotion, coming of age, and sense of place, but more than any single element, it is a tapestry of the vital medicine that connects the people to the land, and all of us to each other. The skillful hands of the curandera heal even while the soldiers endure a bloody struggle. Through it all, the medicine of this tale is found in the power of personal transformation and bone-deep passion. Readers of novels as diverse as Frazier’s Cold Mountain and Urrea’s The Hummingbird’s Daughter will be pulled into the mythic yet eerily relevant story of the Medicine Bear. The vibrant weaving of the many cultural elements that make of the American Southwest on the border are beautifully represented, transporting us to the lapiz skies, red clay, and lush canyons of New Mexico but the tale is applicable and relatable to the reader wherever they might be.
Never has a story of magic and healing, clarity and wildness been so needed as now. Wolf’s masterful approach to magical realism and history grants us a seldom seen view into the events that have shaped the borderlands and its people… a master storyteller’s tale of a mestiza healer and her true love.
Part of the Announcement is pasted below, for you to please repost or forward, and an initial excerpt follows for those of you who may not have already gotten to read sections of it in the pages of Plant Healer Magazine.
Thank you for buying a copy, and for helping getting the word out about this special book, recommending it to your students and friends. It really means a lot to me personally. –Kiva
Order your own personally signed copy now:
For a Medicine Bear Announcement to share with your friends and readers, download the following pdf:
THE MEDICINE BEAR
“The story of a healer, a love, and a time of transition”
in the Enchanted Southwestern U.S. during the closing days of the Old West
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
“An incredibly powerful novel of love, healing, devotion, and sense of place…
a tapestry of the vital medicine that connects the people to the land, and to each other.”
–Kiva Rose (N.M. Medicine Woman)
“If you have ever loved, healed or been healed, bemoaned a changing society,
and felt the animal spirit within you, this tale is for you.”
–Charles Garcia (Curandero; Director, Calif. School of Traditional Hispanic Herbalism)
Follow the wild-woman herbalist and Omen, the impassioned writer and adventurer Eland and archetypal Medicine Bear through a time of great cultural as well as personal transition, down plant-filled paths of discovery and healing and to the juncture of our own return to wholeness and health, rooted home and true love, meaningful mission and – ultimately – satisfaction and contentment.
Taking place primarily in the mountains and deserts of the American Southwest, we experience the confluence of Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures that was and is New Mexico. Spanning from the birth of Eland in 1892 to 1964 in its closing scene, its central event is a little known retaliatory raid in 1916 by Pancho Villa’s poorly equipped Indian revolutionaries, in what was the sole invasion of the U.S. by a foreign army since the War Of 1812.
“The teachings of The Medicine Bear shine bright, like sunlight through a canopy of thickly branched trees. Here is found the deep wild wisdom of curanderas and curanderos of yesterday and today, disguised as story. One can almost smell the copal smoke and rain-dampened desert as we follow how Omen’s “don” unfolds, encouraged first by the spirits of plant and tree, stone and animal; the true teachers of those called by the guardians of the medicine ways. Later, honed by the old yerbera, Doña Rosa. Like we Mestizas, it walks between worlds: the world of matter, the world of spirit and the world of culture and language. Of brujas and curanderas. Of European healing and Indigenous medicine. It is also a love story… a tender unfolding of the Aztec spiritual principle of balance and harmony, of Ome Cihuatl and Ome Tekutli, Two Woman and Two Man, complementary opposites who embody soulful unity.”
–Grace Alvarez Sesma, Curandera
At the very heart of this story is always Omen, gifted, abused as a child, resilient as a pre-teen studying with the curandera Doña Rosa, determined as an adult to move past her wounds and further her craft, forever experiencing the beauty and complexity of the world through her awakened senses and caring heart.
“To Omen, they were not just wondrous sunshine-eating entities, without whom humans and most of the life on Earth would die. Plants were proof of miracles, and reason for hope. The inspiration for a good and balanced life, and examples of how to live it. They were her ever growing, ever reaching truth, the medicine she would need.” (from the text)
Over 70 full page, 6×9” illustrations compliment the text, a combination of original drawings by the author Hardin, and antique photographs from the period adapted for this role. Character portraits and regional stills help tell a story Hardin first painted with his descriptive and evocative words, reflecting a vision that is Omen’s, Eland’s and ours to share.
“The Medicine Bear is an unabashedly magical, sensual, and yes, romantic tale of love and loss, of longing and renewal. It is a paean to wildness within and the southwestern wilderness that Eland and Omen are married to, along with each other, and whose exquisite beauty we are drawn into through the soulful eyes and language of Eland.
Plants intertwine with the lives of the main characters in The Medicine Bear. Eland knows his plants well, and as he watches his beloved Omen, an herbalist, at work and play, we are shown that plants are healers and beings in their own right. This matches my own sense of plants as beings of deep spirit and great generosity. There is so much plant lore and wisdom shared in the book, along with hints at how to gather and work with herbs, that the Medicine Bear will be a pleasure for herbalists to read, and a great education for those who long to become more intimate with healing plants.
The plants, the mountains, and the medicine bear sing to us, calling us each to full aliveness. While the old west is fading and the grizzlies are dying, love inspires, even beyond death itself.” –Robin Rose Bennett
For Information or to Order:
A Wild Seed: Omen & Moonheart
(White Mountain Apache Reservation, S.E. Arizona, 1897)
THE MEDICINE BEAR
by Jesse Wolf Hardin www.TheMedicineBear.com
The day the one called Omen was born, Moon had determined to spend the morning walking. This, even though the hours spent among river Cattails or ridge-top Aspen were hours when no dough was being mixed to rise, no Melons watered, no cistern cleaned. Her ruddy-faced husband lay sleeping off a hangover on the sitting room couch, and there would be no one to strip the leaves of the Quelites off their stalks or to set the trays out in the blazing July sun. Any number of tasks were predicated on the season and the weather, and she knew she approached the end of the drying season. In another week the annual monsoons could start, the long series of afternoon thunderstorms that would make all the White Mountains quake. But Moon needed time outside as much as she needed air to breathe. It was only the child swelling her belly, she was sure, that kept her from smoking and drinking. And only the woods that kept her lifelong sadness in check.
Every chance she could, she’d visit the snares she set for Rabbit, gather and spread the seeds of those plants preferred by the Deer, and poke around for Mushrooms in the forest litter. She fed on them, but made sure they in turn were fed. She tried to keep an eye on every creature and plant, and how well they were doing, taking on the responsibility for guarding their well-being and seeing to their needs. These walks had become a bit of a test over the last couple months, carrying the weight of her first child in front of her in a way that made balance difficult, a protrusion that got her tangled more often in the stands of brush and Willow. The pregnancy never seemed anything less than right to her, even if it meant raising a baby alone. The stretching uterus felt as good and natural as taking a man inside her, regardless of the causes or consequences of either. Over the years, she exercised little more resistance to her instincts than a wild animal might to the cycles of rut and procreation, mostly in a series of monogamous relationships with generally abusive men. The best that would usually be said of her in these situations was that she was nearly as hard on her oppressors as they were on her.
Moon put on her olive wool poncho and headed out. What better way to prepare her nineteen-year-old body and spirit for what lay ahead, she thought, than a hike to the head of the valley, over the creek in front of her cabin, past the log outbuildings, through the fields of purple-crested Beeweed to the grove of Grandmother Ponderosas. Normally her head felt heavy as rock, a terrible burden to her neck, with a mind clouded by floodwaters of illusion and regret. But the further she walked, the lighter it inevitably felt… and clearer, until only a lens to see through, a conduit through which to reach out and connect. Barely out of sight of her abode, the incessant self-analysis had already slowed to a halt, with even the words in her thoughts beginning to break apart into snippets of wind and bird songs. Halfway through the Beeweed, she was as a Bee herself, giddy with pollen, tipping unsteadily but willingly on the very edge of the blossom of life. Entering the Pines, there was neither comment nor qualification left, only hushed reverence for something she felt akin to, something huge and palpably thrumming. The woman who so depended on her boundaries and defenses, felt her walls quaver in its presence, and then dissolve around her.
It was in this opened and vulnerable state that she first heard the baying of dogs ahead, followed by unintelligible conversation. A few yards further, the trail spilled out into a glen circumscribed by a ghost-white choir of Quaking Aspens. She stood before what she took to be a pair of middle-aged Mormon settlers with clean-shaven faces, with lever-action rifles of some make or other leaning up against the nearest tree. One held back a pair of hounds struggling against the taut leather leashes, while a second knelt down in front of a huge blonde Bear with its skin half peeled back. She watched as he deftly cut strips of meat off the back, slapping them into a pile on a canvas tarp next to him. Eerily, the dogs paid Moon no more mind than if she were a resident bush, and the settlers looked up only ever so briefly with looks of neither surprise nor interest, scarily devoid of feeling. Turning back towards home, she realized that it was this apparent absence of malice or love, passion or compassion, empathy or anger that scared her most about her human kind, and she sensed in their shadows an aura of detachment more perversely evil, even, than heated acts of hatred or conscious ill intent. She was a hunter herself, a taker of life and consumer of flesh. And while Grizzlies were always rare as Hen’s teeth, they were hell on livestock and could expect to get back a little of what they put out. But there was nonetheless something about this particular Bruin’s death that gnawed at her guts. Something in it that followed her home.
Moon was barely out of the pine grove when the tears started to flow, and only halfway through the Beeweed before her water broke. The same oceanic fluids that floated all life gushed down her legs as she walked, soaked her Spanish dress, filled her sandals and drained out onto the welcoming ground. Before she got back to the creek the dress was already off, wadded together with her poncho. She stepped naked into the crystalline current and sat down, first watching the patterns it made as it swirled around her distended belly, then the water striders that skimmed about on its surface. The water felt only slightly cooler than her own body, thanks to its day in the sun. She’d just started to relax when the painful contractions started, and Omen’s life began.