Dogwoods Reveal Their Ancient Healing Secrets

The great medicinal being, stektektsxwíIhp, aka red osier dogwood or red willow (be careful with that; more than one plant bears that name), reveals her anti-inflammatory secrets when her leaves stop making chlorophyll. Then their energy zones are laid bare.

Her name contains important information. In Nsyilxcen, tk-tk is “winter”, and t-t?-iwl-tk is “a little ways from water.” It would be safe to say that this is important information for more than just finding her.


On her upper face, she is warm and red. This is a surface coating. Yellow shines through it.

On her lower faces she is cool and yellow. She is so to the core of her leaves.

The light that brightens the red reflects off the yellow. It is the red that absorbs it and shines.

When her upper faces are in shade, they are cool.

Colour is concentrated at points of injury — perhaps by fungal infection; perhaps by insects; perhaps by potassium or magnesium deficiencies. In either case, she has responded by delivering dark compounds to the area. The torn leaf edges indicate insect damage. She has not responded to these surface gaps, only internal ones.

It would be safe to say that these are likely symbolic effects and not just chance operations. It is also invaluable to remember that medicinal effects like hers were not discovered by trial and error, but by communication from plants. This “talking” did not happen in the way contemporary individualized humans speak to each other over a beer down at the pub or across a lecture hall in a medical faculty, though. They do it more in the way of bodies and dreams, visions, voices, and even correspondences and names appearing out of the dark of the mind. It is only reasonably so. I know a woman with amazing capacities to automatically catalogue incoming material, which is retrieved visually. I knew a man whose mind automatically arranged all information in categories and which changes in late-life brain chemistry started to combine in new, intuitive ways. To indigenous people, such human capacity includes a spiritual capacity to speak with the land and was systematically augmented by mind-altering practices. It is vital to remember that to people who are the land they live on, knowledge of their own body is intimately connected with knowledge of all the other beings who form it. Such people can read the image below, or the gifted among them can:

If they were here now, right away they would explain that this is not stektektsxwíIhp but one of her sisters. That’s true. She’s a foreigner planted here fifty years ago for decoration. A knowledgeable eye would go on to say how her powers differ from stektektsxwíIhp. As for communication, look at the image. She is communicating. She is telling us who she is, what she can do, and what her powers are. It is a language that appears as beauty to eyes trained to see aesthetically. It is all that and more, and we can relearn to speak, but slowly, with great attention. It is an art, and like that other, almost lost, indigenous art, fruit tree pruning, if you are going to do it well, your sense of your body must merge with the space and presence of the tree. Effectively, you read your self. Call that memory, if that helps you. You could also call it a “calling forth into being.” After all, to the Old Norse ancestors of the English language, thought is memory; without it, one does not mind anything. Some things are definitely worth minding. StektektsxwíIhp’s offerings (look at her offering, there above!) are one.

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