Thursday, July 22, 2010

The love medicine in Louise Erdrich's novel "Love Medicine" is made by Lipsha Morrissey. He has healing powoers, but he's never made a love medicine before.

Healing is just in him, the touch. Sometimes, he has touched sick people and gone deep, and the person is made whole. Sometimes, the healing is smaller but much appreciated. Old women with knotted veins in their legs he'll rub around the veins or knock near the heart or rub the stomach, and the women will feel better.

His hands know how to heal.

He knows that the Chippewas had the strongest love medicine of any tribe, but he doesn't know how it was made. He has Chippewa instincts, but no training in healing and the like. The one person in his area who seems like he knows about such things seems to use his knowledge to make people's lives worse, not better, so Lipsha avoids him.

He takes his lealing instincts and experience and his Chippewa feelings, and imagines how to make a love medicine. Find particular bits of nature, and combine them with particular human actions.

When he goes out to find the bits of nature, he spends the whole day looking and doesn't find them, and is cold. He decides he doesn't want to be cold another day, so he makes up a shoddy imitation of his improvisation which will be more comfortable to carry off.

When he does do the shoddy imitation, the next day, he gets instant, very bad results.

One thing he does as part of Plan C (I don't want to be cold again) that he might not have done if he had acted on his original imaginings, is he takes the love medicine to the priest to be blessed.

The priest doesn't have time to deal with someone who want a wrapped something blessed and won't say what it is, so he tells him to take his problem to a nun. He finds a nun he livkes, and she hangs in there until he tell her the thing he wants blessed is love medicine.

She assumes incorrectly that he wants love medicine to help with a girlfriend. She tells him he doesn't need love medicine. "Just be yourself."

If he had been loyal to being himself, and done that somewhat uncomfortable work of his best imagination, he probably wouldn't have gotten a bad result. Maybe no result, which would have been better, or maybe the best imagine result would have come from doing the best imagined procedure, as originally intuited.

--This is described at the beginning of the "Love Medicine" section of the Louise Erdrich novel "Love Medicine."