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Healing from Within

Canadian stamp healing from Within

Date of issue: February 17, 2000
Printer: Ashton-Potter Canada
Series: The Millennium Collection, Canada's First Peoples
Design: Steven Slipp

Healing from Within

The belief that both disease and health can be affected by factors within as well as external to an individual is accepted by most health care professionals. It has led some to employ a holistic approach to healing, a process that has a long tradition with Canadian Indigenous peoples. An important feature of this tradition is the medicine wheel, which is divided into four quadrants, each having several themes. One of the themes relates to the interconnection between spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional states. A key component of some traditional Indigenous medicine is to restore balance to these four elements when they are “misaligned” and associated with physical illness.

Shamans have been an important part of healing in many world cultures. They can have a variety of roles. The Inuit shaman (angakkug) is a mystical guide who helped heal the sick, influenced the weather, and interpreted dreams.

The Stamp

This stamp depicts an Indigenous healer treating an ill person. Above is a stylized medicine wheel with its four quadrants depicted in white, yellow, red, and black. Healing hands are seen at the junctions of the four quadrants. An eagle – messenger to the Creator and symbol of peace and strength – is seen above.

The stamp to the left of this in the pane below shows part of a shaman sculpture by Inuit artist Paul Toolooktook. It depicts a muskox with a human head (the muskox coat can be seen hanging from the side of the neck; the rest of its sculpted body is not included in the stamp image).

Healing from Within panel of stamps

Design: James Skipp; based on a photograph by Gary Fiegehen

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