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9334: Introducing a Medsen Fey, or Leaf Doctor (fwd)
A "medsen fey" is a leaf doctor, a person who knows how to use leaves and other plant parts to promote health and cure illness.
Most Haitians have some knowledge of plants - as do most Americans! Most people in the USA know that citrus fruits are good for colds and chamomile tea helps a person relax, things like that. Here the plants are different from those in the temperate climates, but folk knowledge is perpetuated in the same way, by word of mouth and family recipe.
There are no written manuals for the medsen fey, and no organized schools of botanical knowledge. But some people take an interest in plant medicine and pick up every little detail they can. A great deal of this knowledge is concentrated in the hands of Vodouisants, since we are called on to do healing work.
A medsen fey may be a man or a woman. A medsen fey may be a Vodou initiate, and there are some Houngans and Mambos who function primarily in this role. Others are not initiates but have personal or family lwa who help them in their work, and still others are simply very good herbalists who work without spiritual intervention.
There are thousands of medsen fey in Haiti! Every little neighborhood has someone who is more skilled and more knowledgeable than others. In the Bremen neighborhood near me, Houngan Abel is sought for herbal cures. He makes lovely little "leaf rolls" for his clients, mixed herbs wrapped up in a covering leaf and tied with a vine. People come to see him every day, and he makes enough money to support himself in this way.
Here in the Aviation neighborhood where I live (across the road from the small-plane airfield) the person to see is Loulou Prince. Loulou Prince is not an initiate, but regularly attends dances at several houses, including Houngan Ronald's peristyle in Jacmel town, and my peristyle. Like Houngan Abel; he too is self-employed. He raises cows, pigs and goats, and sells and trades livestock at the local country markets. Because his work keeps him constantly in the fields and at the water sources, he is able to collect herbs as he goes along.
Loulou Prince has begun to work with the Roots Without End Society. He is collecting the herbs for an herbal bath La Sirene prescribed for the house members at the time of the recent La Sirene dance, and he also treated me for a nasty tropical "grippe", a cold and congestion. The bath we will take next Saturday, and the cold is already on it's way out!
I've made a little web page for Loulou Prince, and I've signed him up for a yahoo email address, firstname.lastname@example.org . He speaks and reads Creole and some Spanish, so I will translate for him correspondence written in English.
The website is at http://www.geocities.com/medsen_fey/index.html . Come learn a bit about this health-giving tradition, and meet Loulou Prince!
Peace and love,
Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen
"Se bon ki ra" - Good is rare
The VODOU Page - http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html
(Posting from Jacmel, Haiti)