The Warrior Princess, Xena, was reputed to have been able to heal the sick.
Upon occasion she was said to have saved even those who had been mortally
wounded by accident or in combat.
Her powers appeared to be little short of magical, and in fact,
there was little doubt that among Xena's more ardent admirers her very touch
was thought to be magic indeed.
But tales have a way of being improved upon in the telling.
Truths are quite often stretched and varnished
until the central figures often attain
mythological and near God-like proportions.
Such may have been the case with the Warrior Princess,
because certain facts
would indicate that the art and practice of medicine and healing
were for the
most part in both an early and a rather primitive state of advance in the days
of the Amazons.
Long after Xena's day and age women of her talents would be called
Good fortune palyed a major role in her healing arts
rather than due to any of the various incantations or ministrations of the practitioner.
In point of fact, it was the Witch Doctor who, more often than not was to strike fear into the hearts of the wounded warriors
as she stalked about surveying the field in the aftermath of battle.
For it was she who was to determine whether a fallen warrior was likely to survive her wounds.
And any belly wound, as was so often the case, was a sure sentence to a slow,
And so, as merciless as it may seem to those of us fortunate enough to live in somewhat more enlighted times,
it was the Witch Dotor of the clan more so than any Gleaner,
whose business it was to go about thrusting a spear into the heaving bosoms
of those whose wounds she deemed to be beyond her capacity to assist in any more meaningful way.
In truth, in the day and age of the Amazons the practice of medicine was for the most part
in such a primitive state that were a warrior's wounds anything beyond a superficial scratch
about the best treatment she had any reason to expect was to have the blade
of a knife or spear thrust somewhere beneath her sternum.
When inserted at the proper angle, the blade would tear away the lower quadrant of her heart,
or puncture a lung at the very least.
In any event, any weapon buried in one's chest was considered preferable
to the slow agonizing death that came about as a result of being gutted.
It was indeed fortunate for the Witch Doctor that the Amazons,
steeped in superstition as they were,
gave little or no credence to the notion that there might be a better way
to ease their pain and cure their ills.
And so the Witch Doctor was and continued to be an influential spiritual guide
within the clan in spite of her rather obvious limitations.
Then one day a stranger came their way and entered into their midst.
She was a quiet woman arriving with nothing in the way of fanfare
but who had joined a group from a neighboring clan who had come to trade.
The Witch Doctor paid no particular heed to her nor to any other of the traders
until it happened that one of the visiting group fell ill.
The Witch Doctor was called to see to the stricken woman but in spite of her most strenuous efforts,
it soon became apparent that the girl's health was deteriorating rapidly.
The Witch Doctor continued to exhort the Spirits to rebuke the hand of the devourer,
but in her own mind she was resigned to failure.
It was then than the stranger came forward to kneel at the side of the stricken girl.
She appeared to reach a diagnosis of the situation readily and signalled one
of her travelling companions to bring cloths and cool water.
She dampened a cloth and pressed it to the forehead of the patient.
She stirred a mysterious powder into some of the water
and as the girl showed some sign of regaining consciousness,
the stranger encouraged her to sip a bit of the concoction.
Some time later, much to the amazement of all those who bore witness, the patient's eyes fluttered open.
The wild tossing and turning to which she had been so recently subject subsided entirely.
She was clear-eyed for the first time in several days and it was obvious to all
that a miraculous cure had been effected and that she had been set upon the road to a full and complete recovery.
The merchants were delighted to see that thier compatriot had been brought back from the dead
and homage was paid to the stranger as a worker of miracles.
The stranger insisted that she herself had little to do with the girl's
recovery and that it was the medication
that she had been fortunate enough to have at her disposal that had cured the youngster.
Nonetheless, and her protestations to the contrary,
there were many who were inclined to regard the Medicine Woman as a Diety
or the earthly representative of one at the very least.
In short, everyone was well pleased and when their trading was finished,
the visiting merchants took their leave with the Medicine Woman and her patient among them.
The Witch Doctor was anything but pleased with this loss of face which she saw
as a significant threat to her own sphere of influence.
For her own part, she was inclined to write the entire episode off as a trick of a group of charlatans.
But though she did her best to decry the performance of the one called the Medicine Woman,
the reputation of the stranger continued to grow and it was not long before
the Witch Doctor came to regard the Medicine Woman not as a mere rival but as an adversary.
And one who could easily undermine the Witch Doctor's influence and seat of power within the Clan.
The Witch Doctor was subtle in dealing with this problem of the Medicine Woman.
It was not her style to confrontational.
But over the course of the next several months the Witch Doctor went about quietly planting
the seeds of doubt in the minds of her own minions.
And lo and behold, soon the story that was being circulated round and about was that this
so-called Medicine Woman was in fact attempting to raise an army of the Undead!
It could be so! Easily!
It must be!
Did we not all see that the girl fell sick and was in fact dead?
And did not this stranger in our midst not raise her up?
What other motive could she have?
And so the tale grew with the telling.
To her credit, the Witch Doctor put no faith at all in any of these tales.
To her own way of thinking, she failed to see how any army,
living or dead could do anything more in the way of damage to the Amazons
than the clans were prone to do to one another.
The Amazons had little else to distract them and one day at a council meeting the Witch Doctor,
having grown weary of the entire affair, made a remark in passing that was to have have fateful consequences.
For a number of her adherents were to hear her sigh,
"Ah, but if there were only someone who would rid me of this tiresome Priestess!"
And so in the fullness of time it came to pass that as the Medicine Woman and
the merchants with whom she was keeping company approached a small village with
which the intent was to trade, they were set upon by a group of assailants unknown.
They were a group of merchants, artists and porters carrying trade goods.
As far as is known there was not a warrior among them.
Or if there were, they were far too few in number to offer much in the way of defense in the face of any serious attack.
And so this peaceful group was annihilated both utterly and completely.
The Witch Doctor had taken no part in the attack.
Nor was she in fact anywhere near the place where this particular atrocity was said to have occurred.
But a follower of the Witch Doctor made a point of verifying that the Medicine Woman
had indeed fallen among the ranks of her ill-fated entourage.
And so the Amazons, being at best only human and almost certainly neither better nor worse than any other mere mortal,
had come upon a Truth.
And that Truth had taken the form of a well-intended soul who could have bettered the lot of them all.
But as so often has been the case when either a man or woman falls upon a Truth,
they will as like as not pick themselves up and continue to stumble blindly along the path they tread.