I Become Part of It [reprinted from issues of PARABOLA MAGAZINE]







season, year


Becoming Part of It

Joseph Epes Brown



Su 1982


Trees Stood

Sam Gill



Sp 1977


Demands of Harmony

Barre Toelken



Au 1977


Ye Put Your Eyen

Sam Gill



Au 1979


Boundaries of Belief

Barbara Tedlock



Wi 1979


One More Smile

Emory Sekaquaptewa





Our Other Selves

Arthur Amiotte



Sp 1982


Blackfeet Genesis




Sp 1983


Bison and Moth

Joseph Epes Brown





Spiritual Landscape

Elaine Jahner



Su 1977


Eagles Fly Over

Arthur Amiotte



Su 1976


pp. 9-20 "Becoming Part of It"

pp. 19-20 the Great Mysterious : I become part of it

p. 19

[Sioux] "Wakan Tanka, the "Great Mysterious.""

p. 20

[Navaho] "The mountains, ... The morning mists, the clouds, ... the dew drops, ... I become part of it."


pp. 21-31 "The Trees Stood Deep-Rooted". http://sam-gill.com/PDF/THE%20TREES%20STOOD%20DEEP%20ROOTED.pdf

p. 23 Thought & Speech

[Navaho] "thought and speech ... arose from the medicine bundle out of which all creation was to come and they were said to embody the powers of the bundle. They took the form of a young man and woman of such radiance ... that they could scarcely be looked upon. {"To fix your gaze on them was impossible, the glare was surprisingly bright. ... Long-Life Boy and Happiness Girl." (NSH, p. 127)} ... Their names are ... Long Life Boy (thought) and Happiness Girl (speech)".

NSH = Donald F. Sandner : Navaho Symbols of Healing. Inner Traditions, 1979. http://books.google.com/books?id=oEbavbFjsOMC&pg=PA127&lpg=PA127&dq=Navaho+%22Long+Life+Boy%22&source=bl&ots=u4mSz8lV6X&sig=uc4z7lOOr_OJLPyOt-uvs2m-Zyc&hl=en&ei=NnrQTeHyCdPAgQf51JzLDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Navaho%20%22Long%20Life%20Boy%22&f=false

p. 27 Dawn & Twilight

[Papago] "Following the creation, the life forms {deities} known as Dawn and Evening Twilight went on a tour to inspect the new world." [apparently referring to the "Papago" poe:m on p. 22 : "With my songs the evening spread echoing And the early dawn emerged with a good sound."]


pp. 59-71 "The Demands of Harmony". [Navaho]

p. 61 a woman’s name

"a name for a local woman of prodigious sexual appetites : Woman Whose Genitals Are Always Hungry. These names ... were never used in direct address to the persons so described."

p. 70 ritual relationships

"for the Navajos all parts of nature are related : animals, plants, and people exist as brothers and sisters in a stable world; mankind has close relatives in the other world with whom he may share his sicknesses and from whom he may expect succor. ...

{Likewise, in Kemetic royal ritual texts the deities (some of whom may be repraesented as animal-headed) are described in specific kinship-terms in relation to members of the royal family. These metaphors are expected to be accepted by the deities invoked as applicable endearments, so as to help gain divine succour.}

However, beyond the immediate family, it seems to be that the relational ideas are applied as ritual metaphors ... . ... Rather, the relationships seem to be part of the ... system of ritual enactments the aim of which is to maintain stability in a world which inclines toward instability. Most ... are invoked at times ... when the illness of the patient is central to everyone’s concern."

p. 71 realities

the __

are __


"ritual counterparts in a complex and delicate environment"


"partly ourselves"


pp. 75-87 ’Tis Where Ye Put Your Eyen".

p. 78 how a sandpainting is expected to cure

[Navaho] "The sufferer finds his or her way to health from within the sand painting, and by becoming part of it, it disappears and becomes a part of him or her."

{Or, is the ailment re-absorbed through the sandpainting into another world; and the sand of the sandpainting thereupon sacrificed as a sacrificial offering in payment to the deities who helped to retract the ailment via the sandpainting?}

p. 82 how naughty young children are disciplined [Hopi]

"Giant Kachina in the Soyoko ritual proceedings, which are aimed at disciplining uninitiated children. These monstrous-appearing figures come to houses of misbehaving children and demand that the children be given them to eat. This forces the parents to bargain with the kachinas in order to save their children."

[dream by a ritual impersonator of the Giant Kachina] "I ... dreamed that I was still a Giant kachina arguing for the children. I reached out my hand to grab a child ... . The little one held his hands to me, crying and begging to be set free. Filled with pity, I urged him to be a good child in order to free himself from the Giant Spirit."


pp. 124-38 "Boundaries of Belief". [Zun~i]

pp. 127-9 Newekwe (ritual clowns)

p. 127

"The Newekwe, who constitute a medicine society, ... specialize ... in private shamanic journeys on the Milky Way. ... Among the shamanic powers gained through membership is the ability to eat any kind {cf. Aghorin eating-habits} or amount of food".

p. 128

"Wide, alternating black-and-white horizontal stripes are painted on the skin, from head to toe. The stripes of the clown represent the Ash (Milky) Way, the sacred path traveled through the sky by Payatamu, the son of the Sun Father and the founder and patron deity of the Newekwe. ... From then on he had said the opposite of what he means and had been known as Nepayatamu".

p. 129

"The medicine of the Newekwe ... may include Datura inoxia. This sacramental medicine enables the communicant to clown without shame, to eat anything with impunity, and to travel on the Milky Way".


pp. 150-7 "One More Smile for a Hopi Clown".

pp. 150-1 clowns’ call into the afterdeath-world

p. 150

"The leader gets up on this hill and calls out, "yaahahay!" ... . ... "You will hear me cry in this way when we have reached the end of our life-way. It will be a sign that we have reached the end of the world. We will know then whether we have fulfilled our destiny. If we have not we will see how it is to be done.""

p. 151

"The leader [of the clowns] who was a visionary man ... reminding his people that they have ... to gain a spiritual world ... reminded that we are clowns, maybe we have, from time to time, introspection as a guide to lead us right. ... When the clowns come they represent man today who is trying to reach this place of paradise. That is why the clowns always arrive at the plaza from the rooftops of the houses ... . The rooftops signify that even though we have reached the end, we are not necessarily ready to walk easily into the spiritual world. ...

The clowns come to the edge of the rooftops around noon and they announce themselves with the cry "yaahahay!" ... . This announces as foretold at emergence {from the netherworld} the arrival at the end of the life-journey."


pp. 161-72 "Our Other Selves". [Lakota]

pp. 164, 166-7, 169 souls

p. 164

"entrance into earthly life is given to the four spiritual counterparts of all things, ... the four souls. ...

The first one ... is the Niya, which is ... the life-breath of a being. ...

p. 166

The second soul, known as the Nagi, is ... is much like a mirror image of the person’s form, at once ephemeral when seen, transparent, and capable of easy transition to and from the spirit world. ... In many cases the temporary absence of the Nagi is cause for ... insanity. ... Among the Lakota there are those who at a very young age exhibit pre-knowledge of the world and of customs or persons long passed away. Such a person is said to be the explicit and individual Nagi of one who has lived before, returning in another

p. 167

body to participate again in the earthly life. This is frequently believed of twins and of certain shamans".

p. 169

"Since all creatures possess Nagi, they are able to commune with the Wica-nagi or spirits of men and women in the one language all Nagi learned in the spirit world.

pp. 169-170 dreaming & spiritual power

p. 169

"In the spirit world – dream time – all becomes possible. There, if the quester has a good heart and a pure mind, the dream beings may reward him or her with special powers which can be activated".

p. 170

"This brings us to the third aspect of soul or manifestation of spiritlike principle. ... The Sicun is that mysterious spiritlike power which all things possess. ... In some animals, it is their possession of the eternal and unfettered wisdom of the gods which man desires to know. This can only be communicated while ... in a magical flight ... where the Nagi of the seeker enters upon a mystical journey to that other world and returns ... to reinhabit his original body ... . While in the other realm, the encounter might have been as most dramatic affair endowed with all the trappings of a pageant ... . Emerging nonetheless, ... the Nagi of the seeker is offered a portion of the Sicun of his spirit visitor, and instructed about its use and about the ritual songs, dances, or prayers to be utilized in activating it once he returns to the ordinary world."

p. 171 "little ghost"; the wholeness of everything; relatedness to everything

"The Lakota conceive of Taku Skan Skan, or that which moves and causes all of life to move or to live {in whom "we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts of the Apostles 17:28)}, as though the entire universe were injected or infused ... . This which causes all movement was the original source of all things as the beginning ... . From it came all of the energy of life, ranging ... to that which causes the tiniest incest to move about and know its rhythm and part in the scheme of things. This Taku Skan Skan in all things is referred to as the Nagila, or little ghost that dwells in everything. Less personal and more magnanimous that the other souls, the Nagila is responsible for wholeness – ... that binds and holds together all components. It is a bit of the divine essence – the mysterious force that makes all things and beings relatives to each other and to their common ancestor.

The profundity of this realization is expressed in ... mitakuye oyasin, "all my relatives" or "I am related to all that is.""


pp. 173-6 "Blackfeet Genesis".

p. 176 dreaming

"Also Old Man said to the people: "... Something will come to you in your dream, that will help you. Whatever these animals tell you to do, you must obey them, as they appear to you in your sleep. Be guided by them. ... Whatever animal answers your prayer, you must listen to him.""


pp. 177-87 "The Bison and the Moth". [Oglala]

pp. 178-82 dreams, visions, deities

p. 178

"For the Oglala it seems that distinguishing between dream and vision is of little importance or no concern, for many of the recorded encounters with animal spirits which took place in the dream state held the same "power" as if the experience had been a waking vision. ... Evidently in both dream and vision there is ... a shift to another level ..., on which the Oglala is ... encountering the ... archetypal "essences" {viz., deities} appearing in animal forms."

p. 179

"Among the recurring patterns are association of the animal or bird "spirit-form" with the powers of the four directions, which appearing conjunction with manifestations of the terrifying aspects of these powers, notably the Thunder-Beings. ... Or men may turn into animals, and vice versa, or one species of animal may shift into another, or an animal may take on some plant form which is to become the sacred medicinal herb later identified and used for curing.

Frequently it is the animal who finally disappears who becomes the seeker’s guardian-spirit; or else, "... the animal that appeared ... entered his body and became part of his wakan strength. He might ... many times ... have many such tutelary spirits within his body.""

pp. 179-80 realms of specific species of animal-deities

p. 179

"For some, experiences were of such an intense and recurring nature that the recipient might become one of a number of types of "medicine-men"; those who had dreamed or had visions of the Thunder-Beings or of dogs were destined to become hehoka, or contraries. ... there is a certain ranking of the animals, or of their underlying "spirit-power."

Grizzly Bear, for example, was understood to be chief

p. 180

of the underground earth forces, conceived in a ... terrifying aspect;

the bison was chief ... over all animals of the surface of the earth,

and the eagle was seen to have supremacy over all flying beings."

pp. 181-2 distinct worlds

p. 181

"what we then were doing was like a shadow cast upon the earth from yonder vision in the heavens, so bright and clear. I knew the real world was yonder and the darkened dream of it was here." {This "type of thinking" and "attitude of mind" are characteristic of mystical religion worldwide throughout human history.}

"dreamt and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is

p. 182

behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world." {as, e.g., in Platon’s "myth of the cave"}

pp. 182, 184-5 cocoon of Whirlwind-deity; moth

p. 182

"In Lakota mythology, the Whirlwind (Umi or Yum) {either /UMI/ is cognate with the Norse god-name /YMI-/; or else, /YUM/ is Maya /YUM/ (in god-names).} is the little brother of the four winds, all five sons of Tate, the Wind. Whirlwind was born prematurely and never grew up {Ploutos & Naraka are likewise divine boys who never grew up.}, but remained a playful child, sometimes naughty, but much loved, especially by the beautiful Wohpe, who married his brother the South Wind".

p. 184

"The cocoon-encapsulated whirlwind power is of obvious value ... to ... have power to produce confusion of the mind".

p. 184-5

"a Gros Ventre ... line connecting the horn of a bison to an insect ... represents "a rapport between the buffalo and the moth"".

p. 185 spider protecting babies

"the spider or his web has power to protect ... made specific in the Oglala custom of stringing up a web-like hammock ... upon which a young child is placed, which is thought to bring him good fortune." {cf. also the cobweblike dream-catcher}

p. 186 heartless Elk-deity

"supernatural Elk – a "spirit" animal that lacks a heart, or rather, has a space where the heart should be, an animal without a heart being ... immortal and supernatural."


pp. 193-203 "The Spiritual Landscape". [Lakota]

p. 202 vision-quaest

" "Hanblecheyapi" or "Crying for a Vision" is among the most ancient Lakota rites. ... The person who wanted a vision sought the guidance and instruction of a holy man ... . ... The actual crying for a dream occurred in isolation usually atop a high butte or hill. Upon arrival at the chosen place, the seeker ritually prepared an area of earth making it a "center of the earth." ... Generally the quest included the gift of some object representing a spirit that would be the visionary’s helper throughout life. ...

But the individual could not actualize even the unique powers of the dream without the help of the community. In most bands, the dreamer had to enact the dream for the tribe before it could become efficacious."


pp. 206-32 "Eagles Fly Over". [Sioux at Payaba]

p. 207 vocation of a medicine-man

"I did not ask for my office. My work was made for me and given to me by the other world, by the Thunder Beings. I am compelled to live this way that is not of my own choosing, because they chose me. ... My whole like is to do the bidding of the Thunder Beings ... and to pay heed to what the Grandfathers {deities : cf. pitamaha Brahma} tell me.

p. 208 the life-dream

"In the dream, as I sat, two eagles were soaring in the distance and then began to approach me. ... Diving down in front of me they said. "We have come for you now.""

p. 230-1 telling of visions by initiator as praelude to telling by the initiated; holy-communion

p. 230

"Then he began telling me of his visions – that is, the story of his power ... and his qualifications to conduct such rites; and a little bird sound came, his intercessor, Red Hawk, arrived; and it was time for me to tell now of the things I had seen and heard and experienced on the hill. Starting from the beginning and not leaving out anything that might have meaning, I began to tell of all that had happened. The intercessor heard this ..., and I had my first drink, which was cherry juice. [The initiator] first dipped a braid of sweet grass in the cherry juice and I sucked the juice from the end of the sweet grass."

p. 231

"The first dish that was brought around was the wasna, the dried and pounded pemmican mixed with chokeberries. I gave my first handful to the spirits that they might be fed, and it was taken out and offered to them."


D. M. Dooling & Paul Jordan-Smith (edd.) : I Become Part of It : Sacred Dimensions. Parabola Bks, NY, 1989.