Shamanic Odyssey, I : General Studies


pp. 6-12 as per :- Herman Haeberlin "SEtEtda>q, a Shamanic Performance of the Coast Salish". AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 20(3):249-57. 1918.

pp. 6-7 the 2 categories of guardian-spirits

p. 6

"The guardians were of two types :

shamanic [xwdab], concerned with healing, and

others, collectively

p. 7

known as sqlalitut. These latter helped "... by giving ... luck in ... hunting, fishing, etc."

The people hired to perform the Recovery ceremony had shaman guardians specifically of the type called spe:tetda>qq xwdab, which conferred the ability to return successfully from a visit to the land of the dead. This particular spirit power ... was believed to travel the world in a canoe with a crew of ten, arranged five to a side with a painted board behind each of them. The actual source of this power was the man in the bow ... . ... As it beached, the youth rushed out and seized hold of the leader."

p. 8 the caerimony generally

"The ceremony was always held at night during midwinter ... . A winter night in this world was a bright, pretty, summer day in the afterworld. The path was unobstructed ... . ... ... the land of the dead was usually due west, so the shamans had to face that way while in transit. When returning, they faced east ... . ... Behind each shaman was a cedar board, shaped according to tribal affiliation and painted to represent ... one or more of his guardian spirit powers. Each healer held in his hand a pole that was six to eight feet long ... . ... Once they were underway, each shaman in turn sang his song to propel the craft."

pp. 8-10 voyage to the land of the dead [this is the Snoqualmie version (p. 10)]

p. 8

"The land of the dead was not an underworld, "it was on the same level with our world" (same:254), but in something like another dimension. Along the way, two rivers had to be crossed. The first was too swift to be managed safely by canoe. Souls crossed over it on a fallen tree. ...

p. 9

The second river was broader and slower moving. It was crossed in ... shovel-nosed (river-type) canoe, with the shamans working their poles ... . The eastern bank was flat, but the western one was steep and occupied by the village of the dead. ... In the land of the dead, time, days, and the seasons were reversed, as were the tides. Further, the dead walk by crossing one leg in front of the other. ... While near the village of the dead, the crew sometimes met a ghost out picking berries. ... The ghost was captured and interrogated to find out the location of the stolen spirit and the general routines of the village. They went to the village ..., but the ghosts were never willing to give up a spirit, so the shamans had to take it away by force ... . ... Just before setting off to the east, the shamans blocked the trail to prevent the ghosts from following them. ...

p. 10

The return was quicker than the initial trip."

p. 11 Snohomish version (at the Tulalip Reservation) of the voyage to the land of the dead

"The first night they went seaward to the land of the dead, facing north as the went and south on the way back."

pp. 8, 12 further Snoqualmie details of the journey : trek by the souls of the dead overland

p. 8

"souls of the dead, traveled on foot".

p. 12

"The trail to the land of the dead had a fork, the one to the left was a short cut used by those who had been sick an long time. Everyone else took the right fork".

{Just as the Snoqualmie describe 2 distinct ways (by land and by sea), so likewise doth the Kemetic coffin-text Book of the Two Ways.}


pp. 13-9 as per :- Thomas Waterman : "The Paraphernalia of the Duwamish ‘Spirit-Canoe’ Ceremony". INDIAN NOTES 7(2):129-48, 295-312, 535-61. 1930.

pp. 14-7 stages of the trip to the lands of the dead

p. 14

"The passage to the land of the dead was well known because shamans often used it to gather news and gain warning ... . Also, on occasion, someone died temporarily, going only part of the way along the trail. They then revived and were able to recall their experiences."



stage in trip



"a place where the spirits of objects were alive and singing special songs that doctors could learn and bring back to help themselves and others with various careers, acquisitions, and endeavors."



"a place where thickets grew on either side of the path, full of big berries that would

p. 15


hop around and fly like birds. ... While in the berry patches, the doctors might encounter a ghost walking along, his head thrown far back and his eyes closed, weaving back and forth as his right foot stepped far to the left and his left foot far to the right. When captured, he gave his name, one dimly remembered as belonging to someone long dead, and supplied information on the arrival of new souls".



"place long the way was a wide lake, navigated by the doctors holding their staffs end to end to form the outline of a boat. ... . ... one of them called "Otter! Otter!" to get them safely to the other side."



"destination along the way was a hunting ground ... ."



"Mosquito Place where the attacks of insects the size of birds had to be fought off."



"Beaver Place where they paused to attack a lodge and scare out ... beaver".



"the locale where the doctors stopped to "lift the daylight" because ... dawn started to appear. This light apparently weighed down heavily on their guardian helpers, slowing them, so the shamans had to use their poles to hook under the daylight and slowly lift it over their heads. ... this was done five times in a series because "day-

p. 16


light is fivefold ... . It is like five people" (same:141). {cf. the 5 dawn-gods doing spearing in Codex Borgianus Mexicanus pp. 53-4} When finished, they halted the journey and rested until the next night. Sometimes, during the day, the leader made a quick trip to the ghost land to scout out the village while it was still night there."



"the raging river whose banks were continually collapsing, adding large boulders to the already treacherous current. The doctors conferred on a crossing, always deciding to use the Jumping Place. {cf. [Maori] Te Reina, ‘The Leaping Pace’ for souls of the dead} This was represented ... by a framework of two poles with a crosspiece, supporting the upper end of a plank set diagonal from the ground. One by one, the shamans climbed this ramp and were handed a vaulting pole. A small circle was traced in the earth floor and the base of the pole was placed inside it. Then, the shaman vaulted to a specific spot on the other side."



"When the leader knew the exact location of their quarry, he went to recover it. ... When the successful search party rushed back, the crew pushed off in haste. From the stern, the leader "throws his meanness" into the village of the dead, causing them to come rushing out ... . This precipitated a furious fight, with shamans dodging ... missiles, using poles ... as ... deflectors."



"The trip back took only an hour or two, unlike the day(s) spent in going.



When the doctors returned with the soul, they placed it back inside the patient, trembling while they did so. Waterman (1930:146) described them as falling into a "shaking fit," ... that ... suggests ...

p. 17


the modern Indian Shaker Church of this region. ... The hands of Lushootseed religious leaders with power boards or poles tremble when these gifts are in use. Among the Navaho, one type of diagnostician is called "hand trembler.""

pp. 17-9 shamanic planks painted with depictions

p. 17

The "plank ... form Waterman attributed to the Duwamish ... had a snout like that mentioned by Dorsey [p. 4 "each board had a snout-like projection at the upper end ... . ... Four slabs had a single eye".], yet here it is described not as a cetacean, but as a mythical monster able to suck things into its maw from great distances." {cf. the Chumash "sucking monster Haphap ... sucked in great pieces of the land ..., thus creating gaps in the mountains that can still be seen." ("BChHU")} {cf. the Blackfoot "Wind Sucking Monster. This monster had sucked animals and people into his stomach with the wind. The use of laughter freed the animals and people from the monster." ("W&W", p. 361} {This is the theme of the Sucking Monster, which is widespread throughout North. America (Thompson 1961:321, 322).}


"The dots that marked all of the figures and filled much of the space on most planks represent the songs revealed to the shaman by the particular guardian-spirit whose likeness is pictured in the middle of the plank. Every type of guardian-spirit was addicted to songs of a definite

p. 18

and recognized pattern, so that a bystander could recognize what type of guardian-spirit a man had merely by hearing him sing (same:300)."


"a pair of facing Loons on one panel have song dots "represented in rather a picturesque way as dropping from their wing-feathers" (same:304)." {the songs of the Veda are supposedly produced by the rustling of the feathers of the divine bird Garutman}


"All the planks for a ritual were split from the same log, if possible. The paint pigments were .. applied by each shaman because he alone knew his power intimately." [p. 17 "red was ... a vermilion made from fungus – collected off hemlock logs, then baked, ground, and mixed with a binder of salmon eggs to make it adhesive."]

"BChHU" = "The Beginning of the Chumash Historical Universe"

"W&W" = "Wind and Wisdom" ENVTL. & ENERGY L. & POL'Y J. 345 2005-2007. pp. 346-371.

pp. 18-9 Little-Earths

p. 18

"The free standing effigies were identified as "ground-beings" but their Lushootseed name better translates as Little Earths or, perhaps, groundlings, a class of powerful if diminutive supernaturals (immortals). ...

When all was ready, the planks and effigies were set into the ground ..., facing north with the snouts pointed east to swallow the daylight so it would not press down on the assemblage. In theory, the ... "real" passengers

p. 19

were the humanoid effigies of the Little Earths. ... The shamans clustered ..., singing power songs ... while


their souls or minds sank down through the earth, getting on the trail of the dead. As the spirits below entered the spirit boat, the shamans above simultaneously arranged themselves ... . From that point on the ceremony was a dramatization or pantomime of the experiences through which the spirit-beings passed on their journey to Shadow-land (same:543)."


BALLENA PR ANTHROPOLOGICAL PAPERS, No. 32 = Jay Miller : Shamanic Odyssey : the Lushootseed Salish Journey to the Land of the Dead. Ballena Pr, Menlo Park (CA), 1988.