Spirit Talkers, 4



Medicine Way



Everyone on the Good Red Road

pp. 111-8


Caerimonial Rules

pp. 118-23



pp. 123-9


Sweat-Lodge Caerimony

pp. 129-31


Leave No Room for Doubt

pp. 131-7


Moon-Time Tapu

pp. 137-9



pp. 139-42


Rethinking Reality

pp. 142-5

4.1 (p. 114) Ghost-Dance

"The climax of the greatest excitement of the dance was ... the appearance of slowly descending figures of human forms. ... These spectral figures were seen slowly descending and and rising and ... keeping step with the music of the dancers ... ." (Troyer n.d., p. 1)

Troyer, n.d. = Carlos Troyer : "Description of the Ghost Dance of the Zun~is". In : Traditional Songs of the Zun~i Indians. Presser Co, Philadelphia.

4.1 (pp. 116-7) Dreamer Dance

p. 116

"the Wintu and their neighbors used the Bole Maru dreamer cult dance to secure {spiritual} powers. " ... the dancers might ... during a Bole

p. 117

dance ... visit the spirit land. Then they ... told what they had seen. ..."" (Du Bois 1939, p. 69)

Du Bois 1939 = Cora du Bois : "The 1870 Ghost Dance". ANTHROPOLOGICAL RECORDS 3.1:1-151. Univ of CA Pr, Berkeley.

4.1 (p. 117) difference in powers

"among the Twana an ordinary person's spirit power was called cshalt,

while the shaman's power was called swadash." (Elmendorf 1984, p. 281)

Elmendorf 1984 = William W. Elmendorf : "Coast Salish Concept of Power". In :- Jay Miller & Carol M. Eastman (edd.) : The Tsimshian and Their Neighbors of the North Pacific Coast. Univ of WA Pr, Seattle. pp. 281-91.

4.1 (p. 118) real dreaming-world bringeth about sudden shifts in unreal waking-world

"Medicine people continually expect the unexpected to happen in their lives. ... and that expectation is often met. ... This experience of reality leads them to ... dream ... states. ... Their view is ... -- the spirit world {viz., dream/trance world} is more real that this {viz., non-trance waking-state} world."

4.2 (pp. 121-2) prayer

p. 121

"The Naskapi word for praying translates as "spirit-power thinking," which ... becomes an important form of magic." (Speck 1935b, p. 184)

p. 122

"In summary, your prayers must be accompanied by a great deal of sincerity ..., humbleness ..., intense focus of consciousness ..., and continuous repetition ... ."

Speck 1935b = Frank G. Speck : Naskapi ... of the Labrador Peninsula. Univ of OK Pr, Norman.

4.3 (p. 124) purification

"Purification is any human action ... that attracts helpful spirits and exorcises evil spirits."

4.3 (p. 126) sand-painting as sacrificial offering, its remains being afterwards deposited at sacred site

"In Navaho conception sand paintings and prayersticks belong to the supernatural whom they represent, and both imply a sacrificial offering made to the supernatural ... figurines with their sticks ... are treated as offerings to the supernaturals concerned. Like other sacrificial offerings, ... {after the specific caerimonies wherefor they were made are completed} they are deposited in ["power"] spots which supposedly are easily accessible to the supernaturals." (Haile 1947b, pp. 1-2)

Haile 1947b = Berard Haile : Navaho Sacrificial Figures. Univ of Chicago Pr.

4.3 (p. 126) the nature of sandpaintings

"Sandpaintings are used

both by the Hopi and [Navaho]

{also by the Pima and the Papago in southern Arizon; and by tribes in ("ISSC") southern California}

during a healing ceremony and typically take more than six hours to complete."

"The Navaho word for a sandpainting is iikha`a`h, which means "they enter and leave." This refers to the entry of spirits into the sacred space of the sandpainting, through a "door" which is drawn into the painting by forming an incomplete outer circle.

There are well over a hundred different prayer sticks used among the Navaho, such as the Blue Lizard, Gray Lizard, White Lizard, Rock Lizard, Gliding Lizard, and Digging Lizard prayer sticks. ... . ... these ... act as messengers, carrying prayers to the spirit world."

"ISSC" = Bill Cohen : "Indian Sandpaintings of Southern California". JOURNAL OF CALIFORNIA AND GREAT BASIN ANTHROPOLOGY, 9(1): 4-34 (1987). http://escholarship.org/uc/item/59b7c0n9#page-1

4.3 (pp. 126-7) intent of the caerimony

p. 126

"The making of prayer offerings is an exercise in focusing ... on the intent of the ceremony. ... The result is ... your praying before coming into the ceremony. This usually results

p. 127

in more time being spent in preparing for a sacred ceremony than it actually takes to perform it. ... In some cases, such as the Winnebago Medicine Dance, there are four nights of preparation that take place before a sweat lodge ceremony is conducted for the dance."

4.3 (p. 127) recordings, into tobacco-ties, of conversations (opinions)

"Any Lakota medicine man will tell you that the spirits "read" each and every tobacco tie when they come to a ceremony. All the more reason for ... conversation ... recorded in them".

{In CBM, p. 51, is a twist (BB:"I&C", p. xxviib) "that Seler identifies as ... tobacco." This is depicted as moistened by blood streaming from a heart : cf. the rN~in-ma book-title Heart-Drops from the Great Space, which is a record of opinions "appertaining to esoteric lore" (TY&SD, p. 319).}

BB:"I&C" = Bruce E. Byland : "Introduction and Commentary". In :- Gisele Di`az & Alan Rodgers : The Codex Borgia. Dover Publ, 1993. pp. xi-xxxii.

TY&SD = Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz (ed.) & Kazi Dawa Samdup (transl.) : Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. 2nd edn. Oxford Univ Pr, 1958. https://books.google.com/books?id=GjDEf0Hit2sC&pg=PA319&lpg=PA319&dq=

4.3 (pp. 128-9) praevalence of joking & of laughter

p. 128

"Cushing wrote [Green 1979, p. 127] that the Zun[~]i could become "uproariously happy.""

"Ruth Underhill had to say ... : [1938, p. 2] "The Papagos ... gentle, poetic ... are always laughing ... . ... . ... gentle laughter ... always accompanies Papago talk. No group of Papago men or women is ever together without the sound of it."

"Alexander Ross observed this ... among the people living along the Columbia River. He recorded [1849], "... it is amusing to see a whole camp or village, both men and women, here and there in numerous little bands, ... laughing ... .""

p. 129

"Even the most serious medicine man will be heard to joke during a sacred ceremony."

Green 1979 = Jesse Green (ed.) : Selected Writings of Frank Hamilton Cushing. Univ of NE Pr, Lincoln.

Underhill 1938 = Ruth Murray Underhill : Singing for Power : the Song Magic of the Papago Indians of Southern Arizona. Univ of CA Pr, Berkeley.

Ross 1849 = Alexander Ross : Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River. London : Elder Smith. (reprint Citadel Pr, NY, 1969)

4.4 (p. 130) rule for participants entring sweat-lodge

"One of the Lakota rules for their inipi is that no one may enter the lodge wearing any metal items".

{"No metal will avail as ransom or weapon." (A&PsNT2, p. 219, fnn. 6-9)}

A&PsNT2 = Robert Henry Charles (ed.) : The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, Volume 2. Oxford : Clarendon Pr, 1913. https://books.google.com.au/books?id=his5AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA219&lpg=PA219&dq=

4.5 (p. 131) initiation of patients after they have been miraculously cured

"Learning the ceremony usually involved an "initiation." That initiation often involved nothing more than having been the subject of that ceremony. That it, the patient in a healing ceremony was often invited to join their "secret society" after being healed." (Ritzenthaler 1953a, p. 152)

Ritzenthaler 1953a = Robert E. Ritzenthaler : "The Potowatomi Indians of Wisconsin". BULLETIN OF THE PUBLIC MUS OF THE CITY OF MILWAUKEE 19.3:99-174.

4.5 (pp. 131-2) deities are offended by mortals' doubting their efficacy, and will therefore not undertake miracles in the praesence of mortal doubters

p. 131

"Because a belief in medicine powers is fundamental to their manifestation, doubt impedes the process ... . ... Shamans actualize the power of the spirit world ... via a firm belief in its reality [e.g., Lee 1992, p. 252]."

"Telling a doubter to leave before a ceremony ... is an act designed to insure success. The ethnographic records are quite clear about a shaman's pre-ceremonial concerns regarding doubters [e.g., Hurt & Howard 1952, p. 288]. ...

p. 132

The medicine men could always tell when anyone present was not a believer, and would make them leave." (Johnson 1969, p. 129)

Lee 1992 = Irwin Lee : "Cherokee Healing : Myth, Dreams, and Medicine". AMER INDIAN QUARTERLY 16.2:237-57.

Hurt & Howard 1952 = Wesley R. Hurt & James H. Howard : "A Dakota Conjuring Ceremony". SOUTHWESTERN J OF ANTHROPOLOGY 8.3:286-96.

Johnson 1969 = Olga Weydemeyer Johnson : Flathead and Kootenay. Arthur H. Clark Co, Gelndale (CA).

4.5 (pp. 134, 136-7) how doubters are nulllified during powerful shamanic caerimonies

p. 134

"Nevertheless, if you have a very powerful shaman with powerful helping spirits, there may be little to no concern about doubters['] being present. ... Powerful shamans ... simply let their spirit helpers handle doubters."

p. 136

"The records are full of such reports about the retaliatory things will do to doubters or to those who are in some other way disrespectful to the spirits during a ceremony. So if the shaman fails to root out initially the doubters, more than likely the spirits, once they arrive, will run them off in some manner. ...

p. 137

So best not to challenge [n]or test the spirits is an an old adage from the American Indians. Such people always lose, and there are many recorded accounts of its happening."

4.5 (p. 137) discovery of the "white root medicine"

"One ... helping spirit gave ... a medicine plant ... to use in ceremonies. ... In order to obtain it, the spirit told ... to look for it at a specific location on the reservation ... . However, the spirit didn't give any clues as to what the plant looked like, but merely told him ... to go there in the dark to look for it. ... He went there in the dark and started walking around in this open field ... . All of the sudden he saw a single plant that was glowing brightly in the dark. That's how he discovered what plant it was."

4.6 (pp. 138-9) divinities' automatically taking offense at humans' odors (though unnoticeable to the humans themselves)

p. 138

"Menstruation ... forces are purifying her body. ... Therefore, this ... process has serious potential to interfere with the ceremony. ... For example, there is report of a Comanche medicine man who [Jones 1968, p. 3] "would sew mescal beans into the cuffs of his trousers as protection against possible contamination from menstrual blood."

The taint of this blood can cause a person to faint as well. Among Sun Dancers the presence of this peculiar energy is experienced as a metallic taste in the mouths of the dancers, usually followed by their passing out. ...

p. 139

Another reason given for this taboo is that the menstrual discharge carries an odor that is offensive to the spirits, which causes them to leave a ceremony. ... In fact, the spirits say humans stink, and the sweat lodge purification before undertaking a power ceremony also serves to eliminate body odor as well."

Jones 1968 = David E. Jones : "Comanche Plant Medicine". PAPERS IN ANTHROPOLOGY 9:1-12. Univ of OK.

4.7 (p. 139) purpose of a power-caerimony

"The fundamental purpose of a power caerimony is to get in touch with the Great Mystery by means of spirit helpers so that a desired change in reality {viz., in the waking-world} can come about. One prays to a spirit(s) to alter reality in a specific way or to answer specific questions. The shaman, whose spirit it is, leads the prayers and discourses with the spirit upon its arrival."

4.7 (p. 139) ritual environment required by divinities of humans for those humans' participation in a power-caerimony

"In a Lakota healing ceremony ..., A bucket of hot rocks is placed by the door, and as participants enter the room water is poured in on the stones such that each person passes through a billow of steam.

The coming and going of spirits is hindered by light, so most often ... once the door is shut, a blanket is usually hung over it to prevent any light from entering. ... Once the lights are turned off, the ceremony begins with ... drumming and rattling accompanied by singing, all in a totally darkened room.

The helping spirits of the Tlingit [Dall 1870, p. 423] "only permit themselves to be conjured by the sound of a drum or rattle.""

{The function of the instrumental music would be to provide the appropriate mood wherein the requaested response can be consummated.}

Dall 1870 = William H. Dall : Alaska and Its Resources. [reprinted 1970]

4.7 (pp. 139-40) peculiar behaviour by divinities while they are in possession of a mortal's body

p. 139

"It is well-known that trance states exhibit definite physical signs such as

p. 140

bodily and facial contortions accompanied by ... shrieking, frenzied action, spastic movements, becoming rigid, or foaming at the mouth ... ." (Stewart 1946, p. 325)

Stewart 1946 = Kenneth M. Stewart : "Spirit Possession in Native America". SOUTHWEST J OF ANTHROPOLOGY 2.3:323-39.

4.7 (p. 140) combined effect of shaman along with human participant-observers in attendance at power-caerimony

"The shaman serves as the connection to the spirit world, a conduit for the power, and the ceremonial participants serve to augment the shaman's power."

4.8 (p. 144) scientific-laboratory quality of aboriginal occult societies : seeking usefully practical benefits, even to the ignoring of possible metaphysical explanations

"the most informative reports are those in the words of the Indian informants themselves. ... Their "secret societies" are better seen as a scientific laboratory in which the art of shamanism is wielded.

At their deepest centers, ... medicine powers are currently a mystery. ...

Accordingly, the question before us is not about how it all works, but what works. ... One does not have to explain what a spirit helper is in order to utilize spirit helpers."


William S. Lyon : Spirit Talkers : North American Indian Medicine Powers. Prayer Efficacy Publ, Kansas City (MO), 2012.