Yurok Indian Spirituality, 6-11


6. GO-Road pp. 170-201

pp. 171-173 Tolowa myth of mandrake-boy

p. 171

Boy originated from 2-pronged tuber, the mandrake, at Point St. George. He was dug up by a brodiaea-bulb girl, whose "grandmother" insisted that he hunt a magical albino deer covered with woodpecker-scalps.

p. 172

The grandmother climbed a "rope ladder", and the boy climbed behind her surreptitiously [into the sky-world?]. There he shot the deer, then he wandered away : she followed behind him, begging him to return, her tears becoming the abalone at Pebble Beach. When he arrived at the beach, he departed by canoe.

p. 173

She hurled, toward the departing canoe, an >ekwom (pestle for pounding acorns) : it became Redding Rock (a skerry). {cf. [Norse] "Hamlet’s (Amlo`di’s) mill", which was likewise cast into the sea; [Hellenic] the stone hurled by Poluphemos at Odusseus’s departing ship (with white-fleeced sheep in Poluphemos’s cave cf. the Tolowa albino deer); and [Irish] the clew tossed by goddesses into Bran’s departing ship} "That woman was Abalone."

p. 175 ritual paraphernalia personified as deities

"Dance regalia are not objects but "people," sentient beings ... that have wewecek>, "spirit" or "life," and that "cry to dance." As people, their "purpose in life" is ... to "fix the world," to make the physical plane once again like the pure prairie of the sky, wes>onah, from which they come."

pp. 178, 185-186 sacred sites

p. 178

"all the great rocks in the High Country were "people" who had turned themselves into stone at the end of the "beforetime," when the Indians had come."

p. 185

"things are prayed over from the highest medicine mountains. ... Those are places where we can shoot medicine right down into the Brush Dance hole".

"We go there because the forces are there. ... They ... are spirit-beings.

p. 186

"Those places, ... they’re the homes of spirit-beings, unseen beings. But if you are pure you can see them. I have seen the doctors [spirits] dancing in the cave under Doctor Rock with their canes, so many of them they could hardly fit in there, dancing and singing. They will talk with you ... and have a regular conversation with you. That’s what "training" is".


7. The One Who Flieth All around the World pp. 205-212

pp. 205, 209 wealth & money-deities

p. 205

"Wealth, like human lives, comes from wes>onah, "the sky" ... . ... All wealth, each item of which itself has a "life" or "spirit," wewecek>, is "a person," attracted by generosity and purity, repelled by stinginess and pollution."

p. 209

"One of the classic Yurok creators, Great Money (Pelin ci.k) ... comes from the north and is the oldest and biggest of five brothers (the five sizes of dentalia money). Together with the next oldest and largest, Tego>o, Great Money once traveled and traveled, directing the work of the other world creators. His wife is Great Abalone, women’s money from the south ... . Great Money ... alone can fly around the entire world, seeing all of it and everything that happens here {cf. S`at.an’s "going to and fro in the earth" (>iyo^b 1:7)}, and he has the ... ability to swallow the entire cosmos, should he choose to. (Even the smallest money brother can do this, if he is badly enough offended.) Great Money has beautiful wings ... . When he travels by boat he sits in the middle, doing nothing, ... deigns neither to paddle nor to steer. The other creators – Wohpekumew, Pulekukwerek, Sky Master, and the rest – did all the actual work, in the beginning, under Great Money’s direction. One of them, the trickster Wohpekumew, gave money itself to the people."

pp. 211-212 dance-regalia; procreative dance-baskets

p. 211

"And while ... the wealth cries to dance, the unseen beings who attend human dances themselves "cry to see" the beautiful things dance."


"the jump dance choreography, in which men raise their baskets (>e>gur> ...) repeatedly, with every forward step, from their groins to the peaks ... ,

p. 212

then back to their groins on the next step, brings down the power of the spiritual to men’s bodies, through which they co-create children."


"women’s wombs are the >e>gur> of k>i >wes>onah, the jump dance baskets of the world ... (Buckley 1988)."

Buckley 1988 = Thomas Buckley : "Menstruation and the power of Yurok women". In :- Alma Gottleib (editrix) : Blood Magic : the anthropology of menstruation. U of CA Pr, 1988.


8. The World pp. 213-220

pp. 214-215 degeneration and renovation of the world

p. 214

"as violations of the law accumulated, their weight began to tip the earth-disk in the great, surrounding sea. Tides rose higher and higher, and whales came far up the Klamath, out of place".

p. 215

"the hereditary spiritual experts ... are the ones who "talk with the world" and also "the doctors of the world" : in Karuk, they are the ones who "fix the world." ... When they pray ... they used a special, ritual register of Yurok, wo.gey speech, in which they spoke from a wo.gey perspective 9e.g., "we" refers to these spirit people, "you" refers to human beings ... [Buckley 1984b].)"

Buckley 1984b = LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY, vol. 13, pp. 467-88. Thomas Buckley : "Yurok speech registers and ontology".


9. Melancholy pp. 221-244

pp. 228-229 sorrow & mourning

p. 228

"Crying was a customary indication of one’s desire to become a doctor. The dead that the woman may have been thinking about will feel sorry for her and try to help her by sending forth a spirit".

p. 229

Wintu : "of the spirits of dead relatives to the acquisition of power by Wintu doctors, called to their vocation by "sorrow.""


Yurok woman kegey "was groomed and dressed as though in mourning, permanently ... . ... she would always sit with her back turned."

pp. 233-234, 236 initiatory dream & its sequel

p. 233

(Spott & Kroeber 1942, pp. 158-9 :) "For several summers she danced at Wogel Otek, on a peak ... . It looks out over the ocean. Then at last while she was sleeping here she dreamed that she saw the sky rising and blood dripping off its edge. ... She thought it must be Wes>ona Olego, where the sky moves up and down, and the blood was hanging from it like icicles. Then she saw a woman standing in a doctor’s maple [bark] dress with her hair tied up like a doctor. ... The woman reached up as the

p. 234

edge of the sky went higher and picked off one of the icicles of blood, ... and put it into [the dreameress’s] mouth. It was icy cold." When she awoke she found herself "on the beach" {having walked down from the mountain while spirit-possessed?}.

p. 236

"Roused to dance, she ultimately obtained another spirit ally – a male chicken hawk – a second "pain" and learned to control them both [both pains], vomiting them up and reingesting the two pains, one male and one female."


p. 237 "in Yurok mythology Mole enters the wombs of women at the creation, bringing death to all mankind in enraged grief over the death of her own children."

"The mole is thy beast, O Rudra." (TS i.6.8.e) – ""... O Rudra, the mole is your animal." (S`B. ... for an embryo is concealed. By this offering, the unborn descendants were delivered from the power of Rudra." (PS`, pp. 34-5) They are thereby "loosened from death" (R&BOV, p. 42).

TS = Tattiriya Samhita (of the Kr.s.n.a Yajus-Veda) http://www.intratext.com/ixt/ENG0043/_P3L.HTM

S`B = S`ata-patha Brahman.a

PS` = Stella Kramrisch : The Presence of S`iva. Princeton U Pr, 1981. http://books.google.com/books?id=cjqfkgD6YCAC&pg=PA34&lpg=PA34&dq=Veda+mole+Rudra&source=bl&ots=g9o5Hi_Xsx&sig=uTnkELKQV9LXHHFakemqkith-WU&hl=en&ei=TWwNS6yrG9CWtgfM063hAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CCsQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=Veda%20mole%20Rudra&f=false

R&BOV = ORIENTALIA RHENO-TRAJECTINA, Vol. 31 = Jan Gonda : Rice and Barley Offerings in the Veda. 1987. http://books.google.com/books?id=GtEUAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=

pp. 238-239 doctoring pains

p. 238

Kas^aya Pomo : "a doctor cannot cure a "pain" in her patient without having felt that pain herself, immediately and personally."

p. 239

"the "pains" extracted by the sucking doctor ... are manifestations of "spiritual" states ... . ... the doctor extracts these "pains" through "empathy"". {viz., the spirit-ally’s empathy}


10. Shaker pp. 245-260

pp. 247-248 the trickster-god who slew his own sons

p. 247

"the Yurok trickster-creator Wohpekumew was being called "God," ...

p. 248

to compare the licentious Wohpekumew ... may have had to do with his efforts to kill his sons, who nevertheless resurrected and departed from the earth for the spirit world."


Assimilation "elided Wohpekumew with God and identified the creator-hero with Christ".

p. 252 female "half-doctors"

"a number of women who had been spiritually called, while failing to gain full standing as kegeyowor, achieved recognition as clairvoyants and healers."


11. Jump Dance pp. 261-279

dancers transformed into trees




p. 272 When Wohpekumew arranged dancers, :they all remained standing one the hill ..., those firs, standing like a Deerskin Dance."

"Orpheus ... made the trees and rocks move from their places to follow the sound of his music." At Zone in Thraike, "a number of ancient mountain oaks are still standing in the pattern of one of his dances, just as he left them." (GM 28.a)

"Be-cuile and O Dianann ... his two witches ... will enchant the trees and the stones and the sods of the earth, so that they shall become a host under arms" (2MT)

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

2MT = "2nd Battle of Mag Tured" http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/2maghtured.html


Thomas Buckley : Standing Ground : Yurok Indian Spirituality. U of CA Pr, Berkeley, 2002.