Walking in the Sacred Manner, 6-7



Dreams and the Spirit-World


p. 105 dreams, for the shamaness : taught by the spirits

"Dreams ... for the shaman[ess], the holy woman ... serve many purposes, from the initial "calling" through her spiritual indoctrination by the spirits themselves, until her death. This ... in the words of [G.L.]Woman, an Oglala Lakota : "Pejuta Yuha Mani ["Walks with Medicine"], a spirit helper, came to me ... and told me, 'No man will be your teacher. You will not have a human teacher : the spirits will teach you directly.'"

p. 108 pebble-spirits

"All things, living or not, have a spirit that may manifest itself ..., including insects, deer, eagles, even rock spirits. ... To the Lakota, small, round rocks may be charged with great power ..., returning ... even when discarded. These rocks belong to a class of of spirits known as the "rock nation.""

A "Lakota woman says,

I was dreaming ... . ... There was a little white rock [Wasicun or Tunkan] that was bouncing along in front of us. ... I caught it on the first bounce."

p. 109 animal spirit-helpers

"Whether animal spirits are are actually the spirits of deer, rabbits, butterflies, or owls is not always known or agreed upon. Some are thought to be the spirit of the animal; others are thought to be human spirits who call themselves by an animal name ... . ...

Women who dreamed of specific animals were believed to have the kinds of powers generally associated with that "kind of helper."

Bears, for instance, indicate a calling to doctor with herbal remedies.

Dreams of a turtle might call a woman to help with menstrual problems or possibly to make fertility charms.

Spiders are common and powerful allies for spiritual doctoring."

pp. 109-10 two-leggeds as spirit-helpers

p. 109

"In sacred language the bear is called hu-nunpa, the two-legged. ... Because the bear is ruler of the underworld creatures, it is ...

p. 110

considered chief of all the animals when it comes to knowledge of herbal medicine. ... Men and women who dreamed of the bear (bear dreamers) were often the ones who became physicians and phamacists."

p. 110 four-leggeds as spirit-helpers

"People who had spiritual contact with buffalo spirits were called buffalo dreamers. ... They also saw that the cows readily adopt orphans and displayed generosity in allowing the starling to nest in their woolly caps." (AS, p. 25)

"People who dreamed of elk were elk dreamers, and had their own society. As practitioners they made courting flutes and love charms, composed love songs".

AS = Joseph Epes Brown : Animals of the Soul. Rockport (MA) : Element Bks, 1992.

pp. 110-1 spiders as spirit-helpers

p. 110

"It was the spider that led the first humans to the surface world ... . [cf. p. 38 supra] ... . Since the trap-door spider on the prairie was seen to borrow {read : "burrow"} ... the ... earth, ... it

p. 111

is a particularly useful ally in doctoring the sick, and ... is a common helper of healers."

p. 111 wingeds as spirit-helpers

"Dragonflies are respected for their association ... with the Thunder Beings".

"Spotted eagles, black eagles, and lone eagles are all other names for various phases in the development of the golden eagle. ...

It is this eagle, and not the wanbli peshla (bald eagle), that Plains Indians feel is the most powerful of the winged creatures."

{likewise with the Zun~i}

"Owls ... know who is going to die, they also know who is going to get well, making them auspicious spirit helpers."

p. 112 effigies as protective amulets for babies : "In this umbilical bundle is placed the dried umbilical plug {placenta?} from the newborn child."

"Cekpapi (charms) fashioned in the shape of turtle are made for new-born girls.

Lizard-shaped effigies are made for baby boys."

p. 113 snakes as spirit-helpers

"Snakes (zuzeca) ... may in fact potentially help a medicine woman with the knowledge of herbs."

pp. 113-4 the "Little People"

p. 113

"Little People" : "The Lakota call them Can otipi ("they dwell in the trees"); to the Crow they are the keepers of medicine and the Sun Dance itself. ...

p. 114

They are brown-skinned, have thick hair, and wear little clothing. ... All agree they have magical qualities and can appear to humans or make themselves invisible. ... Some say they impart wisdom to humans, and others say they trick people to teach them important lessons".

pp. 115-6 legend of the woman with lived with the wolves

p. 115

"While the Lakota woman was hiding, two large wolves came upon her. But the wolves treated her kindly and guided her along a path to the east. ... At night wolves would lie close to her to keep her warm; otherwise she might have been frozen. The wolves would speak fluent Lakota to her and told her they would take her to a safe place and that she should follow them. ... After many days of traveling, the small band reached Squaw Buttes near the present-day Opal, South Dakota. They came to a cave in the rocks, and the wolves forced her inside. ...

p. 116

She sat down, and ... she noticed many other wolves inside. Some were nursing their young ones. ... She learned to speak and understand the wolves' language. The woman would dry and store the meat for the winter. ... The woman's name became Iguga Oti Win, or Woman Who Lived in The Rock."

p. 119 assistance rendred to P.Sh. (a Crow medicine-woman) by emmets [cf. p. 62]

[quoted from PSh, p. 166 :] "in the medicine dream, I entered a beautiful white lodge, with a war eagle at the head. ... And even now the ants help me. I listen to them always. They are my medicine, these busy, powerful people, the ants."

p. 119 a dream of beckoning (by T. : her dream of flying)

"In my dream I saw my dog go into the spirit world. ... He went into that world, ... and he would look back at me as if me wanted to follow. ... Soon I was flying above the road ... . ... I saw my dog again, his white end going into the shadows of that other world. I just crossed into that other world. ... It was very strange there. In that world, the dog told me he was following someone ... and that we should bring him back with us. So we did. Then I awoke."

pp. 120-1 historic escape of Cheyenne prisoners from U.S. soldiers

p. 120

"There was this famous holy woman -- she was called North Woman -- and when the Cheyenne were fleeing north from Oklahoma, she found she could hear voices that told her where the soldiers were and in which direction they should travel to avoid the soldiers. She was always right, and those chiefs who listened to her made it north safely."

[quoted from SM, vol. 2, pp. 209-10 : ] "The woman had gone apart from the others when she heard a voice. ... The voice said, "Don't stop ... . Keep on

p. 121

going. There are soldiers behind you." ... After that, when the others were preparing to camp for the night, the woman moved apart from them to listen. ... Many of them had come to depend upon this woman, because she was guided by the powers above.""

SM = Peter J. Powell : Sweet Medicine. Norman : U of OK Pr, 1969.

p. 121 returning by souls of the dead to communicate with the living

"those spirits that have returned to help the living ... become ... an ally for life.

Many spirits used in doctoring are actually ancient ancestral spirits and are called upon to serve humans as a communicator between the two worlds.

Because the Lakota believe in reincarnation, some people believe that some of those currently alive may be sent back to live again or to help the people."

p. 123 a visitation by a ghost

"He sat with his legs and his arms crossed. He was very still. ... he was dressed ... . My grandmother started talking to him like he was alive."

{I have likewise observed naturalistic ghosts (those who in all other respects appear as if living) to remain very motionless, whether human or animal.}

p. 124 apoplexy (a cerebral stroke) is caused by a medicine-woman's neglect to comply immediately with a demand by a male ghost

[quoted from MS, pp. 163-4 :] The male ghost was "standing there, smiling just like he did in life. He was pointing and motioning for me to come talk to him! {But she neglected to go immediately to where he was in order to talk to him there.} Next thing I knew, I was in the hospital, in Bismarck, North Dakota. I'd had a light stroke. I was kind of paralyzed on the right side."

p. 125 working with spirits

"Working with something as powerful as spirits requires one to know exactly how to call them, communicate with them, and send them back. This requires countless experiences ... from which the student gradually develops her own rituals."



The Calling


p. 128 the 2 sacred bundles of the Cheyenne : one for women, and one for men

"Is'siwun, the Sacred Buffalo Hat, or Hat Bundle, refers to a sacred bonnet made from the scalp of a buffalo with the horns attached. It is ancient ... and represents female Cheyenne fertility. If something should harm the Hat, or if it is not treated with proper daily ritual, it is believed that Cheyenne women will lose their ability to bring forth children. The care of this object falls to the Northern Cheyenne ... .

The other central bundle, called Mahuts, is comprised of four arrows and represents the male side of Cheyenne continuity and is kept by the Southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma."

pp. 130, 132 the nature of dreams

p. 130

"dreams are real and alive. ... The dream world is considered the eternal and real world."

p. 132

"depending on the nature of the dreams and the particular calling, they may intensify and literally make the dreamer afraid or even crazy, as in the dreams of Thunder Beings. These dreams may be a call to perform a specific ceremony or set of ceremonies ... . ... various dream societies like the Heyoka (Thunder Dreamers, or contraries) and Elk Dreamers also acted out visionary dreams in a public "dance.""

pp. 126-7, 129, 131 dreameress

p. 126

"a woman's calling is in her dreams; it is usually powerful, spontaneous. She does not always need to be trained in the way that a holy man would."

p. 127

"women's dreams are listened to, even under the most dire or profound circumstances."

p. 129

"Women who ihan'bla (dream)" : "A woman who has a dream that is to be acted out in public may perform the ritual ... it may be a lifetime calling -- the kind that ... required her to join a dream society. These women are one class of dreamers.

A Winyan Wakon, or holy woman, receives in dreams or visions sacred knowledge, songs, and rituals, and these become the focus of ... her calling as a helper or healer".

"The woman receiving the dreams or "visions" may be the least suspecting of her future role as a healer. ... There comes a time when these special dreams bring on or force a crisis. This may be a physical, spiritual, or emotional crisis."

p. 131

"There comes a special point in a holy woman's life when she starts to have dreams that differ in quality from all the dreams that came before. No true Indian woman would want this calling or seek it without the right signs because it ... might place her in spiritual danger."

pp. 130-1 autobiographical account of a vision and a dream by G.L.Woman (an Oglala Lakota holy woman)

p. 130

"I was lying in bed, and on the ceiling was a beautiful tipi. ... silhouetted against the poles and smoke hole was the moon. ... It lasted for perhaps a minute ... . ...

{A vision seen on the ceiling may most readily occur when awaking into "sleep-paralysis" (which is when I saw such, of Amerindian import).}

p. 131

About a week later ... I dreamed that I could fly, and I was flying barely above the ground. I noticed that the landscape below me was made of money. Coins, thousands and thousands of coins, formed the mountains and valleys ... . I could see them so clearly that I could read the dates".

pp. 132-3 autobiographical account of a Thundre-clown dreameress, with her dream-incited modification of ritual

p. 132

"I had a dream ... . ... I was inside the house, and I saw these Heyokas [Thundre Clowns]

p. 133

come in. In this dream I could see a Sun Dance ground. ... There were only women dancing in this dream. ... You know, women participated in the Sun Dance; but up to this time there had been no dance where just women danced. In the dream these Heyokas ... came in the room and tied me up. ... The drum was at the back of the room, and I could hear it. They danced before me. ...

I knew I had to do it ["act it out in public"], because that is the way it is with these dreams {dreams about ritual and ritualists}. ... People around me got sick and died ... . Finally I performed it, the Sun Dance as I saw it. Four times I performed it, with other women."

p. 134 autobiographical account of how Zin-tkala Zin Win (Y.B.Woman) was recruited -- to serve as priestess -- by a medicine-man

"he said, "We came after you."

I said, "Who's we?" ... .

... he said, "We had a ceremony, and the spirits chose you. ... They want you to work at the Hocoka [sacred altar]." ...

After a while I said, "... I can't refuse when I was asked ... to pray for the people. ..." ...

We went to the ceremony, and here ... The minister was the only one that saw the blue light inside the altar ["besides me"]. Well, he told me what he saw."

pp. 134-5 autobiographical account of a vision by holy woman G.L.Woman at a caerimony

p. 134

"The lights were out, and the singers started. During the ceremony I noticed a large blue light above me. The light was like a cloud or mist, and it stayed above me. ... Soon it formed into the shape of an owl. Out of its eyes came little lights ... . It was a yellow light, and it was looking right at me. It spoke

p. 135

to me -- not in words, but I could feel its message. It said that I would start to learn many things ... far into the future. This owl has told me the same thing a few times. ...

I saw a lake and knew ... things like that.

Next, a huge buffalo was above me. I could see it very clearly, and its nose was wet, glistening. The buffalo was so big that its goatee hung down into the altar ... . ... Soon that vision faded, and

I saw a man. He was wearing a mask over his face and a headdress, and there were little horns protruding from the sides of his head. He ... wore a skirt like a Sun Dancer. Around his neck was a necklace".

"Where I saw nothing before[,] it was as if a world had opened up to me, and now I saw things and heard things that I never had before."

pp. 137-8 autobiographical account of visions by holy woman Wounye> Waste> Win

p. 137

"After the ceremony started, a beautiful blue light appeared in the room. It was dense, ... like a blue rock that was glowing. That light was Pejuta Yuha Mani. ... The ball came down, and I held it in my hand. ... I could feel the warmth in my hand. ... I could see Pejuta Yuha Mani come. ... he looked like in that TV show -- "beam me up" ["Star Trek"] -- ... like they turn silver {actually, colorless transparent}; that's how he came, and here he came to me ... . ... The spirit took my hands ... . He put that stone under them, and the light came through."

p. 138

"It was ... right before that, in a sweat lodge. I looked across from me and there was a bear -- a white bear. ... And then at the ceremony, standing in the altar, was this huge bear ["up on its hind legs, growling"]!"

p. 138 autobiographical account of how spirits introduced mortals to Wounye> Waste> Win

"A man ... a Chippewa from Minnesota ... came up to me ..., and said, "I had a dream that soon I would meet a woman, a special woman, and that

she would be wearing the same blue beaded dress that you are wearing.

{Cf. "bought herself a sweet little Alice-blue gown" in "SNY", the Democratic-Party election-campaign song in 1928. The color of the Democratic Party is blue, which is why that song was selected for the campaign.}

You are the woman I was told would come." He was a Chippewa medicine man, and he said, "There is a blue light around you. And I knew that I was supposed to see you.""

"I met a friend, and she said [to her companion], "... this is my friend Wounye> Waste> Win, and the girl turned to me and told me, "... I went to a ceremony, and the spirit named Tall Grass told me that I was going to meet a woman with your name. She will be wearing a white buckskin and have blue beadwork." ... She told me she was glad to meet me, that she too was sure I had come to her in a dream."

"SNY" = "The Sidewalks of New York" http://www.events-in-music.com/trip-the-light-fantastic-on-the-sidewalks-of-new-york.html

p. 139 autobiographical account of another dream by holy woman G.L.Woman

"I was facing north, and I fell asleep. In that state I saw a large shape approaching me. ... It was so big it almost covered the sky. When it got closer I could see that it was an owl. It looked at me with those same yellow eyes. Soon that owl took on the shape of a man. ... The blue light was present. It marched up my pipestem. In my dream the blue light asked, "Are you ready? When you are ready I will help you" : and that blue light traveled all around with me. ...

Then I heard a voice ... . It said, "The door is open, the door is open to you. ... It has nothing to do with human needs ... . These things will all be provided, and this door is open.""

pp. 140-1 autobiographical account of the miraculous healing of another woman by holy woman G.L.Woman; and its unexpected aftermath (consisting of that holy woman loosing her miraculous curative powers)

p. 140

"When I put my hands on her back I saw her lungs. ... So after that, my hands would heat up and tremble ... . ... She was a psychic, and ... she said, "You have heat that radiates from your hands, and the whole time ... you were surrounded by a kind of blue glow.""

"When I went back to South Dakota I went to talk to [her medicine-man mentor] to tell him ... . He ... told me that I was only hallucinating. ... It hit me very hard, what he said, because I was sort of his student, and I trusted and respected him. I felt awful inside, like my soul was a wasteland."

{He rebuked her in this manner evidently in order to punish her for her not having offered herself to him sexually. (For that reason surely she deserved some sort of condign punishment.) She apparently was unaware [never having been told?] that when women are mentored in curing by an established medicine-man, such women are routinely expected (both by the divine spirit-guide involved and also by tribal tradition, as a sort of thanksgiving-celebration) to have sexual intercourse with their male mentor immediately on achieving any praeternatural success in curing.}

p. 141

"those years ... my [divine] helpers were gone and I was abandoned [by them]. ... All these things I started seeing in the clouds and the heavens. I said, "Go away! It's all my imagination. ..." ... I did shut down, and I thought, "... Whey aren't they coming? I'm calling them." I was used to the spirits being around me, having ... this otherworld, and then all of a sudden ... they were gone".

{The deities absented themselves from her company because they felt insulted by her neglecting to have sexual intercourse (in the customary manner, established by tradition, both divine and human) with her male mentor.}


Mark St. Pierre & Tilda LongSoldier : Walking in the Sacred Manner : healers, dreamers, and pipe carriers -- medicine women of the Plains Indians. a Touchstone Bk (imprint of Simon & Schuster), NY, 1995.