Powers of the Medicine Men, cap. 3 "Continuing Communications"

table of contents







Yuwipi Caerimony




Yuwipi Spirits







(Algonkin etc.)

Spirit Lodge Ritual











(New England?)












(New England?)













Practices of telepathy












shaking cabin




shaking Spirit Lodge




shaking Spirit Lodge




vibrating spirit tipi


[where (pp. 85-88) tribe is not specified, some variety of Sioux is intended]

[only 3:2:6 (p. 96) is a performance by a woman]

pp. 84-85 yuwipi caerimony generally

p. 84

"In the yuwipi, the practitioner is firmly bound up with ropes : each finger is tied with knots, the hand are firmly tied, and often the feet are tied in a similar manner. Then blankets – or in the old days, buffalo robes – are wrapped around him very tightly and bound with ropes. ... the lodge or tipi is sealed so that total darkness prevails. Around the floor are distributed a large number (usually 405) of very small pouches of tobacco wrapped in red cloth – gifts to the spirits who will come and participate in the ritual, healing and answering questions. The practitioner begins to sing his yuwipi songs, and soon the blue sparks {"redeeming the sparks" (RZ, p. 41)} of the spirits are seen coming into the room or tent. Often, they come into the place at the highest corners. The people attending the ceremony feel the brush of bird wings; sometimes, they hear the patter of animal feet; sometimes, they feel a great wind that strangely does not disturb anything ... . {"a man will feel the wind, and hear it" ("WHGh" II.3 (7))} In this state, the practitioner can heal people, find lost objects, and predict the future. The minds of everyone attending are clearly read by the practitioner, and messages are passed back and forth between himself and the spirits. ... During this time, it is necessary for

p. 85

the people to pray for the return of the medicine man, since his soul has left his body and has gone to search for answers. Finally, the medicine man brings the ritual to an end, ... when the spirits inform him they are departing. Lights are lit and there is the practitioner, ... wholly free of the robes, which are now neatly folded and piled in a stack, and the ropes that had bound him are now perfectly coiled and stacked. ...


Sometimes, the spirits dance in a circle and give off enough light so that the wrapped body of the medicine man is barely visible to those individuals close to where he lies. ... The medicine pouches are missing or empty".

RZ = Pinchas Giller : Reading the Zohar. Oxford U Pr, 2001. http://books.google.com/books?id=qloL-PJdtzYC&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41&dq=holiness+%22redeeming+the+sparks%22&source=bl&ots=Ojf8qTsIdO&sig=k5puCnNWJJQn75sqflLXKpfpbM4&hl=en&ei=DmNfS-7PFcyutgfkjoiEDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CBwQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=holiness%20%22redeeming%20the%20sparks%22&f=false

"WHGh" = Ebenezer Erskine : "The Wind of the Holy Ghost". http://www.puritansermons.com/erskine/eerskin01.htm

pp. 86-88 a particular yuwipi session (DS, pp. 56-57)

p. 86

The shaman "had in his service many of the gods called Taku-skan-skan. It was decided in council that the case should be referred to them.

p. 87

Accordingly, in the evening, a feast was prepared to the gods to which they were called by chants, on the part of the medicine-men. ... The doctor was bound, carefully weaving strings and tying them firmly in all his fingers and toes. Then his arms were bound behind his back and he rolled up in a buffalo robe, and carefully bound it by around it outside. He had a little boulder in his bosom, a symbol of the gods. He charged those who bound him to do it thoroughly, assuring them that his boys – his gods – would come and release him. ... Over him was hang a drum and a deer hoof rattle; a large number of spectators were in attendances – men, women, and children. ... The doctor, in the mean time, was very demonstrative with his wakan jargon. A young man ... then gave a wild yell, and all the lights were suddenly extinguished. At that instant, a strong wind struck the tent, and the doctor cried out, ... "Boys, come carefully ...!" But the gods ... beat the drum, shook the rattle and heaved the tent furiously. The tent seemed to be full of them and they were very talkative ..., but their voices were so fine ... that we could not comprehend their meaning. ... The sounds they made were so different from what we had been accustomed to hear ... that we could scarcely refrain from laughter ... . ... Suddenly the gods were all gone, and the doctor ordered the torches to be lighted.

p. 88

... he was out of the robe, and all of his fingers and toes had slipped out of their fastenings, though not a single knot had been untied."

pp. 88-90 spirit-lodge ritual generally

p. 88

"One of the most profound ceremonies among the Algonquin peoples is that of the spirit lodge ... . ... The lodge is ... composed of many heavy timber poles ... . Once the framework of poles is complete, the helpers then cover it tightly with animal skins ... . The medicine man goes inside, and ... he begins singing sacred songs, summoning the spirits to the ceremony. ... After a while, sometimes as long as half and hour, the edifice begins to shake, primarily at the top of the lodge, increasing in violence until the spirit enters it. Then strange voices are heard, usually easily distinguishable from the voice of the medicine

p. 89

man. The timbers used for the framework start to bend and vibrate back and forth, showing an amazing flexibility that did not exist when the poles were firmly planted in the ground. On occasion, the tent rocks back and forth so violently that it appears it will tip over on its side. Then the spirit begins to communicate through the medicine man, using a language only he knows, but loud enough so that people outside can hear clearly.

People attending a sweat lodge often remark they can hear the spirits coming to the ceremony as they hit and penetrate the skin or blanket covering. The spirit lodge ... noises often reach a crescendo and sometimes appear to be several different voices. At this point in the ritual, the medicine man asks the questions that people have posed and receives answers from the spirits. ... After the questions have been answered, the tent becomes stable again, and the medicine man emerges, totally exhausted. Some tribes ... have the medicine man enter completely naked and carrying a pipe."

p. 90

"stout poles and timbers, immovable otherwise, demonstrate great flexibility during the ceremony and are stiff and inflexible before and after the ceremony takes place. ... people have to admit that the voices are different and that they engage in conversation with some voices appearing to be speaking from the top of the tent, while others are definitely heard at ground level." "a definite and sensible explanation of the phenomenon ..., or course, is that people witness a demonstration of the power of the spirits attending the ceremony."

pp. 91-102 various reports of the spirit-lodge ritual in Algonkin-related tribes

p. 91

[Que`bec?] "The tent completed, all fire in the cabin were put out in order that the flames should not frighten away the khichigouai (spirits). A young juggler ... began to moan plaintively and the tent began to quiver, at first gently but with growing vehemence ... . [The spirit praesent] commenced to whistle in a hollow tone, and as if it came from afar, then to talk as if in a bottle; to cry like the owls of these countries, then to howl and sing constantly varying the tones. After the tent "had once begun to shake, [it] did not stop until the consultation was over, which lasted about three hours." (AIM&M; ES – both citing Father Paul LeJeune : The Jesuit Relations, 1643.)


[Chippewa] "The forms of these lodges was like a tower in circular norm built with long poles set deep in the ground ten or twelve feet high, then covered tight all around with ... skins of animals, except the top is left open. Now the magician or performer

p. 92

comes with the little flat magician’s rattle like a tamboone. ... The magician sits by the fire also, and begins to talk to the people, telling them that he could call up various spirits, even the spirit of those who are yet living in the world, and that they should hear them and ask any questions they wish. After which he begins to sing a peculiar song which scarcely anyone could understand. Then he ... simply throws something of his wear in the lodge – his blanket or his robe or coat. And immediately the lodge begins to tremble, appearing to be full of wind. Then voices of various kinds are heard from top to bottom, speaking in unknown tongues, and when the spectators ask any questions they would receive replies sometimes with unknown tongues, but among the spirits there is always a special interpreter to make known what other spirits say." (HO&ChI, p. 83)

p. 95

[Saulteaux] "the conjurer ordered a lodge of forty poles built ... and to each corner had ropes attached. They were tied to stakes in the ground like a tent so that the structure could not be shaken. ... Taking off the new broadcloth coat he was wearing he folded it up and shoved it into the lodge which began shaking at once. Then he sat down outside a little distance from the lodge. It ... continued to shake". (RCSS, pp. 80-81)

p. 96

[New England?] "I told them to build the Jee-suk-aun, or prophet’s lodge ... . I directed that it should consist of ten posts or saplings, each of a different kind of wood, which I named. When it was finished, and tightly wound with skins, the entire population of the encampment assembled around it, and I went in, taking only a small drum. I ... began beating my drum, and reciting my songs or incantations. The lodge commenced shaking violently by supernatural means. I knew this {that the means was supernatural} by the current of air above, and the noise of motion. This being regarded by me and by all without as proof of the present [presence] of the spirits I consulted, I ceased beating and singing ... . The first question put to me was in relation to the game, and where it was to be found. the response was given by the orbicular spirit, who had appeared to me." (ITUS, p. 390)

p. 97

[Blackfoot] The shaman "would begin to pray.

First to the Sun, chief ruler,

then to Ai-sopwon-stan, the wind-maker,

then to Sistekom, the thunder, and

Puh-pom, the lightning.

... he prayed, entreating them to come and do his will".

p. 98

[Blackfoot] "I was startled by the ringing of a bell above the top of the lodge. ... Presently the teepee began to rock, even lifting off the ground about a foot. When it is remembered that such a tent as this consists of a dozen long poles crossed at the top, wide apart at the bottom and covered with heavy buffalo robes making it impossible to lift one side, as I now witnessed, for these teepees are built so that no ordinary wind could blow them over. ... The tent

p. 99

began to rock again, this time so violently that it sometimes lifted several feet on one side" (AIM&M, pp. 132-133; "MShT")

p. 100

[Chippewa?] "I was present at the incantation and performance of a "jossakid" (local name for a medicine man) ... . I saw the man creep into the hut, which was about ten feet high, after swallowing a mysterious potion made from a root, he immediately began singing and beating the drum in his basket-work "chimney." The entire cage began gradually trembling and shaking, and oscillating slowly amid great noise. ... It bent backwards and forwards, up and down, like the mast of a vessel caught in a storm ... . ... The drum ceased, and the jossakid yelled that the spirits were coming after him. We then heard through the noise and crackling and oscillations of the hut two voices speaking inside, one above, the other below. The lower one asked questions, which the upper one answered. ... Some spiritualists among us ... explained it through modern spiritualism ... . ...

p. 101

[The jossakid who had conducted this se’ance subsequently averred, on his death-bed :] the lodge ... was shaken by the power of the spirits. I only repeated to you what the spirits said to me. I heard their voices. The top of the lodge was full of them, and before me the sky and wide lands lay expanded. I could see a great distance about me, and ... I could recognize the most distant objects." (K-G, pp. 35-36)


[Salteaux] death-bed testimony by another shaking-tent practitioner : "I possessed a power which I cannot explain or describe ... . ... I held communications with supernatural beings, or thinking minds, or spirits which acted upon my mind, or soul, and revealed to me such knowledge as I have described." (RCSS, p. 74)

p. 102

[Salteaux] another testimony by another shaking-tent practitioner : "As soon as I got inside the tent ... it shook itself. I knew just what to do, what songs to sing ... . There are more than thirty different songs. The inside of the lodge was not dark; it was light as day. I saw wisakedjak plainly before me there. He told me what was the matter". (RCSS, p. 78)


The shaman stated : "I ... put my hand on one of the posts" in order to feel the movement of the posts by the spirits.


"once the lodge was constructed, it took on a holy aspect all its own, and ... when the spirits came, it was not difficult for them to move it".

p. 99 "shaking tent" : "the practice continues as it always has been with a Canadian Cree".

p. 99 long-range telepathy (SVT, p. 207)



"Certain members of the Montagnais habitually repair to the woods, set up a log shelter about the size of a telephone booth, get inside and, when the power is sufficiently strong, make contact with a friend or relative who may be hundreds of miles away. A two-way conversation is carried on seemingly by clairaudience. If no contact is made, it is assumed that the person with whom contact is sought has died."

{"Telepathy is a branch of Tibetan secret lore" (M&MT, p. 230). "the intended receiver must have been "tuned" with him from whom he especially expects messages." (M&MT, p. 231) "when ... one has ceased to consider "one’s self" and "others" as entirely distinct entities, ... then telepathy is easily practiced." (M&MT, p. 234)} {Authoress "learnt the art of telepathy" (MT).}

M&MT = Alexandra David-Neel : Magic and Mystery in Tibet. Claude Knedall, NY, 1932. http://books.google.com/books?id=6SwA8wvzfVIC&pg=PA230&lpg=PA230&dq=Tibet+telepathy&source=bl&ots=J0l9v1jqox&sig=BTXv6-urkOYSIZvCSwTraMqCzLo&hl=en&ei=Lp9gS5CAComXtgfSzYXZDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Tibet%20telepathy&f=false

MT = http://www.mysteriouspeople.com/Alex_David-Neel.htm

pp. 102-103 shaking spirit-cabin

p. 102

"the cabin of the jugglers (joungleur) is covered with skins ... . He enters it entirely naked and begins to pronounce some words which none understands; it is, says he, to invoke the spirit; after which he rise, cries, ... and water pours from all parts of his body.

p. 103

The cabin shakes, and ... it is the presence of the Spirit; the language which he speaks has nothing in common with the language of the" tribe. (RB&MP, p. 616)

pp. 103-104 shaking spirit-lodge ritual

p. 103

"The man unwrapped his sacred things; the singers chanted their spiritual songs, and ... the man who was calling the spirit was tied with four bowstrings. Each finger of his hand was tied separately to the next finger, in a hard knot and the ends of the bowstrings on each hand were tied together, behind his back, so that his hands were tightly bound there. His feet were tied together in the same way, each toe being tied to the next in a hard knot, and the foot bound together by the bowstrings. ... At times a little shelter, shaped like a sweat-lodge, was built in the middle of the lodge, and the man was put in that.

p. 104

After the fire had gone out, in some interval of the singing, the lodge was shaken as if by a strong wind, the poles creaked, and suddenly in then lodge a strange voice was heard, talking to the man. The secret helper was perhaps called to ask where there were buffalo ...; where missing people were; or even where lost horses might be found. Some times the secret helper told what was happening at a distance ... . After the spirit had gone, and a light had again been made, the man was found to be untied, and the bowstrings were lying in the door, tied in innumerable knots. It was believed that the spirits untied him." (ChI, pp. 113-114)

pp. 104-105 shaking spirit-lodge ritual as cure

p. 104

" the Indians resorted to the djasakid. ... the men place eight ironwood saplings firmly into the ground in the shape of a circle. They laced small branches between the saplings and covered the entire frame with a blanket. This small lodge or cage was about four feet wide and eight feet high. The djasakid entered the lodge after the men had bound

p. 105

him with ropes. I remember hearing voices within the lodge and seeing the lodge shake from side to side. This meant that the spirits were approaching. ... Then the tent came to a stop, and the djasakid answered". (OM&L, pp. 108-109)

105-106 vibrating small spirit-tipi

p. 105

"The rite was held at night in a darkened tipi. On the west side opposite the door was placed a miniature tipi one to three feet high. ...

p. 106

The shaman began by ... praying, sometimes assisted by the singing of some old men. Presently a roaring nose was heard, the large tipi was shaken and filled with wind, and then the small tipi vibrated. At his time drumming and low singing were sometimes heard coming from the small tipi. The spirit of a dead person, often a ... shaman, came in the form of an owl. The flapping of wings was heard outside the smokehole; then the owl entered and fluttered against the small tipi. From within the small tipi was heard the voice of the spirit asking why he had been summoned. At performances in which deer hooves and a whistle had been placed beside the firepit in advance, the spirit blew the whistle and rattled the hooves before speaking. the shaman asked who had come, and the spirit replied with the name of some dead person. The shaman then ... offered the stem [of a pipe] to the spirit to smoke, and put the question to him. The spirit might answer at once, or fly out of the tipi to return in half an hour or so with the answer. The spirit spoke in a high muffled, nasal voice, and repeated everything twice." ("CK", pp. 46-47)

DS = Gideon H. Pond : Dakota Superstitions. St. Paul : Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, 1867.

AIM&M = Vincent H. Gaddis : American Indian Myths and Mysteries. NY : Dorset Pr, 1988.

ES = Richard Stanton Lambert ; Exploring the Supernatural : the ghosts in Canadian folklore. Toronto : McClelland & Steward Ltd, 1955.

HO&ChI = Andrew J. Blackbird : The History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan. Ypsilanti, 1887.

RCSS = PHILADELPHIA ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY, vol. ii. A. Irving Hallowell : The Role of Conjuring in Salteaux Society.

"MShT" = Francis Dickie : "Mystery of the Shaking Tents". In :- REAL WEST, vol. 37 (1964).

SVT = Stephan Schwartz : The Secret Vaults of Time : psychic archaeology and the quest for man’s beginning. Charlottesville : Hampton Roads Publ Co, 2005.

K-G = J. G. Kohl : Kitchi-Gami, Wanderings round Lake Superior. Minneapolis : Ross & Haines inc, 1956.

RB&MP = SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, BUREAU OF AMERICAN ETHNOLOGY, no. 42. John R. Swanton : Religious Beliefs and Medical Practices of the Creek Indians. Washington (DC), 1924-5.

OM&L = Bernard Coleman : Ojibway Myths and Legends. Minneapolis : Ross & Haines, 1962.

"CK" = Donald Collier : "Conjuring among the Kiowas". In :- PRIMITIVE MAN, vol. xvii, nos. 3-4 (Jul-Oct 1944).

Vine Deloria : The World We Used to Live in : Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men. Fulcrum Publishing, Golden (CO), 2006.