Sunday, April 29, 2012

Eat Your Heart Out, Harry Potter!

It seems that all cultures have practitioners of the dark arts!  Witches have played a big part in American history.  The most famous were perhaps the Salem Witches.  Witches and wizards also played an important role in Native American culture.  Following is an excerpt from the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 1897-98, Part I. [1900] written by James Mooney.

“Of all the Cherokee wizards or witches the most dreaded is the Raven Mocker (Kâ'lanû Ahkyeli'skï), the one that robs the dying man of life. They are of either sex and there is no sure way to know one, though they usually look withered and old, because they have added so many lives to their own.
At night, when some one is sick or dying in the settlement, the Raven Mocker goes to the place to take the life. He flies through the air in fiery shape, with arms outstretched like wings, and sparks trailing behind, and a rushing sound like the noise of a strong wind. Every little while as he flies he makes a cry like the cry of a raven when it "dives" in the air--not like the common raven cry--and those who hear are afraid, because they know that some man's life will soon go out. When the Raven Mocker comes to the house he finds others of his kind waiting there, and unless there is a doctor on guard who knows bow to drive them away they go inside, all invisible, and frighten and torment the sick man until they kill him. Sometimes to do this they even lift him from the bed and throw him on the floor, but his friends who are with him think he is only struggling for breath.
After the witches kill him they take out his heart and eat it, and so add to their own lives as many days or years as they have taken from his. No one in the room can see them, and there is no sear where they take out the heart, but yet there is no heart left in the body. Only one who has the right medicine can recognize a Raven Mocker, and if such a man stays in the room with the sick person these witches are afraid to come in, and retreat as soon as they see him, because when one of them is recognized in his right shape he must die within seven days.
… The other witches are jealous of the Raven Mockers and afraid to come into the same house with one. Once a man who had the witch medicine was watching by a sick man and saw these other witches outside trying to get in. All at once they heard a Raven Mocker cry overhead and the others scattered "like a flock of pigeons when the hawk swoops." When at last a Raven Mocker dies these other witches sometimes take revenge by digging up the body and abusing it.”
From "Analiheliga", my novel on the Cherokee, as yet unpublished.
The Raven Mocker is flying across the Moon in the background.

Other reports say that the Raven Mocker had to capture the four souls, askinas, of the victim to acquire his life.  The first of the four souls is the soul of conscious life which animates the other three souls. Because it resides just below the scalp, originally scalping was done to capture this soul of the victim.  When a person dies, the first soul immediately leaves the body and continues its personal life, sometimes remaining nearby for awhile and sometimes seen as a ghost.  The Raven Mocker was believed to capture this soul by sucking out the last breath of his victim.

The second soul is the soul of physiological life and resides in the liver.  The Raven Mocker acquired this soul by eating the victim’s liver.  Thirdly, the soul of circulation resided in the bloodstream and was acquired by the Raven Mocker by eating the victim’s heart.  The last soul, the soul of energy is located in the bones.  The Raven Mocker acquired this soul by eating the victim’s bone marrow.  But, perhaps, the most important part of the Raven Mocker’s ritual was the conjure.  Without the appropriate words, the transfer of the victim’s life would not complete.

Eat your heart out, Harry Potter -- pardon the pun.

1 comment:

  1. I am doing a research paper on the early life of the Cherokee. I have studied some on the Priest, Ravenmocker, and Witches. I have read very little on the conjure and he went to war with the Red Warriors. I was told that each village had several people who preformed rituals living with them. I am interested in finding out how many lived at the same time in each village and what their duties were. Please reply to Thank you