Thursday, December 13, 2012

Native American Skies -- Pawnee Morning Star Ritual, Part 3

Pawnee Chief
In Part 1, we learn of human sacrifice to the Morning Star by the Skidi Pawnee.  Astronomer Von Del Chamberlain explained, “The sacrifice of a captured maiden … are all part of the symbolic re-enactment of the original conquering acts of Morning Star, as seen in the heavens”.  In Part 2, we learned the story of Morningstar defeating the “hardships” placed in his way by Evening Star and how he prevailed and their maiden child came down to people the earth.  In Part 3, I want to show how the Skidi Pawnee adapted the story of the heavens into their lives.

Quoting from “Living the Sky” by Ray A. Williamson, “According to their own stories, the Pawnee received much of their ritual direction from the stars.  They claimed that at one time they organized their villages according to stellar patterns.  Each village, they said, possessed a sacred bundle given to it by one of the stars.  When the different villages assembled for a great ceremony, their spatial arrangement on earth reflected the celestial positions of the stars whose bundles they possessed.  Then there were eighteen separate Skidi Pawnee villages, each associated with a different star.

“ … four of the villages belonged to the four semicardinal stars that Morning star overcame in his quest for Evening Star.  These villages were termed the leading villages because each took its turn in leading the annual ceremonial cycle,beginning when the various sacred bundles were opened in the spring after the Evening Star Ritual. … they served as the pillars of Heaven that held the sky away from the earth. 

“In the traditional Pawnee earth lodge, the four posts that held up the roof represented the four stars that held up the sky. … The northwest star … was associated with spring, the mountain lion, yellow corn, and a female star, Yellow Star.  Yellow Star was married to Red Star, who ruled over the southeast in the summer … associated with red corn and the wolf.  Big Black Star, which stood in the northeast, was the autumn star.  He was associated with black corn and with the bear.  He was married to the southwest, or white, star.  She, in turn, ruled over winter and was associated with white corn and the wildcat.”

Skidi Pawnee Star Chart
Astronomer Chamberlain used the star colors and their prominence and timing in the sky to surmise that the Yellowish star is Capella, Antares the Red Star, Sirius the White Star, and Vega the Black Star.  Of course, no star is black, so its relationship and pairing with the other stars led him to suggest it is the black star.  They believed that the Black Star bestowed knowledge on them and in the Black Star’s bundle they carried a buckskin with a detailed chart of the stars painted on it.  In Part 4, I will reveal what the chart contained.

As you can see, the Pawnee tried to model their lives after the night sky, interpreting what they witnessed above and applying it below.  Curiously, unlike most other cultures, the Sun and Moon played only minor roles. 

1 comment:

  1. You are so throuth(My computer doesn't know how to spell. Can't find spell check. Good articals. charlie welch