Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cherokee Witchcraft: How the medicine men dealt with a Raven Mocker

Part 4

The Raven Mocker witch
could shape-shift into a raven
The most feared Cherokee witch, the one they called “Raven Mocker”,  was not completely invincible.  The skilled medicine man knew the signs of the Raven Mocker and its malicious intents.  He knew that the Raven Mocker preferred the nights and that he preferred preying on the sick and the weak.  So, when a loved one was sick, these special medicine men (or women) were sought out and asked to sit with their loved one through the night.
 
There were numerous methods that were known to enable the detection of the witch.  The Raven Mocker, according to accounts recorded by James Mooney, “… flies through the air in fiery shape, with arms outstretched like wings, and sparks trailing behind … Every little while as he flies he makes a cry like the cry of a raven”.  [refer to the previous article from Native American Antiquity:  Cherokee Witches: Kâ'lanû Ahkyeli'skï]
Ayunini (Swimmer)
Famous Cherokee Medicine Man

Another method, quoting from “The Swimmer Manuscript” by James Mooney, revised and edited by Frans Olbrects (Swimmer was a famous Cherokee medicine man that was Mooney’s principle informant on the history, mythology, … medicine and botany of the Cherokee), “This work consists in smoothing a small heap of ashes, about 20-25 centimeters in diameter, aside from the hearth, and occasionally dropping a tiny pinch of finely crushed tso’ lagayo-nli (“old tobacco,” Nicotiana rustica L) on it; the center of the hot ashes are thought of as representing the patient’s cabin; any particle of the tobacco dust catching fire, to the right or to the left of the center, indicates the position from where the witch is approaching.  If the dust alights on the center of the ashes it is a sign that the witch is right overhead, and should the tobacco, as it drops on the center, take fire with a crack or a burst, it shows that the witch has already entered the room.  In this case the burst will cause the death of the witch within four days, if she is one of the kind that has fasted for four days to attain her occult power; within seven days if she is one of the kind that ‘has got the utmost’”

It was also believed that by drinking a special mixture, sometimes called the “witch’s tea”, the
consumer could “see” the witch in his natural form and, thereby, cause the witch’s death.  According to Alan Kilpatrick, in his book “The Night Has a Naked Soul”, “… the four ingredients of this exotic brew (which were crushed and steeped in water) were algae collected from rocks in a mountain stream, phosphorescent wood extracted from a putrified stump, and two species of insect plants (Cordyceps) that contain the hallucinatory properties of ergot and lysergic acid diethylamide.”

Witches, whether a Raven Mocker or just a common witch, were blamed for a person’s sickness.  When interrogating a patient, the medicine man would usually ask if the patient knew “who put the thing [curse] under them” that disrupted their healthy condition.  The medicine man didn’t treat the sickness as we think of it today, they worked to remove that which was interrupting their health by restoring harmony and balance.  So, a treatment would not only include medicine but required the appropriate prayers or conjures to address the complete health of the patient.  A person’s physical health was linked with his mental health and both had to be addressed to be well.  It bothers me that our doctors today have not learned this and rarely address both when treating their patients.  It is too easy to just prescribe a drug and hope it drives out the sickness. 
 
 

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