Hocąk-English Interlinear Text
Original Texts: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 |
Someone blessed by Arácgega is telling this story to his brother-in-law who lies on his death bed.
(1) Arácgega, Left Handed One, went out to dream. "I knew that one of the visiting Spirits would bless me, I thought. I was told to fast, which I did. I liked these doctors. (2) The way that they were able to do things, I too could do this. Since I could do it, I blackened my face. Eight times I did it. Then they came after me: I was blessed. They said that it was a doctor's lodge up above the clouds. That's where they took me. And a man was there. This one was in charge. He said, 'What you desire, for which you were thirsting yourself to death for, that for which you longed, that was the reason they went for you. And one thing you desire, (3) and consequently, one is brought here in order to be blessed, therefore he is always made to try himself. Therefore, then, I am the cause of it. Therefore, because I will make you try yourself, they went after you. I myself am the ruler of this lodge. When a man is sick, even though he is dead, if you wanted to make him live, you could do it. There it is. Again you will try yourself. There lies a log almost turned to dust.2 Against this, you will exert yourself. What they were showing was that you were truly blessed. (4) They blessed you.' Then he breathed upon the log. He walked circumnavigating. Then he spit water on it. It turned into a human being. Then again the second time he walked around it began to move, and once more he spit water on it, and it became animate. Again he spit water on it. It groaned. There were four times. As he walked around, it began moving. Again he spit water on it. It got up. After he had done it for a fourth time, it had become fully alive. (5) "Human, this is what you are blessed with. This is the good that you longed for, this you fasted for, this you were blessed with. This is it. You will be made "Giver of Light-and-Life to Humanity" (Wąkšígᵋra Hąbaniga)." This they told him. All the Spirits who are above the clouds also told him, I believe. "Therefore, brother-in-law,3 that you may live, for this reason I am saying this."
Then I went to the wilderness. There, on an oval hill, I sat and cried (to the Spirits). At the foot of the hill sat a round lake. (6) Then up a ravine came the dew spreading widely as a fog, but it was stopped and again would shrink. As I sat crying (to the Spirits), I was looking at this lake. In this lake something was moving, but I did not see it. Then they may have been sneaking up. Two fires sprang up. They made them extend here to the lake. All of a sudden, there was a sound of a gunshot. Two of them had done it. There was an incredible roar, (7) but I kept on with my crying. I was trying hard to dream. Now I sat looking at them with my eyes. Then I thought that I must be dreaming, so I still cried. The rain was heavy. A short time ago it was a nice day, but suddenly it was thus; however, no water fell upon me. "How is it that there was so much rain but I was not rained on a bit?" I thought, so I looked up above. (8) It was very cloudy, but where I sat, directly above me, there was a perfectly round hole of blue sky. It was an umbrella for me. The Thunders themselves had blessed me. So with that they had blessed me. They had blessed me with the blue sky. They quieted the roaring. When I looked up, four were standing there. They had packs. (9) These, then, they killed. They blessed me with the power to kill. So I did well in killing. Then they spoke to me. They said, "Stop your crying," they told me. Then they told me, "You are blessed with what you had longed for. Even though the four men are quite dead, you will make them live. Now we will make a mark on your body. Human, I will give them the ability to choose their own life.4 If someone is practically dead, he can be restored to life. (10) The blue sky above is on one of your fingers.5 Make him choose. Let them take their time to do it. Give them plenty of time to choose the one the blue sky is on. If he picks that one, he will live. You have been blessed with that," they had told me.
It was the Thunderbirds who had said this. They had spears. They had one apiece. And they each had a little warclub. (11) They had flat cedar (leaves) held together (in a garland). "Based on our talk with you, the four of us are doing what we said, that is the reason why we are doing this," they told me. They were Thunderbirds. They blessed me.
Brother-in-law, therefore you should pick life for yourself. Do it carefully, one must not be tired; you should think carefully in doing it — here it is, my four fingers. If you choose this blue sky, (12) your life will be restored. A second one, that's what you will become. Someone has picked it. Assuredly, you will not miss it, and as I'm saying this, I think you might pick it. Brother-in-law, if you miss it, you will die. Do it carefully, and try to choose it to obtain it, this is what I was told. That is all. Brother-in-law, thus it will be. He told me that it was the little finger, and the choice was correct. "My brother-in-law, you will live," I told him. (13) He placed his hand upside down. There it was. Here, on his little finger, was the blue sky. It was a very round blue. It was ended. "You have seized Life, you will live." This is what he did for me, my brother-in-law Haga Arácgega.
This is the end.
Notes to the Text (by Paul Radin)
1 This account of a fasting has been cast in a literary mold. It evidently relates to the fasting experience of a well-known man.
2 This log is supposed to represent a human being in a similar condition — that is, practically on the verge of dissolution.
3 The account is suddenly interrupted here to tell the listener why Aratcgéka is telling the story of his fasting. The personal religious experiences were very sacred and rarely told even to near relatives. As far as I know, they were only told before death or when a person was very ill, as in the present case. The purpose seems to have been to transfer the benefits of the blessing to the sick person and cure him in much the same way as is done when an accredited shaman goes through his entire performance. Of course, Aratcgéka's blessing related directly to the curing of disease. But evidently it was believed that blessings connected with other powers were equally efficacious.
4 That is, a sick person will have to guess at the part of the body that has been blessed by the Thunderbirds, and if he guesses correctly he will become well.
5 That is, we will place a mark made with blue clay upon your finger.
|Kim A. Cabrera||Kim A. Cabrera|
|Bear Tracks Compared to Human Tracks|
"Arácgega" — from a, "hand, arm"; rácge, "left"; and -ga, a definite article suffix used in personal names. Names denoting left handedness are found in the Bear Clan. Part of the reason for this is that the inside digit on each foot of a bear is at least the same size as that of the outside part of the foot. More pronounced is the angle from the innermost to the outermost toe: in a human left footprint, the toes slope downward from right to left; on a bear, it is for the last four toes, the opposite direction. Furthermore, the curve of the inner side of the footprint, corresponding to the instep, is found on the side of the big (first) toe; on a bear, there is a slight curvature on the opposite side of the foot. Consequently, bear tracks leave the impression (literally and figuratively) that a bear's left and right have been switched. This explains such names as Arácgega, as well as why people in the Bear Feast eat their food using only their left hands and why the ancestor of all bears is noted for, in a panic, having put his moccasins on the wrong feet.
"Wąkšígᵋra Hąbaniga" — from wąkšík, "human"; -ra, a suffix approximating the definite article; and hąp, "light," metaphorically, "life"; hani, "to give, he gives"; and -ga, a definite article suffix used in personal names. In his work on the Road of Life and Death with respect to the Medicine Rite, Radin introduced the translation "Light-and-Life" for Hąp, whose fundamental meaning is "light", but which is used there as a metaphor for life. So the appropriate translation is, "Giver of Light-and-Life to Humanity."
"this" — here is a long alliterative passage:
"all the Spirits who are above the clouds also told him" — what follows is not what the spirits said, but an interjection by Arácgega's to remind his brother-in-law of why he is telling him this. See Radin's note above.
"a round lake" — on sunny days, especially from the perspective of a hilltop, lakes will appear blue as they reflect the color of the sky. This foreshadows the forthcoming event of the parting of the clouded skies to expose a perfectly round patch of blue sky. So the patch of blue sky is a perfect counterpart to the round lake below him. This connection is more profound than it might seem on its surface. Waterspirits are the opposites of the Thunderbirds, and the two tribes are in constant war with one another. The Waterspirits govern the waters of the earth, but at the same time, they also govern the blue sky. The Thunderbirds govern the waters of the heavens and the dark clouds whence they emanate. The circular nature of the lake is an important attribute in this context. The circle is a figure without beginning nor end. Consequently, it has no terminal point, and is therefore infinite. When Hare attempted to achieve immortality for humanity, he tred a path along the circular edge of the earth, but failed in his mission because, like Orpheus, he looked behind him, and instead of seeing the infinity of forward time, instead saw the past, which is finite time. So the circle, once completed, has no beginning nor end, and represents the opposite of the termination of time. As death is the termination of human time, the circle can represent Life without limit. The possibility that divine power can remove the terminus of life is to borrow the power of the circle to overcome the straight line to mortality.
"something was moving" — it will turn out that those advancing on him were Thunderbirds; however, Thunderbirds do not submarine through terrestrial bodies of water — such conduct is the opposite of their dark celestial nature. The governance of earthly waters falls exclusively to the Waterspirits. Therefore, something obscure moving in a lake would almost certainly be a Waterspirit. The complementary appearance of a Waterspirit with the advance of the fog animated by the Thunders, reflects the tacit role in which the supernatural world of the Waterspirits interplays with that of the Thunders in this tale. Also, fog is an intermediary between the waters of the earth and those of the sky, and as such is a meeting point of the world of the Thunders with that of the Waterspirits.
"two fires sprang up" — the Thunderbirds are firing thunderbolts into the lake at their mortal enemy, the Waterspirit of this lake whom Aracgega had seen disturb the waters without exposing himself to view.
|BAE 37: 248|
|The Funereal Paint of the Waterspirit Clan|
"a perfectly round hole of blue sky" — this patch of blue sky is created by negation: the Thunders have power over the dark clouds, both in producing them and in removing them. Here they have removed them, and ironically, have created the very emblem of the Waterspirit. So the negative power of the Thunderbirds is identical to the positive power of the Waterspirits, since the latter could have also granted a round patch of sky. Arácgega appears to have been blessed in a way that mediates between the powers of the Thunders and those of the Waterspirits.
|BAE 37: Pl. 43|
|A Thunderbird Warclub|
"a little warclub" — this is a club with a round knob at its end, as opposed to the flat warclub, resembling a hockey stick, used by the the Lower Moiety. A miniature version of this club is contained in the Thunderbird Warbundle and is buried with members of the Thunderbird Clan.
|A Sprig of Red Cedar|
"garland" — when in anthropomorphic form, the Thunders are bald-headed, but wear garlands of flat cedar leaves on their heads. The leaves are those of the juniper or red cedar (q.v.).
"second one" — Radin interprets hinų̄bᵋra tēē neairekjanéną to mean, "You are the second person (to whom I have offered my fingers)." Literally, it means, "the second one, that kind you yourself will become." This rather suggests a double meaning: "Second One" might mean that he will be one of those who have been born again. People who are leading a second lifetime were often referred to in the Medicine Rite as "skin shedders," after the model of serpents, who appear to be reborn as they shuffle off their mortal skin. A person who returns to life from Spiritland is considered to be a Second One. Arácgega is saying that his patient will be no different, having been brought back to life (in some sense). However, the very next sentence shows that in the past someone else had picked the correct finger.
"little finger" — among the Spirits, it is typically the least impressive looking artifact that is the most powerful, and in like manner, it is the finger of the hand that is the least among them that is here granted the greatest power. However, the matter is greatly complicated by the fact that this is the finger of a Bear Clansman named "Left-handed One" in reference to the fact that the right and left hands on bears seem to be switched, with the "thumb" on the outside, and the smallest digit on the inside. So in a Bear Clansman, the little finger is the equivalent to the largest finger of the bear. So from a spiritual point of view, the efficacious mark is located on the biggest and smallest finger simultaneously. The story never mentions which hand it is on, but that does not matter, since the right hand is simultaneously the left hand among bears, which is why Bear Clansmen eat with their left hands during the Bear Feast.
Links: Thunderbirds, Waterspirits.
Stories: about fasting blessings: Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Difficult Blessing, The Boy Who Became a Robin, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Seer, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Disease Giver Blesses Jobenągiwįxka, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Black Otter's Warpath, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Great Walker's Medicine, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, Holy Song, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Plant Blessing of Earth, The Blessing of Šokeboka, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Sweetened Drink Song, Ancient Blessing, A Deer Story; mentioning Thunderbirds: The Thunderbird, Waruǧábᵉra, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Thunderbird and White Horse, Bluehorn's Nephews, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed (vv. 1, 2), The Man who was a Reincarnated Thunderbird, The Thunder Charm, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Story of the Thunder Names, The Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Adventures of Redhorn's Sons, Brave Man, Ocean Duck, Turtle's Warparty, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Quail Hunter, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Redhorn's Sons, The Dipper, The Stone that Became a Frog, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Redhorn Contests the Giants, The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Origin of the Hocąk Chief, The Spirit of Gambling, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Black Otter's Warpath, Kunu's Warpath, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, The Glory of the Morning, The Nightspirits Bless Ciwoit’éhiga, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Big Stone, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Song to Earthmaker, The Origins of the Milky Way; about journeys to and from Spiritland: The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Journey to Spiritland, Sunset Point, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Lame Friend, Two Roads to Spiritland, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Holy One and His Brother, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Foolish Hunter, Waruǧábᵉra, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, White Wolf, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Two Brothers, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Petition to Earthmaker, Wears White Feather on His Head, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, The Friendship Drum Origin Myth, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man Whose Wife was Captured; mentioning red cedar (juniper, waxšúc): The Journey to Spiritland (vv. 4, 5) (used to ascend to Spiritland), The Seer (sacrificial knife), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (sacrificial knife), Redhorn's Sons (coronet of Thunders, lodge), The Twins Disobey Their Father (trees found on cliffs of Thunders), Partridge's Older Brother (smoke fatal to evil spirit), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (purifying smoke), The Creation Council (purifying smoke), The Dipper (incense), Sun and the Big Eater (arrow), The Brown Squirrel (arrow), Hare Kills a Man with a Cane (log used as weapon).
Themes: a person who fasts receives blessings from the spirits: The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, Redhorn's Sons, The Boy Who Became a Robin, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, The Seer, Maize Comes to the Hocągara, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Thunderbird, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, The Waterspirit Guardian of the Intaglio Mound, Great Walker's Medicine, Šųgepaga, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, Heną́ga and Star Girl, A Man's Revenge, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Man Who Lost His Children to a Wood Spirit, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Man who Defied Disease Giver, White Thunder's Warpath, Black Otter's Warpath, A Man and His Three Dogs, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Diving Contest, The Plant Blessing of Earth, Holy Song, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Blessing of Šokeboka, The Completion Song Origin, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Nightspirits Bless Ciwoit’éhiga, Sunset Point, Song to Earthmaker, First Contact (v. 1), The Horse Spirit of Eagle Heights; a messenger leads a man to Spiritland: The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, The Foolish Hunter, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman; a human being physically travels to Spiritland without having died: The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Sunset Point, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Star Husband, White Wolf, Waruǧábᵉra, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Shaggy Man, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Boy who would be Immortal, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, Rainbow and the Stone Arch (v. 2), The Friendship Drum Origin Myth, Trickster Concludes His Mission; a spirit is quoted as he gives someone a blessing: Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Disease Giver Blesses Jobenągiwįxka, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Friendship Drum Origin Myth, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, Great Walker's Medicine, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Plant Blessing of Earth, The Completion Song Origin, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, The Difficult Blessing, The Blessing of Šokeboka, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bow Meets Disease Giver, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Sunset Point, The Rounded Wood Origin Myth, A Peyote Vision, The Healing Blessing; blowing upon a person: The Red Man, Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, The Two Children, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Chief of the Heroka; a person's body turns into a plant: Fourth Universe (white flower), White Flower (white flower), The Boy who would be Immortal (tree), The Woman who Became a Walnut Tree, cf. The Wild Rose, Deer Clan Origin Myth (v. 2).
Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook 39 (phonetic text with interlinear translation). English translation published in Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Washington: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1923) 296-298.