The Completion Song Origin

by Jasper Blowsnake


Jasper Blowsnake

Hočąk-English Interlinear Text


(135) In the blue sky that we see up above, (136) there a very white Wood Spirit (Wak'aį́čuna) had compassion upon my poor ancestor, "Human, I bless you. The Creator created me in charge of much life. I bless you with Light and Life, inasmuch as long you have cried and thirsted yourself to death. Human, even with Light and Life I bless you. The people sometimes wish for someone to receive Light and Life, and then if you even use my breath, if you desire to use it to extend life, thus it will be," he said.

In our singing, his breath itself is appearing. They will forever use it with life-engendering greetings. Let us go and make it appear. (The Completion Song followed.)1


Commentary. "Wak'aį́čuna" — this means "He who Possesses Sacred Power," a euphemism for the very dangerous Wood Spirit.

"my poor ancestor" — this is spoken during part of the Medicine Rite by a participant who impersonates a spirit of the west. He describes his ancestor as being wanąjojaį́sgera, "the poor, pitiable one." This achieves humility while at the same time indicating the virtue of his ancestor, since someone who rigorously fasts and observes the rituals in connection with blessings, is said to "make himself pitiable." This induces a feeling of compassion in the spirits, who then bless him, usually according to his merit.

"Light and Life"Hąbera, "the Light," which is a term in the Rite for life.

"thirsted yourself to death" — a formulaic and hyperbolous reference to the rigors of fasting. The faster would darken his face with charcoal, then go out into the wilderness and cry to the spirits, eshewing food and drink. In such a state the spirits were inclined to feel compassion upon the faster and to give him blessings.

"my breath" — a poetic reference to the Completion Song (Hiraisųjéra).


Links: Wood Spirits, Spirits.


Stories: about Wood Spirits (Wakąčųna): Visit of the Woodspirit, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Twins Disobey Their Father (v. 2); pertaining to the Medicine Rite: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, Holy Song, Holy Song II, Maize Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hog's Adventures, Great , see also Other Stories from Jasper Blowsnake's account of the Medicine Rite.

Stories from Jasper Blowsnake's account of the Medicine Rite (The Road of Life and Death) in notebook order: The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 1), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Historical Origins of the Medicine Rite, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge of the Medicine Rite, Lifting Up the Bear Heads, East Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 1), The Creation of the World (v. 12), The Creation of Man (v. 8), Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), East Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 2), Testing the Slave, South Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 2), The Descent of the Drum (v. 1), The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (v. 2), East Shakes the Messenger, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 4), The Messengers of Hare (v. 2), North Shakes His Gourd, Grandmother's Gifts, South Seizes the Messenger, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Messengers of Hare (v. 1), The Island Weight Songs, The Petition to Earthmaker, A Snake Song Origin Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Great Walker and the Anishinaabe Witches, The Diving Contest, The Sweetened Drink Song, The Plant Blessing of Earth, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 3), The Tap the Head Medicine, The Claw Shooter, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 4), Peace of Mind Regained, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 5), A Wife for Knowledge, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 2), The Descent of the Drum (v. 2), South Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 1), Death Enters the World.


Themes: something is of a (symbolic) pure white color: White Bear, Deer Spirits, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), White Flower, Big Eagle Cave Mystery, The Fleetfooted Man, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, Worúxega, The Two Boys, The Lost Blanket (white spirits), Skunk Origin Myth, He Who Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, White Wolf, A Man and His Three Dogs, The Messengers of Hare, The Brown Squirrel, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, Bladder and His Brothers, White Thunder's Warpath, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Dipper, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Creation of the World (v. 12), Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, The Descent of the Drum, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 5), The Diving Contest, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, Grandmother's Gifts, Four Steps of the Cougar, North Shakes His Gourd, Lifting Up the Bear Heads, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, Peace of Mind Regained; 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 Hočągara, 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, Great Walker's Medicine, Šųgepaga, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, A Man's Revenge, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Man who Defied Disease Giver, White Thunder'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, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga, Song to Earthmaker, First Contact (v. 1), The Horse Spirit of Eagle Heights; 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 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, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, 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 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, A Peyote Vision, The Healing Blessing; a spirit blesses a man with knowledge of sacred songs: Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), Holy Song, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Island Weight Songs, A Snake Song Origin Myth, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Song to Earthmaker, The Sweetened Drink Song, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman.


Notes:

1 Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 136-137. The original interlinear MS is found in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago III, #1: 103-104; a handwritten phonetic text is found at Winnebago II, #1: 128-129; its typed version is at Winnebago II, #5: 135-136.