South Seizes the Messenger

by Jasper Blowsnake


Hočąk-English Interlinear Text


(257) The one who is the Island Weight of the South seized a messenger, a gourd, the one dwelling in the lodge, and he shook it. Four times he shook it and there was a long haired woman whose horns almost touched the ground. For a second time, he shook it four times, and immediately the evil things, the evil dust, all such things he swept away to the bad place. The lodge suddenly looked clean. (258) Then for the third time, four times he shook it and a bald woman appeared somewhat advanced in years. The spirits from everywhere now swept all the evils, pushing them into the bad place and the Light and Life became sparkling and glittering, they say. I wish it would be that way. He who Stands in the Middle of the Lodge, his flames were caused to stand straight and unbendable. The evil clouds were all swept, pushed away to the bad place.1


Commentary. "horns" — a reference to braided hair, in Siouan tribes typically aranged in two queues.

"the bad place" — the north, where at times the sun does not shine even in the daytime. In The Road of Life and Death, this word (howušgúninégi) is simply rendered as "north."

"He who Stands in the Middle of the Lodge" — a ritual name for the fire.


Links: Island Weights, Gourd Rattles, Fire.


Stories: mentioning Island Weights: The Creation of the World, The Island Weight Songs, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, East Shakes the Messenger, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, North Shakes His Gourd, Wolves and Humans, Šųgepaga, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 2), The Lost Blanket, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Messengers of Hare, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Petition to Earthmaker; mentioning the Island Weight of the South: South Enters the Medicine Lodge, Four Steps of the Cougar; mentioning sacred gourd rattles: North Shakes His Gourd, East Shakes the Messenger, The Brown Squirrel, Holy One and His Brother, A Peyote Story; 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 Walker's Warpath, 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, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Messengers of Hare (v. 1), The Island Weight Songs, The Petition to Earthmaker, A Snake Song Origin Myth, The Completion Song Origin, 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: someone possesses a gourd rattle of great magical powers: North Shakes His Gourd, East Shakes the Messenger, The Brown Squirrel; flames that stand upright and unwaving are propitious: East Shakes the Messenger, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, North Shakes His Gourd, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Descent of the Drum (v. 2); having the power to control the winds and/or the weather: Deer Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 1, 5), Blue Bear, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Chief of the Heroka, East Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 2), East Shakes the Messenger, The Dipper; a powerful spirit sweeps away evils to the bad place (the arctic north): North Shakes His Gourd, The Descent of the Drum (v. 2), The Buffalo's Walk, East Shakes the Messenger, The Four Steps of the Cougar; evil clouds are swept away (to the north): North Shakes His Gourd, The Four Steps of the Cougar, East Shakes the Messenger, The Descent of the Drum (v. 2), The Buffalo's Walk, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 4), The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (v. 2).


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]) 326-327; the Hočąk text is in Jasper Blowsnake, Untitled, in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3887 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Library, n.d.) Winnebago II, #7: 257-258.