Peace of Mind Regained

by Jasper Blowsnake
retold by Richard L. Dieterle


Jasper Blowsnake

Hocąk - English Interlinear Text


(155) A Medicine Rite man, having sufferred loss, thought, "What can I do to make myself well?" What he thought in his mind, what he had been carrying in his mind, took a very deep path. Now he succeeded in sending them to appear on earth. And his thoughts above to the Creator, his mind he sent. He made his thoughts go towards the minds of the Great Spirits up above, to each in turn, and then he sent his thoughts to penetrate below the earth, then his thoughts began to go somewhere where there was a Chief, a great one. Then in the center of the lodge, the Creation Lodge, Light-and-Life was made to appear, and then he dispatched his thoughts among human beings. It meant a great deal that he had thought of the Medicine Rite, but it can be said, "He thought of me." It is good. A great Light and Life had come among us. (156) Not only did he do it for us, but for all our relatives with whom we affiliate. We think ourselves to be in connection with Life. [...] It seems that they are trying to live. They made me enter into the Light of Life. It is good. We will accept unto ourselves our own Light and Life.

An exceedingly white wolf began by stretching himself out. He had with him what he was going to smoke with. After opening up the Means of Asking for Light and Life and placing it in the center of the lodge, He Whom They Call Nephew went towards it. He seized the Light and Life. Then he began to handle it. He crumbled it together with the bark of the Chief of Trees. Then he filled the pipe in order to lite it. Then he lit the pipe. When he drew four times, he repeatedly generated white clouds of exceedingly white Light and Life. (157) After the fourth draft suddenly he turned very old, so that he looked like a legging with almost all the hairs on his back gone. Then it passed through the entirety of the lodge. As he walked along the length and breadth of Our Grandmother, the whole of it had acquired the haze of this smoke. And everyone of the Spirits, when they had smelled its full aroma, became filled with longing for it. The very men having it, will be human, as He Whom They Call Nephew has said. ...1

In the lodge our distant grandfathers reclined with Life, and He Who Stands in the Middle of the Lodge, the blaze. He did not stand steady, but stood trembling, and as one who dreaded walking. And furthermore, when they were going to eat, they failed to fix their hair, so that quit eating due to the dandruff. And when the sinews that bind together the poles of the Spirit lodge work themselves loose, we will tighten them by our speech. From that time forth, they will have made themselves whole. (158) And again, from a plate that an ancestor of ours had been eating that had fallen upside down, a beloved child eats out of it. Then once more bowed and lowered is the head of the bird skin pouch, but soon, three days hence, as Light and Life he makes for us, the bird skin will become as if he viewed the light of day. And any good Medicine Rite member will say, to cry for Life for a beloved child who is coming to the rite. Also again we will say: if a good elder member of the rite has departed, they will cry for what life he left behind. They also shall be making their cry for Life.2


Commentary. "Chief" — Waterspirits are not only subaquatic, but subterranean, living in vast cave complexes that extend throughout the underworld.

"Light-and-Life" — the Hocąk is Hąp, which means "Light," but in the Medicine Rite also has the esoteric meaning of "Life."

"Means of Asking for Light and Life" — this refers to tobacco. Tobacco is the most compelling offering that can be made to the Spirits, so it becomes the chief means by which benefits can be obtained.

"He Whom They Call Nephew" — this is Hare, the founder of the Medicine Rite. Since he was the product of a virgin birth, all human beings are considered his maternal uncles and aunts. In Hocąk culture, the avunculate represents the closest personal relationship possible in society. Therefore, Hare has the greatest affection and devotion to the Hocąk people.

"crumbled it together with" — he mixed the tobacco with ground oak bark to form a kind of kinnikinnick.

"the Chief of Trees" — this is the oak tree. Oaks are strongly associated with Thunderbirds since they are the tree most often struck by lightning. Inasmuch as the Thunderbird Clan is the chief clan, it follows that the tree of the Thunders would be the chief among trees.

"he turned very old" — the image is not evoked to suggest debilitation, but as a symbol that those who observe the Rite shall live to a very great old age, since they have been blessed with Light-and-Life.

"that had fallen upside down" — the overturned plate is a symbol of someone's death.3 The transfer of Life from this person to those of colleagues still alive is a symbolic righting of the plate. It was believe that the deceased could confer upon his people that portion of life that he did not obtain for himself but was entitled to have lived, had he reached all the years given man by Earthmaker.

"life he left behind" — the theory is that if a person dies prematurely, that is, before the time alotted to him by Earthmaker, then he may bestow that lost time upon the living. So they cry to the departed spirit of the elder that he leave to them that portion of life that he had not survived to live.


Links: Waterspirits, Hare, Tree Spirits, Tobacco, Wolf & Dog Spirits.


Stories: 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; mentioning Creation Lodges (Wogųzocíra): The Creation Council, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge of the Medicine Rite, The Descent of the Drum, The Four Steps of the Cougar, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, East Shakes the Messenger, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (v. 1), South Enters the Medicine Lodge; in which Waterspirits occur as characters: Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Green Waterspirit of Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Child, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bluehorn's Nephews, Holy One and His Brother, The Seer, The Nannyberry Picker, The Creation of the World (vv. 1, 4), Šųgepaga, The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Devil's Lake — How it Got its Name, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds, Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth, Waterspirits Keep the Corn Fields Wet, The Waterspirit Guardian of the Intaglio Mound, The Diving Contest, The Lost Blanket, Redhorn's Sons, The Phantom Woman, Įcorúšika and His Brothers, Great Walker's Warpath, White Thunder's Warpath, The Descent of the Drum, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 2), The Two Children, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Waruǧábᵉra, Ocean Duck, The Twin Sisters, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The King Bird, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Story of the Medicine Rite, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Spiritual Descent of John Rave's Grandmother, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Shaggy Man, The Woman who Married a Snake (?), Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Sacred Lake, Lost Lake; relating to dogs or wolves: The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, A Man and His Three Dogs, White Wolf, Wolves and Humans, The Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, Worúxega, The Dogs of the Chief's Son, The Dog that became a Panther, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Wild Rose, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Canine Warrior, The Dog Who Saved His Master, The Raccoon Coat, Wojijé, The Big Eater, Why Dogs Sniff One Another, The Healing Blessing, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Trickster Loses His Meal, Sun and the Big Eater, Redhorn's Sons, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Hog's Adventures, Holy One and His Brother, The Messengers of Hare, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Grandmother's Gifts, The Hocąk Migration Myth, Bladder and His Brothers, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Old Man and the Giants, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, Kunu's Warpath, Morning Star and His Friend, Black Otter's Warpath, Black Otter’s Sacrifice to a Thunder, Chief Wave and the Big Drunk, The War of Indian Tribes against White Soldiers; mentioning white wolves or dogs: White Wolf, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Old Man and His Four Dogs, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, Worúxega, The Messengers of Hare, Wolf Clan Origin Myth (vv. 1, 2), Wolves and Humans, A Man and His Three Dogs, Grandmother's Gifts, The War of Indian Tribes against White Soldiers; mentioning trees or Tree Spirits: The Creation of the World, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, Visit of the Wood Spirit, The Man Who Lost His Children to a Wood Spirit, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Woman who Became a Walnut Tree, The Old Woman and the Maple Tree Spirit, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, The Pointing Man, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Baldness of the Buzzard, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Trickster Loses His Meal, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 2), Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Waruǧábᵉra, The Chief of the Heroka, The Red Man, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Blessing of the Bow, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, The Spirit of Gambling, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death, The Story of the Medicine Rite; mentioning the Chief of Trees: The Commandments of Earthmaker, Grandmother's Gifts; mentioning oak: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, Turtle's Warparty, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Waruǧábᵉra, The Creation Council, The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), Sun and the Big Eater, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Roaster, Little Human Head, The Shaggy Man, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Dipper (leaves); mentioning tobacco: Tobacco Origin Myth, Hare and the Grasshoppers, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth (v 2), How the Thunders Met the Nights, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Grandmother's Gifts, The Thunderbird, First Contact, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, The Dipper, The Masaxe War, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth; mentioning kinnikinnick: The Lost Blanket, The Old Man and the Giants, Woruxega, Redhorn's Father, Grandmother's Gifts.

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, The Completion Song Origin, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Great Walker and the Ojibwe 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), 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, The Completion Song Origin, North Shakes His Gourd, Lifting Up the Bear Heads, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, The War of Indian Tribes against White Soldiers (wolf, bird); a spirit transforms himself into a symbolic representation of what is destined to happen in the future: The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Messengers of Hare.


Notes

1  The story is interrupted here by an account of the smoking ritual which takes place at this point. After the pipe is passed, the story resumes.

2 Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago II, #1: 175-177 (handwritten phonetic text); Winnebago III, #1: 155-157 (the original handwritten interlinear text); Winnebago II, #5: 192-193 (typed phonetic text); Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 165-167.

3 Radin, The Road of Life and Death, 338 nt. 58.