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Native American witchcraft or medicine


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#1 Athena

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:36 PM

I looked around and didn't find any thing on this so if there is I apologize and feel free to move it to the appropriate thread.

Witchcraft is very much apart of Native American tradition in fact it's hard to separate the spiritual belief from the witchcraft although we call it medicine instead. I want to say right off every tribe is different each has its own vibrant tradition and individual history, because of that I'm giving a fairly broad overview and even then I know that it will not resonate with everyone.

First most of what people think of when they think of native Americans is actually based on drastic changes brought about by European influences. There where no powwows, shamans or full feathered headdresses ,Originally there where ritual celebrations for all kinds of things a good hunt a good harvest or a raid or healing they where called pau wau which means his dreams in some languages these celebrations included the medicine man or/and woman dancing and smoking and sweating into a state where they crossed over into dream land where they learned many things from the spirits.

Another important term is medicine, there is good medicine and bad medicine and its pretty easy to differentiate the two. Medicine encompasses many many things from emotional, physical and spiritual it includes conjuring and dream walking. Like with any language some things don't translate well so I'm doing the best I can here. Not all medicine men are good something that's often over looked today there are those who deceive or hurt instead of heal that's bad medicine although sometimes bad medicine is in fact practiced by good medicine men. One reason deciphering Native American herbals can be very difficult is that they often named herbs and trees good medicine or bad medicine bark and since regionally the plants are different its hard to figure out which one they are referring to.

One basic premise that binds all of these tribes together is that everything is connected, the plants, animals and even rocks are all part of the same thing as is the spirit world . The energy from all of these things is in us therefor we are connected to everything and everything is connected to us. This is why owning land is such a hard concept for us because how can you own something that's part of everyone. That's why if someone was very sick they would hold a pau wau so that everyone came together to help heal the sick person. These rituals are long affairs even today when I do a healing there's much more to it than handing them a herbal tea. We believe in order to heal you must heal the whole person not just a part of them. iIts almost impossible to separate spirituality from witchcraft or medicine. When healing some one it involves prayer by the whole tribe enlisting the power of the land around us and the spirits which as in all crafts must be done carefully . in order to heal someone you must not only heal the body but the mind and spirit as well.

Madicine was practiced by every member of the tribe , medicine bags of herbs and minerals where tied to arrows in their hair and hung in necklaces and braided in the horses manes . Before battle they painted themselves and took strong medicine to avoid injury they even gave it to there horses when horses arrived of corse. Each tribe had its own special blends for this and contrary to populate belief they where shared among tribes to figure out what worked best. Dream walking and conjuring was only practiced by medicine men or women and while I have seen some refer to shamans and medicine as being different most tribal members dislike the term shaman because its inaccurate and was foisted upon them . In fact if you ask a tribal elder who the shaman is they are likely to stop talking to you immediately or give you some false answer.

There is so much more that I could include here like vision quests and different rituals but this is already getting very long and some of this I'm not comfortable posting in such a public forum .

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#2 Michele

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 11:29 PM

Very interesting! Thank you for what you have said :-)

M

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#3 CelticGypsy

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 11:34 PM

Thank you Athena, for sharing a glimpse into your rich Tradition and your Belief System. I hope your stay here on this Forum enriches all of those who are unfamiliar with your Practice, as from what I've come to know is very private and sacred. Again, thank you for sharing this small part. :) + 1


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#4 Jevne

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:16 AM

I make a distinction between Native American spirituality and related magical practices and Traditional Witchcraft, at least as I have been raised to recognize and define them. Being the hard-core Traditionalist that I am, however, is not a reflection of any disrespect toward you or yours. In fact, I deeply appreciate the beauty and unique magic of, for the sake of a better term, sister traditions, such as ours, which occasionally cross, but mostly just parallel each other quite nicely.

Both Paths obviously have a rich and diverse cultural heritage, as you have so generously shared, which I find fascinating. Thank you.

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#5 Athena

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:02 AM

I make a distinction between Native American spirituality and related magical practices and Traditional Witchcraft, at least as I have been raised to recognize and define them. Being the hard-core Traditionalist that I am, however, is not a reflection of any disrespect toward you or yours. In fact, I deeply appreciate the beauty and unique magic of, for the sake of a better term, sister traditions, such as ours, which occasionally cross, but mostly just parallel each other quite nicely.

Both Paths obviously have a rich and diverse cultural heritage, as you have so generously shared, which I find fascinating. Thank you.


I think I mostly agree with you, because there are some differences although I have to say when dealing with magical portion of it traditional witchcraft is a much better fit than anywhere else. Intact a lot of times I find if I just change around terminology they parallel quite nicely like with the staves and stangs or certain types of medicine bags and poppets.

I have what might seem to be a silly question at this point, where do I post things so they are not public? There are a few things I would like to add but I couldn't figure out where the appropriate place would be.

Edited by Athena, 23 January 2013 - 02:04 AM.

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#6 Evergreen47

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:37 AM

Perhaps it's my "white guilt" showing, but I've always held Native beliefs and practices separate from my own path because I wouldn't want to feel like I was appropriating something sacred that I wasn't meant to be privy to. (Does that make sense?) However, from my study of hoodoo and rootwork, I know there is some overlap due to the practices being syncretic (someone more knowledgeable correct me if I'm wrong). I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and have a deep respect and love of native art and mythology, but unless I was trained by a tribal medicine man (which I'm told is pretty rare because I'm not part of the tribe.... again, correct me if I'm wrong) I wouldn't feel right incorporating the practices/observances.

However, as an animist, I resonate with the idea of connectivity and I do work with land spirits often, so in that way I suppose I intersect with whatever tribal peoples I share the land with (in Vegas, the Paiute tribe is most dominant).

But thank you so much for sharing, Athena! Love it!

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#7 Mountain Witch

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:49 AM

I have what might seem to be a silly question at this point, where do I post things so they are not public? There are a few things I would like to add but I couldn't figure out where the appropriate place would be.


Athena, at the moment, the only sections available to you are visible to the public. We quite understand your not wanting to expound upon certain subjects in a public area.

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#8 Whiterose

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:30 AM

Thank you for sharing Athena. I enjoyed that. +1
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#9 LdyShalott

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:12 AM

Interesting post, thank you for sharing. Much of what you shared resonates with my own teachings and beliefs. Being of the EBCI, I found the commonalities between our tribal traditional practices to be quite similiar to those of others traditional craft practices I researched and explored. Animism, symbolism, herbal lore and usage are all common themes but the originating belief systems and the core of intent of the practice are very different in my opinion. Once settled into my own nich, I do not have a difficult time differentiating between the paths on a personal level nor transitioning between them, however I must say one does not equate the other and I do not consider them to be interchangeable. . I know many of the older generations, including my family, who would be offended at the insinuation their ways are the same as witchcraft. But that is semantics and not what the thread is about.. I also know you were refering to the ways prior to the European infleuence and the induction of chrisitainity into tribal beliefs. This within itself it an entirely different conversation and perhaps not really appropriate for a TW discussion. Forgive me, I often vere from the topic as my mind processes what is being discussed. Much thanks for the thread, looking forward to what others have to contribute.

Edited by LdyShalott, 23 January 2013 - 11:54 AM.

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All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.

 


#10 Athena

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:35 PM

Like I said not everyone's going to agree. I do have one question though haven't you heard the stories of the raven mocker?
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#11 LdyShalott

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:09 PM

Like I said not everyone's going to agree. I do have one question though haven't you heard the stories of the raven mocker?


I am not sure if this was directed to me but I will answer, yes I am quite familiar with the stealer in the night

If you will read the first line of my previous reply, much of what you say resonates with my teachings and beliefs.. was merely giving another view and perspective.

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Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.  T.P.

In order to understand the living.. you have to commune with the dead..
You are a tiny little soul carrying around a corpse.-- Epictetus
All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.

 


#12 Athena

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:34 PM

I understand I just found it interesting because the Cherokee have so much that outsiders would consider witchcraft. By the way I don't ever call it witchcraft to tribal elders its medicine or dream walking and that type of thing but if you asked pretty much anyone out side of the tribe about dream walking or medicine bags that protect you from bullets and conjuring they would usually say its witchcraft. You are obviously familiar with tribal customs but sadly as I'm sure your aware most are not. I'm just trying explain a bit of the core beliefs in away everyone will understand. However I'm also fully aware there are major differences in the belief systems traditions and practices.

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#13 Aloe

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

Thanks for sharing about your path Athena. Like J and Ldy, I was also taught that it was very important to keep a clear distinction between NA traditional practices and witchcraft.
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"The people who live in the Ozark country of Missouri and Arkansas were, until very recently, the most deliberately unprogressive people in the United States. Descended from pioneers who came West from the Southern Appalachians at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they made little contact with the outer world for more than a hundred years. They seem like foreigners to the average urban American, but nearly all of them come of British stock, and many families have lived in America since colonial days. Their material heirlooms are few, but like all isolated illiterates they have clung to the old songs and obsolete sayings and outworn customs of their ancestors." Ozark Magic and Folklore

#14 LdyShalott

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:02 PM

I understand I just found it interesting because the Cherokee have so much that outsiders would consider witchcraft.


And this is my entire point, an act that outsiders may consider to be witchcraft, may not be considered so by the tribe or practitioner. I wont hijack your thread but will say this touches on the old debate of does the practice of magic a witch make.. there are numerous religious and cultural practices/acts and traditions that are almost identical to accepted witchcraft practices yet if the practitioner does not consider what they do to be craft but see it as a part or experession of a spiritual practice then should someone not directly involved label it as such. Is wichcraft the actual physical practice , a recipe of sorts or does it go deeper into purpose, position and intent..

You are obviously familiar with tribal customs but sadly as I'm sure your aware most are not.


Very true.... most of what is known is a romantacized and westernize portrait of a complex and intricate society, a deep spiritual practice which is not expressed on one day of the week or in the presence of company. It is not shared or taught to most outsiders, but is an intimate daily way of life...

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Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.  T.P.

In order to understand the living.. you have to commune with the dead..
You are a tiny little soul carrying around a corpse.-- Epictetus
All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.

 


#15 Athena

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:20 PM

And this is my entire point, an act that outsiders may consider to be witchcraft, may not be considered so by the tribe or practitioner. I wont hijack your thread but will say this touches on the old debate of does the practice of magic a witch make.. there are numerous religious and cultural practices/acts and traditions that are almost identical to accepted witchcraft practices yet if the practitioner does not consider what they do to be craft but see it as a part or experession of a spiritual practice then should someone not directly involved label it as such. Is wichcraft the actual physical practice , a recipe of sorts or does it go deeper into purpose, position and intent..


I am directly involved their wise I wouldn't have written this the way I did. I understand that you must not be familiar with me or what I do but as stated in other threads I am a registered tribal member with the southern Cheyenne tribe although I live in Montana which isn't uncommon since the Cheyenne where divided when a band of them made a run for Canada when they where trying to put them on reservations. I live on the flathead reservation where my husbands family is from here I am a medicine woman. This is not a title I take lightly and certainly without years and years of training I am still in training since to be a full medicine woman you must have gone through menopause.

If you wish for a debate that's fine but please do not assume I'm some wanna be.

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#16 LdyShalott

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:42 PM

I am directly involved their wise I wouldn't have written this the way I did. I understand that you must not be familiar with me or what I do but as stated in other threads I am a registered tribal member with the southern Cheyenne tribe although I live in Montana which isn't uncommon since the Cheyenne where divided when a band of them made a run for Canada when they where trying to put them on reservations. I live on the flathead reservation where my husbands family is from here I am a medicine woman. This is not a title I take lightly and certainly without years and years of training I am still in training since to be a full medicine woman you must have gone through menopause.

If you wish for a debate that's fine but please do not assume I'm some wanna be.


Thank you for sharing your position, location and title. I am not aware of anywhere in my posts I have referred to you as a wanna be or anything else for that matter. I was merely sharing my views in response to the quoted sentence. Thanks for the thread and sharing your position with others. As for a debate, it is not necessary nor the intent of my reply. I have no need to debate my heritage, ancestry or path. Wish you a good day..

Edited by LdyShalott, 23 January 2013 - 04:13 PM.

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Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.  T.P.

In order to understand the living.. you have to commune with the dead..
You are a tiny little soul carrying around a corpse.-- Epictetus
All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.

 


#17 spinney

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:35 PM

Athena wrote

If you wish for a debate that's fine but please do not assume I'm some wanna be.


Athena, I have read through the posts by Ldyshalott and see no reason for your above reply, so get off of your high horse for goodness sake.

Spinney


#18 Athena

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:40 PM

then should someone not directly involved label it as such. Is wichcraft the actual physical practice , a recipe of sorts or does it go deeper into purpose, position and intent..


I'm sorry if I came across to strongly, I was responding to this particular line that really bothered me. However I apologize if this was inappropriate .

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#19 spinney

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:55 PM

You are obviously reading it the wrong way. Back on topic please.


#20 o_O

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:31 PM

I understand I just found it interesting because the Cherokee have so much that outsiders would consider witchcraft.


We(Cherokee) do have a lot of witchcraft in our ways and people do recognise it. I remember asking my great grandmother(who was a medicine woman) when she was teaching me once, about whether or not we practiced was witchcraft like all the towns people said, her reply was "We do, but even a prayer by the right person is witchcraft." Any good elder knows that the way of spirits is known to all cultures, just how it's gone about is different. It's often ignored though, as most people think that witchcraft involves the devil and such, and most don't want such association. The word sorcery also fits a bit better when you get deeper into a lot of it :devil: .

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