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Native American Witchcraft

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posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 12:23 PM
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I've recently been doing some research into Native American mythology - in particular related to the topic of witchcraft in Native American culture. In most interviews with the Navajo, for example, it is quite clear that there is a deep belief (and fear, for lack of a better word) in witchcraft. In fact, many of the medicine men allegedly deal with eradicating the effects of witchcraft.

I've focused on the tribes in the Southwestern region of the United States, in particular because these are a hotspot for ufo-related paranormal activity...but this research has entered into the realm of the paranormal and metaphysical effects of the practice of Native American witchcraft.

The difficulty in this topic is also the fact that while most Navajo tribal members, for example, believe that this is very much a reality, very few are willing to speak of it...most of these tribes have a long oral history and do not believe in putting things down in writing - so finding more information becomes much more difficult and demanding. It requires interviewing tribal members - who may be willing to tell their stories, but not willing to write them down.

I would like to get in touch with anyone who is either a member of any of the southwestern tribes (or with knowledge of any of the ancient people of the area - also on this list) including : Navajo, Ute, Hopi, Pueblo, or the ancient Anasazi.

My questions concern some of the practices of witchcraft within this region of the country and the various effects of these practices.

I encourage anyone with more information - to either post here for a dialog, or to contact me via PM.

Thanks,
-Ry

[edit on 15-12-2006 by rdube02]




posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 12:27 PM
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Interesting project. One thing, though, you may want to find another word to use other than Native American Witchcraft. Most don't identify with the label and they see witchcraft as being from Europe, not American Indians. I would call it shamanism or medicine. That way, you may find a few more people willing to talk about it. They really don't like to have their practices related to witchcraft in any way type or size.



posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 12:33 PM
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Originally posted by forestlady
Interesting project. One thing, though, you may want to find another word to use other than Native American Witchcraft. Most don't identify with the label and they see witchcraft as being from Europe, not American Indians. I would call it shamanism or medicine. That way, you may find a few more people willing to talk about it. They really don't like to have their practices related to witchcraft in any way type or size.


Hi - thank you forestlady,

I would agree - if I were referring to European witchcraft...however I'm actually referring to Native American witchcraft itself. For example - the Navajo Skinwalker, or the some of the curses that were allegedly placed on some of the tribes in the area by other tribes (according to the local legends). I'm not at all referring to the "good" medicine men or shaman who practice healing.

-Ry

[edit on 15-12-2006 by rdube02]



posted on Dec, 15 2006 @ 04:41 PM
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Fascinating thread.

May I recommend a couple of books that may help in your investigations.

Weird America by Jim Brandon

The Rebirth of Pan by Jim Brandon

These are probably the most interesting books I have read on the topic of Indian cultures and Forteana.

Unfortunately, most online book-sellers ask a pretty penny for these two publications. Dilligent searching of second hand book stores may yield these two rare gems.

Frank Waters' Book Of the Hopi is also essential reading.

I am currently reading T o Possess the Land: A Biography Of Arthur Rochford Manby by Waters.

I have become fascinated with Freemasons of this era and their interest in Native American Witchcraft.

What do the various bat-towers in Florida etc... have to do with this;


Around 100 B.C., a peculiar religious cult grew up among the Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico. The cult venerated an anthropomorphic monster with the head of a bat, an animal associated with night, death, and sacrifice
- Link

And in turn what do they both have in common with the beheadings that littered Taos, New Mexico?



posted on Dec, 16 2006 @ 06:08 AM
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Originally posted by forestlady
Interesting project. One thing, though, you may want to find another word to use other than Native American Witchcraft. Most don't identify with the label and they see witchcraft as being from Europe, not American Indians. I would call it shamanism or medicine. That way, you may find a few more people willing to talk about it. They really don't like to have their practices related to witchcraft in any way type or size.


semantics...
I had a witch doctor in the family (native american)...call it shaman, whatever, it all boils down to the same thing.

The only people offended are Evangelical Christians that also want to claim Indian heritage it would seem.
Other than that, witchcraft, I think, is understood for what it is...and yes there obviously are different practices, hence the poster starting the thread.

Having said all that, what is it exactly you want to know?
There is a root of truth to it all.
From European withcraft (which on the other side, I have realitves dealing (dealt actually) with that.

The fact is, whatever truths are there, are really scientific veiled with allegories (kind of like the Bible, a lot of truth shown by parables and tales.


I wont be able to help past that...I am personally more familar with Judaic Kabbalah.
(not to get into the link between Jews and american Indians, though europeans is more obvious. Interesting how things have spread throughout history...we are all related, unless the earth was seeded by various alien groups (elohim = gods), but still we have intermingled quite a bit, and things cross over each other.)

But have fun on your search...(life was meant to be fun...it doesnt last all that long, to short to take it serious.)


Peace

dAlen

[edit on 16-12-2006 by dAlen]



posted on Dec, 16 2006 @ 09:09 AM
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I founds some things that may be of some help.. This first link is basically an explanation of the Nagual and "skinwalkers.

The Nagual

Navajo "Witchcraft" and Skinwalkers



posted on Dec, 16 2006 @ 09:34 AM
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Originally posted by rdube02
I would like to get in touch with anyone who is either a member of any of the southwestern tribes (or with knowledge of any of the ancient people of the area - also on this list) including : Navajo, Ute, Hopi, Pueblo, or the ancient Anasazi.


I'm Sac & Fox, myself, which was one of the Algonquin tribes near the Great Lakes (now in Oklahoma, like a lot of others). I realize you're looking for different tribes, but I come from a pretty long line of wisdoms and chiefs, and have done a lot of research into other tribes, including the Southwest and Meso-American tribes as well.

By the way, please don't take the "long line of" thing as a brag, it's just that, there's so few members left in my tribe, and those two positions are so vital to the tribe, that it'd be hard for any living member left to NOT to be descended from them at some point.

Anyway, I can't give you all the secrets because I don't know them all, but I can help, and I've got a direct line to the tribe's senior members and lorists, so it's there if you need it.



posted on Dec, 16 2006 @ 01:39 PM
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Originally posted by rdube02


Hi - thank you forestlady,

I would agree - if I were referring to European witchcraft...however I'm actually referring to Native American witchcraft itself. For example - the Navajo Skinwalker, or the some of the curses that were allegedly placed on some of the tribes in the area by other tribes (according to the local legends). I'm not at all referring to the "good" medicine men or shaman who practice healing.


RDube, I stand corrected, you're right and it makes sense, as well. It figures, I got that information from a white person, bah.

The Libra, thanks for the link, that was a fascinating and very, very sad story. I hope your tribe is able to survive somehow. Is anyone recording the elder's stories?



posted on Dec, 16 2006 @ 02:44 PM
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surprised no one has mentioned tony hillerman yet.

Or Frank Hamilton Cushing.



posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 08:52 AM
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Originally posted by SpeakerofTruth
I founds some things that may be of some help.. This first link is basically an explanation of the Nagual and "skinwalkers.

The Nagual

Navajo "Witchcraft" and Skinwalkers


Thank you SpeakerofTruth....every last resource I can find will help. My goal, eventually, is to speak with someone from the huge Navajo nation down in the Southwest - but this kind of reading material is really helpful...especially hunterbear.org. Thanks for posting these.

-Ry



posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 10:54 AM
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Originally posted by thelibra
I'm Sac & Fox, myself, which was one of the Algonquin tribes near the Great Lakes (now in Oklahoma, like a lot of others). I realize you're looking for different tribes, but I come from a pretty long line of wisdoms and chiefs, and have done a lot of research into other tribes, including the Southwest and Meso-American tribes as well.


Hi thelibra,

Actually - you're precisely the kind of contact I was hoping to make. Thanks for your reply! My focus is actually some of the stories I've heard/read within the paranormal field that appear related to some of the practices/beliefs of the "dark magic" practices of Native American witchcraft. For example - some sightings of glowing orbs, mutilated cows, some particular odd natural effects that (to the "white man") appear as odd...but likely to someone who understands some of these practices, there's nothing odd about them at all...

I guess that's the best way I can describe my goal here, to ascribe some sort of explanation of the phenomenon in terms of possible causes by some of these alleged practices. There may be things we see, which we don't understand, but do have earthly and/or spiritual causes yet to be connected to the phenomenon.

-Ry



posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 02:58 PM
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Originally posted by rdube02
My focus is actually some of the stories I've heard/read within the paranormal field that appear related to some of the practices/beliefs of the "dark magic" practices of Native American witchcraft.


Hmmm... That could very well be difficult. The darkest magic I personally know anything about was practiced by the Aztecs. That is to say, where they were actively trying to accomplish something we would consider evil. Most of these particular rituals would center around Tezcatlipoca, who thrived on energy released from pain of death. Tezcatlipoca was a horrible, horrible god to follow.

Most Native American tribes, however, didn't really have "dark magic" in the way you might be thinking of. It might be considered dark from a mainstream religious perspective, but many tribes tapped into the world of death for one reason or another. Some did it for advice and favors, others did it for vision, and so forth. There wasn't really a heaven and hell, per se, so demons weren't being summoned...not in the same way you might think anyway. It's rather complex, and also rather tribe specific.

Now a lot of tribes (including my own) had very precise instructions on how the dead were to be treated. If those rites are not properly followed, any number of bad things can result, from a ghost coming back, confused and wanting to continue taking part in life on Earth, to the truly sinister which would be the spawning of a horrible creature possessing the empty shell of the deceased (or worse yet, no shell at all).

But that wasn't generally something that happened on purpose. It would either be through incompetence or simply not finding the body in time.

My great aunt was a wisdom for the tribe and was the last of our people to refuse the white man. When she died, much of her knowledge and our language was lost with her, because her daughters were all very Christian, and had disowned her. Some was passed to her sister (my grandmother) who later passed it on to her grandchildren. One that was lost though was the ability to call lightning. This wasn't some amusing anecdote that parents told kids to keep them in line, it was common knowledge that many members of the tribe had personally witnessed (sadly she passed before I ever got to see for myself). I would give almost anything to know what secrets she possessed, but one of my cousins is the tribal lorist. He may have more on this.

So I guess, specifically, I'd need to know what dark magics you're referring to, because it wasn't generally considered light or dark. Those are concepts instilled by the white man. Magic just was. Sometimes its powers were great and terrible. Sometimes it was simple and commonplace. But magic itself was no more light or dark than the heart of the person using it, and the aim it was put towards.



Originally posted by rdube02
For example - some sightings of glowing orbs, mutilated cows, some particular odd natural effects that (to the "white man") appear as odd...but likely to someone who understands some of these practices, there's nothing odd about them at all...

I guess that's the best way I can describe my goal here, to ascribe some sort of explanation of the phenomenon in terms of possible causes by some of these alleged practices.



Perhaps it would be best if some specific instances, or types of phenomenon were described. As both a member of the tribe and a skeptic, I'd say that the most logical and rational explanation of mutilated cows would be the white man, since, if memory serves they are the ones that brought cows to America, and also brought the art of scalping to the Iroquois, and typically were the ones to skin a buffalo and leave the remains out to rot.

Glowing orbs... could be just about anything. There's a lot of plants and animals capable of glowing in the dark, to say nothing of the spirits. Further, there were many spirit animals that were unique, the avatars of a particular anthropomorphic personification or gods, or just critters that stepped outside the bounds of nature. These were very highly prized hunts indeed.

I hope this starts to help, but will need specific incidents to offer much more in the way of thought. The concept of dark magic would be as alien to most tribes as a coup stick would be to the European kingdoms back in the day. Technically, it could exist, the concept could exist, and there was probably someone, somewhere, that did it, but overall, it just wasn't done that way.



posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 03:03 PM
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In most native american tribes, as in Medieval Europe, witches, werewolves, etc. were people who had turned their backs on the tribe, and had become monsters either through incest, cannibalism, or other "inhuman" practices.

It makes for cool horror fiction, but lots of traditional peoples have lived in fear of having people like that in their neighborhood.

Not until Bram Stoker's fiction were monsters every seen as some kind of a "dark hero."



posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 02:51 AM
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I have been living on the Navajo reservation for several years now and have been learning about the culture with a keen interest in skinwalker lore, accounts and witchcraft. Btw, yes, the Navajo do call it witchcraft and not "bad medicine" out here. Many blame the birth of skinwalkers on the arrival of European settlers into the area so it only makes sense that the practice would be called "witchcraft" out here, whether it started then or was practiced even earlier on. A Navajo will call someone who practices witchcraft out here a "witch" or a "witchdoctor". So, in the case of Navajos, using those terms is entirely appropriate.

According to some stories, skinwalkers existed long before they were corrupted. In these stories, skinwalkers were more like an animal shaman type of medicine man. A full fledged medicine man in their own right but with the added twist of having animal-like capabilities. They were hunters, warriors and messengers. Their previous role should be no surprise as the Navajo were originally hunter/gatherer before they settled down into a more agrarian way of life. It only makes sense that they would have a medicine man whose specialty would be animal ways. As I said above, the skinwalkers are believed to have fallen from grace around the time that European settlers entered the area. I know of two stories that were passed down orally from the Long Walk era in the 1860's. One features a skinwalker who misses home during the Walk and time at Bosque Rodondo and uses his powers to return home to Dinehtah (Navajo land). Using his powers for his own gain eventually corrupts him forever. The second is supposedly set during the Walk itself and a group of skinwalkers has taken to scaring the calvary soldiers escorting them at night. Finally fed up with the nighttime activity, the Navajo are forced to identify the skinwalkers for punishment. A third story simply states that around this time, a disagreement erupted between the skinwalkers and medicine men. The end result was the expulsion of skinwalkers from the tribe. As Hunterbear said, a Navajo who becomes a skinwalker loses all rights traditionally. It's because they are no longer seen as part of the tribe but an enemy.

Skinwalkers do not shape shift physically. Instead, they use deception, animal skins, pastes and puppetry to give the appearance of being an animal. Close up inspection will show the bloody animal skin draped over their head and body with its eye sockets emptied. Not a pretty picture but that's what one will see if they should be unfortunate enough to get that close. Clearly, if they were actually physically changing into the animal, there'd be no bloody skin hanging off and they'd probably need those animal eyes.

Skinwalkers use a plethora of items against their victims. They can harm a victim both directly and indirectly. Indirectly, they will create a medicine bundle which will contain items that once belonged to the victim. The most sought after would be nail clippings, hair, or blood (including menstrual). Worse yet, they could exhume the body of someone closely related as well. Other items may also be used as long as they were used by the victim or a member of their family. In a way, it is similar to voodoo but still entirely different. This kind of item will be tucked into the bundle along with any other appropriately harmful materials and buried near the home of the victim. The bundle is believed to cause misfortune, sickness and even death. More direct weaponry would be corpse powder, bone or turquoise pellets, and poisons. They will carry knives but they are definitely long range fighters. All of their main weapons are aerial and probably shot through a blowpipe.

A good book to read would be Clyde Kluckhohn's "Navaho Witchcraft." He goes into good detail in regards to the types of witchcraft practiced out here so he'd be an excellent source for Navajo witchcraft. If you have any questions, ask.



posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 05:25 AM
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Hi--

Thought I'd just chime in a add--clarify--a few things.

I agree that the word "witch" and "Witchcraft" is not really a good choice regarding the subject matter presented in this topic. Let me clarify that from the standpoint of my own People and our Language.

We have a word which was translated as "Witch" by the first Missionaries--aka--Black Robes --because they were Spanish Catholics of the Jesuit Order. That word is, in our tongue, "s-gi-li" (pronounced, "sgeeLEE"). The Scot and English settlers alternate for that was, and still is, "Conjurer". The understanding to have with this is that Indian Witches practice what can be called "Black" or Dark-side ritual and "medicine" designed particularly toward the achievement of personal gain, whether material or Spiritual Power,at the expense of another person. It is these dark practices that separate the Indian Witch from the "Da-do-de-wi-s-gi", or Spirit-Teachers -- our Positive and selfless "Medicine" People, Healers and Seers. I am only saying this so that others who do not, will understand the separation of the two. Witch is a valid word with us, as well as the Navajo and Hopi. (Bilagaana's post is very complete regards this.)

Navajo and Hopi not with standing, it is very difficult to get ant Traditional to speak much about Evil things and negative subjects. The reason for that is the nearly Pan-Indian concept the "words have Power"--which they indeed do. One must speak carefully, as, for instance, speaking of witches and witchcraft may draw the energy, or the witches, to the person speaking of them. So, I can understand why it is difficult to interview many people along those lines.

OK. Like Bilagaana, I'll be happy to help you out in your search so far as I am allowed, regarding this subject as pertains to Southeastern Tribes.

Hope this helps you.

[edit on 27-12-2006 by Ed Littlefox]



posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 12:53 PM
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Exactly, Ed, and thank you for further clarifying what I had only hinted at.

You would be correct to include the Navajo in the "words have power" concept. For the Navajo, talking about skinwalkers is a dangerous and taboo thing to do. Many feel that discussing them will attract skinwalkers, who will cause harm to the people doing the discussing and there is always the thought that discussing bad things is not healthy on its own. Navajo will also be reluctant to discuss skinwalkers because they are an embarassment and an offense to the tribe. Traditional Navajos spend their every moment in the pursuit of maintaining harmony with the world. A skinwalker lives to disrupt that harmony and go completely against and even to the extent of perverting traditional Navajo beliefs and practices. It is a little like the general view of Christianity and Satanism but with tremendous differences. A skinwalker is accused of the three greatest crimes for the Navajo--corpse desecration, incest, and murder. Add this to the "smaller" crimes and it's pretty understandable why Navajo don't want to talk about them. They are as bad as one can get.

Like the others, I will discuss them within reason with the permission of my Navajo family. I will not give them powers that they do not have. My family and I believe that people talking about skinwalkers as if they are were-creatures and whatnot only serves to give them power. So, if you are looking for a romanticized and fantastical image of a skinwalker, you won't find it from me. A real skinwalker is not what s/he is touted to be.



posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 01:09 PM
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Interesting thread.


As several people have pointed out, the distinction between 'witches' and other 'magical' wisdom lies in the idea that witches are concerned with gaining personal power.

My background is Ojibwa. I have worked in healing circles but have no real knowledge of the 'dark side.' Sorry.

Good luck, but really, be wary of attracting bad energy.



posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 01:38 PM
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I would like to contact those of you with personal contact with the tribes, and who have information about the southwestern tribes and traditions, including the magical/spiritual beliefs. Thanks for your input, this feedback is tremendously helpful. TheLibra and others who have offered help, I plan to move forward with this soon - the holiday snuck up on me quickly. This information is going into an article on the topic and the research alone will take some time - all of you are extremely helpful, thank you.

-Ry



posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 01:35 PM
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I have been attempting to write a kind of skinwalker faq (my husband always laughs about my calling it that lol) for some time. We're hoping to compile all the information that we know about skinwalkers as well as firsthand accounts of sightings. I will try to plug away at it again. Let me know if you're interested in it.



posted on Apr, 15 2007 @ 06:39 PM
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Originally posted by BeelzebubbaFrank Waters' Book Of the Hopi is also essential reading.


A note of caution, here. Frank's informants on a number of subjects were the part of the tribe who decided that they needed to move into the mainstream and become Christianized. He's the print source for the "Blue Star Kachina" legend... a lenged that was created about 1910 and is not an ancient tradition at all.

Read with a grain of salt, though I agree that overall the book is excellent and he's a very understanding and wonderful writer.






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