Thursday, May 26, 2016

We are Shawnee! The #Shawnee Shaman #nativeamerican #ohio

We are Shawnee!
The Shawnee Shaman

Welcome to a new series on my blog - We are Shawnee!

The Shawnee were the most conservative native american group to dwell in Ohio. Their religious beliefs didn't mirror their neighboring tribes. This blog series will take my readers into an depth look at Shawnee beliefs, customs and ways of life in the 18th century. We start this series out with a look at the Shawnee shaman. Shamans were rare in the Shawnee culture and were viewed with fear, mystery and respect by the Shawnee people.

The Shawnee were considered by many of their neighboring tribes as the best healers on earth. In fact, many neighboring tribes believed the Shawnees had been blessed with magical healing abilities because they were able to heal many wounds and ailments whose cures alluded outsiders. The most powerful of all healers among the Shawnee were the shamans. It was very rare for a Shawnee to ever encountered one. Most of the neighboring tribes believed Shawnee shamans were the most powerful shamans to walk the earth. 

The Shawnee shaman was believed to be specially created by Our Grandmother (the feminine deity believed by the Shawnee to have created everything) to remind her people how to live by her creeds or laws. Our Grandmother, the guides and spirits had pity upon the Shawnee because they were believed to be like children who needed constant reminders of how to live their lives. If the Shawnee faithfully followed the creeds then their lives would be good. If they did not then something bad would happen to them such as illness, mistakes and natural disasters. It was the shaman's job to remind the Shawnee how to behave according to Our Grandmother's will. 

Despite how important they were to the people some Shawnee divisions did not fully support
shamans. The Shawnee were very superstitious, especially the Kishpoko division. They believed shamans practiced witchcraft.  A Shawnee witch was able to transform into the image of someone or something to influence their victim and was able to cast spells. A Kishpoko was not opposed to following a medicine man or healer's advice, though.  Some Shawnee warriors did possess shamanic powers. These warriors were able to transform into large, ferocious beasts who could win any battle or they would become tiny insects in order to escape from dangerous situations. Kishpoko believed the shamans practiced witchcraft while the other division believed shamans were a gift sent to them by the creator.

There were different organizations within the Shawnee culture. Each organization had their own membership requirements and served an unique function within the Shawnee culture. The shaman of the Shawnee were members of the Juggling Society. Membership into the Juggling Society could be quite deadly if the initiate was not a shaman. An eight year boy was clubbed unconscious then his body would mutilated.  Afterwards his head would be removed and set aside. The shaman would carry the boy's head back to the sacred lands while wild dogs fed on the rest of the boys body in the wilderness. The shaman would lay the boy's head on leaves inside the lodge. The wild dogs, full of the child' remains would gather next to the head then vomit everything they had consumed. The remains and the head sat in the leaves. The shamans would dance around and chat until the boy's body was renewed as if nothing had happened to him and his spirit once again dwelled with his body.

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