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Impearls: HIC 6.2.6: Shamanism

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Earthdate 2005-11-12

Shamanism   by A. L. Kroeber

Fig. 11: Wiyot shaman's outfit: pipe, condor feather, headdress, elk-skin belt.

Shamans were chiefly women and acquired their powers on mountain tops at night.  Some people, too, were pitied by powerful lake spirits, and became physically strong and brave.  Shamans in practicing wore a headband from which hung two long strings of feathers (Fig. 11, c), 11 and shoved condor feathers into their stomachs.  There were those who only diagnosed while dancing and singing and others who also sucked out disease objects and blood.  The disease “pains” were minute, wormlike, self-moving, soft, and transparent.  They were sometimes sucked through the tobacco pipe (Fig. 11, a), 11 which was a standard unit of the shaman's equipment.  The pains were called silak.  This word recalls the disease-causing apparatus that the Maidu name sila.

Dikwa means “spirit” or “supernatural.”  The word is applied to the Americans and also denotes magical poison.  A woman's monthly condition is called dikwa-laketl, and the helpers of shamans were wishi-dikwa, “inland spirits,” from their inhabiting the hills.



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