The Delight Makers
Chapter II. Excerpt
on Native spirituality and healing
The Native "believes
that nature is pervaded by spiritual essence individualized into and
infinite number of distinct powers. Everything in nature had a soul
according to him, and it is that soul which causes it to move or to
act upon its surroundings in general. This the medical properties of
animals, of plants, or minerals, are due to spiritual manifestations.
His medical art therefore does not consist merely in eliminating the
physical cause of he disease. As soon as any disease is stubborn there
must be at the bottom of it some spiritual source, and this source,
and this source can be discovered and removed only by magic.
are an important part of Native medicine. The formulas therefore are
the special property of the medicine men, whom we shall hereafter designate
with the much more appropriate name of Shamans. The shaman is wizard
and physician at the same time. He is also a prophet, augur, and oracle.
His duty is not only to protect from evil, but to counteract it. He
has charms and incantations which he offers for the production of beneficial
Magic for such purposes
is regarded by the Natives as essential to the existence of man. Magic,
however, as a black art is the most heinous crime which he can conceive.
The difference between the two consists mainly in their purpose; the
manipulations are substantially the same, so are the objects. To know
those details is one of the attributes of the shamans.
The latter constitute
a circle of their own, - a cluster of adepts, nominally in the arts
of healing, but really in the arts of magic. That circle is wide, and
whoever stands outside of it has no right to infringe upon the duties
of its members by attempting to follow their example. In order to become
a member (of a secret healers society) secrecy is required and long
apprenticeship. The novice rises slowly from one degree of knowledge
to another, and only few attain the high positions."