Main Information

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The 37 pages in this Main Information section are below.

Classic vs Core Shamanism
Ethics of Spellcasting
Ethics of the Native Sacred Point of View
Following Others Discussion
Galactic Gateways
Harvesting the Fruits of Aging Discussion
Ley Lines & Vortexes
Mazes, Labyrinths & Spiral Discussion
Mother Earth
Praying Peace Discussion
Seeing through Soft Eyes
Soul Retrieval Discussion
Soul vs Spirit Discussion
Spirit Names & Their Medicine

The Soul ... Inuit & Salish
By Cinnamon Moon
From: Encyclopedia of Native American Religions

According to the traditional beliefs of many native peoples in North America, individuals have at least two souls; however, traditional Pueblos believe in a unitary soul, and among the Yuchi and Sioux tribes there is a belief in four souls. Every healthy individual has one soul linked to breath and life that dies with the body and another, called a free soul, that leaves the body in dreams or vision states, often traveling to distant places and on occasion visiting the land of the dead. Disease, even deaths may be caused by the loss of the free soul, which may have wandered off or may have been carried away by malevolent spirits, especially those of the dead. A shaman goes into a trance and sends his or her soul to retrieve the runaway soul. Sometimes, shamans face the opposition of the dead and must battle for the soul with the inhabitants of the other world. Shamans also guide souls of the deceased to the land of the dead. Indians also believe that "inanimate" objects (stones, plants and so forth) and animals have souls. Tribes picture the afterworld to which the souls of the deceased journey in different ways, according to their own surroundings and experience. There are detailed descriptions of the land of the dead among almost all American tribes. Usually, the land of the dead is the reverse of the land of the living with day and night and seasons reversed. The dead live very much as they had while alive-eating, dressing, playing, and living in dwellings as during their previous existence.

In general, traditional Inuits believe that each person has more than one soul. Some count three: one, an immortal spirit that leaves a person's body at death and goes to live in the spirit world; one, the breath of spirit of life, a soul ceases to exist at death; and one that abides in a person's name (the Name-Soul) and persists after death and is reincarnated through the custom of naming babies after relatives who have recently died. An essential aspect of a person is therefore reborn in the next generation through these newborn children who receive both the name and with it the soul of the recently deceased person. For Inuits and Aleuts, the name provides the child with strength to survive infancy. For Inuits of central and eastern Artic areas, it provides a person with a guardian spirit during life. Inuits believe souls reside in human beings, animals and inanimate objects and can change into other forms, such as demonic spirits. For humans and non-humans, the soul remains in the vicinity of the body for a specified time after death before going to another world to await rebirth. The nature of this otherworld varies from group to group. The Inuit generally believe that the destination of the soul after death depends partly on how the person dies. Souls are invisible except to certain shamans, and they have the power to come and go from the body while the latter is alive during sleep, trance or coma. The departed souls of people and animals have the power to influence other souls, therefore they can affect the game supply.

Soul Recovery Ceremony/Coast Salish:
Also called the spirit canoe ceremony, this elaborate rite, which differs from group to group, is held during the winter at night in a plank house. The ceremony is enacted to recover a lost soul and includes singing, drumming, feasting, speech making and gift giving and is officiated by several shamans acting together. They travel to and from the land of the dead, with other tribal
members helping them in thought and song. The ritual is intended to cure someone who is wasting away, a sign that an invisible part of a patient, the free soul, has been taken away by ghosts to the land of the dead to await his or her final demise. The soul stolen by the dead can only be recaptured through an elaborate ceremony that involves combat with the dead for the possession of the soul.

This ceremony is one of the few occasions where a group of shamans, usually rivals, cooperate with each other for the good of the patient and the community. The doctor's paraphernalia includes painted plank, poles and small cedar carvings that represent immortals who make the journey to the world of the dead and give the shamans the power to go along. The shaman's journey involves stops to hunt, fish, pick berries and collect resources on a vehicle fitted for water, meadows or mountain travel. Eventually, they reach the land of the dead, recover the soul and fight off ghosts. The doctors return, bringing the soul back to the patient.

The ceremony commemorates an ancient enactment of a collective shamanic boat journey to the land of the dead. The Salish spirit canoe of old retraced the voyage of the deceased person's soul, for in the past the dead were buried in the southern Coast Salish area in a canoe that journeyed to the other world.

Libraries are on this row
INDEX Page 1
(Divination & Dreams, Guides & Spirit Helpers)
INDEX Page 2
INDEX Page 3
(Main Section, Medicine Wheel, Native Languages & Nations, Symbology)
INDEX Page 4
(Myth & Lore)
INDEX Page 5
(Sacred Feminine & Masculine, Stones & Minerals)
INDEX Page 6
(Spiritual Development)
INDEX Page 7
(Totem Animals)
INDEX Page 8
(Tools & Crafts. Copyrights)

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