Journal

Author: Mason Winfield Created: Friday, February 26, 2010
Journal

The Iroquois of New York are no supernatural snobs. When it comes to looking into the realm beyond this, they are ready adopters of any tools or techniques they fancy. Until recently it wasn't understood that some aspects of African American supernatural belief may have made their way into Iroquois tradition.

Remember the old Elvis song, "I'm the one, I'm the one..." The association of birth order–all that "seventh son" stuff–with a natural gift for magic may be no stranger than the observation that popular music could have brought ancient magic into Iroquois culture. See what you make of it. This tale is from "Iroquois Supernatural," the upcoming book (co-written with Michael Bastine), in print by September 2011.

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 The lights have been with us since the beginning of time, and they will be with us until the end of time. 
DuWayne Leslie Bowen

This is an excerpt from Iroquois Supernatural, by Mason Winfield and Michael Bastine, from Chapter 3, "The Witches' Torch." To be published in fall 2011.

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 It’s always thrilling for me to get to interview a credible witness to any psychic experience. This story from my Algonquin friend Michael Bastine is another reminiscence of his years with Mad Bear. I wish he had told me the story of this electrifying night even a month before he did, but I understand. He witnessed so many marvels in the old shaman’s company that it’s hard for him to know where to file them in his mind. They just keep coming out. As it is, this one has come in too late to appear in the book we are writing together, The Iroquois Supernatural. I may as well just tell it to you here.


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 Re the title: Disko is my six-month old, short-haired kitten, an energized smoke-and-cotton colored slinky with claws at both ends. Her name is short for Shodisko, the Seneca title for the Iroquois Trickster. Like an apport, she appeared on my back porch last August at one pound and an estimated six weeks old. And “fey” is a broad term meaning, among other things, “enchanted” and “otherworldly.” This is a dream I think I wouldn’t have remembered except for her.

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 The idea that a single month could seem cursed to any person or family is one thing. The chance that there could be any validity to it is another. See what you make of this apparent phenomenon from the Southern half of my family.

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 With the custom of the classic Christmas ghost story in mind, the research oufit Spirit Way Project launched a couple of storytelling sessions around the Winter Solstice 2010. On Thursday, December 16, Algonquin mystic and SWP co-founder Michael Bastine and I did our own storytelling tag-team, which by all accounts went well. The full squad session for Spirit Way Project founders and friends took place on Tuesday, December 21, 2010. This was a real power-night: a solstice in the wake of the Full Moon and a rare lunar eclipse. Added to its climatic and astronomical significance was its proximity to Christmas, a fortnight-long power-trail of spiritual influence and family karma. I would argue that, for Americans, this is the most powerful time of year. The formerly ominous Halloween has become sensational and festive; even for the non-religious, because of its family associations, Christmas is still relatively sacred.

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Few of us realize how pervasive the sense once was that both Christmas Eve and Halloween were supernatural power-nights, just about equal in impact. The associations of the Christian eve were not as menacing. Halloween was a night of otherworldly terror; Christmas Eve a time of miracle. For whatever reasons, we’ve lost that impression in the last century. I wonder if we should regain it.

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 I see that the archives of my website are hard for some people to access, which means that recycling some old articles may be called for. Below is Part 1 of an article from 2003, to be followed by a new one that is related.

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It's late November. We're at the crux of the darkening quarter. While climatic winter is yet ahead - you have that still to look forward to - in astronomical terms the year is only going to get darker. We're in the runaway train of lengthening nights, not only longer than the days, but also still stretching. Maybe there's that aspect of life even in natural senses; by the time it really feels like winter the change has already begun. I thought it only worked like that with relationships. Once you start to value what you've got, it's started drawing away...

For now, though, people have the social brightness of the holidays ahead. The SAD - seasonal affective disorder - isn't going to hit till January and February. All of this is a rueful joke, though. I love to ski, and I love to go inward. And I always think that there is tremendous inspiration in the sheer negativity of the natural environment around us. As nature slows and goes inward, so can we, and this is a great opportunity for thinkers and writers. 

Halloween and Christmas are a lot closer together than anyone thinks. Both are connected to astronomical points, Christmas being basically a solstice and Halloween a cross-quarter point (between equinox and solstice). Both have been highly supernaturalized.

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  There’s an enormous supernatural tradition built up around the ancient European earthworks, traditions that: Merlin’s spells built Stonehenge; Long Meg and her Daughters were a coven of witches turned into stones by Scottish wizard Michael Scot; the Cerne Abbas hill figure (a chalk carving) was a Danish giant who’d come to invade England; another hill effigy, the White Horse of Uffington, could be the dragon killed on the spot by St. George. It was no different in other Celtic countries, including dragon-legends of Mont. St. Michel in France and fairy-king tales from a barrow near Dublin, Ireland. The legendry of witches, Little People, giants and spirits is almost everywhere considered completely folkloric. On the last night of June 2007 I met a living witness whose rendition may unwittingly confirm it.

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