Sunday, September 09, 2007
September 9, 2007, 11:47pm
Some young Seneca men were hanging out on the Reservation one summer evening in the 1930s. The discussion turned to a group of ladies they were all dying to meet. The dullest of the group happened to mention the fine opportunity that evening’s dance would have provided - at the Long House, ten miles away. None of them had access to cart or car, and by the time they could walk there it would all be over. The rest of them cursed their luck, and also the apple-head for not mentioning the dance when it would have done them some good.
Hell may or may not have fury like a woman scorned, but neither afterlife holds anxiety like nineteen-year-olds in heat. The emotion probably moved one of them to do something he would not have done otherwise.
This was the host, a year or two older than the rest, about whom there were some rumors. No one knew what he did to get by, and some thought he may have “cut corners.” This fellow went in his cabin and brought back a bottle. “Drink some of this,” he said. Wondering what good it would do, they all took their swigs. The beverage tasted like sweet wine. The host put the bottle back, and when he came back out, trotted off through the dark groves in the direction of the Long House. The others followed, and soon all were running in great strides and bounds. They moved effortlessly, but huge stretches of field, road and path went beneath them with each stride. They tossed back their heads and laughed to each other, dizzy with joy. The sky above them hurled.
In what must have been only a few minutes, their airy courses glided to a walk, and the lights and music of the Long House came to them through the trees and reminded them where they were heading. The trip itself had been so exhilarating that they had forgotten. On their way in the owner of the magic wine cleared his throat and coughed. Red light glowed from his nostrils and mouth into his cupped fingers as if there were a flashlight in his hand or a fire inside of him - one of the traditional giveaways of the Iroquois witch. A few old hands sure to know that would be inside the Long House.
“I wouldn’t do that in there,” said his best friend, and the fellow nodded. They all had a good time and the effects of the flying liquor soon wore off, but the man who told the story stayed a long way away from that witch Seneca ever after.
This tale reminds me that I'm giving a talk on Iroquois supernatural tradition on Wednesday, August 29 (2007), at Lily Dale. I hear some of my psychic friends may be attending. The talk could be more fun for the chance to meet the other attendees!