Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cherokee Magick: On the Power of Incantation in General

The following material from Jack Frederick Kilpatrick & Anna Gritts Kilpatrick, Run Toward the Nightland: Magic of the Oklahoma Cherokee (1967) Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, Texas (second printing 1977, ISBN 0-87074-084-9) (also see "Muskogean Charm Songs Among the Oklahoma Cherokees" by the same authors in our Resources Library). I find to be particularly insightful, pertinent, apropos and readily applicable universally (not just to Cherokee magick) with respect to all esoteric-magickal incantatory practices---mantra recitations, seed-syllable intonations-visualizations, sound-based/vibrational-energy healing practices (musical, intonations, etc.), all forms of sacred supplication (i.e., prayer), and all ritual praxis of  incantation (invocation, liturgy, chanting, etc.).  I hope that you’ll get as much from it as I have!

“For well over a hundred years the Oklahoma Cherokees have been writing down their magic by means of  the Sequoyah syllabary in manuscript books that vary in size from tiny pocket notebooks to huge ledgers, and upon odd scraps of paper …

“Both magic and medicine are almost certain to be found commingled in a manuscript that the Cherokees refer to by the general term nv:wo:dhi digo:hwe:li (“medicine book [or papers]”), but also to be seen there are such typical oddments as family demography, scriptural references and extracts, drafts of letters, addresses, grocery lists in Sequoyan and phonetic English, and a considerable amount of mathematical doodling for which the Cherokees have a passion that long ago ought to have attracted competent psychological investigation.  Side by side with an incantation to discomfit a demon may be a set of figures that attest to the comforting fact that the Lord’s work is prospering in the Baptist Church nearby.

“Any layman may decide to preserve in writing that magic for which he has use and which is readily available to his social class: fishing charms, a little something to protect him in an emergency, and the like.

“Most Cherokee magical rituals consist of something that says (or merely thinks) or sings, called the i:gawe:sdi (“to say, one”) and recommended physical procedures, called the igv:n(e)dhi (“to do, one”) … The published literature on Cherokee magic does not recognize a fundamental truth: in any magical ritual all generative power resides in thought, and the i:gawe:sdi, which focuses and directs that thought, alone is inviolate.

“…one might get the impression that a particular i:gawe:sdi is usable for but one highly specific purpose, whereas in actuality any i:gawe:sdi is serviceable for any number of purposes for which its wording qualifies it.  What is more, a master dida:hnvwi:sg(i) is at perfect liberty to improvise a text if the spirit moves him to do so.  A text that has descended to him through tradition he will not knowingly alter, though he may not fully understand what he is saying, but upon occasion he may elect to use only part of it.

“Much of the vaulting nobility of the phraseology of the magical idi:gawe:sdi appears to transfer in translation, but the passionate life that throbs through those long and sinuous verb-forms that leap upon and joyously wrap themselves around raw thought-material that emerges timidly from the mind is little in evidence.

“The masters of the Cherokee language who conceived the magical idi:gawe:sdi created like great composers with elements of demonic force, surpassing plasticity.  What in English are dreary little walls of word-bricks, “the Seven Clans,” “not to climb over me,” and the like, in Cherokee are sheer soarings of the human spirit, infinitely varied.

“One can well understand why a magical i:gawe:sdi, if not delivered in the language in which it was created, is devoid of all power of enchantment.”

Now! Kingfisher!
You are a great Wizard.
Now You have just come to “remake” the White Tobacco.
You were a great Wizard.
You and I have just come to clutch it at the same time.
Now! We shall make our souls into one forever.
Now! You and I will be great Wizards.