Sacred Texts  Native American  Iroquois  Index  Previous  Next 


"'Now another message.

"Now the messengers commanded him to give attention and he did. Then he saw a great assembly and the assembly was singing:

'The whole earth is here assembled,
The whole world may come to us.
We are ready.'

"Then said the messengers, 'What did you see when you gave attention?'

"He answered, 'I saw a great gathering of beings and the gathering was singing and the words of the song were:

'The whole earth is here assembled,
The whole world may come to us.
We are ready.'

Then said the messengers, 'It is very true. The beings that you saw resemble human creatures. It is true that they are singing. Now the assembly is a gathered host of medicines for healing. Now let this be your ceremony when you wish to employ the medicine in a plant: First offer tobacco. Then tell the plant in gentle words what you desire of it and pluck it from the roots. It is said in the upper world that it is not right to take a plant for medicine without first talking to it. Let not one ever be taken without first speaking.'" 2

So they said and he said. Eniaiehuk.


55:2 The ceremony of gathering herbs. When a Seneca wishes to gather medicinal herbs, he goes into the woods where they grow and builds a small fire. When there is a quantity of glowing embers he stands before it and as he speaks at intervals casts a pinch of tobacco on the coals. He speaks to the spirits of the medicines telling them that he desires their healing virtues to cure his people of their afflictions.

"You have said that you are ready to heal the earth," chants the gatherer of herbs, "so now I claim you for my medicine. Give me of your healing virtues to purge and cleanse and cure. I will not destroy you but plant your seed that you may come again and yield fourfold more. Spirits of the herbs, I do not take your lives without purpose but to make you the agent of healing, p. 56 for we are very sick. You have said that all the world might come to you, so I have come. I give you thanks for your benefits and thank the Creator for your gift."

When the last puff of tobacco smoke had arisen the gatherer of herbs begins his work. He digs the plant from the roots and breaking off the seed stalks drops the pods into the hole and gently covers them over with fertile leaf mold.

"The plant will come again," he says, "and I have not destroyed life but helped increase it. So the plant is willing to lend me of its virtue." Gahadondeh, (Woodland Border), Seneca.

Next: Section 65