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p. 77


"Now it happened that the four messengers appeared to him when the invitation was extended, they the four speakers and messengers of the Great Spirit of the worlds.

"Now the first words that they spoke were these, 'They have stretched out their hands pleading for you to come and they are your own people at Onondaga. Let this be the way, prepare yourself and cleanse your body with medicine. 1 It is necessary moreover for you to secrete yourself in some hidden spot and await our call to start.'"

So they said. Eniaiehuk.


77:1 Purification. The herb used most extensively by the Iroquois for "purification" was witch hopple, the bark of which was used both as an emetic and a purgative. For an emetic the bark was peeled upward and for a purgative downward.

Early in the spring during the spell of warm days the people would take their kettles, jars of soup and deerskins and go alone into the woods for their ceremony of purification. Here they would scrape the bark, build a fire and make a strong infusion of the witch hopple bark. The drink was taken in large quantities and then the Indian would sit wrapped in his deerskin to await the results. From sunrise to sunset the drink would be taken until the alimentary tract was completely emptied. Toward sundown a little soup would be sipped to ward off excessive weakness, and give strength to return home. The next morning sweat baths were often taken, though not always, and then solid food was eaten. This process was thought to purify the body and without doubt did much to do so. Besides the customary spring purification others were sometimes ordered for disease and for preparations for ordeals, tests and ceremonial purposes. The process was again repeated in the autumn.

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