North American First Nations

A place to discuss the various folkloric histories of Amanita's worldwide.
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martishot
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North American First Nations

Post by martishot » Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:50 pm

In researching various uses of these types of plants/fungi from history people always said how each indigenous culture has their psychotropic plant and the shaman is nothing without their them. I'm uncertain whether this was kept as a secret from us (with good reason) or if the knowledge was forgotten with the white washing residential schools - but I could never find any psychotropic plants associated with my local first nation peoples in Canada.

This was until I recently stumbled upon Keewaydinoquay Peschel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keewaydinoquay_Peschel

From what I gather she was from the Ojibway, born in proximity to Michigan. Their traditional territory would of surrounded a portion of the Great Lakes and went up into the southern part or Québec.

I stumbled into this french text which touches on the folklore surrounding Miskwedo, aka Amanita Muscaria, Fly Agaric, False Orange.

Les Ojibway et l'Amanite Tue-Mouche (Amanita muscaria). Pour une ethnomycologie des Indiens d'Amérique du Nord. This Transales into The Ojibway and the Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria). For an ethnomycology of the North American Indians. This was published in France. There are english version, but I wasn't able to track it down. https://www.persee.fr/doc/jsa_0037-9174 ... _74_1_1334

Image

These are most of the main points in the article and an outline of the Amanita creation myth.

-Claude Lévi-Strass (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_L%C3%A9vi-Strauss) supported Robert Gordon Wasson's work of trying to demonstrate that Soma was Amanita Muscaria wondered why there was an ignorance of hallucinogenic mushrooms in the majority of North America. Specifically of the common practices in Siberia and Mexico.
-West of the Rockies there are more mycophile groups. The Salish, Thompson, Sanpoil, Okanagon and a few groups in California consumed a few types of mushrooms that grew. Some would be used for cosmetics, medicines and talismans. This is based off very limited information.
-Many algonquin tribes (east coast) ate mushrooms as well. (Cree, Micmac, Cheyenne). The Blackfoot (most western algonquin tribe would correlate mushrooms to stars and the Arapaho of the plains would wear mushroom pendants.
-At the time of research little was mentioned about plants used in ceremony other than tobacco and a few smokable plants - even in allusive forms.
-Two stipulations were made around the absence of information regarding the cultural/religious use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in NA. 1- They didn't know or they forgot. 2- The mycophobia of the settlers would of made it so they would of ignored these practices.
-The Ojibway people of the Great Lakes had a deep understanding of their plants. 75 for medicine, 130 for food, 30 for magic, 27 for smoking, 25 for tinctures, 18 for drinks/perfumes and 52 for other usages. N. Morriseau and Ojibway author says that all herbs in the forest are used, from the roots to the bark.
-The Ojibway lived around the Great Lakes (north and west of it) from Michigan to the Saskatchewan border and into Québec. They lives in the Boreal forest, home to many coniferous trees (spruce, tamarack, pine, fir) and birch - all trees that can work with Amanita Muscaria.
-Amanita Muscaria is present where the Ojibway reside, and it's funny that no asked if they consumed the mushroom for religious ceremonies. Then they go into old settler beliefs about the poison of Amanitas and why they didn't even consider this. Later they rectified the record saying that Amanita Phalloid is different than Amanita Muscaria. Death is different than harmless symptoms gastro-intestinal intoxication.
-The taboo came from an error of judgement, the Ojibway saw in the mushrooms food of the dead. N. Morriseau supports this with a story about an old man who dreamt that he went to the known land where their people go after their death. Once there he noticed ancestors who had died a long time ago were having a mushroom feast and offered him some. The man didn't accept the offer, he believed that if he ate then he wouldn't go back into human form and wouldn't wake up. (CLASSIC SHAMANIC ARCHETYPE)
-A missionary (Ch. Lallemant) in Québec in 1626 wrote: ''They believe in the immortality of our soul ; and in fact they think that after they die they will go to the Sky, where they'll eat mushrooms and communicate with eachother.''
-At this point C Lévi-Strass poses the hypothesis of the knowledge of psychotropic virtues of Fly Agaric by the subarctic first nations. The temptation would be strong to see memories of customs similar to the siberians.
-Seeing the quote from Ch. Lallement, Robert Gordon Wasson, a specialist in hallucinogenic mushrooms started researching and received a confirmation of Amanita Muscaria usage from the Ojibway shamans and potentially other algonquin tribes of the north.
-Wasson said: ''Proof exists to indicate that the Ojibway and other groupes who speak algonquin and live in the forest of Canada/USA used Amanita Muscaria as a spiritual guide in their shamanic rituals.
-Wasson received this information from Keewaydinoquay, an Ojibway medicine woman living on an island in lake Michigan. She was of the generation that new both worlds, the first nation and white world. She had a good grasp of english and eventually climbed the academia to become a professor.
-In August 1976 R. G. Wasson visited Keewaydinoquay and she gifted him a rolled bark which had in traditional pictography the origin myth of the Ojibway for Amanita Muscaria.
-This story has been since published in a few places (I'll try to track these down later - or someone else can!). In Ethnomycoligical Studies she published an article about the Ahnishinaubeg use of mushrooms. It was also published in 1979 in the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs.

***
This is the story of Miskwedo, the mushroom with the red hat who is the spiritual son of Nokomis Giishik, grandmother cedar and Nimishomiss Wigwass, grandfather birch. This story happened during the great migration of the Ojibway people through the continent from the country of the rising sun to the country of setting sun.

There were 2 brothers of the same mother clan, Owl, and the same father clan, Sturgeon. Too young to have a name they were called Big Brother and Little Brother. They lived alone since their parents died in the Great Migration. They hunted together, ate the same food, shared everything in peace and harmoney - and it was great that way.

One day they were hungry. They were close to mountains, they climbed the steep rock face looking for food. Towards they end they came to a cave on the side of the mountain. There was a light coming out of the entrance of the cave. An incredible sound, like the buzzing of bees was being heard. Stealthly, the brothers approached, looking inside curiously. They saw a beautiful prairy wehre grew mushrooms - white and red. It was wasjashkwedeg, they were spinning, buzzing and whispering a strange happy changes under a bright sky with a big sun.

Quick like lightning, little brother went in the cave and happily walked in the prairie of whispering mushrooms. Big brother tried to stop him saying we don't know which spirits are here. But little brother didn't listen, he was already gone.

Little brother ran towards the most beautiful mushroom, the most red, the tallest of them all. The white warts on it's hat were floating like clouds while it was spinning around.

Big brother finally followed and in his horror saw his brother fuse with the giant mushroom. Soon with his bright red had, he started spinning faster and faster into the sun. Big Brother noticed quickly the position of the big mushroom and the little mushroom who was his brother. He then ran out of the cave as quickly as possible, down the mountain back to the village.

There he called the wise and shamans who had never heard of this phenomena. Using the drum though, they were able to find a remedy to fight this charm. He should go find some magic sand by a rock face close to water. He would put a bit of sand in a tobacco pouch made of deer skin. On his quest he would go the the area wehre grow the tall trees where the eagles nest. In the tallest tree lives the Thunder Bird. After having taken foud feathers from the tail, big brother would return to the mouth of the cave.

Following the shaman's advice, having found the tallest mushroom, in other words the chief, he planted an eagle feather. The mushroom stopped spinning. He did the same thing with the old mushroom who also stopped spinning. The third feather was to be planted by the mushroom that was his brother. He poured over the last mushroom the sacred sand (Onaman) and carefully extracted his brother out of the cave leaving his last eagle feather at the entrance for protection.

While carrying him his brother became heavier and heavier until he fully regained his human form - not fully though since he still had the eagle feather in his head like it naturally grew there. Once back at their camp the two boys lived once again in the same house in peace and harmony. And everything was good.

Slowly things started changing. Big brother would wake up in the morning sad with a heavy heart. He was worrying, he wasn't happy. Contrary, little brother would wake up with a smile each morning, a happy heart and a song on his lips.

Big brother noticed that little brother would often go behind the wigwam to go urine. He was there longer than necessary and during the full moon, he would stay there for a very, very long time. Even though big brother didn't like being a spy, he wanted to investigate fearing for little brother. His brother wasn't peeing, he was gone on a trail through the woods, big brother followed him until a clearing in the woods.

His brother was standing in the middle of a crowd. Little brother had his arms open like a mushroom had. He was wearing a beautiful bright red robe with white duvet bits in his hair. From a big voice, like the buzzing of bees, he chanted:

Due to my supernatural experience
In the world of Miskwedo
I have a medicine to cure all your ailments
To hunt all your pains
If only you come to my penis
Drink the waters that come out
You will be eternally happy.

Each times that the clouds hide the moon, he urines. People would gather the urine in birch bark containers. The liquid was a blessing from the Miskwedo spirit. All the members of the mushroom cult, all the followers of Miskwedo, little brother, who is the mushroom chief, the drum chief, the three ancestors and the three teams of other officiants would each singe the song of Miskwedo. All these people in the intensity of the moment sang about happiness, their hearts are strong and each do the work of 10.

Big brother refused to borrow the voice of the mushroom, he didn't drink the golden elixir and continued to be ravage by worry. Little brother didn't know how the sacred mushroom operated, but he followed the voice and like others who followed it, they knew happiness.

And so was revealed to the Ojibway the power of the psychotropic Fly Agaric.
***

-R. Verbeke describes the experiences as onset between 15-60 minutes after ingestion from 1 to 4 mushrooms. Effects are stimulation, euphoria, feeling light, envy to danse, perception changed in visual/auditive fields, ... This initial phase is followed by a sedation phase and the experience finishes with an intense desire to sleep.
-In the Miskwedo legend reported by Keewaydinoquay, the mushrooms described leave no doubt about it being Amanita Muscaria. The subjects under the influense show euphoria, lightness, envy to dance. It's also good to note the link between Fly Agaric and buzzing of bees. The effects can be had from taking the mushroom or the urine of someone that had taken it - this is point is noteworthy.
-The comparison is made to the Kamchadal, siberian people who take mushroom and drink the pee. The latter is seen as easier since it has less/no uncomfortable side effects.
-Keewaydinoquay insists on the fact that the rituals associated with ingestion of Amanita Muscaria would still be practiced today. She would herself eat 3-5 times per year the mushroom. N. Morriseau the ojibway author has also confirmed the role of Amanita Muscaria in the shamanic initiation. Kee is Ojibway from southern west and Morriseau is a norther Ojibway from lake Nipigon.
-N, Morriseau, in his own book Légende de Miskwedo, big brother is called Switft current and younger brother is called Silver Cloud. The story is similar but has differences.
-The brothers were hungry and followed a deer into the cave. The opening in teh rock was like a tunnel that took them to the field. Silver Cloud at a mushroom, he transformed into a mushroom. The remedy wasn't given by the shaman, but by the bear who played the role of the shaman. There were 3 eagles feathers, procured differently. After putting sacred sand on his brother, he regains human form. On the way home they killed a big deer and saved their village from famine.
-N. Morriseau says that this story is why Ojibway's are afraid of eating this mushroom. The myth according to him is less about shamanic initiation and more about the dangers of mushrooms. Kee's story talks about the benefits by Morriseau's story warns about the malevolence.
-Kee was initiated in shamanism by someone who strongly opposed use of Amanita Muscaria. It was another teacher than initiated her to this mushroom.
-Kee also mentioned that the ingestion of Fly Agari was often done with strawberry of the woods ( Fragaria vesca). Eating them together would have reduced the negative effects leaving space for the hallucination. (This points to the use of Lemon Tek since strawberries are acidic.) Certain fresh herbs ingested after the mushroom would have positive impact on hypertension.

Sorry, not sorry for the long text. It was difficult for me to find this information online and I wanted to share!
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Re: North American First Nations

Post by Imme » Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:17 pm

Oh my oh my oh my! Beautiful. The telling of the myth parallels the siberian and Norse mythology. Happiness and health to you! Thanks for sharing

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