northwest coast parallels
- Although I have posted on the Zoroastrian and Lithusnian list, this is the first time I haveposted here. I have been in Lithuania, Greece, and Hungary, as well as most of western Europe.
Right now, I kive in Cullowhee North Carolina, near the Great Smoky Mountains.
I notice that there haven't been any postings for the past two months. Is this group still active.
Here is my thirty cents worth. Although it is long, maybe it will liven things up
. The Greatest Stone Age Show On Earth
When we were natives
Step right up. See people fly on wires like eagles. See a woman cut in two and then coming back to life. And for the piece de resistance, see a scantily dressed woman taming a man-eater. These are some of the myths and performances of the Kwakiutl natives of the Northwest Coast winter ceremonies. Six thousand years ago our ancestors in northern Germany and southern Scandinavia had a similar lifestyle supported by abundant fishing. We were natives compared to immigrant farmers from the southeast, many of whom came from Asia Minor. After a thousand year standoff, they used myths and performances such as these to impress the farmers. They may even have had clowns with big noses.
The wire act would be based on the myth of an eagle chasing a raven or eagle. The woman cut in half is based on the Toquid type performance. The woman taming a man-eater is based on the Hamatsa cannibal dance. And the clowns with big noses would be based on the fool dancers who acted as police. And most of these performances are carried over into Indo-European myth and ceremony.
The wire act would be based on the following myths.
A Crash Of Eagles
In ancient Persia there was a legendary king called Kavi Sudan. He had great power and great wealth, and he had a miracle healing balm. But he still wasn't satisfied. He had a fancy to go up to Heaven. He constructed a chariot drawn by four eagles, and he got up to the top of the firmament. But the eagles got too tired to fly any more and he crashed. Only the spirit of his unborn grandson saved him
Sudan was lucky. The Germanic giant Suttung also tried to go up to Heaven, and he actually turned himself into an eagle. He crashed fatally. While no good reason was given for Usadan's flight, Suttung was trying to recover his property. Suttung also had an elixir. The God Odin offered to do the work of nine men in exchange for a drink of the kvasir. But after he had done the work, the giant refused. Odin changed himself into a snake and crawled into Suttung's castle. He seduced the giant's daughter and got three drinks of the elixir. Then Odin changed himself into an eagle and made it back to Asgard with most of the loot. Suttung also took off as an eagle and nearly caught up with Odin, but he was killed outside of Asgard.
There is another account of a pursuit by an eagle. In this story, the hero got inside the old man's daughter; he really got inside. He actually became her baby. As grandfathers do, the old man doted on him. And the little boy kept asking him to see what was inside a box. The old man finally relented and he let the boy open the box. It was nine boxes inside each other and in the last box was a golden ball. As soon as the kid got his hands on the ball, he changed himself into a raven and took off with it. The old man changed himself into an eagle and pursued him. Odin was smarter. Although Odin was associated with ravens he turned himself into an eagle, which could carry more of a load. Because a raven could carry only a lighter load, he had to jettison most of his loot. This became the sun. Other portions of the loot became the moon and stars.
There is also an Irish legend of a raven type hero. Cian came to Balor's property in order to recover his cows, which had wandered on to Balor's farm. When he refused to return the cows, Cian seduced Balor's daughter, Eithne. The resulting child was Lugh, also associated with ravens. Balor tried to kill them but they escaped, and Lugh eventually killed Balor.
But there is nothing in Western mythology which accords with Raven's getting inside a person. There are three such incidents in Indo-Iranian mythology. In the first incident, the host is the Vedic sorcerer, Kavya Usanas, and the guest is his apprentice, Kaca. In the war between the Asuras and the Devas, Usanas had a formula to resurrect the asuras, but the Devas had no such formula. The Brahmin Brhaspati sends Kaca as an apprentice to Kavya in the hope of getting the recipe. He especially told Kaca to make nice with Usana's daughter Devayani. After five hundred years of apprenticeship, the asuras became suspicious. They killed Kaca, cut him up into pieces, and fed him to the wolves. As Devayani had grown fond of Kaca, she begged Usanas to resurrect him. Usanas resurrected him and, as in the movie Alien, tore up the sides of the wolves in the process. The demons then killed Kaca a second time. This time they cremated him and slipped the ashes into Kavya's wine. Devayani sensed that Kaca had been killed again, and she asked Usanas to look for him. Kaca was in the belly of Usanas. If Usanas resurrected Kaca, Usanas would be torn up in the process. If he did not resurrect Kaca, Devayani would die of despair. There was one solution. Usanas imparted the formula to Kaca before fully resurrecting him. Usanas then resurrected Kaca, who tore up Usanas in the process. Kaca in turn revived Usanas. Kaca had gotten the formula for the Devas. But when the apprenticeship was up, Kaca jilted Devayani as Odin jilted Gunnlod.
In the second incident Siva was the host and Usanas was the internal guest. Usanas had stolen most of Kubera's wealth and Siva swallowed him as punishment. Usanas caused so much discomfort in Siva's belly, that Siva let him come out through the Urethra
The third incident is Iranian and is much closer to how Raven got into the daughter. Raven changed himself into a hemlock leaf in a drink of water. He made the daughter thirsty, and she swallowed the leaf with the water. Raven then changed himself to a baby in her womb
There are three somewhat similar Indo-Iranian tales. The first tale is about Indra Vrtrahan. (1) After killing Vrtra he turns himself into a reed and just sulks. The other gods must flatter him and reinflate him before he comes out. The second incident is about the Armenian hero Vahagn, who corresponds to the Iranian Verethragna. He springs out from a reed stalk in the middle of the sea and goes on to slay dragons. (2)
The third incident is about Khvarena, or glory, which is closely allied with Verethragna, or victory. The Khvarena of Thraetona was in a root of a reed in the sea. He caused Notarga, the sorcerer, to feed the reeds to a cow and the khvarena passed into the cow. He milked (3) the cow and gave the milk to his four children. The khvarena did not pass into his three sons but only into his daughter Frana. When she becomes pregnant, Notarga tries to kill her, but is rescued by Usbam, to whom she gives the child. This child becomes the kavi Apiveh
As in the tale of Raven, a daughter becomes pregnant with a part of a plant. As the tale of Raven is much simpler and less convoluted, it is more likely to be original. As the other versions involving the reed lack purpose, and as the hero of the tales of Usanas is lodged in a man, I think that they are all derivative of a Raven type tale.
But what happens to the glory after it passes into Frana? The khvarena is usually something distinct from a king; it may even leave a king when he
is still alive. But Frana's baby, Apiveh, is a normal baby and there is no further mention of the khvarena. And Apiveh is a much less important character than Kavi Usadan. Furthermore, another man is said to be the father. This was Kavi Kavata.
"Nothing is said of his reign, only that he was the father of Kay Apiveh (though it is hard to see how, considering the story that we have just read about the latter's birth) (4)
I believe that the tale of the reed has been displaced from Usadan to Apiveh. Here I am going to reconstruct a myth. Here I will quote from the Indo European scholar, Dumezil.
"Under these circumstances, the consensus among philologists was that
the agreement of the two names Kavya-(kavi) Usana(s) and Kavi- Usan-(Usadan), despite their slight dissimilarity, did indeed indicate that the Indo-Iranians knew a legendary figure who bore a name similar to these, but that nothing could be determined about this figure by comparison of the texts where these names are found. In these extremely early times, either he had had a very vague personality that the Indians and Iranians had later
fleshed out in quite independent ways, or more precise legends had existed that had been forgotten on both sides, and at least on one side, replaced by new material" (5)
Usadan has married a young woman who saved him from starving when he was a captive in Arabia. And as in the story of Phaidra, she gets the hots for Usadan's son Siyavaxs. She even arranges for the son to go into the women's quarters. But he resists all temptation. Then it is alleged that she staged an abortion. This is where the reconstruction begins. The young queen Sudabeh becomes pregnant after swallowing the khvarena in the shape of a reed root. Then she has a premature sickly baby. Using her power over Usadan she asks for the miracle balm, which will heal the baby. He had withheld the balm from the mortally wounded son of his champion Rustam, and let Sohrab die. This time he relents and gives Sudabeh the balm. When the balm is applied to the baby, it immediately becomes healthy and fully developed. It then changes into an eagle or a falcon, and takes off with the rest of the balm. Because Usadan had withheld the balm from Rustam and let Sohrab die, he loses the balm and the glory. Then he takes of with the eagles or as an eagle in an attempt to recover it.
Sudabeh was pregnant and now there is no baby. The missing baby would be the basis for the talk of the staged abortion. (6) Because Sudabeh accuses Siyavaxs of causing the pregnancy, he has to undergo an ordeal. He passes the ordeal, "but he has had enough". He goes over to the Turanian enemies. He marries the daughter of King Frangrasyan, but eventually Frangrasyan causes Siyavaxs to be murdered. But the daughter of Frangrasyan has born him a son who escapes to Iran. This is Kavi Haosravah. He becomes the successor of his grandfather Kavi Usadan. Hausravah then conquers the Turanians and becomes their ruler in the place of his maternal grandfather, Frangrasyan.
But why did Kaus want to get up to the heavens? "after your death people will say that there was a king who wanted to climb to heaven to see the moon and the sun, and to count the stars one by one." If he had once owned the stars, he would want to know just how much he had lost, and he might even try to recover them. He might even not had to breed eagles for the attempt. (7)
It is said that Verethragna, the angel of victory, may appear as a falcon. He possesses a miraculous strength similar to that of Kavi Usan. (8) If Verethragna could manifest as a falcon, Kavi Usan could then turn into an eagle. I think that we are dealing with a pre-Indo-European story with two variants. The basic story is that the hero wants to get something that the old man is hoarding. He gets with the old man's daughter and gets hold of the treasure. He takes off as an eagle or raven, with the old man pursuing him as an eagle.
There is one problem with this; Although the tale of Raven stealing the sun fits very nicely, it is not an Indo- European story but is a Northwest Coast legend. But it fits into the Indo-European legends better than they fit into each other. The basic myth tells how an old man hoards either an elixir or a golden ball. The hero gets involved with his
daughter, either by seducing her or making her pregnant with part of a plant. The hero then gets the prize. He takes off as a raven or an eagle, with the old man in hot pursuit as an eagle. Only the Germanic tale and the Irish tale have a seduction. The affair between Kaca and Devayani seems to have been platonic. Only in the Irish tale does the hero Lugh become the daughter's baby. And only in the Indo-Iranian tales is the hero swallowed. And only in the Iranian tale does the girl become pregnant from eating the hero, who had changed himself into part of a plant. And only the Germanic tale and at least half of the Iranian tale have the pursuit by eagles.
The gold en ball and the elixir are less different than one would think, for they both come under the philosopher's stone of the Hermetic, whose power animal is the raven.
The Origins of Hermetic Magic
While his followers perished in these vaults during the flood, Hermes himself was able to hide aboard the Ark in the shape of a raven. Thus was Hermetic Magic able to survive the Flood
© 1997 Eric Pommer
These tales also involve matrilineal descent. Yayati marries Kavya Usana's daughter and has children by her slave, Sarmistha, who is the
daughter of the king of the demons. Vrsaparvan is the maternal grandfather
of Purus. Apiveh is heir to Notarga through the daughter, Frana. The
Turanian king Frangrasyan is the maternal grandfather of Kavi Haosrava.
And on the Irish side, Balor is the maternal grandfather of Lugh, just as the old man is the maternal grandfather of Raven. The Northwest Coast culture
is well known for matrilineal descent. And the daughter's husband would
often be an apprentice shaman to his father-in law.
The Northwest Coast Indians had two major totems along with several other totems. The shamans usually belonged to the raven clan, while the chiefs usually belonged to the eagle clan. The first function of the Indo-Europeans is divided similarly. Corresponding with the raven or shaman class is the class of Varuna, Odin and Lugh. Corresponding with the eagle or chief class is the class of Mithra, Tyr and the Dagda.
The Drama Of Gullveig
There is one other Northwest Coast ceremony that accords with Indo-European mythology. There is a woman, called the Hamshantses or the Tokwid, who comes into the hall and dares people to kill her. She is "killed" three times and resurrected three times. This accords very nicely with the Germanic figure Gullveig. She goes into the hall and dares the Aesir to kill her. She is killed three times and comes to life three times. An Irish legend is very similar but there is a sex change. This time it is the man Bricriu who is killed three times and comes to life three times. Bricriu is also not sent by one class of Gods against another class of Gods, as the Vanir against the Aesir send Gullveig. There are two other females who figure in a conflict between the two classes. Tarpeia is a Roman lady, who helps the Sabines against the Romans. For her troubles she is buried under a pile of armor. In the Indian legend the Asvins want to be admitted to the Soma. When Indra refuses, they conjure up the hag, Mada. Indra is so frightened by her that he lets the asvins receive the soma as the price for killing her.
Only in the Germanic legend is a woman killed three times. A person is killed three times in the Irish legend, but it is a man. A female is killed in the Roman and Indic legends, but she is killed only once. The Germanic legend therefore accords most closely with the Northwest Coast ceremony. We now see that the original culture of the Indo- Europeans was close to the Northwest Coast culture. And the Germanic legends, which have been preserved accord most closely with the Northwest Coast legends and ceremonies. Therefore the original homeland of the Indo-Europeans had a Northwest Coast type culture.
Many scholars believe that the Vanir represent a group of farmers,
and that the Aesir represent a group of herders or hunters. Since the Vanir that would mean that send Gullveig the linear pottery farmers of Central Europe were encroaching on the territory of the territory of the Erteboelle foragers. One would expect the farmers to drive out the foragers. According to the myth, the Vanir were originally successful. But as the Aesir eventually came out ahead in the resulting synthesis, the Erteboelle foragers came out ahead in the resulting fusion of the two cultures
Oedipus And Other Hamatsas
The woman's taming of a man-eater is based on the hamatsa myth and ceremonies of the Kwakiutl of Vancouver Island. With two brothers the hero of the back-story lures a family of three man-eating ogres to their deaths. Then the candidate of the ceremony goes into the woods for a period of months or years and is possessed by the cannibal spirit. When he returns to society, he dances wildly and bites people in a feeding frenzy. He is calmed down only after a naked close female relative dances with him, and he is placed in a body of water
There are several similar myths and ceremonies in Indo-European mythology: three narrative and two ceremonies. A narrative and a ceremony are from Greece. A narrative and a ceremony are from Rome. Lastly, Spain and Ireland each have one Hamatsa type narrative. Since the order of events has been changed from the original, the story of Oedipus is not the best example. However, it is the most familiar such story. The story begins when he is taken from his home for several years. Then out of sequence he kills several people in a fit of road rage. Next, he destroys the man-eating wild woman. Finally, his own mother gets naked with him. The candidate is supposed to turn away from her, not marry her.
There is also a ceremony from very conservative Arcadia, which is quite similar to the Hamatsa ceremony. The Arcadian initiate first bites human flesh. Then he spends nine years in the wilderness. If he refrains from eating human flesh, he is restored to society after passing through a body of water. There is nothing in this ceremony, however, about killing three enemies.
This Arcadian ceremony may also have influenced the ancient Roman Lupercalia. In the Lupercalia two young men ran naked through the streets of Rome. Instead of biting people, they struck women with thongs of goatskin. The young men may have originally bitten the women, as the hamatsas did originally and as they did in Arcadia.
Not only did the men run naked, the women often bared their bodies, as they still do at Mardi Gras.
The other hamatsa type narrative is the story of the combat between the Horatii of
Rome and the Curatii of Alba Longa.
I will finish the Hamatsa parallel in the next posting, concluding with Cuchulain. He killed three enemies, returned to the village in a fit of frenzy. He was cooled off only after a group of naked women, including his aunt, appeared before him.
Once again, I apologize for the length.
yours truly Edward Woolf
1 George Dumezil, The Plight Of A Sorcerer, p 96
3 ibid pp 97,98
4 ibid p 99
5 ibid p 14
6 according to the Shah Namah, Sudabeh passes off another woman's baby as her own.
7 Dumezil op cit p 53 n 17 Al tha alibi
8 ibid p 14
(I am reminded of Claude Levi-Strauss' conclusion that cannibalism and incest are two sides of the same coin, being the most exaggerated forms of sex and eating).
So the fact that in OT Oedipus begins with a rep for killing a man-eater and ends with the discovery that he has committed incest (mythically equivalent crimes) is the key, I think. Both
"In support of this story, Varro relates others no less incredible about that most famous sorceress Circe, who changed the companions of Ulysses into beasts, and about the Arcadians, who, by lot, swam across a certain pool, and were turned into wolves there, and lived in the deserts of that region with wild beasts like themselves. But if they never fed on human flesh for nine years, they were restored to the human form on swimming back again through the same pool
Finally, he expressly names one Demaenetus, who, on tasting a boy offered up in sacrifice by the Arcadians to their god Lykaios according to their custom, was changed into a wolf, and, being restored to his proper form in the tenth year, trained himself as a pugilist, and was victorious at the Olympic games. And the same historian thinks that the epithet Lykaios was applied in Arcadia to Pan and Jupiter for no other reason than this metamorphosis of men into wolves, because it was thought it could not be wrought except by abase of the hills of Rome, around the ancient sacred boundary of the old city called the pomarium.
During this run, the women of the city would vie for the opportunity to be scourged by the young men as they ran by, some baring their flesh to get the best results of the fertility blessing
The ceremony commences after the initiate returns from his sojourn in the realm of Man Eater, which is considered to take four days in spirit time no matter how long that may seem to be in human time, whether months or years,
-Of wild women with pendulous breasts and protruding lips, who watch for unwary travelers and misbehaving children and rip their bodies to pieces in the frenzy of devouring them.
Suddenly, from a side room emerges a naked woman, often the cannibal's actual or classificatory sister.
Hai!alaikuma a spirit associated with the ferocity of war whose dance involves suspension from the wall or roof by ropes, which are threaded through the dancer's skin in a manner reminiscent of the Plains Indian Sun dance
He pours the water into a dish, at which point the hamatsa and his helper, both naked come out from the sac red room. Before they sit down on a new mat next to the dish, the helper dances around the fire four times, the hamatsa following her and repeating her every move.