Ritual of Male Shooting Way
1950, pp.1-288. Legend of the Ghostway Ritual in the Male Branch of Shootingway.
of the Ghostway ritual of Shooting Way is principally concerned with evasion of
witchcraft or restoration from its effects. In general Ghostway rituals, which
exist for several other chants, are directed at removing the "ugly conditions"
created by the use of witchcraft; they are concerned with native as contrasted
with Enemy Way, which is also conducted according to Ghostway ritual but which
is concerned with ghosts of aliens.
This story is a continuation of the Shooting Way narrative following the episode
of the buffalo journey. Holy Young Man is the hero and he is aided by his brother
Holy Boy. The myth is brief and contains three episodes: the hero's successful
evasion of attacks by his witch father-in-law; his transformation by Coyote; and
his bewitchment by Coyote. The first two episodes are familiar, but the third
does not appear elsewhere in this series of myths.
The setting and trials of the witch father-in-law episode are similar to those
which follow the hero's hollow log trip in Plume Way, although they are here reported
in greater detail. The hero explores to the four directions in defiance of his
new father-in-law's warnings; he is attacked by bear, snake, and thunder and tricked
on hunting expeditions. The father-in-law is said to practice incest with his
daughter, but she aids the hero by warnings and by furnishing the secret of her
father's name which is used to combat his evil power. Although the popular Navaho
term for witchcraft is not used, the father-in-law's activity is described as
a "stealthy attempt at control of the course of events by foul means, "
which is identified as witchery. Following the hero's marriage Coyote transforms
him in order to steal his wife, but his actions arouse the wife's suspicions.
The hero's brother searches for him and obtains the help of supernaturals to restore
him by being passed ceremonially through hoops. But there is still ill will between
Coyote and the hero, who is annoyed when he hears that Coyote wishes to assume
a name similar to his own. Angered by the hero's threats, Coyote twice directs
witchcraft against him. This is first combated with the help of birds who shoot
tree arrows into Coyote's anus, but later a ceremony is required to kill the "former
ghost of coyote" and restore the hero.
The following abstract is summarized from the free translation of Haile's text
recording. Details of ceremonial procedure have been omitted from the abstract.
(Holy Man) travels with his group (his brother and two sisters) to pinnacle-that-reaches-the-sky.
Three times he sights a distant fire at night "prompted by a desire to
learn whose fire it was and what people might be living there," He seeks
in vain until the fourth time when he finds a snake. The "informant at
his earfolds" tells him that this is a home, whose entrance is through
the snake's mouth, and gives him the proper words to enter safely through the
endless snake guards. Within he finds an old man, his wile, and a beautiful
young woman who is working at a "designed robe." The old man admonishes
that "earth surface man is not allowed here," but the hero is nevertheless
greeted as son-in-law and the old man sends his wife away. "So called sex
jealousy" immediately enters the old man's mind "because his daughter
is also his wife."
The hero refuses the tobacco of his host, whom he now addresses as granduncle
rather than father-in-law, and smokes his own. The old man asks four times for
some of his tobacco and when given it falls unconscious. The young woman runs
to tell her mother, who offers a snake garment in return for his restoration.
This procedure is repeated three more times until he has won bow and arrows
and a total of four garments, and the old man is finally able to smoke without
harm. The old man tries to substitute his pouch with poisoned tobacco, but the
hero is warned of the trickery by his informant.
That night the hero sleeps with the young woman, but to her father's questioning
the next morning she answers that he did not bother her. She warns the hero
of her father's trickery, that he uses snake, bear, thunder, and wind transformations,
and tells him the secret of his name. The hero sets out to the east in violation
of the father-in-law's instructions. He quiets the door guards - snakes, bat,
and rabbit - by gilts of the garments and arrows won from the old man. On this
expedition he climbs a mountain where he finds yucca fruit and meets a snake.
His informant warns that this is the old man and instructs him to feel around
in the snake's mouth and call his name to render him powerless. On his return
home he finds the old man, who admonishes him for disobeying instructions. He
claims that he saw only the yucca fruit which he has brought back.
A similar procedure is repeated three more times. The hero spends each night
with the young woman without having intercourse. He is warned not to go to the
west, south, and north but disobeys. To the west he finds choke cherries and
meets the old man in the guise of a bear, whom he turns away again by calling
his name and putting a hand in his mouth. On his return the hero protests that
it is folly to forbid a place "where ripe things are plentiful." To
the south the old man tracks deer with him. His pride is hurt when the hero
kills four bucks, and he summons a thunder storm which is dissipated by the
hero's offerings. To the north the old man hunts mountain sheep with him, and
tries to trap him in a box canyon to be killed by a white bear. His informant
warns him not to carry the venison in the hide nor to take the lead on the way
home or he will become crippled. On each of these three mornings the hero has
been offered poisoned food which he is warned to avoid. At home the old man
now admits that the hero is more powerful. On the fifth night, at the conclusion
of these trials, the hero has intercourse with the young woman and is now a
visits his brother and sisters and promises to return to them after hunting.
He does not tell them of his marriage. Meanwhile Coyote wants to steal the hero's
wife. When he returns to his wife, he is told that Coyote has inquired after
him. His angry response, "What a fool of a coyote is talking anyway,"
provokes Coyote, who overtakes him while hunting and transforms him by blowing
his hide onto him. He is unsuccessful at hunting with the hero's equipment,
and this arouses the wife's suspicions, together with his careless treatment
of the stalking outfit, his ravenous eating, and disregard of etiquette. He
inquires what is being made in the other room and asks the women to bring him
some of it. She cannot spend the night with him because of the strong odor of
coyote urine and returns to her mother.
The hero's younger brother, Holy Boy, is worried when he does not return in
four nights. He tracks him to the new wife's home and, mistaking him for the
hero because of his similarity in appearance, the mother-in-law runs into the
rear room. The brother finds evidences of the coyote transformation. With the
help of supernaturals - wind, big fly, Sun, moon, winds, ye-killer, "who
draws a (flint) knife," Monster Slayer, and Born for Water - the hero is
passed through hoops and the coyote skin thus stripped off. Thunders, winds,
and cornbeetle restore his speech, mind, and motion. In his anger the hero wants
to kill Coyote but is dissuaded for fear of his witchery. Instead he blows the
skin back onto Coyote, whereupon his own garments drop off. Both the hero and
his garments have to be cleansed of the coyote odor by bathing.
is still preoccupied with the harm Coyote has done him. Talking God reports
that Coyote wants to be called "holy young man" because he is ashamed
of his own name, "roamer." The hero protests, "Does this roamer
consider himself fit to have the same name as I have? Does he threaten to rob
me of my name?" The hero threatens to "shoot him up" on sight
but is warned by Talking God not to make trouble because Coyote is directed
by First Man and First Woman and is powerful. On returning home he complains
that Coyote has "protecting interference." Calling God similarly advises
against bothering Coyote, but the hero is still "somewhat sorry about it."
Talking God gives him two songs to pacify him.
Coyote, exasperated at the hero's threats, directs witchery at him. Informed
by big fly of this witchery, the hero applies to kingbird and chickadee people
for help. They make arrows by pulling up spruce and pine trees, which Coyote
ridicules. Angered by this, they shoot these arrows at him ritually. The arrows
pursue Coyote, turning to follow him in his flight, and enter his anus. Because
the people are afraid that Coyote will bear ill will and witch them, he is restored
and promises not to ridicule arrows again.
Nevertheless, Coyote again bewitches the hero, prompted by First Man and First
Woman, presumably for the sake of having his songs and sacrifices included in
the ceremony. The hero's "former thinking power was much weakened, everything
seemed to be beyond him." The former ghost of Coyote has gone into his
interior; he cannot sleep, everything smells of coyote urine to him, and he
vomits continually. Again with the help of numerous supernaturals the cause
of the trouble is finally diagnosed, and the ritual performed over him is described
in detail. The hero's father-in-law participates in this ritual, but big fly
warns that he still holds a grudge against the hero because he has not been
able to practice incest with his daughter since the marriage. Two of the officiating
supernaturals argue about the order of songs, and it is explained, "Accordingly
too people at present engage in arguments." Monster Slayer and Born for
Water have been forgotten in the invitations, but their anger is pacified when
they are invited and assigned their part in the ritual. In the course of the
ceremony the former ghost of Coyote which has become the hero's own ghost is
killed and the patient recovers.