Friday, February 24, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Native American Myth: Dagwanoenyent

Today for Supernatural Friday, I will talk about one of the myths of evil spirits or demons that are connected with Native American myths. These would be considered with non-Christian demons post I did some weeks and weeks ago, but something I just discovered. I will post about the others over the next few weeks on the Fridays I don't have a guest blogger. Today is about  Dagwanoenyent of the Iroquois mythology.
 The daughter of the Wind often took the form of a whirlwind.  Her name was Dagwanoenyent and the Seneca Tribe considered her a dangerous witch who couldn’t be killed.
An uncle and nephew lived near Dagwanoenyent, and the uncle forbade that the nephew visit her. But he still snuck off to visit Dagwanoenyent and her child, behind the uncle’s back. During his visits, Every time he played with the child, he would steal a piece of meat from Dagwanoenyent’s home. When the child turned fifteen, the nephew was informed by the child that the two are really cousins, and that the nephew’s uncle is really the child’s father and husband of Dagwanoenyent. Upset, the nephew pierced the bag of bear’s oil hanging over Dagwanoenyent’s head.
The nephew returned home. This time caught by his uncle, he is questioned about where he has been. The boy broke down and admitted to visiting Dagwanoenyent, stealing meat from her house, and puncturing the bag of bear’s oil that hangs above her head. Angry, the uncle informs him that because the bag is now broken, the both of them are in great danger.
Not long after their talk, Dagwanoenyent comes as a whirlwind and destroys the uncle’s lodge, carrying him away. The nephew goes to Dagwanoenyent’s house to ask his cousin what happened to the man. His cousin says he doesn’t know, but he does warn the nephew that Dagwanoenyent will come for him the next day.
To escape her fury, the nephew hides in the belly of his guardian, Mole. The witch discovers his hiding place and kills him. But Mole resuscitates him. Mole and the nephew search for the uncle and find him under an elm tree that is standing on his chest. The nephew helps his uncle escape and both goes to Dagwanoenyent’s lodge and kills her, burning her body in a fire of bear oil.
Does that stop Dagwanoenyent for good? No. She revives and stalks the nephew, but the young man escapes her. The witch retreats back to her lodge. Both the nephew and uncle use fire once again to kill her. This time, though, they remove her bones from the fire and pound them into a fine powder, dividing it into three separate bags – one for uncle, the second for the nephew, and the third for Mole. Whenever there is a storm outside, they keep the bags apart so the powder can’t unite and revive Dagwanoenyent.

There is also a legend that Dagwanoenyent gave two brothers three hairs from her head, so that whenever they wanted rain, all they had to do were make the hairs wet and shake off the drops. Heavy rains always came afterwards.
There were two brothers; one was a young man, the other, a small boy. Both were one day out in the woods when they heard a great noise overhead. Looking up, they saw Dagwanoenyent in the same of an enormous head flying over them.
The elder brother called out. “Gowe! gowe!”
The Dagwanoenyent said, “Thank you. Thank you. You should always sing like that when you are going to fight. Do so and I will be on your side, striking down your enemies for you.”
Taking three hairs from her head, the Dagwanoenyent handed them over to the brothers. “When you want to escape from danger, draw a bucket of water and toss these hairs in it. When you take them out, drops of water will cling to them. Shake the drops off and rain will come.”
The Dagwanoenyent took off, leaving the two brothers.
With those hairs, the brothers often escaped from their enemies. And whenever they needed rain, they had only to draw the hairs through water and then shake off the drops; right away heavy rain fell. The hairs were kept for a long time by the Seneca people.


Anna L. Walls said...

Fascinating. I noticed that Dagwanoenyent changed from female to male, was that intentional?

Pamela K. Kinney said...

Thanks. Mistake. At a convention as a guest and this was written quickly.