Sunday, September 26, 2010

"What is it?"

I pondered this question at Somewhere along the Klamath by asking "What is it?"
Maybe it is a "luck basin/rock bowl/rock basket:"
"Besides being prominent in the context of sweathouse practices generally (see chapter 4), crying was a recurrent theme in spoken formulas for wealth. In some examples, a spirit-person's crying produced some distinctive feature of the natural landscape, which then became a place where humans could make medicine (also by crying). Thus for example there is a rock formation at Trinidad Head which is identified by the Yurok name "He Sits Forever." This marks the spot where a spirit-person went to cry and ask for money. Gradually, he began to see dentalium shells swimming in the tidepools as if they were fish. He was mesmerized by this vision and sat there watching the money swim around until he turned into stone himself. This became a mythic event that humans could reenact while making medicine at that spot (Waterman 1920:270).
     This medicine was to be used at a special "luck basin" that Shoemaker knew about. This term refers to a basinlike depression in a rock formation, and the Hupa word for it is translated into English as "rock bowl" or "rock basket" (Golla, in press [MS p. 214]). The use of a luck basin for success in gambling is described as follows:
  When you find such a place you must "smoke" it with incense root and speak to it. You smoke it for ten days and talk to it about the people you're going to gamble with, and how many points you want to make in a stretch, and so on. Then you clap your hands to it, and leave some incense root in it. When you are ready to gamble, you go up to it and rub your hands with the incense root. (Golla, in press [MS p. 213])"

Keeling, Richard. Cry for Luck: Sacred Song and Speech Among the Yurok, Hupa, and Karok Indians of Northwestern California. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1992 1992.

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