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Joshua Schriftman gratiously allowed us to publish this work on the Labyrinth: It's History and Interpretation.
All rights belong to Joshua. We would request that any effort to utilize this material in any manner other than for personal enjoyment, is preceded by contact with Joshua to secure his permission. Graphics referred to in this writing will follow shortly.
Thomasina: ...why do your equations only describe the shapes of manufacture?
Septimus: I do not know.
Thomasina: Armed thus, god could only make a cabinet.
Septimus: He has a mastery of equations which lead into infinities where we cannot follow.
Thomasina: What a weak heart! We must work outward from the middle of the maze. We will start with something simple....
-"Arcadia", Tom Stoppard, I.iii
The Labyrinth, a commonly occurring motif in European history, exists to a lesser extent in Native North American art and history as well. Specifically, its presence has been observed among the Hopi and the Navajo in the Southwest, and additionally among the Pima in South America. I will be primarily considering the Hopi labyrinth, called Tapu'at, or Mother-child.
Interpretations of the design have centered largely around these tribes' sacred cosmological emergence myths. Additionally, the spiral motif is common in much native North American craft, artwork and ritual, and is variously interpreted as being either zoomorphic, representative of death, new life, or, conversely, without any greater significance at all. The presence of the labyrinth itself within Native North American cultures and their artwork is generally attributed to the influence of Spaniards in the Seventeenth century, although, for reasons explained below, I feel that this is unlikely.
Most recent authors writing on the Labyrinth have divided its myriad manifestations into two types: The multicursal (those with bivium, or split paths, and dead ends), and the unicursal (those with a single path leading inexorably to the center); I have chosen to investigate occurrences of the unicursal form. For my current exploration of this design, I will further define the unicursal labyrinthine motif as being of either seven rings (Cretan-style, Figure 1) or eleven rings (Chartres-style, Figure 2) . Other, five or thirteen ringed, labyrinths exist as well, but I have been viewing these as variations on respective themes. I have included this additional criteria simply because every Native American instance of this design that I encountered is of this unicursal, seven ring nature; I will explain the possible significance of this below. Within European history, the seven ring labyrinth seems to be of greater antiquity, while the larger, more complex Chartres-style labyrinths proliferated in a later, Christian era.
H. Matthews, in his survey of this design, Mazes and Labyrinths, provides only a brief consideration of the labyrinth motif in the Americas. He mentions two instances in North America: one (that can only be called "labyrinthine" in a rather vague sense) at Mesa Verde, and another in Casa Grande, Arizona. Unfortunately, Matthews leaves this latter labyrinth unexplained, and relates it to "an exactly similar figure " recorded in a Spanish account of the Pima Indians. Entitled "Rudo Ensayo", this essay identifies the symbol as the plan for a building, but, according to Matthews no such buildings seem to exist in the Pima culture . Matthews, therefore, discards this idea, and instead relates the design to a Pima children's game called Tcuhiki, or House of Tcuhu . Janet Bord, in her pictorial Mazes and Labyrinths of the World, displays another instance of the labyrinth in Pima culture. Here, we find the labyrinth woven into a Pima basketry tray of spiral construction (Figure 3).
Returning to North America, Bord displays spiral serpentine
in Navajo sand paintings and instances of the square seven-ring
on modern Navajo saddle blankets (Figure 4). She also shows us a
design in a Hopi etching at Oraibi (Figure 5). This design, Frank
tells us, is known to the Hopi as Tapu'at, or Mother and Child.
other occurrences of the labyrinth in Casa Grande and Shipaulovi, both
and square, are attributed to the Hopi as well. Because of the relative
regularity with which the labyrinth shows up in the Hopi culture, I
chosen to center my research around the Hopi use of this design.
While the dissemination of this symbol seems limited to the above instances, the spiral and the circle have shown up time and again throughout the history of Native American art history. The Weeden Island cultures, for instance, active in the Tampa Bay area from around 300 to 1200 AD, produced a quantity of ceramics which have been preserved in their mounds. Generally their decorated pottery is either anthropomorphic or zoomorphic. Any incision of decorative lines onto the pottery "tend[s] to reinforce the natural markings of the subject" . A ceramic bowl bearing a pattern of recursive spirals that represent the serpent does so in a notably abstract manner, though.
Another, less tenuous, connection to the labyrinthine design can be found at what Warren Wittry has termed the American Woodhenge , located at the Cahokia site, near present day St. Louis. The Cahokian natives, who abandoned their site for no known reason, had apparently reached a staggering height of civilization in the hundreds of years before America was colonized. The Woodhenge site was a large, extraordinarily precise circle, measuring 410 feet in diameter. The circle was marked off at every 7.5 degrees with a post of some sort. Five feet to the east of the circle's center an observation post was planted. Wittry has determined that if one were to stand at that observation post, one (most likely) could have observed the sun rise directly over the eastern-most pole on the equinoxes. Moreover, on the Summer and Winter solstice, the sun would rise, respectively, four poles north and south of the due east pole. This concerns the Hopi in a questionable but compelling way. As there are 360 degrees in a circle and 7.5 degrees between each pole, that makes for 48 poles. If you add the observation post, there are, then, 49 poles at the American Woodhenge, which is, of course, seven times seven. I will not attempt to analyze this as meaning seven directions inside seven worlds or any such thing: Native American numerology is deceptively simple. A number can at once imply too many things; the association will have to be sufficient.
Additionally, though, once it is established that there were 49 poles, it seems striking that the solstices occur at four poles north and four poles south. The obvious question: What does this mean? I am satisfied, at this point, to leave meaning to those who need to ascribe it. The simple association in and of itself is strong enough. Here at the center of Woodhenge, where chaos is transformed into order and the cosmos obey the planted posts, there is a sacred center; a center made sacred by the manner of its circumference's construction (which, considering that the thing had to be accurate as well, is no small feat). Similarly, we will see that such sacred space at the center of the Tapu'at, be that Tapu'at representative of the kiva, the labyrinth, the Emergence or a spiral dance.
Moving to the North now, the Iroquois and other nearby Northeastern
commonly use what has been labeled the "double-curve motive".
This style consists of "two opposed in-curves as a foundation element,
with embellishments more or less elaborate modifying the enclosed
None of the double-curve patterns themselves actually approach a
construct, but one can imagine how the construction might occur. It is
non-religious, though, and it's western dissemination seems to have
south of the Great Lakes area. Where religious double-curve motives do
though, they usually concern the world tree. Additionally, an inward
curve can relate to a dying chief, while an outward going curve
a living priest.
This similarity brings us to another form of art: dance. It is widely suggested that the labyrinth may have started as a dance . Be it the Crane Dance outside of Crete or the Dema Dance in Southeastern Asia, the meaning seems to be constant: inward spiraling anticipates death, and outward spiraling anticipates life. Within the Pima culture and in Hopi antiquity, there is (or was, for the Hopi ) a Spring-time ritual spiral dance called Saqtiva, or the Ladder Dance. In this dance, one or more young, virile male virgins leap off of a pole either a great distance off the ground or at the edge of a cliff-face. The youths must grab onto rotating crossbars or leather thongs wound about the pole. If they all catch their intended thongs and poles, they spin around and gracefully unwind, alive. If they do not catch their thongs and poles... perhaps we can understand why the Hopi no longer practice this dance. A similar dance, called Los Voladores, is still performed in parts of Mexico. If one compares these dances to other spiral dances and to other springtime fertility rituals such as those associated with Adonis and Osiris by Frazier in The Golden Bough, a singular impression of these dances arises. The performers' proposed sacrifice of fertility -- which has been preserved for this moment -- is either accepted, and the outward spiraling motion begins, or it is not accepted, and the performer dies. If it is accepted, then the outward spiraling must symbolize the new life of the spring, echoing the triumphant return of Osiris, Theseus's ascent along Ariadne's thread after he faced the Minotaur and survived, and the virility of the Iroquois chiefs represented by an outward turning curve. Before proceeding any further with the specifics of my intended spirals, though, the general history of the Labyrinth as it applies to Native America should be considered. In the course of my research I realized that, as mentioned above, all Native American labyrinths were of seven rings, with four lines ending within their circumference. This did not surprise me, as it fits quite comfortably with the Southwestern reverence for the numbers four and seven and the products thereof. I did find it alarming that, outside of Scandinavia, this model of labyrinth was almost exclusively from European antiquity.
One of the latest definitely dated Southern, Central or Western European occurrence of the Cretan-style labyrinth that I was able to find is inscribed, almost as marginalia, in the corner of an illumination at the end of Dante's Divine Comedy, as provided by Penelope Reed Doob , dating from 1419. The illumination itself is of the larger eleven-ring variety. Before that date, it becomes relatively easier to find occurrences of the seven-ring form, starting from as early as 1800 BC (a stone carving at Rocky Valley, Cornwall). This seven-ring form is popularly known as the Cretan Labyrinth, because it shows up on the coins of Knossos, depicting the maze that Daedalus built for King Minos of Crete (Figure 6). These coins date from the first and second century BC. Other, later, occurrences of this Cretan-style labyrinth occur, it seems, largely within Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Elsewhere the Christianized 11-ring version, or the Chartres-style labyrinth (named so for the thirteenth century Chartres Cathedral, where the 11-ring labyrinth is imprinted upon the floor as seen drawn in Figure 2), seems to have become prevalent . Matthews' explanation of the labyrinth's transmission to the Native Americans from the Spaniards, then, becomes weaker. Certainly it is possible that the Spanish may have brought the ancient labyrinth with them, but evidence of Spanish involvement with the Cretan-style labyrinth in the seventeenth century -- outside of the "Rudo Ensayo" -- is non-existent, at least in so far as the histories presented by Matthews, Doob and Bord indicate. In fact, in attempting to date a seven-ring labyrinth carving found at Mogor, Spain, Bord states that "the obvious Cretan influence would suggest that it is just over 2,000 years old" . But if the Spaniards did not disseminate the symbol, we must ask ourselves how the Native Americans came to know it.
Either there is a shared source of greater antiquity than the seventeenth century Spanish explorers (such as the Scandinavians, who persisted in their use of the Cretan-style labyrinth), or the two cultures, European (or, more specifically where the Cretan-style Labyrinth is concerned, Mediterranean) and Native American, through a process of convergent development, independently arrived at the seven-ring labyrinth design. This sort of inexplicable coincidence of traditions over the Atlantic ocean is not unique to the Labyrinth, though.
Consider the Huichol Indians, the Native American Church and the Peyote cults, as they compare to the Siberian tribal use of the fly agaric mushroom, or, as Gordon Wasson elucidates, the Eastern Indian Vedic use of Soma. In each case, the drug is personified, revered, and thought to have powers of spiritual transcendence . This may seem unsurprising, though, as perhaps these are natural religious reactions to the hallucinogenic experience, as described effectively by Aldous Huxley in Doors of Perception. Additionally, examine Sioux Black Elk's account of the Wakan Buffalo , who slowly loses hair and legs until the ages have all come and gone, signaling the millennial death and rebirth of the universe. Compare this buffalo with the Dharma bull of the East, who loses one leg with each passing Yuga, or age, until the final Kali age is passed and Shiva can sweep away the world so that it can begin once more. Returning to the Hopi, consider the Eastern Indians' Chakras. Frank Waters provides an excellent comparison of the Kundalini Yogans' Chakras and the Hopi vibratory centers. These vibratory centers are both mythical subterranean geological locations and "psychophysical" centers in the human body. Waters has this to say on the topic:
"According to Hopi belief, the body of the earth and the body of man were both constructed...in this same order. It may be briefly stated here that both Eastern and Hopi mysticism equate the bodies of man and the earth, and the centers within man with the seven universes."
This similarity also reminds us of the reverence held by both the Hopis and the Hindus for the center itself. In the case of the Hindus, we have the mandala: a meditative circular design, similar to the labyrinth in many ways. Eliade explains that "mandala", in fact, means "circle", and then he proceeds to associate the concept of mandala with the myths and practices associated with the Cretan Labyrinth. Instead of becoming sidetracked by such fascinating similarities, though, I would like to backtrack for a moment and explore the Hopi Emergence myth, as related by Frank Waters, and the significance that this myth obtains for those attempting to interpret the meaning of the Labyrinth within Native American cultures. Additionally, I will be returning to Eliade's essays on the importance of the center to a religious person as well. The Hopi weltanschauung, or world view, as described -- perhaps imperfectly -- by Waters, provides an indulgent universe for the Cretan-style labyrinth. The Hopi believe that before the world existed there was nothing but empty timeless, shapeless space, filled solely with the presence of Taiowa, the creator. Into this place (Tokpela) Taiowa created Sotuknang, who would act as his agent. Sotuknang, then, created the earth and a creature called Spider Woman. Spider Woman created the twins, Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya, before she created mankind. She had one twin, Poqanghoya, solidify the earth, and then sent him to the North pole. The other twin, Palongawhoya, also named Echo, was sent to sound his call throughout the earth, thus making the earth vibrate with his, and therefore Taiowa's, voice. Afterwards he was sent to the South Pole. Once in their respective poles, Spider Woman charged the twins with the upkeep of the earth: maintaining it's proper rotation, its solidity, and keeping its vibratory centers active . These vibratory centers activated in the earth by the second twin, Echo, are the same as those envisioned within the Hopi body, those centers that relate to the Eastern Chakras.
Once she completed this stabilization of the Earth, Spider Woman created mankind by rolling up earth made of four colors into four men, then four women to accompany them, asking only that they respect their creator. As men and women populated the earth, though, they also forged the way for a future nostalgia (for a world as paradisical as the Christian Eden -- see note seventeen below). They abused the earth and disobeyed Spider Woman's request, so the First World was destroyed by fire, and only the good were saved. These good were stored inside the earth in the Ant Kiva, where the industrious ants provided their sustenance. The second and third worlds, Tokpa and Kuskurza, were also destroyed due to similar breaches of Hopi faith. The third world was destroyed by flood, while the Hopis were once again stored in the subterranean Ant Kiva. After the flood waters subsided, what Waters refers to as the Exodus began. The Hopi walked from land to land, sailing when necessary, searching for their new homeland. Divinities spoke to them through their seventh vibratory center and gave them direction, such that when they reached their destination they would hear their messages and know that they were arrived. Waters asserts that the swastika symbol, so commonly found in their kivas, is representative of their tribal migrations as they spread out over the land.
Immediately upon reading this Emergence myth, their are certain aspects of it that strike a resonance where Tapu'at, the Hopi labyrinth carving, is concerned. Most conspicuously, there are seven rings to this labyrinth and four line endings. The four ends could correspond to the first four humans, set wandering through the land, or perhaps the four directions of the compass in which they traveled. The seven rings could correspond to the seven vibratory centers, the seventh of which leads back to Tokpa, the first world, where the Hopi could be with their creator again. The case may also be reversed, as Waters suggests: the pattern does not represent extrication from the world, but emergence into it.
Waters divides the Hopi labyrinths into two classes: square and
(Figure 7). The square Tapu'at represents spiritual rebirth from one
to the next, for Waters. It represents the journey of the ancestors as
emerged into the central point from the previous world. Waters goes on
associate the unattached central line of the square maze to the
cord, marking the path of emergence, and the lines surrounding it's
end as fetal membrane. He associates the circular pattern with the
"road of life" followed by the Hopi, and connects the central
crossing point of the lines to the Sun God, and states that if the Hopi
follows this path, he is ensured rebirth.
In as far as a case can be made for each of Water's interpretations, I do not disagree with him. In so far as his delineations of meaning seem to imply that this labyrinth is a sort of signifier for an elusive but definite idea, I must disagree. I see Tapu'at as being representative the Hopi world view, inclusively: the Hopi view the universe as existing on seven planes, the earth as possessing seven vibratory centers, and the mind and body as possessing seven psychophysical centers; just so, Tapu'at is a representation of the universe, the body and the earth. This is not to exclude the possibility that it is associated with their kivas, as I believe it is. It is meant to exclude the possibility that the Hopi labyrinth is simply an architectural plan, though, as suggested in the 17th century "Rudo Ensayo", or just a children's game, as put forth by Matthews.
Their kivas are circular underground ceremonial dwellings. They possess doors in both the floor and ceiling. During many rituals the Twins are represented by Hopis standing at the northern and southern end of the kiva while the sun, traveling overhead, projects a linear path across the floor. The sipapuni, or naval of the kiva (i.e. the hole in the floor), is located in a central position while the exit is directly above it. In the Powamu ceremony, which is part of a series of Hopi emergence rituals, cornmeal lines are drawn across the floor of the kiva in accordance with the North-South/East-West intersection of Sun and Twin. During many ceremonies, the participants will walk circles around the altar, as described in Radin's The Road of Life and Death . These patterns -- the circles, the exit and entrance and the cross -- they are all to be found within the relatively simple confines of Tapu'at.
What we have in the Hopi labyrinth is a possibly imported symbol
of their paradigmatic mythology that fits in exquisitely alongside
Native American traditions, such as the spiral dances, Woodhenge, etc..
It's alarming likeness to so much of the rest of the Hopi culture (and
Native cultures) is not indicative of the ubiquity of the symbol,
but of the Hopi's religiousness, in that so many aspects of their lives
mirror their world view. To truly understand more about what the symbol
means to them, I believe we need to look, however briefly, at the
appeal of the symbol, and, more specifically, the center to which and
which it leads and protects. Mircae Eliade brings an element of the
to this study. To start with his conclusion on labyrinths, he states
"The supreme rite of initiation is to enter a labyrinth and return from it, and yet every life, even the least eventful, can be taken as the journey through a labyrinth. The sufferings and trials undergone by Ulysses were fabulous, and yet any man's return home has the value of Ulysses' return to Ithaca."
The significance of this quote is in its eloquent juxtaposition of the microcosm and the macrocosm. Obviously, due to the relatively small size of the Hopi labyrinth carvings, there was no walking of the labyrinth going on. There were, though, initiation rites. Eliade also explains that "every consecrated place is a center" . He arrives at this conclusion by demonstrating, through the examples of the Cretan Labyrinth, the Vedic sacrificial altar and the Hindu mandala, that in the creation of sacred space we recreate the world in microcosm, and, further, the world's beginning takes place at the center. This tradition definitely holds true for the Hopi, who have emerged from Topeka, the first world.
Consider the final exoteric dance of one of the Hopi initiation ceremonies, Wuwuchim. Each of the presiding elders walks in circles around the entire village, at whose center is the kiva, at whose center is the tipanu, or omphalos, symbolically leading back to the third world, while directly above it resides the exit to the fourth world. Thus the kiva has become a limbo between worlds, wherein the Hopi adolescents could ascend fully and spiritually into this fourth world. Here one can easily see the symbolism of their Mother-child design reflected, as Waters explained it. Another compelling ceremony involves the elder members of the tribes marking off every road leading out of the village with four parallel cornmeal lines, perpendicular to the road. Subsequently and until the ceremony is complete, no one may enter or leave the village. This once again recreates a new center of existence for the Hopi. Essentially, this centralization is an order-creating device. A people or land without a center are necessarily in chaos, and, as Eliade states elsewhere, man cannot live in chaos.
Penelope Doob also views the labyrinths as being order-creating
She cites European and Mediterannean examples of this order creation
with the labyrinth, such as the death of the bestial Minotaur at the
of Theseus, Hero, at the center of Daedalus's labyrinth, or Dante's
out of the Inferno through it's center. She also describes why this
be such a common theme where labyrinths are concerned, thus granting us
something more than simply a European vista. The labyrinth, she states,
"presumes a double perspective: maze-treaders, whose vision ahead and behind is severely constricted and fragmented, suffer confusion, whereas maze-viewers who see the pattern whole, from above or in a diagram, are dazzled by its complex artistry" .
This juxtaposition of order and chaos is similar to what must have gone on at Woodhenge. When at the center, the poles line up into a circle and even the sun obeys the positioning of the poles planted by human hand. Similarly, the kiva's East-West line is drawn by the sun, obliging the masterful hands of the Hopi artisan. Both of these sacred centers were built with the holy numbers of four and seven very much in mind, consecrating the space as microcosmic of the universe. In the same way, the Hopi's Tapu'at, carved into stone, incorporates seven rings and four line endings.
It resembles their holy kivas, their universe and their body. It relates to the womb, the path of the sun and the seven radiating vibratory centers of the mind. It is reminiscent of the inward spiral journey towards crisis and the outward spiral of life. It recalls forgotten Hopi cliff-jumping ceremonies and still practiced initiation rites. It resembles, remembers, recalls and relates to all these things and, no doubt, many more, but it is none of them. If the Spaniards did actually manage to bring this ancient Cretan-style labyrinth with them to the New World back in the 17th century, if the symbol was imported by other explorers centuries earlier, or if it is the product of a convergent development it is now uniquely Hopi. Tapu'at represents the order into which the Hopi have placed their universe.
Originally, I sought to delineate along the number of line endings as well, and search out specifically seven-ring/four-end labyrinths, but, as far as my own research went, this never became necessary as all the seven ring labyrinths I encountered also had four line endings within them.
Matthews, W. H. Mazes and Labyrinths : Their History and Development. 1922. New York: Dover Books, 1970. p.53.
Within Native America, though, the Hopi Kivas could indeed be considered architectural interpretations of the Labyrinth. I explain this further on in the paper.
Tcuhu is a mythical Pima hero, whom Matthews associates with Gopher. Gopher, according to Pima mythology, dug the spiral channel through which the Pima emerged onto the surface of the world. This spiral channel will be seen again, as omphalos and sipapuni, in Hopi traditions, as it is vital to each emergence myth. Janet Bord, though, relates the labyrinth that she found on the Pima basketry tray to a similarly named design, Siuhu ki (House of Siuhu). Her explanation is quite different, though, as she identifies Siuhu not as Gopher, but as a mountain hermit, who "lived far in the mountains where trails became so confused that no one could follow him."
Bord, Janey. Mazes and Labyrinths of the World. London: Latiner New Dimensions, 1976.
McCane-O'Connor, Mallory. "Prehistoric Ceramics: The Weeden Island Tradition." Native North American Art History. Ed. Mathews, Zena Pearlstone, Aldona Jonaitis. Palo Alto, California: Peek Publications, 1982. p.449.
Wittry, Warren L. "An American Woodhenge." Native North American Art History. Ed. Mathews, Zena Pearlstone, Aldona Jonaitis. Palo Alto, California: Peek Publications, 1982. pp.453-457.
Speck, Frank G. "The Double-Curve Motive in Northeastern Alagonkian Art." Native North American Art History. Ed. Mathews, Zena Pearlstone, Aldona Jonaitis. Palo Alto, California: Peek Publications, 1982. p. 383.
Doob, Penelope Reed. The Idea of the Labyrinth from Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages. Ithica: Cornell University Press, 1990, p. 18, or see Matthews, W. H. Mazes and Labyrinths : Their History and Development. 1922. New York: Dover Books, 1970. pp. 156-162.
Waters, Frank. The Book of the Hopi. New York: The Viking Press, 1963, p.193.
The occasional exception does turn up: A turf maze tradition in
94), or a representation of Crete in the "Mappa Mundi" found in
Hereford Cathedral, Sussex (Bord, 83), for instance.
Just as dimensions of four and seven fit so comfortably into the Native American world view, according to Doob, so do the numbers eleven and twelve fit into the mediaeval Christian world view. Twelve, of course, is obtained by counting the central circle of the labyrinth as another ring. For a complete explanation of the religious significance of these numbers and their propriety within the symbology of the cathedral labyrinths of middle age Europe, see Doob, pp. 101-144.
For an explanation of Soma as the fly agaric mushroom, see Wasson's Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality. Included in this book is an exegesis of the Siberian rituals. To investigate into Native American Peyote use, I would suggest The Peyote Cult, by Weston LaBarre.
Black Elk, The Sacred Pipe; Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux. Ed. John Gneisenau Neihardt. London: Barrie Jenkins, 1961. Waters, pp.10-11. It is also worth noting that in both systems, the seventh chakra - kopavi, for the Hopis - is the portal through which the soul might leave the body and be released into the cosmos. This will become pertinent as we further consider the labyrinth design.
Eliade, Mircea. Patterns in Comparative Religion. Cleaveland: The World Publishing Company, 1970. See essays #142 and #145.
Waters' book is quite informative, but, alas, possibly flawed. Waters is very anxious to place the Hopis in a Judeo-Christian context. The first indication comes as he labels the Hopi "a chosen people". Later, and with much less subtlety, Waters states that "In arranging the material so vast in scope and detail, I have borne in mind that it virtually constitutes a Hopi Bible." He also writes in the introduction that his book is "Beginning with their Genesis, and carrying through their Old Testament of previous worlds and their New Testament of the present to the Revelation of their esoteric ceremonialism...." While this frame of mind is at no point plainly intrusive in the myths and rituals that follow, I cannot help but wonder how this Eurocentric point of view has addled Waters' observations.
Although this paper will never directly address this possibility, it is interesting to consider this Native vibration as Western magnetism. Waters, 23-27.
Radin, Paul. The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. 1945. Princeton University Press, 1973.