Historical Reprints Mysteries Grand Medicine Society of the Ojibway

Grand Medicine Society of the Ojibway

Grand Medicine Society of the Ojibway
Catalog # SKU1808
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name W. J. Hoffman
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


Grand Medicine Society
of the

The Mide' Wiwin

W. J. Hoffman

Includes Free CD with
melodies and beats of the Sacred Chants
Plus a Color Picture Section

There is nothing more fascinating than watching or experiencing the faith and intenseness of Native American beliefs in their practices, healing, and religion.

From the Preface

In the reports of early travelers and missionaries no special mention is made of the Mide', the Jes'sakkid', or the Wâbeno', but the term sorcerer or juggler is generally employed to designate that class of persons who professed the power of prophecy, and who practiced incantation and administered medicinal preparations. Constant reference is made to the opposition of these personages to the introduction of Christianity. In the light of recent investigation the cause of this antagonism is seen to lie in the fact that the traditions of Indian genesis and cosmogony and the ritual of initiation into the Society of the Mide' constitute what is to them a religion, even more powerful and impressive than the Christian religion is to the average civilized man.

This opposition still exists among the leading classes of a number of the Algonkian tribes, and especially among the Ojibwa, many bands of whom have been more or less isolated and beyond convenient reach of the Church. The purposes of the society are twofold; first, to preserve the traditions just mentioned, and second, to give a certain class of ambitious men and women sufficient influence through their acknowledged power of exorcism and necromancy to lead a comfortable life at the expense of the credulous.

The persons admitted into the society are firmly believed to possess the power of communing with various supernatural beings-manidos-and in order that certain desires may be realized they are sought after and consulted. The purpose of the present paper is to give an account of this society and of the ceremony of initiation as studied and observed at White Earth, Minnesota, in 1889. Before proceeding to this, however, it may be of interest to consider a few statements made by early travelers respecting the "sorcerers or jugglers" and the methods of medication.


There are extant among the Ojibwa Indians three classes of mystery men, termed respectively and in order of importance the Mide', the Jes'sakkid', and the Wâbeno', but before proceeding to elaborate in detail the Society of the Mide', known as the Mide'wiwin, a brief description of the last two is necessary.

The term Wâbeno' has been explained by various intelligent Indians as signifying "Men of the dawn," "Eastern men," etc. Their profession is not thoroughly understood, and their number is so extremely limited that but little information respecting them can be obtained. Schoolcraft, in referring to the several classes of Shamans, says "there is a third form or rather modification of the medawin, the Wâbeno'; a term denoting a kind of midnight orgies, which is regarded as a corruption of the Meda." This writer furthermore remarks that "it is stated by judicious persons among themselves to be of modern origin. They regard it as a degraded form of the mysteries of the Meda."

From personal investigation it has been ascertained that a Wâbeno' does not affiliate with others of his class so as to constitute a society, but indulges his pretensions individually. A Wâbeno' is primarily prompted by dreams or visions which may occur during his youth, for which purpose he leaves his village to fast for an indefinite number of days. It is positively affirmed that evil man'idos favor his desires, and apart from his general routine of furnishing "hunting medicine," "love powders," etc., he pretends also to practice medical magic. When a hunter has been successful through the supposed assistance of the Wâbeno', he supplies the latter with part of the game, when, in giving a feast to his tutelary daimon, the Wâbeno' will invite a number of friends, but all who desire to come are welcome.

This feast is given at night; singing and dancing are boisterously indulged in, and the Wâbeno', to sustain his reputation, entertains his visitors with a further exhibition of his skill. By the use of plants he is alleged to be enabled to take up and handle with impunity red-hot stones and burning brands, and without evincing the slightest discomfort it is said that he will bathe his hands in boiling water, or even boiling maple sirup. On account of such performances the general impression prevails among the Indians that the Wâbeno' is a "dealer in fire," or "fire-handler." Such exhibitions always terminate at the approach of day. The number of these pretenders who are not members of the Mide'wiwin, is very limited; for instance, there are at present but two or three at White Earth Reservation and none at Leech Lake.

As a general rule, however, the Wâbeno' will seek entrance into the Mide'wiwin when he becomes more of a specialist in the practice of medical magic, incantations, and the exorcism of malevolent man'idos, especially such as cause disease. The Jes'sakkid' is a seer and prophet; though commonly designated a "juggler," the Indians define him as a "revealer of hidden truths."


First Degree.
Preparatory Instruction.
Mide' Therapeutics.
Imploration For Clear Weather.
Initiation Of Candidate.
Descriptive Notes.
Second Degree.
Preparation Of Candidate.
Initiation Of Candidate.
Descriptive Notes.
Third Degree.
Preparation Of Candidate.
Initiation Of Candidate.
Descriptive Notes.
Fourth Degree.
Preparation Of Candidate.
Initiation Of Candidate.
Descriptive Notes.
Dzhibai' Mide'Wigân, or "Ghost Lodge."
Initiation By Substitution.
Supplementary Notes.
Dress And Ornaments.
Future Of The Society.

Softcover, 8" x 10¾", 200+ pages
Perfect-Bound - Larger Print 12 point font - Illustrated

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