Thursday, May 25, 2023

Native American Plant Myths - Sacred symbolic plants used in prayers


1590 North American Atlantic Coast Natives by John White (c1540 – c1593). The village of Pomeiooc (Pomeiock) was a Native America settlement, designated on de Bry’s map of Virginia, Americae Pars Nunc Virginia Dicta, between today’s Wyesocking Bay & Lake Landing, North Carolina. John White designates the settlement as Pomeyoo.

Extracted from:  Myths of the Cherokee.  Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau  of American Ethnology. Washington Government Printing Office 1902  Recorded by James Mooney (1861-1921) was an American ethnographer who lived for several years among the Cherokee.

Plant Lore

The Indians are close observers, and some of their plant names are peculiarly apt. 

Some few plants, in addition to the ordinary term used among the common people, have a sacred or symbolic name, used only by the priests and doctors in the prayer formulas. Thus ginseng, or "sang" is known to the laity as â'tali-gûli', "the mountain climber," but is addressed in the formulas as Yûñwi Usdi', "Little Man," while selu (corn) is invoked under the name of Agawe'la in myths, as, for instance, that of Prosartes lanuginosa, which bears the curious name of walâs'-unûl'sti, "frogs fight with it," from a story that in the long ago--hilahi'yu--two quarrelsome frogs once fought a duel, using its stalks as lances.