Superstition doesn’t benefit us in any way. Google defines it as, “excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings.”
A survey needs to be done to measure how many people on Six Nations believe in literal magic, the suspension of natural law – I would wager the percentage is very high maybe even half of us.
Perhaps it has to do with our rural setting, or maybe it is cultural conditioning but I have noticed over the years that one of our weaknesses is how susceptible we are to superstitious beliefs and sometimes I’m still shocked with our overall gullibility when it comes to certain things.
It got me wondering if our ancestors were this way as well, or if it was something learned through colonization. There are clues leaning in both directions but there is a segment of Six Nations traditionalists who hold the view that we did not believe in a “Creator-God” before colonization. These teachers say our ancestors believed only in the natural world – the things that we could perceive and detect with our human senses. On a technical level it would be called something like Pantheism or Animism.
I was casually chatting in my laneway with Jagwedeth Sandy before his passing when he told me that the Creator isn’t a male person in the sky but is an all-encompassing energy and our ancestors practiced harmony with this life-energy and existed within it’s power – Kahensteserah. He carefully explained to me over hours how pervasive Christianization was with our people and how we did not believe in things that required faith but we believed in things that were real.
Other teachers have told me that our Creation story and other legends have been subconsciously adapted over the centuries to fit with the Western worldview and this ensured our survival as a people. This information made me angry when I first heard it, and I am not sure why. Whether or not this is true we do know how our natural way of life got us tortured, persecuted and killed so maybe our ancestors did fashion a narrative that was more agreeable to our European oppressors.
Our ancestors were brilliant people.
“The Mohawks didn’t just accept the Peacemaker’s message they tested him first,” Jagwedeth told me. Apparently when the Peacemaker brought his radical message of unity to the Six Nations people he had to survive an ordeal first and only after that were his words even listened to or accepted.
It is my assertion that Indigenous people started believing black cats were bad luck at the same time we started taking off our hats to pray.
It is noted that the Five Nations Iroquois were especially fond of silver Scottish Luckenbooth pendants in the 18th century and it was written that it saved many of our children from the Evil-Eye. Whether or not we had Evil-Eye’s to be saved from before the sale of Luckenbooth’s has yet to be determined but I think we were hood-winked.
Even more grim was the 17th century War Against Women also known as the Salem Witch Trials. The first to be formally executed as a witch was an Indigenous woman of the Arawak Nation named Tibuta. They said we were all witches back then. There are adults on Six Nations today who say that witches are real and do exist, even accusing certain people within the community of witchcraft, just as they do in Papua New Guinea.
The trail of innocent missing and murdered Indigenous women continues over three hundred years later.
Trust me I’m the most gullible person in the world and I’d like to think that the Sasquatch is real and the aliens are out there somewhere but at this point in my life I believe that the truth is very simple. Witchcraft is gossip and gossip is witchcraft. Every spell has to be cast with spelling. The creepy paranormal experiences we all have had will soon be explained by Dark Matter, or perhaps Quantum Theory but resorting to a boogeyman seems lazy to me.
Stevie Wonder was trying to tell us something, “When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer. Superstition ain’t the way.”