Hidden Springs of Crazy Horse-iana

Reread Larry McMurtry’s short life of Crazy Horse.  

Discovered something new: when No Water shot Crazy Horse for running away with his wife Black Buffalo Woman, he borrowed the gun he used from Bad Heart Bull.

This Bad Heart Bull was an uncle of Amos Bad Heart Bull, the ledger artist, who made this drawing of the death of Crazy Horse:

At the time of his death, Amos’ sketchbook was given to his younger sister, Dolly Pretty Cloud. In the 1930s, she was contacted by Helen Blish, a graduate student from the University of Nebraska, who asked to study her brother’s work for her master’s thesis in art. When Pretty Cloud died in 1947, her brother’s ledger book full of drawings was buried with her.

Before they were buried, the drawings were photographed by Blish’s professor, Hartley Burr Alexander, and they’re reprinted in this volume:

Amos Bad Heart Bull was only one of the Ledger Artists.

Much Ledger Art can be seen digitally through the Plains Ledger Art Project at UC San Diego.

Amos Bad Heart Bull’s work is vivid:

A literal translation of the Lakota word čhaŋtéšiče is “he has a bad heart”, but an idiomatic meaning is “he is sad.” Tȟatȟáŋka Čhaŋtéšiče would likely have been understood in the same way “Sad Bull” would be in English. When Lakota names are translated literally into English, they may lose their idiomatic sense.

Crazy Horse, Little Bighorn, these names alone are compelling enough.  Cavalrymen wiped out to the last man on the plains, these stories are interesting, or they have been to me as long as I remember.

This book couldn’t’ve been more what I wanted.  I first discovered it when TV commercials for the miniseries aired.

In my opinion the miniseries is damn good, but the book!  Part of what makes it so compelling is Connell sees how the telling of what happened, the attempt to figure out what happened, is as interesting as what happened itself.  The history of the history is as interesting as the history.

Connell starts his book with the troopers who discovered the stripped and mutilated bodies on the hillside, then takes us on a digressive journey towards how this happened, what happened, and what it all might mean, if anything.

Wikipedia presents this disputed picture of Crazy Horse.  It cannot be him.  He would never.  At Fort Robinson??  A desolate prairie outpost? This was taken in a city.  Etc.  From what we know of Crazy Horse, this is the opposite of what he would do.

But who knows?  Who is it?  Ghosts appear and disappear.

crazy horse

Crazy Horse had a daughter named They Are Afraid of Her.  She died, probably of cholera, McMurtry says, when she was three.

How about the legend of what happened at the Baker Fight:

In the middle of a frantic battle a man sits on the grass and smokes a pipe.

This occurred during what is sometimes called the Arrow Creek Fight, or the Baker Fight.

found that here.

Once spent some time on Google Maps trying to find the site of the Baker fight.

While reading about one of the few white men Crazy Horse trusted, Doctor Valentine McGillycuddy:

I find a reference to a thirteen volume set, Hidden Springs of Custeriana.

The hunt for hidden springs in the long pored-over records of the past.  The ledger photographed, then buried in Nebraska.

more:

 

 


Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne

The famous King moments are so burned into our collective dream history that they can lose their freshness.  .

Somewhere recently I came across a clip of the line at 0:40 above, truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne.

A quote from

James Russell Lowell. The Present Crisis, which he wrote in 1844, when he was deep in abolitionism.

King returned to this line often.

Good reminder that truth being on the scaffold and wrong being on the throne is not a new problem.


Darkest Hour

This movie is on HBO this month.  I saw the movie in the theater and thought it was pretty good.  It really captured the batty, Lewis Carroll eccentricity element of Churchill and the British Parliament.

But one thing that I was wondering about was the title.  I remembered a story I’d heard years ago about Churchill visiting Harrow in 1941.  The schoolboys sang a new verse to an old song:

When Churchill visited Harrow on October 29 to hear the traditional songs again, he discovered that an additional verse had been added to one of them. It ran:

“Not less we praise in darker days
The leader of our nation,
And Churchill’s name shall win acclaim
From each new generation.
For you have power in danger’s hour
Our freedom to defend, Sir!
Though long the fight we know that right
Will triumph in the end, Sir!”

Churchill didn’t care for the word darker.  In his speech to the school he said:

You sang here a verse of a School Song: you sang that extra verse written in my honour, which I was very greatly complimented by and which you have repeated today. But there is one word in it I want to alter – I wanted to do so last year, but I did not venture to. It is the line: “Not less we praise in darker days.”

I have obtained the Head Master’s permission to alter darker to sterner. “Not less we praise in sterner days.”

Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.

Getting all that from the National Churchill Museum.

I believe this Wikipedia page is inaccurate:

The Darkest Hour” is a phrase coined by British prime minister

Did he coin this phrase?

Winston Churchill to describe the period of World War II between the Fall of France in June 1940 and the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 (totaling 363 days, or 11 months and 28 days), when the British Empire stood alone (or almost alone after the Italian invasion of Greece) against the Axis Powers in Europe.

Perhaps he uses it in his volumes of history, which I don’t have at hand.  But that’s not the source Wiki cites.  In the cited “Finest Hour” speech, Churchill did use the phrase “darkest hour,” but to refer to what a sad period this was in French history:

The House will have read the historic declaration in which, at the desire of many Frenchmen-and of our own hearts-we have proclaimed our willingness at the darkest hour in French history to conclude a union of common citizenship in this struggle.

I bought screenwriter Anthony McCarten’s book:

on Kindle and did a search.  Unless I’m missing something, I can find no other time in the book where Churchill himself is quoted using the phrase “darkest hour.”

So, the movie about Churchill uses for its title a term that Churchill himself specifically asked people not to use.

My question as always: is this interesting? 


When people had one name

Thinkin’ about the New Testament bros: Mark, John, James, etc when I came across this from Bob Dylan.

Those songs are just in my genes, and I couldn’t stop them comin’ out. In a reincarnative kind of way, maybe. The songs have got some kind of a pedigree to them. But that pedigree stuff, that only works so far. You can go back to the ten-hundreds, and people only had one name. Nobody’s gonna tell you they’re going to go back further than when people had one name.

(Bob Dylan interview with Jonathan Lethem in Rolling Stone.)


Particular grace at the Constitutional Convention

Picture it: Philadelphia, Friday, May 25, 1787.

The convention is getting started.  First job is to choose a president.  Mr. Robert Morris of Pennsylvania nominates George Washington of Virginia.

Mr Jn RUTLIDGE seconded the motion; expressing his confidence that the choice would be unanimous, and observing that the presence of Genl Washington forbade any observations on the occasion which might be otherwise be proper.

General Washington was accordingly unanimously elected by ballot, and conducted to the chair by Mr R. Morris and Mr. Rutlidge; from which in a very emphatic manner he thanked the Convention for the honor they had conferred on him, reminded them of the novelty of the scene of business in which he was to act, lamented his want of better qualifications, and claimed the indulgence of the House towards the involuntary errors which his inexperience might occasion.

That’s George Washington, the guy who had just defeated the British Empire, who held the Continental Army together over seven horrible years on the strength of his own character.  He begins this job with an expression of humility. An apology for any involuntary errors.

Then Madison adds, in a parenthetical:

Particular grace.

Happy Fourth of July everybody!


Hallucinogens and Shamanism (1973)

This collection of essays from 1973 gets an A+ on cover alone.

Undoubtedly one of the major reasons that anthropologists for so long underestimated the importance of hallucinogenic substances in shamanism and religious experience was that very few had partaken themselves of the native psychotropic materials (other than peyote) or had undergone the resulting subjective experiences so critical, perhaps paradoxically, to an empirical understanding of their meaning to the peoples they studied.  Most, although not all, of the authors in the present book are an exception…

I’ll say!  From Michael J. Harner’s essay “The Sound Of Rushing Water”:

When I first undertook research among the Jívaro in 1956-57, I did not fully appreciate the psychological impact of the Banisteriopsis drink upon the native view of reality, but in 1961 I had occasion to drink the hallucinogen in the course of field work with another Upper Amazon Basin tribe.  For several hours after drinking the brew, I found myself, although awake, in a world literally beyond my wildest dreams.  I met bird-headed people, as well as dragon-like creatures who explained that they were the true gods of this world.  I enlisted the services of other spirit helpers in attempting to fly through the far reaches of the Galaxy.  Transported into a trance where the supernatural seemed natural, I realized that anthropologists, including myself, had profoundly underestimated the importance of the drug in affecting native ideology.  Therefore, in 1964 I returned to the Jívaro to give particular attention to the drug’s use by the Jívaro shaman.

South American shamanism and hallucinogens is one of the topics explored in

Yet the essay our reader found of most interest in this volume was was “The Role of Hallucinogenic Plants in European Witchcraft,”  also by Harner. The topic of witchcraft, European and American, has been of great interest to Helytimes.

What was going on with the wild bursts of witchcraft persecution in medieval Europe and early colonial America?

A prevalent attitude among present-day historians and scholars of religion (e.g. Henningsen, 1969: 105-6; Trevor-Roper, 1969:90, 192) is that late medieval and Renaissance witchcraft was essentially a fiction created by the Church.

says Harner.  But what this essay presupposes is: what if it wasn’t?

Probably the single most important group of plants used by mankind to contact the supernatural belongs to the order Solanacæe (the potato family)… each of these plants contains varying quantities of atropine and the other closely related tropane alkaloids hyoscyamine and scopolomine, all of which have hallucinogenic effects (Claus and Tyler, 1965: 273-85; Henry, ,1949: 64092; Hoffer and Osmund, 1967:525-28; Lewin, 1964: 129-140; Sollmann, 1957: 381-98).

From here, Harner goes on to suggest:

As is familiar to every child in our culture, the witch is fantasized as flying through the air on a broomstick.  This symbol actually represents a very serious and central aspect of European witchcraft, involving the use of solanceaous hallucinogenic plants.  The European witches rubbed their bodies with a hallucinogenic ointment containing such plants as Atropa belladonna, Mandragora, and henbane, whose content of atropine was absorbable through the skin.  The witch then indeed took a “trip”: the witch on the broomstick is a representation of that imagined aerial journey to a rendezvous with spirits and demons, which was called a Sabbat.

Wild claim!  More:

The use of a staff or broom was undoubtedly more than a symbolic Freudian act, serving as an applicator for the atropine-containing plant to the sensitive vaginal membranes as well as providing the suggestion of riding on a steed

Historical evidence seems thin.  Harner presents a case from 1325, when a Lady Alice Kyteler was investigated in Ireland:

…in rifleing the closet of the ladie, they found a Pile of oyntment, wherewith she greased a staffe, upon the which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin, when and in what manner she listed.

Kyteler fled the country, but her servant was  flogged and burned to death.  Her house is now a pub:

We ran this idea by one of our female editors, who pointed out that if you were going to apply some salve to your vaginal membranes, you’d probably use something a little softer than a broomstick, perhaps a vegetable.  The biodegradable nature of such an applicator perhaps explains why archaeological evidence is so scant.

Thought-provoking, in any case.

 

 


Witch Hunts

In 1693 Cotton Mather wrote a book called Wonders Of The Invisible Worlddefending the Salem Witch Trials.

A few years later a guy named Robert Calef wrote More Wonders Of The Invisible World, which was kind of a sarcastic slam on Cotton Mather.

Calef objected to proceedings that lead to “a Biggotted Zeal, stirring up a Blind and most Bloody rage, not against Enemies, or Irreligious Proffligate Persons, But (in Judgment of Charity, and to view) against as Vertuous and Religious as any they have left behind them in this Country, which have suffered as Evil doers with the utmost extent of rigour.”

Can’t say I got a ton out of the book, but I did get some good stuff from the introduction, by Chadwick Hansen.

If a witch is attacking you boil a pin in urine:

Even Chadwick Hansen appears ultimately baffled by what Robert Calef was up to, since much of his book is lies about how Cotton Mather fondled up a girl named Margaret Rule while curing her of bewitchment.

Hansen attempts to provide the context to a baffling historical period. 

Later Mather would write a book called The Right Way To Shake Off A Viper:

Wild times in old Massachusetts.  Few people who were taken to the Salem Witch Museum in childhood ever forgot it.

Previous coverage of witch hunts.