Cherokee Formula Concerning Living Humanity – Love

Cherokee Formula Concerning Living Humanity – Love

Kû! Listen! In Alahi´yi you repose, O Terrible Woman, O you have drawn near to hearken. There in Elahiyi you are at rest, O White Woman. No one is ever lonely when with you. You are most beautiful. Instantly and at once you have rendered me a white man. No one is ever lonely when with me. Now you have made the path white for me. It shall never be dreary. Now you have put me into it. It shall never become blue. You have brought down to me from above the white road. There in mid-earth (mid-surface) you have placed me. I shall stand erect upon the earth. No one is ever lonely when with me. I am very handsome. You have put me into the white house. I shall be in it as it moves about and no one with me shall ever be lonely. Verily, I shall never become blue. Instantly you have caused it to be so with me.

And now there in Elahiyi you have rendered the woman blue. Now you have made the path blue for her. Let her be completely veiled in loneliness. Put her into the blue road. And now bring her down. Place her standing upon the earth. Where her feet are now and wherever she may go, let loneliness leave its mark upon her. Let her be marked out for loneliness where she stands.

Ha! I belong to the (Wolf) ( + + ) clan, that one alone which was allotted into for you. No one is ever lonely with me. I am handsome. Let her put her soul the very center of my soul, never to turn away. Grant that in the midst of men she shall never think of them. I belong to the one clan alone which was allotted for you when the seven clans were established.

Where (other) men live it is lonely. They are very loathsome. The common polecat has made them so like himself that they are fit only for his company. They have became mere refuse. They are very loathsome. The common opossum has made them so like himself that they are fit only to be with him. They are very loathsome. Even the crow has made them so like himself that they are fit only for his company. They are very loathsome. The miserable rain-crow has made them so like himself that they are fit only to be with him.

The seven clans all alike make one feel very lonely in their company. They are not even good looking. They go about clothed with mere refuse. They even go about covered with dung. But I was ordained to be a white man. I stand with my face toward the Sun Land. No one is ever lonely with me. I am very handsome. I shall certainly never become blue. I am covered by the everlasting white house wherever I go. No one is ever lonely with me. Your soul has come into the very center of my soul, never to turn away. I-(Gatigwanasti,) (0 0)-I take your soul. Sge!

Explanation for Cherokee Formula Concerning Living Humanity – Love

This unique formula is from one of the loose manuscript sheets of Gatigwanasti, now dead, and belongs to the class known as Yûnwe´hi or love charms (literally, concerning “living humanity”), including all those referring in any way to the marital or sexual relation. No explanation accompanies the formula, which must therefore be interpreted from analogy. It appears to be recited by the lover himself-not by a hired shaman-perhaps while painting and adorning himself for the dance. (See next two formulas.)
The formula contains several obscure expressions which require further investigation. Elahiyi or Alahiyi, for it is written both ways in the manuscript, does not occur in any other formula met with thus far, and could not be explained by any of the shamans to whom it was submitted. The nominative form may be Elahi, perhaps from ela, “the earth,” and it may be connected with Wa´hili, the formulistic name for the south. The spirit invoked is the White Woman, white being the color denoting the south.
Uhisa´’ti, rendered here “lonely,” is a very expressive word to a Cherokee and is of constant recurrence in the love formulas. It refers to that intangible something characteristic of certain persons which inevitably chills and depresses the spirits of all who may be so unfortunate as to come within its influence. Agisa´’ti nige´sûnna, “I never render any one lonely,” is an intensified equivalent for, “I am the best company in the world,” and to tell a girl that a rival lover is uhisa´’ti is to hold out to her the sum of all dreary prospects should she cast in her lot with him.

The speaker, who evidently has an exalted opinion of himself, invokes the aid of the White Woman, who is most beautiful and is never uhisa´’ti. She at once responds by making him a white-that is, a happy-man, and placing him in the white road of happiness, which shall never become blue with grief or despondency. She then places him standing in the middle of the earth, that he may be seen and admired by the whole world, especially by the female portion. She finally puts him into the white house, where happiness abides forever. The verb implies that the house shelters him like a cloak and goes about with him wherever he may go.

There is something comical in the extreme self-complacency with which he asserts that he is very handsome and will never become blue and no one with him is ever lonely. As before stated, white signifies peace and happiness, while blue is the emblem of sorrow and disappointment.

Having thus rendered himself attractive to womankind, he turns his attention to the girl whom he particularly desires to win. He begins by filling her soul with a sense of desolation and loneliness. In the beautiful language of the formula, her path becomes blue and she is veiled in loneliness. He then asserts, and reiterates, that he is of the one only clan which was allotted for her when the seven clans were established.

He next pays his respects to his rivals and advances some very forcible arguments to show that she could never be happy with any of them. He says that they are all “lonesome” and utterly loathsome-the word implies that they are mutually loathsome-and that they are the veriest trash and refuse. He compares them to so many polecats, opossums, and crows, and finally likens them to the rain-crow (cuckoo; Coccygus), which is regarded with disfavor on account of its disagreeable note. He grows more bitter in his denunciations as he proceeds and finally disposes of the matter by saying that all the seven clans alike are uhisa´’ti and are covered with filth. Then follows another glowing panegyric of himself, closing with the beautiful expression, “your soul has come into the very center of mine, never to turn away,” which reminds one forcibly of the sentiment in the German love song, “Du liegst mir im Herzen.” The final expression, “I take your soul,” implies that the formula has now accomplished its purpose in fixing her thoughts upon himself.

When successful, a ceremony of this kind has the effect of rendering the victim so “blue” or lovesick that her life is in danger until another formula is repeated to make her soul “white” or happy again. Where the name of the individual or clan is mentioned in these formulas the blank is indicated in the manuscript by crosses + + or ciphers 0 0 or by the word iyu´sti, “like.”

Cherokee Original


Ku! Sge! Alahi´yi tsûl’dâ´histi, Hige´’ya tsûl’di´yi, hatû´ngani´ga. Elahi´yi iyû´nta ditsûl’da´histi, Hige´’ya Tsûne´ga. Tsisa´’ti nige´sûnna. Tsâduhi´yi. Nâ´gwa-skin´i usinuli´yu hûnskwane´’lûngû´ tsisga´ya agine´ga. Agisa´’ti nige´sûnna. Nâ´gwa nû´nnâ, une´ga hûnskwanûnneli´ga. Uhisa´’ti nige´sûnna. Nâ´gwa skwade´tastani´ga. Sa’ka´ni u´tati nige´sûnna. Nûnnâ une´ga skiksa´’ûntaneli´ga. Elaye´’li iyû´nta skwalewista´’tani´ga E´lati gesû´n tsitage´sti. Agisa´’ti nige´sûnna. Agwâ´duhi´yu. Kûltsâ´te une´ga skiga´’tani´ga. Uhisa´’ti nige´sûnna, gûnkwatsâti´tege´sti. Tsi-sa’ka´ni agwa´tati nige´sûnna. Usinuli´yu hûnskwane´’lûngû´.

Ha-nâ´gwûle Elahi´yi iyû´nta dûhiyane´’lûngû´ a’ge´’ya sa’ka´ni. Nâ´gwa nûnnâ´hi sa’ka´ni hûntane´’laneli´ga. Uhisa´’ti-gwû u´danû dudusa´gi tanela´si. Nûnnâ´hi sa’ka´ni tade´tâstani´ga. Nâgwûle´ hûnhiyatsâ´ûntaniga. E´lati gesû´n tû´l’taniga. Dedu´laskû´n-gwû igû´nwa’lawi´sti uhi´sa’ti´yi widaye´la’ni´ga. Dedulaskû´n-gwû igû´nwa’lawi´sti uhi´sa’ti´yi nitû´nneli´ga.

Ha-sâgwahi´yu itsilasta´lagi + + uwa´sahi´yu, etsane´’laneli´ga. Agisa´’ti nige´sûnna. Agwâ´duhi. A´yû agwadantâ´gi aye’li´yu d’ka´’lani´li duda´ntâ, uktahû´nsti nige´sûnna. Yû´nwi tsu´tsatûn widudante´’ti nige´sûnna, nitû´nneli´ga. Sâ´gwahi itsilasta´lagi, etsane´’laneli´ga kûlkwâ´gi-nasi´ igûlstû´’li gegane´’lanû´n.

Anisga´ya anewadi´sûn unihisa’ti´yi. Tsu´nada´neilti´yi. Di´la-gwû degû´nwanatsegû´’lawi´sdidegû´. Ayâ´ise´ta-gwû u´danû. Tsunada´neilti´yi. Utse´tsti-gwû degû´nwanatsegû´’lawis´didegû´. Tsunada´neilti´yi. Ka´ga-gwû degû´nwanatsegû´’awisdidegû´. Tsunada´neilti´yi. Da´l’ka-gwû degû´nwanatsegû´’lawisdidegû´.

Kûlkwâ´gi igûlsta´lagi unihisa’ti´yu. Ige´ski-gwû nige´sûnna. Ayâ´ise´ta-gwû u´danû degû´nwanatsûn’ti-degû´. K’si-gwû degû´nwanatsûn’ti-degû´. A´yagâgû´ tsisga´ya agine´ga ûngwane´’lanû´hi + + Nûndâgû´nyi iti´tsa ditsidâ´ga. Agisa´’ti nige´sûnna. Agwâduhi´yu. Tsi-sa’ka´ni agwa´tati nige´sûnna. Kûltsâ´te une´ga ûnni´tagâgû´ gûkwatsâ´nti-degû´. Agisa´’ti nige´sûnna. A´yû agwadantâ´gi aye’li´yu gûlasi´ga tsûda´ntâ, uktahû´nsti nige´sûnna. A´yû tsi´gi tsûda´nta 0 0. Sge!

Cherokee, Medicine,

Mooney, James. Sacred Formulas Of The Cherokees. Published in the Seventh Annual Report, Bureau of Ethnology, pp. 301-399. 1886.

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