Transmuting Realities, Transcending Space/Time Continum
"Today, three years into the new millineum, physicists are beginning to take a second look at the knowledge of the Ancients. Were the dreams caucasians had of time machines, space travel, overcoming the fear of death all a part of the practices of the shamen of the Aboriginals of Canada? Have scientists made the answers so elusive that the simplicity of the truth is overlooked? The Blackfeet of ancient times, and some even of today, had a time machine. Think about that.
The Shaking Tent, Aiyakokiyiu, played a great role in the Blackfeet invocation ceremonies, this rite was a spiritual melding of physicality and entities in other realms, other dimensions, those of higher frequencies or vibrations. The shaman transcended the boundaries of real time and used specific procedures to summon entities whose assistance guided him through the space/time continum, breaking the barriers.
Fur traders and early visitors to the Blackfeet had no reference point from which to evaluate such inter- dimensional occurences but in 1931, a priest by the name of Father John M. Cooper recognized the ceremony as similar to the New World mantic complex. It took a sage of greater knowlege of the spiritual mysteries to appreciate the rite.
In the late 1800's a Hudson's Bay Company surveyor, Peter Fidler, observed first hand this Blackfeet clairvoyance event. In his description he noted that he observed the clairvoyant, or medicine person, laid on his back in the tent with his legs, toes, arms and fingers all tied securely with sinew. He was wrapped in and sewn securely into a buffalo robe, (leaving only his head exposed), which was wound and tied with strong rope. All was silent inside the tent for about twenty minutes, then a lone rattle was heard, clearly being shaken by the medicine person who had freed his hands. In another fifteen minutes the entire tent began to vibrate rapidly. The clairvoyant began to speak a spiritual language unkown to the observer, intermittently with singing and always with the constant shaking of the rattle. The exterior of the tent was adorned with hundreds of dried calf hoof rattles which created a stronger vibration as the tent accelerated in it's vibratory frequency.
In another ten minutes the medicine man announced that a disincarnate entity from the outer realms had joined him and would repond to questions. The predominant question was as to the whereabouts of some young warriors who had disappeared. They had gone on a diplomatic mission to make peace with the Snake Indians and not returned weeks later. It was discerned that they would arrive in two days and the delay was due to the fact that they were on foot and had sore and aching feet and legs from the extensive journey. After the information was obtained, the clairvoyant emerged from the tent free of his bonds and a great feast ensued in celebration of the good news. Two days later the young men returned safely with legs and feet swelled with walking. They reported that the Snake Indians had been hospitable and sent messages of peace with their neighboring tribes.
Another witness to a similar Aiyakokiyiu, in the same year, was Peter Fidler, a fur company surveyor. But he was inside the lodge during this ritual. The naked medicine man was tied in the same manner as that of the aforementioned participant but the medium was then put into a small compartment partitioned off from the rest of the tipi, obscured from view by a skin curtain. The center fire was quelched and the lodge became totally darkened. A struggle was heard and then the medium began speaking to a disencarnate entity. In a more understandable voice, he noted that the entity had come to disengage him from his bonds and tell him of future events for his people. He sang and shook his rattle for some time and then called for the fire to be ignited for illumination and he exited the compartment freed of his earlier encumberments.
The clairvoyant was given his medicine pipe and he smoked and rested then made an offering of blessed tobacco to the spirits. He then told the group of the information given to him by the visiting entities.
He said that the individual who was ill that was of concern to the clan would recover shortly, and a courier from the neighboring Snake Indians would soon arrive with a pipe of peace and the hunting party would return the next day with an abundance of buffalo meat for the people. Fidler noted that the feats accomplished were extraordinary exhibiting wonderful powers.
Another observer of the shaking tent phenomenon was Sir Cecil Denny, a Northwest Mounted Police veteran. In 1879 he visited an encampment on the Deer River in Alberta. He was invited into the lodge of the medicine man one evening and found him smoking a long medicine pipe in the head of the tipi. The medicine man did not acknowledge the presence of his guest and Denny sat quitely and observed. Shortly he heard the sound of a bell ringing above their heads, yet saw nothing there. Within a few moments the tipi began to rock and lift slightly off the ground. He noted that it would be impossible for the lodge to be lifted by men on the outside for it was constructed securely, strong enough a determined wind could not move it. It had numerous large, secure poles and was weighted down with immense buffalo hides. The tipi was lifting over a foot off the ground before his eyes. The rocking motion ceased after awhile and Denny went outside to see if it were feasable for men to have accomplished it, he determined that could not have been the case. He reentered the lodge and seated himself and the lodge began rocking even more vigorously, lifting several feet off the ground so that he could clearly see the outside. Thoroughly mystified, he excused himself and left rapidly. This apparently was not the actual clairvoyant rite, but a demonstration of powerful forces created for the caucasian observer.
Denny was an observer at another demonstration of Blackfeet power which he termed "magical". A bound warrior was tossed into a small tipi which had numerous small sharp pointed stakes driven into the ground all around. The warrior shortly emerged totally unharmed and free of his bonds. He remarked that he was vigilant in his observation and could see no evidence of trickery in the feat.
The general practices of the Shaking Tent rite that were common to all those observed were as follows;
1. Specific purpose identified and questions submitted for predictions.
2. Tent or booth constructed.
3. Disincarnate entity consulted.
4. Meduim bound and wrapped then concealed.
5. Tipi or booth vibrates.
6. Medium freed of bonds.
7. Conversation between medium and entity unintelligible to observers.
8. Entity departs.
9. Medium imparts specific requested information obtained.
10. Tobacco offerings made.
11. Rite is characterized by sobriety.
12. Healings often occur.
13. Medium may be of either gender.
Father John Cooper noted that he observed two types of spiritual manifestations in the Shaking Tent Rite. One concerned a solitary disincarnate entity, often a personal tutor of the medicine person. Another was the summoning of numerous animal spirits with one being the main intermediary. But the Blackfeet practice ultimately concentrated on divination of a single disincarnate entity. The arrival of the entity was noted by an auditory signal. The sounds of an approaching horse, galloping towards the lodge was observed but most conventionally a sound device, such as a whistle or rattle, was placed in the lodge for the entity to verify their presence.
Various witnesses to the Shaking Tent Rite generally agree that they had observed that the medium communicated with the entity in a humming manner, either thick and muffled, or highly nasal, occassionally a high falsetto resonance, and even in a whistling manner. Tobacco offerenings were universal and the smoking of the pipe was offered to the entity and to the participant and observers later. Some observed the pipe's bowl to glow when it was offered to the entiy, although no one appeared to be holding it. Individual personal sacred or power songs were sung by the medicine person before the ritual to reach a particualr state of mind. The entity was generally given a food offering for their assistance and a grand feast was partaken by all attendees after the rite.
The Blackfeet showed a dichotomy of feelings towards disembodied entities. Often they feared those who had passed over to the Big Sands, avoiding burial sites and burying the dead quickly. On the other hand the medicine people used specific disembodied entites as teachers and helpers in ceremonies such as described in the Shaking Tent Rite. The medicine bundles contained artifacts from nature and animal spirits that were highly revered and called upon in ceremony to instruct and enlighten. Yet the members of the highest sacred society, the Horn Society, were banned from attending wakes or funerals of even their closest kin.
It is believed that the Shaking Tent Rite originated in the Northern Plains of the Confederated Blackfeet and their neighboring tribes and expanded outwards towards the western grasslands of other Indian Nations. Adaptations by various tribes were introduced to accomodate varying beliefs and practices. For example, the Blackfeet and neighboring Atsina became close friends and allies and the Atsina demonstrated a ceremony closely resembling the original the Blackfeet practiced.
In more recent times, Black Plume participated in a Shaking Tent Rite where a close friend performed the ritual as the medium. The warrior was Cree and the ceremony was identical to the one described by Peter Fidler in the late 1800's when he interacted with Black Plume's ancestors on the Alberta plains."