Illness is often thought to have been brought on by sorcery or witchcraft, such as the Western Apache belief that most serious illnesses are caused by someone behaving improperly or violating the taboo towards holy things in which sacred powers dwell (Zimmerman and Molyneaux, 1996). Specific examples are boiling a deerĂs stomach, eating its tongue, or cutting off its tail, which are believed to offend the Deer Power; stepping on a snakeĂs tail or leaning against a tree that has been struck by lightening are also believed to cause sickness.
The Lakota performed a yuwipi diagnostic ceremony which requires a strict adherence to ritual by its participants (Zimmerman and Molyneaux, 1996). Participants have to avoid contact with any contamination, particularly women who were menstruating. They must have open minds and be totally receptive to the ceremony because scepticism would cause failure. The windows are covered with blankets to shut out the light, as the ceremony is carried out in complete darkness. The holy man is rolled in a blanket or canvas sheet and laid in the darkness. Participants see the spirits as flashes of light in the room, hear the wings of eagles flying through the room, and even feel their wings on their cheeks. These have to be present for the ceremony to be a success. It the yuwipi is completely successful, the holy man will have a vision telling him what has caused the patientĂs illness and how to treat it.
The Lakota Sioux have a healing ceremony which involves the use of tobacco traps (Harner, 1990). It is based on the principle that the intrusive spirits like tobacco and will be attracted to it. The patient is laid on the floor and a circle of tobacco ties is placed on the floor around them. This aids the shaman in removing the intrusive object which is causing the disease. After the ceremony is over, the shaman rolls all the tobacco ties into a ball and takes them far away and drapes them over the branches of a tree so the s