"Now spoke the beings and said, 'We now speak of the second word. This makes the Creator angry. The word is Got'gon?. 3
Witches are people without their right minds. They make disease and spread sickness to make the living die. They cut short the numbered days, for the Creator has given each person a certain number of days in which to live in this world.
"'Now this must you do: When you have told this message and the witches hear it they will confess before all the people and will say, "I am doing this evil thing but now I cease it. forever, as long as I live." Some witches are more evil and can not speak in public so these must come privately and confess to you, Handsome Lake, or a preacher of this Gai'wiio`. Now some are most evil and they must go far out upon an abandoned trail and there they must
confess before the Creator alone. This course may be taken by witches of whom no one knows.
Now when they go they must say:
"Our Creator, O listen to me!
I am a miserable creature.
I think that way
So now I cease.
Now this is appointed
For all of my days,
As long as I live here
In this earth-world.
I have spoken."
"'In this manner all must say and say truly, then the prayer will be sufficient.'"
So they said and he said. Eniaiehuk.
27:3 A certain number of the Seneca Iroquois still cling to the belief in witchcraft although they are loath to admit it to any one in whom they have not implicit confidence. While they assert that witchcraft was introduced among them by some Algonquin tribe which they had adopted, their early legends and traditions contain many allusions to witches and witchcraft. There are at least two distinct methods employed by witches to accomplish their ends. The first, it is claimed, is the older way and is the employment p. 28 of what is described by informants as analogous to "malific mental suggestion," either verbal or telepathic. Such witches were able to assume the form of ancient monsters, the nia?'gwahe: or mammoth bear being the favorite form. They had power of transforming people into beasts, of imprisoning them within trees without destroying the human nature or sensibilities of their victims. Many stories are related of how chivalrous young men fresh from the dream fast were able to release the unhappy prisoners from the spells that bound them.
The second and modern class of witches work their evil spells by introducing into the bodies of their victims by supernatural means a small needlelike splinter pointed on either end and having a central eye to which was tied the hair of the witch, a splinter of bone from the fibula of a deer, a worm or some like object. Instances where such things have been drawn from bewitched persons are commonly reported.
A witch can work fearlessly and successfully as long as she remains unknown to the victim and under some circumstances even when known. A "witched" person is often able to see as in a vision the witch wherever she goes and is likewise able to tell when she is about to approach the house. Witches fear the threat of an angry person to kill them. Such a threat if an earnest one is an effectual charm against further annoyance. To burn the object that a witch has introduced into one's body will torture the witch and kill her. Such objects are not often burned. If revenge is desired the victim, if sufficiently angry, can throw the object through space and injure the witch wherever he wishes. A person who successfully resists and destroys another witch's power may become a witch if so desired.
To torture a witch, force a confession and exact a promise of repentance, take a living bird, black in color (a hen is now usually employed) and carry it into the woods at midnight. Here build a fire and then split open the bird's body, extract its beating heart and hang it by its chords over a small fire to roast slowly. The witch will then exert every possible means to reach the spot and beg that the heart be taken from the fire before it is consumed. At such a time any promise may be exacted, for the witch is powerless. If the heart is consumed the witch will die of a "burnt heart." Witch poison may be extracted by putting fine sifted ashes on the afflicted part and p. 29 staying in bed until the poison comes out. The charm will then be found in the ashes. The spirits of great witches are able to return and possess another witch. A witch who has such a "friend" is especially favored, for in time of need the spirit-witch will direct her to money, goods or food. Witches do not always injure people who have offended them but more often their children or other near relatives. This is done that the person they desire to punish may see an innocent person suffer for their offense and so be tortured the more.
"Witch doctors" are of two classes: witches who are willing to pit their powers against other witches; and medicine men who have made a special study of the charms that will offset witch spells. This class may also be divided into two divisions, those who make a regular profession of dispelling witch influences, of discovering the cause of mysterious ailments, of extracting the object that causes the trouble and of identifying witches, and those who by reason of some special service they have rendered some spirit of nature have been rewarded with magical powers, great wisdom and immunity from malific influences. This class renders its services gratuitously. Small false faces worn on the person and frequent invocations of the Thunder spirit with liberal offerings of sacred tobacco are potent charms against witches. The False Face company has an annual ceremony in which witch spirits are expelled from the community. The I?'dos company (q. v.) is said to be the survival of the older witch society introduced among the Seneca by the Nanticoke. Its members are reputed to possess magic powers.