The Life of Ten Bears: Comanche Historical Narratives

By Francis Joseph Attocknie; Thomas W. Kavanagh | Go to book overview

7   The Badger’s Mirror
| 1855 |

Besides the Sacred Ceremonial to the Sun in the Great Lodge, other rituals by which Comanches looked into the future were manifestations such as the visions of individuals and the communications with animals such as coyotes. And also the ritual in which the badger was consulted. This ritual showed the manner in which a persistently active warrior would die; the warrior had a glimpse of himself either as a scalped and bloody bald or with the death pallor of a victim of some enemy, or else he might see himself as a wrinkled and sparse-haired enfeebled oldster. No feat for the fainthearted in either case.

The badger was killed, laid on its back, and the body cut open in such a way that the viscera was covered by a pool of badger’s blood. The pool of bright red blood was then sprinkled with fine dust so as to form a film. This part of the ritual was performed in the evening. Early the next morning, those warriors who wanted to look into the crimson mirror and find out how they would meet their end would arise and go bathe. After bathing, the stouthearted warriors would paint and prepare themselves just as if they were going into mortal combat.

It is known that the look into the badger’s sacred scarlet mirror of the future took more courage than even mortal combat with a merciless enemy. Of the two extremes of courage, the latter was known to have repelled more brave warriors than the former. It was not considered a dishonor to balk or shy away from the corpse of the ritually prepared badger. Warriors shrinking from mortal enemy are unforgotten to the very present day.

After all the warriors who were to take part in this early morning badger ritual had made themselves ready, the dust film that had formed overnight on the badger’s bloody viscera was lifted away in one piece, just like a fateful crimson curtain that has been shading a window looking out into the future. The removal of this cover from the badger’s viscera left a clear bright crimson pool of blood. Into this bright pool of blood a warrior would look to see himself just at death.

The leader of the group naturally expected to take the first look. His followers lined up to follow their leader in their turn. The leader would

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