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Sheridan, Clare –The Terrifying power of the Horns



Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Clare Sheridan – Redskin interlude

The Horns are the most formidable secret society that exists among the Indian tribes. Owing to the universal fear of this society, and the secrecy of its ritual, it is very difficult to get any information about it. My best (Indian) friends advised me not to ask about the Horns. It is supposed to be dangerous even to talk about them. Anyone who divulged even a fraction of information would be pursued with ill luck.

I was assured that the power of their magic was so great that to wish anyone dead was tantamount to the realisation! Among the Bloods, fear of the Horn Society is still so great that the most solemn oath a man can swear is to "speak the truth by the Horns."

Membership costs six or seven horses, in return for which the member receives a long seven-foot staff like a shepherd's crook. It is wrapped around in strips of otter, and decorated with bunches of eagle feathers.

Why this staff should be worth seven horses, and why Indians thought it worthwhile to be temporarily beggared, is the secret none may know.

The American Museum of National History must have offered a large bribe for the ritual details that they acquired, and so that none may be shocked by the revelation, it is printed in Latin!

The belief is general that Horn members have power over life and death even upon outsiders: they have a short magic formula, which consists in sharpening the point of a stick, painting it red, naming the victim, and casting the stick in the fire. I find it hard to believe that it is quite so simple.

The source of the experience

Native American Indians

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image


Observation contributed by: Margaret Booth