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Observations placeholder

Cicero Newell - Indian Stories – How the Holy Men were tested by fire



Type of Spiritual Experience


It isn't fire walking, but this is the nearest sub-category

A description of the experience

Indian Stories – Cicero Newell

ONE Sunday my wife and I were on our way home  from the agency church. As we passed an Indian tepee I heard someone call out, “Father ! Father !"

I stopped and listened "I heard the call repeated. It was an Indian calling me".

We went, to the tepee from which the call came, raised the door, and entered. We saw four Indians sitting in a circle, praying. In the center of the tepee was a fire, and over the fire was a kettle that held about four buckets of water. The kettle was nearly full of water and meat. The fire was burning briskly and the meat was boiling. It boiled so hard that the grease from the meat at times came over the side of the kettle and ran down into the fire, causing it to smoke. I supposed that they had invited us to have dinner with them.

While we were watching them at their prayers I saw one of the four Indians rise and throw off his blanket. He then advanced to the kettle, bared his right arm above the elbow, and thrust his hand and arm into the kettle of boiling meat and water. He held it there until I expected to see every particle of the flesh on his arm scalded and cooked. Finally he found the piece of meat that he wanted, took it out, and ate it while it was still boiling hot.

After he had finished, I took my handkerchief and wiped the grease and water from his arm, and felt it to see if it was injured. When I pinched it he betrayed no signs of pain. There was a smile on his face all the time as though he had nothing to fear. I could not understand how he could do such a thing as that. If I had placed my hand in that boiling water and grease it would have burned the flesh from the bone. But this man was not harmed.

To make sure that I was not mistaken, I asked him to come to my office at four o'clock that afternoon and let me see his arm again. He came as I requested, but I found no bad results whatever. His arm seemed to be as perfect as it had been. This man had just completed seven years of fasting and prayer. The' Indians said that he had prepared himself to become a Holy Man and that the Great Spirit had protected him from all harm. They declared that he could hear the words of the Great Spirit.

The source of the experience

Native American Indians

Concepts, symbols and science items


Fire walking

Activities and commonsteps





Contemplation and detachment