Sheridan, Clare – The bloody history of the sacred tomahawk
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Clare Sheridan – Redskin interlude
Before leaving, Ancient-Pipe-Woman said she had a present for me and disappeared into the next room.
"It'll be something good," said Esto impressively.
She reappeared carrying a formidable tomahawk.
The heavy stone was half-covered with hide and had a flexible hide-covered handle. Ancient-Pipe-Woman said she had it from her father. Supposedly it dated back to pre-White-man days. She used it, so she said, for pounding pemmican into a mush. Others no doubt had used it for pounding human brains into a mush! Heaven alone knows what violences it had not committed in its day.
I held it in my hand, fascinated by the thought that it could crack a skull the way one cracks a nut. The Chief took it from me with a semi-serious air! He did not wish, he said, to be responsible for a murder. I promised to use it only for mincing meat.
I must add, in a long parenthesis, that when I got back to England I placed this formidable weapon in the hands of Professor Austral when he came to supper in my studio. Almost immediately he went into a trance and his body was convulsed as by a prodigious shudder.
At the same time he uttered a groan and his fingers fidgeted with the object nervously, restlessly, as if he were holding something that burnt him. Ensued a confused description-this thing had been much prized for years; it had hung and then lain in a place of honour in the house of a King, or Chieftain. Before that it had served many purposes in many places. It was associated with some violence in which a woman was the victim of the owner's jealousy. He passed over that quickly as if it were too sinister to relate. At intervals he broke from his narrative and returned to it, but as if the mention of it caused him pain. Then he saw horses, horses and more horses galloping ! This thing was being slung wildly in the air. But it had saved, several lives, and had been used in defence against wild animals. Once it killed a lion.
The Professor paused, made the sign of the cross upon it, and prayed that those with whom it was associated might rest in peace. Then with a little shiver he ‘came to’ from his trance.