Mask of Woctolly
by Eric Whollem
oxides on white earthenware clay
with ceramic beads
and flax cord
Collection of the artist
PHOTO COPYRIGHT BY THE ARTIST
Woctolly the Salmon Merman of the Feather River
Previously on this blog I posted a ceramic sculpture which
depicted the Mother of Woctolly. A link to this post can be
found below, which may be of interest to many because it
contains information about salmons as they are featured in
shamanic traditions from a number of world cultures. Woctolly
was a salmon shaman.
The story of Woctolly is well known among the Concow Maidu
Indians of Butte County, California. Various spellings can be
found of Woctolly's name. Sometimes one sees 'Waktali.'
The Nisenan Maidu who live further south also have versions of
his story. And I met a shaman of the Cato Indians of the Coast
Range (across the Sacramento Valley) who told me that Woctolly
is known among his people as well. The Cato have a painting of
Woctolly on the walls of their sweat lodge.
THE LEGEND OF WOCTOLLY
It is said in Butte County that Woctolly was found one day caught
in the salmon nets of people fishing on the Middle Fork of the
Feather River. He was a man who was half salmon and half human.
The fishermen took him into camp, where he proceeded to cause
much mischief. He was a trickster. Among his abilities was the
power of flight. It is said by some that Woctolly was a shaman,
or 'doctor' as is said among the Concow Maidu.
MAGICAL DREAM FLIGHT
I have talked to a Maidu shaman who told me that magical flight
in dreams was of major importance for a doctor, as knowledge of
dangers to the people are often best discovered through dream
knowledge. The head shaman~or 'yeponi'~is the doctor who has the
most power in his dreams.
Readers interested in more of my posts about the CONCOW MAIDU might want to check out:
THE SCULPTURE BELOW
MOTHER OF WOCTOLLY
My post on THE MOTHER OF WOCTOLLY and SALMON MAGIC can be found here:
A video dealing with the Concow Maidu.
Another Maidu video.
My posts on SHAMANISM discuss practices found in various cultures:
More of my CERAMIC SCULPTURES can be found on these posts: