I’m close to finishing David Graeber & David Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. The most interesting thing I’ve found in it so far is a quote from The Jesuit Relations, a series of field reports from missionaries in North America published in the 17th century. This one is from 1649:

In addition to the desires that we generally have that are free—or, at least, voluntary in us—which arise from a previous knowledge of some goodness that we imagine to exist in the thing desired, the Hurons believe that our souls have other desires, which are, as it were, inborn and concealed.…

Now they believe that our soul makes these natural desires known by means of dreams, which are its language. Accordingly, when these desires are accomplished, it is satisfied; but, on the contrary, if it be not granted what it desires, it becomes angry, and not only does not give its body the good and the happiness that it wished to procure for it, but often it also revolts against the body, causing various diseases, and even death.

…And they call this Ondinnonk—a secret desire of the soul manifested by a dream.

Nevertheless—just as, although we did not always declare our thoughts and our inclinations by means of speech, those who by means of supernatural vision could see into the depths of our hearts would not fail to have knowledge of them—in the same manner, the Hurons believe that there are certain persons, more enlightened than the common, whose sight penetrates, as it were, into the depths of the soul. These see the natural and hidden desires that it has, though the soul has declared nothing by dreams, or though he who may have had the dreams has completely forgotten them. It is thus that their Medicine-men—or, rather, their Jugglers—whom they call Saokata, acquire credit, and make the most of their art by saying that a child in the cradle, who has neither discernment nor knowledge, will have an Ondinnonk—that is to say, a natural and hidden desire for such or such a thing; and that a sick person will have similar desires for various things of which he has never had any knowledge, or anything approaching it. For, as we shall explain further on, the Hurons believe that one of the most efficacious remedies for rapidly restoring health is to grant the soul of the sick person these natural desires.

(the quote above is more extensive than the excerpt in The Dawn of Everything. It comes from The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1898 Burrows Brothers Co. translation edited by R.G. Thwaites, volume ⅩⅩⅩⅢ, chapter Ⅻ, pp. 189–193)


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