#10 The Suicide as Earthbound
     (Jesse Cornplanter, n.d.)

And our belief is that for anyone who will destroy his own life, his spirit will always be earth-bound. My father [Edward Cornplanter, speaker and ritual holder in Newtown longhouse who recited the Code of Handsome Lake to Arthur C. Parker] used to say that the spirit [of a suicide] will just wander around where the [waterhemlock] plants grow, and it will always be expecting another person to follow its example. Indians [Senecas] believe it is a sin to take one’s own life, to shorten the span of days which the Great Spirit has given to each one of us; therefore as a punishment he shall not go on the path to the spirit-world, but shall always remain on earth among the plants which he took for death.

A maple leaf is the thickness of the partition between us and the dead. A person who has died of violence―witchcraft poisoning, suicide, and murder remains earth-bound until judgment day.

[#10] The Seneca: William N. Fenton, Iroquois Suicide: A Study in the Stability of a Culture Pattern, Bureau of American Ethnology Anthropological Papers, No. 14 (Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, 1941, p. 89).

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