Elbow Witch

    Elbow Witch, also known as an Awl-Elbow Witch, is a wicked woman from Algonquian folklore, possessing knives or awls upon her elbows.  One story in which they appear is "Āyāsä," which means "Filcher-of-Meat."  One day one of Āyāsä's two wives commanded he get a ruffled grouse when he returned home from gathering eggs.  On his journey, he encountered three manitou challenges.  The first were two wicked old women who wanted him in their kettle, but some enchanted animals chewed them to death.  Next he encountered two similar old women, only they had awls sticking out of each elbow, and were blind.  They, as did the others, called Āyāsä "grandson" and prepared him food, but he suspected they planned to kill him for their kettle, as each stood on either side of the door.  Āyāsä hung a blanket on his stick and touched both of them with it, and they began to use their elbows.  They realized they were killing each other shortly before they did so. (Jones, 380-393).

    Awls are of great importance to Ojibwa culture.  Among the stories Jones presents are "The Awl and the Cranberry," "Skunk, Awl, and Cranberry, and the Old Mocassin," and most importantly, "Sun and Moon," in which a young woman escapes from a pit of bones using ulna awls, which are made from the ulna of a moose, caribou, or deer.

    The Elbow Witch is a type of manitou, but I have yet to find more stories about her.


Text Copyright © 1999 Scott Andrew Hutchins

 

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