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Photo shows the famous Cherokee, Junaluska, wearing cap of Zoroastrian conjurer

Photo shows the famous Cherokee, Junaluska, wearing cap of Zoroastrian conjurer

Junaluska (Tsunu’lahun’ski) was the spiritual leader of a band of Cherokees, living outside the Cherokee Nation in the Maggie Valley, NC until 1838.  However, he was born near present day Dillard, GA and after the Trail of Tears lived in present day Graham County, NC.  He was the founder of the Snowbird Clan of Cherokees, which have their own reservation.

Junaluska is best known for raising a company of 100 Cherokee soldiers to assist General Andrew Jackson in his military campaign against the Red Stick Creeks.  He saved Jackson’s life in one battle and in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, led an attack on the rear of the Red Stick village, which made escape impossible for the Creeks.

What is not generally known about Junaluska is that he was a haggi, (conjurer or sorcerer) in the traditional Cherokee religion. In their communal worship services, he conjured demons from flames in order to seek their guidance.  He then interpreted what the demons were saying to those attending.   The appearance of this religious practice is virtually identical to that of “speaking in tongues” in a Pentecostal Christian Church.   I have personally observed both.

Charate Haggi of Tugaloo was a famous conjurer in the early 18th century.   His name means “Sacred Fire People- Conjurer.”  In December of 1715, he told the leadership of the embryonic Cherokees that they should kill the delegation of Muskogean leaders, who were their guests then switch sides to fight for the British in the Yamasee War.  The demons promised that as a result the Cherokees would conquer a great empire.  That, in fact, is what happened for exactly 20 years,  then several, horrific smallpox plagues devastated their population.  The Cherokee lost every war they fought after 1737.  That they continued to exist at all was due to the constant protection of the Colony of South Carolina.

The Zoroastrian pronunciation of their word for “Sacred Fire” is identical to that of the Cherokee word for the same.  I am convinced that the Cherokee tribe was never an ethnic group, but a religious-political movement that swept through the Appalachians in the late 1600s and early 1700s.   It was most likely introduced by Zoroastrian refugees from the Middle East.  This is why the Cherokees have no cultural memory before the early 1700s and are constantly trying to “steal” cultural symbols and town sites from the Creeks in Georgia.

The secret history of the Middle East

In 1492,  Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians were the oppressed majorities in many areas of the Ottoman Empire.  The current batch of prevaricating Muslim talking heads don’t tell you this, but an unimaginably brutal genocide of Christians and Zoroastrians occurred between 1500 and 1700 in the Middle East in order make these horribly persecuted, non-Muslim majorities, impotent minorities.  Millions upon millions of Christians and Zoroastrians were either killed, castrated, enslaved or deported.  The Muslims repeatedly launched massive invasions of Eastern Europe in attempts to destroy Christianity.  There are many ways of explaining how some of these refugees ended up in the Appalachians.

Haggi means exactly the same in the Zoroastrian religion of the Middle East as it did in the Proto-Cherokee language.  In fact, there are many shared, identical beliefs between Zoroastrianism and traditional Cherokee religion such as multiple layers of heaven and conjuring of demons within fires and springs.  The primary difference is that Middle Eastern haggi were not supposed to conjure demons into harming other persons.



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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    I always read with interest. Your feelings about the Cherokee may be justified but equating anti-Mayan orthodoxy with demon worship is a stretch. Unless they have taken over the Park Service as well?
    I know several people against the “Mayans in Georgia” idea but they are not particularly religious one way or the other. For the most part these folks are just conservative thinkers.


    Richard, the hills are filled with old-ancient magic. What do you think was going on at the Acropolis of Track Rock? The Cherokee were the transmission for magical myth in the area and thank goodness. Certainly not condoning the practice of hexxing you, but their people have more than likely lost their way from the high magic teaching they inherited a long time ago. We’re in the Kali Yuga now and virtually everything is in a detoriated state from where it once was, but to not regonize the nature of magic in the very mysteries you’re covering is to loose the crux altogether with petty politics. Water sorcery was part of it. These sites were created for ceremonial magic purposes that likely don’t fit your ideal…

    • What the people in North Carolina are doing in their minds is conjuring demons to attack their rival for a boy friend, some neighbor they don’t like, their EX, members of the tribal council, whatever. Whether or not such things as demons exist, to dwell on the darkness and doing harm to others, envelopes the mind with darkness. We know what the people of Track Rock were doing. They were burning copal resin 24/7 as prayers to the sun god. Each fall the people would climb up to the Apalache temples with prayers for the painted buntings that lived in the temple during the warm months, to take back to the home of the sun god (the tropics) in the winter. Also at certain holidays during the year, the elite would “sacrifice” valuable personal items into the temple, which were then distributed by the priests to the commoners. Very different thing than trying to cast demons on people to harm them.

      By the way, the same type of nonsense has happened among the Muskogeees in Ocmulgee, OK. Conjurers sneak in and sprinkle special tobacco or herbs around the doorway of the courtrooms and meeting room of the National Council so that (at least in their minds) they have gained control over the judge or council members.


    The people who built the ruins were worshiping the sacred serpent as an aspect of the moon goddess. That is written in stone and follows a similar pattern at both Fort sites. Perhaps later a Creek associated tribe came and took up the ceremonies you describe but I do not believe that to be the original purpose at all. These are pillars and worship that go back a very long time…


      Actually the Track Rock Terraces are in my mind completely femine worship. Coming from spring or water source. Our word ‘sorcerer’ deriving from the Gaellic-French ‘Sorciere’ or one who works with the powers of water…


    With all the witchcraft in Western NC, I wonder if that has anything to do with me getting sick BOTH times I took a class at the John C Campbell Folk school in Brasstown! On my last trip there, I came down with walking Pneumonia! I also notice feeling weird vibes in the area..I get those same weird vibes around Ruidoso NM even as a little child, I knew there was something of dark in a spiritual way there..




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