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   Chapter 2 The Perils Of The Soul.

The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (Third Edition, Vol. 06 of 12) By James George Frazer Characters: 142211

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


§ 1. The Soul as a Mannikin.

What is the primitive conception of death?

The foregoing examples have taught us that the office of a sacred king or priest is often hedged in by a series of burdensome restrictions or taboos, of which a principal purpose appears to be to preserve the life of the divine man for the good of his people. But if the object of the taboos is to save his life, the question arises, How is their observance supposed to effect this end? To understand this we must know the nature of the danger which threatens the king's life, and which it is the intention of these curious restrictions to guard against. We must, therefore, ask: What does early man understand by death? To what causes does he attribute it? And how does he think it may be guarded against?

Savages conceive the human soul as a mannikin, the prolonged absence of which from the body causes death.

As the savage commonly explains the processes of inanimate nature by supposing that they are produced by living beings working in or behind the phenomena, so he explains the phenomena of life itself. If an animal lives and moves, it can only be, he thinks, because there is a little animal inside which moves it: if a man lives and moves, it can only be because he has a little man or animal inside who moves him. The animal inside the animal, the man inside the man, is the soul. And as the activity of an animal or man is explained by the presence of the soul, so the repose of sleep or death is explained by its absence; sleep or trance being the temporary, death being the permanent absence of the soul. Hence if death be the permanent absence of the [pg 027] soul, the way to guard against it is either to prevent the soul from leaving the body, or, if it does depart, to ensure that it shall return. The precautions adopted by savages to secure one or other of these ends take the form of certain prohibitions or taboos, which are nothing but rules intended to ensure either the continued presence or the return of the soul. In short, they are life-preservers or life-guards. These general statements will now be illustrated by examples.

The soul as a mannikin in Australia, America, and among the Malays.

Addressing some Australian blacks, a European missionary said, "I am not one, as you think, but two." Upon this they laughed. "You may laugh as much as you like," continued the missionary, "I tell you that I am two in one; this great body that you see is one; within that there is another little one which is not visible. The great body dies, and is buried, but the little body flies away when the great one dies." To this some of the blacks replied, "Yes, yes. We also are two, we also have a little body within the breast." On being asked where the little body went after death, some said it went behind the bush, others said it went into the sea, and some said they did not know.77 The Hurons thought that the soul had a head and body, arms and legs; in short, that it was a complete little model of the man himself.78 The Esquimaux believe that "the soul exhibits the same shape as the body it belongs to, but is of a more subtle and ethereal nature."79 According to the Nootkas of British Columbia the soul has the shape of a tiny man; its seat is the crown of the head. So long as it stands erect, its owner is hale and hearty; but when from any cause it loses its upright position, he loses his senses.80 Among the Indian tribes of the Lower Fraser River, man is held to have four souls, of which the principal one has the form of a mannikin, while the other [pg 028] three are shadows of it.81 The Malays conceive the human soul (semangat) as a little man, mostly invisible and of the bigness of a thumb, who corresponds exactly in shape, proportion, and even in complexion to the man in whose body he resides. This mannikin is of a thin unsubstantial nature, though not so impalpable but that it may cause displacement on entering a physical object, and it can flit quickly from place to place; it is temporarily absent from the body in sleep, trance, and disease, and permanently absent after death.82

The soul as a mannikin in ancient Egypt.

The ancient Egyptians believed that every man has a soul (ka) which is his exact counterpart or double, with the same features, the same gait, even the same dress as the man himself. Many of the monuments dating from the eighteenth century onwards represent various kings appearing before divinities, while behind the king stands his soul or double, portrayed as a little man with the king's features. Some of the reliefs in the temple at Luxor illustrate the birth of King Amenophis III. While the queen-mother is being tended by two goddesses acting as midwives, two other goddesses are bringing away two figures of new-born children, only one of which is supposed to be a child of flesh and blood: the inscriptions engraved above their heads shew that, while the first is Amenophis, the second is his soul or double. And as with kings and queens, so it was with common men and women. Whenever a child was born, there was born with him a double which followed him through the various stages of life; young while he was young, it grew to maturity and declined along with him. And not only human beings, but gods and animals, stones and trees, natural and artificial objects, everybody and everything had its own soul or double. The doubles of oxen and sheep were the duplicates of the original oxen or sheep; the doubles of linen or beds, of chairs or knives, had the same form as the real linen, beds, chairs, and knives. So thin and subtle was the stuff, so fine and delicate the texture of these doubles, that they made no impression on ordinary eyes. Only certain classes of priests [pg 029] or seers were enabled by natural gifts or special training to perceive the doubles of the gods, and to win from them a knowledge of the past and the future. The doubles of men and things were hidden from sight in the ordinary course of life; still, they sometimes flew out of the body endowed with colour and voice, left it in a kind of trance, and departed to manifest themselves at a distance.83

The soul as a mannikin in Nias, Fiji, and India.

So exact is the resemblance of the mannikin to the man, in other words, of the soul to the body, that, as there are fat bodies and thin bodies, so there are fat souls and thin souls;84 as there are heavy bodies and light bodies, long bodies and short bodies, so there are heavy souls and light souls, long souls and short souls. The people of Nias (an island to the west of Sumatra) think that every man, before he is born, is asked how long or how heavy a soul he would like, and a soul of the desired weight or length is measured out to him. The heaviest soul ever given out weighs about ten grammes. The length of a man's life is proportioned to the length of his soul; children who die young had short souls.85 The Fijian conception of the soul as a tiny human being comes clearly out in the customs observed at the death of a chief among the Nakelo tribe. When a chief dies, certain men, who are the hereditary undertakers, call him, as he lies, oiled and ornamented, on fine mats, saying, "Rise, sir, the chief and let us be going. The day has come over the land." Then they conduct him to the river side, where the ghostly ferryman comes to ferry Nakelo ghosts across the stream [pg 030] As they thus attend the chief on his last journey, they hold their great fans close to the ground to shelter him, because, as one of them explained to a missionary, "His soul is only a little child."86 People in the Punjaub who tattoo themselves believe that at death the soul, "the little entire man or woman" inside the mortal frame, will go to heaven blazoned with the same tattoo patterns which adorned the body in life.87 Sometimes, however, as we shall see, the human soul is conceived not in human but in animal form.

§ 2. Absence and Recall of the Soul.

Attempts to prevent the soul from escaping from the body.

The soul is commonly supposed to escape by the natural openings of the body, especially the mouth and nostrils. Hence in Celebes they sometimes fasten fishhooks to a sick man's nose, navel, and feet, so that if his soul should try to escape it may be hooked and held fast.88 A Turik on the Baram River, in Borneo, refused to part with some hook-like stones, because they, as it were, hooked his soul to his body, and so prevented the spiritual portion of him from becoming detached from the material.89 When a Sea Dyak sorcerer or medicine-man is initiated, his fingers are supposed to be furnished with fish-hooks, with which he will thereafter clutch the human soul in the act of flying away, and restore it to the body of the sufferer.90 But hooks, it is plain, may be used to catch the souls of enemies as well as of friends. Acting on this principle head-hunters in Borneo hang wooden hooks beside the skulls of their slain enemies in the belief that this helps them on their forays to hook in fresh heads.91 When an epidemic is raging, the Goajiro Indians of Colombia attribute it to an evil spirit, it may be the prowling ghost of an enemy. [pg 031] So they hang strings furnished with hooks from the roofs of their huts and from all the trees in the neighbourhood, in order that the demon or ghost may be caught on a hook and thus rendered powerless to harm them.92 Similarly the Calchaquis Indians to the west of Paraguay used to plant arrows in the ground about a sick man to keep death from getting at him.93 One of the implements of a Haida medicine-man is a hollow bone, in which he bottles up departing souls, and so restores them to their owners.94 When any one yawns in their presence the Hindoos always snap their thumbs, believing that this will hinder the soul from issuing through the open mouth.95 The Marquesans used to hold the mouth and nose of a dying man, in order to keep him in life by preventing his soul from escaping;96 the same custom is reported of the New Caledonians;97 and with the like intention the Bagobos of the Philippine Islands put rings of brass wire on the wrists or ankles of their sick.98 On the other hand, the Itonamas in South America seal up the eyes, nose, and mouth of a dying person, in case his ghost should get out and carry off others;99 and for a similar reason the people of Nias, who fear the spirits of the recently deceased and identify them with the breath, seek to confine the vagrant soul in its earthly tabernacle by bunging up the nose or tying up the jaws of the corpse.100 Before leaving a corpse the Wakelbura in Australia used to place hot coals in its ears in order to keep the ghost in the body, until they had got such a good start that he could not [pg 032] overtake them.101 Esquimaux mourners plug their nostrils with deerskin, hair, or hay for several days,102 probably to prevent their souls from following that of their departed friend; the custom is especially incumbent on the persons who dress the corpse.103 In southern Celebes, to hinder the escape of a woman's soul at childbirth, the nurse ties a band as tightly as possible round the body of the expectant mother.104 The Minangkabauers of Sumatra observe a similar custom; a skein of thread or a string is sometimes fastened round the wrist or loins of a woman in childbed, so that when her soul seeks to depart in her hour of travail it may find the egress barred.105 Among the Kayans of Borneo illness is attributed to the absence of the soul; so when a man has been ill and is well again, he attempts to prevent his soul from departing afresh. For this purpose he ties the truant into his body by fastening round his wrist a piece of string on which a lukut, or antique bead, is threaded; for a magical virtue appears to be ascribed to such beads. But lest the string and the bead should be broken and lost, he will sometimes tattoo the pattern of the bead on his wrist, and this is found to answer the purpose of tethering his soul quite as well.106 Again, the Koryak of North-Eastern Asia fancy that if [pg 033] there are two sick people in a house and one of them is at the last extremity, the soul of the other is apt to be lured away by the soul of the dying man; hence in order to hinder its departure they tie the patient's neck by a string to the bands of the sleeping-tent and recite a charm over the string so that it may be sure to detain the soul.107 And lest the soul of a babe should escape and be lost as soon as it is born, the Alfoors of Celebes, when a birth is about to take place, are careful to close every opening in the house, even the keyhole; and they stop up every chink and cranny in the walls. Also they tie up the mouths of all animals inside and outside the house, for fear one of them might swallow the child's soul. For a similar reason all persons present in the house, even the mother herself, are obliged to keep their mouths shut the whole time the birth is taking place. When the question was put, Why they did not hold their noses also, lest the child's soul should get into one of them? the answer was that breath being exhaled as well as inhaled through the nostrils, the soul would be expelled before it could have time to settle down.108 Popular expressions in the language of civilised peoples, such as to have one's heart in one's mouth, or the soul on the lips or in the nose, shew how natural is the idea that the life or soul may escape by the mouth or nostrils.109

The soul conceived as a bird ready to fly away.

Often the soul is conceived as a bird ready to take flight. This conception has probably left traces in most [pg 034] languages,110 and it lingers as a metaphor in poetry. But what is metaphor to a modern European poet was sober earnest to his savage ancestor, and is still so to many people. The Bororos of Brazil fancy that the human soul has the shape of a bird, and passes in that shape out of the body in dreams.111 According to the Bilqula or Bella Coola Indians of British Columbia the soul dwells in the nape of the neck and resembles a bird enclosed in an egg. If the shell breaks and the soul flies away, the man must die. If he swoons or becomes crazed, it is because his soul has flown away without breaking its shell. The shaman can hear the buzzing of its wings, like the buzz of a mosquito, as the soul flits past; and he may catch and replace it in the nape of its owner's neck.112 A Melanesian wizard in Lepers' Island has been known to send out his soul in the form of an eagle to pursue a ship and learn the fortunes of some natives who were being carried off in it.113 The soul of Aristeas of Proconnesus was seen to issue from his mouth in the shape of a raven.114 There is a popular opinion in Bohemia that the parting soul comes forth from the mouth like a white bird.115 The Malays carry out the conception of the bird-soul in a number of odd ways. If the soul is a bird on the wing, it may be attracted by rice, and so either prevented from taking wing or lured back again from its perilous flight. Thus in Java when a child is placed on the ground for the first time (a moment which uncultured people seem to regard as especially dangerous), it is put in a hen-coop and the mother makes a clucking sound, as if she were calling hens.116 Amongst the Battas of Sumatra, when a man returns from a dangerous enterprise, grains of rice are placed on his head, and these [pg 035] grains are called padiruma tondi, that is, "means to make the soul (tondi) stay at home." In Java also rice is placed on the head of persons who have escaped a great danger or have returned home unexpectedly after it had been supposed that they were lost.117 Similarly in the district of Sintang in West Borneo, if any one has had a great fright, or escaped a serious peril, or comes back after a long and dangerous journey, or has taken a solemn oath, the first thing that his relations or friends do is to strew yellow rice on his head, mumbling, "Cluck! cluck! soul!" (koer, koer, semangat). And when a person, whether man, woman, or child, has fallen out of a house or off a tree, and has been brought home, his wife or other kinswoman goes as speedily as possible to the spot where the accident happened, and there strews rice, which has been coloured yellow, while she utters the words, "Cluck! cluck! soul! So-and-so is in his house again. Cluck! cluck! soul!" Then she gathers up the rice in a basket, carries it to the sufferer, and drops the grains from her hand on his head, saying again, "Cluck! cluck! soul!"118 Here the intention clearly is to decoy back the loitering bird-soul and replace it in the head of its owner. In southern Celebes they think that a bridegroom's soul is apt to fly away at marriage, so coloured rice is scattered over him to induce it to stay. And, in general, at festivals in South Celebes rice is strewed on the head of the person in whose honour the festival is held, with the object of detaining his soul, which at such times is in especial danger of being lured away by envious demons.119 For example, after a successful war the welcome to the victorious prince takes the form of strewing him with roasted and coloured rice "to [pg 036] prevent his life-spirit, as if it were a bird, from flying out of his body in consequence of the envy of evil spirits."120 In Central Celebes, when a party of head-hunters returns from a successful expedition, a woman scatters rice on their heads for a similar purpose.121 Among the Minangkabauers of Sumatra the old rude notions of the soul seem to be dying out. Nowadays most of the people hold that the soul, being immaterial, has no shape or form. But some of the sorcerers assert that the soul goes and comes in the shape of a tiny man. Others are of opinion that it does so in the form of a fly; hence they make food ready to induce the absent soul to come back, and the first fly that settles on the food is regarded as the returning truant. But in native poetry and popular expressions there are traces of the belief that the soul quits the body in the form of a bird.122

The soul is supposed to be absent in sleep.

The soul of a sleeper is supposed to wander away from his body and actually to visit the places, to see the persons, and to perform the acts of which he dreams. For example, when an Indian of Brazil or Guiana wakes up from a sound sleep, he is firmly convinced that his soul has really been away hunting, fishing, felling trees, or whatever else he has dreamed of doing, while all the time his body has been lying motionless in his hammock. A whole Bororo village has been thrown into a panic and nearly deserted because somebody had dreamed that he saw enemies stealthily approaching it. A Macusi Indian in weak health, who dreamed that his employer had made him haul the canoe up a series of difficult cataracts, bitterly reproached his master next [pg 037] morning for his want of consideration in thus making a poor invalid go out and toil during the night.123 The Indians of the Gran Chaco are often heard to relate the most incredible stories as things which they have themselves seen and heard; hence strangers who do not know them intimately say in their haste that these Indians are liars. In point of fact the Indians are firmly convinced of the truth of what they relate; for these wonderful adventures are simply their dreams, which they do not distinguish from waking realities.124

The soul absent in sleep may be prevented from returning to the body.

Now the absence of the soul in sleep has its dangers, for if from any cause the soul should be permanently detained away from the body, the person thus deprived of the vital principle must die.125 There is a German belief that the soul escapes from a sleeper's mouth in the form of a white mouse or a little bird, and that to prevent the return of the bird or animal would be fatal to the sleeper.126 Hence in Transylvania they say that you should not let a child sleep with its mouth open, or its soul will slip out in the shape of a mouse, and the child will never wake.127 Many causes may detain the sleeper's soul. Thus, his soul may meet the soul of another sleeper and the two souls may fight; if a Guinea negro wakens with sore bones in the morning, he thinks that his soul has been thrashed by another soul in sleep.128 Or it may meet the soul of a person just deceased and be carried off by it; hence in the Aru Islands the inmates of a house will not sleep the night after a death has taken place in it, because the soul of the deceased is supposed to be still in the house and they fear to meet it in a dream.129 Similarly among the Upper Thompson Indians of British Columbia, the friends and neighbours [pg 038] who gathered in a house after a death and remained there till the burial was over were not allowed to sleep, lest their souls should be drawn away by the ghost of the deceased or by his guardian spirit.130 The Lengua Indians of the Gran Chaco hold that the vagrant spirits of the dead may come to life again if only they can take possession of a sleeper's body during the absence of his soul in dreams. Hence, when the shades of night have fallen, the ghosts of the departed gather round the villages, watching for a chance to pounce on the bodies of dreamers and to enter into them through the gateway of the breast.131 Again, the soul of the sleeper may be prevented by an accident or by physical force from returning to his body. When a Dyak dreams of falling into the water, he supposes that this accident has really befallen his spirit, and he sends for a wizard, who fishes for the spirit with a hand-net in a basin of water till he catches it and restores it to its owner.132 The Santals tell how a man fell asleep, and growing very thirsty, his soul, in the form of a lizard, left his body and entered a pitcher of water to drink. Just then the owner of the pitcher happened to cover it; so the soul could not return to the body and the man died. While his friends were preparing to burn the body some one uncovered the pitcher to get water. The lizard thus escaped and returned to the body, which immediately revived; so the man rose up and asked his friends why they were weeping. They told him they thought he was dead and were about to burn his body. He said he had been down a well to get water, but had found it hard to get out and had just returned. So they saw it all.133 A similar story is reported from Transylvania [pg 039] as follows. In the account of a witch's trial at Mühlbach in the eighteenth century it is said that a woman had engaged two men to work in her vineyard. After noon they all lay down to rest as usual. An hour later the men got up and tried to waken the woman, but could not. She lay motionless with her mouth wide open. They came back at sunset and still she lay like a corpse. Just at that moment a big fly came buzzing past, which one of the men caught and shut up in his leathern pouch. Then they tried again to waken the woman, but could not. Afterwards they let out the fly; it flew straight into the woman's mouth and she awoke. On seeing this the men had no further doubt that she was a witch.134

Danger of awaking a sleeper suddenly before his soul has time to return.

It is a common rule with primitive people not to waken a sleeper, because his soul is away and might not have time to get back; so if the man wakened without his soul, he would fall sick. If it is absolutely necessary to rouse a sleeper, it must be done very gradually, to allow the soul time to return.135 A Fijian in Matuku, suddenly wakened from a nap by somebody treading on his foot, has been [pg 040] heard bawling after his soul and imploring it to return. He had just been dreaming that he was far away in Tonga, and great was his alarm on suddenly wakening to find his body in Matuku. Death stared him in the face unless his soul could be induced to speed at once across the sea and reanimate its deserted tenement. The man would probably have died of fright if a missionary had not been at hand to allay his terror.136 Some Brazilian Indians explain the headache from which a man sometimes suffers after a broken sleep by saying that his soul is tired with the exertions it made to return quickly to the body.137 A Highland story, told to Hugh Miller on the picturesque shores of Loch Shin, well illustrates the haste made by the soul to regain its body when the sleeper has been prematurely roused by an indiscreet friend. Two young men had been spending the early part of a warm summer day in the open air, and sat down on a mossy bank to rest. Hard by was an ancient ruin separated from the bank on which they sat only by a slender runnel, across which there lay, immediately over a miniature cascade, a few withered stalks of grass. "Overcome by the heat of the day, one of the young men fell asleep; his companion watched drowsily beside him; when all at once the watcher was aroused to attention by seeing a little indistinct form, scarce larger than a humble-bee, issue from the mouth of the sleeping man, and, leaping upon the moss, move downwards to the runnel, which it crossed along the withered grass stalks, and then disappeared among the interstices of the ruin. Alarmed by what he saw, the watcher hastily shook his companion by the shoulder, and awoke him; though, with all his haste, the little cloud-like creature, still more rapid in its movements, issued from the interstice into which it had gone, and, flying across the runnel, instead of creeping along the grass stalks and over the sward, as before, it re-entered the mouth of the sleeper, just as he was in the act of awakening. 'What is the matter with you?' said the watcher, greatly alarmed, 'what ails you?' 'Nothing ails me,' replied the other; 'but you [pg 041] have robbed me of a most delightful dream. I dreamed I was walking through a fine rich country, and came at length to the shores of a noble river; and, just where the clear water went thundering down a precipice, there was a bridge all of silver, which I crossed; and then, entering a noble palace on the opposite side, I saw great heaps of gold and jewels; and I was just going to load myself with treasure, when you rudely awoke me, and I lost all.'?"138

Danger of moving a sleeper or altering his appearance.

Still more dangerous is it in the opinion of primitive man to move a sleeper or alter his appearance, for if this were done the soul on its return might not be able to find or recognise its body, and so the person would die. The Minangkabauers of Sumatra deem it highly improper to blacken or dirty the face of a sleeper, lest the absent soul should shrink from re-entering a body thus disfigured.139 Patani Malays fancy that if a person's face be painted while he sleeps, the soul which has gone out of him will not recognise him, and he will sleep on till his face is washed.140 In Bombay it is thought equivalent to murder to change the aspect of a sleeper, as by painting his face in fantastic colours or giving moustaches to a sleeping woman. For when the soul returns it will not know its own body and the person will die.141 The Coreans are of opinion that in sleep "the soul goes out of the body, and that if a piece of paper is put over the face of the sleeper he will surely die, for his soul cannot find its way back into him again."142 The Servians believe that the soul of a sleeping witch often leaves her body in the form of a butterfly. If during its absence her body be turned round, so that her feet are placed where her head was before, the butterfly soul will not find its way back into her body through the mouth, and the witch will die.143 The Esthonians [pg 042] of the island of Oesel think that the gusts which sweep up all kinds of trifles from the ground and whirl them along are the souls of old women, who have gone out in this shape to seek what they can find. Meantime the beldame's body lies as still as a stone, and if you turn it round her soul will never be able to enter it again, until you have replaced the body in its original position. You can hear the soul whining and whimpering till it has found the right aperture.144 Similarly in Livonia they think that when the soul of a were-wolf is out on his hateful business, his body lies like dead; and if meanwhile the body were accidentally moved, the soul would never more find its way into it, but would remain in the body of a wolf till death.145 In the picturesque but little known Black Mountain of southern France, which forms a sort of link between the Pyrenees and the Cevennes, they tell how a woman, who had long been suspected of being a witch, one day fell asleep at noon among the reapers in the field. Resolved to put her to the test, the reapers carried her, while she slept, to another part of the field, leaving a large pitcher on the spot from which they had moved her. When her soul returned, it entered the pitcher and cunningly rolled it over and over till the vessel lay beside her body, of which the soul thereupon took possession.146

The soul may quit the body in waking hours, thereby causing sickness, insanity or death. Recalling truant souls in Australia, Burma, China, Sarawak, Luzon and Mongolia.

But in order that a man's soul should quit his body, it is not necessary that he should be asleep. It may quit him in his waking hours, and then sickness, insanity, or death will be the result. Thus a man of the Wurunjeri tribe in Victoria lay at his last gasp because his spirit (murup) had departed from him. A medicine-man went in pursuit and caught the spirit by the middle just as it was about to plunge into the sunset glow, which is the light cast by the souls of the dead as they pass in and out of the underworld, [pg 043] where the sun goes to rest. Having captured the vagrant spirit, the doctor brought it back under his opossum rug, laid himself down on the dying man, and put the soul back into him, so that after a time he revived.147 The Karens of Burma are perpetually anxious about their souls, lest these should go roving from their bodies, leaving the owners to die. When a man has reason to fear that his soul is about to take this fatal step, a ceremony is performed to retain or recall it, in which the whole family must take part. A meal is prepared consisting of a cock and hen, a special kind of rice, and a bunch of bananas. Then the head of the family takes the bowl which is used to skim rice, and knocking with it thrice on the top of the house-ladder says: "Prrrroo! Come back, soul, do not tarry outside! If it rains, you will be wet. If the sun shines, you will be hot. The gnats will sting you, the leeches will bite you, the tigers will devour you, the thunder will crush you. Prrrroo! Come back, soul! Here it will be well with you. You shall want for nothing. Come and eat under shelter from the wind and the storm." After that the family partakes of the meal, and the ceremony ends with everybody tying their right wrist with a string which has been charmed by a sorcerer.148 Similarly the Lolos, an aboriginal tribe of western China, believe that the soul leaves the body in chronic illness. In that case they read a sort of elaborate litany, calling on the soul by name and beseeching it to return from the hills, the vales, the rivers, the forests, the fields, or from wherever it may be straying. At the same time cups of water, wine, and rice are set at the door for the refreshment of the weary wandering spirit. When the ceremony is over, they tie a red cord round the arm of the sick man to tether the soul, and this cord is worn by him until it decays and drops off.149 So among the Kenyahs of Sarawak a medicine-man has been known to recall the stray soul of a child, and to fasten it firmly in its body by tying a string round the child's right wrist, and smearing [pg 044] its little arm with the blood of a fowl.150 The Ilocanes of Luzon think that a man may lose his soul in the woods or gardens, and that he who has thus lost his soul loses also his senses. Hence before they quit the woods or the fields they call to their soul, "Let us go! let us go!" lest it should loiter behind or go astray. And when a man becomes crazed or mad, they take him to the place where he is supposed to have lost his soul and invite the truant spirit to return to his body.151 The Mongols sometimes explain sickness by supposing that the patient's soul is absent, and either does not care to return to its body or cannot find the way back. To secure the return of the soul it is therefore necessary on the one hand to make its body as attractive as possible, and on the other hand to shew the soul the way home. To make the body attractive all the sick man's best clothes and most valued possessions are placed beside him; he is washed, incensed, and made as comfortable as may be; and all his friends march thrice round the hut calling out the sick man's name and coaxing his soul to return. To help the wanderer to find its way back a coloured cord is stretched from the patient's head to the door of the hut. The priest in his robes reads a list of the horrors of hell and the dangers incurred by souls which wilfully absent themselves from their bodies. Then turning to the assembled friends and the patient he asks, "Is it come?" All answer "Yes," and bowing to the returning soul throw seed over the sick man. The cord which guided the soul back is then rolled up and placed round the patient's neck, who must wear it for seven days without taking it off. No one may frighten or hurt him, lest his soul, not yet familiar with its body, should again take flight.152

Recalling truant souls in Africa and America.

Some of the Congo tribes believe that when a man is ill, his soul has left his body and is wandering at large. The aid of the sorcerer is then called in to capture the [pg 045] vagrant spirit and restore it to the invalid. Generally the physician declares that he has successfully chased the soul into the branch of a tree. The whole town thereupon turns out and accompanies the doctor to the tree, where the strongest men are deputed to break off the branch in which the soul of the sick man is supposed to be lodged. This they do and carry the branch back to the town, insinuating by their gestures that the burden is heavy and hard to bear. When the branch has been brought to the sick man's hut, he is placed in an upright position by its side, and the sorcerer performs the enchantments by which the soul is believed to be restored to its owner.153 The soul or shade of a Déné or Tinneh Indian in the old days generally remained invisible, but appeared wandering about in one form or another whenever disease or death was imminent. All the efforts of the sufferer's friends were therefore concentrated on catching the roving shade. The method adopted was simple. They stuffed the patient's moccasins with down and hung them up. If next morning the down was warm, they made sure that the lost soul was in the boots, with which accordingly they carefully and silently shod their suffering friend. Nothing more could reasonably be demanded for a perfect cure.154 An Ottawa medicine-man has been known to catch a stray soul in a little box, which he brought back and inserted in the patient's mouth.155

Recalling truant souls in Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes.

Pining, sickness, great fright, and death are ascribed by the Battas or Bataks of Sumatra to the absence of the soul (tendi) from the body. At first they try to beckon the wanderer back, and to lure him, like a fowl, by strewing rice. Then the following form of words is commonly repeated: "Come back, O soul, whether thou art lingering in the wood, or on the hills, or in the dale. See, I call thee with a toemba bras, with an egg of the fowl Rajah moelija, with the eleven healing leaves. Detain it not, let it come straight here, [pg 046] detain it not, neither in the wood, nor on the hill, nor in the dale. That may not be. O come straight home!"156 Sometimes the means adopted by the Battas to procure the return of a sick person's soul are more elaborate. A procession sets out from the village to the tuck of drum to find and bring home the strayed soul. First goes a person bearing a basket which contains cakes of rice-meal, rice dyed yellow, and a boiled fowl's egg. The sorcerer follows carrying a chicken, and behind him walks a man with a black, red, and white flag. A crowd of sympathisers brings up the rear. On reaching the spot where the lost soul is supposed to tarry, they set up a small bamboo altar, and the sorcerer offers on it the chicken to the spirit of the place, the drums beating all the time. Then, waving his shawl to attract the soul of the sick man, he says: "Come hither, thou soul of So-and-So, whether thou sittest among the stones or in the mud. In the house is thy place. We have besought the spirit to let thee go." After that the procession reforms and marches back to the village to the roll of drums and the clash of cymbals. On reaching the door of the house the sorcerer calls out to the inmates, "Has it come?" and a voice from within answers, "It is here, good sorcerer." At evening the drums beat again.157 A number of plants, including rice, a species of fig, and garlic, are supposed by the Battas to possess soul-compelling virtue and are accordingly made use of by them in rites for the recovery of lost souls. When a child is sick, the mother commonly waves a cloth to beckon home its wandering spirit, and when a cock crows or a hen cackles in the yard, she knows that the prodigal has returned. If the little sufferer persists in being ill in spite of these favourable omens, the mother will hang a bag of rice at the head of her bed when she goes to sleep, and next morning on getting up she measures the rice. If the rice has increased in volume during the night, as it may do in a moisture-laden [pg 047] atmosphere, she is confident that the lost soul has indeed come home to stay.158 The Kayans of Borneo fasten packets of rice, flesh, and fish to the window in the roof through which the wandering soul of a sick man is expected to return home. The doctor sits cross-legged on a mat under the open window with a display of pretty things spread out temptingly before him as baits to entice the spirit back to its deserted tabernacle. From the window hangs a string of precious corals or pearls to serve the returning prodigal as a ladder and so facilitate his descent into the house. The lower end of the string is attached to a bundle composed of wooden hooks, a fowl's feather, little packets of rice, and so forth. Chanting his spells, the doctor strokes the soul down the string into the bundle, which he then deposits in a basket and hides in a corner till the dusk of the evening. When darkness has fallen, he blows the captured soul back into the patient's head and strokes the sufferer's arm downwards with the point of an old spear in order to settle the soul firmly in his body.159 Once when a popular traveller was leaving a Kayan village, the mothers, fearing that their children's souls might follow him on his journey, brought him the boards on which they carry their infants and begged him to pray that the souls of the little ones would return to the familiar boards and not go away with him into the far country. To each board was fastened a looped string for the purpose of tethering the vagrant spirits, and through the loop each baby was made to pass a chubby finger to make sure that its tiny soul would not wander away.160 When a Dyak is dangerously ill, the medicine-men may say that his soul has escaped far away, perhaps to the river; then they will wave a garment or cloth about to imitate the casting of a net, signifying thereby that they are catching the soul like a fish in a net. Or they may give out that the soul has escaped into the jungle; and then they will rush out of the house to circumvent and secure it there. Or again they [pg 048] may allege that it has been carried away over seas to some unknown land; and then they will play at paddling a boat to follow it across the great water. But more commonly their mode of treatment is as follows. A spear is set up in the middle of the verandah with a few leaves tied to it and the medicine-boxes of the medicine-men laid at its foot. Round this the doctors run at full speed, chanting the while, till one of them falls down and lies motionless. The bystanders cover him with a blanket, and wait while his spirit hies away after the errant soul and brings it back. Presently he comes to himself, stares vacantly about like a man awaking from sleep, and then rises, holding the soul in his clenched right hand. He then returns it to the patient through the crown of his head, while he mutters a spell.161 Among the Dyaks of the Kayan and Lower Melawie districts you will often see, in houses where there are children, a basket of a peculiar shape with shells and dried fruits attached to it. These shells contain the remains of the children's navel-strings, and the basket to which they are fastened is commonly hung beside the place where the children sleep. When a child is frightened, for example by being bathed or by the bursting of a thunderstorm, its soul flees from its body and nestles beside its old familiar friend the navel-string in the basket, from which the mother easily induces it to return by shaking the basket and pressing it to the child's body.162 The Toboongkoos of Central Celebes believe that sickness in general is caused by the departure of the soul. To recover the wanderer a priest will set out food in the courtyard of the sufferer's house and then invoke the soul, promising it many fine things if it will only come back. When he thinks it has complied with his request, he catches it in a cloth which he keeps ready for the purpose. This cloth he afterwards claps on the sick man's head, thereby restoring to him his lost soul.163

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Wandering souls in popular tales.

In an Indian story a king conveys his soul into the dead body of a Brahman, and a hunchback conveys his soul into the deserted body of the king. The hunchback is now king and the king is a Brahman. However, the hunchback is induced to shew his skill by transferring his soul to the dead body of a parrot, and the king seizes the opportunity to regain possession of his own body.164 A tale of the same type, with variations of detail, reappears among the Malays. A king has incautiously transferred his soul to an ape, upon which the vizier adroitly inserts his own soul into the king's body and so takes possession of the queen and the kingdom, while the true king languishes at court in the outward semblance of an ape. But one day the false king, who played for high stakes, was watching a combat of rams, and it happened that the animal on which he had laid his money fell down dead. All efforts to restore animation proved unavailing till the false king, with the instinct of a true sportsman, transferred his own soul to the body of the deceased ram, and thus renewed the fray. The real king in the body of the ape saw his chance, and with great presence of mind darted back into his own body, which the vizier had rashly vacated. So he came to his own again, and the usurper in the ram's body met with the fate he richly deserved.165 In another Indian story a Brahman reanimates the dead body of a king by conveying his own soul into it. Meantime the Brahman's body has been burnt, and his soul is obliged to remain in the body of the king.166 In a Chinese story we read of a monk in a Buddhist monastery who used from time to time to send his soul away out of himself. Whenever he was thus absent from the body, he took the precaution of locking the door of his cell. On one of these occasions an envoy from the north arrived and put up at [pg 050] the monastery, but there was no cell for him to pass the night in. Then he looked into the cell of the brother whose soul was not at home, and seeing his body lying there motionless, he battered the door in and said, "I will lodge here. The man is dead. Take the body and burn it." His servants obeyed his orders, the monks being powerless to interfere. That very night the soul came back, only to find its body reduced to ashes. Every night it could be heard crying, "Where shall I settle?" Those who knew him then opened their windows, saying, "Here I am." So the soul came in and united itself with their body, and the result was that they became much cleverer than before.167 Similarly the Greeks told how the soul of Hermotimus of Clazomenae used to quit his body and roam far and wide, bringing back intelligence of what he had seen on his rambles to his friends at home; until one day, when his spirit was abroad, his enemies contrived to seize his deserted body and committed it to the flames.168 It is said that during the last seven years of his life Sultan Bayazid ate nothing that had life and blood in it. One day, being seized with a great longing for sheep's trotters, he struggled long in this glorious contest with his soul, until at last, a savoury dish of trotters being set before him, he said unto his soul, "My soul, the trotters are before thee; if thou wishest to enjoy them, leave the body and feed on them." Hardly had he uttered these words when a living creature was seen to issue from his mouth and drink of the juice in the dish, after which it endeavoured to return whence it came. But the austere sultan, determined to mortify his carnal appetite, prevented it with his hand from entering his mouth, and when it fell to the ground commanded that it should be beaten. The pages kicked it to death, and after this murder of his soul the sultan remained in gloomy seclusion, taking no part or interest in the affairs of government.169

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The wandering soul may be detained by ghosts.

The departure of the soul is not always voluntary. It may be extracted from the body against its will by ghosts, demons, or sorcerers. Hence, when a funeral is passing the house, the Karens of Burma tie their children with a special kind of string to a particular part of the house, lest the souls of the children should leave their bodies and go into the corpse which is passing. The children are kept tied in this way until the corpse is out of sight.170 And after the corpse has been laid in the grave, but before the earth has been shovelled in, the mourners and friends range themselves round the grave, each with a bamboo split lengthwise in one hand and a little stick in the other; each man thrusts his bamboo into the grave, and drawing the stick along the groove of the bamboo points out to his soul that in this way it may easily climb up out of the tomb. While the earth is being shovelled in, the bamboos are kept out of the way, lest the souls should be in them, and so should be inadvertently buried with the earth as it is being thrown into the grave; and when the people leave the spot they carry away the bamboos, begging their souls to come with them.171 Further, on returning from the grave each Karen provides himself with three little hooks made of branches of trees, and calling his spirit to follow him, at short intervals, as he returns, he makes a motion as if hooking it, and then thrusts the hook into the ground. This is done to prevent the soul of the living from staying behind with the soul of the dead.172 On the return of a Burmese or Shan family from a burial, old men tie up the wrists of each member of the family with string, to prevent his or her "butterfly" or soul from escaping; and this string remains till it is worn out and falls off.173 When a mother dies leaving a young baby, the [pg 052] Burmese think that the "butterfly" or soul of the baby follows that of the mother, and that if it is not recovered the child must die. So a wise woman is called in to get back the baby's soul. She places a mirror near the corpse, and on the mirror a piece of feathery cotton down. Holding a cloth in her open hands at the foot of the mirror, she with wild words entreats the mother not to take with her the "butterfly" or soul of her child, but to send it back. As the gossamer down slips from the face of the mirror she catches it in the cloth and tenderly places it on the baby's breast. The same ceremony is sometimes observed when one of two children that have played together dies, and is thought to be luring away the soul of its playmate to the spirit-land. It is sometimes performed also for a bereaved husband or wife.174 The Bahnars of eastern Cochin-China think that when a man is sick of a fever his soul has gone away with the ghosts to the tombs. At sunset a sorcerer attempts to lure the soul back by offering it sugar-cane, bananas, and other fruits, while he sings an incantation inviting the wanderer to return from among the dead to the land of the living. He pretends to catch the truant soul in a piece of cotton, which he then lays on the patient's head.175 When the Karo-Bataks of Sumatra have buried somebody and are filling in the grave, a sorceress runs about beating the air with a stick. This she does in order to drive away the souls of the survivors, for if one of these souls happened to slip into the grave and to be covered up with earth, its owner would die.176 Among some of the Dyak tribes of south-eastern Borneo, as soon as the coffin is carried to the place of burial, the house in which the death occurred is sprinkled with water, and the father of the family calls out the names of all his children and the other members of his household. For they think that the ghost loves to decoy away the souls of his kinsfolk, but that [pg 053] his designs upon them can be defeated by calling out their names, which has the effect of bringing back the souls to their owners. The same ceremony is repeated on the return from the burial.177 It is a rule with the Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia that a corpse must not be coffined in the house, or the souls of the other inmates would enter the coffin, and they, too, would die. The body is taken out either through the roof or through a hole made in one of the walls, and is then coffined outside the house.178 In the East Indian island of Keisar it is deemed imprudent to go near a grave at night, lest the ghosts should catch and keep the soul of the passer-by.179 The Kei Islanders believe that the spirits of their forefathers, angry at not receiving food, make people sick by detaining their souls. So they lay offerings of food on the grave and beg their ancestors to allow the soul of the sick to return, or to drive it home speedily if it should be lingering by the way.180

Attempts to rescue the lost soul from the spirits of the dead who are detaining it.

In Bolang Mongondo, a district in the west of Celebes, all sickness is ascribed to the ancestral spirits who have carried off the patient's soul. The object therefore is to bring back the soul of the sufferer and restore it to him. An eye-witness has thus described the attempted cure of a sick boy. The priestesses, who acted as physicians, made a doll of cloth and fastened it to the point of a spear, which an old woman held upright. Round this doll the priestesses danced, uttering charms, and chirruping as when one calls a dog. Then the old woman lowered the point of the spear a little, so that the priestesses could reach the doll. By this time the soul of the sick boy was supposed to be in the doll, having been brought into it by the incantations. So the priestesses approached it cautiously on tiptoe and caught the soul in the many-coloured cloths which they had been waving in the air. Then they laid the soul on the boy's head, that is, they wrapped his head in the cloth in which the soul was [pg 054] supposed to be, and stood still for some moments with great gravity, holding their hands on the patient's head. Suddenly there was a jerk, the priestesses whispered and shook their heads, and the cloth was taken off-the soul had escaped. The priestesses gave chase to it, running round and round the house, clucking and gesticulating as if they were driving hens into a poultry-yard. At last they recaptured the soul at the foot of the stair and restored it to its owner as before.181 Much in the same way an Australian medicine-man will sometimes bring the lost soul of a sick man into a puppet and restore it to the patient by pressing the puppet to his breast.182 In Uea, one of the Loyalty Islands, the souls of the dead seem to have been credited with the power of stealing the souls of the living. For when a man was sick the soul-doctor would go with a large troop of men and women to the graveyard. Here the men played on flutes and the women whistled softly to lure the soul home. After this had gone on for some time they formed in procession and moved homewards, the flutes playing and the women whistling all the way, while they led back the wandering soul and drove it gently along with open palms. On entering the patient's dwelling they commanded the soul in a loud voice to enter his body.183 In Madagascar when a man was sick or lunatic in consequence of the loss of his soul, his friends despatched a wizard in haste to fetch him a soul from the graveyard. The emissary repaired by night to the spot, and having made a hole in the wooden house which served as a tomb, begged the spirit of the patient's father to bestow a soul on his son or daughter, who had none. So saying he applied a bonnet to the hole, then folded it up and rushed back to the house of the sufferer, saying he had a soul for him. With that he clapped the bonnet on the head of the invalid, who at once said he felt much better and had recovered the soul which he had lost.184

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Rescuing the soul from the dead in Borneo and Melanesia.

When a Dyak or Malay of some of the western tribes or districts of Borneo is taken ill, with vomiting and profuse sweating as the only symptoms, he thinks that one of his deceased kinsfolk or ancestors is at the bottom of it. To discover which of them is the culprit, a wise man or woman pulls a lock of hair on the crown of the sufferer's head, calling out the names of all his dead relations. The name at which the lock gives forth a sound is the name of the guilty party. If the patient's hair is too short to be tugged with effect, he knocks his forehead seven times against the forehead of a kinsman who has long hair. The hair of the latter is then tugged instead of that of the patient and answers to the test quite as well. When the blame has thus been satisfactorily laid at the door of the ghost who is responsible for the sickness, the physician, who, as in other countries, is often an old woman, remonstrates with him on his ill behaviour. "Go back," says she, "to your grave; what do you come here for? The soul of the sick man does not choose to be called by you, and will remain yet a long time in its body." Then she puts some ashes from the hearth in a winnowing fan and moulds out of them a small figure or image in human likeness. Seven times she moves the basket with the little ashen figure up and down before the patient, taking care not to obliterate the figure, while at the same time she says, "Sickness, settle in the head, belly, hands, etc.; then quickly pass into the corresponding part of the image," whereupon the patient spits on the ashen image and pushes it from him with his left hand. Next the beldame lights a candle and goes to the grave of the person whose ghost is doing all the mischief. On the grave she throws the figure of ashes, calling out, "Ghost, plague the sick man no longer, and stay in your grave, that he may see you no more." On her return she asks the anxious relations in the house, "Has his soul come back?" and they must answer quickly, "Yes, the soul of the sick man has come back." Then she stands beside the patient, blows out the candle which had lighted the returning soul on its way, and strews yellow-coloured rice on the head of the convalescent, saying, "Cluck, soul! cluck, soul! cluck, soul!" Last of all she fastens on his right wrist a bracelet or ring which he [pg 056] must wear for three days.185 In this case we see that the saving of the soul is combined with a vicarious sacrifice to the ghost, who receives a puppet on which to work his will instead of on the poor soul. In San Cristoval, one of the Melanesian islands, the vicarious sacrifice takes the form of a pig or a fish. A malignant ghost of the name of Tapia is supposed to have seized on the sick man's soul and tied it up to a banyan-tree. Accordingly a man who has influence with Tapia takes a pig or fish to the holy place where the ghost resides and offers it to him, saying, "This is for you to eat in place of that man; eat this, don't kill him." This satisfies the ghost; the soul is loosed from the tree and carried back to the sufferer, who naturally recovers.186 A regular part of the stock-in-trade of a Dyak medicine-man is a crystal into which he gazes to detect the hiding-place of a lost soul or to identify the demon who is causing the sickness.187 In one of the New Hebrides a ghost will sometimes impound the souls of trespassers within a magic fence in his garden, and will only consent to pull up the fence and let the souls out on receiving an unqualified apology and a satisfactory assurance that no personal disrespect was intended.188 In Motlav, another Melanesian island, it is enough to call out the sick man's name in the sacred place where he rashly intruded, and then, when the cry of the kingfisher or some other bird is heard, to shout "Come back" to the soul of the sick man and run back with it to the house.189

Buryat mode of recovering a lost soul from the nether world.

It is a comparatively easy matter to save a soul which is merely tied up to a tree or detained as a vagrant in a pound; but it is a far harder task to fetch it up from the nether world, if it once gets down there. When a Buryat shaman is called in to attend a patient, the first thing he does is to ascertain where exactly the soul of the invalid is; for it may have strayed, or been stolen, or be languishing [pg 057] in the prison of the gloomy Erlik, lord of the world below. If it is anywhere in the neighbourhood, the shaman soon catches and replaces it in the patient's body. If it is far away, he searches the wide world till he finds it, ransacking the deep woods, the lonely steppes, and the bottom of the sea, not to be thrown off the scent even though the cunning soul runs to the sheep-walks in the hope that its footprints will be lost among the tracks of the sheep. But when the whole world has been searched in vain for the errant soul, the shaman knows that there is nothing for it but to go down to hell and seek the lost one among the spirits in prison. At the stern call of duty he does not flinch, though he knows that the journey is toilsome, and that the travelling expenses, which are naturally defrayed by the patient, are very heavy. Sometimes the lord of the infernal regions will only agree to release the soul on condition of receiving another in its stead, and that one the soul of the sick man's dearest friend. If the patient consents to the substitution, the shaman turns himself into a hawk, pounces upon the soul of the friend as it soars from his slumbering body in the form of a lark, and hands over the fluttering, struggling thing to the grim warden of the dead, who thereupon sets the soul of the sick man at liberty. So the sick man recovers and his friend dies.190

American Indian modes of recovering a lost soul from the land of the dead.

When a shaman declares that the soul of a sick Thompson Indian has been carried off by the dead, the good physician, who is the shaman himself, puts on a conical mask and sets off in pursuit. He now acts as if on a journey, jumping rivers and such like obstacles, searching, talking, and sometimes engaging in a tussle for the possession of the soul. His first step is to repair to the old trail by which the souls of heathen Thompsons went to the spirit-land; for nowadays the souls of Christian Thompsons travel by a new road. If he fails to find the tracks of the lost soul there, he searches all the graveyards, one after the other, and almost always discovers it in one of them. Sometimes he succeeds in heading off the departing soul by taking a short cut to the other world. A shaman can only [pg 058] stay a short time there. So as soon as he lays hands on the soul he is after, he bolts with it. The other souls give chase, but he stamps with his foot, on which he wears a rattle made of deer's hoofs. At the rattle of the hoofs the ghosts retreat and he hurries on. A bolder shaman will sometimes ask the ghosts for the soul, and if they refuse to give it, he will wrest it from them. They attack him, but he clubs them and brings away the soul by force. When he comes back to the world, he takes off his mask and shews his club all bloody. Then the people know he had a desperate struggle. If he foresees that the harrowing of hell is likely to prove a tough job, he increases the number of wooden pins in his mask. The rescued soul is placed by him on the patient's head and so returned to his body.191 Among the Twana Indians of Washington State the descent of the medicine-men into the nether world to rescue lost souls is represented in pantomime before the eyes of the spectators, who include women and children as well as men. The surface of the ground is often broken to facilitate the descent of the rescue party. When the adventurous band is supposed to have reached the bottom, they journey along, cross at least one stream, and travel till they come to the abode of the spirits. These they surprise, and after a desperate struggle, sustained with great ardour and a prodigious noise, they succeed in rescuing the poor souls, and so, wrapping them up in cloth, they make the best of their way back to the upper world and restore the recovered souls to their owners, who have been seen to cry heartily for joy at receiving them back.192

Abduction of souls by demons in Annam, Cochin-China, and China.

Often the abduction of a man's soul is set down to demons. The Annamites believe that when a man meets a demon and speaks to him, the demon inhales the man's breath and soul.193 The souls of the Bahnars of eastern Cochin-China are apt to be carried off by evil spirits, and [pg 059] the modes of recovering them are various. If a man suffers from a colic, the sorcerer may say that in planting sugar-cane, maize or what-not, he has pierced the stomach of a certain god who lives like a mole in the ground, and that the injured deity has punished him by abstracting his soul and burying it under a plant. Hence the cure for the colic is to pull up the plant and water the hole with millet wine and the blood of a fowl, a goat, or a pig. Again, if a child falls ill in the forest or the fields, it is because some devil has made off with its soul. To retrieve this spiritual loss the sorcerer constructs an apparatus which comprises an egg-shell in an egg-holder, a little waxen image of the sick child, and a small bamboo full of millet wine. This apparatus he sets up at a cross-road, praying the devil to drink the wine and surrender the stolen soul by depositing it in the egg-shell. Then he returns to the house, and putting a little cotton to the child's head restores the soul to its owner. Sometimes the sorcerer lays a trap for the thievish demon, the bait consisting of the liver of a pig or a fowl and the blood-smeared handle of a little mattock. At nightfall he sets the trap at a cross-road and lies in wait hard by. While the devil is licking the blood and munching the liver, the artful sorcerer pounces out on him, and after a severe struggle wrests the soul from his clutches, returning to the village victorious, but breathless and bleeding from his terrific encounter with the enemy of souls.194 Fits and convulsions are generally set down by the Chinese to the agency of certain mischievous spirits who love to draw men's souls out of their bodies. At Amoy the spirits who serve babies and children in this way rejoice in the high-sounding titles of "celestial agencies bestriding galloping horses" and "literary graduates residing halfway up in the sky." When an infant is writhing in convulsions, the frightened mother hastens to the roof of the house, and, waving about a bamboo pole to which one of the child's garments is attached, cries out several times, "My child So-and-so, come back, return home!" Meantime, another inmate of the house bangs away at a gong in the [pg 060] hope of attracting the attention of the strayed soul, which is supposed to recognise the familiar garment and to slip into it. The garment containing the soul is then placed on or beside the child, and if the child does not die recovery is sure to follow sooner or later.195 Similarly we saw that some Indians catch a man's lost soul in his boots and restore it to his body by putting his feet into them.196

Abduction of souls by demons in the East Indies.

If Galelareese mariners are sailing past certain rocks or come to a river where they never were before, they must wash their faces, for otherwise the spirits of the rocks or the river would snatch away their souls.197 When a Dyak is about to leave a forest through which he has been walking alone, he never forgets to ask the demons to give him back his soul, for it may be that some forest-devil has carried it off. For the abduction of a soul may take place without its owner being aware of his loss, and it may happen either while he is awake or asleep.198 The Papuans of Geelvink Bay in New Guinea are apt to think that the mists which sometimes hang about the tops of tall trees in their tropical forests envelop a spirit or god called Narbrooi, who draws away the breath or soul of those whom he loves, thus causing them to languish and die. Accordingly, when a man lies sick, a friend or relation will go to one of these mist-capped trees and endeavour to recover the lost soul. At the foot of the tree he makes a peculiar sound to attract the attention of the spirit, and lights a cigar. In its curling smoke his fancy discerns the fair and youthful form of Narbrooi himself, who, decked with flowers, appears and informs the anxious enquirer whether the soul of his sick friend is with him or not. If it is, the man asks, "Has he done any wrong?" "Oh no!" the spirit answers, "I love him, and therefore I have taken him to myself." So the man lays down an offering at the foot of the tree, and goes home with the soul of the sufferer in a straw bag. Arrived at the house, he empties the bag with its precious contents [pg 061] over the sick man's head, rubs his arms and hands with ginger-root, which he had first chewed small, and then ties a bandage round one of the patient's wrists. If the bandage bursts, it is a sign that Narbrooi has repented of his bargain, and is drawing away the sufferer once more to himself.199

Abduction of souls by demons in the Moluccas.

In the Moluccas when a man is unwell it is thought that some devil has carried away his soul to the tree, mountain, or hill where he (the devil) resides. A sorcerer having pointed out the devil's abode, the friends of the patient carry thither cooked rice, fruit, fish, raw eggs, a hen, a chicken, a silken robe, gold, armlets, and so forth. Having set out the food in order they pray, saying: "We come to offer to you, O devil, this offering of food, clothes, gold, and so on; take it and release the soul of the patient for whom we pray. Let it return to his body, and he who now is sick shall be made whole." Then they eat a little and let the hen loose as a ransom for the soul of the patient; also they put down the raw eggs; but the silken robe, the gold, and the armlets they take home with them. As soon as they are come to the house they place a flat bowl containing the offerings which have been brought back at the sick man's head, and say to him: "Now is your soul released, and you shall fare well and live to grey hairs on the earth."200 A more modern account from the same region describes how the friend of the patient, after depositing his offerings on the spot where the missing soul is supposed to be, calls out thrice the name of the sick person, adding, "Come with me, come with me." Then he returns, making a motion with a cloth as if he had caught the soul in it. He must not look to right or left or speak a word to any one he meets, but must go straight to the patient's house. At the door he stands, and calling out the sick person's name, asks whether he is returned. Being [pg 062] answered from within that he is returned, he enters and lays the cloth in which he has caught the soul on the patient's throat, saying, "Now you are returned to the house." Sometimes a substitute is provided; a doll, dressed up in gay clothing and tinsel, is offered to the demon in exchange for the patient's soul, with these words, "Give us back the ugly one which you have taken away and receive this pretty one instead."201

Abduction of souls by demons in Celebes and Siberia.

Among the Alfoors or Toradjas of Poso, in Central Celebes, a wooden puppet is offered to the demon as a substitute for the soul which he has abstracted, and the patient must touch the puppet in order to identify himself with it. The effigy is then hung on a bamboo pole, which is planted at the place of sacrifice outside of the house. Here too are deposited offerings of rice, an egg, a little wood (which is afterwards kindled), a sherd of a broken cooking-pot, and so forth. A long rattan extends from the place of sacrifice to the sufferer, who grasps one end of it firmly, for along it his lost soul will return when the devil has kindly released it. All being ready, the priestess informs the demon that he has come to the wrong place, and that there are no doubt much better quarters where he could reside. Then the father of the patient, standing beside the offerings, takes up his parable as follows: "O demon, we forgot to sacrifice to you. You have visited us with this sickness; will you now go away from us to some other place? We have made ready provisions for you on the journey. See, here is a cooking-pot, here are rice, fire, and a fowl. O demon, go away from us." With that the priestess strews rice towards the bamboo-pole to lure back the wandering soul; and the fowl promised to the devil is thrown in the same direction, but is instantly jerked back again by a string which, in a spirit of intelligent economy, has been previously attached to its leg. The demon is now supposed to accept the puppet, which hangs from the pole, and to release the soul, which, sliding down the pole and along the rattan, returns to its proper owner. And lest the [pg 063] evil spirit should repent of the barter which has just been effected, all communication with him is broken off by cuttin

g down the pole.202 Similarly the Mongols make up a horse of birch-bark and a doll, and invite the demon to take the doll instead of the patient and to ride away on the horse.203 A Yakut shaman, rigged out in his professional costume, with his drum in his hand, will boldly descend into the lower world and haggle with the demon who has carried off a sick man's soul. Not uncommonly the demon proves amenable to reason, and in consideration of the narrow circumstances of the patient's family will accept a more moderate ransom than he at first demanded. For instance, he may be brought to put up with the skin of an Arctic hare or Arctic fox instead of a foal or a steer. The bargain being struck, the shaman hurries back to the sufferer's bedside, from which to the merely carnal eye he has never stirred, and informs the anxious relatives of the success of his mission. They in turn gladly hasten to provide the ransom.204

Souls rescued from demons at a house-warming in Minahassa.

Demons are especially feared by persons who have just entered a new house. Hence at a house-warming among the Alfoors of Minahassa in Celebes the priest performs a ceremony for the purpose of restoring their souls to the inmates. He hangs up a bag at the place of sacrifice and then goes through a list of the gods. There are so many of them that this takes him the whole night through without stopping. In the morning he offers the gods an egg and some rice. By this time the souls of the household are supposed to be [pg 064] gathered in the bag. So the priest takes the bag, and holding it on the head of the master of the house, says, "Here you have your soul; go (soul) to-morrow away again." He then does the same, saying the same words, to the housewife and all the other members of the family.205 Amongst the same Alfoors one way of recovering a sick man's soul is to let down a bowl by a belt out of a window and fish for the soul till it is caught in the bowl and hauled up.206 And among the same people, when a priest is bringing back a sick man's soul which he has caught in a cloth, he is preceded by a girl holding the large leaf of a certain palm over his head as an umbrella to keep him and the soul from getting wet, in case it should rain; and he is followed by a man brandishing a sword to deter other souls from any attempt at rescuing the captured spirit.207

Souls carried off by the sun and other gods.

In Nias, when a man dreams that a pig is fastened under a neighbour's house, it is a sign that some one in that house will die. They think that the sun-god is drawing away the shadows or souls of that household from this world of shadows to his own bright world of radiant light, and a ceremony must needs be performed to win back these passing souls to earth. Accordingly, while it is still night, the priest begins to drum and pray, and he continues his orisons till about nine o'clock next morning. Then he takes his stand at an opening in the roof through which he can behold the sun, and spreading out a cloth waits till the beams of the morning sun fall full upon it. In the sunbeams he thinks the wandering souls have come back again; so he wraps the cloth up tightly, and quitting the opening in the roof, hastens with his precious charge to the expectant household. Before each member of it he stops, and dipping his fingers into the cloth takes out his or her soul and restores it to the owner by touching the person on the forehead.208 [pg 065] The Thompson Indians of British Columbia think that the setting sun draws the souls of men away towards it; hence they will never sleep with their heads to the sunset.209 The Samoans tell how two young wizards, passing a house where a chief lay very sick, saw a company of gods from the mountain sitting in the doorway. They were handing from one to another the soul of the dying chief. It was wrapt in a leaf, and had been passed from the gods inside the house to those sitting in the doorway. One of the gods handed the soul to one of the wizards, taking him for a god in the dark, for it was night. Then all the gods rose up and went away; but the wizard kept the chief's soul. In the morning some women went with a present of fine mats to fetch a famous physician. The wizards were sitting on the shore as the women passed, and they said to the women, "Give us the mats and we will heal him." So they went to the chief's house. He was very ill, his jaw hung down, and his end seemed near. But the wizards undid the leaf and let the soul into him again, and forthwith he brightened up and lived.210

Lost souls extracted from a fowl.

The Battas or Bataks of Sumatra believe that the soul of a living man may transmigrate into the body of an animal. Hence, for example, the doctor is sometimes desired to extract the patient's soul from the body of a fowl, in which it has been hidden away by an evil spirit.211

Lost souls brought back in a visible form. Soul lost by a fall and recovered from the earth.

Sometimes the lost soul is brought back in a visible shape. In Melanesia a woman, knowing that a neighbour was at the point of death, heard a rustling in her house, as of a moth fluttering, just at the moment when a noise of weeping and lamentation told her that the soul was flown. She caught the fluttering thing between her hands and ran with it, crying out that she had caught the soul. But though she opened her hands above the mouth of the corpse, it did not revive.212 In Lepers' Island, one of the New [pg 066] Hebrides, for ten days after a birth the father is careful not to exert himself or the baby would suffer for it. If during this time he goes away to any distance, he will bring back with him on his return a little stone representing the infant's soul. Arrived at home he cries, "Come hither," and puts down the stone in the house. Then he waits till the child sneezes, at which he cries, "Here it is"; for now he knows that the little soul has not been lost after all.213 The Salish or Flathead Indians of Oregon believe that a man's soul may be separated for a time from his body without causing death and without the man being aware of his loss. It is necessary, however, that the lost soul should be soon found and restored to its owner or he will die. The name of the man who has lost his soul is revealed in a dream to the medicine-man, who hastens to inform the sufferer of his loss. Generally a number of men have sustained a like loss at the same time; all their names are revealed to the medicine-man, and all employ him to recover their souls. The whole night long these soulless men go about the village from lodge to lodge, dancing and singing. Towards daybreak they go into a separate lodge, which is closed up so as to be totally dark. A small hole is then made in the roof, through which the medicine-man, with a bunch of feathers, brushes in the souls, in the shape of bits of bone and the like, which he receives on a piece of matting. A fire is next kindled, by the light of which the medicine-man sorts out the souls. First he puts aside the souls of dead people, of which there are usually several; for if he were to give the soul of a dead person to a living man, the man would die instantly. Next he picks out the souls of all the persons present, and making them all to sit down before him, he takes the soul of each, in the shape of a splinter of bone, wood, or shell, and placing it on the owner's head, pats it with many prayers and contortions till it descends into the heart and so resumes its proper place.214 In Amboyna the sorcerer, to recover a soul detained [pg 067] by demons, plucks a branch from a tree, and waving it to and fro as if to catch something, calls out the sick man's name. Returning he strikes the patient over the head and body with the branch, into which the lost soul is supposed to have passed, and from which it returns to the patient.215 In the Babar Islands offerings for evil spirits are laid at the root of a great tree (wokiorai), from which a leaf is plucked and pressed on the patient's forehead and breast; the lost soul, which is in the leaf, is thus restored to its owner.216 In some other islands of the same seas, when a man returns ill and speechless from the forest, it is inferred that the evil spirits which dwell in the great trees have caught and kept his soul. Offerings of food are therefore left under a tree and the soul is brought home in a piece of wax.217 Amongst the Dyaks of Sarawak the priest conjures the lost soul into a cup, where it is seen by the uninitiated as a lock of hair, but by the initiated as a miniature human being. This the priest pokes back into the patient's body through an invisible hole in his skull.218 In Nias the sick man's soul is restored to him in the shape of a firefly, visible only to the sorcerer, who catches it in a cloth and places it on the forehead of the patient.219 Amongst the Indians of Santiago Tepehuacan, if a child has fallen from the arms of its bearer and an illness has resulted from the fall, the parents will take the child's shirt, stretch it out on the spot where the little one fell, and say, "Come, come, come back to the infant." [pg 068] Then they bring back a little of the earth wrapped up in the shirt, and put the shirt on the child. They say that in this manner the spirit is replaced in the child's body and that he will recover.220 With this we may compare an Irish custom reported by Camden. When any one happens to fall, he springs up again, and turning round thrice to the right, digs the earth with a sword or knife, and takes up a turf, because they say the earth restores his shade to him. But if he falls sick within two or three days thereafter, a woman skilled in these matters is sent to the spot, and there says: "I call thee, So-and-so, from the East and West, from the South and North, from the groves, woods, rivers, marshes, fairies white, red, and black," and so forth. After uttering certain short prayers, she returns home to the sick person, and whispering in his ear another prayer, along with a Pater Noster, puts some burning coals into a cup of clean water, and so decides whether the distemper has been inflicted by the fairies.221 Here, though Camden is not very explicit, and he probably did not quite understand the custom he describes, it seems plain that the shade or soul of a man who has fallen is conceived as adhering to the ground where he fell. Accordingly he seeks to regain possession of it by digging up the earth; but if he fails to recover it, he sends a wise woman to the spot to win back his soul from the fairies who are detaining it.

Recovery of the soul in ancient Egypt.

The ancient Egyptians held that a dead man is not in a state to enter on the life hereafter until his soul has been found and restored to his mummified body. The vital spark had been commonly devoured by the malignant god Sit, who concealed his true form in the likeness of a horned beast, such as an ox or a gazelle. So the priests went in quest of the missing spirit, slaughtered the animal which had devoured it, and cutting open the carcase found the soul still undigested in its stomach. Afterwards the son of the deceased embraced the mummy or the image of his father in order to restore his soul to him. Formerly it was [pg 069] customary to place the skin of the slain beast on the dead man for the purpose of recruiting his strength with that of the animal.222

Souls stolen or detained by sorcerers in Fiji and Polynesia.

Again, souls may be extracted from their bodies or detained on their wanderings not only by ghosts and demons but also by men, especially by sorcerers. In Fiji, if a criminal refused to confess, the chief sent for a scarf with which "to catch away the soul of the rogue." At the sight or even at the mention of the scarf the culprit generally made a clean breast. For if he did not, the scarf would be waved over his head till his soul was caught in it, when it would be carefully folded up and nailed to the end of a chief's canoe; and for want of his soul the criminal would pine and die.223 The sorcerers of Danger Island used to set snares for souls. The snares were made of stout cinet, about fifteen to thirty feet long, with loops on either side of different sizes, to suit the different sizes of souls; for fat souls there were large loops, for thin souls there were small ones. When a man was sick against whom the sorcerers had a grudge, they set up these soul-snares near his house and watched for the flight of his soul. If in the shape of a bird or an insect it was caught in the snare the man would infallibly die.224 When a Polynesian mother desired that the child in her womb should grow up to be a great warrior or a great thief, she repaired to the temple of the war-god Oro or of the thief-god Hiro. There the priest obligingly caught the spirit of the god in a snare made of coco-nut fibre, and then infused it into the woman. When the child was born, the mother took it to the temple and dedicated it to the god with whose divine spirit the infant was already possessed.225 The Algonquin Indians also used nets to catch souls, but only as [pg 070] a measure of defence. They feared lest passing souls, which had just quitted the bodies of dying people, should enter their huts and carry off the souls of the inmates to deadland. So they spread nets about their houses to catch and entangle these ghostly intruders in the meshes.226

Detention of souls by sorcerers in Africa.

Among the Sereres of Senegambia, when a man wishes to revenge himself on his enemy he goes to the Fitaure (chief and priest in one), and prevails on him by presents to conjure the soul of his enemy into a large jar of red earthenware, which is then deposited under a consecrated tree. The man whose soul is shut up in the jar soon dies.227 Among the Baoules of the Ivory Coast it happened once that a chief's soul was extracted by the magic of an enemy, who succeeded in shutting it up in a box. To recover it, two men held a garment of the sick man, while a witch performed certain enchantments. After a time she declared that the soul was now in the garment, which was accordingly rolled up and hastily wrapped about the invalid for the purpose of restoring his spirit to him.228 Some of the Congo negroes think that enchanters can get possession of human souls, and enclosing them in tusks of ivory, sell them to the white man, who makes them work for him in his country under the sea. It is believed that very many of the coast labourers are men thus obtained; so when these people go to trade they often look anxiously about for their dead relations. The man whose soul is thus sold into slavery will die "in due course, if not at the time."229 In some parts of West Africa, indeed, wizards are continually setting traps to catch souls that wander from their bodies in sleep; and when they have caught one, they tie it up over the fire, and as it shrivels in the heat the owner sickens. This is done, not out of any grudge towards the sufferer, but purely as a matter of business. The wizard does not care whose soul he has captured, and will readily restore it to its owner if only he is paid for doing so. Some sorcerers keep regular asylums for strayed souls, and anybody [pg 071] who has lost or mislaid his own soul can always have another one from the asylum on payment of the usual fee. No blame whatever attaches to men who keep these private asylums or set traps for passing souls; it is their profession, and in the exercise of it they are actuated by no harsh or unkindly feelings. But there are also wretches who from pure spite or for the sake of lucre set and bait traps with the deliberate purpose of catching the soul of a particular man; and in the bottom of the pot, hidden by the bait, are knives and sharp hooks which tear and rend the poor soul, either killing it outright or mauling it so as to impair the health of its owner when it succeeds in escaping and returning to him. Miss Kingsley knew a Kruman who became very anxious about his soul, because for several nights he had smelt in his dreams the savoury smell of smoked crawfish seasoned with red pepper. Clearly some ill-wisher had set a trap baited with this dainty for his dream-soul, intending to do him grievous bodily, or rather spiritual, harm; and for the next few nights great pains were taken to keep his soul from straying abroad in his sleep. In the sweltering heat of the tropical night he lay sweating and snorting under a blanket, his nose and mouth tied up with a handkerchief to prevent the escape of his precious soul.230

Taking the souls of enemies first and their heads afterwards.

When Dyaks of the Upper Melawie are about to go out head-hunting they take the precaution of securing the souls of their enemies before they attempt to kill their bodies, calculating apparently that mere bodily death will soon follow the spiritual death, or capture, of the soul. With this intention they clear a small space in the underwood of the forest, and set up in the clearing one of those miniature houses in which it is customary to deposit the ashes of the dead. Food is placed in the little house, which, though raised on four posts, is connected with the ground by a tiny inverted ladder of the sort up which spirits are believed to swarm. When these preparations have been completed, the leader of the expedition comes and sits down a little way from the miniature house, and addressing the spirits of kinsmen who had the misfortune to be beheaded by their enemies, he says, "O ghosts of So-and-so, come speedily back [pg 072] to our village. We have rice in abundance. Our trees all bear ripe fruit. Our baskets are full to the brim. O ghosts, come swiftly back and forget not to bring your new friends and acquaintances with you." But by the new friends and acquaintances of the ghosts he means the souls of the enemies against whom he is about to lead the expedition. Meantime the other warriors have hidden themselves close by behind trees and bushes, and are listening with all their ears. When the cry of an animal is heard in the forest, or a humming sound seems to issue from the little house, it is a sign that the ghosts of their friends have come, bringing with them the souls of their enemies, which are accordingly at their mercy. At that the lurking warriors leap forth from their ambush, and with brandished blades hew and slash at the souls of their foemen swarming unseen in the air. Taken completely by surprise, the panic-stricken souls flee in all directions, and are fain to hide under every leaf and stone on the ground. But even here their retreat is cut off. For now the leader of the expedition is hard at work, grubbing up with his hands every stone and leaf to right and left, and thrusting them with feverish haste into the basket, which he at once ties up securely. He now flatters himself that he has the souls of the enemy safe in his possession; and when in the course of the expedition the heads of the foe are severed from their bodies, he will pack them into the same basket in which their souls are already languishing in captivity.231

Injuries of various sorts done to captured souls by wizards.

In Hawaii there were sorcerers who caught souls of living people, shut them up in calabashes, and gave them to people [pg 073] to eat. By squeezing a captured soul in their hands they discovered the place where people had been secretly buried.232 Amongst the Canadian Indians, when a wizard wished to kill a man, he sent out his familiar spirits, who brought him the victim's soul in the shape of a stone or the like. The wizard struck the soul with a sword or an axe till it bled profusely, and as it bled the man to whom it belonged fell ill and died.233 In Amboyna if a doctor is convinced that a patient's soul has been carried away by a demon beyond recovery, he seeks to supply its place with a soul abstracted from another man. For this purpose he goes by night to a house and asks, "Who's there?" If an inmate is incautious enough to answer, the doctor takes up from before the door a clod of earth, into which the soul of the person who replied is thought to have passed. This clod the doctor lays under the sick man's pillow, and performs certain ceremonies by which the stolen soul is conveyed into the patient's body. Then as he goes home the doctor fires two shots to frighten the soul from returning to its proper owner.234 A Karen wizard will catch the wandering soul of a sleeper and transfer it to the body of a dead man. The latter, therefore, comes to life as the former dies. But the friends of the sleeper in turn engage a wizard to steal the soul of another sleeper, who dies as the first sleeper comes to life. In this way an indefinite succession of deaths and resurrections is supposed to take place.235

Abduction of human souls by Malay wizards.

Nowhere perhaps is the art of abducting human souls more carefully cultivated or carried to higher perfection than in the Malay Peninsula. Here the methods by which the wizard works his will are various, and so too are his motives. Sometimes he desires to destroy an enemy, sometimes to win the love of a cold or bashful beauty. Some of the charms operate entirely without contact; in others, the receptacle into which the soul is to be lured has formed part of, or at least touched, the person of the victim. Thus, to take an [pg 074] instance of the latter sort of charm, the following are the directions given for securing the soul of one whom you wish to render distraught. Take soil from the middle of his footprint; wrap it up in pieces of red, black, and yellow cloth, taking care to keep the yellow outside; and hang it from the centre of your mosquito curtain with parti-coloured thread. It will then become your victim's soul. To complete the transubstantiation, however, it is needful to switch the packet with a birch composed of seven leaf-ribs from a "green" coco-nut. Do this seven times at sunset, at midnight, and at sunrise, saying, "It is not earth that I switch, but the heart of So-and-so." Then bury it in the middle of a path where your victim is sure to step over it, and he will unquestionably become distraught.236 Another way is to scrape the wood of the floor where your intended victim has been sitting, mix the scrapings with earth from his or her footprint, and knead the whole with wax from a deserted bees' comb into a likeness of him or her. Then fumigate the figure with incense and beckon to the soul every night for three nights successively by waving a cloth, while you recite the appropriate spell.237 In the following cases the charm takes effect without any contact whatever, whether direct or indirect, with the victim. When the moon, just risen, looks red above the eastern horizon, go out, and standing in the moonlight, with the big toe of your right foot on the big toe of your left, make a speaking-trumpet of your right hand and recite through it the following words:

"OM. I loose my shaft, I loose it and the moon clouds over,

I loose it, and the sun is extinguished.

I loose it, and the stars burn dim.

But it is not the sun, moon, and stars that I shoot at,

It is the stalk of the heart of that child of the congregation, So-and-so.

Cluck! cluck! soul of So-and-so, come and walk with me,

Come and sit with me,

Come and sleep and share my pillow.

Cluck! cluck! soul."

Repeat this thrice and after every repetition blow through [pg 075] your hollow fist.238 Or you may catch the soul in your turban, thus. Go out on the night of the full moon and the two succeeding nights; sit down on an ant-hill facing the moon, burn incense, and recite the following incantation:

"I bring you a betel leaf to chew,

Dab the lime on to it, Prince Ferocious,

For Somebody, Prince Distraction's daughter, to chew.

Somebody at sunrise be distraught for love of me,

Somebody at sunset be distraught for love of me.

As you remember your parents, remember me;

As you remember your house and house-ladder, remember me.

When thunder rumbles, remember me;

When wind whistles, remember me;

When the heavens rain, remember me;

When cocks crow, remember me;

When the dial-bird tells its tales, remember me;

When you look up at the sun, remember me;

When you look up at the moon, remember me,

For in that self-same moon I am there.

Cluck! cluck! soul of Somebody come hither to me.

I do not mean to let you have my soul,

Let your soul come hither to mine."

Now wave the end of your turban towards the moon seven times each night. Go home and put it under your pillow, and if you want to wear it in the daytime, burn incense and say, "It is not a turban that I carry in my girdle, but the soul of Somebody."239

Athenian curse accompanied by the shaking of red cloths.

Perhaps the magical ceremonies just described may help to explain a curious rite, of immemorial antiquity, which was performed on a very solemn occasion at Athens. On the eve of the sailing of the fleet for Syracuse, when all hearts beat high with hope, and visions of empire dazzled all eyes, consternation suddenly fell on the people one May morning when they rose and found that most of the images of Hermes in the city had been mysteriously mutilated in the night. The impious perpetrators of the sacrilege were unknown, but whoever they were, the priests and priestesses solemnly cursed them according to the ancient ritual, standing with their faces to the west and shaking red cloths up and down.240 Perhaps in these cloths they were catching the [pg 076] souls of those at whom their curses were levelled, just as we have seen that Fijian chiefs used to catch the souls of criminals in scarves and nail them to canoes.241

Extracting a patient's soul from the stomach of his doctor.

The Indians of the Nass River, in British Columbia, are impressed with a belief that a physician may swallow his patient's soul by mistake. A doctor who is believed to have done so is made by the other members of the faculty to stand over the patient, while one of them thrusts his fingers down the doctor's throat, another kneads him in the stomach with his knuckles, and a third slaps him on the back. If the soul is not in him after all, and if the same process has been repeated upon all the medical men without success, it is concluded that the soul must be in the head-doctor's box. A party of doctors, therefore, waits upon him at his house and requests him to produce his box. When he has done so and arranged its contents on a new mat, they take the votary of Aesculapius and hold him up by the heels with his head in a hole in the floor. In this position they wash his head, and "any water remaining from the ablution is taken and poured upon the sick man's head."242 Among the Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia it is forbidden to pass behind the back of a shaman while he is eating, lest the shaman should inadvertently swallow the soul of the passer-by. When that happens, both the shaman and the person whose soul he has swallowed fall down in a swoon. Blood flows from the shaman's mouth, because the soul is too large for him and is tearing his inside. Then the clan of the person whose soul is doing this mischief must assemble and sing the song of the shaman. In time the suffering sorcerer [pg 077] vomits out the soul, which he exhibits in the shape of a small bloody ball in the open palms of his hands. He restores it to its owner, who is lying prostrate on a mat, by throwing it at him and then blowing on his head. The man whose soul was swallowed has very naturally to pay for the damage he did to the shaman as well as for his own cure.243

§ 3. The Soul as a Shadow and a Reflection.

A man's soul conceived as his shadow, so that to injure the shadow is to injure the man.

But the spiritual dangers I have enumerated are not the only ones which beset the savage. Often he regards his [pg 078] shadow or reflection as his soul, or at all events as a vital part of himself, and as such it is necessarily a source of danger to him. For if it is trampled upon, struck, or stabbed, he will feel the injury as if it were done to his person; and if it is detached from him entirely (as he believes that it may be) he will die. In the island of Wetar there are magicians who can make a man ill by stabbing his shadow with a pike or hacking it with a sword.244 After Sankara had destroyed the Buddhists in India, it is said that he journeyed to Nepaul, where he had some difference of opinion with the Grand Lama. To prove his supernatural powers, he soared into the air. But as he mounted up, the Grand Lama, perceiving his shadow swaying and wavering on the ground, struck his knife into it and down fell Sankara and broke his neck.245 In the Babar Islands the demons get power over a man's soul by holding fast his shadow, or by striking and wounding it.246 Among the Tolindoos of central Celebes to tread on a man's shadow is an offence, because it is supposed to make the owner sick;247 and for the same reason the Toboongkoos of that region forbid their children to play with their shadows.248 The Ottawa Indians thought they could kill a man by making certain figures on his shadow.249 The Baganda of central Africa regarded a man's shadow as his ghost; hence they used to kill or injure their enemies by stabbing or treading on their shadows.250 Among the Bavili of West Africa it used to be considered a crime to trample on or even to cross the shadow of another, especially if the shadow were that of a married woman.251 Some Caffres are very unwilling to let anybody stand on their shadow, believing that they can be [pg 079] influenced for evil through it.252 They think that "a sick man's shadow dwindles in intensity when he is about to die; for it has such an intimate relation to the man that it suffers with him."253 The Ja-Luo tribes of Kavirondo, to the east of Lake Victoria Nyanza, tell of the ancestor of all men, Apodtho by name, who descended to earth from above, bringing with him cattle, fowls, and seeds. When he was old, the Ja-Luo plotted to kill him, but for a long time they did not dare to attack him. At last, hearing that he was sick, they thought their chance had come, and sent a girl to see how he was. She took a small horn, used for cupping blood, in her hand, and while she talked with him she placed the cupping-horn on his shadow. To her surprise it drew blood. So she returned and told her friends that, if they wished to kill Apodtho, they must not touch his body, but spear his shadow. They did so, and he died and turned into a rock, which has ever since possessed the property of sharpening spears unusually well.254 In a Chinese book we read of a sage who examined human shadows by lamplight in order to discover the fate of their owners. "A man's shadow," he said, "ought to be deep, for, if so, he will attain honourable positions, and a great age. Shadows are averse to being reflected in water, or in wells, or in washing-basins. It was on such grounds that the ancients avoided shadows, and that in old days Khü-seu, twan-hu, and other shadow-treading vermin caused injury by hitting the shadows of men. In recent times there have been men versed in the art of cauterizing the shadows of their patients." Another sapient Chinese writer observes: "I have heard that, if the shadow of a bird is hit with a piece of wood that was struck by thunder, the bird falls to the ground immediately. I never tried it, but on account of the matter stated above I consider the thing certain."255 The natives of Nias tremble at the sight of a rainbow, because they think it is a net spread by a powerful spirit to catch their shadows.256

[pg 080]

Danger to a person of letting his shadow fall on certain things. Animals and trees also may be injured through their shadows.

In the Banks Islands, Melanesia, there are certain stones of a remarkably long shape which go by the name of tamate gangan or "eating ghosts," because certain powerful and dangerous ghosts are believed to lodge in them. If a man's shadow falls on one of these stones, the ghost will draw his soul out from him, so that he will die. Such stones, therefore, are set in a house to guard it; and a messenger sent to a house by the absent owner will call out the name of the sender, lest the watchful ghost in the stone should fancy that he came with evil intent and should do him a mischief.257 In Florida, one of the Solomon Islands, there are places sacred to ghosts, some in the village, some in the gardens, and some in the bush. No man would pass one of these places when the sun was so low as to cast his shadow into it, for then the ghost would draw it from him.258 The Indian tribes of the Lower Fraser River believe that man has four souls, of which the shadow is one, though not the principal, and that sickness is caused by the absence of one of the souls. Hence no one will let his shadow fall on a sick shaman, lest the latter should purloin it to replace his own lost soul.259 At a funeral in China, when the lid is about to be placed on the coffin, most of the bystanders, with the exception of the nearest kin, retire a few steps or even retreat to another room, for a person's health is believed to be endangered by allowing his shadow to be enclosed in a coffin. And when the coffin is about to be lowered into the grave most of the spectators recoil to a little distance lest their shadows should fall into the grave and harm should thus be done to their persons. The geomancer and his assistants stand on the side of the grave which is turned away from the sun; and the grave-diggers and coffin-bearers attach their shadows firmly to their persons by tying a strip of cloth tightly round their waists.260 In the Nicobar Islands burial usually takes place at sundown, before midnight, or at early dawn. In no case can an interment be carried out at noon or within an hour of it, lest the shadows of the bearers who lower the [pg 081] body into the earth, or of the mourners taking their last look at the shrouded figure, should fall into the grave; for that would cause them to be sick or die. And when the dead has been laid in his last home, but before the earth is shovelled in upon him, the leaves of a certain jungle tree are waved over the grave, and a lighted torch is brandished inside it, to disperse any souls of the sorrowing bystanders that may be lingering with their departed friend in his narrow bed. Then the signal is given, and the earth or sand is rapidly shovelled in by a party of young men who have been standing in readiness to perform the duty.261 When the Malays are building a house, and the central post is being set up, the greatest precautions are taken to prevent the shadow of any of the workers from falling either on the post or on the hole dug to receive it; for otherwise they think that sickness and trouble will be sure to follow.262 When members of some Victorian tribes were performing magical ceremonies for the purpose of bringing disease and misfortune on their enemies, they took care not to let their shadows fall on the object by which the evil influence was supposed to be wafted to the foe.263 In Darfur people think that they can do an enemy to death by burying a certain root in the earth on the spot where the shadow of his head happens to fall. The man whose shadow is thus tampered with loses consciousness at once and will die if the proper antidote be not administered. In like manner they can paralyse any limb, as a hand or leg, by planting a particular root in the earth in the shadow of the limb they desire to maim.264 Nor is it human beings alone who are thus liable to be injured by means of their shadows. Animals are to some extent in the same predicament. A small snail, which frequents the neighbourhood of the limestone hills in Perak, is believed to suck the blood of cattle through their shadows; hence the beasts grow lean and sometimes die from loss of [pg 082] blood.265 The ancients supposed that in Arabia, if a hy?na trod on a man's shadow, it deprived him of the power of speech and motion; and that if a dog, standing on a roof in the moonlight, cast a shadow on the ground and a hy?na trod on it, the dog would fall down as if dragged with a rope.266 Clearly in these cases the shadow, if not equivalent to the soul, is at least regarded as a living part of the man or the animal, so that injury done to the shadow is felt by the person or animal as if it were done to his body. Even the shadows of trees are supposed by the Caffres to be sensitive. Hence when a Caffre doctor seeks to pluck the leaves of a tree for medicinal purposes, he "takes care to run up quickly, and to avoid touching the shadow lest it should inform the tree of the danger, and so give the tree time to withdraw the medicinal properties from its extremities into the safety of the inaccessible trunk. The shadow of the tree is said to feel the touch of the man's feet."267

Danger of being overshadowed by certain birds or people.

Conversely, if the shadow is a vital part of a man or an animal, it may under certain circumstances be as hazardous to be touched by it as it would be to come into contact with the person or animal. Thus in the North-West Provinces of India people believe that if the shadow of the goat-sucker bird falls on an ox or a cow, but especially on a cow buffalo, the beast will soon die. The remedy is for some one to kill the bird, rub his hands or a stick in the blood, and then wave the stick over the animal. There are certain men who are noted for their powers in this respect all over the district.268 The Kaitish of central Australia hold that if the shadow of a brown hawk falls on the breast of a woman who is suckling a child, the breast will swell up and burst. Hence if a woman sees one of these birds in these circumstances, she runs away in fear.269 In the Central Provinces of India a [pg 083] pregnant woman avoids the shadow of a man, believing that if it fell on her, the child would take after him in features, though not in character.270 In Shoa any obstinate disorder, for which no remedy is known, such as insanity, epilepsy, delirium, hysteria, and St. Vitus's dance, is traced either to possession by a demon or to the shadow of an enemy which has fallen on the sufferer.271 The Bushman is most careful not to let his shadow fall on the dead game, as he thinks this would bring bad luck.272 Amongst the Caffres to overshadow the king by standing in his presence was an offence worthy of instant death.273 And it is a Caffre superstition that if the shadow of a man who is protected by a certain charm falls on the shadow of a man who is not so protected, the unprotected person will fall down, overcome by the power of the charm which is transmitted through the shadow.274 In the Punjaub some people believe that if the shadow of a pregnant woman fell on a snake, it would blind the creature instantly.275

The shadows of certain persons are regarded as peculiarly dangerous. The savage's dread of his mother in-law.

Hence the savage makes it a rule to shun the shadow of certain persons whom for various reasons he regards as sources of dangerous influence. Amongst the dangerous classes he commonly ranks mourners and women in general, but especially his mother-in-law. The Shuswap Indians of British Columbia think that the shadow of a mourner falling upon a person would make him sick.276 Amongst the Kurnai tribe of Victoria novices at initiation were cautioned not to let a woman's shadow fall across them, as this would make them thin, lazy, and stupid.277 An Australian native is said to have once nearly died of fright because the shadow of his mother-in-law fell on his legs as he lay asleep under a tree.278 [pg 084] The awe and dread with which the untutored savage contemplates his mother-in-law are amongst the most familiar facts of anthropology. In the Yuin tribes of New South Wales the rule which forbade a man to hold any communication with his wife's mother was very strict. He might not look at her or even in her direction. It was a ground of divorce if his shadow happened to fall on his mother-in-law: in that case he had to leave his wife, and she returned to her parents.279 In the Hunter River tribes of New South Wales it was formerly death for a man to speak to his mother-in-law; however, in later times the wretch who had committed this heinous crime was suffered to live, but he was severely reprimanded and banished for a time from the camp.280 In the Kulin tribe it was thought that if a woman looked at or spoke to her son-in-law or even his brother, her hair would turn white. The same result, it was supposed, would follow if she ate of game which had been presented to her husband by her son-in-law; but she could obviate this ill consequence by blackening her face, and especially her mouth, with charcoal, for then her hair would not turn white.281 Similarly in the Kurnai tribe of Victoria a woman is not permitted to see her daughter's husband in camp or elsewhere. When he is present, she keeps her head covered with an opossum rug. The camp of the mother-in-law faces in a different direction to that of her son-in-law. A screen of high bushes is erected between both huts, so that no one can see over from either. When the mother-in-law goes for firewood, she crouches down as she goes out or in, with her head covered.282 In Uganda a man may not see his mother-in-law nor speak to her face to face. Should they meet by accident, she must turn aside and cover her head with her clothes; or if her garments are too scanty for that, she may squat on her haunches and hide her face in her hands. If he wishes to hold any communication with her, it must be done through a third person, or through a wall or closed door. Were he to break these [pg 085] rules, he would certainly be seized with a shaking of the hands and general debility.283 Among some tribes of eastern Africa which formerly acknowledged the suzerainty of the sultan of Zanzibar, before a young couple had children they might meet neither their father-in-law nor their mother-in-law. To avoid them they must take a long roundabout. But if they could not do that, they must throw themselves on the ground and hide their faces till the father-in-law or mother-in-law had passed by.284 Among the Basutos a man may never meet his wife's mother, nor speak to her, nor see her. If his wife is ill and her mother comes to nurse her, he must flee the house so long as she is in it; sentinels are posted to warn him of her departure.285 In New Britain the native imagination fails to conceive the extent and nature of the calamities which would result from a man's accidentally speaking to his wife's mother; suicide of one or both would probably be the only course open to them. The most solemn form of oath a New Briton can take is, "Sir, if I am not telling the truth, I hope I may shake hands with my mother-in-law."286 At Vanua Lava in the Banks Islands, a man would not so much as follow his mother-in-law along the beach until the rising tide had washed out her footprints in the sand.287 To avoid meeting his mother-in-law face to face a very desperate Apache Indian, one of the bravest of the brave, has been seen to clamber along the brink of a precipice at the risk of his life, hanging on to rocks from which had he fallen he would have been dashed to pieces or at least have broken several of his limbs.288 Still more curious [pg 086] and difficult to explain is the rule which forbids certain African kings, after the coronation ceremonies have been completed, ever to see their own mothers again. This restriction was imposed on the kings of Benin and Uganda. Yet the queen-mothers lived in regal state with a court and lands of their own. In Uganda it was thought that if the king were to see his mother again, some evil and probably death would surely befall him.289

A man's health and strength supposed to vary with the length of his shadow. Fear of the loss of the shadow. Fear of the resemblance of a child to its parents.

Where the shadow is regarded as so intimately bound up with the life of the man that its loss entails debility or death, it is natural to expect that its diminution should be regarded with solicitude and apprehension, as betokening a corresponding decrease in the vital energy of its owner. An elegant Greek rhetorician has compared the man who lives only for fame to one who should set all his heart on his shadow, puffed up and boastful when it lengthened, sad and dejected when it shortened, wasting and pining away when it dwindled to nothing. The spirits of such an one, he goes on, would necessarily be volatile, since they must rise or fall with every passing hour of the day. In the morning, when the level sun, just risen above the eastern horizon, stretched out his shadow to enormous length, rivalling the shadows cast by the cypresses and the towers on the city wall, how blithe and exultant would he be, fancying that in stature he had become a match for the fabled giants of old; with what a lofty port he would then strut and shew himself in the streets and the market-place and wherever men congregated, that he might be seen and admired of all. But as the day wore on, his countenance would change and he would slink back crestfallen to his house. At noon, when his once towering shadow had shrunk to his feet, he would shut himself up and refuse to stir abroad, ashamed to look [pg 087] his fellow-townsmen in the face; but in the afternoon his drooping spirits would revive, and as the day declined his joy and pride would swell again with the length of the evening shadows.290 The rhetorician who thus sought to expose the vanity of fame as an object of human ambition by likening it to an ever-changing shadow, little dreamed that in real life there were men who set almost as much store by their shadows as the fool whom he had conjured up in his imagination to point a moral. So hard is it for the straining wings of fancy to outstrip the folly of mankind. In Amboyna and Uliase, two islands near the equator, where necessarily there is little or no shadow cast at noon, the people make it a rule not to go out of the house at mid-day, because they fancy that by doing so a man may lose the shadow of his soul.291 The Mangaians tell of a mighty warrior, Tukaitawa, whose strength waxed and waned with the length of his shadow. In the morning, when his shadow fell longest, his strength was greatest; but as the shadow shortened towards noon his strength ebbed with it, till exactly at noon it reached its lowest point; then, as the shadow stretched out in the afternoon, his strength returned. A certain hero discovered the secret of Tukaitawa's strength and slew him at noon.292 The savage Besisis of the Malay Peninsula fear to bury their dead at noon, because they fancy that the shortness of their shadows at that hour would sympathetically shorten their own lives.293 The Baganda of central Africa used to judge of a man's health by the length of his shadow. They said, "So-and-so is going to die, his shadow is very small"; or, "He is in good health, his shadow is large."294 Similarly the Caffres of South Africa think that a man's shadow grows very small or vanishes at death. When her husband is away at the wars, a woman hangs up his sleeping-mat; if the shadow grows less, she says her husband is killed; if it remains unchanged, she says he is unscathed.295 [pg 088] It is possible that even in lands outside the tropics the observation of the diminished shadow at noon may have contributed, even if it did not give rise, to the superstitious dread with which that hour has been viewed by many peoples, as by the Greeks, ancient and modern, the Bretons, the Russians, the Roumanians of Transylvania, and the Indians of Santiago Tepehuacan.296 In this observation, too, we may perhaps detect the reason why noon was chosen by the Greeks as the hour for sacrificing to the shadowless dead.297 The loss of the shadow, real or apparent, has often been regarded as a cause or precursor of death. Whoever entered the sanctuary of Zeus on Mount Lycaeus in Arcadia was believed to lose his shadow and to die within the year.298 In Lower Austria on the evening of St. Sylvester's day-the last day of the year-the company seated round the table mark whose shadow is not cast on the wall, and believe that the seemingly shadowless person will die next year. Similar presages are drawn in Germany both on St. Sylvester's day and on Christmas Eve.299 The Galelareese fancy that if a child resembles his father, they will not both live long; for the child has taken away his father's likeness or shadow, and consequently the father must soon die.300 Similarly among [pg 089] some tribes of the Lower Congo, "if the child is like its mother, father, or uncle, they think it has the spirit of the person it resembles, and that that person will soon die. Hence a parent will resent it if you say that the baby is like him or her."301

The shadows of people built into foundations to strengthen the edifices.

Nowhere, perhaps, does the equivalence of the shadow to the life or soul come out more clearly than in some customs practised to this day in south-eastern Europe. In modern Greece, when the foundation of a new building is being laid, it is the custom to kill a cock, a ram, or a lamb, and to let its blood flow on the foundation-stone, under which the animal is afterwards buried. The object of the sacrifice is to give strength and stability to the building. But sometimes, instead of killing an animal, the builder entices a man to the foundation-stone, secretly measures his body, or a part of it, or his shadow, and buries the measure under the foundation-stone; or he lays the foundation-stone upon the man's shadow. It is believed that the man will die within the year.302 In the island of Lesbos it is deemed enough if the builder merely casts a stone at the shadow of a passer-by; the man whose shadow is thus struck will die, but the building will be solid.303 A Bulgarian mason measures the shadow of a man with a string, places the string in a box, and then builds the box into the wall of the edifice. Within forty days thereafter the man whose shadow was measured will be dead and his soul will be in the box beside the string; but often it will come forth and appear in its former shape to persons who were born on a Saturday. If a Bulgarian builder cannot obtain a human shadow for this purpose, he will content himself with measuring the shadow of the first animal that comes that way.304 The Roumanians of Transylvania think that he whose shadow is thus immured will die within forty days; so persons passing by a building which is in course of erection may hear a warning cry, "Beware lest they take thy shadow!" Not long ago there [pg 090] were still shadow-traders whose business it was to provide architects with the shadows necessary for securing their walls.305 In these cases the measure of the shadow is looked on as equivalent to the shadow itself, and to bury it is to bury the life or soul of the man, who, deprived of it, must die. Thus the custom is a substitute for the old practice of immuring a living person in the walls, or crushing him under the foundation-stone of a new building, in order to give strength and durability to the structure, or more definitely in order that the angry ghost may haunt the place and guard it against the intrusion of enemies. Thus when a new gate was made or an old gate was repaired in the walls of Bangkok, it used to be customary to crush three men to death under an enormous beam in a pit at the gateway. Before they were led to their doom, they were regaled at a splendid banquet; the whole court came to salute them; and the king himself charged them straitly to guard well the gate that was to be committed to their care, and to warn him if enemies or rebels came to assault the city. The next moment the ropes were cut and the beam descended on them. The Siamese believed that these unfortunates were transformed into the genii which they called phi.306 It is said that when the massive teak posts of the gateways of Mandalay were set up, a man was bound and placed under each post and crushed to death. The Burmese believe that men who die a violent death turn into nats or demons and haunt the spot where they were killed, doing a mischief to such as attempt to molest the place. Thus their spirits become guardians of the gates.307 This theory would explain why such sacrifices appear to be offered most commonly at thoroughfares, such as gates and bridges, where ghostly warders may be deemed especially serviceable in keeping; watch on the multitudes that go to and fro.308 In Bima, a [pg 091] district of the East Indian island of Sambawa, the custom is marked by some peculiar features, which deserve to be mentioned. When a new flag-pole is set up at the sultan's palace a woman is crushed to death under it; but she must be pregnant. If the destined victim should be brought to bed before her execution, she goes free. The notion may be that the ghost of such a woman would be more than usually fierce and vigilant. Again, when the wooden doors are set up at the palace, it is customary to bury a child under each of the door-posts. For these purposes officers are sent to scour the country for a pregnant woman or little children, as the case may be, and if they come back empty-handed they must give up their own wives or children to serve as victims. When the gates are set up, the children are killed, their bodies stript of flesh, and their bones laid in the holes in which the door-posts are erected. Then the flesh is boiled with horse's flesh and served up to the officers. Any officer who refuses to eat of it is at once cut down.309 The intention of this last practice is perhaps to secure the fidelity of the officers by compelling them to enter into a covenant of the most solemn and binding nature with the ghosts of the murdered children who are to guard the gates.

Deification of a measuring tape.

The practice of burying the measure of a man's shadow, as a substitute for the man himself, under the foundation-stone of a building may perhaps throw light on the singular deity whom the people of Kisser, an East Indian island, [pg 092] choose to guard their houses and villages. The god in question is nothing more or less than the measuring-tape which was used to measure the foundations of the house or of the village temple. After it has served this useful purpose, the tape is wound about a stick shaped like a paddle, and is then deposited in the thatch of the roof of the house, where food is offered to it on all special occasions. The deified measuring-tape of the whole village is that which was used to measure the foundations of the first house or of the village temple. The handle of the paddle-like stick on which it is wound is carved into the figure of a person squatting in the usual posture; and the whole is kept in a rough wooden box along with one or two figures to act as its guards.310 It is possible, though perhaps hardly probable, that these tapes may be thought to contain the souls of men whose shadows they measured at the foundation ceremony.

The soul sometimes supposed to be in the reflection. Dangers to which the reflection-soul is exposed.

As some peoples believe a man's soul to be in his shadow, so other (or the same) peoples believe it to be in his reflection in water or a mirror. Thus "the Andamanese do not regard their shadows but their reflections (in any mirror) as their souls."311 According to one account, some of the Fijians thought that man has two souls, a light one and a dark one; the dark one goes to Hades, the light one is his reflection in water or a mirror.312 When the Motumotu of New Guinea first saw their likenesses in a looking-glass they thought that their reflections were their souls.313 In New Caledonia the old men are of opinion that a person's reflection in water or a mirror is his soul; but the younger men, [pg 093] taught by the Catholic priests, maintain that it is a reflection and nothing more, just like the reflection of palm-trees in the water.314 The reflection-soul, being external to the man, is exposed to much the same dangers as the shadow-soul. Among the Galelareese, half-grown lads and girls may not look at themselves in a mirror; for they say that the mirror takes away their bloom and leaves them ugly.315 And as the shadow may be stabbed, so may the reflection. Hence an Aztec mode of keeping sorcerers from the house was to leave a vessel of water with a knife in it behind the door. When a sorcerer entered he was so much alarmed at seeing his reflection in the water transfixed by a knife that he turned and fled.316 In Corrèze, a district of the Auvergne, a cow's milk had dried up through the maleficent spells of a neighbouring witch, so a sorcerer was called in to help. He made the woman whose cow was bewitched sit in front of a pail of water with a knife in her hand till she thought she saw the image of the witch in the water, whereupon he made her stab the image with the knife. They say that if the knife strikes the image fair in the eye, the person whose likeness it is will suffer a corresponding injury in his or her eye. This procedure, we are informed, has been successful in restoring milk to the udders of a cow when even holy water had been tried in vain.317 The Zulus will not look into a dark pool because they think there is a beast in it which will take away their reflections, so that they die.318 The Basutos say that crocodiles have the power of thus killing a man by dragging his reflection under water. When one of them dies suddenly and from no apparent cause, his relatives will allege that a crocodile must have taken his shadow some time when he crossed a stream.319 In Saddle Island, [pg 094] Melanesia, there is a pool "into which if any one looks he dies; the malignant spirit takes hold upon his life by means of his reflection on the water."320

Dread of looking at one's reflection in water.

We can now understand why it was a maxim both in ancient India and ancient Greece not to look at one's reflection in water, and why the Greeks regarded it as an omen of death if a man dreamed of seeing himself so reflected.321 They feared that the water-spirits would drag the person's reflection or soul under water, leaving him soulless to perish. This was probably the origin of the classical story of the beautiful Narcissus, who languished and died through seeing his reflection in the water. The explanation that he died for love of his own fair image was probably devised later, after the old meaning of the story was forgotten. The same ancient belief lingers, in a faded form, in the English superstition that whoever sees a water fairy must pine and die.

"Alas, the moon should ever beam

To show what man should never see!-

I saw a maiden on a stream,

And fair was she!

I staid to watch, a little space,

Her parted lips if she would sing;

The waters closed above her face

With many a ring.

I know my life will fade away,

I know that I must vainly pine,

For I am made of mortal clay,

But she's divine!"

Reason for covering up mirrors or turning them to the wall after a death.

Further, we can now explain the widespread custom of covering up mirrors or turning them to the wall after a death has taken place in the house. It is feared that the soul, projected out of the person in the shape of his reflection in the mirror, may be carried off by the ghost of the departed, [pg 095] which is commonly supposed to linger about the house till the burial. The custom is thus exactly parallel to the Aru custom of not sleeping in a house after a death for fear that the soul, projected out of the body in a dream, may meet the ghost and be carried off by it.322 In Oldenburg it is thought that if a person sees his image in a mirror after a death he will die himself. So all the mirrors in the house are covered up with white cloth.323 In some parts of Germany and Belgium after a death not only the mirrors but everything that shines or glitters (windows, clocks, etc.) is covered up,324 doubtless because they might reflect a person's image. The same custom of covering up mirrors or turning them to the wall after a death prevails in England, Scotland, Madagascar,325 and among the Karaits, a Jewish sect in the Crimea.326 The Suni Mohammedans of Bombay cover with a cloth the mirror in the room of a dying man and do not remove it until the corpse is carried out for burial. They also cover the looking-glasses in their bedrooms before retiring to rest at night.327 The reason why sick people should not see themselves in a mirror, and why the mirror in a sick-room is therefore covered up,328 is also plain; in time of sickness, when the soul might take flight so easily, it is particularly dangerous to project it out of the body by means of the reflection in a mirror. The rule is therefore precisely parallel to the rule observed by some peoples of not allowing sick people to sleep;329 for in sleep the soul is projected out of the body, [pg 096] and there is always a risk that it may not return. "In the opinion of the Raskolniks a mirror is an accursed thing, invented by the devil,"330 perhaps on account of the mirror's supposed power of drawing out the soul in the reflection and so facilitating its capture.

The soul sometimes supposed to be in the portrait. This belief among the Esquimaux and American Indians.

As with shadows and reflections, so with portraits; they are often believed to contain the soul of the person portrayed. People who hold this belief are naturally loth to have their likenesses taken; for if the portrait is the soul, or at least a vital part of the person portrayed, whoever possesses the portrait will be able to exercise a fatal influence over the original of it. Thus the Esquimaux of Bering Strait believe that persons dealing in witchcraft have the power of stealing a person's inua or shade, so that without it he will pine away and die. Once at a village on the lower Yukon River an explorer had set up his camera to get a picture of the people as they were moving about among their houses. While he was focusing the instrument, the headman of the village came up and insisted on peeping under the cloth. Being allowed to do so, he gazed intently for a minute at the moving figures on the ground glass, then suddenly withdrew his head and bawled at the top of his voice to the people, "He has all of your shades in this box." A panic ensued among the group, and in an instant they disappeared helter-skelter into their houses.331 The Dacotas hold that every man has several wanagi or "apparitions," of which after death one remains at the grave, while another goes to the place of the departed. For many years no Yankton Dacota would consent to have his picture taken lest one of his "apparitions" should remain after death in the picture instead of going to the spirit-land.332 An Indian whose portrait the Prince of Wied [pg 097] wished to get, refused to let himself be drawn, because he believed it would cause his death.333 The Mandan Indians also thought that they would soon die if their portraits were in the hands of another; they wished at least to have the artist's picture as a kind of hostage.334 The Tepehuanes of Mexico stood in mortal terror of the camera, and five days' persuasion was necessary to induce them to pose for it. When at last they consented, they looked like criminals about to be executed. They believed that by photographing people the artist could carry off their souls and devour them at his leisure moments. They said that when the pictures reached his country they would die or some other evil would befall them.335 The Canelos Indians of Ecuador think that their soul is carried away in their picture. Two of them, who had been photographed, were so alarmed that they came back next day on purpose to ask if it were really true that their souls had been taken away.336 Similar notions are entertained by the Aymara Indians of Peru and Bolivia.337 The Araucanians of Chili are unwilling to have their portraits drawn, for they fancy that he who has their portraits in his possession could, by means of magic, injure or destroy themselves.338

The same belief in Africa.

The Yaos, a tribe of British Central Africa in the neighbourhood of Lake Nyassa, believe that every human being has a lisoka, a soul, shade, or spirit, which they appear to associate with the shadow or picture of the person. Some of them have been known to refuse to enter a room where pictures were hung on the walls, "because of the masoka, souls, in them." The camera was at first an object of dread to them, and when it was turned on a group of natives they scattered in all directions with shrieks of terror. They said that the European was about to take away their shadows and that they would die; the transference of the shadow or portrait (for the Yao word for the two is the same, to wit [pg 098] chiwilili) to the photographic plate would involve the disease or death of the shadeless body. A Yao chief, after much difficulty, allowed himself to be photographed on condition that the picture should be shewn to none of his subjects, but sent out of the country as soon as possible. He feared lest some ill-wisher might use it to bewitch him. Some time afterwards he fell ill, and his attendants attributed the illness to some accident which had befallen the photographic plate in England.339 The Ngoni of the same region entertain a similar belief, and formerly exhibited a similar dread of sitting to a photographer, lest by so doing they should yield up their shades or spirits to him and they should die.340 When Joseph Thomson attempted to photograph some of the Wa-teita in eastern Africa, they imagined that he was a magician trying to obtain possession of their souls, and that if he got their likenesses they themselves would be entirely at his mercy.341 When Dr. Catat and some companions were exploring the Bara country on the west coast of Madagascar, the people suddenly became hostile. The day before the travellers, not without difficulty, had photographed the royal family, and now found themselves accused of taking the souls of the natives for the purpose of selling them when they returned to France. Denial was vain; in compliance with the custom of the country they were obliged to catch the souls, which were then put into a basket and ordered by Dr. Catat to return to their respective owners.342

The same belief in Asia and the East Indies.

Some villagers in Sikhim betrayed a lively horror and hid away whenever the lens of a camera, or "the evil eye of the box" as they called it, was turned on them. They thought it took away their souls with their pictures, and so put it in the power of the owner of the pictures to cast spells on them, and they alleged that a photograph of the scenery blighted the landscape.343 Until the reign of the late King of Siam no Siamese coins were ever stamped with the image [pg 099] of the king, "for at that time there was a strong prejudice against the making of portraits in any medium. Europeans who travel into the jungle have, even at the present time, only to point a camera at a crowd to procure its instant dispersion. When a copy of the face of a person is made and taken away from him, a portion of his life goes with the picture. Unless the sovereign had been blessed with the years of a Methusaleh he could scarcely have permitted his life to be distributed in small pieces together with the coins of the realm."344 Similarly, in Corea, "the effigy of the king is not struck on the coins; only a few Chinese characters are put on them. They would deem it an insult to the king to put his sacred face on objects which pass into the most vulgar hands and often roll on the ground in the dust or the mud. When the French ships arrived for the first time in Corea, the mandarin who was sent on board to communicate with them was dreadfully shocked to see the levity with which these western barbarians treated the face of their sovereign, reproduced on the coins, and the recklessness with which they put it in the hands of the first comer, without troubling themselves in the least whether or not he would shew it due respect."345 In Minahassa, a district of Celebes, many chiefs are reluctant to be photographed, believing that if that were done they would soon die. For they imagine that, were the photograph lost by its owner and found by somebody else, whatever injury the finder chose to do to the portrait would equally affect the person whom it represented.346 Mortal terror was depicted on the faces of the Battas upon whom von Brenner turned the lens of his camera; they thought he wished to carry off their shadows or spirits in a little box.347 When Dr. Nieuwenhuis attempted to photograph the Kayans or Bahaus of central Borneo, they were much alarmed, fearing that their souls would follow their photographs [pg 100] into the far country and that their deserted bodies would fall sick. Further, they imagined that possessing their likenesses the explorer would be able by magic art to work on the originals at a distance.348

The same belief in Europe.

Beliefs of the same sort still linger in various parts of Europe. Not very many years ago some old women in the Greek island of Carpathus were very angry at having their likenesses drawn, thinking that in consequence they would pine and die.349 It is a German superstition that if you have your portrait painted, you will die.350 Some people in Russia object to having their silhouettes taken, fearing that if this is done they will die before the year is out.351 In Albania Miss Durham sketched an old man who boasted of being a hundred and ten years old. When every one recognised the likeness, a look of great anxiety came over the patriarch's face, and most earnestly he besought the artist never to destroy the sketch, for he was certain that the moment the sketch was torn he would drop down dead.352 An artist in England once vainly attempted to sketch a gypsy girl. "I won't have her drawed out," said the girl's aunt. "I told her I'd make her scrawl the earth before me, if ever she let herself be drawed out again." "Why, what harm can there be?" "I know there's a fiz (a charm) in it. There was my youngest, that the gorja drawed out on Newmarket Heath, she never held her head up after, but wasted away, and died, and she's buried in March churchyard."353 There are persons in the West of Scotland "who refuse to have their likenesses taken lest it prove unlucky; and give as instances the cases of several of their friends who never had a day's health after being photographed."354

[pg 101]

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