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As to the length of the time of preparation we meet with vague and ambiguous reports. In some cases the whole initiatory period seems to be taken into account, in other cases only a certain part of it. No doubt the length of the preparatory time varies considerably in different cases. A Kru novice cannot be received into the conclave without spending two years or more of discipleship with some eminent member of the fraternity: 1 Among the Yoruba-speaking peoples the applicants for the priestly office undergo a noviciate of two or three years, 2 and equally long is the initiatory period among the Tshi-speaking peoples. 3 According to Nansen, the preparation of the Eskimo Angakoks often lasts ten years. • Boys destined to be sorcerers are among the Panama Indians held under strict dicipline for two years, 5 and in the same way would-be medicine-men among certain Brazilian tribes have for four months to observe severe rules of asceticism. 6 The period of initiation among the Buryats lasts from a very early age till the novice is about twenty.? Among the Todas the preparation for the sacred office occupies one month. 8 Of the ancient Gauls we are told that some of the Druids had to follow the course of training for twenty years. 9
The length of the preparatory period naturally depends, to a great extent, on the aniount of instruction
1 Wilson, Western Africa, p. 134.
6 Von den Steinen, Unter den Naturvölkern Zentral-Brasiliens, p. 343.
7 AranytOB'and Xahrajobľú, 'IlIamaHCTBO y by patb,' in 1 3B$ ctia B.-Cuð. OTA. 'eorp. 06 14. xiv. 45.
8 The Tribes inhabiting the Neilgherry Hills, p. 36.
required. As a rule we can, among most peoples, draw a distinction between two different phases of the priestly education. During one period the novice is generally under the care of some experienced priest who imparts to him the necessary religious instruction and initiates him into the practices of the profession. Another phase of the preparation comprehends a course of self-training, during which the aspirant has to place himself in the proper correspondence with the gods.
Regarding the knowledge imparted to the candidates, there are only scanty reports. As a matter of course, mere theoretical learning is little thought of; most importance is attached to practical knowledge which may be of use in the magical and religious performances. In Greenland the teacher seeks, in the first place, to make the pupil entirely fearless and to direct his mind towards the spirit-world, to the horrors of which he must be rendered insensible. 1 In the Mosquito tribe of Central America the sorceresses, during their preparation for the office, learn certain tricks from their predecessors, such as allowing poisonous snakes to bite them, and handling fire. 2 The priestly novice among the Indians of British Guiana is taught the traditions of the tribe, the medical qualities of plants, and to find out where game is to be had. 3. During his noviciate the medicineman of the Bororó in Brazil has to learn certain ritual songs and the languages of birds, beasts and trees. 4 The priests of the Kookies in India keep the mysteries of their education very secret, but first of all they seem to have been taught the secret language which they have among themselves, while the rest of their knowledge is
? Mestorf, 'Die Altgrönländische Religion,' in Globus, 1871, p. 55.
+ Von den Steinen, Unter den Naturvölkern Zentral-Brasiliens, p. 492.
probably picked up during their practice. The occult wisdom which the Zulu priests have to acquire before their consecration is said to comprehend a good deal of empirical knowledge, such as the medical use of roots and plants. 2 M. Bouche writes of the native priests of the Slave Coast: – » Dans le secret de l'initiation, il a appris une langue inintelligible pour le vulgaire, langue sacrée qu'il est obligée de parler; il a été formé à des manières habiles qui en imposent aux gens grossiers qui l'entourent; il a étudié les recettes de remèdes, poisons et contre-poisons que chaque caste conserve cachées et dont la connaissance donne une certaine supériorité sur le vulgaire ignorant; il a appris l'art des évocations, des sortilèges, de toutes les operations magiques.» 3 With reference to the Tshi-speaking peoples we only learn that the novices are gradually instructed in the secrets of the craft, the most unimportant rites and secrets being revealed first, and then, as the novice proves himself worthy of confidence, the more important. 4
The self-training which a candidate for the priestly office undergoes, as has been denoted, evidently has for its object to prepare his mind for intercourse with the gods. During this period he generally lives for a longer or shorter time in retirement, whilst in certain cases a rigorous asceticism is also prescribed, such as fasting or subsisting only on a scanty diet. In certain tribes the novices are required strictly to refrain from connection with the opposite sex.
Among American races the self-preparation of would-be priests is carried on with great severity. With
1 Stewart, 'Notes on Northern Cachar,' in Jour, of the As. Soc. of Bengal, xxiv. 630.
2 Kjelland, Zululandet, p. 55.
the Eskimo this phase of the priestly education consisted in strict fasting and invocation of the deity while dwelling alone in solitary places. »In this way,» Mr. Rink says, »the soul became partly independent of the body and of the external world; finally, tornarsuk appeared and provided the novice with a tornak, – viz. a helping or guarding spirit.» 1 Among the Thlinkets the aspirant for shamanhood dwells for some time in the forest, or upon a mountain, in solitude, -- situations calculated to call forth a sort of mental fervour, and to excite the imagination to the highest pitch.2 The method adopted by Ojebway Indians to become medicine-men is said to consist in fasting and watching. During their time of preparation they take almost no food and drink, and »in this way they go on for several successive days, the longer the better, and the more munedoos (spirits) they will be likely to propitiate.» 3 The Huichols in Mexico believe that a man who wishes to become a shaman must be faithful to his wife for five years. If he violates this rule, he is sure to be taken ill, and will lose the power of healing. * Among the Panama Indians those who are chosen to be sorcerers are confined in a solitary place in company with their instructors and are held under a rigid discipline. 5 To become a Peaiman, or medicine-man, an Indian of Guiana »has to undergo long fasts, to wander alone in the forest, houseless and unarmed, and with only such food as he can gather; and he has gradually to accustom himself to drink fearfully large draughts of tobacco-juice mixed with
I Rink, Tules and Traditions of the Eskimo, p. 58. Cf. Nansen, Eskimoliv, p. 240). Turner, 'Ethnology of the Ungava District, Hudson Bay Territory,' in Smithsonian Reports, xi. 195.
? Dall, Alaska, p. 425.
water. ---- Maddened by these draughts of nicotine, by the terrors of his long solitary wanderings, and fearfully excited by his own ravings, he is able to work himself at will into the most frantic passions of excitement, during which he is supposed to hold converse with the kenaimas (evil beings) and to control them.» 1 The Waraus consider it necessary for a new sorcerer to abstain for ten months from the flesh of birds and beasts, whilst only the smallest kinds of fish are allowed him. Even cassava bread is to be eaten sparingly, and intoxicating drinks avoided during that period. Meats and food not indigenous to the country are especially tabooed. By touching such food he would neutralize the power of his enchantments, or, as his countrymen say, »spoil his mouth for incantation.» 2 The Payes, or jugglers, of the Guaranies »underwent a severe initiation, living in dark and remote places, alone, naked, unwashed, uncombed, and feeding only upon pepper and roasted maize, till having almost lost their senses, they came into that state in which the Jesuits believed that they invoked the Devil, and that the Devil came at their call.» 3 Concerning the medicine-men of certain Brazilian tribes we hear of similar observances. 4 Of the Abipones Father Dobrizhoffer states: -- » Those who aspire to the office of juggler are said to sit upon an aged willow, overhanging some lake, and to abstain from food for several days, till they begin to see into futurity. It always appeared probable to me that these rogues, from long fasting, contract a weakness of brain, a giddiness, and a kind of delirium, which makes them imagine that they
1 Im Thurn, Indians of Guiana, p. 331.
Ehrenreich, Beiträge zur Völkerkunde Brasiliens, p. 69.