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Khevsurs in the Caucasus the Kadagi, or diviner, answers every question in a cunningly calculated manner which admits of several interpretations. 1
When, in spite of all precautions, the priests fail in producing the effects promised by them, they generally have recourse to various kinds of excuses, thus preserving the popular trust in their powers. For example, the medicine-men of the Slave Indians, »are considered almost infallible, and if their predictions fail, the non-success is attributed to some defect in the medicine, either that it was not strong enough, or that some form was omitted in its preparation.» 2 Dobrizhoffer, in his description of the Abipones, shows us how their conjurors manage to shelter themselves in case their predictions are not fulfilled. Sometimes, in the dead of night, the priests may suddenly announce the enemy's approach and cause great excitement in the camp without any foe making his appearance; »but that the faith in their prophecies, and the authority of the prophets, may suffer po diminution, they declare, with a smile, that the hostile assault has been averted by their grandfather the devil. » 3 The fetishman among the natives of the Gold Coast is alleged to have little difficulty in persuading the idolaters that the fault in cases of failure in their practice »is neither with the Fetish nor with himself, but that the applicant, for some offence which he has committed, is labouring under the displeasure of the gods, who refuse to be appeased unless renewed and richer offerings are made.» + Thus, also, failures in producing rain give the wizards of Latooka occasion to demand more presents from their clients, as the non-success is ascribed to the insufficiency
1 Merzbacher, Aus den Hochregionen des Kaukasus, ii. 87. ? Hooper, Ten Months among the Tents of the Tuski, pp. 317 sq. 3 Dobrizhoffer, Alipones, ii. 70. 4 Cruickshank, Eighteen Years on the Gold Coast, ii. 146.
of their reward.Excuses of the same description are brought forward by Kafirand Hawaiian priests when unable to carry out their undertakings.
A very general excuse made by the priests in case of failure in their practice is to ascribe it to the counteracting influence of some demon. The Sea Dyaks believe that the evil spirit who causes illness is sometimes more powerful than the helping spirit of the medicine-man; and when this is the case, the sick person cannot recover, and death eusues. The natives of Victoria, who have the conviction that nearly all diseases are caused by enchantments emanating from hostile tribes, are said to maintain that sometimes the strange wizard-doctor, being instructed by his familiar spirit, is too strong for their own doctor, and in that case the man dies. 5 Similar beliefs are propagated by the doctors of the Hottentots and the Waraus Indians.In speaking of the weathermakers of New Caledonia, Messrs. Vieillard and Deplanche state: » Mais si le vent reste sourd à leur appel, ils ne se découragent pas, et disent que cela tient à ce qu'un sorcier plus puissant qu'eux travaille le vent dans un sens opposé.» 8 In the Kingsmill Islands some of the chiefs are believed to hold communication with spirits and to be able at times to foretell future events. When these predictions do not come to pass, »they always impute the failure to the intervention of some other spirit.»
1 Stuhlmann, Mit Emin l'ascha, p. 779.
Isaacs, Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa, ii. 162.
Ling Roth, 'Natives of Borneo,' in Jour. Anthr. Inst. xxi. 116.
Vieillard and Deplanche, 'Nouvelle Calédonie,' in Revue Maritime et Coloniale, vi. 81.
Wilkes, Narrative of the U. S. Exploring Expedition, v. 88.
No less frequently priests and sorcerers who fail in performing miracles save their reputation by accusing other persons of having, by secret necromancies, frustrated their endeavours. Among the aborigines of New South Wales, although the operations of the rainmaker so often result in failure, he is not in the least discouraged, and, like the doctors, invariably attributes his want of success to the counteracting influence of an enemy.o 1 Sir Alfred Lyall gives an instance from Rajputana in India of the sufferings to which innocent people are often subject when sorcerers choose to accuse them of having counteracted their cures. 2 If a Mohave Indian is declared to have died from ignorance or neglect on the part of the doctor who had charge of his case, the culprit doctor must either flee for his life or throw the onus of the crime upon some witch. 3
The numerous excuses which priests make use of when their undertakings fail, undoutedly suggest to the people all sorts of superstitious ideas. Spencer certainly touches upon a circumstance of great validity when saying: » Though priests habitually enforce conduct which in one way or other furthers preservation of the society; yet preservation of the society is so often furthered by conduct entirely unlike that which we now call moral, that priestly influence serves in many cases rather to degrade than to elevate.» 4 As a matter of fact it often lies in the interest of the priests to foster credulity
1 Cameron, 'Notes on some Tribes of New South Wales,' in Jour. Anthr. Inst. xiv. 362.
2 Lyall, ’Asiatic Sludies,' First Series, p. 107, note.
Bourkie, 'The Medicine- Men of the Apache,' in Smithsonian Reports, ix. 454.
Spencer, l'rinciples of Sociology, iii. 140. Examples referring to this assertion are offered ib., iii. Part vi. Chapter xiv. As we shall see further on, the priests must, to a great extent, be regarded themselves as slaves to the same superstitions that they promote among their peoples.
among their people. It can hardly be doubted that the priests are the sources of many superstitions prevailing among savages, by means of which they further their own designs. Thus it is said that the witch-doctors of the Ama-xosa Kafirs never fail to encourage the belief that diseases are caused by sorcery.' Of the Zulu doctors we read that they are constantly telling their dupes that »any ill with which they are, or imagine themselves to be afflicted, is caused by the restlessness of their father, their mother, or their uncle, who requires an ox to be slaughtered ere his or her restless spirit can lie quiet in the grave. All this, of course, involves a Doctor's fee.» 2 In New Zealand the priest-doctors often, in cases of illness, declare that the spirit who has entered the body of the patient is sure to remain there until they exorcise him. 3
Unquestionably the respect which the priests and sorcerers enjoy is also increased by the mystery in which they generally envelope their proceedings. Of the Blackfellow doctors among certain tribes in the south-eastern part of Australia Howitt says: -- » Their magical practices are not favoured by too open examination, and the more that is left to the active imaginations of their tribe, the better their assertions are received, » + and another writer remarks that the rain-makers of some tribes in New South Wales are very careful not to let any one see any part of their performances. In Tahiti a considerable degree of mystery was attached to the ceremonies of healing sick persons, rand the physicians appeared unwilling that others should know of what their preparations
Isaacs, Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa, ii. 304.
Howitt, 'Australian Medicine Men,' in Jour. Anthr, Inst. xvi. 57.
consisted.» 1 »The more effectually to shield him from the possible revelations of a too prying curiosity,» we read concerning the Dyak medicine-man, »he envelopes himself and his belongings in a cloud of mystery.» 2 Among certain Congo tribes the charm-doctor's dominion over others »is principally derived from the sentiment of respect and uncertainty with which his mystic power is regarded.» 3 With reference to popular beliefs in certain parts of Finland it is stated that the best manner in which to preserve a reputation for witchcraft is by keeping the spells employed secret. + — It is true that the secrecy of magicians and priests cannot always be attributed to mere selfish calculation, as in certain cases their methods may be supposed to be destroyed by publicity: 5 But whatever may be the reason, the fact that mystery is generally employed serves powerfully to impress the imagination of the people.
The priests do their best to inspire the people with fear if they think such a course necessary for the strengthening of their power. The Thlinkets say that the shamans, in performing their ceremonies, are able to send the spirits into those who disbelieve them, and the unfortunate victims then suffer from catalepsy and giddiness for a long time. In regard to the Dyak medicine-man Ling Roth says: — »As it would be ruinous
| Ellis, Polynesian Researches, iii. 38.
3 Ward, 'Ethnographical Notes relating to the Congo Tribes,' ib., xxiv. 286.
4 Allardt, 'Nyländska folkseder och bruk, vidskepelse m. m.,' in Nyland, iv. 133.
For instance, the people in Southern Finland say that sorcery for removing maladies would prove ineffectual, should the practitioner give publicity to his method of curing. Allardt, op. cit. iv. 133. в Веніаминовъ, Записки объ
Островахъ лашкинскаго Отдѣла, iii. 65 s.