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information are vouched for by native witnesses, who at the same time are not blind to their tricks and their failures. The most perfect description is that of a hysterical visionary, who had “the disease which precedes the power to divine.” This man describes that well-known symptom of hysteria, the heavy weight creeping up within him to his shoulders, his vivid dreams, his waking visions of objects that are not there when he
that come to him without learning, the sensation of flying in the air. This man was “ of a family who are very sensitive, and become doctors."1 Persons whose constitutional unsoundness induces morbid manifestations are indeed marked out by nature to become seers and sorcerers. Among the Patagonians, patients seized with falling sickness or St. Vitus's dance were at once selected for magicians, as chosen by the demons themselves who possessed, distorted, and convulsed them. Among Siberian tribes, the shamans select children liable to convulsions as suitable to be brought up to the profession, which is apt to become hereditary with the epileptic tendencies it belongs to. Thus, even in the lower culture, a class of sickly brooding enthusiasts begin to have that power over the minds of their lustier fellows, which they have kept in so remarkable a way through the course of history.
Morbid oracular manifestations are habitually excited on purpose, and moreover the professional sorcerer commonly exaggerates or wholly feigns them. In the more genuine manifestations the medium may be so intensely wrought upon by the idea that a possessing spirit is speaking from within him, that he may not only give this spirit's name and speak in its character, but possibly may in good faith alter his voice to suit the spiritual utterance. This gift of spiritutterance, which belongs to “ventriloquism " in the ancient and proper sense of the term, of course lapses into sheer
Callaway, 'Religion of Amazulu,' pp. 183, etc., 259, etc. 2 Falkner, ‘Patagonia,' p. 116. See also Rochefort, 'Iles Antilles,' p. 418 (Caribs).
Georgi, ‘Reise im Russ. Reich,' vol. i. p. 280 ; Meiners, vol. ii. p. 488.
trickery. But that the phenomena should be thus artificially excited or dishonestly counterfeited, rather confirms than alters the present argument. Real or simulated, the details of oracle-possession alike illustrate popular belief. The Patagonian wizard begins his performance with drumming and rattling till the real or pretended epileptic fit comes on by the demon entering him, who then answers questions from within him with a faint and mournful voice. Among the wild Veddas of Ceylon, the “ devil-dancers " have to work themselves into paroxysms, to gain the inspiration whereby they profess to cure their patients. So, with furious dancing to the music and chanting of the attendants, the Bodo priest brings on the fit of maniacal inspiration in which the deity fills him and gives oracles through him.3 In Kamchatka the female shamans, when Billukai came down into them in a thunderstorm, would prophesy; or, receiving spirits with a cry of “hush!” their teeth chattered as in fever, and they were ready to divine. Among the Singpho of South-East Asia, when the “natzo” or conjuror is sent for to a sick patient, he calls on his “nat” or demon, the soul of a deceased foreign prince, who descends into him and gives the required answers. In the Pacific Islands, spirits of the dead would enter for a time the body of a living man, inspiring him to declare future events, or to execute some commission from the higher deities. The symptoms of oracular possession among savages have been especially well described in this region of the world. The Fijian priest sits looking steadfastly at a whale's tooth ornament, amid dead silence. In a few minutes he trembles, slight twitchings of face and limbs come on, which increase to strong convulsions, with swelling of the veins, murmurs and sobs. Now the god has entered him, and with eyes rolling and protruding, unnatural voice, pale face and livid lips, sweat streaming from every pore, and the whole aspect of a furious madman, he gives the divine answer, and then, the symptoms subsiding, he looks round with a vacant stare, and the deity returns to the land of spirits. In the Sandwich Islands, where the god Oro thus gave his oracles, his priest ceased to act or speak as a voluntary agent, but with his limbs convulsed, his features distorted and terrific, his eyes wild and strained, he would roll on the ground foaming at the mouth, and reveal the will of the possessing god in shrill cries and sounds violent and indistinct, which the attending priests duly interpreted to the people. In Tahiti, it was often noticed that men who in the natural state showed neither ability nor eloquence, would in such convulsive delirium burst forth into earnest lofty declamation, declaring the will and answers of the gods, and prophesying future events, in well-knit harangues full of the poetic figure and metaphor of the professional orator. But when the fit was over, and sober reason returned, the prophet's gifts were gone. Lastly, the accounts of oracular possession in Africa show the primitive ventriloquist in perfect types of morbid knavery. In Sofala, after a king's funeral, his soul would enter into a sorcerer, and speaking in the familiar tones that all the bystanders recognized, would give counsel to the new monarch how to govern his people. About a century ago, a negro fetish-woman of Guinea is thus described in the act of answering an enquirer who has come to consult her. She is crouching on the earth, with her head between her knees and her hands up to her face, till, becoming inspired by the fetish, she snorts and foams and gasps. Then the suppliant may put his question, “ Will my friend or brother get well of this sickness ? "_" What shall I give thee to set him free from his sickness ?” and so
1 Falkner, 1. c. 2 Tennent, 'Ceylon,'vol. ii. p. 441. See Latham, 'Descr. Eth.' vol. ii. p. 469. 3 Holgson, ‘Abor. of India,' p. 172. 4 Steller, ‘Kamtschatka,' p. 278.
5 Bastian, 'Oestl. Asien,' vol. ii. p. 328, see vol. iii. p. 201, 'Psychologie,' p. 139. See also Römer, 'Guinea,' p. 59.
· Ellis, “Polyn. Res.' vol. i. pp. 352, 373 ; Moerenhout, "Voyage,' vol. i. r. 479 ; Mariner, «Tonga Islands,' vol. i. p. 105 ; Williams, 'Fiji,' vol. i. p. 373.
2 Dos Santos, 'Ethiopia,' in Pinkerton, vol. xvi. p. 686.
forth. Then the fetish-woman answers in a thin, whistling voice, and with the old-fashioned idioms of generations past; and thus the suppliant receives his command, perhaps to kill a white cock and put him at a four-cross way, or tie him up for the fetish to come and fetch him, or perhaps merely to drive a dozen wooden pegs into the ground, so to bury his friend's disease with them.
The details of demoniacal possession among barbaric and civilized nations need no elaborate description, so simply do they continue the savage cases. But the state of things we notice here agrees with the conclusion that the possessiontheory belongs originally to the lower culture, and is gradually superseded by higher medical knowledge. Surveying its course through the middle and higher civilization, we shall notice first a tendency to limit it to certain peculiar and severe affections, especially connected with mental disorder, such as epilepsy, hysteria, delirium, idiocy, madness; and after this a tendency to abandon it altogether, in consequence of the persistent opposition of the medical faculty. Among the nations of South-East Asia, obsession and possession by demons is strong at least in popular belief. The Chinese attacked with dizziness, or loss of the use of his limbs, or other unaccountable disease, knows that he has been influenced by a malignant demon, or punished for some offence by a deity whose name he will mention, or affected by his wife of a former existence, whose spirit has after a long search discovered him. Exorcism of course exists, and when the evil spirit or influence is expelled, it is especially apt to enter some person standing near; hence the common saying, "idle spectators should not be present at an exorcism.” Divination by possessed mediums is usual in China among such is the professional woman who sits at a table in contemplation, till the soul of a deceased person from whom
i Römer, Guinea,' p. 57. See also Steinhauser, 1. c. pp. 132, 139 ; J. B. Schlegel, 'Ewe-Sprache,' p. xvi.
9 Details from Tatar race in Castrén, 'Finn). Myth. pp. 164, 173, etc. • Bastiau, ‘Psychologie,' p. 90; from Abyssinia in Parkyns, 'Life in A.,'ch xxxiii.
communication is desired enters her body and talks through her to the living; also the man into whom a deity is brought by invocations and mesmeric passes, when, assuming the divine figure and attitude, he pronounces the oracle. In Birma, the fever-demon of the jungle seizes trespassers on his domain, and shakes them in ague till he is exorcised, while falls and apoplectic fits are the work of other spirits. The dancing of women by demoniacal possession is treated by the doctor covering their heads with a garment, and thrashing them soundly with a stick, the demon and not the patient being considered to feel the blows; the possessing spirit may be prevented from escaping by a knotted and charmed cord hung round the bewitched person's neck, and when a sufficient beating has induced it to speak by the patient's voice and declare its name and business, it may either be allowed to depart, or the doctor tramples on the patient's stomach till the demon is stamped to death. For an example of invocation and offerings, one characteristic story told by Dr. Bastian will suffice. A Bengali cook was seized with an apoplectic fit, which his Birmese wife declared was but a just retribution, for the godless fellow had gone day after day to market to buy pounds and pounds of meat, yet in spite of her remoustrances would never give a morsel to the patron-spirit of the town; as a good wife, however, she now did her best for her suffering husband, placing near him little heaps of coloured rice for the "nat," and putting on his fingers rings with prayers addressed to the same offended being—“ Oh ride him not !"_“Ah let him go!"
-“ Grip him not so hard !"-"Thou shalt have rice!”. “Ah, how good that tastes!” How explicitly Buddhism recognizes such ideas, may be judged from one of the questions officially put to candidates for admission as monks or talapoins—“ Art thou afflicted by madness or the other ills caused by giants, witches, or evil demous of the forest and mountain ? " 2 Within our own domain of British India,
| Doclittle, Chinese,' vol. i. p. 143, vol. ii. pp. 110, 320.
Bastian, 'Oestl. Asien,' vol. ii. pp. 103, 152, 381, 418, vol. iii. p 247,