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Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/152

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The belief in ghosts is so prevalent, so widely extended, and so many more or less authentic stories of their appearances exist, that a thick book might be filled with them. What is more to the point is that though most educated individuals repudiate the notion, they nevertheless retain a sneaking conviction that there may be some truth in the many stories that they hear; and they endeavour to explain them on natural grounds. All these stories derive from the period when men burnt their dead, and so put an end to the conception of the continued life after death of dead bodies.

I have already mentioned the doctrine of metempsychosis, brought with the Aryans from the East, their first home. But along with the notion that human souls after death passed into some other body, there were other explanations given as to what became of disembodied souls.

One went that they wandered in the wind; the moaning, the screaming, and the piping of the blast was set down to the voices of the souls, bewailing their fate as excluded from shelter under a rool and a seat by the fireside.

The wind blows cold on waste and wold,
It bloweth night and day.

The souls go by 'twixt earth and sky,
Impatient not to stay.