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Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/43

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go into a white bird. It was my brother and no mistake."

The Oxenham omen of the bird that appears before a death in the family is another instance, for the bird is probably supposed to be the spirit reincarnate of an ancestor.

That the soul is on its travels when any person is dreaming, or in a faint, or a cataleptic fit, is generally believed, and the various revelations or visions of heaven and Purgatory and Hell that have been given to the world, from early times down to Dante's Divina Commedia, derive therefrom.

A curious story was told by Mr John Holloway, of the Bank of England, brother of the engraver of that name. He related how that being one night in bed with his wife, and unable to sleep, he had fixed his eyes and thoughts with uncommon intensity on a beautiful star that was shining in at the window, when he suddenly found his spirit released from his body and soaring into that bright sphere. But, seized with anxiety for the anguish of his wife if she discovered his body apparently dead beside her, he returned and re-entered it with difficulty.

He described that returning as distressful, like coming back to darkness; and that whilst the spirit was free he was alternately