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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/165

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The Fetish View of the Human Soul. 141

ing human affairs can be classified fairly completely into six classes, details of which I have published ; and we will pass on, first, to the conception of the nature of spirit and matter ; then to those of the human soul held by the African. Every- thing that he knows of by means of his senses he regards as a twofold entity, part spirit, part not-spirit, or, as we should say, matter ; the connection of a certain spirit with a certain mass of matter, he holds, is not permanent. He will point out to you a lightning-stricken tree and tell you its spirit has been killed ; he will tell you, when the cooking- pot is broken, that it has lost its spirit ; if his weapon fails, it is because someone has stolen, or made its spirit sick by witchcraft. In every action of his life he shows you how much he lives with a great, powerful, spirit-world around him. You will see him, before starting out to hunt or fight, rubbing medicine into his weapons to strengthen the spirit that is in them, talking to them the while, telling them what care he has taken of them, what he has given them before, though it was hard to give, and begging them in the hour of his dire necessity not to fail him ; you will see him bend- ing over the face of the river, talking to its spirit with proper incantations, asking it when it meets with an enemy of his to upset his canoe and destroy him ; and in a thousand other ways he shows you what he believes in, if you watch him patiently.

In every Negro and Bantu tribe I am personally acquainted with there has been a Great God above all gods believed in ; and I find the belief in this god mentioned by all travellers who have given any attention to African religion, in those parts of Africa which I have not the pleasure of knowing. I know some of the greatest of our ethnologists doubt the existence of the idea of this God, and think he has been suggested into the African's mind. I think this is going too far, though I fully agree with them that he is not Jehovah, nor a reminiscence of Jehovah. But the study of this deity is exceedingly difficult, because the missionaries have identi-