Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/171

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The Fetish View\of the Human' Soul. 147

basket lids, the throwing down of seeds, the looking into basins of water, &c., that precede his accusation of a person of having caused a death by witchcraft, there is in the mind of the witchdoctor a knowlege of the domestic and trade affairs of the deceased and a knowledge of who in the village is most likely to have poisoned him. I will not say that the witchdoctor uses this knowledge always justly. He is liable to be actuated by lust of power, by avarice, by every bad passion that can come into the heart of man, but not always. You cannot buy every witchdoctor on the West Coast, but you can most of them, and the native knows this and does it; for in the witchdoctor's hands lies the power of life and death given him by the belief in witch- craft. This belief is so profound, so unquestioning, and the terror of witchcraft so great, that I have seen dozens of men, women and children, whom I have known well as docile, kindly, friendly souls, turned at a moment into incarnate devils at that one word Witch. It is no use talking sense to these terror-maddened creatures, unless you talk it in the language of terror — Fetish. I have certainly never yet tried ; because these outbursts come upon one like a flash, and I have been at the time intent on saving the life of some wretched, panic-paralyzed man or woman, who, but a mo- ment before the accusation fell, had loving wife or husband, children and friends, and now has none: nothing but a wild mob of yelling enemies around him or her. When I have been confronted with such affairs I have always found that the one sane, clear-headed man was the witchdoctor, and that through him, by way of Fetish knowledge, I could stay killing, he not wishing to kill if without killing he could maintain his influence. Still, one often comes across cases where the victims accused do not deny guilt, but glory in it, as in the case cited by Mr. Fitzgerald Marriot in the " Queen " of the 22nd of February, wherein he says :

" An interesting case that occurred whilst I was in the Gold Coast Colony last year, shows what Fetishism or

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