Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/368

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332 The Bhiding of a God.

fell into a state of afflatus, rolled on the ground, and became in popular belief obviously possessed of the spirit. By-and- by he rose and grasped with his hands at the spirits which were supposed to be buzzing round his head like so many fiies. He began to herd them together by flapping round his head a switch composed of branches of the sacred Nim and Pipal trees ; then when he had got them together, he seized a handful of the mystic grain, black sesamum, waved it round his head, and with a shout of triumph gave his audience to understand that the spirit or spirits were now safely enclosed in it. The sesamum which had thus become the abiding-place of the ghosts he poured without delay into a hole in a log of the sacred fig-tree which lay ready near him. The hole was at once luted over with a mixture of clay and cow-dung, and it was removed to the general village-shrine where the pantheon of guardian gods — Mother Earth, the Snake gods, and their brethren — per- manently rest. Beneath this platform the new candidate for enrolment in the heavenly host was solemnly interred, and he was thus regularly " established," the inference being that if duly approached or fitly worshipped in season, he would abandon his habits of mischief and become a re- spectable, propitious protector of the village and its people.

I need hardly remind you of the numerous instances of similar practices of capturing souls among other savage races. We have many cases of an attempt to capture the soul of a dying man, of the enclosure of such souls in cala- bashes. The Dyaks try to capture the soul of the rice which is to revivify the next crop.^

Now it seems pretty obvious that in the proceedings of this Dravidian exorcisor we have the origin of the more elaborate Brahmanical ritual which I have described, and

' Ling Roth, The Natives of Sarawak, vol. i. pp. 271, 273, 279, 281, 413 ; Jevons, Introduction to History of Religion, p. 50 ; Frazer, Golden Bought vol. i. p. 139.