Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/79

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The Christian Quiches of Guatemala believe that each of them has a beast as his friend and protector, just as in the Highlands "the dog is the friend of the Maclaines." When the Finns, in their epic poem the Kalewala, have killed a bear, they implore the animal to forgive them. "Oh, Ot-so," chant the singers, "be not angry that we come near thee. The bear, the honey-footed bear, was born in lands between sun and moon, and he died, not by men's hands, but of his own will."[1] The Red Men of North America[2] have a tradition showing how it is that the bear does not die, but, like Herodotus with the sacred stories of the Egyptian priests, Mr. Schoolcraft "cannot induce himself to write it out."[3] It is a most curious fact that the natives of Australia tell a similar tale of their "native bear." "He did not die" when attacked by men.[4] In Australia it is a great offence to skin the native bear, just as on a part of the west coast of Ireland, where seals are superstitiously regarded, the people cannot be bribed to skin them. In New Caledonia, when a child tries to kill a lizard, the men warn him to "beware of killing his own ancestor."[5] The Zulus spare to destroy a certain species of serpents, believed to be the spirits of kinsmen, as the great snake which appeared when Æneas did sacrifice was held to be the ghost of Anchises.

  1. Kalewala, in La Finlande, Leouzon Le Duc (1845), vol. ii. p. 100; cf. also the Introduction.
  2. Schoolcraft, v. 420.
  3. See similar ceremonies propitiatory of the bear in Jewett's Adventures among the Nootkas, Edinburgh, 1824.
  4. Brough Smyth, i. 449.
  5. J. J. Atkinson's MS.