Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/814

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
794
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Pascagoula, I am unable to say; but if Darwin's views are correct, and I have no doubt that they are, then we have a very probable explanation of the mysterious music; if not, then we are as much in the dark as ever.[1]

 

THE INDWELLING SPIRITS OF MEN.
By Hon. Major A. B. ELLIS.

IN the spring of 1889 an officer of the United States Army, who was visiting Nassau, N. P., for the benefit of his health, lent me a pamphlet, a reprint of Dr. Washington Matthews's "The Prayer of a Navajo Shaman," which had originally been published in the "American Anthropologist" for April, 1888, and at page 19 of that pamphlet I read as follows:

"The suppliant is supposed, through the influence of witch-craft, exercised either in this world, or in the lower world when in spirit he was traveling there, to have lost his body, or parts thereof—not his visible body, nor yet his soul, his breath of life—for both of these he knows himself to be still in possession of, but a sort of spiritual body which he thinks constitutes a part of him—the astral body, perhaps, of our theosophic friends. This third element of man belongs not only to his living person, but to things which pertain to it, such as his ejected saliva, his fallen hair, the dust of his feet, etc."

What struck me in this passage was the curious analogy between the belief thus stated to be held by the Navajos and one which, in the course of my investigation of the religious systems of the negroes of West Africa, I had discovered to be held by the various tribes of the Gold and Slave Coasts; and it is with the object of calling the attention of American anthropologists to this third element in man that I venture to put forward this paper.

The Navajo believes that there are three entities in man: (1) The

  1. [Prof G. Brown Goode, in his "American Fishes," mentions several species to which the name Drum has been given because of their ability to produce sounds. In his account of the Sea Drum he says: "Another historical incident is connected with Pogonias. The legend of Pascagoula and its mysterious music, deemed supernatural by the Indians, is still current. 'It may often be heard there on summer evenings,' says a recent writer. 'The listener being on the beach, or, yet more favorably, in a boat floating on the river, a low, plaintive sound is heard rising and falling like that of an Æolian harp, and seeming to issue from the water. The sounds, which are sweet and plaintive, but monotonous, cease as soon as there is any noise or disturbance of the water.' Bienville, the French explorer, heard the music of Pascagoula when he made his voyage in 1699 to the mouths of the Mississippi, and his experiences are recorded in his narrative." Speaking of the Lake Drum, Prof. Goode remarks: "These names, 'Croaker,' 'Drum,' 'Thunder-pumper,' etc., refer to the croaking or grunting noise made by this species in common with most Sciænoids. This noise is thought to be made in the air-bladder by forcing the air from one compartment to another." Editor.]