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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/678

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

is no question as to which god the candidate is to serve. Then, too, to leave the circle during possession is equally considered a bad omen.

Võdu-worship in Louisiana does not seem to differ much from the above, except that the office of king has almost disappeared, and that the queen is paramount. In both places it is the worship of the Whydah Dañh-gbi in a disintegrated condition, the disintegration being caused by the disruption of the cult from its proper habitat and surroundings, by the repressive measures enacted by the French, which caused new features to appear, "By the altered condition of the worshipers, and especially by the disappearance of the established and regular priesthood. Hence a confusion of ideas, which has caused the Haytians to drift somewhat from the true cult; but that they know whence they obtained it seems certain, for St. John found in a vodu temple a flag of red silk, on which was embroidered, "Société des Fleurs za Dahomïan." This flag was said to have been the gift of the consort of Soulouque, the Haytian "emperor"; and the fact that such a statement could be openly made and generally believed is significant of the extent to which Haytian society is permeated by this barbarous religion.

One of the most striking results of the confusion of ideas is the grafting of human sacrifices and cannibalism upon the worship of the snake-god, which, in Africa, has no connection with either of these practices. This innovation is, it seems, not universally accepted, for St. John says that there are in Hayti two sects of "vaudoux" worshipers, one of which, perhaps the least numerous, offers human victims and indulges in cannibal feasts; while the other holds such practices in abhorrence, and is content with the white goat and the white fowl, the proper sacrifices of the African cult. The Haytians term the sacrifice of a human victim the offering of "the goat without horns," a euphemism for which we can find many parallels. Louisiana is, fortunately, free from this horrible taint, but, from the numerous instances given by St. John, there can be no doubt that the immolation of young people, generally girls, is not uncommon in Hayti. At page 193 he tells us of a scene witnessed by a French priest in the district of Arcahaye in 1869. This man had persuaded some of his parishioners to disguise him as a negro, and to take him to witness the võdu ceremonies All went on in the manner that has already been described till after the sacrifice of a white goat and fowl, when a young man came and knelt before the queen and said: "O maman, I have a favor to ask. Give us, to complete the sacrifice, the goat without horns." The queen gave a sign of assent, the crowd in the shed separated, and there was a child sitting with its feet bound. In an instant a rope, already