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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/543

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SUPERSTITION AND MAGIC IN CAMBODIA.

tation from without not to be matched by legislation or training, nor even by church influence. To make the household sweet, wholesome, dignified, a place of growth, is certainly a profession requiring not merely the best training, but a specific training adapted to these ends.

 

SUPERSTITION AND MAGIC IN CAMBODIA.
By M. ADHÉMARD LECLÈRE.

THE Cambodians are superstitious, and believe in ghosts, familiar spirits appearing as Jack-o'-lanterns, were-wolves, benevolent and malevolent genii, and demoniac possessions. They believe, too, in witches and diviners, evil-minded persons, who take advantage of what they know to make ill or damage whom they will, or drive a good trade in love philters and antidotes. The people are afraid of these uncanny persons, and yet they sometimes resort to them.

The ghosts are very much like our own ghosts, and when displeased with their still living friends annoy them with noises and mysterious breakings, but are seldom seen. Much in their behavior, however, depends upon the kind of persons they were in life. Some of the more evilly disposed kind enter the bodies of people and render them ill, when a thmup, or ghost-disperser, is sought who knows the special prayers and exorcisms that will drive them back to their tombs. It is said that most ghosts will cease to return when the last part of the flesh of their bodies has been decomposed, but some persons assert that riddance of them is not assured till the last particles of their bones have disappeared.

The Jack-o'-lantern spirits are much more mischievous than the others because, I am assured by one of the literati, they are ghosts of women who have died pregnant, and are affected by the disappointment of the child at not having been given the privilege of a worldly existence. Both kinds of ghosts are liable to bring with them fever, cholera, dysentery, and other diseases, and, penetrating the bodies of persons on whom they desire to be avenged, leave their ills there. They often resist the efforts of the exorcists for several days, and do not seem to comprehend the special prayers that are directed against them, and some refuse to go away till they have brought on the death of the person whom they have possessed. They sometimes also amuse themselves by misleading travelers. They change the blazes on the trees and break branches of the bushes in the forest paths, so that the wanderer can not tell which is the route he had marked in the same way, or they will call him aside and