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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/639

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RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF THE CENTRAL ESKIMO.

season begins, all the winter clothing, and the tent that has been in use during the walrus-hunting season, are buried, and not used again until the following walrus-hunting season. No walrus hide, or thongs made of such hide, must be taken inland, where is the abode of the caribou.

Similar laws, although not quite so stringent, hold good in regard to contact between seal and walrus. The natives always change their clothing or strip naked before eating seal during the walrus season.

The soul of the salmon is considered to be very powerful. Salmon must not be cooked in a pot that has been used for boiling other kinds of meat. It is always cooked at some distance from the hut. Boots that were used while hunting walrus must not be worn when fishing salmon, and no work on boot-legs is allowed until the first salmon has been caught and placed on a boot-leg.

The fact that these taboos are not restricted to caribou and walrus suggests that the mythical explanation given above does not account for the origin of these customs, but must be considered as a later effort to explain their existence.

The transgressions of taboos do not affect the souls of game alone. It has already been stated that the sea mammals see their effect upon man also, who appears to them of a dark color, or surrounded by a vapor which is invisible to ordinary man. This means, of course, that the transgression also affects the soul of the evil-doer. It becomes attached to it and makes him sick. The shaman is able to see, by the help of his guardian spirit, these attachments, and is able to free the soul from them. If this is not done the person must die. In many cases the transgressions become attached also to persons who come in contact with the evil-doer. This is especially true of children, to whose souls the sins of their parents, and particularly of their mothers, become readily attached. Therefore when a child is sick the shaman, first of all, asks its mother if she has transgressed any taboos. The attachment seems to have a different appearance, according to the taboo that has been violated. A black attachment is due to removing oil-drippings from under the lamp. As soon as the mother acknowledges the transgression of a taboo, the attachment leaves the child's soul and the child recovers.

The souls of the deceased stay with the body for three days. If a taboo is violated during this time the transgression becomes attached to the soul of the deceased. The weight of the transgression causes the soul pain, and it roams about the village, endeavoring to free itself of its burden. It seeks to harm the people who, by their disobedience to custom, are causing its sufferings. It causes heavy snows to fall and brings sickness and death. Such a soul is called a tupilak. Toward the middle of autumn it hovers around the doors of the huts. When a