The Folk-Lore Journal/Volume 6/Notices and News (December)


The Japan Weekly Mail says, that the only calm and wholly undisturbed view of the late volcanic eruption of Bandai-San obtained by a human being was due to a fox. The Japanese believe that foxes bewitch good folks, and cause them to see all sorts of appalling unrealities. This was quite understood by a resident of the neighbourhood who happened to be ascending a hill opposite Bandai-San at the moment of the eruption. It appeared to him a much more probable and natural event that he should be bewitched by a fox than that a hitherto peaceful mountain should belch forth mud and fire. Accordingly, when the first explosion took place, he instantly recollected that he had seen a fox a short time previously, and concluded that all the commotion was a hallucination prepared for his special annoyance by reynard. Determined not to be overcome by such an agent of wanton mischief, he quietly sat down and watched the whole outburst, convinced that what he saw was an impalpable, intangible picture. It was only when he descended from his perch into the valley that he found what had really happened.

In an interesting paper on ancient tide-lore, which appears in The Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Mr. W. Colenso, F.R.S., describes the old belief of the Maories as to the ebbing and flowing of the sea. These phenomena, it seems, they attributed to a huge ocean monster, whose home was low down in the depths beyond the horizon. It was supposed to do its work by powerful and regular respiration, or ingurgitation and regurgitation of the water. The monster's name was Parata; and any one overtaken by great misfortune is said to have fallen into Parata's throat. In a myth relating to the first peopling of New Zealand, one of the chief canoes, named the Arawa, is represented as being carried into the enormous mouth of the monster, and as being with difficulty extricated by Ngatoroirangi, the courageous and cunning tohunga (= priest, or wise man) on board, who recited his powerful charm for the purpose. The words of this charm or spell are still preserved.