Page:Journal of American Folklore vol. 12.djvu/338

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6 Journal of American Folk-Lore.

the man in five months or five years to come. This necessitates the immediate performance of another ceremony, accompanied by fast- ing and going to water, to turn aside the impending peril. The final result is generally successful, as the priest seldom ceases from his labors until the omens are propitious. Should it still be otherwise, after all his effort, he informs his client, who is often so completely under the force of the delusion that he not infrequently loses all courage, believing himself doomed by an inexorable fate, broods, sickens, and actually dies, thus fulfilling the prediction.

Chief among the sacred paraphernalia of the priests and conjurers are the beads used in connection with certain water ceremonies, more especially those for counteracting the evil spells of a secret enemy, or for compassing the death of a rival. The beads formerly used were the small glossy seeds of the Viper's Bugloss {EcJiium vidgare), superseded now by the ordinary beads of glass or porcelain. They are called by the formulistic name of sti'mkta, the regular term being adela. They are of different symbolic colors, and are kept carefully wrapt in buckskin — or in cloth, in these degenerate days of calico — until needed in the ceremony, when they are uncovered and laid upon a whole buckskin spread out upon the ground, or, more often now, upon a piece of new cloth furnished by the client, and which is afterward claimed by the priest as the fee for his services.

There are many formulas for conjuring with the beads, and differ- ences also in the details of the ceremony, but the general practice is the same in nearly all cases. Let us suppose that it is performed for the benefit of a man who believes himself to be withering away under a secret spell, or who desires the death of a hated rival.

Priest and client go down together at early daybreak to the river, and take up their position at the point where they can look up-stream while facing the rising sun. The client then wades out to where, in ceremonial language, the water is a " hand-length " in depth and stands silently with his eyes fixed upon the water and his back to the shaman upon the bank, while the latter unfolds upon the sand a white and black cloth, and lays upon the first the red beads — typi- cal of success and his client — and upon the other the black beads, emblematic of death and the intended victim.

The priest now takes a red bead, representing his client, between the thumb and index finger of his right hand, and a black bead, representing the victim, in a like manner, in his left hand. Standing a few feet behind his client he turns toward the east, fixes his eyes upon the bead in his right hand, and addresses it as the Sii'nikta Gigagdi, the Red Bead, invoking blessings upon his client and clothing him with the red garments of success. The formula is repeated in

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