Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/401

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VII
375
MEDICINE-MEN AND MAGIC

When a Wiradjuri man feels his flesh twitch, he knows that a Bugin is near, and thus is of the same opinion as the second witch in Macbeth, who says, "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."

The fat-taking practice of the Wurunjerri Wirrarap or medicine-men has been fully described to me. It was called Burring, and was carried out by means of an instrument made of the sinews of a kangaroo's tail and the fibula of its leg (Ngyelling), which had the same name. The sinew cord had a loop worked at one end, and the pointed bone was attached to the other. Armed with this, the medicine-man would sneak up to the camp during a man's first sleep. I am told that the most favourable time would be when the sleeper snored. The assailant would then place his fingers on the forehead of the sleeper. If it felt cool, he would not wake up, but if warm, the assailant waited. If the time was propitious, the cord was passed lightly round the sleeper's neck, and the bone being threaded through the loop, was pulled tight. Another Burring was then passed round his feet and the victim carried off into the bush, where he was cut open and the fat extracted. The opening was magically closed up, and the victim left to come to himself with the belief that he had had a bad dream. If the fat thus extracted was heated over a fire, the man died in a day or two, but otherwise he would linger for some time.

At other times the human fat was obtained by violence without recourse to the Burring. While out hunting with some pretended friends, one of them would engage the attention of the victim in conversation; suddenly another would say, "Look at those birds!" or something of the sort, to take his attention, while a third man would fell him with a blow by a club (Kugering). Then, according to my informant, he would be rolled about on the ground to make his Murup (spirit) come out of him. The fat was then extracted in the usual way. If not actually killed by the blow, the man might come to himself and be able to return to his camp. I was told of such a case, where an old man of the Wurunjerri tribe had been thus caught by some of the Jajaurung, but got back to his camp before he died. In all