Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/671

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INDIAN MEDICINE. 653

when I assert that whole families, especially during the ravages of epidemics, are frequently and literally drummed, rattled, stank, and powwowed out of existence. Conceive of a child with its peculiarly sensitive nervous organization, prostrated with burning fever, kept in a close and stifling atmosphere and subjected to combinations of sounds and smells fit to launch an adult in full tide of health into the very depths of lunacy ! Why, the din is so very infernal in character, the odors so intensely nauseous and suffocating, that the wonder is that any recover. Seemingly the most obstreperous of spirits, even the " Old Harry " himself, would be forced in self-defense to stop ears, clap fingers to nose, and flee to the uttermost confines of space !

The demonology of the red-man seemingly provides for various classes of spirits possessed of like attributes (but more exaggerated) with man. Some are strong, bold, persistent, revengeful, malevolent beyond measure, and but sparingly amenable to discipline. Others, again, are mild, weak, vacillating, forgiving, indifferent, easily placated. One of the latter may be got rid of, sometimes, with little trouble and ceremony ; but an old and accomplished individual not infre- quently demands the combined wisdom and efforts of a dozen or more conjurers, while days and even weeks may be consumed ere a success- ful (or fatal) issue is reached. Then there are various creeds, or arti- cles of faith, that would appear not to be definitely settled (theologians and physicians the world over will disagree !), and it is a somewhat mooted question as to how the evil ones are disciplined, and whether they are coaxed or frightened from their hold upon the victim, alto- gether annihilated, or amenable to all three measures. In one thing, however, the fraternity is united ; in any event, the treatment is the same !

The medicine-man is no sooner summoned, than he begins to enact the part of a leech in very truth. Above all things, he must feast, and that, too, almost incessantly, and upon the very best the surroundings afford, else he can not sustain the strength necessary to a struggle with the denizens of the spirit-world ; and it frequently happens that not only the family of the sufferer, but all his blood relatives even to the most remote degree (and this is enforced by a very nice point of sav- age honor), are thereby rendered hopelessly bankrupt !

An examination, to determine the condition of the sufferer, is not at all essential, since the conjurer possesses an infallible means of diag- nosis in the charms and amulets that stuff to repletion the "medicine- bag " that is constantly worn suspended from the neck ; through these he derives power to mingle with the inhabitants of the unseen world, and to bring before his mental vision the entire physical and spiritual economy of any individual of earth or air at will. Summoning to his aid an assistant or assistants, he proceeds to his incantations without the least questioning or circumlocution, beginning with a low, monoto- nous chant rising and falling with abrupt inflections, wherein he begs,

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