Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/139

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of the Ba- Th o nga . 123

laws of animism : the bones of goats represent the people of the village, because they live with them, they have some- thing of their spirit ; the mother-goat is the mother of the kraal, the buck is the father, the kids the children. The bones of antelopes, wild pigs, monkeys, represent the spirits w^hich dwell in the bush ; either the sorcerers who bewitch during the nio-ht or the o-ods which are the ancestors buried in the forest. The shells represent the powers which help or destroy, like the great waves of the sea; either the mas- culine forces [Oliva) or the feminine {Gyprea). The black stones mean mourning, and the nail of the ant-eater is the grave-digger, and means death. According to the way and the side on which all these bones and other objects fall when they are thrown down^ the diviner sees in them the photograph of the situation on which he must give his advice. It would be too long to initiate you into the details of this method, but everything is perfectly rational in it and agrees together to form a most wonderful system of divina- tion. And the old Maselesele, who went all over the country in former times^ throwing the dice for the chiefs, sometimes receiving as much as an ox for his reward, this fortune- teller, now almost entirely blind, told me with a strange smile : " Nothing is more powerful than these bones ! Your book which you read, your Bible, is nothing. . . . What helps is this." And he patted the bones with a wonderful love. Unhappily for him, there has been a native war lately in the country ; he had to fly during the night and left his dice in the hut. The enemies burnt do\yn the hut, and the basket was destroyed with its precious contents. I ventured to tell him that I thought his bones, being so intelligent, might have foretold to him the danger they were running, and he might have escaped sooner and saved them. But the argument did not make the slightest impression on him. Faith is blind !

I must come to a conclusion, sending those who would like to know more about this so curious animism to Mr. Milne,