Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/76

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62 Collectanea.

which they once dwelt in, and which now are clothed in the grave in their shroud of mother earth. They have their wants, for their life is dark and unsatisfied. In their dissatisfaction they show their wants by bringing sickness, disease, and death on those whom they lived with in this world. Hence the sacrifice of flour or beer made to assuage the anger and propitiate the favour of the offended spirit.

" So far almost all Bantu tribes believe and act in common. So far at least goes the religious faith of Yao and Mang'anja, round Blantyre. But now the Achewa parts company with our native neighbours. These Achewa believe that the spirit may wander homelessly about the village where it lived, hiding in the bush and seeking to make its presence known and its wants felt. The ' spirit ' doctor — in this case generally a woman — is sent for, and she proceeds at once to make a captive of the disturbing spirit. Under spirit-influence she works herself into a frenzy and clutches at the air, as if striving to grasp invisible spirits, with which it is presumed to be filled. At last, after a struggle, the annoying spirit is seized and made captive in the 'pill-box,' and hid away in the calico garb of the fetish doll. To the imprisoned spirit of the departed relative the prayers of the survivors are now directed, and the cultus of the disembodied soul now passes into the cultus of the soul imprisoned in the fetish.

" A household may possess several of these household gods. Mr. Vlok mentions the case of a woman who had the spirits of three of her dead children thus laid aside. Numbers of these fetishes are handed over to the missionary on the profession of Christianity by their owners.

" Among the Angoni, or rather among the Chipeta slaves of the Angoni, we find a modification of this belief. In this case the spirit of the dead is supposed to take possession of a basket or a piece of calico. It may also enter into a goat, or sheep, or ox. The ancestors of Chikusi, the last chief of the Angoni, were supposed to be located in a bull, and on the occasion of a sacrifice this animal was always brought forward, and from its behaviour on the completion of the offering an augury was drawn as to the anger or pleasure of the deity appealed to. Such animals or articles are always considered ' sacred ' to the spirit of the departed who has taken up his abode in them.

" Among the tribes in the neighbourhood of Tanganyika the