Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/46

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Midsummer Customs in Morocco.

scribe from Glawi in the Great Atlas, told me that at midsummer, for one hour, the water of the sea becomes sweet, whilst the water of springs and rivers become salt. When that water flows over the Indian-corn fields the corn is affected by it in a peculiar way: those who eat of the corn get nervous and quarrelsome. As only astrologers know the hour when the change takes place, the people are unable to regulate the irrigation of their fields so as to keep the injurious water away from their crops.

The Rif Berbers, Brâbers, and Shluh are in the habit of throwing earth on the fruit-trees at midsummer, whereas I have not found this custom among any of the Arabic-speaking tribes. The Bĕni Mgild throw earth taken from a place where three roads meet, not only on their fruit-trees, but over their animals and bees; this, they say, will keep the animals in good condition and prevent the trees getting dry. Among the same tribe unmarried girls hang little bags filled with earth taken from such a place round their necks for the purpose of soon getting a husband and keeping off the evil eye. The Inĭknâfĕn, in Haha, strew earth over the vegetables growing in their gardens, as well as at their fruit-trees. Among the Shluh of Aglu the sprinkling of the fruit-trees with fine earth or dust alternates with the smoke custom referred to above. The dust is by preference taken from some road frequented by many animals and men.

Various other kinds of magic are practised at midsummer for the benefit of the people. The Rif Berbers and the Andjra mountaineers make a few cuts in the trunks of their fig-trees so that the juice oozes out; this is supposed to prevent the tree from getting dry and the fruit from falling. "Male figs," wrapped up in bundles of straw or pennyroyal, are hung in the female trees. The smell of the pennyroyal is considered good for the tree; and it was suggested by a native that the "male figs" are hung there in order to induce the female figs to remain,