Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/488

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The Religious Ideas of the Arunta.

season of plenty. Altjira shows himself to man in the lightning; the thunder is his voice. If the lightning strikes anything, it is Altjira lighting a fire. When Altjira does not show himself (in the storm cloud) men have to suffer in a season of drought. Altjira is a good god; he never punishes man; therefore the blacks do not fear him, and render him neither prayer nor sacrifice."

"An evil being is also known to the blacks—erinja kuna ( = evil spirit)—whom they conceive as a skeleton, but endued with extraordinary strength. This being sets himself to rob men of their tjurunga (churinga). If anyone is ill, he comes from his abode beneath the earth, Tatara, or Alpara, and puts his foot on the man's throat, to kill him. This being the blacks fear. From him have proceeded many "devils," little black beings with a long thin body, but no arms or legs. Their bodies are covered with hair and their faces distorted. They come on the earth at night, and cause pain and disease by entering the bodies of men."

"In olden days there were giants on the earth; but the giant Urbura struck the earth, which was covered with water, so that the latter was scattered in all directions. Mangarkunjurkunja, also a strong man, created mankind; Twanjirika taught them circumcision."

In reply to a further letter Mr. Strehlow writes as follows:

"The word altjira has in itself no meaning; but a verb derived from it, altjirerama, means primarily to become god; it is used in the sense of to dream; for the blacks think that in dreams are revealed the will of Altjira, or future events, and pay great attention to them."

"Spencer and Gillen assert (Nor. Tr., p. 745) that alcheri means dream, and Alcheringa, the dream times; this is a mistake. Dream is altjirerinja, a dreamer, altjirerinja; a 'dream time' is unknown to the blacks. It is also erroneous to say that the Aranda believe in reincarnation of ancestors; what they believe is, that each birth is an