Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/58

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46 Midsummer Customs in Morocco.

to show that they are sun-charms, since the efifects ascribed to them are identical with those of sunshine." ^ But these efifects are really such as would result from purification rather than from sunshine ; they are not restricted to vegetation, they apply to animals and men as well. More- over, in Europe, as in Morocco, the magic efficacy is often attributed to the smoke rather than to the flame. That the European bonfires are essentially intended to serve as means of purgation is all the more probable, as they also, like the Moorish bonfires, alternate with water-ceremonies, which could not possibly have anything to do with the sun, but which are obviously of a purificatory character.

Nor do I believe that Dr. Frazer has adduced any solid reason for his suggestion that the animals which are some- times burned at midsummer represent the spirit of vegeta- tion." The smoke produced by the burning of certain animals at that time is considered to possess magic efficacy, just as is the case with the smoke from certain plants. It seems that the animals which are m.ost com- monly burned in European bonfires, either at midsummer or at other times of the year, are cats ; and in Morocco the Rif Berbers and Jbala burn wild-cats under their horses or mules when ill, the smoke being considered beneficial to the animal on other occasions besides mid- summer. In Russia a white cock was sometimes burned in the midsummer bonfire,^ just as a white cock or chicken is burned by the Beni Mgild in Morocco on l-'dsur day ; and among the latter at least the reason for this practice is, as they say, to make the year " white," that is, lucky, a white chicken being considered a lucky animal.

How, then, shall we explain the fact that both in Europe and in Morocco fire and water ceremonies are practised at midsummer with the same object in view? Is it likely that the Berbers borrowed the custom from Europe ? For

■"^ Frazer, The Golden Bough, iii. 303. "^ Ibid., iii. 323 sqq,

^ Ibid., iii. 325.