Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/142

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132 Psychology and Ethnology.

thoughts of part of the congregation, precisely because it has features which are not customary.

It is just the same with the savage. Because he is per- forming a magico-religious ceremony we have no right to infer that the magico-rehgious side of it is uppermost in his mind.

If there is one mystery fit to strike awe into the hearts of all beholders it is Death. I once saw a dying savage ; here we were in the presence not only of IDeath but of Death's agents, the dread Kita spirits, that had wasted his once powerful frame to mere skin and bones, and left him gasping there, on the threshold of the Beyond, but unable to pass it. Here was food for solemn thoughts ; but to them it was only food for impatience. How much longer was he going to be a-dying } He had died once already that morning, but had come to life again and kept them all waiting till he should be ready for his funeral. They got Rakoto to hang some leaves over him to drive away the Kita and let him die, and in the meantime they sat smoking. The leaves apparently took effect ; he breathed his last ; the women raised the usual wail; he was bundled up, paddled out to sea and dumped overboard.

If death does not evoke feelings of awe and reverence perhaps the departure of the soul for the abode of the dead will. Dr. Rivers and I had the good fortune to attend such a departure. We all met together at night in a house. The ghosts came to fetch the deceased away, but they had little to say, except that they had come for that purpose. Kopa was the only one who had any ne>vs to give about the future life: he announced, what did he announce? some mystic revelation ? No, merely that he and Nui had in the other world bought a boat (presumably the ghost thereof) from the ghost of a White Man. But Mamana, his living son, did not appear interested in his father's posthumous busi- ness transactions, but bade him begone: " I am a man, you a ghost," said he, " I don't like you. I don't want to speak