Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/247

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So?Jic Algei'ian Superstitions. 237

by means of written charms which are often secretly sus- pended from a tree, whence they cause injury to their victim. Such spells as these are combated among the Ouled Ziane by eating the dried and powdered body of a chameleon.

The people of Ain Touta employ the following method of getting rid of evil influences set to work in such a manner.

Certain women possess the power of detecting the presence of spells which are acting upon an individual ; one of these women takes three leaden bullets which have been fired out of a gun and melts them together, pouring them when molten into a metal mortar filled with water. The lead, of course, hardens in the water, from which it is then removed and examined, the nature of the spell being discernible to the sorceress when she studies the shape of the mass of lead ; for example, if a fragment of it is so attached to the mass that it hangs merely by a shred it implies that a written charm has been suspended to cause harm to the person who is seeking her aid. When the molten lead is poured into the water small fragments of black stuff (z>. impurities in the metal) are seen to fall out of it, and as these fragments leave the lead, so do the jenoun or the evil influences leave the victim upon whose behalf the rite is being performed.

The operation of melting the lead is repeated seven times, but the name of the contriver of the spell is not ascertained by this method.

The sister of my Arab orderly was able to practise this system of divination and exorcism, and the orderly him- self had often availed himself of her skill ; but he was unable to give me any further details upon the subject, and I did not meet with it among either the Shawia or the Ouled Ziane.^° Evil influences are set to work among the

" Cf. the Egyptian custom of placing alum on the fire in order to counteract the effect of the "evil-eye" and to ascertain, by the shape which the alum assumes, who is responsible for the mischief. Lane, Modern Egyptians ("Everyman's Library" ed.), p. 257.