Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/252

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242 Sojne Algerian Siiperstitions.

The flour is then taken to the mosque, where it is made into cakes and kuskus, and the girls summon all the other children of both sexes to join them in eating the meal thus provided, after which they cry "Rain, Rain."

At Menaa, in the Wad Abdi, the Shawia children take the food to a sacred tree high up on the rocks overlooking the village and there partake of the meal.

This ceremony appears to be performed all over the Aures, and I have been told that it exists among the neigh- bouring " Arab " peoples as well, but I have personally seen no evidence of this.

Objects which have been kept from one of the great Mohammedan feasts possess great virtue for the Shawia.

Thus oleander leaves picked before dawn on the feast of the Ashura (on the tenth day of the first month of the Mohammedan year), besides being burnt to fumigate fever patients, are stored in the houses to keep away injurious creatures and moths; while driess {Thapsia garganicd) is considered to be specially good for medical purposes if it has been gathered on the first day of the third month, when the Shawia of the Wad el Abiod go into their orchards before daybreak, light fires in them, and put driess upon the fruit trees.

I have seen in the valley of Bouzina in March male pomegranate trees upon the branches of which small pieces of driess had been placed in order to ensure a good harvest of that fruit.

Divination. — The scapulae of sheep slaughtered for the Aid el Kebir, or Great Feast, are kept suspended in their houses by the Shawia in order to bring luck, and these bones are also believed to contain omens. For example, if there is a pronounced excrescence in the angle of the scapula a birth in the family of the owner is to be expected ; while white patches upon the flat side of the bone indicate approaching deaths ; if near the tip of the shoulder the death will be among the near relations of the owner, if near the