Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/254

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


244 Sojne A/gerian Superstitions.

of the stick of a spindle-whorl from which the knob has been removed, and a plaited woollen girdle or a long black head kerchief.

The sorceress, known as Tayaha, first puts some "jowi" (? gum benjamin) on the fire and makes seven circular movements with the stick and the girdle in the smoke that arises from it ; and in the name of God and the Prophet she adjures them to return true answers to her questions. She then lays the girdle across the stick so that its two ends hang down on either side and, holding the stick by one end, she rolls both ends of the girdle together round the stick. When they are completely wrapped round it she takes the stick in both hands by the ends and, holding it horizontally, unwinds the girdle by a series of outward circular move- ments, at the same time asking if the person who has invoked her aid is suffering from, for example, fever. If when the girdle is unrolled from the stick it remains hang- ing across it in the same position as before it was wrapped round it the answer is in the negative and the performance is repeated, some other malady being suggested by the sorceress. When the correct malady has been mentioned the girdle will return an affirmative answer by falling clear of the stick on to the ground

The cause of the applicant's indisposition having been thus ascertained the sorceress again adjures the stick and girdle to answer correctly, and then proceeds, in the sam.e manner as before, to suggest to them the names of certain scribes who would be likely to write a useful talisman to combat the complaint. In this way the name of the best scribe is ascertained, certain scribes being better than others for writing talismans against certain maladies.

I have not actually seen this method of divination employed by the Shawia, but I am assured by these people that it is known and practised in the Rassira valley ; the sorceress who showed it to me was a member of the Ouled Ziane tribe of so-called Arabs.