Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/255

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

So77i€ Algerian Superstitions. 245

Medical Magic}^ — Although in the Aures mountains and in the neighbouring desert there are to be found numerous native doctors who treat their patients in a more or less scientific manner with the aid of herbs, and surgeons who are capable of successfully performing operations such as that of the trepan, yet the people employ a great number of charms to prevent or combat their maladies.

Their belief that jenoun cause a great proportion of their complaints seems to account for some of the charms and magical practices described below.

The violent hysteria which frequently seizes people of both sexes, usually perfectly normal, when attending a pilgrimage to the shrine of a saint, and which causes them to rave, prophesy, and even to cut themselves with knives, lick hot iron, etc., is believed to be caused by jenoun, who can be instantly expelled from the patient by the recitation of texts from the Koran, and who leave no trace of their presence upon the victim other than a passing feeling of lassitude. According to the Shawi scribe in the Rassira valley, epidemics, such as cholera, typhus, and smallpox, are caused by armies of jenoun, ^^ known as "wakhs," who invade a village and strike down the inhabitants ; as a proof of which theory he remarked that the victims in their delirium rave and shout as if they were in battle. The armies of jenoun which cause the serious epidemics men- tioned above are called " French," because the harm they do is considerable, the reason for this doubtless being that at the time of various insurrections the French have been obliged to send military expeditions to the Aures, and certain villages of the Rassira valley have been made

^'For magical remedies noted during our journey in the Aures in 1913 see Hilton-Simpson, " Some Arab and Shawia Remedies" (_/?«>'«. Koy. Anth.Inst., xliii.); those detailed here were noted in 1914.

'9 " When the cholera was in Morocco some years ago, the people believed that an army of gnun had overrun the country." Westermarck, " Nature ot the Arab Ginn " {Jow-n. Anth. Inst., xxix., p. 254).