Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/269

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


Obeah in the West Indies. 259

of those that compose it. The Papaloi may generally be distinguished by the peculiar knotting of their curly wool, which, like the Fijians', must be a work of considerable labour, and by the profusion of ornaments.

The reunions for the true Vaudoux worship never take place except secretly, in the dead of night, and in a secure place safe from any profane eye. He then gives an in- teresting picture of such a " reunion " ; the adoration of the serpent, which is kept in a box or cage ; the installation of the king and queen ; the taking of the oath of secrecy before them ; their exhortation to the crowd to show their loyalty to them. Afterwards the members who desire assistance or favour in their designs approach and implore the aid of the Vaudoux. " Most of them," he says, " ask for the talent to be able to direct the conduct of their masters. But this is not enough. One wants more money ; another the gift of being able to please an unfeeling one ; another desires to reattach an unfaithful lover; this one wishes for a prompt cure or long life ; an elderly female comes to conjure the god to end the disdain with which she is treated by the youth whose affection she would captivate ; a young one solicits eternal love, or she repeats the maledictions that hate dictates to her against a preferred rival. There is not a passion which does not give vent to its vow, and crime does not always disguise those which have for object its success."

He then proceeds to describe the manner in which these appeals are made and answered by the Queen in the name of the god (the serpent), more or less oracularly, her followers making their offerings to the god. A fresh oath as to secrecy is then taken, and sometimes a vase in which there is the blood of a goat, still warm, puts a seal on their lips to the promise.

After these ceremonies commences the dance of the Vaudoux, which is preceded, when necessary, by the ceremony which a candidate for the sect has to go