Page:Journal of American Folklore vol. 12.djvu/406

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74 Journal of American Folk-Lore.

costume. At Alice Springs, the evening star is considered to descend into the earth at a particular spot where went down a woman of the Alcheringa ; and a child born near that stone will belong to the evening star totem, and be a reincarnation of the original evening star woman, and accordingly receive the same name.

Accounts of the Alcheringa traditions are furnished, by which it appears that these include, as usual with primitive faiths, narrations respecting the chaotic period, the transformations by which the earth was made habitable, effected by beings who are described as " self-existing," the interference of demonic beings, and the defeat and slaughter of the latter. The marital relations in this period seem not to have been restricted by totem. Long migration legends are related, and no doubt contain intermingled historical elements.

In Arunta burial customs, the habit of feeding the ghost does not appear. Speaking generally, nothing except the Churinga amulets are interred with the dead. The camp in which death occurred is burned and the contents destroyed. During the period of mourning, the name of the dead is not mentioned, or only in a whisper, lest the spirit, which walks abroad, should consider that his relatives fail in respect. The spirit, however, is supposed to pass the greater part of the time in the cave which is the Alcheringa birthplace, and here, underground, is a region closely answering to a para- dise. From the Nanja, that is, stone or tree marking the abode of any Alcheringa ancestor, arises a double called Arumburinga, which serves to watch over the spirit tenanting the Churinga, and which becomes the guar- dian spirit of the human personage who is the reincarnation of the ancestor (we have thus both a counterpart and an explanation of the Roman genius) ; these doubles, together with the spirits, form collectively a group, Iruntari- nia, the nearest approach to an Australian pantheon. With these Irun- tarinia medicine-men may communicate ; the like privilege is bestowed on certain children, who have the "open eye," and who must be serious and sedate. The Iruntarinia are in appearance youthful and smooth-faced ; their bodies are shadowy, and they decorate themselves with a precious down. They have no fires, but kill game and eat it uncooked. They may carry off women, and are in general beneficent, though frequently cruel ; they destroy by shooting pointed sticks into the body, which can be removed only by a skilled medicine-man. Sometimes they play pranks on wander- ing travellers. They make medicine-men by communicating new organs to such persons as sleep in certain caves.

The mythology includes nature-myths ; thus it is conceived that the sun issued from the earth in the form of sisters, one carrying a newly-born child. The race of the sun-women is alive, being reincarnated in descend- ants who dramatically represent the original advent. The account is far from clear ; it would seem that the visible sun is formed by the headdress of the younger sister.

The authors do not find in the beliefs or ceremonies invocation of superior beings ; yet certain of the acts they describe, such as the cleansing of the Chu- ringa and the use of blood in ritual, appear to be acts of worship ; also, with

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