Page:Journal of American Folklore vol. 12.djvu/505

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Bibliographical Notes. 157

years. Ghosts are naked or clothed, and light gray in color. The blue fires sometimes seen near graves are their breath. They may be shot with an arrow, and in such case shriek and evanesce, leaving behind some relic to show what part of the body was struck, and then return to the place where the corpse has been laid. Fortunately for the living, they never leave trail, so that to escape their pursuit it is only necessary to turn aside. All persons go to the land of souls, except those who are drowned, respecting whose fate exists a difference of opinion. Some think that a good man reaches the spirit-country much sooner than a bad one. As to rebirth, this takes place chiefly with the souls of infants. But as such belief is said to be on the wane, it seems likely enough that formerly reincarnation may have been very much more common, as above remarked in relation to the Bella Coola. The souls of Christians do not go by the old trail, but ascend to the sky, where they confess to a chief ; respecting their ultimate destiny there is difference of opinion. Suicides do not get to the land of souls, but disappear. Sickness may be due to the taking away of the soul, and in this case a shaman must be sent in pursuit within two days, or it will be too late. The shaman examines the graveyards till he finds the track of an escaping soul, and takes advantage of a shorter route in order to intercept it. Having caught the soul, he takes flight, pursued by the other souls, whom, however, he scares away with his rattle, or clubs off.

In regard to the ethical character of the faith of this people, it is stated that some elderly man of a household, or some chief, would often speak until late at night, admonishing and advising the youth, and giving them the results of his experience and his own ideas of the future life. It is interesting to observe that prayers were habitually offered to the Dawn ; every morning one of the oldest members of the household acted as priest, to the extent of issuing at daybreak, and offering such prayer. In certain cases the Dawn was supposed to be able to heal, if addressed through the medium of an adolescent girl (maidenhood as the embodiment of inno- cence ?). " O Day-Dawn ! thy child relies on me to obtain healing from thee, who art mystery. Remove thou the swelling of thy child. Pity him, O Day-Dawn ! " Nor is prayer confined to material blessings. Thus, when the first fruits (berries, roots) are eaten, the Sunflower Root is accosted. " I inform thee that I intend to eat thee. Mayest thou always help me to ascend, so that I may always be able to reach the tops of moun- tains, and may I never be clumsy ! I ask this from thee, Sunflower Root. Thou are the greatest of all in mystery." Of course the Sunflower is holy, because it turns toward the light. Thus we have in this especially un- tutored and simple people the germ of light-worship in its higher aspect. To develop such ideas into a religion of the higher order needed only a series of literati, able to coordinate and exclude. This treatise, like every account of the sort, serves to show that the explanation of the human mind is to be found in the ideas most primitive of existing races.

W. W. Newell.

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