Page:Occult Japan - Lovell.djvu/312

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290
OCCULT JAPAN.

III.

Not only can one self thus sway another, but from prehistoric times men have believed that one self could actually oust another and act in its stead. The dispossessing self has been variously deemed a deity, devil, or disembodied spirit—embodied spirits being apparently less eager to leave their quarters. But whatever its moral character, it has been held to be every whit as existent as the poor devil it dispossessed. Among all peoples we have instances of persons thus possessed by gods, goblins, and others, instances cropping up all over the world, from the earliest ages down to the present day. The character of the possessing spirit has, however, varied with singular complacency to suit the opinions of the persons it possessed. In a simple society that favored the idea, the visitant has boldly proclaimed himself a god; in communities where this assumption was considered arrogant, he has contented himself with the more modest role of devil; while, finally, in these latter days, he has been fain to put up with being the spirit of an Indian brave or other worthy too insignificant to dispute.