Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/139

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121
OMENS AND DREAMS.

fierce conquering wolf should be a good omen, and the timid hare a bad one, why bees, types of an obedient nation, should be lucky to a king, while flies, returning however often they are driven off, should be signs of importunity and impudence.[1] And as to the general principle that animals are ominous to those who meet them, the German peasant who says a flock of sheep is lucky but a herd of swine unlucky to meet, and the Cornish miner who turns away in horror when he meets an old woman or a rabbit on his way to the pit's mouth, are to this day keeping up relics of early savagery as genuine as any flint implement dug out of a tumulus.

The doctrine of dreams, attributed as they are by the lower and middle races to spiritual intercourse, belongs in so far rather to religion than to magic. But oneiromancy, the art of taking omens from dreams by analogical interpretation, has its place here. Of the leading principle of such mystical explanation, no better types could be chosen than the details and interpretations of Joseph's dreams (Genesis xxxvii., xl., xli.), of the sheaves and the sun and moon and eleven stars, of the vine and the basket of meats, of the lean and fat kine, and the thin and full corn-ears. Oneiromancy, thus symbolically interpreting the things seen in dreams, is not unknown to the lower races. A whole Australian tribe has been known to decamp because one of them dreamt of a certain kind of owl, which dream the wise men declared to forebode an attack from a certain other tribe.[2] The Kamchadals, whose minds ran much on dreams, had special interpretations of some; thus to dream of lice or dogs betokened a visit of Russian travellers, &c.[3] The Zulus, experience having taught them the fallacy of expecting direct fulfilment of dreams, have in some cases tried to mend

  1. See Cornelius Agrippa, 'De Occulta Philosophia,' i. 53; 'De Vanitate Scient.' 37; Grimm, 'D. M.' p. 1073; Hanusch, 'Slaw. Myth.' p. 285; Brand, vol. iii. pp. 184-227.
  2. Oldfield in 'Tr. Eth. Soc.' vol. iii. p. 241.
  3. Steller, 'Kamtschatka,' p. 279.