Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/75

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CHAPTER VIII.


BELIEF IN THE METEMPSYCHOSIS—ABORIGINAL
WOMEN—POWERS OF MIMICRY—A "BARBAROUS "
PRACTICE— TATTOOING— MODES OF FISHING —
LEX TALIONIS.

It has already been shown that the aboriginals entertain a belief that the souls of their deceased relatives pass into the bodies of other human beings, the white population, according to their ideas, being no other than the regenerated tribes of their own race which have passed away during the course of bygone ages. Their belief in the transmigration of souls, however, goes much further than this. In the consideration of this point we will find a still further proof in support of the hypothesis of the Oriental origin of the race. Like the followers of the Brahmins, they believe that the soul passes into the inferior animals—birds, beasts, and fishes. The existence of this belief is fully borne out by several circumstances which have come under the observation of Europeans at different times. A traveller being once about to shoot at an animal of a small species was deterred from his purpose by a black, who called out that he must not shoot, because, as he said, the intended victim was "him brother." Another anecdote which illustrates the prevalence of this belief in transmigration partakes, in the highest degree, of a romantic