Page:Transactions of the Second International Folk-Congress.djvu/279

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241
Owen.—Among the Voodoos.

those old rascals who have instructed me, but on the proof furnished by those who quarrel and accuse each other.

A dance is not an initiation: that is done with leaves or bark, as I have said. I don't know what a moon-dance is for, but the other two are considered as remedies rather than ceremonies. As for getting a male friend to do anything for me, I've never found one who would entertain the suggestion for a moment.

"Peril life and reputation among those beasts?" exclaimed one. "Not I! It will be better for the world when they and all knowledge of their vileness die out."

My knowledge of Voodoos began at an early age. Aunt Mymee Whitehead, or, as some called her, "Aunt Mymee Monroe", was my nurse. She has always wished it understood that she is the daughter of the devil. Her mother was a Guinea woman, a conjurer also, who inspired such fear and hatred that the people rose against her to kill her. She fled on board a slave-ship, and was brought to this country—to what part Aunt Mymee did not know. Soon after landing Mymee was born, and was sent with her mother to Kentucky. When ten or twelve years old they were brought to Missouri. I may remark here that Aunt Mymee, a pure-blooded Guinea, and Alexander, half Guinea and half Cherokee Indian, are the only two conjurers I ever heard speak of themselves as Voodoos. The others, while practising the same rites, invariably speak of themselves as Witches, men or women, or conjurers. Their humble admirers, however, frequently speak of them as "Voodoos", and of their deeds as "Noodoos".

Aunt Mymee gave me the first glimpse of her secret business by importuning me to get from my grandmother some amaranth seeds. When I insisted on knowing what she wanted with them, she acknowledged she wished to make them into a little cake which would make any who ate it love the one who handed it to him. That sounded reasonable enough to anyone as fond of all sorts of sweeties as I was, so I procured the seeds, and had the cake made up.

Not long after I heard other servants of the family say that Mymee had surely conjured me, for I followed at her heels like a dog that had eaten shoebread.

Afterwards, partly by coaxing and partly by watching, I learned to make a trick or two, and came to know of the existence