Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer

Part 15 out of 19

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 2.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

out of regard to his own safety, to do it in a way which will be as
inoffensive as possible not merely to the living animal, but to its
departed spirit and to all the other animals of the same species,
which would resent an affront put upon one of their kind much as a
tribe of savages would revenge an injury or insult offered to a
tribesman. We have seen that among the many devices by which the
savage seeks to atone for the wrong done by him to his animal
victims one is to show marked deference to a few chosen individuals
of the species, for such behaviour is apparently regarded as
entitling him to exterminate with impunity all the rest of the
species upon which he can lay hands. This principle perhaps explains
the attitude, at first sight puzzling and contradictory, of the Aino
towards the bear. The flesh and skin of the bear regularly afford
them food and clothing; but since the bear is an intelligent and
powerful animal, it is necessary to offer some satisfaction or
atonement to the bear species for the loss which it sustains in the
death of so many of its members. This satisfaction or atonement is
made by rearing young bears, treating them, so long as they live,
with respect, and killing them with extraordinary marks of sorrow
and devotion. So the other bears are appeased, and do not resent the
slaughter of their kind by attacking the slayers or deserting the
country, which would deprive the Aino of one of their means of

Thus the primitive worship of animals conforms to two types, which
are in some respects the converse of each other. On the one hand,
animals are worshipped, and are therefore neither killed nor eaten.
On the other hand, animals are worshipped because they are
habitually killed and eaten. In both types of worship the animal is
revered on account of some benefit, positive or negative, which the
savage hopes to receive from it. In the former worship the benefit
comes either in the positive shape of protection, advice, and help
which the animal affords the man, or in the negative shape of
abstinence from injuries which it is in the power of the animal to
inflict. In the latter worship the benefit takes the material form
of the animal's flesh and skin. The two types of worship are in some
measure antithetical: in the one, the animal is not eaten because it
is revered; in the other, it is revered because it is eaten. But
both may be practised by the same people, as we see in the case of
the North American Indians, who, while they apparently revere and
spare their totem animals, also revere the animals and fish upon
which they subsist. The aborigines of Australia have totemism in the
most primitive form known to us; but there is no clear evidence that
they attempt, like the North American Indians, to conciliate the
animals which they kill and eat. The means which the Australians
adopt to secure a plentiful supply of game appear to be primarily
based, not on conciliation, but on sympathetic magic, a principle to
which the North American Indians also resort for the same purpose.
Hence, as the Australians undoubtedly represent a ruder and earlier
stage of human progress than the American Indians, it would seem
that before hunters think of worshipping the game as a means of
ensuring an abundant supply of it, they seek to attain the same end
by sympathetic magic. This, again, would show--what there is good
reason for believing--that sympathetic magic is one of the earliest
means by which man endeavours to adapt the agencies of nature to his

Corresponding to the two distinct types of animal worship, there are
two distinct types of the custom of killing the animal god. On the
one hand, when the revered animal is habitually spared, it is
nevertheless killed--and sometimes eaten--on rare and solemn
occasions. Examples of this custom have been already given and an
explanation of them offered. On the other hand, when the revered
animal is habitually killed, the slaughter of any one of the species
involves the killing of the god, and is atoned for on the spot by
apologies and sacrifices, especially when the animal is a powerful
and dangerous one; and, in addition to this ordinary and everyday
atonement, there is a special annual atonement, at which a select
individual of the species is slain with extraordinary marks of
respect and devotion. Clearly the two types of sacramental
killing--the Egyptian and the Aino types, as we may call them for
distinction--are liable to be confounded by an observer; and, before
we can say to which type any particular example belongs, it is
necessary to ascertain whether the animal sacramentally slain
belongs to a species which is habitually spared, or to one which is
habitually killed by the tribe. In the former case the example
belongs to the Egyptian type of sacrament, in the latter to the Aino

The practice of pastoral tribes appears to furnish examples of both
types of sacrament. "Pastoral tribes," says Adolf Bastian, "being
sometimes obliged to sell their herds to strangers who may handle
the bones disrespectfully, seek to avert the danger which such a
sacrilege would entail by consecrating one of the herd as an object
of worship, eating it sacramentally in the family circle with closed
doors, and afterwards treating the bones with all the ceremonious
respect which, strictly speaking, should be accorded to every head
of cattle, but which, being punctually paid to the representative
animal, is deemed to be paid to all. Such family meals are found
among various peoples, especially those of the Caucasus. When
amongst the Abchases the shepherds in spring eat their common meal
with their loins girt and their staves in their hands, this may be
looked upon both as a sacrament and as an oath of mutual help and
support. For the strongest of all oaths is that which is accompanied
with the eating of a sacred substance, since the perjured person
cannot possibly escape the avenging god whom he has taken into his
body and assimilated." This kind of sacrament is of the Aino or
expiatory type, since it is meant to atone to the species for the
possible ill-usage of individuals. An expiation, similar in
principle but different in details, is offered by the Kalmucks to
the sheep, whose flesh is one of their staple foods. Rich Kalmucks
are in the habit of consecrating a white ram under the title of "the
ram of heaven" or "the ram of the spirit." The animal is never shorn
and never sold; but when it grows old and its owner wishes to
consecrate a new one, the old ram must be killed and eaten at a
feast to which the neighbours are invited. On a lucky day, generally
in autumn when the sheep are fat, a sorcerer kills the old ram,
after sprinkling it with milk. Its flesh is eaten; the skeleton,
with a portion of the fat, is burned on a turf altar; and the skin,
with the head and feet, is hung up.

An example of a sacrament of the Egyptian type is furnished by the
Todas, a pastoral people of Southern India, who subsist largely upon
the milk of their buffaloes. Amongst them "the buffalo is to a
certain degree held sacred" and "is treated with great kindness,
even with a degree of adoration, by the people." They never eat the
flesh of the cow buffalo, and as a rule abstain from the flesh of
the male. But to the latter rule there is a single exception. Once a
year all the adult males of the village join in the ceremony of
killing and eating a very young male calf--seemingly under a month
old. They take the animal into the dark recesses of the village
wood, where it is killed with a club made from the sacred tree of
the Todas (the _Millingtonia_). A sacred fire having been made by
the rubbing of sticks, the flesh of the calf is roasted on the
embers of certain trees, and is eaten by the men alone, women being
excluded from the assembly. This is the only occasion on which the
Todas eat buffalo flesh. The Madi or Moru tribe of Central Africa,
whose chief wealth is their cattle, though they also practise
agriculture, appear to kill a lamb sacramentally on certain solemn
occasions. The custom is thus described by Dr. Felkin: "A remarkable
custom is observed at stated times--once a year, I am led to
believe. I have not been able to ascertain what exact meaning is
attached to it. It appears, however, to relieve the people's minds,
for beforehand they evince much sadness, and seem very joyful when
the ceremony is duly accomplished. The following is what takes
place: A large concourse of people of all ages assemble, and sit
down round a circle of stones, which is erected by the side of a
road (really a narrow path). A very choice lamb is then fetched by a
boy, who leads it four times round the assembled people. As it
passes they pluck off little bits of its fleece and place them in
their hair, or on to some other part of their body. The lamb is then
led up to the stones, and there killed by a man belonging to a kind
of priestly order, who takes some of the blood and sprinkles it four
times over the people. He then applies it individually. On the
children he makes a small ring of blood over the lower end of the
breast bone, on women and girls he makes a mark above the breasts,
and the men he touches on each shoulder. He then proceeds to explain
the ceremony, and to exhort the people to show kindness. . . . When
this discourse, which is at times of great length, is over, the
people rise, each places a leaf on or by the circle of stones, and
then they depart with signs of great joy. The lamb's skull is hung
on a tree near the stones, and its flesh is eaten by the poor. This
ceremony is observed on a small scale at other times. If a family is
in any great trouble, through illness or bereavement, their friends
and neighbours come together and a lamb is killed; this is thought
to avert further evil. The same custom prevails at the grave of
departed friends, and also on joyful occasions, such as the return
of a son home after a very prolonged absence." The sorrow thus
manifested by the people at the annual slaughter of the lamb seems
to show that the lamb slain is a sacred or divine animal, whose
death is mourned by his worshippers, just as the death of the sacred
buzzard was mourned by the Californians and the death of the Theban
ram by the Egyptians. The smearing each of the worshippers with the
blood of the lamb is a form of communion with the divinity; the
vehicle of the divine life is applied externally instead of being
taken internally, as when the blood is drunk or the flesh eaten.

2. Processions with Sacred Animals

THE FORM of communion in which the sacred animal is taken from house
to house, that all may enjoy a share of its divine influence, has
been exemplified by the Gilyak custom of promenading the bear
through the village before it is slain. A similar form of communion
with the sacred snake is observed by a Snake tribe in the Punjaub.
Once a year in the month of September the snake is worshipped by all
castes and religions for nine days only. At the end of August the
Mirasans, especially those of the Snake tribe, make a snake of dough
which they paint black and red, and place on a winnowing basket.
This basket they carry round the village, and on entering any house
they say: "God be with you all! May every ill be far! May our
patron's (Gugga's) word thrive!" Then they present the basket with
the snake, saying: "A small cake of flour: a little bit of butter:
if you obey the snake, you and yours shall thrive!" Strictly
speaking, a cake and butter should be given, but it is seldom done.
Every one, however, gives something, generally a handful of dough or
some corn. In houses where there is a new bride or whence a bride
has gone, or where a son has been born, it is usual to give a rupee
and a quarter, or some cloth. Sometimes the bearers of the snake
also sing:

"Give the snake a piece of cloth, and he will send a lively bride!"

When every house has been thus visited, the dough snake is buried
and a small grave is erected over it. Thither during the nine days
of September the women come to worship. They bring a basin of curds,
a small portion of which they offer at the snake's grave, kneeling
on the ground and touching the earth with their foreheads. Then they
go home and divide the rest of the curds among the children. Here
the dough snake is clearly a substitute for a real snake. Indeed, in
districts where snakes abound the worship is offered, not at the
grave of the dough snake, but in the jungles where snakes are known
to be. Besides this yearly worship, performed by all the people, the
members of the Snake tribe worship in the same way every morning
after a new moon. The Snake tribe is not uncommon in the Punjaub.
Members of it will not kill a snake, and they say that its bite does
not hurt them. If they find a dead snake, they put clothes on it and
give it a regular funeral.

Ceremonies closely analogous to this Indian worship of the snake
have survived in Europe into recent times, and doubtless date from a
very primitive paganism. The best-known example is the "hunting of
the wren." By many European peoples--the ancient Greeks and Romans,
the modern Italians, Spaniards, French, Germans, Dutch, Danes,
Swedes, English, and Welsh--the wren has been designated the king,
the little king, the king of birds, the hedge king, and so forth,
and has been reckoned amongst those birds which it is extremely
unlucky to kill. In England it is supposed that if any one kills a
wren or harries its nest, he will infallibly break a bone or meet
with some dreadful misfortune within the year; sometimes it is
thought that the cows will give bloody milk. In Scotland the wren is
called "the Lady of Heaven's hen," and boys say:

"Malisons, malisons, mair than ten,
That harry the Ladye of Heaven's hen!"

At Saint Donan, in Brittany, people believe that if children touch
the young wrens in the nest, they will suffer from the fire of St.
Lawrence, that is, from pimples on the face, legs, and so on. In
other parts of France it is thought that if a person kills a wren or
harries its nest, his house will be struck by lightning, or that the
fingers with which he did the deed will shrivel up and drop off, or
at least be maimed, or that his cattle will suffer in their feet.

Notwithstanding such beliefs, the custom of annually killing the
wren has prevailed widely both in this country and in France. In the
Isle of Man down to the eighteenth century the custom was observed
on Christmas Eve, or rather Christmas morning. On the twenty-fourth
of December, towards evening, all the servants got a holiday; they
did not go to bed all night, but rambled about till the bells rang
in all the churches at midnight. When prayers were over, they went
to hunt the wren, and having found one of these birds they killed it
and fastened it to the top of a long pole with its wings extended.
Thus they carried it in procession to every house chanting the
following rhyme:

"We hunted the wren for Robin the Bobbin,
We hunted the wren for Jack of the Can,
We hunted the wren for Robin the Bobbin,
We hunted the wren for every one."

When they had gone from house to house and collected all the money
they could, they laid the wren on a bier and carried it in
procession to the parish churchyard, where they made a grave and
buried it "with the utmost solemnity, singing dirges over her in the
Manks language, which they call her knell; after which Christmas
begins." The burial over, the company outside the churchyard formed
a circle and danced to music.

A writer of the eighteenth century says that in Ireland the wren "is
still hunted and killed by the peasants on Christmas Day, and on the
following (St. Stephen's Day) he is carried about, hung by the leg,
in the centre of two hoops, crossing each other at right angles, and
a procession made in every village, of men, women, and children,
singing an Irish catch, importing him to be the king of all birds."
Down to the present time the "hunting of the wren" still takes place
in parts of Leinster and Connaught. On Christmas Day or St.
Stephen's Day the boys hunt and kill the wren, fasten it in the
middle of a mass of holly and ivy on the top of a broomstick, and on
St. Stephen's Day go about with it from house to house, singing:

"The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze;
Although he is little, his family's great,
I pray you, good landlady, give us a treat."

Money or food (bread, butter, eggs, etc.) were given them, upon
which they feasted in the evening.

In the first half of the nineteenth century similar customs were
still observed in various parts of the south of France. Thus at
Carcassone, every year on the first Sunday of December the young
people of the street Saint Jean used to go out of the town armed
with sticks, with which they beat the bushes, looking for wrens. The
first to strike down one of these birds was proclaimed King. Then
they returned to the town in procession, headed by the King, who
carried the wren on a pole. On the evening of the last day of the
year the King and all who had hunted the wren marched through the
streets of the town to the light of torches, with drums beating and
fifes playing in front of them. At the door of every house they
stopped, and one of them wrote with chalk on the door _vive le roi!_
with the number of the year which was about to begin. On the morning
of Twelfth Day the King again marched in procession with great pomp,
wearing a crown and a blue mantle and carrying a sceptre. In front
of him was borne the wren fastened to the top of a pole, which was
adorned with a verdant wreath of olive, of oak, and sometimes of
mistletoe grown on an oak. After hearing high mass in the parish
church of St. Vincent, surrounded by his officers and guards, the
King visited the bishop, the mayor, the magistrates, and the chief
inhabitants, collecting money to defray the expenses of the royal
banquet which took place in the evening and wound up with a dance.

The parallelism between this custom of "hunting the wren" and some
of those which we have considered, especially the Gilyak procession
with the bear, and the Indian one with the snake, seems too close to
allow us to doubt that they all belong to the same circle of ideas.
The worshipful animal is killed with special solemnity once a year;
and before or immediately after death he is promenaded from door to
door, that each of his worshippers may receive a portion of the
divine virtues that are supposed to emanate from the dead or dying
god. Religious processions of this sort must have had a great place
in the ritual of European peoples in prehistoric times, if we may
judge from the numerous traces of them which have survived in
folk-custom. For example, on the last day of the year, or Hogmanay
as it was called, it used to be customary in the Highlands of
Scotland for a man to dress himself up in a cow's hide and thus
attired to go from house to house, attended by young fellows, each
of them armed with a staff, to which a bit of raw hide was tied.
Round every house the hide-clad man used to run thrice _deiseal,_
that is, according to the course of the sun, so as to keep the house
on his right hand; while the others pursued him, beating the hide
with their staves and thereby making a loud noise like the beating
of a drum. In this disorderly procession they also struck the walls
of the house. On being admitted, one of the party, standing within
the threshold, pronounced a blessing on the family in these words:
"May God bless the house and all that belongs to it, cattle, stones,
and timber! In plenty of meat, of bed and body clothes, and health
of men may it ever abound!" Then each of the party singed in the
fire a little bit of the hide which was tied to his staff; and
having done so he applied the singed hide to the nose of every
person and of every domestic animal belonging to the house. This was
imagined to secure them from diseases and other misfortunes,
particularly from witchcraft, throughout the ensuing year. The whole
ceremony was called _calluinn_ because of the great noise made in
beating the hide. It was observed in the Hebrides, including St.
Kilda, down to the second half of the eighteenth century at least,
and it seems to have survived well into the nineteenth century.

LV. The Transference of Evil

1. The Transference to Inanimate Objects

WE have now traced the practice of killing a god among peoples in
the hunting, pastoral, and agricultural stages of society; and I
have attempted to explain the motives which led men to adopt so
curious a custom. One aspect of the custom still remains to be
noticed. The accumulated misfortunes and sins of the whole people
are sometimes laid upon the dying god, who is supposed to bear them
away for ever, leaving the people innocent and happy. The notion
that we can transfer our guilt and sufferings to some other being
who will bear them for us is familiar to the savage mind. It arises
from a very obvious confusion between the physical and the mental,
between the material and the immaterial. Because it is possible to
shift a load of wood, stones, or what not, from our own back to the
back of another, the savage fancies that it is equally possible to
shift the burden of his pains and sorrows to another, who will
suffer them in his stead. Upon this idea he acts, and the result is
an endless number of very unamiable devices for palming off upon
some one else the trouble which a man shrinks from bearing himself.
In short, the principle of vicarious suffering is commonly
understood and practised by races who stand on a low level of social
and intellectual culture. In the following pages I shall illustrate
the theory and the practice as they are found among savages in all
their naked simplicity, undisguised by the refinements of
metaphysics and the subtleties of theology.

The devices to which the cunning and selfish savage resorts for the
sake of easing himself at the expense of his neighbour are manifold;
only a few typical examples out of a multitude can be cited. At the
outset it is to be observed that the evil of which a man seeks to
rid himself need not be transferred to a person; it may equally well
be transferred to an animal or a thing, though in the last case the
thing is often only a vehicle to convey the trouble to the first
person who touches it. In some of the East Indian islands they think
that epilepsy can be cured by striking the patient on the face with
the leaves of certain trees and then throwing them away. The disease
is believed to have passed into the leaves, and to have been thrown
away with them. To cure toothache some of the Australian blacks
apply a heated spear-thrower to the cheek. The spear-thrower is then
cast away, and the toothache goes with it in the shape of a black
stone called _karriitch._ Stones of this kind are found in old
mounds and sandhills. They are carefully collected and thrown in the
direction of enemies in order to give them toothache. The Bahima, a
pastoral people of Uganda, often suffer from deep-seated abscesses:
"their cure for this is to transfer the disease to some other person
by obtaining herbs from the medicine-man, rubbing them over the
place where the swelling is, and burying them in the road where
people continually pass; the first person who steps over these
buried herbs contracts the disease, and the original patient

Sometimes in case of sickness the malady is transferred to an effigy
as a preliminary to passing it on to a human being. Thus among the
Baganda the medicine-man would sometimes make a model of his patient
in clay; then a relative of the sick man would rub the image over
the sufferer's body and either bury it in the road \??\ it in the
grass by the wayside. The first person who stepped over the image or
passed by it would catch the disease. Sometimes the effigy was made
out of a plantain-flower tied up so as to look like a person; it was
used in the same way as the clay figure. But the use of images for
this maleficent purpose was a capital crime; any person caught in
the act of burying one of them in the public road would surely have
been put to death.

In the western district of the island of Timor, when men or women
are making long and tiring journeys, they fan themselves with leafy
branches, which they afterwards throw away on particular spots where
their forefathers did the same before them. The fatigue which they
felt is thus supposed to have passed into the leaves and to be left
behind. Others use stones instead of leaves. Similarly in the Babar
Archipelago tired people will strike themselves with stones,
believing that they thus transfer to the stones the weariness which
they felt in their own bodies. They then throw away the stones in
places which are specially set apart for the purpose. A like belief
and practice in many distant parts of the world have given rise to
those cairns or heaps of sticks and leaves which travellers often
observe beside the path, and to which every passing native adds his
contribution in the shape of a stone, or stick, or leaf. Thus in the
Solomon and Banks' Islands the natives are wont to throw sticks,
stones, or leaves upon a heap at a place of steep descent, or where
a difficult path begins, saying, "There goes my fatigue." The act is
not a religious rite, for the thing thrown on the heap is not an
offering to spiritual powers, and the words which accompany the act
are not a prayer. It is nothing but a magical ceremony for getting
rid of fatigue, which the simple savage fancies he can embody in a
stick, leaf, or stone, and so cast it from him.

2. The Transference to Animals

ANIMALS are often employed as a vehicle for carrying away or
transferring the evil. When a Moor has a headache he will sometimes
take a lamb or a goat and beat it till it falls down, believing that
the headache will thus be transferred to the animal. In Morocco most
wealthy Moors keep a wild boar in their stables, in order that the
jinn and evil spirits may be diverted from the horses and enter into
the boar. Amongst the Caffres of South Africa, when other remedies
have failed, "natives sometimes adopt the custom of taking a goat
into the presence of a sick man, and confess the sins of the kraal
over the animal. Sometimes a few drops of blood from the sick man
are allowed to fall on the head of the goat, which is turned out
into an uninhabited part of the veldt. The sickness is supposed to
be transferred to the animal, and to become lost in the desert." In
Arabia, when the plague is raging, the people will sometimes lead a
camel through all the quarters of the town in order that the animal
may take the pestilence on itself. Then they strangle it in a sacred
place and imagine that they have rid themselves of the camel and of
the plague at one blow. It is said that when smallpox is raging the
savages of Formosa will drive the demon of disease into a sow, then
cut off the animal's ears and burn them or it, believing that in
this way they rid themselves of the plague.

Amongst the Malagasy the vehicle for carrying away evils is called a
_faditra._ "The faditra is anything selected by the sikidy [divining
board] for the purpose of taking away any hurtful evils or diseases
that might prove injurious to an individual's happiness, peace, or
prosperity. The faditra may be either ashes, cut money, a sheep, a
pumpkin, or anything else the sikidy may choose to direct. After the
particular article is appointed, the priest counts upon it all the
evils that may prove injurious to the person for whom it is made,
and which he then charges the faditra to take away for ever. If the
faditra be ashes, it is blown, to be carried away by the wind. If it
be cut money, it is thrown to the bottom of deep water, or where it
can never be found. If it be a sheep, it is carried away to a
distance on the shoulders of a man, who runs with all his might,
mumbling as he goes, as if in the greatest rage against the faditra,
for the evils it is bearing away. If it be a pumpkin, it is carried
on the shoulders to a little distance, and there dashed upon the
ground with every appearance of fury and indignation." A Malagasy
was informed by a diviner that he was doomed to a bloody death, but
that possibly he might avert his fate by performing a certain rite.
Carrying a small vessel full of blood upon his head, he was to mount
upon the back of a bullock; while thus mounted, he was to spill the
blood upon the bullock's head, and then send the animal away into
the wilderness, whence it might never return.

The Bataks of Sumatra have a ceremony which they call "making the
curse to fly away." When a woman is childless, a sacrifice is
offered to the gods of three grasshoppers, representing a head of
cattle, a buffalo, and a horse. Then a swallow is set free, with a
prayer that the curse may fall upon the bird and fly away with it.
"The entrance into a house of an animal which does not generally
seek to share the abode of man is regarded by the Malays as ominous
of misfortune. If a wild bird flies into a house, it must be
carefully caught and smeared with oil, and must then be released in
the open air, a formula being recited in which it is bidden to fly
away with all the ill-luck and misfortunes of the occupier." In
antiquity Greek women seem to have done the same with swallows which
they caught in the house: they poured oil on them and let them fly
away, apparently for the purpose of removing ill-luck from the
household. The Huzuls of the Carpathians imagine that they can
transfer freckles to the first swallow they see in spring by washing
their face in flowing water and saying, "Swallow, swallow, take my
freckles, and give me rosy cheeks."

Among the Badagas of the Neilgherry Hills in Southern India, when a
death has taken place, the sins of the deceased are laid upon a
buffalo calf. For this purpose the people gather round the corpse
and carry it outside of the village. There an elder of the tribe,
standing at the head of the corpse, recites or chants a long list of
sins such as any Badaga may commit, and the people repeat the last
word of each line after him. The confession of sins is thrice
repeated. "By a conventional mode of expression, the sum total of
sins a man may do is said to be thirteen hundred. Admitting that the
deceased has committed them all, the performer cries aloud, 'Stay
not their flight to God's pure feet.' As he closes, the whole
assembly chants aloud 'Stay not their flight.' Again the performer
enters into details, and cries, 'He killed the crawling snake. It is
a sin.' In a moment the last word is caught up, and all the people
cry 'It is a sin.' As they shout, the performer lays his hand upon
the calf. The sin is transferred to the calf. Thus the whole
catalogue is gone through in this impressive way. But this is not
enough. As the last shout 'Let all be well' dies away, the performer
gives place to another, and again confession is made, and all the
people shout 'It is a sin.' A third time it is done. Then, still in
solemn silence, the calf is let loose. Like the Jewish scapegoat, it
may never be used for secular work." At a Badaga funeral witnessed
by the Rev. A. C. Clayton the buffalo calf was led thrice round the
bier, and the dead man's hand was laid on its head. "By this act,
the calf was supposed to receive all the sins of the deceased. It
was then driven away to a great distance, that it might contaminate
no one, and it was said that it would never be sold, but looked on
as a dedicated sacred animal." The idea of this ceremony is, that
the sins of the deceased enter the calf, or that the task of his
absolution is laid on it. They say that the calf very soon
disappears, and that it is never heard of."

3. The Transference to Men

AGAIN, men sometimes play the part of scapegoat by diverting to
themselves the evils that threaten others. When a Cingalese is
dangerously ill, and the physicians can do nothing, a devil-dancer
is called in, who by making offerings to the devils, and dancing in
the masks appropriate to them, conjures these demons of disease, one
after the other, out of the sick man's body and into his own. Having
thus successfully extracted the cause of the malady, the artful
dancer lies down on a bier, and shamming death is carried to an open
place outside the village. Here, being left to himself, he soon
comes to life again, and hastens back to claim his reward. In 1590 a
Scotch which of the name of Agnes Sampson was convicted of curing a
certain Robert Kers of a disease "laid upon him by a westland
warlock when he was at Dumfries, whilk sickness she took upon
herself, and kept the same with great groaning and torment till the
morn, at whilk time there was a great din heard in the house." The
noise was made by the witch in her efforts to shift the disease, by
means of clothes, from herself to a cat or dog. Unfortunately the
attempt partly miscarried. The disease missed the animal and hit
Alexander Douglas of Dalkeith, who dwined and died of it, while the
original patient, Robert Kers, was made whole.

"In one part of New Zealand an expiation for sin was felt to be
necessary; a service was performed over an individual, by which all
the sins of the tribe were supposed to be transferred to him, a fern
stalk was previously tied to his person, with which he jumped into
the river, and there unbinding, allowed it to float away to the sea,
bearing their sins with it." In great emergencies the sins of the
Rajah of Manipur used to be transferred to somebody else, usually to
a criminal, who earned his pardon by his vicarious sufferings. To
effect the transference the Rajah and his wife, clad in fine robes,
bathed on a scaffold erected in the bazaar, while the criminal
crouched beneath it. With the water which dripped from them on him
their sins also were washed away and fell on the human scapegoat. To
complete the transference the Rajah and his wife made over their
fine robes to their substitute, while they themselves, clad in new
raiment, mixed with the people till evening. In Travancore, when a
Rajah is near his end, they seek out a holy Brahman, who consents to
take upon himself the sins of the dying man in consideration of the
sum of ten thousand rupees. Thus prepared to immolate himself on the
altar of duty, the saint is introduced into the chamber of death,
and closely embraces the dying Rajah, saying to him, "O King, I
undertake to bear all your sins and diseases. May your Highness live
long and reign happily." Having thus taken to himself the sins of
the sufferer, he is sent away from the country and never more
allowed to return. At Utch Kurgan in Turkestan Mr. Schuyler saw an
old man who was said to get his living by taking on himself the sins
of the dead, and thenceforth devoting his life to prayer for their

In Uganda, when an army had returned from war, and the gods warned
the king by their oracles that some evil had attached itself to the
soldiers, it was customary to pick out a woman slave from the
captives, together with a cow, a goat, a fowl, and a dog from the
booty, and to send them back under a strong guard to the borders of
the country from which they had come. There their limbs were broken
and they were left to die; for they were too crippled to crawl back
to Uganda. In order to ensure the transference of the evil to these
substitutes, bunches of grass were rubbed over the people and cattle
and then tied to the victims. After that the army was pronounced
clean and was allowed to return to the capital. So on his accession
a new king of Uganda used to wound a man and send him away as a
scapegoat to Bunyoro to carry away any uncleanliness that might
attach to the king or queen.

4. The Transference of Evil in Europe

THE EXAMPLES of the transference of evil hitherto adduced have been
mostly drawn from the customs of savage or barbarous peoples. But
similar attempts to shift the burden of disease, misfortune, and sin
from one's self to another person, or to an animal or thing, have
been common also among the civilised nations of Europe, both in
ancient and modern times. A Roman cure for fever was to pare the
patient's nails, and stick the parings with wax on a neighbour's
door before sunrise; the fever then passed from the sick man to his
neighbour. Similar devices must have been resorted to by the Greeks;
for in laying down laws for his ideal state, Plato thinks it too
much to expect that men should not be alarmed at finding certain wax
figures adhering to their doors or to the tombstones of their
parents, or lying at cross-roads. In the fourth century of our era
Marcellus of Bordeaux prescribed a cure for warts, which has still a
great vogue among the superstitious in various parts of Europe. You
are to touch your warts with as many little stones as you have
warts; then wrap the stones in an ivy leaf, and throw them away in a
thoroughfare. Whoever picks them up will get the warts, and you will
be rid of them. People in the Orkney Islands will sometimes wash a
sick man, and then throw the water down at a gateway, in the belief
that the sickness will leave the patient and be transferred to the
first person who passes through the gate. A Bavarian cure for fever
is to write upon a piece of paper, "Fever, stay away, I am not at
home," and to put the paper in somebody's pocket. The latter then
catches the fever, and the patient is rid of it. A Bohemian
prescription for the same malady is this. Take an empty pot, go with
it to a cross-road, throw it down, and run away. The first person
who kicks against the pot will catch your fever, and you will be

Often in Europe, as among savages, an attempt is made to transfer a
pain or malady from a man to an animal. Grave writers of antiquity
recommended that, if a man be stung by a scorpion, he should sit
upon an ass with his face to the tail, or whisper in the animal's
ear, "A scorpion has stung me"; in either case, they thought, the
pain would be transferred from the man to the ass. Many cures of
this sort are recorded by Marcellus. For example, he tells us that
the following is a remedy for toothache. Standing booted under the
open sky on the ground, you catch a frog by the head, spit into its
mouth, ask it to carry away the ache, and then let it go. But the
ceremony must be performed on a lucky day and at a lucky hour. In
Cheshire the ailment known as aphtha or thrush, which affects the
mouth or throat of infants, is not uncommonly treated in much the
same manner. A young frog is held for a few moments with its head
inside the mouth of the sufferer, whom it is supposed to relieve by
taking the malady to itself. "I assure you," said an old woman who
had often superintended such a cure, "we used to hear the poor frog
whooping and coughing, mortal bad, for days after; it would have
made your heart ache to hear the poor creature coughing as it did
about the garden." A Northamptonshire, Devonshire, and Welsh cure
for a cough is to put a hair of the patient's head between two
slices of buttered bread and give the sandwich to a dog. The animal
will thereupon catch the cough and the patient will lose it.
Sometimes an ailment is transferred to an animal by sharing food
with it. Thus in Oldenburg, if you are sick of a fever you set a
bowl of sweet milk before a dog and say, "Good luck, you hound! may
you be sick and I be sound!" Then when the dog has lapped some of
the milk, you take a swig at the bowl; and then the dog must lap
again, and then you must swig again; and when you and the dog have
done it the third time, he will have the fever and you will be quit
of it.

A Bohemian cure for fever is to go out into the forest before the
sun is up and look for a snipe's nest. When you have found it, take
out one of the young birds and keep it beside you for three days.
Then go back into the wood and set the snipe free. The fever will
leave you at once. The snipe has taken it away. So in Vedic times
the Hindoos of old sent consumption away with a blue jay. They said,
"O consumption, fly away, fly away with the blue jay! With the wild
rush of the storm and the whirlwind, oh, vanish away!" In the
village of Llandegla in Wales there is a church dedicated to the
virgin martyr St. Tecla, where the falling sickness is, or used to
be, cured by being transferred to a fowl. The patient first washed
his limbs in a sacred well hard by, dropped fourpence into it as an
offering, walked thrice round the well, and thrice repeated the
Lord's prayer. Then the fowl, which was a cock or a hen according as
the patient was a man or a woman, was put into a basket and carried
round first the well and afterwards the church. Next the sufferer
entered the church and lay down under the communion table till break
of day. After that he offered sixpence and departed, leaving the
fowl in the church. If the bird died, the sickness was supposed to
have been transferred to it from the man or woman, who was now rid
of the disorder. As late as 1855 the old parish clerk of the village
remembered quite well to have seen the birds staggering about from
the effects of the fits which had been transferred to them.

Often the sufferer seeks to shift his burden of sickness or ill-luck
to some inanimate object. In Athens there is a little chapel of St.
John the Baptist built against an ancient column. Fever patients
resort thither, and by attaching a waxed thread to the inner side of
the column believe that they transfer the fever from themselves to
the pillar. In the Mark of Brandenburg they say that if you suffer
from giddiness you should strip yourself naked and run thrice round
a flax-field after sunset; in that way the flax will get the
giddiness and you will be rid of it.

But perhaps the thing most commonly employed in Europe as a
receptacle for sickness and trouble of all sorts is a tree or bush.
A Bulgarian cure for fever is to run thrice around a willow-tree at
sunrise, crying, "The fever shall shake thee, and the sun shall warm
me." In the Greek island of Karpathos the priest ties a red thread
round the neck of a sick person. Next morning the friends of the
patient remove the thread and go out to the hillside, where they tie
the thread to a tree, thinking that they thus transfer the sickness
to the tree. Italians attempt to cure fever in like manner by
tethering it to a tree The sufferer ties a thread round his left
wrist at night, and hangs the thread on a tree next morning. The
fever is thus believed to be tied up to the tree, and the patient to
be rid of it; but he must be careful not to pass by that tree again,
otherwise the fever would break loose from its bonds and attack him
afresh. A Flemish cure for the ague is to go early in the morning to
an old willow, tie three knots in one of its branches, say,
"Good-morrow, Old One, I give thee the cold; good-morrow, Old One,"
then turn and run away without looking round. In Sonnenberg, if you
would rid yourself of gout you should go to a young fir-tree and tie
a knot in one of its twigs, saying, "God greet thee, noble fir. I
bring thee my gout. Here will I tie a knot and bind my gout into it.
In the name," etc.

Another way of transferring gout from a man to a tree is this. Pare
the nails of the sufferer's fingers and clip some hairs from his
legs. Bore a hole in an oak, stuff the nails and hair in the hole,
stop up the hole again, and smear it with cow's dung. If, for three
months thereafter, the patient is free of gout, you may be sure the
oak has it in his stead. In Cheshire if you would be rid of warts,
you have only to rub them with a piece of bacon, cut a slit in the
bark of an ash-tree, and slip the bacon under the bark. Soon the
warts will disappear from your hand, only however to reappear in the
shape of rough excrescences or knobs on the bark of the tree. At
Berkhampstead, in Hertfordshire, there used to be certain oak-trees
which were long celebrated for the cure of ague. The transference of
the malady to the tree was simple but painful. A lock of the
sufferer's hair was pegged into an oak; then by a sudden wrench he
left his hair and his ague behind him in the tree.

LVI. The Public Expulsion of Evils

1. The Omnipresence of Demons

IN THE FOREGOING chapter the primitive principle of the transference
of ills to another person, animal, or thing was explained and
illustrated. But similar means have been adopted to free a whole
community from diverse evils that afflict it. Such attempts to
dismiss at once the accumulated sorrows of a people are by no means
rare or exceptional; on the contrary they have been made in many
lands, and from being occasional they tend to become periodic and

It needs some effort on our part to realise the frame of mind which
prompts these attempts. Bred in a philosophy which strips nature of
personality and reduces it to the unknown cause of an orderly series
of impressions on our senses, we find it hard to put ourselves in
the place of the savage, to whom the same impressions appear in the
guise of spirits or the handiwork of spirits. For ages the army of
spirits, once so near, has been receding farther and farther from
us, banished by the magic wand of science from hearth and home, from
ruined cell and ivied tower, from haunted glade and lonely mere,
from the riven murky cloud that belches forth the lightning, and
from those fairer clouds that pillow the silvery moon or fret with
flakes of burning red the golden eve. The spirits are gone even from
their last stronghold in the sky, whose blue arch no longer passes,
except with children, for the screen that hides from mortal eyes the
glories of the celestial world. Only in poets' dreams or impassioned
flights of oratory is it given to catch a glimpse of the last
flutter of the standards of the retreating host, to hear the beat of
their invisible wings, the sound of their mocking laughter, or the
swell of angel music dying away in the distance. Far otherwise is it
with the savage. To his imagination the world still teems with those
motley beings whom a more sober philosophy has discarded. Fairies
and goblins, ghosts and demons, still hover about him both waking
and sleeping. They dog his footsteps, dazzle his senses, enter into
him, harass and deceive and torment him in a thousand freakish and
mischievous ways. The mishaps that befall him, the losses he
sustains, the pains he has to endure, he commonly sets down, if not
to the magic of his enemies, to the spite or anger or caprice of the
spirits. Their constant presence wearies him, their sleepless
malignity exasperates him; he longs with an unspeakable longing to
be rid of them altogether, and from time to time, driven to bay, his
patience utterly exhausted, he turns fiercely on his persecutors and
makes a desperate effort to chase the whole pack of them from the
land, to clear the air of their swarming multitudes, that he may
breathe more freely and go on his way unmolested, at least for a
time. Thus it comes about that the endeavour of primitive people to
make a clean sweep of all their troubles generally takes the form of
a grand hunting out and expulsion of devils or ghosts. They think
that if they can only shake off these their accursed tormentors,
they will make a fresh start in life, happy and innocent; the tales
of Eden and the old poetic golden age will come true again.

2. The Occasional Expulsion of Evils

WE can therefore understand why those general clearances of evil, to
which from time to time the savage resorts, should commonly take the
form of a forcible expulsion of devils. In these evil spirits
primitive man sees the cause of many if not of most of his troubles,
and he fancies that if he can only deliver himself from them, things
will go better with him. The public attempts to expel the
accumulated ills of a whole community may be divided into two
classes, according as the expelled evils are immaterial and
invisible or are embodied in a material vehicle or scape-goat. The
former may be called the direct or immediate expulsion of evils; the
latter the indirect or mediate expulsion, or the expulsion by
scapegoat. We begin with examples of the former.

In the island of Rook, between New Guinea and New Britain, when any
misfortune has happened, all the people run together, scream, curse,
howl, and beat the air with sticks to drive away the devil, who is
supposed to be the author of the mishap. From the spot where the
mishap took place they drive him step by step to the sea, and on
reaching the shore they redouble their shouts and blows in order to
expel him from the island. He generally retires to the sea or to the
island of Lottin. The natives of New Britain ascribe sickness,
drought, the failure of crops, and in short all misfortunes, to the
influence of wicked spirits. So at times when many people sicken and
die, as at the beginning of the rainy season, all the inhabitants of
a district, armed with branches and clubs, go out by moonlight to
the fields, where they beat and stamp on the ground with wild howls
till morning, believing that this drives away the devils; and for
the same purpose they rush through the village with burning torches.
The natives of New Caledonia are said to believe that all evils are
caused by a powerful and malignant spirit; hence in order to rid
themselves of him they will from time to time dig a great pit, round
which the whole tribe gathers. After cursing the demon, they fill up
the pit with earth, and trample on the top with loud shouts. This
they call burying the evil spirit. Among the Dieri tribe of Central
Australia, when a serious illness occurs, the medicine-men expel
Cootchie or the devil by beating the ground in and outside of the
camp with the stuffed tail of a kangaroo, until they have chased the
demon away to some distance from the camp.

When a village has been visited by a series of disasters or a severe
epidemic, the inhabitants of Minahassa in Celebes lay the blame upon
the devils who are infesting the village and who must be expelled
from it. Accordingly, early one morning all the people, men, women,
and children, quit their homes, carrying their household goods with
them, and take up their quarters in temporary huts which have been
erected outside the village. Here they spend several days, offering
sacrifices and preparing for the final ceremony. At last the men,
some wearing masks, others with their faces blackened, and so on,
but all armed with swords, guns, pikes, or brooms, steal cautiously
and silently back to the deserted village. Then, at a signal from
the priest, they rush furiously up and down the streets and into and
under the houses (which are raised on piles above the ground),
yelling and striking on walls, doors, and windows, to drive away the
devils. Next, the priests and the rest of the people come with the
holy fire and march nine times round each house and thrice round the
ladder that leads up to it, carrying the fire with them. Then they
take the fire into the kitchen, where it must burn for three days
continuously. The devils are now driven away, and great and general
is the joy.

The Alfoors of Halmahera attribute epidemics to the devil who comes
from other villages to carry them off. So, in order to rid the
village of the disease, the sorcerer drives away the devil. From all
the villagers he receives a costly garment and places it on four
vessels, which he takes to the forest and leaves at the spot where
the devil is supposed to be. Then with mocking words he bids the
demon abandon the place. In the Kei Islands to the south-west of New
Guinea, the evil spirits, who are quite distinct from the souls of
the dead, form a mighty host. Almost every tree and every cave is
the lodging-place of one of these fiends, who are moreover extremely
irascible and apt to fly out on the smallest provocation. They
manifest their displeasure by sending sickness and other calamities.
Hence in times of public misfortune, as when an epidemic is raging,
and all other remedies have failed, the whole population go forth
with the priest at their head to a place at some distance from the
village. Here at sunset they erect a couple of poles with a
cross-bar between them, to which they attach bags of rice, wooden
models of pivot-guns, gongs, bracelets, and so on. Then, when
everybody has taken his place at the poles and a death-like silence
reigns, the priest lifts up his voice and addresses the spirits in
their own language as follows: "Ho! ho! ho! ye evil spirits who
dwell in the trees, ye evil spirits who live in the grottoes, ye
evil spirits who lodge in the earth, we give you these pivot-guns,
these gongs, etc. Let the sickness cease and not so many people die
of it." Then everybody runs home as fast as their legs can carry

In the island of Nias, when a man is seriously ill and other
remedies have been tried in vain, the sorcerer proceeds to exorcise
the devil who is causing the illness. A pole is set up in front of
the house, and from the top of the pole a rope of palm-leaves is
stretched to the roof of the house. Then the sorcerer mounts the
roof with a pig, which he kills and allows to roll from the roof to
the ground. The devil, anxious to get the pig, lets himself down
hastily from the roof by the rope of palm-leaves, and a good spirit,
invoked by the sorcerer, prevents him from climbing up again. If
this remedy fails, it is believed that other devils must still be
lurking in the house. So a general hunt is made after them. All the
doors and windows in the house are closed, except a single
dormer-window in the roof. The men, shut up in the house, hew and
slash with their swords right and left to the clash of gongs and the
rub-a-dub of drums. Terrified at this onslaught, the devils escape
by the dormer-window, and sliding down the rope of palm-leaves take
themselves off. As all the doors and windows, except the one in the
roof, are shut, the devils cannot get into the house again. In the
case of an epidemic, the proceedings are similar. All the gates of
the village, except one, are closed; every voice is raised, every
gong and drum beaten, every sword brandished. Thus the devils are
driven out and the last gate is shut behind them. For eight days
thereafter the village is in a state of siege, no one being allowed
to enter it.

When cholera has broken out in a Burmese village the able-bodied men
scramble on the roofs and lay about them with bamboos and billets of
wood, while all the rest of the population, old and young, stand
below and thump drums, blow trumpets, yell, scream, beat floors,
walls, tin pans, everything to make a din. This uproar, repeated on
three successive nights, is thought to be very effective in driving
away the cholera demons. When smallpox first appeared amongst the
Kumis of South-Eastern India, they thought it was a devil come from
Aracan. The villages were placed in a state of siege, no one being
allowed to leave or enter them. A monkey was killed by being dashed
on the ground, and its body was hung at the village gate. Its blood,
mixed with small river pebbles, was sprinkled on the houses, the
threshold of every house was swept with the monkey's tail, and the
fiend was adjured to depart.

When an epidemic is raging on the Gold Coast of West Africa, the
people will sometimes turn out, armed with clubs and torches, to
drive the evil spirits away. At a given signal the whole population
begin with frightful yells to beat in every corner of the houses,
then rush like mad into the streets waving torches and striking
frantically in the empty air. The uproar goes on till somebody
reports that the cowed and daunted demons have made good their
escape by a gate of the town or village; the people stream out after
them, pursue them for some distance into the forest, and warn them
never to return. The expulsion of the devils is followed by a
general massacre of all the cocks in the village or town, lest by
their unseasonable crowing they should betray to the banished demons
the direction they must take to return to their old homes. When
sickness was prevalent in a Huron village, and all other remedies
had been tried in vain, the Indians had recourse to the ceremony
called _Lonouyroya,_ "which is the principal invention and most
proper means, so they say, to expel from the town or village the
devils and evil spirits which cause, induce, and import all the
maladies and infirmities which they suffer in body and mind."
Accordingly, one evening the men would begin to rush like madmen
about the village, breaking and upsetting whatever they came across
in the wigwams. They threw fire and burning brands about the
streets, and all night long they ran howling and singing without
cessation. Then they all dreamed of something, a knife, dog, skin,
or whatever it might be, and when morning came they went from wigwam
to wigwam asking for presents. These they received silently, till
the particular thing was given them which they had dreamed about. On
receiving it they uttered a cry of joy and rushed from the hut, amid
the congratulations of all present. The health of those who received
what they had dreamed of was believed to be assured; whereas those
who did not get what they had set their hearts upon regarded their
fate as sealed.

Sometimes, instead of chasing the demon of disease from their homes,
savages prefer to leave him in peaceable possession, while they
themselves take to flight and attempt to prevent him from following
in their tracks. Thus when the Patagonians were attacked by
small-pox, which they attributed to the machinations of an evil
spirit, they used to abandon their sick and flee, slashing the air
with their weapons and throwing water about in order to keep off the
dreadful pursuer; and when after several days' march they reached a
place where they hoped to be beyond his reach, they used by way of
precaution to plant all their cutting weapons with the sharp edges
turned towards the quarter from which they had come, as if they were
repelling a charge of cavalry. Similarly, when the Lules or
Tonocotes Indians of the Gran Chaco were attacked by an epidemic,
they regularly sought to evade it by flight, but in so doing they
always followed a sinuous, not a straight, course; because they said
that when the disease made after them he would be so exhausted by
the turnings and windings of the route that he would never be able
to come up with them. When the Indians of New Mexico were decimated
by smallpox or other infectious disease, they used to shift their
quarters every day, retreating into the most sequestered parts of
the mountains and choosing the thorniest thickets they could find,
in the hope that the smallpox would be too afraid of scratching
himself on the thorns to follow them. When some Chins on a visit to
Rangoon were attacked by cholera, they went about with drawn swords
to scare away the demon, and they spent the day hiding under bushes
so that he might not be able to find them.

3. The Periodic Expulsion of Evils

THE EXPULSION of evils, from being occasional, tends to become
periodic. It comes to be thought desirable to have a general
riddance of evil spirits at fixed times, usually once a year, in
order that the people may make a fresh start in life, freed from all
the malignant influences which have been long accumulating about
them. Some of the Australian blacks annually expelled the ghosts of
the dead from their territory. The ceremony was witnessed by the
Rev. W. Ridley on the banks of the River Barwan. "A chorus of
twenty, old and young, were singing and beating time with
boomerangs. . . . Suddenly, from under a sheet of bark darted a man
with his body whitened by pipeclay, his head and face coloured with
lines of red and yellow, and a tuft of feathers fixed by means of a
stick two feet above the crown of his head. He stood twenty minutes
perfectly still, gazing upwards. An aboriginal who stood by told me
he was looking for the ghosts of dead men. At last he began to move
very slowly, and soon rushed to and fro at full speed, flourishing a
branch as if to drive away some foes invisible to us. When I thought
this pantomime must be almost over, ten more, similarly adorned,
suddenly appeared from behind the trees, and the whole party joined
in a brisk conflict with their mysterious assailants. . . . At last,
after some rapid evolutions in which they put forth all their
strength, they rested from the exciting toil which they had kept up
all night and for some hours after sunrise; they seemed satisfied
that the ghosts were driven away for twelve months. They were
performing the same ceremony at every station along the river, and I
am told it is an annual custom."

Certain seasons of the year mark themselves naturally out as
appropriate moments for a general expulsion of devils. Such a moment
occurs towards the close of an Arctic winter, when the sun reappears
on the horizon after an absence of weeks or months. Accordingly, at
Point Barrow, the most northerly extremity of Alaska, and nearly of
America, the Esquimaux choose the moment of the sun's reappearance
to hunt the mischievous spirit Tuña from every house. The ceremony
was witnessed by the members of the United States Polar Expedition,
who wintered at Point Barrow. A fire was built in front of the
council-house, and an old woman was posted at the entrance to every
house. The men gathered round the council-house while the young
women and girls drove the spirit out of every house with their
knives, stabbing viciously under the bunk and deer-skins, and
calling upon Tuña to be gone. When they thought he had been driven
out of every hole and corner, they thrust him down through the hole
in the floor and chased him into the open air with loud cries and
frantic gestures. Meanwhile the old woman at the entrance of the
house made passes with a long knife in the air to keep him from
returning. Each party drove the spirit towards the fire and invited
him to go into it. All were by this time drawn up in a semicircle
round the fire, when several of the leading men made specific
charges against the spirit; and each after his speech brushed his
clothes violently, calling on the spirit to leave him and go into
the fire. Two men now stepped forward with rifles loaded with blank
cartridges, while a third brought a vessel of urine and flung it on
the flames. At the same time one of the men fired a shot into the
fire; and as the cloud of steam rose it received the other shot,
which was supposed to finish Tunña for the time being.

In late autumn, when storms rage over the land and break the icy
fetters by which the frozen sea is as yet but slightly bound, when
the loosened floes are driven against each other and break with loud
crashes, and when the cakes of ice are piled in wild disorder one
upon another, the Esquimaux of Baffin Land fancy they hear the
voices of the spirits who people the mischief-laden air. Then the
ghosts of the dead knock wildly at the huts, which they cannot
enter, and woe to the hapless wight whom they catch; he soon sickens
and dies. Then the phantom of a huge hairless dog pursues the real
dogs, which expire in convulsions and cramps at sight of him. All
the countless spirits of evil are abroad striving to bring sickness
and death, foul weather and failure in hunting on the Esquimaux.
Most dreaded of all these spectral visitants are Sedna, mistress of
the nether world, and her father, to whose share dead Esquimaux
fall. While the other spirits fill the air and the water, she rises
from under ground. It is then a busy season for the wizards. In
every house you may hear them singing and praying, while they
conjure the spirits, seated in a mystic gloom at the back of the
hut, which is dimly lit by a lamp burning low. The hardest task of
all is to drive away Sedna, and this is reserved for the most
powerful enchanter. A rope is coiled on the floor of a large hut in
such a way as to leave a small opening at the top, which represents
the breathing hole of a seal. Two enchanters stand beside it, one of
them grasping a spear as if he were watching a seal-hole in winter,
the other holding the harpoon-line. A third sorcerer sits at the
back of the hut chanting a magic song to lure Sedna to the spot. Now
she is heard approaching under the floor of the hut, breathing
heavily; now she emerges at the hole; now she is harpooned and sinks
away in angry haste, dragging the harpoon with her, while the two
men hold on to the line with all their might. The struggle is
severe, but at last by a desperate wrench she tears herself away and
returns to her dwelling in Adlivun. When the harpoon is drawn up out
of the hole it is found to be splashed with blood, which the
enchanters proudly exhibit as a proof of their prowess. Thus Sedna
and the other evil spirits are at last driven away, and next day a
great festival is celebrated by old and young in honour of the
event. But they must still be cautious, for the wounded Sedna is
furious and will seize any one she may find outside of his hut; so
they all wear amulets on the top of their hoods to protect
themselves against her. These amulets consist of pieces of the first
garments that they wore after birth.

The Iroquois inaugurated the new year in January, February, or March
(the time varied) with a "festival of dreams" like that which the
Hurons observed on special occasions. The whole ceremonies lasted
several days, or even weeks, and formed a kind of saturnalia. Men
and women, variously disguised, went from wigwam to wigwam smashing
and throwing down whatever they came across. It was a time of
general license; the people were supposed to be out of their senses,
and therefore not to be responsible for what they did. Accordingly,
many seized the opportunity of paying off old scores by belabouring
obnoxious persons, drenching them with ice-cold water, and covering
them with filth or hot ashes. Others seized burning brands or coals
and flung them at the heads of the first persons they met. The only
way of escaping from these persecutors was to guess what they had
dreamed of. On one day of the festival the ceremony of driving away
evil spirits from the village took place. Men clothed in the skins
of wild beasts, their faces covered with hideous masks, and their
hands with the shell of the tortoise, went from hut to hut making
frightful noises; in every hut they took the fuel from the fire and
scattered the embers and ashes about the floor with their hands. The
general confession of sins which preceded the festival was probably
a preparation for the public expulsion of evil influences; it was a
way of stripping the people of their moral burdens, that these might
be collected and cast out.

In September the Incas of Peru celebrated a festival called Situa,
the object of which was to banish from the capital and its vicinity
all disease and trouble. The festival fell in September because the
rains begin about this time, and with the first rains there was
generally much sickness. As a preparation for the festival the
people fasted on the first day of the moon after the autumnal
equinox. Having fasted during the day, and the night being come,
they baked a coarse paste of maize. This paste was made of two
sorts. One was kneaded with the blood of children aged from five to
ten years, the blood being obtained by bleeding the children between
the eyebrows. These two kinds of paste were baked separately,
because they were for different uses. Each family assembled at the
house of the eldest brother to celebrate the feast; and those who
had no elder brother went to the house of their next relation of
greater age. On the same night all who had fasted during the day
washed their bodies, and taking a little of the blood-kneaded paste,
rubbed it over their head, face, breast, shoulders, arms and legs.
They did this in order that the paste might take away all their
infirmities. After this the head of the family anointed the
threshold with the same paste, and left it there as a token that the
inmates of the house had performed their ablutions and cleansed
their bodies. Meantime the High Priest performed the same ceremonies
in the temple of the Sun. As soon as the Sun rose, all the people
worshipped and besought him to drive all evils out of the city, and
then they broke their fast with the paste that had been kneaded
without blood. When they had paid their worship and broken their
fast, which they did at a stated hour, in order that all might adore
the Sun as one man, an Inca of the blood royal came forth from the
fortress, as a messenger of the Sun, richly dressed, with his mantle
girded round his body, and a lance in his hand. The lance was decked
with feathers of many hues, extending from the blade to the socket,
and fastened with rings of gold. He ran down the hill from the
fortress brandishing his lance, till he reached the centre of the
great square, where stood the golden urn, like a fountain, that was
used for the sacrifice of the fermented juice of the maize. Here
four other Incas of the blood royal awaited him, each with a lance
in his hand, and his mantle girded up to run. The messenger touched
their four lances with his lance, and told them that the Sun bade
them, as his messengers, drive the evils out of the city. The four
Incas then separated and ran down the four royal roads which led out
of the city to the four quarters of the world. While they ran, all
the people, great and small, came to the doors of their houses, and
with great shouts of joy and gladness shook their clothes, as if
they were shaking off dust, while they cried, "Let the evils be
gone. How greatly desired has this festival been by us. O Creator of
all things, permit us to reach another year, that we may see another
feast like this." After they had shaken their clothes, they passed
their hands over their heads, faces, arms, and legs, as if in the
act of washing. All this was done to drive the evils out of their
houses, that the messengers of the Sun might banish them from the
city; and it was done not only in the streets through which the
Incas ran, but generally in all quarters of the city. Moreover, they
all danced, the Inca himself amongst them, and bathed in the rivers
and fountains, saying that their maladies would come out of them.
Then they took great torches of straw, bound round with cords. These
they lighted, and passed from one to the other, striking each other
with them, and saying, "Let all harm go away." Meanwhile the runners
ran with their lances for a quarter of a league outside the city,
where they found four other Incas ready, who received the lances
from their hands and ran with them. Thus the lances were carried by
relays of runners for a distance of five or six leagues, at the end
of which the runners washed themselves and their weapons in rivers,
and set up the lances, in sign of a boundary within which the
banished evils might not return.

The negroes of Guinea annually banish the devil from all their towns
with much ceremony at a time set apart for the purpose. At Axim, on
the Gold Coast, this annual expulsion is preceded by a feast of
eight days, during which mirth and jollity, skipping, dancing, and
singing prevail, and "a perfect lampooning liberty is allowed, and
scandal so highly exalted, that they may freely sing of all the
faults, villanies, and frauds of their superiors as well as
inferiors, without punishment, or so much as the least
interruption." On the eighth day they hunt out the devil with a
dismal cry, running after him and pelting him with sticks, stones,
and whatever comes to hand. When they have driven him far enough out
of the town, they all return. In this way he is expelled from more
than a hundred towns at the same time. To make sure that he does not
return to their houses, the women wash and scour all their wooden
and earthen vessels, "to free them from all uncleanness and the

At Cape Coast Castle, on the Gold Coast, the ceremony was witnessed
on the ninth of October, 1844, by an Englishman, who has described
it as follows: "To-night the annual custom of driving the evil
spirit, Abonsam, out of the town has taken place. As soon as the
eight o'clock gun fired in the fort the people began firing muskets
in their houses, turning all their furniture out of doors, beating
about in every corner of the rooms with sticks, etc., and screaming
as loudly as possible, in order to frighten the devil. Being driven
out of the houses, as they imagine, they sallied forth into the
streets, throwing lighted torches about, shouting, screaming,
beating sticks together, rattling old pans, making the most horrid
noise, in order to drive him out of the town into the sea. The
custom is preceded by four weeks' dead silence; no gun is allowed to
be fired, no drum to be beaten, no palaver to be made between man
and man. If, during these weeks, two natives should disagree and
make a noise in the town, they are immediately taken before the king
and fined heavily. If a dog or pig, sheep or goat be found at large
in the street, it may be killed, or taken by anyone, the former
owner not being allowed to demand any compensation. This silence is
designed to deceive Abonsam, that, being off his guard, he may be
taken by surprise, and frightened out of the place. If anyone die
during the silence, his relatives are not allowed to weep until the
four weeks have been completed."

Sometimes the date of the annual expulsion of devils is fixed with
reference to the agricultural seasons. Thus among the Hos of
Togoland, in West Africa, the expulsion is performed annually before
the people partake of the new yams. The chiefs summon the priests
and magicians and tell them that the people are now to eat the new
yams and be merry, therefore they must cleanse the town and remove
the evils. Accordingly the evil spirits, witches, and all the ills
that infest the people are conjured into bundles of leaves and
creepers, fastened to poles, which are carried away and set up in
the earth on various roads outside the town. During the following
night no fire may be lit and no food eaten. Next morning the women
sweep out their hearths and houses, and deposit the sweepings on
broken wooden plates. Then the people pray, saying, "All ye
sicknesses that are in our body and plague us, we are come to-day to
throw you out." Thereupon they run as fast as they can in the
direction of Mount Adaklu, smiting their mouths and screaming, "Out
to-day! Out to-day! That which kills anybody, out to-day! Ye evil
spirits, out to-day! and all that causes our heads to ache, out
to-day! Anlo and Adaklu are the places whither all ill shall betake
itself!" When they have come to a certain tree on Mount Adaklu, they
throw everything away and return home.

At Kiriwina, in South-Eastern New Guinea, when the new yams had been
harvested, the people feasted and danced for many days, and a great
deal of property, such as armlets, native money, and so forth, was
displayed conspicuously on a platform erected for the purpose. When
the festivities were over, all the people gathered together and
expelled the spirits from the village by shouting, beating the posts
of the houses, and overturning everything under which a wily spirit
might be supposed to lurk. The explanation which the people gave to
a missionary was that they had entertained and feasted the spirits
and provided them with riches, and it was now time for them to take
their departure. Had they not seen the dances, and heard the songs,
and gorged themselves on the souls of the yams, and appropriated the
souls of the money and all the other fine things set out on the
platform? What more could the spirits want? So out they must go.

Among the Hos of North-Eastern India the great festival of the year
is the harvest home, held in January, when the granaries are full of
grain, and the people, to use their own expression, are full of
devilry. "They have a strange notion that at this period, men and
women are so overcharged with vicious propensities, that it is
absolutely necessary for the safety of the person to let off steam
by allowing for a time full vent to the passions." The ceremonies
open with a sacrifice to the village god of three fowls, a cock and
two hens, one of which must be black. Along with them are offered
flowers of the palas tree (_Butea frondosa_), bread made from
rice-flour, and sesamum seeds. These offerings are presented by the
village priest, who prays that during the year about to begin they
and their children may be preserved from all misfortune and
sickness, and that they may have seasonable rain and good crops.
Prayer is also made in some places for the souls of the dead. At
this time an evil spirit is supposed to infest the place, and to get
rid of it men, women, and children go in procession round and
through every part of the village with sticks in their hands, as if
beating for game, singing a wild chant, and shouting vociferously,
till they feel assured that the evil spirit must have fled. Then
they give themselves up to feasting and drinking rice-beer, till
they are in a fit state for the wild debauch which follows. The
festival now "becomes a saturnale, during which servants forget
their duty to their masters, children their reverence for parents,
men their respect for women, and women all notions of modesty,
delicacy, and gentleness; they become raging bacchantes." Usually
the Hos are quiet and reserved in manner, decorous and gentle to
women. But during this festival "their natures appear to undergo a
temporary change. Sons and daughters revile their parents in gross
language, and parents their children; men and women become almost
like animals in the indulgence of their amorous propensities." The
Mundaris, kinsmen and neighbours of the Hos, keep the festival in
much the same manner. "The resemblance to a Saturnale is very
complete, as at this festival the farm labourers are feasted by
their masters, and allowed the utmost freedom of speech in
addressing them. It is the festival of the harvest home; the
termination of one year's toil, and a slight respite from it before
they commence again."

Amongst some of the Hindoo Koosh tribes, as among the Hos and
Mundaris, the expulsion of devils takes place after harvest. When
the last crop of autumn has been got in, it is thought necessary to
drive away evil spirits from the granaries. A kind of porridge is
eaten, and the head of the family takes his matchlock and fires it
into the floor. Then, going outside, he sets to work loading and
firing till his powder-horn is exhausted, while all his neighbours
are similarly employed. The next day is spent in rejoicings. In
Chitral this festival is called "devil-driving." On the other hand
the Khonds of India expel the devils at seed-time instead of at
harvest. At this time they worship Pitteri Pennu, the god of
increase and of gain in every shape. On the first day of the
festival a rude car is made of a basket set upon a few sticks, tied
upon the bamboo rollers for wheels. The priest takes this car first
to the house of the lineal head of the tribe, to whom precedence is
given in all ceremonies connected with agriculture. Here he receives
a little of each kind of seed and some feathers. He then takes the
car to all the other houses in the village, each of which
contributes the same things. Lastly, the car is conducted to a field
without the village, attended by all the young men, who beat each
other and strike the air violently with long sticks. The seed thus
carried out is called the share of the "evil spirits, spoilers of
the seed." "These are considered to be driven out with the car; and
when it and its contents are abandoned to them, they are held to
have no excuse for interfering with the rest of the seed-corn."

The people of Bali, an island to the east of Java, have periodical
expulsions of devils upon a great scale. Generally the time chosen
for the expulsion is the day of the "dark moon" in the ninth month.
When the demons have been long unmolested the country is said to be
"warm," and the priest issues orders to expel them by force, lest
the whole of Bali should be rendered uninhabitable. On the day
appointed the people of the village or district assemble at the
principal temple. Here at a cross-road offerings are set out for the
devils. After prayers have been recited by the priests, the blast of
a horn summons the devils to partake of the meal which has been
prepared for them. At the same time a number of men step forward and
light their torches at the holy lamp which burns before the chief
priest. Immediately afterwards, followed by the bystanders, they
spread in all directions and march through the streets and lanes
crying, "Depart! go away!" Wherever they pass, the people who have
stayed at home hasten, by a deafening clatter on doors, beams,
rice-blocks, and so forth, to take their share in the expulsion of
devils. Thus chased from the houses, the fiends flee to the banquet
which has been set out for them; but here the priest receives them
with curses which finally drive them from the district. When the
last devil has taken his departure, the uproar is succeeded by a
dead silence, which lasts during the next day also. The devils, it
is thought, are anxious to return to their old homes, and in order
to make them think that Bali is not Bali but some desert island, no
one may stir from his own abode for twenty-four hours. Even ordinary
household work, including cooking, is discontinued. Only the
watchmen may show themselves in the streets. Wreaths of thorns and
leaves are hung at all the entrances to warn strangers from
entering. Not till the third day is this state of siege raised, and
even then it is forbidden to work at the rice-fields or to buy and
sell in the market. Most people still stay at home, whiling away the
time with cards and dice.

In Tonquin a _theckydaw_ or general expulsion of maleyolent spirits
commonly took place once a year, especially if there was a great
mortality amongst men, the elephants or horses of the general's
stable, or the cattle of the country, "the cause of which they
attribute to the malicious spirits of such men as have been put to
death for treason, rebellion, and conspiring the death of the king,
general, or princes, and that in revenge of the punishment they have
suffered, they are bent to destroy everything and commit horrible
violence. To prevent which their superstition has suggested to them
the institution of this _theckydaw,_ as a proper means to drive the
devil away, and purge the country of evil spirits." The day
appointed for the ceremony was generally the twenty-fifth of
February, one month after the beginning of the new year, which fell
on the twenty-fifth of January. The intermediate month was a season
of feasting, merry-making of all kinds, and general licence. During
the whole month the great seal was kept shut up in a box, face
downwards, and the law was, as it were, laid asleep. All courts of
justice were closed; debtors could not be seized; small crimes, such
as petty larceny, fighting, and assault, escaped with impunity; only
treason and murder were taken account of and the malefactors
detained till the great seal should come into operation again. At
the close of the saturnalia the wicked spirits were driven away.
Great masses of troops and artillery having been drawn up with
flying colours and all the pomp of war, "the general beginneth then
to offer meat offerings to the criminal devils and malevolent
spirits (for it is usual and customary likewise amongst them to
feast the condemned before their execution), inviting them to eat
and drink, when presently he accuses them in a strange language, by
characters and figures, etc., of many offences and crimes committed
by them, as to their having disquieted the land, killed his
elephants and horses, etc., for all which they justly deserve to be
chastised and banished the country. Whereupon three great guns are
fired as the last signal; upon which all the artillery and musquets
are discharged, that, by their most terrible noise the devils may be
driven away; and they are so blind as to believe for certain, that
they really and effectually put them to flight."

In Cambodia the expulsion of evil spirits took place in March. Bits
of broken statues and stones, considered as the abode of the demons,
were collected and brought to the capital. Here as many elephants
were collected as could be got together. On the evening of the full
moon volleys of musketry were fired and the elephants charged
furiously to put the devils to flight. The ceremony was performed on
three successive days. In Siam the banishment of demons is annually
carried into effect on the last day of the old year. A signal gun is
fired from the palace; it is answered from the next station, and so
on from station to station, till the firing has reached the outer
gate of the city. Thus the demons are driven out step by step. As
soon as this is done a consecrated rope is fastened round the
circuit of the city walls to prevent the banished demons from
returning. The rope is made of tough couch-grass and is painted in
alternate stripes of red, yellow, and blue.

Annual expulsions of demons, witches, or evil influences appear to
have been common among the heathen of Europe, if we may judge from
the relics of such customs among their descendants at the present
day. Thus among the heathen Wotyaks, a Finnish people of Eastern
Russia, all the young girls of the village assemble on the last day
of the year or on New Year's Day, armed with sticks, the ends of
which are split in nine places. With these they beat every corner of
the house and yard, saying, "We are driving Satan out of the
village." Afterwards the sticks are thrown into the river below the
village, and as they float down stream Satan goes with them to the
next village, from which he must be driven out in turn. In some
villages the expulsion is managed otherwise. The unmarried men
receive from every house in the village groats, flesh, and brandy.
These they take to the fields, light a fire under a fir-tree, boil
the groats, and eat of the food they have brought with them, after
pronouncing the words, "Go away into the wilderness, come not into
the house." Then they return to the village and enter every house
where there are young women. They take hold of the young women and
throw them into the snow, saying, "May the spirits of disease leave
you." The remains of the groats and the other food are then
distributed among all the houses in proportion to the amount that
each contributed, and each family consumes its share. According to a
Wotyak of the Malmyz district the young men throw into the snow
whomever they find in the houses, and this is called "driving out
Satan"; moreover, some of the boiled groats are cast into the fire
with the words, "O god, afflict us not with sickness and pestilence,
give us not up as a prey to the spirits of the wood." But the most
antique form of the ceremony is that observed by the Wotyaks of the
Kasan Government. First of all a sacrifice is offered to the Devil
at noon. Then all the men assemble on horseback in the centre of the
village, and decide with which house they shall begin. When this
question, which often gives rise to hot disputes, is settled, they
tether their horses to the paling, and arm themselves with whips,
clubs of lime-wood and bundles of lighted twigs. The lighted twigs
are believed to have the greatest terrors for Satan. Thus armed,
they proceed with frightful cries to beat every corner of the house
and yard, then shut the door, and spit at the ejected fiend. So they
go from house to house, till the Devil has been driven from every
one. Then they mount their horses and ride out of the village,
yelling wildly and brandishing their clubs in every direction.
Outside of the village they fling away the clubs and spit once more
at the Devil. The Cheremiss, another Finnish people of Eastern
Russia, chase Satan from their dwellings by beating the walls with
cudgels of lime-wood. For the same purpose they fire guns, stab the
ground with knives, and insert burning chips of wood in the
crevices. Also they leap over bonfires, shaking out their garments
as they do so; and in some districts they blow on long trumpets of
lime-tree bark to frighten him away. When he has fled to the wood,
they pelt the trees with some of the cheese-cakes and eggs which
furnished the feast.

In Christian Europe the old heathen custom of expelling the powers
of evil at certain times of the year has survived to modern times.
Thus in some villages of Calabria the month of March is inaugurated
with the expulsion of the witches. It takes place at night to the
sound of the church bells, the people running about the streets and
crying, "March is come." They say that the witches roam about in
March, and the ceremony is repeated every Friday evening during the
month. Often, as might have been anticipated, the ancient pagan rite
has attached itself to church festivals. In Albania on Easter Eve
the young people light torches of resinous wood and march in
procession, swinging them, through the village. At last they throw
the torches into the river, crying, "Ha, Kore! we throw you into the
river, like these torches, that you may never return." Silesian
peasants believe that on Good Friday the witches go their rounds and
have great power for mischief. Hence about Oels, near Strehlitz, the
people on that day arm themselves with old brooms and drive the
witches from house and home, from farmyard and cattle-stall, making
a great uproar and clatter as they do so.

In Central Europe the favourite time for expelling the witches is,
or was, Walpurgis Night, the Eve of May Day, when the baleful powers
of these mischievous beings were supposed to be at their height. In
the Tyrol, for example, as in other places, the expulsion of the
powers of evil at this season goes by the name of "Burning out the
Witches." It takes place on May Day, but people have been busy with
their preparations for days before. On a Thursday at midnight
bundles are made up of resinous splinters, black and red spotted
hemlock, caperspurge, rosemary, and twigs of the sloe. These are
kept and burned on May Day by men who must first have received
plenary absolution from the Church. On the last three days of April
all the houses are cleansed and fumigated with juniper berries and
rue. On May Day, when the evening bell has rung and the twilight is
falling, the ceremony of "Burning out the Witches" begins. Men and
boys make a racket with whips, bells, pots, and pans; the women
carry censers; the dogs are unchained and run barking and yelping
about. As soon as the church bells begin to ring, the bundles of
twigs, fastened on poles, are set on fire and the incense is
ignited. Then all the house-bells and dinner-bells are rung, pots
and pans are clashed, dogs bark, every one must make a noise. And
amid this hubbub all scream at the pitch of their voices:

"_Witch flee, flee from here, or it will go ill with thee._"

Then they run seven times round the houses, the yards, and the
village. So the witches are smoked out of their lurking-places and
driven away. The custom of expelling the witches on Walpurgis Night
is still, or was down to recent years, observed in many parts of
Bavaria and among the Germans of Bohemia. Thus in the Böhmer-wald
Mountains all the young fellows of the village assemble after sunset
on some height, especially at a cross-road, and crack whips for a
while in unison with all their strength. This drives away the
witches; for so far as the sound of the whips is heard, these
maleficent beings can do no harm. In some places, while the young
men are cracking their whips, the herdsmen wind their horns, and the
long-drawn notes, heard far off in the silence of night, are very
effectual for banning the witches.

Another witching time is the period of twelve days between Christmas
and Epiphany. Hence in some parts of Silesia the people burn
pine-resin all night long between Christmas and the New Year in
order that the pungent smoke may drive witches and evil spirits far
away from house and homestead; and on Christmas Eve and New Year's
Eve they fire shots over fields and meadows, into shrubs and trees,
and wrap straw round the fruit-trees, to prevent the spirits from
doing them harm. On New Year's Eve, which is Saint Sylvester's Day,
Bohemian lads, armed with guns, form themselves into circles and
fire thrice into the air. This is called "Shooting the Witches" and
is supposed to frighten the witches away. The last of the mystic
twelve days is Epiphany or Twelfth Night, and it has been selected
as a proper season for the expulsion of the powers of evil in
various parts of Europe. Thus at Brunnen, on the Lake of Lucerne,
boys go about in procession on Twelfth Night carrying torches and
making a great noise with horns, bells, whips, and so forth to
frighten away two female spirits of the wood, Strudeli and
Strätteli. The people think that if they do not make enough noise,
there will be little fruit that year. Again, in Labruguière, a
canton of Southern France, on the eve of Twelfth Day the people run
through the streets, jangling bells, clattering kettles, and doing
everything to make a discordant noise. Then by the light of torches
and blazing faggots they set up a prodigious hue and cry, an
ear-splitting uproar, hoping thereby to chase all the wandering
ghosts and devils from the town.

LVII. Public Scapegoats

1. The Expulsion of Embodied Evils

THUS far we have dealt with that class of the general expulsion of
evils which I have called direct or immediate. In this class the
evils are invisible, at least to common eyes, and the mode of
deliverance consists for the most part in beating the empty air and
raising such a hubbub as may scare the mischievous spirits and put
them to flight. It remains to illustrate the second class of
expulsions, in which the evil influences are embodied in a visible
form or are at least supposed to be loaded upon a material medium,
which acts as a vehicle to draw them off from the people, village,
or town.

The Pomos of California celebrate an expulsion of devils every seven
years, at which the devils are represented by disguised men. "Twenty
or thirty men array themselves in harlequin rig and barbaric paint,
and put vessels of pitch on their heads; then they secretly go out
into the surrounding mountains. These are to personify the devils. A
herald goes up to the top of the assembly-house, and makes a speech
to the multitude. At a signal agreed upon in the evening the
masqueraders come in from the mountains, with the vessels of pitch
flaming on their heads, and with all the frightful accessories of
noise, motion, and costume which the savage mind can devise in
representation of demons. The terrified women and children flee for
life, the men huddle them inside a circle, and, on the principle of
fighting the devil with fire, they swing blazing firebrands in the
air, yell, whoop, and make frantic dashes at the marauding and
bloodthirsty devils, so creating a terrific spectacle, and striking
great fear into the hearts of the assembled hundreds of women, who
are screaming and fainting and clinging to their valorous
protectors. Finally the devils succeed in getting into the
assembly-house, and the bravest of the men enter and hold a parley
with them. As a conclusion of the whole farce, the men summon
courage, the devils are expelled from the assembly-house, and with a
prodigious row and racket of sham fighting are chased away into the
mountains." In spring, as soon as the willow-leaves were full grown
on the banks of the river, the Mandan Indians celebrated their great
annual festival, one of the features of which was the expulsion of
the devil. A man, painted black to represent the devil, entered the
village from the prairie, chased and frightened the women, and acted
the part of a buffalo bull in the buffalo dance, the object of which
was to ensure a plentiful supply of buffaloes during the ensuing
year. Finally he was chased from the village, the women pursuing him
with hisses and gibes, beating him with sticks, and pelting him with

Some of the native tribes of Central Queensland believe in a noxious
being called Molonga, who prowls unseen and would kill men and
violate women if certain ceremonies were not performed. These
ceremonies last for five nights and consist of dances, in which only
men, fantastically painted and adorned, take part. On the fifth
night Molonga himself, personified by a man tricked out with red
ochre and feathers and carrying a long feather-tipped spear, rushes
forth from the darkness at the spectators and makes as if he would
run them through. Great is the excitement, loud are the shrieks and
shouts, but after another feigned attack the demon vanishes in the
gloom. On the last night of the year the palace of the Kings of
Cambodia is purged of devils. Men painted as fiends are chased by
elephants about the palace courts. When they have been expelled, a
consecrated thread of cotton is stretched round the palace to keep
them out. In Munzerabad, a district of Mysore in Southern India,
when cholera or smallpox has broken out in a parish, the inhabitants
assemble and conjure the demon of the disease into a wooden image,
which they carry, generally at midnight, into the next parish. The
inhabitants of that parish in like manner pass the image on to their
neighbours, and thus the demon is expelled from one village after
another, until he comes to the bank of a river into which he is
finally thrown.

Oftener, however, the expelled demons are not represented at all,
but are understood to be present invisibly in the material and
visible vehicle which conveys them away. Here, again, it will be
convenient to distinguish between occasional and periodical
expulsions. We begin with the former.

2. The Occasional Expulsion of Evils in a Material Vehicle

THE VEHICLE which conveys away the demons may be of various kinds. A
common one is a little ship or boat. Thus, in the southern district
of the island of Ceram, when a whole village suffers from sickness,
a small ship is made and filled with rice, tobacco, eggs, and so
forth, which have been contributed by all the people. A little sail
is hoisted on the ship. When all is ready, a man calls out in a very
loud voice, "O all ye sicknesses, ye smallpoxes, agues, measles,
etc., who have visited us so long and wasted us so sorely, but who
now cease to plague us, we have made ready this ship for you, and we
have furnished you with provender sufficient for the voyage. Ye
shall have no lack of food nor of betel-leaves nor of areca nuts nor
of tobacco. Depart, and sail away from us directly; never come near
us again; but go to a land which is far from here. Let all the tides
and winds waft you speedily thither, and so convey you thither that
for the time to come we may live sound and well, and that we may
never see the sun rise on you again." Then ten or twelve men carry
the vessel to the shore, and let it drift away with the land-breeze,
feeling convinced that they are free from sickness for ever, or at
least till the next time. If sickness attacks them again, they are
sure it is not the same sickness, but a different one, which in due
time they dismiss in the same manner. When the demon-laden bark is
lost to sight, the bearers return to the village, whereupon a man
cries out, "The sicknesses are now gone, vanished, expelled, and
sailed away." At this all the people come running out of their
houses, passing the word from one to the other with great joy,
beating on gongs and on tinkling instruments.

Similar ceremonies are commonly resorted to in other East Indian
islands. Thus in Timor-laut, to mislead the demons who are causing
sickness, a small proa, containing the image of a man and
provisioned for a long voyage, is allowed to drift away with wind
and tide. As it is being launched, the people cry, "O sickness, go
from here; turn back; what do you here in this poor land?" Three
days after this ceremony a pig is killed, and part of the flesh is
offered to Dudilaa, who lives in the sun. One of the oldest men
says, "Old sir, I beseech you make well the grand-children,
children, women, and men, that we may be able to eat pork and rice
and to drink palmwine. I will keep my promise. Eat your share, and
make all the people in the village well." If the proa is stranded at
any inhabited spot, the sickness will break out there. Hence a
stranded proa excites much alarm amongst the coast population, and
they immediately burn it, because demons fly from fire. In the
island of Buru the proa which carries away the demons of disease is
about twenty feet long, rigged out with sails, oars, anchor, and so
on, and well stocked with provisions. For a day and a night the
people beat gongs and drums, and rush about to frighten the demons.
Next morning ten stalwart young men strike the people with branches,
which have been previously dipped in an earthen pot of water. As
soon as they have done so, they run down to the beach, put the
branches on board the proa, launch another boat in great haste, and
tow the disease-burdened bark far out to sea. There they cast it
off, and one of them calls out, "Grandfather Smallpox, go away--go
willingly away--go visit another land; we have made you food ready
for the voyage, we have now nothing more to give." When they have
landed, all the people bathe together in the sea. In this ceremony
the reason for striking the people with the branches is clearly to
rid them of the disease-demons, which are then supposed to be
transferred to the branches. Hence the haste with which the branches
are deposited in the proa and towed away to sea. So in the inland
districts of Ceram, when smallpox or other sickness is raging, the
priest strikes all the houses with consecrated branches, which are
then thrown into the river, to be carried down to the sea; exactly
as amongst the Wotyaks of Russia the sticks which have been used for
expelling the devils from the village are thrown into the river,
that the current may sweep the baleful burden away. The plan of
putting puppets in the boat to represent sick persons, in order to
lure the demons after them, is not uncommon. For example, most of
the pagan tribes on the coast of Borneo seek to drive away epidemic
disease as follows. They carve one or more rough human images from
the pith of the sago palm and place them on a small raft or boat or
full-rigged Malay ship together with rice and other food. The boat
is decked with blossoms of the areca palm and with ribbons made from
its leaves, and thus adorned the little craft is allowed to float
out to sea with the ebb-tide, bearing, as the people fondly think or
hope, the sickness away with it.

Often the vehicle which carries away the collected demons or ills of
a whole community is an animal or scapegoat. In the Central
Provinces of India, when cholera breaks out in a village, every one
retires after sunset to his house. The priests then parade the
streets, taking from the roof of each house a straw, which is burnt
with an offering of rice, ghee, and turmeric, at some shrine to the
east of the village. Chickens daubed with vermilion are driven away
in the direction of the smoke, and are believed to carry the disease
with them. If they fail, goats are tried, and last of all pigs. When
cholera rages among the Bhars, Mallans, and Kurmis of India, they
take a goat or a buffalo--in either case the animal must be a
female, and as black as possible--then having tied some grain,
cloves, and red lead in a yellow cloth on its back they turn it out
of the village. The animal is conducted beyond the boundary and not
allowed to return. Sometimes the buffalo is marked with a red
pigment and driven to the next village, where he carries the plague
with him.

Amongst the Dinkas, a pastoral people of the White Nile, each family
possesses a sacred cow. When the country is threatened with war,
famine, or any other public calamity, the chiefs of the village
require a particular family to surrender their sacred cow to serve
as a scapegoat. The animal is driven by the women to the brink of
the river and across it to the other bank, there to wander in the
wilderness and fall a prey to ravening beasts. Then the women return
in silence and without looking behind them; were they to cast a
backward glance, they imagine that the ceremony would have no
effect. In 1857, when the Aymara Indians of Bolivia and Peru were
suffering from a plague, they loaded a black llama with the clothes
of the plague-stricken people, sprinkled brandy on the clothes, and
then turned the animal loose on the mountains, hoping that it would
carry the pest away with it.

Occasionally the scapegoat is a man. For example, from time to time
the gods used to warn the King of Uganda that his foes the Banyoro
were working magic against him and his people to make them die of
disease. To avert such a catastrophe the king would send a scapegoat
to the frontier of Bunyoro, the land of the enemy. The scapegoat
consisted of either a man and a boy or a woman and her child, chosen
because of some mark or bodily defect, which the gods had noted and
by which the victims were to be recognised. With the human victims
were sent a cow, a goat, a fowl, and a dog; and a strong guard
escorted them to the land which the god had indicated. There the
limbs of the victims were broken and they were left to die a
lingering death in the enemy's country, being too crippled to crawl
back to Uganda. The disease or plague was thought to have been thus
transferred to the victims and to have been conveyed back in their
persons to the land from which it came.

Some of the aboriginal tribes of China, as a protection against
pestilence, select a man of great muscular strength to act the part
of scapegoat. Having besmeared his face with paint, he performs many
antics with the view of enticing all pestilential and noxious
influences to attach themselves to him only. He is assisted by a
priest. Finally the scapegoat, hotly pursued by men and women
beating gongs and tom-toms, is driven with great haste out of the
town or village. In the Punjaub a cure for the murrain is to hire a
man of the Chamar caste, turn his face away from the village, brand
him with a red-hot sickle, and let him go out into the jungle taking
the murrain with him. He must not look back.

3. The Periodic Expulsion of Evils in a Material Vehicle

THE MEDIATE expulsion of evils by means of a scapegoat or other
material vehicle, like the immediate expulsion of them in invisible
form, tends to become periodic, and for a like reason. Thus every
year, generally in March, the people of Leti, Moa, and Lakor,
islands of the Indian Archipelago, send away all their diseases to
sea. They make a proa about six feet long, rig it with sails, oars,
rudder, and other gear, and every family deposits in its some rice,
fruit, a fowl, two eggs, insects that ravage the fields, and so on.
Then they let it drift away to sea, saying, "Take away from here all
kinds of sickness, take them to other islands, to other lands,
distribute them in places that lie eastward, where the sun rises."
The Biajas of Borneo annually send to sea a little bark laden with
the sins and misfortunes of the people. The crew of any ship that
falls in with the ill-omened bark at sea will suffer all the sorrows
with which it is laden. A like custom is annually observed by the
Dusuns of the Tuaran district in British North Borneo. The ceremony
is the most important of the whole year. Its aim is to bring good
luck to the village during the ensuing year by solemnly expelling
all the evil spirits that may have collected in or about the houses
throughout the last twelve months. The task of routing out the
demons and banishing them devolves chiefly on women. Dressed in
their finest array, they go in procession through the village. One
of them carries a small sucking pig in a basket on her back; and all
of them bear wands, with which they belabour the little pig at the
appropriate moment; its squeals help to attract the vagrant spirits.
At every house the women dance and sing, clashing castanets or
cymbals of brass and jingling bunches of little brass bells in both
hands. When the performance has been repeated at every house in the
village, the procession defiles down to the river, and all the evil
spirits, which the performers have chased from the houses, follow
them to the edge of the water. There a raft has been made ready and
moored to the bank. It contains offerings of food, cloth,
cooking-pots, and swords; and the deck is crowded with figures of
men, women, animals, and birds, all made out of the leaves of the
sago palm. The evil spirits now embark on the raft, and when they
are all aboard, it is pushed off and allowed to float down with the
current, carrying the demons with it. Should the raft run aground
near the village, it is shoved off with all speed, lest the
invisible passengers should seize the opportunity of landing and
returning to the village. Finally, the sufferings of the little pig,
whose squeals served to decoy the demons from their lurking-places,
are terminated by death, for it is killed and its carcase thrown

Every year, at the beginning of the dry season, the Nicobar
Islanders carry the model of a ship through their villages. The
devils are chased out of the huts, and driven on board the little
ship, which is then launched and suffered to sail away with the
wind. The ceremony has been described by a catechist, who witnessed
it at Car Nicobar in July 1897. For three days the people were busy
preparing two very large floating cars, shaped like canoes, fitted
with sails, and loaded with certain leaves, which possessed the
valuable property of expelling devils. While the young people were
thus engaged, the exorcists and the elders sat in a house singing
songs by turns; but often they would come forth, pace the beach
armed with rods, and forbid the devil to enter the village. The
fourth day of the solemnity bore a name which means "Expelling the
Devil by Sails." In the evening all the villagers assembled, the
women bringing baskets of ashes and bunches of devil-expelling
leaves. These leaves were then distributed to everybody, old and
young. When all was ready, a band of robust men, attended by a guard
of exorcists, carried one of the cars down to the sea on the right
side of the village graveyard, and set it floating in the water. As
soon as they had returned, another band of men carried the other car
to the beach and floated it similarly in the sea to the left of the
graveyard. The demon-laden barks being now launched, the women threw
ashes from the shore, and the whole crowd shouted, saying, "Fly
away, devil, fly away, never come again!" The wind and the tide
being favourable, the canoes sailed quickly away; and that night all
the people feasted together with great joy, because the devil had
departed in the direction of Chowra. A similar expulsion of devils
takes place once a year in other Nicobar villages; but the
ceremonies are held at different times in different places.

Amongst many of the aboriginal tribes of China, a great festival is
celebrated in the third month of every year. It is held by way of a
general rejoicing over what the people believe to be a total
annihilation of the ills of the past twelve months. The destruction
is supposed to be effected in the following way. A large earthenware
jar filled with gunpowder, stones, and bits of iron is buried in the
earth. A train of gunpowder, communicating with the jar, is then
laid; and a match being applied, the jar and its contents are blown
up. The stones and bits of iron represent the ills and disasters of
the past year, and the dispersion of them by the explosion is
believed to remove the ills and disasters themselves. The festival
is attended with much revelling and drunkenness.

At Old Calabar on the coast of Guinea, the devils and ghosts are, or
used to be, publicly expelled once in two years. Among the spirits
thus driven from their haunts are the souls of all the people who
died since the last lustration of the town. About three weeks or a
month before the expulsion, which according to one account takes
place in the month of November, rude effigies representing men and
animals, such as crocodiles, leopards, elephants, bullocks, and
birds, are made of wicker-work or wood, and being hung with strips
of cloth and bedizened with gew-gaws, are set before the door of
every house. About three o'clock in the morning of the day appointed
for the ceremony the whole population turns out into the streets,
and proceeds with a deafening uproar and in a state of the wildest
excitement to drive all lurking devils and ghosts into the effigies,
in order that they may be banished with them from the abodes of men.
For this purpose bands of people roam through the streets knocking
on doors, firing guns, beating drums, blowing on horns, ringing
bells, clattering pots and pans, shouting and hallooing with might
and main, in short making all the noise it is possible for them to
raise. The hubbub goes on till the approach of dawn, when it
gradually subsides and ceases altogether at sunrise. By this time
the houses have been thoroughly swept, and all the frightened
spirits are supposed to have huddled into the effigies or their
fluttering drapery. In these wicker figures are also deposited the
sweepings of the houses and the ashes of yesterday's fires. Then the
demon-laden images are hastily snatched up, carried in tumultuous
procession down to the brink of the river, and thrown into the water
to the tuck of drums. The ebb-tide bears them away seaward, and thus
the town is swept clean of ghosts and devils for another two years.

Similar annual expulsions of embodied evils are not unknown in
Europe. On the evening of Easter Sunday the gypsies of Southern
Europe take a wooden vessel like a band-box, which rests cradle-wise
on two cross pieces of wood. In this they place herbs and simples,
together with the dried carcase of a snake, or lizard, which every
person present must first have touched with his fingers. The vessel
is then wrapt in white and red wool, carried by the oldest man from
tent to tent, and finally thrown into running water, not, however,
before every member of the band has spat into it once, and the
sorceress has uttered some spells over it. They believe that by
performing this ceremony they dispel all the illnesses that would
otherwise have afflicted them in the course of the year; and that if
any one finds the vessel and opens it out of curiosity, he and his
will be visited by all the maladies which the others have escaped.

The scapegoat by means of which the accumulated ills of a whole year
are publicly expelled is sometimes an animal. For example, among the
Garos of Assam, "besides the sacrifices for individual cases of
illness, there are certain ceremonies which are observed once a year
by a whole community or village, and are intended to safeguard its
members from dangers of the forest, and from sickness and mishap
during the coming twelve months. The principal of these is the
Asongtata ceremony. Close to the outskirts of every big village a
number of stones may be noticed stuck into the ground, apparently
without order or method. These are known by the name of _asong,_ and
on them is offered the sacrifice which the Asongtata demands. The
sacrifice of a goat takes place, and a month later, that of a
_langur_ (_Entellus_ monkey) or a bamboo-rat is considered
necessary. The animal chosen has a rope fastened round its neck and
is led by two men, one on each side of it, to every house in the
village. It is taken inside each house in turn, the assembled
villagers, meanwhile, beating the walls from the outside, to
frighten and drive out any evil spirits which may have taken up
their residence within. The round of the village having been made in
this manner, the monkey or rat is led to the outskirts of the
village, killed by a blow of a _dao,_ which disembowels it, and then
crucified on bamboos set up in the ground. Round the crucified
animal long, sharp bamboo stakes are placed, which form _chevaux de
frise_ round about it. These commemorate the days when such defences
surrounded the villages on all sides to keep off human enemies, and
they are now a symbol to ward off sickness and dangers to life from
the wild animals of the forest. The _langur_ required for the
purpose is hunted down some days before, but should it be found
impossible to catch one, a brown monkey may take its place; a hulock
may not be used." Here the crucified ape or rat is the public
scapegoat, which by its vicarious sufferings and death relieves the
people from all sickness and mishap in the coming year.

Again, on one day of the year the Bhotiyas of Juhar, in the Western
Himalayas, take a dog, intoxicate him with spirits and bhang or
hemp, and having fed him with sweetmeats, lead him round the village
and let him loose. They then chase and kill him with sticks and
stones, and believe that, when they have done so, no disease or
misfortune will visit the village during the year. In some parts of
Breadalbane it was formerly the custom on New Year's Day to take a
dog to the door, give him a bit of bread, and drive him out, saying,
"Get away, you dog! Whatever death of men or loss of cattle would
happen in this house to the end of the present year, may it all
light on your head!" On the Day of Atonement, which was the tenth
day of the seventh month, the Jewish high-priest laid both his hands
on the head of a live goat, confessed over it all the iniquities of
the Children of Israel, and, having thereby transferred the sins of
the people to the beast, sent it away into the wilderness.

The scapegoat upon whom the sins of the people are periodically
laid, may also be a human being. At Onitsha, on the Niger, two human
beings used to be annually sacrificed to take away the sins of the
land. The victims were purchased by public subscription. All persons
who, during the past year, had fallen into gross sins, such as
incendiarism, theft, adultery, witchcraft, and so forth, were
expected to contribute 28 _ngugas,_ or a little over £2. The money
thus collected was taken into the interior of the country and
expended in the purchase of two sickly persons "to be offered as a
sacrifice for all these abominable crimes--one for the land and one
for the river." A man from a neighbouring town was hired to put them
to death. On the twenty-seventh of February 1858 the Rev. J. C.
Taylor witnessed the sacrifice of one of these victims. The sufferer
was a woman, about nineteen or twenty years of age. They dragged her
alive along the ground, face downwards, from the king's house to the
river, a distance of two miles, the crowds who accompanied her
crying, "Wickedness! wickedness!" The intention was "to take away
the iniquities of the land. The body was dragged along in a
merciless manner, as if the weight of all their wickedness was thus
carried away." Similar customs are said to be still secretly
practised every year by many tribes in the delta of the Niger in
spite of the vigilance of the British Government. Among the Yoruba
negroes of West Africa "the human victim chosen for sacrifice, and
who may be either a freeborn or a slave, a person of noble or
wealthy parentage, or one of humble birth, is, after he has been
chosen and marked out for the purpose, called an _Oluwo._ He is
always well fed and nourished and supplied with whatever he should
desire during the period of his confinement. When the occasion
arrives for him to be sacrificed and offered up, he is commonly led
about and paraded through the streets of the town or city of the
Sovereign who would sacrifice him for the well-being of his
government and of every family and individual under it, in order
that he might carry off the sin, guilt, misfortune and death of all
without exception. Ashes and chalk would be employed to hide his
identity by the one being freely thrown over his head, and his face
painted with the latter, whilst individuals would often rush out of
their houses to lay their hands upon him that they might thus
transfer to him their sin, guilt, trouble, and death." This parade

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest