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Superstitions of the World

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SUPERSTITIONS OF THE WORLD.

Africa.— The snake is held in superstitious reverence by some African natives, who once a year kill a cobra de capello and hang its slcin to the branch of a tree, tail downward. Then all the children born during the last year are brought out and made to touch the skin. This, their parents think, puts them under the ser pent's protection. The Kaffirs use the venom of the puff adder, to poison their arrows, and when they have any small quantity left they swallow it, having a theory that it will protect them from the effects of future bites. If they find a dead serpent they dress it in clothes and give it a superb funeral.

American Various tribes of American Indians have a theory that every white deer has a "mad stone' in his stomach. They believe that the "Great Spirit* places this stone in the white deer's stomach to absorb poisons which that delicate animal mai take in while eating grass. Feathers figure very prom inently in the religious customs of most aborig ines, and remarkably so in the Southwest. Among Navajos and Pueblos alike these plume symbols are of the utmost efficacy for good or bad. They.are part of almost every ceremonial of the infimte superstitions of these tribes. Any white or bright-hued plume is of good omen — " good medicine,'3 as the Indian would put it. The gay feathers of the parrot are particularly valuable. The Navajo Indian will not eat fish under any circumstances, and cherishes the be lief that the use of such food will be followed by dreadful punishment.

Many Arabs, when overtalcen by severe storms in the desert, cry out, °Iron! Iron!) which they think will propitiate the evil spirits who have raised the storm.

Arctic The Eskimos believe in ghosts. Many also believe in the transmigration of the souls, that spirits return in animals, winds, rocks, ice and water, that they are evil, angry or good, as the elements may be favorable or unfavorable, and that they can be appeased by hoodoo rites if the performer is sufficiently versed in occult sciences. To change the wind

they chant, drum and howl against it, build fires, shoot against it, and, as a last resort, fire the graves of the dead. Eclipses of the moon create the greatest consternation and almost paralyze the people with fear. When a child dies in some parts Of Greenland, the natives bury a live dog with it, the dog to be used by the child as a guide to the other world. VVIien questioned in regard to this peculiar supersti tion, they will only answer, "A dog can find his way anywhere?' Some Australians say that Mit yau, the moon, was a native cat, who fell in love with some one else's wife, and was driven away, to wander ever since. The natives of New Zealand tie the hands of their dead to gether and pull out their nails; this is for fear that the corpse may scratch its way out of the grave and become a vampire.

The peasants of Bohemia have a queer superstition by which they think to rid themselves of the depredations of sparrows among their crops. A frequent charm is to plant, in the centre of the field, a stick or splin ter of wood taken from the timber of which a coffin has been made, or to scatter aboutpieces of the coffin itself. It is also considered very effective to lay upon the threshold or window sill of the barn or storehouse a human bone taken from a grave. In Bohemia the willow is said to be the tree on which Judas hanged himself, and it is supposed to have a special attraction for suicides.

Brazil.— Religious superstitions are com mon here. Once a year some churchmen dress up a figure to represent Judas (usually with red hair and sandy beard), and give it to the street arabs, who carry it about until it has been rid dled by stones and other missiles and then burn it on the commons. In the same country the sailors dress a figure on certain feast days, sub ject it to all sorts of indignities, winding up the ceremony by hanging it at the yard-arm.

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