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Title: Balder The Beautiful, Vol. I.
       A Study In Magic And Religion: The Golden Bough, Part VII., The
       Fire-Festivals Of Europe And The Doctrine Of The External Soul

Author: Sir James George Frazer

Release Date: May 4, 2004 [EBook #12261]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Million Book Project, papeters, David King, and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team








J.G. FRAZER, D.C.L., LL.D., Litt.D.





In this concluding part of _The Golden Bough_ I have discussed the
problem which gives its title to the whole work. If I am right, the
Golden Bough over which the King of the Wood, Diana's priest at Aricia,
kept watch and ward was no other than a branch of mistletoe growing on
an oak within the sacred grove; and as the plucking of the bough was a
necessary prelude to the slaughter of the priest, I have been led to
institute a parallel between the King of the Wood at Nemi and the Norse
god Balder, who was worshipped in a sacred grove beside the beautiful
Sogne fiord of Norway and was said to have perished by a stroke of
mistletoe, which alone of all things on earth or in heaven could wound
him. On the theory here suggested both Balder and the King of the Wood
personified in a sense the sacred oak of our Aryan forefathers, and both
had deposited their lives or souls for safety in the parasite which
sometimes, though rarely, is found growing on an oak and by the very
rarity of its appearance excites the wonder and stimulates the devotion
of ignorant men. Though I am now less than ever disposed to lay weight
on the analogy between the Italian priest and the Norse god, I have
allowed it to stand because it furnishes me with a pretext for
discussing not only the general question of the external soul in popular
superstition, but also the fire-festivals of Europe, since fire played a
part both in the myth of Balder and in the ritual of the Arician grove.
Thus Balder the Beautiful in my hands is little more than a
stalking-horse to carry two heavy pack-loads of facts. And what is true
of Balder applies equally to the priest of Nemi himself, the nominal
hero of the long tragedy of human folly and suffering which has unrolled
itself before the readers of these volumes, and on which the curtain is
now about to fall. He, too, for all the quaint garb he wears and the
gravity with which he stalks across the stage, is merely a puppet, and
it is time to unmask him before laying him up in the box.

To drop metaphor, while nominally investigating a particular problem of
ancient mythology, I have really been discussing questions of more
general interest which concern the gradual evolution of human thought
from savagery to civilization. The enquiry is beset with difficulties of
many kinds, for the record of man's mental development is even more
imperfect than the record of his physical development, and it is harder
to read, not only by reason of the incomparably more subtle and complex
nature of the subject, but because the reader's eyes are apt to be
dimmed by thick mists of passion and prejudice, which cloud in a far
less degree the fields of comparative anatomy and geology. My
contribution to the history of the human mind consists of little more
than a rough and purely provisional classification of facts gathered
almost entirely from printed sources. If there is one general conclusion
which seems to emerge from the mass of particulars, I venture to think
that it is the essential similarity in the working of the less developed
human mind among all races, which corresponds to the essential
similarity in their bodily frame revealed by comparative anatomy. But
while this general mental similarity may, I believe, be taken as
established, we must always be on our guard against tracing to it a
multitude of particular resemblances which may be and often are due to
simple diffusion, since nothing is more certain than that the various
races of men have borrowed from each other many of their arts and
crafts, their ideas, customs, and institutions. To sift out the elements
of culture which a race has independently evolved and to distinguish
them accurately from those which it has derived from other races is a
task of extreme difficulty and delicacy, which promises to occupy
students of man for a long time to come; indeed so complex are the facts
and so imperfect in most cases is the historical record that it may be
doubted whether in regard to many of the lower races we shall ever
arrive at more than probable conjectures.

Since the last edition of _The Golden Bough_ was published some thirteen
years ago, I have seen reason to change my views on several matters
discussed in this concluding part of the work, and though I have called
attention to these changes in the text, it may be well for the sake of
clearness to recapitulate them here.

In the first place, the arguments of Dr. Edward Westermarck have
satisfied me that the solar theory of the European fire-festivals, which
I accepted from W. Mannhardt, is very slightly, if at all, supported by
the evidence and is probably erroneous. The true explanation of the
festivals I now believe to be the one advocated by Dr. Westermarck
himself, namely that they are purificatory in intention, the fire being
designed not, as I formerly held, to reinforce the sun's light and heat
by sympathetic magic, but merely to burn or repel the noxious things,
whether conceived as material or spiritual, which threaten the life of
man, of animals, and of plants. This aspect of the fire-festivals had
not wholly escaped me in former editions; I pointed it out explicitly,
but, biassed perhaps by the great authority of Mannhardt, I treated it
as secondary and subordinate instead of primary and dominant. Out of
deference to Mannhardt, for whose work I entertain the highest respect,
and because the evidence for the purificatory theory of the fires is
perhaps not quite conclusive, I have in this edition repeated and even
reinforced the arguments for the solar theory of the festivals, so that
the reader may see for himself what can be said on both sides of the
question and may draw his own conclusion; but for my part I cannot but
think that the arguments for the purificatory theory far outweigh the
arguments for the solar theory. Dr. Westermarck based his criticisms
largely on his own observations of the Mohammedan fire-festivals of
Morocco, which present a remarkable resemblance to those of Christian
Europe, though there seems no reason to assume that herein Africa has
borrowed from Europe or Europe from Africa. So far as Europe is
concerned, the evidence tends strongly to shew that the grand evil which
the festivals aimed at combating was witchcraft, and that they were
conceived to attain their end by actually burning the witches, whether
visible or invisible, in the flames. If that was so, the wide prevalence
and the immense popularity of the fire-festivals provides us with a
measure for estimating the extent of the hold which the belief in
witchcraft had on the European mind before the rise of Christianity or
rather of rationalism; for Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant,
accepted the old belief and enforced it in the old way by the faggot and
the stake. It was not until human reason at last awoke after the long
slumber of the Middle Ages that this dreadful obsession gradually passed
away like a dark cloud from the intellectual horizon of Europe.

Yet we should deceive ourselves if we imagined that the belief in
witchcraft is even now dead in the mass of the people; on the contrary
there is ample evidence to show that it only hibernates under the
chilling influence of rationalism, and that it would start into active
life if that influence were ever seriously relaxed. The truth seems to
be that to this day the peasant remains a pagan and savage at heart; his
civilization is merely a thin veneer which the hard knocks of life soon
abrade, exposing the solid core of paganism and savagery below. The
danger created by a bottomless layer of ignorance and superstition under
the crust of civilized society is lessened, not only by the natural
torpidity and inertia of the bucolic mind, but also by the progressive
decrease of the rural as compared with the urban population in modern
states; for I believe it will be found that the artisans who congregate
in towns are far less retentive of primitive modes of thought than their
rustic brethren. In every age cities have been the centres and as it
were the lighthouses from which ideas radiate into the surrounding
darkness, kindled by the friction of mind with mind in the crowded
haunts of men; and it is natural that at these beacons of intellectual
light all should partake in some measure of the general illumination. No
doubt the mental ferment and unrest of great cities have their dark as
well as their bright side; but among the evils to be apprehended from
them the chances of a pagan revival need hardly be reckoned.

Another point on which I have changed my mind is the nature of the great
Aryan god whom the Romans called Jupiter and the Greeks Zeus. Whereas I
formerly argued that he was primarily a personification of the sacred
oak and only in the second place a personification of the thundering
sky, I now invert the order of his divine functions and believe that he
was a sky-god before he came to be associated with the oak. In fact, I
revert to the traditional view of Jupiter, recant my heresy, and am
gathered like a lost sheep into the fold of mythological orthodoxy. The
good shepherd who has brought me back is my friend Mr. W. Warde Fowler.
He has removed the stone over which I stumbled in the wilderness by
explaining in a simple and natural way how a god of the thundering sky
might easily come to be afterwards associated with the oak. The
explanation turns on the great frequency with which, as statistics
prove, the oak is struck by lightning beyond any other tree of the wood
in Europe. To our rude forefathers, who dwelt in the gloomy depths of
the primaeval forest, it might well seem that the riven and blackened
oaks must indeed be favourites of the sky-god, who so often descended on
them from the murky cloud in a flash of lightning and a crash of

This change of view as to the great Aryan god necessarily affects my
interpretation of the King of the Wood, the priest of Diana at Aricia,
if I may take that discarded puppet out of the box again for a moment.
On my theory the priest represented Jupiter in the flesh, and
accordingly, if Jupiter was primarily a sky-god, his priest cannot have
been a mere incarnation of the sacred oak, but must, like the deity
whose commission he bore, have been invested in the imagination of his
worshippers with the power of overcasting the heaven with clouds and
eliciting storms of thunder and rain from the celestial vault. The
attribution of weather-making powers to kings or priests is very common
in primitive society, and is indeed one of the principal levers by which
such personages raise themselves to a position of superiority above
their fellows. There is therefore no improbability in the supposition
that as a representative of Jupiter the priest of Diana enjoyed this
reputation, though positive evidence of it appears to be lacking.

Lastly, in the present edition I have shewn some grounds for thinking
that the Golden Bough itself, or in common parlance the mistletoe on the
oak, was supposed to have dropped from the sky upon the tree in a flash
of lightning and therefore to contain within itself the seed of
celestial fire, a sort of smouldering thunderbolt. This view of the
priest and of the bough which he guarded at the peril of his life has
the advantage of accounting for the importance which the sanctuary at
Nemi acquired and the treasure which it amassed through the offerings of
the faithful; for the shrine would seem to have been to ancient what
Loreto has been to modern Italy, a place of pilgrimage, where princes
and nobles as well as commoners poured wealth into the coffers of Diana
in her green recess among the Alban hills, just as in modern times kings
and queens vied with each other in enriching the black Virgin who from
her Holy House on the hillside at Loreto looks out on the blue Adriatic
and the purple Apennines. Such pious prodigality becomes more
intelligible if the greatest of the gods was indeed believed to dwell in
human shape with his wife among the woods of Nemi.

These are the principal points on which I have altered my opinion since
the last edition of my book was published. The mere admission of such
changes may suffice to indicate the doubt and uncertainty which attend
enquiries of this nature. The whole fabric of ancient mythology is so
foreign to our modern ways of thought, and the evidence concerning it is
for the most part so fragmentary, obscure, and conflicting that in our
attempts to piece together and interpret it we can hardly hope to reach
conclusions that will completely satisfy either ourselves or others. In
this as in other branches of study it is the fate of theories to be
washed away like children's castles of sand by the rising tide of
knowledge, and I am not so presumptuous as to expect or desire for mine
an exemption from the common lot. I hold them all very lightly and have
used them chiefly as convenient pegs on which to hang my collections of
facts. For I believe that, while theories are transitory, a record of
facts has a permanent value, and that as a chronicle of ancient customs
and beliefs my book may retain its utility when my theories are as
obsolete as the customs and beliefs themselves deserve to be.

I cannot dismiss without some natural regret a task which has occupied
and amused me at intervals for many years. But the regret is tempered by
thankfulness and hope. I am thankful that I have been able to conclude
at least one chapter of the work I projected a long time ago. I am
hopeful that I may not now be taking a final leave of my indulgent
readers, but that, as I am sensible of little abatement in my bodily
strength and of none in my ardour for study, they will bear with me yet
a while if I should attempt to entertain them with fresh subjects of
laughter and tears drawn from the comedy and the tragedy of man's
endless quest after happiness and truth.


CAMBRIDGE, 17_th October_ 1913.


PREFACE, Pp. v-xii


Sec. 1. _Not to touch the Earth_, pp. 1-18.--The priest of Aricia and the
Golden Bough, 1 _sq._; sacred kings and priests forbidden to touch the
ground with their feet, 2-4; certain persons on certain occasions
forbidden to touch the ground with their feet, 4-6; sacred persons
apparently thought to be charged with a mysterious virtue which will run
to waste or explode by contact with the ground, 6 _sq._; things as well
as persons charged with the mysterious virtue of holiness or taboo and
therefore kept from contact with the ground, 7; festival of the wild
mango, which is not allowed to touch the earth, 7-11; other sacred
objects kept from contact with the ground, 11 _sq._; sacred food not
allowed to touch the earth, 13 _sq._; magical implements and remedies
thought to lose their virtue by contact with the ground, 14 _sq._;
serpents' eggs or snake stones, 15 _sq._; medicinal plants, water, etc.,
not allowed to touch the earth, 17 _sq._

Sec. 2. _Not to see the Sun_, pp. 18-21.--Sacred persons not allowed to see
the sun, 18-20; tabooed persons not allowed to see the sun, 20; certain
persons forbidden to see fire, 20 _sq._; the story of Prince Sunless,


Sec. 1. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in Africa_, pp. 22-32.--Girls at
puberty forbidden to touch the ground and see the sun, 22; seclusion of
girls at puberty among the Zulus and kindred tribes, 22; among the
A-Kamba of British East Africa, 23; among the Baganda of Central Africa,
23 _sq._; among the tribes of the Tanganyika plateau, 24 _sq._; among
the tribes of British Central Africa, 25 _sq._; abstinence from salt
associated with a rule of chastity in many tribes, 26-28; seclusion of
girls at puberty among the tribes about Lake Nyassa and on the Zambesi,
28 _sq._; among the Thonga of Delagoa Bay, 29 _sq._; among the Caffre
tribes of South Africa, 30 _sq._; among the Bavili of the Lower Congo,
31 _sq._

Sec. 2. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in New Ireland, New Guinea, and
Indonesia_, pp. 32-36.--Seclusion of girls at puberty in New Ireland,
32-34; in New Guinea, Borneo, Ceram, and the Caroline Islands, 35 _sq._

Sec. 3. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in the Torres Straits Islands and
Northern Australia_, pp. 36-41.--Seclusion of girls at puberty in
Mabuiag, Torres Straits, 36 _sq._; in Northern Australia, 37-39; in the
islands of Torres Straits, 39-41.

Sec. 4. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty among the Indians of North America_,
pp. 41-55.--Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Indians of
California, 41-43; among the Indians of Washington State, 43; among the
Nootka Indians of Vancouver Island, 43 _sq._; among the Haida Indians of
the Queen Charlotte Islands, 44 _sq._; among the Tlingit Indians of
Alaska, 45 _sq._; among the Tsetsaut and Bella Coola Indians of British
Columbia, 46 _sq._; among the Tinneh Indians of British Columbia, 47
_sq._; among the Tinneh Indians of Alaska, 48 _sq._; among the Thompson
Indians of British Columbia, 49-52; among the Lillooet Indians of
British Columbia, 52 _sq._; among the Shuswap Indians of British
Columbia, 53 _sq._; among the Delaware and Cheyenne Indians, 54 _sq._;
among the Esquimaux, 55 _sq._

Sec. 5. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty among the Indians of South America_,
pp. 56-68.--Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Guaranis,
Chiriguanos, and Lengua Indians, 56 _sq._; among the Yuracares of
Bolivia, 57 _sq._; among the Indians of the Gran Chaco, 58 _sq._; among
the Indians of Brazil, 59 _sq._; among the Indians of Guiana, 60 _sq._;
beating the girls and stinging them with ants, 61; stinging young men
with ants and wasps as an initiatory rite, 61-63; stinging men and women
with ants to improve their character or health or to render them
invulnerable, 63 _sq._; in such cases the beating or stinging was
originally a purification, not a test of courage and endurance, 65
_sq._; this explanation confirmed by the beating of girls among the
Banivas of the Orinoco to rid them of a demon, 66-68; symptoms of
puberty in a girl regarded as wounds inflicted on her by a demon, 68.

Sec. 6. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in India and Cambodia_, pp.
68-70.--Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Hindoos, 68; in Southern
India, 68-70; in Cambodia, 70.

Sec. 7. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in Folk-tales_, pp. 70-76.--Danish
story of the girl who might not see the sun, 70-72; Tyrolese story of
the girl who might not see the sun, 72; modern Greek stories of the maid
who might not see the sun, 72 _sq._; ancient Greek story of Danae and
its parallel in a Kirghiz legend, 73 _sq._; impregnation of women by the
sun in legends, 74 _sq._; traces in marriage customs of the belief that
women can be impregnated by the sun, 75; belief in the impregnation of
women by the moon, 75 _sq._

Sec. 8. _Reasons for the Seclusion of Girls at Puberty_, pp. 76-100.--The
reason for the seclusion of girls at puberty is the dread of menstruous
blood, 76; dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the aborigines
of Australia, 76-78; in Torres Straits Islands, New Guinea, Galela, and
Sumatra, 78 _sq._; among the tribes of South Africa, 79 _sq._; among the
tribes of Central and East Africa, 80-82; among the tribes of West
Africa, 82; powerful influence ascribed to menstruous blood in Arab
legend, 82 _sq._; dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Jews
and in Syria, 83 _sq._; in India, 84 _sq._; in Annam, 85; among the
Indians of Central and South America, 85 _sq._; among the Indians of
North America, 87-94; among the Creek, Choctaw, Omaha and Cheyenne
Indians, 88 _sq._; among the Indians of British Columbia, 89 _sq._;
among the Chippeway Indians, 90 _sq._; among the Tinneh or Dene Indians,
91; among the Carrier Indians, 91-94; similar rules of seclusion
enjoined on menstruous women in ancient Hindoo, Persian, and Hebrew
codes, 94-96; superstitions as to menstruous women in ancient and modern
Europe, 96 _sq._; the intention of secluding menstruous women is to
neutralize the dangerous influences which are thought to emanate from
them in that condition, 97; suspension between heaven and earth, 97; the
same explanation applies to the similar rules of seclusion observed by
divine kings and priests, 97-99; stories of immortality attained by
suspension between heaven and earth, 99 _sq._


How Balder, the good and beautiful god, was done to death by a stroke of
mistletoe, 101 _sq._; story of Balder in the older _Edda_, 102 _sq._;
story of Balder as told by Saxo Grammaticus, 103; Balder worshipped in
Norway, 104; legendary death of Balder resembles the legendary death of
Isfendiyar in the epic of Firdusi, 104 _sq._; the myth of Balder perhaps
acted as a magical ceremony; the two main incidents of the myth, namely
the pulling of the mistletoe and the burning of the god, have perhaps
their counterpart in popular ritual, 105.


Sec. 1. _The Lenten Fires_, pp. 106-120.--European custom of kindling
bonfires on certain days of the year, dancing round them, leaping over
them, and burning effigies in the flames, 106; seasons of the year at
which the bonfires are lit, 106 _sq._; bonfires on the first Sunday in
Lent in the Belgian Ardennes, 107 _sq._; in the French department of the
Ardennes, 109 _sq._; in Franche-Comte, 110 _sq._; in Auvergne, 111-113;
French custom of carrying lighted torches (_brandons_) about the
orchards and fields to fertilize them on the first Sunday of Lent,
113-115; bonfires on the first Sunday of Lent in Germany and Austria,
115 _sq._; "burning the witch," 116; burning discs thrown into the air,
116 _sq._; burning wheels rolled down hill, 117 _sq._; bonfires on the
first Sunday in Lent in Switzerland, 118 _sq._; burning discs thrown
into the air, 119; connexion of these fires with the custom of "carrying
out Death," 119 _sq._

Sec. 2. _The Easter Fires_, 120-146.--Custom in Catholic countries of
kindling a holy new fire on Easter Saturday, marvellous properties
ascribed to the embers of the fire, 121; effigy of Judas burnt in the
fire, 121; Easter fires in Bavaria and the Abruzzi, 122; water as well
as fire consecrated at Easter in Italy, Bohemia, and Germany, 122-124;
new fire at Easter in Carinthia, 124; Thomas Kirchmeyer's account of the
consecration of fire and water by the Catholic Church at Easter, 124
_sq._; the new fire on Easter Saturday at Florence, 126 _sq._; the new
fire and the burning of Judas on Easter Saturday in Mexico and South
America, 127 _sq._; the new fire on Easter Saturday in the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, 128-130; the new fire and the burning of
Judas on Easter Saturday in Greece, 130 _sq._; the new fire at Candlemas
in Armenia, 131; the new fire and the burning of Judas at Easter are
probably relics of paganism, 131 _sq._; new fire at the summer solstice
among the Incas of Peru, 132; new fire among the Indians of Mexico and
New Mexico, the Iroquois, and the Esquimaux, 132-134; new fire in Wadai,
among the Swahili, and in other parts of Africa, 134-136; new fires
among the Todas and Nagas of India, 136; new fire in China and Japan,
137 _sq._; new fire in ancient Greece and Rome, 138; new fire at
Hallowe'en among the old Celts of Ireland, 139; new fire on the first of
September among the Russian peasants, 139; the rite of the new fire
probably common to many peoples of the Mediterranean area before the
rise of Christianity, 139 _sq._; the pagan character of the Easter fire
manifest from the superstitions associated with it, such as the belief
that the fire fertilizes the fields and protects houses from
conflagration and sickness, 140 _sq._; the Easter fires in Muensterland,
Oldenburg, the Harz Mountains, and the Altmark, 141-143; Easter fires
and the burning of Judas or the Easter Man in Bavaria, 143 _sq._; Easter
fires and "thunder poles" in Baden, 145; Easter fires in Holland and
Sweden, 145 _sq._; the burning of Judas in Bohemia, 146.

Sec. 3. _The Beltane Fires_, pp. 146-160.--The Beltane fires on the first
of May in the Highlands of Scotland, 146-154; John Ramsay of Ochtertyre,
his description of the Beltane fires and cakes and the Beltane carline,
146-149; Beltane fires and cakes in Perthshire, 150-153; Beltane fires
in the north-east of Scotland to burn the witches, 153 _sq._; Beltane
fires and cakes in the Hebrides, 154; Beltane fires and cakes in Wales,
155-157; in the Isle of Man to burn the witches, 157; in
Nottinghamshire, 157; in Ireland, 157-159; fires on the Eve of May Day
in Sweden, 159; in Austria and Saxony to burn the witches, 159 _sq._

Sec. 4. _The Midsummer Fires_, pp. 160-219.--The great season for
fire-festivals in Europe is Midsummer Eve or Midsummer Day, which the
church has dedicated to St. John the Baptist, 160 _sq._; the bonfires,
the torches, and the burning wheels of the festival, 161; Thomas
Kirchmeyer's description of the Midsummer festival, 162 _sq._; the
Midsummer fires in Germany, 163-171; burning wheel rolled down hill at
Konz on the Moselle, 163 _sq._; Midsummer fires in Bavaria, 164-166; in
Swabia, 166 _sq._; in Baden, 167-169; in Alsace, Lorraine, the Eifel,
the Harz district, and Thuringia, 169; Midsummer fires kindled by the
friction of wood, 169 _sq._; driving away the witches and demons, 170;
Midsummer fires in Silesia, scaring away the witches, 170 _sq._;
Midsummer fires in Denmark and Norway, keeping off the witches, 171;
Midsummer fires in Sweden, 172; Midsummer fires in Switzerland and
Austria, 172 _sq._; in Bohemia, 173-175; in Moravia, Austrian Silesia,
and the district of Cracow, 175; among the Slavs of Russia, 176; in
Prussia and Lithuania as a protection against witchcraft, thunder, hail,
and cattle disease, 176 _sq._; in Masuren the fire is kindled by the
revolution of a wheel, 177; Midsummer fires among the Letts of Russia,
177 _sq._; among the South Slavs, 178; among the Magyars, 178 _sq._;
among the Esthonians, 179 _sq._; among the Finns and Cheremiss of
Russia, 180 _sq._; in France, 181-194; Bossuet on the Midsummer
festival, 182; the Midsummer fires in Brittany, 183-185; in Normandy,
the Brotherhood of the Green Wolf at Jumieges, 185 _sq._; Midsummer
fires in Picardy, 187 _sq._; in Beauce and Perche, 188; the fires a
protection against witchcraft, 188; the Midsummer fires in the Ardennes,
the Vosges, and the Jura, 188 _sq._; in Franche-Comte, 189; in Berry and
other parts of Central France, 189 _sq._; in Poitou, 190 _sq._; in the
departments of Vienne and Deux-Sevres and in the provinces of Saintonge
and Aunis, 191 _sq._; in Southern France, 192 _sq._; Midsummer festival
of fire and water in Provence, 193 _sq._; Midsummer fires in Belgium,
194-196; in England, 196-200; Stow's description of the Midsummer fires
in London, 196 _sq._; John Aubrey on the Midsummer fires, 197; Midsummer
fires in Cumberland, Northumberland, and Yorkshire, 197 _sq._; in
Herefordshire, Somersetshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall, 199 _sq._; in
Wales and the Isle of Man, 200 _sq._; in Ireland, 201-205; holy wells
resorted to on Midsummer Eve in Ireland, 205 _sq._; Midsummer fires in
Scotland, 206 _sq._; Midsummer fires and divination in Spain and the
Azores, 208 _sq._; Midsummer fires in Corsica and Sardinia, 209; in the
Abruzzi, 209 _sq._; in Sicily, 210; in Malta, 210 _sq._; in Greece and
the Greek islands, 211 _sq._; in Macedonia and Albania, 212; in South
America, 212 _sq._; among the Mohammedans of Morocco and Algeria,
213-216; the Midsummer festival in North Africa comprises rites of water
as well as fire, 216; similar festival of fire and water at New Year in
North Africa, 217 _sq._; the duplication of the festival probably due to
a conflict between the solar calendar of the Romans and the lunar
calendar of the Arabs, 218 _sg._; the Midsummer festival in Morocco
apparently of Berber origin, 219.

Sec. 5. _The Autumn Fires_, pp. 220-222.--Festivals of fire in August, 220;
"living fire" made by the friction of wood, 220; feast of the Nativity
of the Virgin on the eighth of September at Capri and Naples, 220-222.

Sec. 6. _The Halloween Fires_, pp. 222-246.--While the Midsummer festival
implies observation of the solstices, the Celts appear to have divided
their year, without regard to the solstices, by the times when they
drove their cattle to and from the summer pasture on the first of May
and the last of October (Hallowe'en), 222-224; the two great Celtic
festivals of Beltane (May Day) and Hallowe'en (the last of October),
224; Hallowe'en seems to have marked the beginning of the Celtic year,
224 _sq._; it was a season of divination and a festival of the dead, 225
_sq._; fairies and hobgoblins let loose at Hallowe'en, 226-228;
divination in Celtic countries at Hallowe'en, 228 _sq._; Hallowe'en
bonfires in the Highlands of Scotland, 229-232; Hallowe'en fires in
Buchan to burn the witches, 232 _sq._; processions with torches at
Hallowe'en in the Braemar Highlands, 233 _sq._; divination at Hallowe'en
in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, 234-239; Hallowe'en fires in
Wales, omens drawn from stones cast into the fires, 239 _sq._;
divination at Hallowe'en in Wales, 240 _sq._; divination at Hallowe'en
in Ireland, 241-243; Hallowe'en fires and divination in the Isle of Man,
243 _sq._; Hallowe'en fires and divination in Lancashire, 244 _sq._;
marching with lighted candles to keep off the witches, 245; divination
at Hallowe'en in Northumberland, 245; Hallowe'en fires in France, 245

Sec. 7. _The Midwinter Fires_, pp. 246-269.--Christmas the continuation of
an old heathen festival of the sun, 246; the Yule log the Midwinter
counterpart of the Midsummer bonfire, 247; the Yule log in Germany,
247-249; in Switzerland, 249; in Belgium, 249; in France, 249-255;
French superstitions as to the Yule log, 250; the Yule log at Marseilles
and in Perigord, 250 _sq._; in Berry, 251 _sq._; in Normandy and
Brittany, 252 _sq._; in the Ardennes, 253 _sq._; in the Vosges, 254; in
Franche-Comte, 254 _sq._; the Yule log and Yule candle in England,
255-258; the Yule log in the north of England and Yorkshire, 256 _sq._;
in Lincolnshire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, and Herefordshire, 257 _sq._;
in Wales, 258; in Servia, 258-262; among the Servians of Slavonia, 262
_sq._; among the Servians of Dalmatia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro, 263
_sq._; in Albania, 264; belief that the Yule log protects against fire
and lightning, 264 _sq._; public fire-festivals at Midwinter, 265-269;
Christmas bonfire at Schweina in Thuringia, 265 _sq._; Christmas
bonfires in Normandy, 266; bonfires on St. Thomas's Day in the Isle of
Man, 266; the "Burning of the Clavie" at Burghead on the last day of
December, 266-268; Christmas procession with burning tar-barrels at
Lerwick, 268 _sq._

Sec. 8. _The Need-fire_, pp. 269-300.--Need-fire kindled not at fixed
periods but on occasions of distress and calamity, 269; the need-fire in
the Middle Ages and down to the end of the sixteenth century, 270 _sq._;
mode of kindling the need-fire by the friction of wood, 271 _sq_.; the
need-fire in Central Germany, particularly about Hildesheim, 272 _sq._;
the need-fire in the Mark, 273; in Mecklenburg, 274 _sq._; in Hanover,
275 _sq._; in the Harz Mountains, 276 _sq._; in Brunswick, 277 _sq._; in
Silesia and Bohemia, 278 _sq._; in Switzerland, 279 _sq._; in Sweden and
Norway, 280; among the Slavonic peoples, 281-286; in Russia and Poland,
281 _sq._; in Slavonia, 282; in Servia, 282-284; in Bulgaria, 284-286;
in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 286; in England, 286-289; in Yorkshire,
286-288; in Northumberland, 288 _sq._; in Scotland, 289-297; Martin's
account of it in the Highlands, 289; the need-fire in Mull, 289 _sq._;
in Caithness, 290-292; W. Grant Stewart's account of the need-fire, 292
_sq._; Alexander Carmichael's account, 293-295; the need-fire in
Aberdeenshire, 296; in Perthshire, 296 _sq._; in Ireland, 297; the use
of need-fire a relic of the time when all fires were similarly kindled
by the friction of wood, 297 _sq._; the belief that need-fire cannot
kindle if any other fire remains alight in the neighbourhood, 298 _sq._;
the need-fire among the Iroquois of North America, 299 _sq._

Sec. 9. _The Sacrifice of an Animal to stay a Cattle-plague_, pp.
300-327.--The burnt sacrifice of a calf in England and Wales, 300 _sq._;
burnt sacrifices of animals in Scotland, 301 _sq._; calf burnt in order
to break a spell which has been cast on the herd, 302 _sq._; mode in
which the burning of a bewitched animal is supposed to break the spell,
303-305; in burning the bewitched animal you burn the witch herself,
305; practice of burning cattle and sheep as sacrifices in the Isle of
Man, 305-307; by burning a bewitched animal you compel the witch to
appear, 307; magic sympathy between the witch and the bewitched animal,
308; similar sympathy between a were-wolf and his or her human shape,
wounds inflicted on the animal are felt by the man or woman, 308;
were-wolves in Europe, 308-310; in China, 310 _sq._; among the Toradjas
of Central Celebes, 311-313 _sq._; in the Egyptian Sudan, 313 _sq._; the
were-wolf story in Petronius, 313 _sq._; witches like were-wolves can
temporarily transform themselves into animals, and wounds inflicted on
the transformed animals appear on the persons of the witches, 315 _sq._;
instances of such transformations and wounds in Scotland, England,
Ireland, France, and Germany, 316-321; hence the reason for burning
bewitched animals is either to burn the witch herself or at all events
to compel her to appear, 321 _sq._; the like reason for burning
bewitched things, 322 _sq._; similarly by burning alive a person whose
likeness a witch has assumed you compel the witch to disclose herself,
323; woman burnt alive as a witch in Ireland at the end of the
nineteenth century, 323 _sq._; bewitched animals sometimes buried alive
instead of being burned, 324-326; calves killed and buried to save the
rest of the herd, 326 _sq_.


Sec. 1. _On the Fire-festivals in general_ pp. 328-331.--General
resemblance of the fire-festivals to each other, 328 _sq._; two
explanations of the festivals suggested, one by W. Mannhardt that they
are sun-charms, the other by Dr. E. Westermarck that they are
purificatory, 329 _sq._; the two explanations perhaps not mutually
exclusive, 330 _sq._

Sec. 2. _The Solar Theory of the Fire-festivals_, pp. 331-341.--Theory that
the fire-festivals are charms to ensure a supply of sunshine, 331;
coincidence of two of the festivals with the solstices, 331 _sq._;
attempt of the Bushmen to warm up the fire of Sirius in midwinter by
kindling sticks, 332 _sq._; the burning wheels and discs of the
fire-festivals may be direct imitations of the sun, 334; the wheel which
is sometimes used to kindle the fire by friction may also be an
imitation of the sun, 334-336; the influence which the bonfires are
supposed to exert on the weather and vegetation may be thought to be due
to an increase of solar heat produced by the fires, 336-338; the effect
which the bonfires are supposed to have in fertilizing cattle and women
may also be attributed to an increase of solar heat produced by the
fires, 338 _sq._; the carrying of lighted torches about the country at
the festivals may be explained as an attempt to diffuse the sun's heat,

Sec. 3. _The Purificatory Theory of the Fire-festivals_, pp.
341-346.--Theory that the fires at the festivals are purificatory, being
intended to burn up all harmful things, 341; the purificatory or
destructive effect of the fires is often alleged by the people who light
them, and there is no reason to reject this explanation, 341 _sq._; the
great evil against which the fire at the festivals appears to be
directed is witchcraft, 342; among the evils for which the
fire-festivals are deemed remedies the foremost is cattle-disease, and
cattle-disease is often supposed to be an effect of witchcraft, 343
_sq._; again, the bonfires are thought to avert hail, thunder,
lightning, and various maladies, all of which are attributed to the
maleficent arts of witches, 344 _sq._; the burning wheels rolled down
hill and the burning discs thrown into the air may be intended to burn
the invisible witches, 345 _sq._; on this view the fertility supposed to
follow the use of fire results indirectly from breaking the spells of
witches, 346; on the whole the theory of the purificatory or destructive
intention of the fire-festivals seems the more probable, 346.

[Transcriber's Note: The brief descriptions often found enclosed in
square brackets are "sidenotes", which appeared in the original book in
the margins of the paragraph following the "sidenote." Footnotes were
originally at the bottoms of the printed pages.]



Sec. 1. _Not to touch the Earth_

[The priest of Aricia and the Golden Bough]

We have travelled far since we turned our backs on Nemi and set forth in
quest of the secret of the Golden Bough. With the present volume we
enter on the last stage of our long journey. The reader who has had the
patience to follow the enquiry thus far may remember that at the outset
two questions were proposed for answer: Why had the priest of Aricia to
slay his predecessor? And why, before doing so, had he to pluck the
Golden Bough?[1] Of these two questions the first has now been answered.
The priest of Aricia, if I am right, was one of those sacred kings or
human divinities on whose life the welfare of the community and even the
course of nature in general are believed to be intimately dependent. It
does not appear that the subjects or worshippers of such a spiritual
potentate form to themselves any very clear notion of the exact
relationship in which they stand to him; probably their ideas on the
point are vague and fluctuating, and we should err if we attempted to
define the relationship with logical precision. All that the people
know, or rather imagine, is that somehow they themselves, their cattle,
and their crops are mysteriously bound up with their divine king, so
that according as he is well or ill the community is healthy or sickly,
the flocks and herds thrive or languish with disease, and the fields
yield an abundant or a scanty harvest. The worst evil which they can
conceive of is the natural death of their ruler, whether he succumb to
sickness or old age, for in the opinion of his followers such a death
would entail the most disastrous consequences on themselves and their
possessions; fatal epidemics would sweep away man and beast, the earth
would refuse her increase, nay the very frame of nature itself might be
dissolved. To guard against these catastrophes it is necessary to put
the king to death while he is still in the full bloom of his divine
manhood, in order that his sacred life, transmitted in unabated force to
his successor, may renew its youth, and thus by successive transmissions
through a perpetual line of vigorous incarnations may remain eternally
fresh and young, a pledge and security that men and animals shall in
like manner renew their youth by a perpetual succession of generations,
and that seedtime and harvest, and summer and winter, and rain and
sunshine shall never fail. That, if my conjecture is right, was why the
priest of Aricia, the King of the Wood at Nemi, had regularly to perish
by the sword of his successor.

[What was the Golden Bough?]

But we have still to ask, What was the Golden Bough? and why had each
candidate for the Arician priesthood to pluck it before he could slay
the priest? These questions I will now try to answer.

[Sacred kings and priests forbidden to touch the ground with their

It will be well to begin by noticing two of those rules or taboos by
which, as we have seen, the life of divine kings or priests is
regulated. The first of the rules to which I desire to call the reader's
attention is that the divine personage may not touch the ground with his
foot. This rule was observed by the supreme pontiff of the Zapotecs in
Mexico; he profaned his sanctity if he so much as touched the ground
with his foot.[2] Montezuma, emperor of Mexico, never set foot on the
ground; he was always carried on the shoulders of noblemen, and if he
lighted anywhere they laid rich tapestry for him to walk upon.[3] For
the Mikado of Japan to touch the ground with his foot was a shameful
degradation; indeed, in the sixteenth century, it was enough to deprive
him of his office. Outside his palace he was carried on men's shoulders;
within it he walked on exquisitely wrought mats.[4] The king and queen
of Tahiti might not touch the ground anywhere but within their
hereditary domains; for the ground on which they trod became sacred. In
travelling from place to place they were carried on the shoulders of
sacred men. They were always accompanied by several pairs of these
sanctified attendants; and when it became necessary to change their
bearers, the king and queen vaulted on to the shoulders of their new
bearers without letting their feet touch the ground.[5] It was an evil
omen if the king of Dosuma touched the ground, and he had to perform an
expiatory ceremony.[6] Within his palace the king of Persia walked on
carpets on which no one else might tread; outside of it he was never
seen on foot but only in a chariot or on horseback.[7] In old days the
king of Siam never set foot upon the earth, but was carried on a throne
of gold from place to place.[8] Formerly neither the kings of Uganda,
nor their mothers, nor their queens might walk on foot outside of the
spacious enclosures in which they lived. Whenever they went forth they
were carried on the shoulders of men of the Buffalo clan, several of
whom accompanied any of these royal personages on a journey and took it
in turn to bear the burden. The king sat astride the bearer's neck with
a leg over each shoulder and his feet tucked under the bearer's arms.
When one of these royal carriers grew tired he shot the king on to the
shoulders of a second man without allowing the royal feet to touch the
ground. In this way they went at a great pace and travelled long
distances in a day, when the king was on a journey. The bearers had a
special hut in the king's enclosure in order to be at hand the moment
they were wanted.[9] Among the Bakuba or rather Bushongo, a nation in
the southern region of the Congo, down to a few years ago persons of the
royal blood were forbidden to touch the ground; they must sit on a hide,
a chair, or the back of a slave, who crouched on hands and feet; their
feet rested on the feet of others. When they travelled they were carried
on the backs of men; but the king journeyed in a litter supported on
shafts.[10] Among the Ibo people about Awka, in Southern Nigeria, the
priest of the Earth has to observe many taboos; for example, he may not
see a corpse, and if he meets one on the road he must hide his eyes with
his wristlet. He must abstain from many foods, such as eggs, birds of
all sorts, mutton, dog, bush-buck, and so forth. He may neither wear nor
touch a mask, and no masked man may enter his house. If a dog enters his
house, it is killed and thrown out. As priest of the Earth he may not
sit on the bare ground, nor eat things that have fallen on the ground,
nor may earth be thrown at him.[11] According to ancient Brahmanic
ritual a king at his inauguration trod on a tiger's skin and a golden
plate; he was shod with shoes of boar's skin, and so long as he lived
thereafter he might not stand on the earth with his bare feet.[12]

[Certain persons on certain occasions forbidden to touch the ground with
their feet.]

But besides persons who are permanently sacred or tabooed and are
therefore permanently forbidden to touch the ground with their feet,
there are others who enjoy the character of sanctity or taboo only on
certain occasions, and to whom accordingly the prohibition in question
only applies at the definite seasons during which they exhale the odour
of sanctity. Thus among the Kayans or Bahaus of Central Borneo, while
the priestesses are engaged in the performance of certain rites they may
not step on the ground, and boards are laid for them to tread on.[13] At
a funeral ceremony observed by night among the Michemis, a Tibetan tribe
near the northern frontier of Assam, a priest fantastically bedecked
with tiger's teeth, many-coloured plumes, bells, and shells, executed a
wild dance for the purpose of exorcising the evil spirits; then all
fires were extinguished and a new light was struck by a man suspended by
his feet from a beam in the ceiling; "he did not touch the ground," we
are told, "in order to indicate that the light came from heaven."[14]
Again, newly born infants are strongly tabooed; accordingly in Loango
they are not allowed to touch the earth.[15] Among the Iluvans of
Malabar the bridegroom on his wedding-day is bathed by seven young men
and then carried or walks on planks from the bathing-place to the
marriage booth; he may not touch the ground with his feet.[16] With the
Dyaks of Landak and Tajan, two districts of Dutch Borneo, it is a custom
that for a certain time after marriage neither bride nor bridegroom may
tread on the earth.[17] Warriors, again, on the war-path are surrounded,
so to say, by an atmosphere of taboo; hence some Indians of North
America might not sit on the bare ground the whole time they were out on
a warlike expedition.[18] In Laos the hunting of elephants gives rise to
many taboos; one of them is that the chief hunter may not touch the
earth with his foot. Accordingly, when he alights from his elephant, the
others spread a carpet of leaves for him to step upon.[19] German
wiseacres recommended that when witches were led to the block or the
stake, they should not be allowed to touch the bare earth, and a reason
suggested for the rule was that if they touched the earth they might
make themselves invisible and so escape. The sagacious author of _The
Striped-petticoat Philosophy_ in the eighteenth century ridicules the
idea as mere silly talk. He admits, indeed, that the women were conveyed
to the place of execution in carts; but he denies that there is any deep
significance in the cart, and he is prepared to maintain this view by a
chemical analysis of the timber of which the cart was built. To clinch
his argument he appeals to plain matter of fact and his own personal
experience. Not a single instance, he assures us with apparent
satisfaction, can be produced of a witch who escaped the axe or the fire
in this fashion. "I have myself," says he, "in my youth seen divers
witches burned, some at Arnstadt, some at Ilmenau, some at Schwenda, a
noble village between Arnstadt and Ilmenau, and some of them were
pardoned and beheaded before being burned. They were laid on the earth
in the place of execution and beheaded like any other poor sinner;
whereas if they could have escaped by touching the earth, not one of
them would have failed to do so."[20]

[Sacred or tabooed persons apparently thought to be charged with a
mysterious virtue like a fluid, which will run to waste or explode if it
touches the ground.]

Apparently holiness, magical virtue, taboo, or whatever we may call that
mysterious quality which is supposed to pervade sacred or tabooed
persons, is conceived by the primitive philosopher as a physical
substance or fluid, with which the sacred man is charged just as a
Leyden jar is charged with electricity; and exactly as the electricity
in the jar can be discharged by contact with a good conductor, so the
holiness or magical virtue in the man can be discharged and drained away
by contact with the earth, which on this theory serves as an excellent
conductor for the magical fluid. Hence in order to preserve the charge
from running to waste, the sacred or tabooed personage must be carefully
prevented from touching the ground; in electrical language he must be
insulated, if he is not to be emptied of the precious substance or fluid
with which he, as a vial, is filled to the brim. And in many cases
apparently the insulation of the tabooed person is recommended as a
precaution not merely for his own sake but for the sake of others; for
since the virtue of holiness or taboo is, so to say, a powerful
explosive which the smallest touch may detonate, it is necessary in the
interest of the general safety to keep it within narrow bounds, lest
breaking out it should blast, blight, and destroy whatever it comes into
contact with.

[Things as well as persons can be charged with the mysterious quality of
holiness or taboo; and when so charged they must be kept from contact
with the ground.]

But things as well as persons are often charged with the mysterious
quality of holiness or taboo; hence it frequently becomes necessary for
similar reasons to guard them also from coming into contact with the
ground, lest they should in like manner be drained of their valuable
properties and be reduced to mere commonplace material objects, empty
husks from which the good grain has been eliminated. Thus, for example,
the most sacred object of the Arunta tribe in Central Australia is, or
rather used to be, a pole about twenty feet high, which is completely
smeared with human blood, crowned with an imitation of a human head, and
set up on the ground where the final initiatory ceremonies of young men
are performed. A young gum-tree is chosen to form the pole, and it must
be cut down and transported in such a way that it does not touch the
earth till it is erected in its place on the holy ground. Apparently the
pole represents some famous ancestor of the olden time.[21]

[Festival of the wild manog tree in British New Guinea.]

Again, at a great dancing festival celebrated by the natives of Bartle
Bay, in British New Guinea, a wild mango tree plays a prominent part.
The tree must be self-sown, that is, really wild and so young that it
has never flowered. It is chosen in the jungle some five or six weeks
before the festival, and a circle is cleared round its trunk. From that
time the master of the ceremonies and some eight to twenty other men,
who have aided him in choosing the tree and in clearing the jungle,
become strictly holy or tabooed. They sleep by themselves in a house
into which no one else may intrude: they may not wash or drink water,
nor even allow it accidentally to touch their bodies: they are forbidden
to eat boiled food and the fruit of mango trees: they may drink only the
milk of a young coco-nut which has been baked, and they may eat certain
fruits and vegetables, such as paw-paws (_Carica papaya_) and
sugar-cane, but only on condition that they have been baked. All refuse
of their food is kept in baskets in their sleeping-house and may not be
removed from it till the festival is over. At the time when the men
begin to observe these rules of abstinence, some six to ten women,
members of the same clan as the master of the ceremonies, enter on a
like period of mortification, avoiding the company of the other sex, and
refraining from water, all boiled food, and the fruit of the mango tree.
These fasting men and women are the principal dancers at the festival.
The dancing takes place on a special platform in a temporary village
which has been erected for the purpose. When the platform is about to be
set up, the fasting men rub the stepping posts and then suck their hands
for the purpose of extracting the ghost of any dead man that might
chance to be in the post and might be injured by the weight of the
platform pressing down on him. Having carefully extracted these poor
souls, the men carry them away tenderly and set them free in the forest
or the long grass.

[The wild mango tree not allowed to touch the ground.]

On the day before the festival one of the fasting men cuts down the
chosen mango tree in the jungle with a stone adze, which is never
afterwards put to any other use; an iron tool may not be used for the
purpose, though iron tools are now common enough in the district. In
cutting down the mango they place nets on the ground to catch any leaves
or twigs that might fall from the tree as it is being felled and they
surround the trunk with new mats to receive the chips which fly out
under the adze of the woodman; for the chips may not drop on the earth.
Once the tree is down, it is carried to the centre of the temporary
village, the greatest care being taken to prevent it from coming into
contact with the ground. But when it is brought into the village, the
houses are connected with the top of the mango by means of long vines
decorated with the streamers. In the afternoon the fasting men and women
begin to dance, the men bedizened with gay feathers, armlets, streamers,
and anklets, the women flaunting in parti-coloured petticoats and sprigs
of croton leaves, which wave from their waistbands as they dance. The
dancing stops at sundown, and when the full moon rises over the shoulder
of the eastern hill (for the date of the festival seems to be determined
with reference to the time of the moon), two chiefs mount the gables of
two houses on the eastern side of the square, and, their dusky figures
standing sharply out against the moonlight, pray to the evil spirits to
go away and not to hurt the people. Next morning pigs are killed by
being speared as slowly as possible in order that they may squeal loud
and long; for the people believe that the mango trees hear the
squealing, and are pleased at the sound, and bear plenty of fruit,
whereas if they heard no squeals they would bear no fruit. However, the
trees have to content themselves with the squeals; the flesh of the pigs
is eaten by the people. This ends the festival.

[Final disposition of the wild mango tree.]

Next day the mango is taken down from the platform, wrapt in new mats,
and carried by the fasting men to their sleeping house, where it is hung
from the roof. But after an interval, it may be of many months, the tree
is brought forth again. As to the reason for its reappearance in public
opinions are divided; but some say that the tree itself orders the
master of the ceremonies to bring it forth, appearing to him in his
dreams and saying, "Let me smell the smoking fat of pigs. So will your
pigs be healthy and your crops will grow." Be that as it may, out it
comes, conducted by the fasting men in their dancing costume; and with
it come in the solemn procession all the pots, spoons, cups and so forth
used by the fasting men during their period of holiness or taboo, also
all the refuse of their food which has been collected for months, and
all the fallen leaves and chips of the mango in their bundles of mats.
These holy relics are carried in front and the mango tree itself brings
up the rear of the procession. While these sacred objects are being
handed out of the house, the men who are present rush up, wipe off the
hallowed dust which has accumulated on them, and smear it over their own
bodies, no doubt in order to steep themselves in their blessed
influence. Thus the tree is carried as before to the centre of the
temporary village, care being again taken not to let it touch the
ground. Then one of the fasting men takes from a basket a number of
young green mangoes, cuts them in pieces, and places them with his own
hands in the mouths of his fellows, the other fasting men, who chew the
pieces small and turning round spit the morsels in the direction of the
setting sun, in order that "the sun should carry the mango bits over the
whole country and everyone should know." A portion of the mango tree is
then broken off and in the evening it is burnt along with the bundles of
leaves, chips, and refuse of food, which have been stored up. What
remains of the tree is taken to the house of the master of the
ceremonies and hung over the fire-place; it will be brought out again at
intervals and burned bit by bit, till all is consumed, whereupon a new
mango will be cut down and treated in like manner. The ashes of the holy
fire on each occasion are gathered by the people and preserved in the
house of the master of the ceremonies.[22]

[The ceremony apparently intended to fertilize the mango trees.]

The meaning of these ceremonies is not explained by the authorities who
describe them; but we may conjecture that they are intended to fertilize
the mango trees and cause them to bear a good crop of fruit. The central
feature of the whole ritual is a wild mango tree, so young that it has
never flowered: the men who cut it down, carry it into the village, and
dance at the festival, are forbidden to eat mangoes: pigs are killed in
order that their dying squeals may move the mango trees to bear fruit:
at the end of the ceremonies pieces of young green mangoes are solemnly
placed in the mouths of the fasting men and are by them spurted out
towards the setting sun in order that the luminary may carry the
fragments to every part of the country; and finally when after a longer
or shorter interval the tree is wholly consumed, its place is supplied
by another. All these circumstances are explained simply and naturally
by the supposition that the young mango tree is taken as a
representative of mangoes generally, that the dances are intended to
quicken it, and that it is preserved, like a May-pole of old in England,
as a sort of general fund of vegetable life, till the fund being
exhausted by the destruction of the tree it is renewed by the
importation of a fresh young tree from the forest. We can therefore
understand why, as a storehouse of vital energy, the tree should be
carefully kept from contact with the ground, lest the pent-up and
concentrated energy should escape and dribbling away into the earth be
dissipated to no purpose.

[Sacred objects of various sorts not allowed to touch the ground.]

To take other instances of what we may call the conservation of energy
in magic or religion by insulating sacred bodies from the ground, the
natives of New Britain have a secret society called the Duk-duk, the
members of which masquerade in petticoats of leaves and tall headdresses
of wickerwork shaped like candle extinguishers, which descend to the
shoulders of the wearers, completely concealing their faces. Thus
disguised they dance about to the awe and terror, real or assumed, of
the women and uninitiated, who take, or pretend to take, them for
spirits. When lads are being initiated into the secrets of this august
society, the adepts cut down some very large and heavy bamboos, one for
each lad, and the novices carry them, carefully wrapt up in leaves, to
the sacred ground, where they arrive very tired and weary, for they may
not let the bamboos touch the ground nor the sun shine on them. Outside
the fence of the enclosure every lad deposits his bamboo on a couple of
forked sticks and covers it up with nut leaves.[23] Among the Carrier
Indians of North-Western America, who burned their dead, the ashes of a
chief used to be placed in a box and set on the top of a pole beside his
hut: the box was never allowed to touch the ground.[24] In the Omaha
tribe of North American Indians the sacred clam shell of the Elk clan
was wrapt up from sight in a mat, placed on a stand, and never suffered
to come in contact with the earth.[25] The Cherokees and kindred Indian
tribes of the United States used to have certain sacred boxes or arks,
which they regularly took with them to war. Such a holy ark consisted of
a square wooden box, which contained "certain consecrated vessels made
by beloved superannuated women, and of such various antiquated forms, as
would have puzzled Adam to have given significant names to each." The
leader of a war party and his attendant bore the ark by turns, but they
never set it on the ground nor would they themselves sit on the bare
earth while they were carrying it against the enemy. Where stones were
plentiful they rested the ark on them; but where no stones were to be
found, they deposited it on short logs. "The Indian ark is deemed so
sacred and dangerous to be touched, either by their own sanctified
warriors, or the spoiling enemy, that they durst not touch it upon any
account. It is not to be meddled with by any, except the war chieftain
and his waiter, under the penalty of incurring great evil. Nor would the
most inveterate enemy touch it in the woods, for the very same reason."
After their return home they used to hang the ark on the leader's
red-painted war pole.[26] At Sipi, near Simla, in Northern India, an
annual fair is held, at which men purchase wives. A square box with a
domed top figures prominently at the fair. It is fixed on two poles to
be carried on men's shoulders, and long heavily-plaited petticoats hang
from it nearly to the ground. Three sides of the box are adorned with
the head and shoulders of a female figure and the fourth side with a
black yak's tail. Four men bear the poles, each carrying an axe in his
right hand. They dance round, with a swinging rhythmical step, to the
music of drums and a pipe. The dance goes on for hours and is thought to
avert ill-luck from the fair. It is said that the box is brought to
Simla from a place sixty miles off by relays of men, who may not stop
nor set the box on the ground the whole way.[27] In Scotland, when water
was carried from sacred wells to sick people, the water-vessel might not
touch the earth.[28] In some parts of Aberdeenshire the last bunch of
standing corn, which is commonly viewed as very sacred, being the last
refuge of the corn-spirit retreating before the reapers, is not suffered
to touch the ground; the master or "gueedman" sits down and receives
each handful of corn as it is cut on his lap.[29]

[Sacred food not allowed to touch the earth.]

Again, sacred food may not under certain circumstances be brought into
contact with the earth. Some of the aborigines of Victoria used to
regard the fat of the emu as sacred, believing that it had once been the
fat of the black man. In taking it from the bird or giving it to another
they handled it reverently. Any one who threw away the fat or flesh of
the emu was held accursed. "The late Mr. Thomas observed on one
occasion, at Nerre-nerre-Warreen, a remarkable exhibition of the effects
of this superstition. An aboriginal child--one attending the
school--having eaten some part of the flesh of an emu, threw away the
skin. The skin fell to the ground, and this being observed by his
parents, they showed by their gestures every token of horror. They
looked upon their child as one utterly lost. His desecration of the bird
was regarded as a sin for which there was no atonement."[30] The
Roumanians of Transylvania believe that "every fresh-baked loaf of
wheaten bread is sacred, and should a piece inadvertently fall to the
ground, it is hastily picked up, carefully wiped and kissed, and if
soiled, thrown into the fire--partly as an offering to the dead, and
partly because it were a heavy sin to throw away or tread upon any
particle of it."[31] At certain festivals in south-eastern Borneo the
food which is consumed in the common house may not touch the ground;
hence, a little before the festivals take place, foot-bridges made of
thin poles are constructed from the private dwellings to the common
house.[32] When Hall was living with the Esquimaux and grew tired of
eating walrus, one of the women brought the head and neck of a reindeer
for him to eat. This venison had to be completely wrapt up before it was
brought into the house, and once in the house it could only be placed on
the platform which served as a bed. "To have placed it on the floor or
on the platform behind the fire-lamp, among the walrus, musk-ox, and
polar-bear meat which occupy a goodly portion of both of these places,
would have horrified the whole town, as, according to the actual belief
of the Innuits, not another walrus could be secured this year, and there
would ever be trouble in catching any more."[33] But in this case the
real scruple appears to have been felt not so much at placing the
venison on the ground as at bringing it into contact with walrus

[Magical implements and remedies thought to lose their virtue by contact
with the ground.]

Sometimes magical implements and remedies are supposed to lose their
virtue by contact with the ground, the volatile essence with which they
are impregnated being no doubt drained off into the earth. Thus in the
Boulia district of Queensland the magical bone, which the native
sorcerer points at his victim as a means of killing him, is never by any
chance allowed to touch the earth.[35] The wives of rajahs in Macassar,
a district of southern Celebes, pride themselves on their luxuriant
tresses and are at great pains to oil and preserve them. Should the hair
begin to grow thin, the lady resorts to many devices to stay the ravages
of time; among other things she applies to her locks a fat extracted
from crocodiles and venomous snakes. The unguent is believed to be very
efficacious, but during its application the woman's feet may not come
into contact with the ground, or all the benefit of the nostrum would be
lost.[36] Some people in antiquity believed that a woman in hard labour
would be delivered if a spear, which had been wrenched from a man's body
without touching the ground, were thrown over the house where the
sufferer lay. Again, according to certain ancient writers, arrows which
had been extracted from a body without coming into contact with the
earth and laid under sleepers, acted as a love-charm.[37] Among the
peasantry of the north-east of Scotland the prehistoric weapons called
celts went by the name of "thunderbolts" and were coveted as the sure
bringers of success, always provided that they were not allowed to fall
to the ground.[38]

[Serpents eggs or Snake Stones.]

In ancient Gaul certain glass or paste beads attained great celebrity as
amulets under the name of serpents' eggs; it was believed that serpents,
coiling together in a wriggling, writhing mass, generated them from
their slaver and shot them into the air from their hissing jaws. If a
man was bold and dexterous enough to catch one of these eggs in his
cloak before it touched the ground, he rode off on horseback with it at
full speed, pursued by the whole pack of serpents, till he was saved by
the interposition of a river, which the snakes could not pass. The proof
of the egg being genuine was that if it were thrown into a stream it
would float up against the current, even though it were hooped in gold.
The Druids held these beads in high esteem; according to them, the
precious objects could only be obtained on a certain day of the moon,
and the peculiar virtue that resided in them was to secure success in
law suits and free access to kings. Pliny knew of a Gaulish knight who
was executed by the emperor Claudius for wearing one of these
amulets.[39] Under the name of Snake Stones (_glain neidr_) or Adder
Stones the beads are still known in those parts of our own country where
the Celtic population has lingered, with its immemorial superstitions,
down to the present or recent times; and the old story of the origin of
the beads from the slaver of serpents was believed by the modern
peasantry of Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland as by the Druids of ancient
Gaul. In Cornwall the time when the serpents united to fashion the beads
was commonly said to be at or about Midsummer Eve; in Wales it was
usually thought to be spring, especially the Eve of May Day, and even
within recent years persons in the Principality have affirmed that they
witnessed the great vernal congress of the snakes and saw the magic
stone in the midst of the froth. The Welsh peasants believe the beads to
possess medicinal virtues of many sorts and to be particularly
efficacious for all maladies of the eyes. In Wales and Ireland the beads
sometimes went by the name of the Magician's or Druid's Glass (_Gleini
na Droedh_ and _Glaine nan Druidhe_). Specimens of them may be seen in
museums; some have been found in British barrows. They are of glass of
various colours, green, blue, pink, red, brown, and so forth, some plain
and some ribbed. Some are streaked with brilliant hues. The beads are
perforated, and in the Highlands of Scotland the hole is explained by
saying that when the bead has just been conflated by the serpents
jointly, one of the reptiles sticks his tail through the still viscous
glass. An Englishman who visited Scotland in 1699 found many of these
beads in use throughout the country. They were hung from children's
necks to protect them from whooping cough and other ailments. Snake
Stones were, moreover, a charm to ensure prosperity in general and to
repel evil spirits. When one of these priceless treasures was not on
active service, the owner kept it in an iron box to guard it against
fairies, who, as is well known, cannot abide iron.[40]

[Medicinal plants, water, are not allowed to touch the earth.]

Pliny mentions several medicinal plants, which, if they were to retain
their healing virtue, ought not to be allowed to touch the earth.[41]
The curious medical treatise of Marcellus, a native of Bordeaux in the
fourth century of our era, abounds with prescriptions of this sort; and
we can well believe the writer when he assures us that he borrowed many
of his quaint remedies from the lips of common folk and peasants rather
than from the books of the learned.[42] Thus he tells us that certain
white stones found in the stomachs of young swallows assuage the most
persistent headache, always provided that their virtue be not impaired
by contact with the ground.[43] Another of his cures for the same malady
is a wreath of fleabane placed on the head, but it must not touch the
earth.[44] On the same condition a decoction of the root of elecampane
in wine kills worms; a fern, found growing on a tree, relieves the
stomach-ache; and the pastern-bone of a hare is an infallible remedy for
colic, provided, first, it be found in the dung of a wolf, second, that
it docs not touch the ground, and, third, that it is not touched by a
woman.[45] Another cure for colic is effected by certain hocus-pocus
with a scrap of wool from the forehead of a first-born lamb, if only the
lamb, instead of being allowed to fall to the ground, has been caught by
hand as it dropped from its dam.[46] In Andjra, a district of Morocco,
the people attribute many magical virtues to rain-water which has fallen
on the twenty-seventh day of April, Old Style; accordingly they collect
it and use it for a variety of purposes. Mixed with tar and sprinkled on
the door-posts it prevents snakes and scorpions from entering the house:
sprinkled on heaps of threshed corn it protects them from the evil eye:
mixed with an egg, henna, and seeds of cress it is an invaluable
medicine for sick cows: poured over a plate, on which a passage of the
Koran has been written, it strengthens the memory of schoolboys who
drink it; and if you mix it with cowdung and red earth and paint rings
with the mixture round the trunks of your fig-trees at sunset on
Midsummer Day, you may depend on it that the trees will bear an
excellent crop and will not shed their fruit untimely on the ground. But
in order to preserve these remarkable properties it is absolutely
essential that the water should on no account be allowed to touch the
ground; some say too that it should not be exposed to the sun nor
breathed upon by anybody.[47] Again, the Moors ascribe great magical
efficacy to what they call "the sultan of the oleander," which is a
stalk of oleander with a cluster of four pairs of leaves springing from
it. They think that the magical virtue is greatest if the stalk has been
cut immediately before midsummer. But when the plant is brought into the
house, the branches may not touch the ground, lest they should lose
their marvellous qualities.[48] In the olden days, before a Lithuanian
or Prussian farmer went forth to plough for the first time in spring, he
called in a wizard to perform a certain ceremony for the good of the
crops. The sage seized a mug of beer with his teeth, quaffed the liquor,
and then tossed the mug over his head. This signified that the corn in
that year should grow taller than a man. But the mug might not fall to
the ground; it had to be caught by somebody stationed at the wizard's
back, for if it fell to the ground the consequence naturally would be
that the corn also would be laid low on the earth.[49]

Sec. 2. _Not to see the Sun_

[Sacred persons not allowed to see the sun.]

The second rule to be here noted is that the sun may not shine upon the
divine person. This rule was observed both by the Mikado and by the
pontiff of the Zapotecs. The latter "was looked upon as a god whom the
earth was not worthy to hold, nor the sun to shine upon."[50] The
Japanese would not allow that the Mikado should expose his sacred person
to the open air, and the sun was not thought worthy to shine on his
head.[51] The Indians of Granada, in South America, "kept those who were
to be rulers or commanders, whether men or women, locked up for several
years when they were children, some of them seven years, and this so
close that they were not to see the sun, for if they should happen to
see it they forfeited their lordship, eating certain sorts of food
appointed; and those who were their keepers at certain times went into
their retreat or prison and scourged them severely."[52] Thus, for
example, the heir to the throne of Bogota, who was not the son but the
sister's son of the king, had to undergo a rigorous training from his
infancy: he lived in complete retirement in a temple, where he might not
see the sun nor eat salt nor converse with a woman: he was surrounded by
guards who observed his conduct and noted all his actions: if he broke a
single one of the rules laid down for him, he was deemed infamous and
forfeited all his rights to the throne.[53] So, too, the heir to the
kingdom of Sogamoso, before succeeding to the crown, had to fast for
seven years in the temple, being shut up in the dark and not allowed to
see the sun or light.[54] The prince who was to become Inca of Peru had
to fast for a month without seeing light.[55] On the day when a Brahman
student of the Veda took a bath, to signify that the time of his
studentship was at an end, he entered a cow-shed before sunrise, hung
over the door a skin with the hair inside, and sat there; on that day
the sun should not shine upon him.[56]

[Tabooed persons not allowed to see the sun; certain persons forbidden
to see fire.]

Again, women after childbirth and their offspring are more or less
tabooed all the world over; hence in Corea the rays of the sun are
rigidly excluded from both mother and child for a period of twenty-one
or a hundred days, according to their rank, after the birth has taken
place.[57] Among some of the tribes on the north-west coast of New
Guinea a woman may not leave the house for months after childbirth. When
she does go out, she must cover her head with a hood or mat; for if the
sun were to shine upon her, it is thought that one of her male relations
would die.[58] Again, mourners are everywhere taboo; accordingly in
mourning the Ainos of Japan wear peculiar caps in order that the sun may
not shine upon their heads.[59] During a solemn fast of three days the
Indians of Costa Rica eat no salt, speak as little as possible, light no
fires, and stay strictly indoors, or if they go out during the day they
carefully cover themselves from the light of the sun, believing that
exposure to the sun's rays would turn them black.[60] On Yule Night it
has been customary in parts of Sweden from time immemorial to go on
pilgrimage, whereby people learn many secret things and know what is to
happen in the coming year. As a preparation for this pilgrimage, "some
secrete themselves for three days previously in a dark cellar, so as to
be shut out altogether from the light of heaven. Others retire at an
early hour of the preceding morning to some out-of-the-way place, such
as a hay-loft, where they bury themselves in the hay, that they may
neither see nor hear any living creature; and here they remain, in
silence and fasting, until after sundown; whilst there are those who
think it sufficient if they rigidly abstain from food on the day before
commencing their wanderings. During this period of probation a man ought
not to see fire, but should this have happened, he must strike a light
with flint and steel, whereby the evil that would otherwise have ensued
will be obviated."[61] During the sixteen days that a Pima Indian is
undergoing purification for killing an Apache he may not see a blazing

[The story of Prince Sunless.]

Acarnanian peasants tell of a handsome prince called Sunless, who would
die if he saw the sun. So he lived in an underground palace on the site
of the ancient Oeniadae, but at night he came forth and crossed the
river to visit a famous enchantress who dwelt in a castle on the further
bank. She was loth to part with him every night long before the sun was
up, and as he turned a deaf ear to all her entreaties to linger, she hit
upon the device of cutting the throats of all the cocks in the
neighbourhood. So the prince, whose ear had learned to expect the shrill
clarion of the birds as the signal of the growing light, tarried too
long, and hardly had he reached the ford when the sun rose over the
Aetolian mountains, and its fatal beams fell on him before he could
regain his dark abode.[63]


[1] _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_, i. 44.

[2] H.H. Bancroft, _Native Races of the Pacific States_ (London,
1875-1876), ii. 142; Brasseur de Bourbourg, _Histoire des Nations
civilisees du Mexique et de l'Amerique-Centrale_ (Paris, 1857-1859),
iii. 29.

[3] _Manuscrit Ramirez, Histoire de l'origine des Indiens_, publie par
D. Charnay (Paris, 1903), p. 108; J. de Acosta, _The Natural and Moral
History of the Indies_, bk. vii. chap. 22, vol. ii. p. 505 of E.
Grimston's translation, edited by (Sir) Clements R. Markham (Hakluyt
Society, London, 1880).

[4] _Memorials of the Empire of Japon in the XVI. and XVII. Centuries_,
edited by T. Rundall (Hakluyt Society, London, 1850), pp. 14, 141; B.
Varenius, _Descriptio regni Japoniae et Siam_ (Cambridge, 1673), p. 11;
Caron, "Account of Japan," in John Pinkerton's _Voyages and Travels_
(London, 1808-1814), vii. 613; Kaempfer, "History of Japan," in _id._
vii. 716.

[5] W. Ellis, _Polynesian Researches_, Second Edition (London,
1832-1836), iii. 102 _sq._; Captain James Wilson, _Missionary Voyage to
the Southern Pacific Ocean_ (London, 1799), p. 329.

[6] A. Bastian, _Der Mensch in der Geschichte_ (Leipsic, 1860), iii. 81.

[7] Athenaeus, xii. 8, p. 514 c.

[8] _The Voiages and Travels of John Struys_ (London, 1684), p. 30.

[9] Rev. J. Roscoe, "Further Notes on the Manners and Customs of the
Baganda," _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_, xxxii. (1902) pp.
62, 67; _id., The Baganda_ (London, 1911), pp. 154 _sq._ Compare L.
Decle, _Three Years in Savage Africa_ (London, 1898), p. 445 note:
"Before horses had been introduced into Uganda the king and his mother
never walked, but always went about perched astride the shoulders of a
slave--a most ludicrous sight. In this way they often travelled hundreds
of miles." The use both of horses and of chariots by royal personages
may often have been intended to prevent their sacred feet from touching
the ground.

[10] E. Torday et T.A. Joyce, _Les Bushongo_ (Brussels, 1910), p. 61.

[11] Northcote W. Thomas, _Anthropological Report on the Ibo-speaking
Peoples of Nigeria_ (London, 1913), i. 57 _sq._

[12] _Satapatha Brahmana_, translated by Julius Eggeling, Part iii.
(Oxford, 1894) pp. 81, 91, 92, 102, 128 _sq. (Sacred Books of the East_,
vol. xli.).

[13] A.W. Nieuwenhuis, _Quer durch Borneo_ (Leyden, 1904-1907), i. 172.

[14] Letter of Missionary Krick, in _Annales de la Propagation de la
Foi_, xxvi. (1854) pp. 86-88.

[15] Pechuel-Loesche, "Indiscretes aus Loango," _Zeitschrift fuer
Ethnologie_, x. (1878) pp. 29 _sq._

[16] Edgar Thurston, _Ethnographic Notes in Southern India_ (Madras,
1906), p. 70.

[17] M.C. Schadee, "Het familieleven en familierecht der Dajaks van
Landak en Tajan," _Bijdragen tot de Taal-Land en Volkenkunde van
Nederlandsch-Indie_, lxiii. (1910) p. 433.

[18] James Adair, _History of the American Indians_ (London, 1775), p.
382; _Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner_ (London,
1830), p. 123. As to the taboos to which warriors are subject see _Taboo
and the Perils of the Soul_, pp. 157 _sqq._

[19] Etienne Aymonier, _Notes sur le Laos_ (Saigon, 1885), p. 26.

[20] _Die gestritgelte Rockenphilosophie_*[5] (Chemnitz, 1759), pp. 586

[21] Baldwin Spencer and F.J. Gillen, _Native Tribes of Central
Australia_ (London, 1899), pp. 364, 370 _sqq._, 629; _id., Across
Australia_ (London, 1912), ii. 280, 285 _sq._

[22] C.G. Seligmann, M.D., _The Melanesians of British New Guinea_
(Cambridge, 1910), pp. 589-599.

[23] George Brown, D.D., _Melanesians and Polynesians_ (London, 1910),
pp. 60 _sq._, 64. As to the Duk-duk society, see below, vol. ii. pp. 246

[24] John Keast Lord, _The Naturalist in Vancouver Island and British
Columbia_ (London, 1866), ii. 237.

[25] Edwin James, _Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky
Mountains_ (London, 1823), ii. 47; Rev. J. Owen Dorsey, "Omaha
Sociology," _Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology_
(Washington, 1884), p. 226.

[26] James Adair, _History of the American Indians_ (London, 1775), pp.

[27] (Sir) Henry Babington Smith, in _Folk-lore_, v. (1894) p. 340.

[28] Miss C.F. Gordon Cumming, _In the Hebrides_ (London, 1883), p. 211.

[29] W. Gregor, "Quelques coutumes du Nord-est du Comte d'Aberdeen,"
_Revue des Traditions populaires_, iii. (1888) p. 485 B. Compare
_Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild_, i. 158 _sq._

[30] R. Brough Smyth, _Aborigines of Victoria_ (Melbourne and London,
1878), i. 450.

[31] E. Gerard, _The Land beyond the Forest_ (Edinburgh and London,
1888), ii. 7.

[32] F. Grabowsky, "Der Distrikt Dusson Timor in Suedost-Borneo und seine
Bewohner," _Das Ausland_, 1884, No. 24, p. 470.

[33] _Narrative of the Second Arctic Expedition made by Charles F.
Hall_, edited by Prof. J.E. Nourse (Washington, 1879), pp. 110 _sq._

[34] See _Taboo and Perils of the Soul_, pp. 207 _sqq._

[35] Walter E. Roth, _Ethnological Studies among the North-West-Central
Queensland Aborigines_ (Brisbane and London, 1897), p. 156, Sec. 265. The
custom of killing a man by pointing a bone or stick at him, while the
sorcerer utters appropriate curses, is common among the tribes of
Central Australia; but amongst them there seems to be no objection to
place the bone or stick on the ground; on the contrary, an Arunta wizard
inserts the bone or stick in the ground while he invokes death and
destruction on his enemy. See Baldwin Spencer and F.J. Gillen, _Native
Tribes of Central Australia_ (London, 1899), pp. 534 _sqq.; id.,
Northern Tribes of Central Australia_ (London, 1904), pp. 455 _sqq._

[36] Hugh Low, _Sarawak_ (London, 1848), pp. 145 _sq._

[37] Pliny, _Naturalis Historia_ xxviii. 33 _sq._

[38] Rev. Walter Gregor, _Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of
Scotland_ (London, 1881), p. 184. As to the superstitions attaching to
stone arrowheads and axeheads (celts), commonly known as "thunderbolts,"
in the British Islands, see W.W. Skeat, "Snakestones and Stone
Thunderbolts," _Folklore_, xxiii. (1912) pp. 60 _sqq._; and as to such
superstitions in general, see Chr. Blinkenberg, _The Thunderweapon in
Religion and Folklore_ (Cambridge, 1911).

[39] Pliny, _Naturalis Historia_, xxix. 52-54.

[40] W. Borlase, _Antiquities, Historical and Monumental, of the County
of Cornwall_ (London, 1769), pp. 142 _sq._; J. Brand, _Popular
Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London, 1882-1883), i. 322; J.G. Dalyell,
_Darker Superstitions of Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1834), pp. 140 _sq._;
Daniel Wilson, _The Archaeology and Prehistoric Annals of Scotland_
(Edinburgh, 1851), pp. 303 _sqq._; Lieut.-Col. Forbes Leslie, _The Early
Races of Scotland and their Monuments_ (Edinburgh, 1866), i. 75 _sqq._;
J.G. Campbell, _Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands
of Scotland_ (Glasgow, 1902), pp. 84-88; Marie Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and
Folk-stories of Wales_ (London, 1909), pp. 170 _sq._; J.C. Davies,
_Folk-lore of West and Mid-Wales_ (Aberystwyth, 1911), p. 76. Compare
W.W. Skeat, "Snakestones and Stone Thunderbolts," _Folk-lore,_ xxiii.
(1912) pp. 45 _sqq._ The superstition is described as follows by Edward
Lhwyd in a letter quoted by W. Borlase (_op. cit._ p. 142): "In most
parts of Wales, and throughout all Scotland, and in Cornwall, we find it
a common opinion of the vulgar, that about Midsummer-Eve (though in the
time they do not all agree) it is usual for snakes to meet in companies;
and that, by joining heads together, and hissing, a kind of bubble is
formed, which the rest, by continual hissing, blow on till it passes
quite through the body, and then it immediately hardens, and resembles a
glass-ring, which whoever finds (as some old women and children are
persuaded) shall prosper in all his undertakings. The rings thus
generated, are called _Gleineu Nadroeth_; in English, Snake-stones. They
are small glass amulets, commonly about half as wide as our
finger-rings, but much thicker, of a green colour usually, though
sometimes blue, and waved with red and white."

[41] Pliny, _Naturalis Historia_ xxiv. 12 and 68, xxv. 171.

[42] Marcellus, _De medicamentis_, ed. G. Helmreich (Leipsic, 1889),
preface, p. i.: "_Nec solum veteres medicinae artis auctores Latino
dumtaxat sermone perscriptos ... lectione scrutatus sum, sed etiam ab
agrestibus et plebeis remedia fortuita atque simplicia, quae
experimentis probaverant didici_." As to Marcellus and his work, see
Jacob Grimm, "Ueber Marcellus Burdigalensis," _Abhandlungen der
koniglichen Akademie der Wissenschaft zu Berlin_, 1847, pp. 429-460;
_id._, "Ueber die Marcellischen Formeln," _ibid._. 1855, pp. 50-68.

[43] Marcellus, _De medicamentis_, i. 68.

[44] Marcellus, _op. cit._ i. 76.

[45] Marcellus, _op. cit._ xxviii. 28 and 71, xxix. 35.

[46] Marcellus, _op. cit._ xxix. 51.

[47] Edward Westermarck, "Midsummer Customs in Morocco," _Folklore_,
xvi. (1905) pp. 32 _sq._; _id., Ceremonies and Beliefs connected with
Agriculture, certain Dates of the Solar Year, and the Weather in
Morocco_ (Helsingfors, 1913), pp. 75 _sq._

[48] E. Westermarck, "Midsummer Customs in Morocco," _Folk-lore_, xvi.
(1905) p. 35 _id., Ceremonies and Beliefs connected with Agriculture,
certain Dates of the Solar Year, and the Weather in Morocco_
(Helsingfors, 1913), pp. 88 _sq._

[49] Matthaeus Praetorius, _Deliciae Prussicae_, herausgegeben von Dr. W.
Pierson (Berlin, 1871), p. 54.

[50] H.H. Bancroft, _Native Races of the Pacific States_ (London,
1875-1876), ii. 142; Brasseur de Bourbourg, _Histoire des Nations
civilisees du Mexique et de l'Amerique Centrale_ (Paris, 1857-1859),
iii. 29.

[51] Kaempfer, "History of Japan," in J. Pinkerton's _Voyages and
Travels_, vii. 717; Caron, "Account of Japan," _ibid._ vii. 613; B.
Varenius, _Descriptio regni Japoniae et Siam_ (Cambridge, 1673), p. 11:
_"Radiis solis caput nunquam illustrabatur: in apertum acrem non

[52] A. de Herrera, _General History of the vast Continent and Islands
of America,_ trans, by Capt. John Stevens (London, 1725-1726), v. 88.

[53] H. Ternaux-Compans, _Essai sur l'ancien Cundinamarca_ (Paris,
N.D.), p. 56; Theodor Waitz, _Anthropologie der Naturvoelker_ iv.
(Leipsic, 1864) p. 359.

[54] Alonzo de Zurita, "Rapport sur les differentes classes de chefs de
la Nouvelle-Espagne," p. 30, in H. Ternaux-Compans's _Voyages, Relations
et Memoires originaux, pour servir a l'Histoire de la Decouvertede
l'Amerique_ (Paris, 1840); Th. Waitz, _l.c._; A. Bastian, _Die
Culturlaender des alten Amerika_ (Berlin, 1878), ii. 204.

[55] Cieza de Leon, _Second Part of the Chronicle of Peru_ (Hakluyt
Society, London, 1883), p. 18.

[56] _The Grihya Sutras_, translated by H. Oldenberg, Part ii. (Oxford,
1892) pp. 165, 275 (_Sacred Books of the East_, vol. xxx.). Umbrellas
appear to have been sometimes used in ritual for the purpose of
preventing the sunlight from falling on sacred persons or things. See W.
Caland, _Altindisches Zauberritual_ (Amsterdam, 1900), p. 110 note 12.
At an Athenian festival called Scira the priestess of Athena, the priest
of Poseidon, and the priest of the Sun walked from the Acropolis under
the shade of a huge white umbrella which was borne over their heads by
the Eteobutads. See Harpocration and Suidas, _s.v._ [Greek: Skiron];
Scholiast on Aristophanes, _Eccles._ 18.

[57] Mrs. Bishop, _Korea and her Neighbours_ (London, 1898), ii. 248.

[58] J.L. van Hasselt, "Eenige aanteekeningen aangaande de bewoners der
N. Westkust van Nieuw Guinea," _Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-Landen
Volkenkunde_, xxxi. (1886) p. 587.

[59] A. Bastian, _Die Voelker des oestlichen Asien_, v. (Jena, 1869) p.

[60] W.M. Gabb, "On the Indian Tribes and Languages of Costa Rica,"
_Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society held at
Philadelphia_, xiv. (Philadelphia, 1876), p. 510.

[61] L. Lloyd, _Peasant Life in Sweden_ (London, 1870), p. 194.

[62] H.H. Bancroft, _Native Races of the Pacific States_, i. 553. See
_Taboo and the Perils of the Soul_, p. 182.

[63] L. Heuzey, _Le Mont Olympe et l'Acarnanie_ (Paris, 1860), pp. 458



Sec. 1. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in Africa_

[Girls at puberty forbidden to touch the ground and to see the sun;
seclusion of girls at puberty among the A-Kamba; seclusion of girls at
puberty among the Baganda.]

Now it is remarkable that the foregoing two rules--not to touch the
ground and not to see the sun--are observed either separately or
conjointly by girls at puberty in many parts of the world. Thus amongst
the negroes of Loango girls at puberty are confined in separate huts,
and they may not touch the ground with any part of their bare body.[64]
Among the Zulus and kindred tribes of South Africa, when the first signs
of puberty shew themselves "while a girl is walking, gathering wood, or
working in the field, she runs to the river and hides herself among the
reeds for the day, so as not to be seen by men. She covers her head
carefully with her blanket that the sun may not shine on it and shrivel
her up into a withered skeleton, as would result from exposure to the
sun's beams. After dark she returns to her home and is secluded" in a
hut for some time.[65] During her seclusion, which lasts for about a
fortnight, neither she nor the girls who wait upon her may drink any
milk, lest the cattle should die. And should she be overtaken by the
first flow while she is in the fields, she must, after hiding in the
bush, scrupulously avoid all pathways in returning home.[66] A reason
for this avoidance is assigned by the A-Kamba of British East Africa,
whose girls under similar circumstances observe the same rule. "A girl's
first menstruation is a very critical period of her life according to
A-Kamba beliefs. If this condition appears when she is away from the
village, say at work in the fields, she returns at once to her village,
but is careful to walk through the grass and not on a path, for if she
followed a path and a stranger accidentally trod on a spot of blood and
then cohabited with a member of the opposite sex before the girl was
better again, it is believed that she would never bear a child." She
remains at home till the symptoms have ceased, and during this time she
may be fed by none but her mother. When the flux is over, her father and
mother are bound to cohabit with each other, else it is believed that
the girl would be barren all her life.[67] Similarly, among the Baganda,
when a girl menstruated for the first time she was secluded and not
allowed to handle food; and at the end of her seclusion the kinsman with
whom she was staying (for among the Baganda young people did not reside
with their parents) was obliged to jump over his wife, which with the
Baganda is regarded as equivalent to having intercourse with her. Should
the girl happen to be living near her parents at the moment when she
attained to puberty, she was expected on her recovery to inform them of
the fact, whereupon her father jumped over her mother. Were this custom
omitted, the Baganda, like the A-Kamba, thought that the girl would
never have children or that they would die in infancy.[68] Thus the
pretence of sexual intercourse between the parents or other relatives of
the girl was a magical ceremony to ensure her fertility. It is
significant that among the Baganda the first menstruation was often
called a marriage, and the girl was spoken of as a bride.[69] These
terms so applied point to a belief like that of the Siamese, that a
girl's first menstruation results from her defloration by one of a host
of aerial spirits, and that the wound thus inflicted is repeated
afterwards every month by the same ghostly agency.[70] For a like
reason, probably, the Baganda imagine that a woman who does not
menstruate exerts a malign influence on gardens and makes them
barren[71] if she works in them. For not being herself fertilized by a
spirit, how can she fertilize the garden?

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the tribes of the Tanganyika

Among the Amambwe, Winamwanga, Alungu, and other tribes of the great
plateau to the west of Lake Tanganyika, "when a young girl knows that
she has attained puberty, she forthwith leaves her mother's hut, and
hides herself in the long grass near the village, covering her face with
a cloth and weeping bitterly. Towards sunset one of the older
women--who, as directress of the ceremonies, is called _nachimbusa_--
follows her, places a cooking-pot by the cross-roads, and boils therein
a concoction of various herbs, with which she anoints the neophyte. At
nightfall the girl is carried on the old woman's back to her mother's
hut. When the customary period of a few days has elapsed, she is allowed
to cook again, after first whitewashing the floor of the hut. But, by
the following month, the preparations for her initiation are complete.
The novice must remain in her hut throughout the whole period of
initiation, and is carefully guarded by the old women, who accompany her
whenever she leaves her quarters, veiling her head with a native cloth.
The ceremonies last for at least one month." During this period of
seclusion, drumming and songs are kept up within the mother's hut by the
village women, and no male, except, it is said, the father of twins, is
allowed to enter. The directress of the rites and the older women
instruct the young girl as to the elementary facts of life, the duties
of marriage, and the rules of conduct, decorum, and hospitality to be
observed by a married woman. Amongst other things the damsel must submit
to a series of tests such as leaping over fences, thrusting her head
into a collar made of thorns, and so on. The lessons which she receives
are illustrated by mud figures of animals and of the common objects of
domestic life. Moreover, the directress of studies embellishes the walls
of the hut with rude pictures, each with its special significance and
song, which must be understood and learned by the girl.[72] In the
foregoing account the rule that a damsel at puberty may neither see the
sun nor touch the ground seems implied by the statement that on the
first discovery of her condition she hides in long grass and is carried
home after sunset on the back of an old woman.

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the tribes of British Central

Among the Nyanja-speaking tribes of Central Angoniland, in British
Central Africa, when a young girl finds that she has become a woman, she
stands silent by the pathway leading to the village, her face wrapt in
her calico. An old woman, finding her there, takes her off to a stream
to bathe; after that the girl is secluded for six days in the old
woman's hut. She eats her porridge out of an old basket and her relish,
in which no salt is put, from a potsherd. The basket is afterwards
thrown away. On the seventh day the aged matrons gather together, go
with the girl to a stream, and throw her into the water. In returning
they sing songs, and the old woman, who directs the proceedings, carries
the maiden on her back. Then they spread a mat and fetch her husband and
set the two down on the mat and shave his head. When it is dark, the old
women escort the girl to her husband's hut. There the _ndiwo_ relish is
cooking on the fire. During the night the woman rises and puts some salt
in the pot. Next morning, before dawn, while all is dark and the
villagers have not yet opened their doors, the young married woman goes
off and gives some of the relish to her mother and to the old woman who
was mistress of the ceremony. This relish she sets down at the doors of
their houses and goes away. And in the morning, when the sun has risen
and all is light in the village, the two women open their doors, and
there they find the relish with the salt in it; and they take of it and
rub it on their feet and under their arm-pits; and if there are little
children in the house, they eat of it. And if the young wife has a
kinsman who is absent from the village, some of the relish is put on a
splinter of bamboo and kept against his return, that when he comes he,
too, may rub his feet with it. But if the woman finds that her husband
is impotent, she does not rise betimes and go out in the dark to lay the
relish at the doors of her mother and the old woman. And in the morning,
when the sun is up and all the village is light, the old women open
their doors, and see no relish there, and they know what has happened,
and so they go wilily to work. For they persuade the husband to consult
the diviner that he may discover how to cure his impotence; and while he
is closeted with the wizard, they fetch another man, who finishes the
ceremony with the young wife, in order that the relish may be given out
and that people may rub their feet with it. But if it happens that when
a girl comes to maturity she is not yet betrothed to any man, and
therefore has no husband to go to, the matrons tell her that she must go
to a lover instead. And this is the custom which they call _chigango_.
So in the evening she takes her cooking pot and relish and hies away to
the quarters of the young bachelors, and they very civilly sleep
somewhere else that night. And in the morning the girl goes back to the
_kuka_ hut.[73]

[Abstinence from salt associated with a rule of chastity in many

From the foregoing account it appears that among these tribes no sooner
has a girl attained to womanhood than she is expected and indeed
required to give proof of her newly acquired powers by cohabiting with a
man, whether her husband or another. And the abstinence from salt during
the girl's seclusion is all the more remarkable because as soon as the
seclusion is over she has to use salt for a particular purpose, to which
the people evidently attach very great importance, since in the event of
her husband proving impotent she is even compelled, apparently, to
commit adultery in order that the salted relish may be given out as
usual. In this connexion it deserves to be noted that among the Wagogo
of German East Africa women at their monthly periods may not sleep with
their husbands and may not put salt in food.[74] A similar rule is
observed by the Nyanja-speaking tribes of Central Angoniland, with whose
puberty customs we are here concerned. Among them, we are told, "some
superstition exists with regard to the use of salt. A woman during her
monthly sickness must on no account put salt into any food she is
cooking, lest she give her husband or children a disease called _tsempo_
(_chitsoko soko_) but calls a child to put it in, or, as the song goes,
'_Natira nichere ni bondo chifukwa n'kupanda mwana_' and pours in the
salt by placing it on her knee, because there is no child handy. Should
a party of villagers have gone to make salt, all sexual intercourse is
forbidden among the people of the village, until the people who have
gone to make the salt (from grass) return. When they do come back, they
must make their entry into the village at night, and no one must see
them. Then one of the elders of the village sleeps with his wife. She
then cooks some relish, into which she puts some of the salt. This
relish is handed round to the people who went to make the salt, who rub
it on their feet and under their armpits."[75] Hence it would seem that
in the mind of these people abstinence from salt is somehow associated
with the idea of chastity. The same association meets us in the customs
of many peoples in various parts of the world. For example, ancient
Hindoo ritual prescribed that for three nights after a husband had
brought his bride home, the two should sleep on the ground, remain
chaste, and eat no salt.[76] Among the Baganda, when a man was making a
net, he had to refrain from eating salt and meat and from living with
his wife; these restrictions he observed until the net took its first
catch of fish. Similarly, so long as a fisherman's nets or traps were in
the water, he must live apart from his wife, and neither he nor she nor
their children might eat salt or meat.[77] Evidence of the same sort
could be multiplied,[78] but without going into it further we may say
that for some reason which is not obvious to us primitive man connects
salt with the intercourse of the sexes and therefore forbids the use of
that condiment in a variety of circumstances in which he deems
continence necessary or desirable. As there is nothing which the savage
regards as a greater bar between the sexes than the state of
menstruation, he naturally prohibits the use of salt to women and girls
at their monthly periods.

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the tribes about Lake Nyassa and on
the Zambesi.]

With the Awa-nkonde, a tribe at the northern end of Lake Nyassa, it is a
rule that after her first menstruation a girl must be kept apart, with a
few companions of her own sex, in a darkened house. The floor is covered
with dry banana leaves, but no fire may be lit in the house, which is
called "the house of the Awasungu," that is, "of maidens who have no
hearts."[79] When a girl reaches puberty, the Wafiomi of Eastern Africa
hold a festival at which they make a noise with a peculiar kind of
rattle. After that the girl remains for a year in the large common hut
(_tembe_), where she occupies a special compartment screened off from
the men's quarters. She may not cut her hair or touch food, but is fed
by other women. At night, however, she quits the hut and dances with
young men.[80] Among the Barotse or Marotse of the upper Zambesi, "when
a girl arrives at the age of puberty she is sent into the fields, where
a hut is constructed far from the village. There, with two or three
companions, she spends a month, returning home late and starting before
dawn in order not to be seen by the men. The women of the village visit
her, bringing food and honey, and singing and dancing to amuse her. At
the end of a month her husband comes and fetches her. It is only after
this ceremony that women have the right to smear themselves with
ochre."[81] We may suspect that the chief reason why the girl during her
seclusion may visit her home only by night is a fear, not so much lest
she should be seen by men, as that she might be seen by the sun. Among
the Wafiomi, as we have just learned, the young woman in similar
circumstances is even free to dance with men, provided always that the
dance is danced at night. The ceremonies among the Barotse or Marotse
are somewhat more elaborate for a girl of the royal family. She is shut
up for three months in a place which is kept secret from the public;
only the women of her family know where it is. There she sits alone in
the darkness of the hut, waited on by female slaves, who are strictly
forbidden to speak and may communicate with her and with each other only
by signs. During all this time, though she does nothing, she eats much,
and when at last she comes forth, her appearance is quite changed, so
fat has she grown. She is then led by night to the river and bathed in
presence of all the women of the village. Next day she flaunts before
the public in her gayest attire, her head bedecked with ornaments and
her face mottled with red paint. So everybody knows what has

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Thonga on Delagoa Bay.]

Among the northern clans of the Thonga tribe, in South-Eastern Africa,
about Delagoa Bay, when a girl thinks that the time of her nubility is
near, she chooses an adoptive mother, perhaps in a neighbouring village.
When the symptoms appear, she flies away from her own village and
repairs to that of her adopted mother "to weep near her." After that she
is secluded with several other girls in the same condition for a month.
They are shut up in a hut, and whenever they come outside they must wear
a dirty greasy cloth over their faces as a veil. Every morning they are
led to a pool and plunged in the water up to their necks. Initiated
girls or women accompany them, singing obscene songs and driving away
with sticks any man who meets them; for no man may see a girl during
this time of seclusion. If he saw her, it is said that he would be
struck blind. On their return from the river, the girls are again
imprisoned in the hut, where they remain wet and shivering, for they may
not go near the fire to warm themselves. During their seclusion they
listen to lascivious songs sung by grown women and are instructed in
sexual matters. At the end of the month the adoptive mother brings the
girl home to her true mother and presents her with a pot of beer.[83]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Caffre tribes of South Africa.]

Among the Caffre tribes of South Africa the period of a girl's seclusion
at puberty varies with the rank of her father. If he is a rich man, it
may last twelve days; if he is a chief, it may last twenty-four
days.[84] And when it is over, the girl rubs herself over with red
earth, and strews finely powdered red earth on the ground, before she
leaves the hut where she has been shut up. Finally, though she was
forbidden to drink milk all the days of her separation, she washes out
her mouth with milk, and is from that moment regarded as a full-grown
woman.[85] Afterwards, in the dusk of the evening, she carries away all
the objects with which she came into contact in the hut during her
seclusion and buries them secretly in a sequestered spot.[86] When the
girl is a chief's daughter the ceremonies at her liberation from the hut
are more elaborate than usual. She is led forth from the hut by a son of
her father's councillor, who, wearing the wings of a blue crane, the
badge of bravery, on his head, escorts her to the cattle kraal, where
cows are slaughtered and dancing takes place. Large skins full of milk
are sent to the spot from neighbouring villages; and after the dances
are over the girl drinks milk for the first time since the day she
entered into retreat. But the first mouthful is drunk by the girl's aunt
or other female relative who had charge of her during her seclusion; and
a little of it is poured on the fire-place.[87] Amongst the Zulus, when
the girl was a princess royal, the end of her time of separation was
celebrated by a sort of saturnalia: law and order were for the time
being in abeyance: every man, woman, and child might appropriate any
article of property: the king abstained from interfering; and if during
this reign of misrule he was robbed of anything he valued he could only
recover it by paying a fine.[88] Among the Basutos, when girls at
puberty are bathed as usual by the matrons in a river, they are hidden
separately in the turns and bends of the stream, and told to cover their
heads, as they will be visited by a large serpent. Their limbs are then
plastered with clay, little masks of straw are put on their faces, and
thus arrayed they daily follow each other in procession, singing
melancholy airs, to the fields, there to learn the labours of husbandry
in which a great part of their adult life will be passed.[89] We may
suppose, though we are not told, that the straw masks which they wear in
these processions are intended to hide their faces from the gaze of men
and the rays of the sun.

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in the Lower Congo.]

Among the tribes in the lower valley of the Congo, such as the Bavili,
when a girl arrives at puberty, she has to pass two or three months in
seclusion in a small hut built for the purpose. The hair of her head is
shaved off, and every day the whole of her body is smeared with a red
paint (_takulla_) made from a powdered wood mixed with water. Some of
her companions reside in the hut with her and prepare the paint for her
use. A woman is appointed to take charge of the hut and to keep off
intruders. At the end of her confinement she is taken to water by the
women of her family and bathed; the paint is rubbed off her body, her
arms and legs are loaded with brass rings, and she is led in solemn
procession under an umbrella to her husband's house. If these ceremonies
were not performed, the people believe that the girl would be barren or
would give birth to monsters, that the rain would cease to fall, the
earth to bear fruit, and the fishing to be successful.[90] Such serious
importance do these savages ascribe to the performance of rites which to
us seem so childish.

Sec. 2. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in New Ireland, New Guinea, and

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in New Ireland.]

In New Ireland girls are confined for four or five years in small cages,
being kept in the dark and not allowed to set foot on the ground. The
custom has been thus described by an eye-witness. "I heard from a
teacher about some strange custom connected with some of the young girls
here, so I asked the chief to take me to the house where they were. The
house was about twenty-five feet in length, and stood in a reed and
bamboo enclosure, across the entrance to which a bundle of dried grass
was suspended to show that it was strictly '_tabu_.' Inside the house
were three conical structures about seven or eight feet in height, and
about ten or twelve feet in circumference at the bottom, and for about
four feet from the ground, at which point they tapered off to a point at
the top. These cages were made of the broad leaves of the pandanus-tree,
sewn quite close together so that no light and little or no air could
enter. On one side of each is an opening which is closed by a double
door of plaited cocoa-nut tree and pandanus-tree leaves. About three
feet from the ground there is a stage of bamboos which forms the floor.
In each of these cages we were told there was a young woman confined,
each of whom had to remain for at least four or five years, without ever
being allowed to go outside the house. I could scarcely credit the story
when I heard it; the whole thing seemed too horrible to be true. I spoke
to the chief, and told him that I wished to see the inside of the cages,
and also to see the girls that I might make them a present of a few
beads. He told me that it was '_tabu_,' forbidden for any men but their
own relations to look at them; but I suppose the promised beads acted as
an inducement, and so he sent away for some old lady who had charge, and
who alone is allowed to open the doors. While we were waiting we could
hear the girls talking to the chief in a querulous way as if objecting
to something or expressing their fears. The old woman came at length and
certainly she did not seem a very pleasant jailor or guardian; nor did
she seem to favour the request of the chief to allow us to see the
girls, as she regarded us with anything but pleasant looks. However, she
had to undo the door when the chief told her to do so, and then the
girls peeped out at us, and, when told to do so, they held out their
hands for the beads. I, however, purposely sat at some distance away and
merely held out the beads to them, as I wished to draw them quite
outside, that I might inspect the inside of the cages. This desire of
mine gave rise to another difficulty, as these girls were not allowed to
put their feet to the ground all the time they were confined in these
places. However, they wished to get the beads, and so the old lady had
to go outside and collect a lot of pieces of wood and bamboo, which she
placed on the ground, and then going to one of the girls, she helped her
down and held her hand as she stepped from one piece of wood to another
until she came near enough to get the beads I held out to her. I then
went to inspect the inside of the cage out of which she had come, but
could scarcely put my head inside of it, the atmosphere was so hot and
stifling. It was clean and contained nothing but a few short lengths of
bamboo for holding water. There was only room for the girl to sit or lie
down in a crouched position on the bamboo platform, and when the doors
are shut it must be nearly or quite dark inside. The girls are never
allowed to come out except once a day to bathe in a dish or wooden bowl
placed close to each cage. They say that they perspire profusely. They
are placed in these stifling cages when quite young, and must remain
there until they are young women, when they are taken out and have each
a great marriage feast provided for them. One of them was about fourteen
or fifteen years old, and the chief told us that she had been there for
five years, but would soon be taken out now. The other two were about
eight and ten years old, and they have to stay there for several years
longer."[91] A more recent observer has described the custom as it is
observed on the western coast of New Ireland. He says: "A _buck_ is the
name of a little house, not larger than an ordinary hen-coop, in which a
little girl is shut up, sometimes for weeks only, and at other times for
months.... Briefly stated, the custom is this. Girls, on attaining
puberty or betrothal, are enclosed in one of these little coops for a
considerable time. They must remain there night and day. We saw two of
these girls in two coops; the girls were not more than ten years old,
still they were lying in a doubled-up position, as their little houses
would not admit of them lying in any other way. These two coops were
inside a large house; but the chief, in consideration of a present of a
couple of tomahawks, ordered the ends to be torn out of the house to
admit the light, so that we might photograph the _buck_. The occupant
was allowed to put her face through an opening to be photographed, in
consideration of another present."[92] As a consequence of their long
enforced idleness in the shade the girls grow fat and their dusky
complexion bleaches to a more pallid hue. Both their corpulence and
their pallor are regarded as beauties.[93]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in New Guinea, Borneo, Ceram and Yap.]

In Kabadi, a district of British New Guinea, "daughters of chiefs, when
they are about twelve or thirteen years of age, are kept indoors for two
or three years, never being allowed, under any pretence, to descend from
the house, and the house is so shaded that the sun cannot shine on
them."[94] Among the Yabim and Bukaua, two neighbouring and kindred
tribes on the coast of German New Guinea, a girl at puberty is secluded
for some five or six weeks in an inner part of the house; but she may
not sit on the floor, lest her uncleanness should cleave to it, so a log
of wood is placed for her to squat on. Moreover, she may not touch the
ground with her feet; hence if she is obliged to quit the house for a
short time, she is muffled up in mats and walks on two halves of a
coconut shell, which are fastened like sandals to her feet by creeping
plants. During her seclusion she is in charge of her aunts or other
female relatives. At the end of the time she bathes, her person is
loaded with ornaments, her face is grotesquely painted with red stripes
on a white ground, and thus adorned she is brought forth in public to be
admired by everybody. She is now marriageable.[95] Among the Ot Danoms
of Borneo girls at the age of eight or ten years are shut up in a little
room or cell of the house, and cut off from all intercourse with the
world for a long time. The cell, like the rest of the house, is raised
on piles above the ground, and is lit by a single small window opening
on a lonely place, so that the girl is in almost total darkness. She may
not leave the room on any pretext whatever, not even for the most
necessary purposes. None of her family may see her all the time she is
shut up, but a single slave woman is appointed to wait on her. During
her lonely confinement, which often lasts seven years, the girl occupies
herself in weaving mats or with other handiwork. Her bodily growth is
stunted by the long want of exercise, and when, on attaining womanhood,
she is brought out, her complexion is pale and wax-like. She is now
shewn the sun, the earth, the water, the trees, and the flowers, as if
she were newly born. Then a great feast is made, a slave is killed, and
the girl is smeared with his blood.[96] In Ceram girls at puberty were
formerly shut up by themselves in a hut which was kept dark.[97] In Yap,
one of the Caroline Islands, should a girl be overtaken by her first
menstruation on the public road, she may not sit down on the earth, but
must beg for a coco-nut shell to put under her. She is shut up for
several days in a small hut at a distance from her parents' house, and
afterwards she is bound to sleep for a hundred days in one of the
special houses which are provided for the use of menstruous women.[98]

Sec. 3. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in the Torres Straits Islands and
Northern Australia_

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in Mabuiag, Torres Straits.]

In the island of Mabuiag, Torres Straits, when the signs of puberty
appear on a girl, a circle of bushes is made in a dark corner of the
house. Here, decked with shoulder-belts, armlets, leglets just below the
knees, and anklets, wearing a chaplet on her head, and shell ornaments
in her ears, on her chest, and on her back, she squats in the midst of
the bushes, which are piled so high round about her that only her head
is visible. In this state of seclusion she must remain for three months.
All this time the sun may not shine upon her, but at night she is
allowed to slip out of the hut, and the bushes that hedge her in are
then changed. She may not feed herself or handle food, but is fed by one
or two old women, her maternal aunts, who are especially appointed to
look after her. One of these women cooks food for her at a special fire
in the forest. The girl is forbidden to eat turtle or turtle eggs during
the season when the turtles are breeding; but no vegetable food is
refused her. No man, not even her own father, may come into the house
while her seclusion lasts; for if her father saw her at this time he
would certainly have bad luck in his fishing, and would probably smash
his canoe the very next time he went out in it. At the end of the three
months she is carried down to a fresh-water creek by her attendants,
hanging on to their shoulders in such a way that her feet do not touch
the ground, while the women of the tribe form a ring round her, and thus
escort her to the beach. Arrived at the shore, she is stripped of her
ornaments, and the bearers stagger with her into the creek, where they
immerse her, and all the other women join in splashing water over both
the girl and her bearers. When they come out of the water one of the two
attendants makes a heap of grass for her charge to squat upon. The other
runs to the reef, catches a small crab, tears off its claws, and hastens
back with them to the creek. Here in the meantime a fire has been
kindled, and the claws are roasted at it. The girl is then fed by her
attendants with the roasted claws. After that she is freshly decorated,
and the whole party marches back to the village in a single rank, the
girl walking in the centre between her two old aunts, who hold her by
the wrists. The husbands of her aunts now receive her and lead her into
the house of one of them, where all partake of food, and the girl is
allowed once more to feed herself in the usual manner. A dance follows,
in which the girl takes a prominent part, dancing between the husbands
of the two aunts who had charge of her in her retirement.[99]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in Northern Australia.]

Among the Yaraikanna tribe of Cape York Peninsula, in Northern
Queensland, a girl at puberty is said to live by herself for a month or
six weeks; no man may see her, though any woman may. She stays in a hut
or shelter specially made for her, on the floor of which she lies
supine. She may not see the sun, and towards sunset she must keep her
eyes shut until the sun has gone down, otherwise it is thought that her
nose will be diseased. During her seclusion she may eat nothing that
lives in salt water, or a snake would kill her. An old woman waits upon
her and supplies her with roots, yams, and water.[100] Some tribes are
wont to bury their girls at such seasons more or less deeply in the
ground, perhaps in order to hide them from the light of the sun. Thus
the Larrakeeyah tribe in the northern territory of South Australia used
to cover a girl up with dirt for three days at her first monthly
period.[101] In similar circumstances the Otati tribe, on the east coast
of the Cape York Peninsula, make an excavation in the ground, where the
girl squats. A bower is then built over the hole, and sand is thrown on
the young woman till she is covered up to the hips. In this condition
she remains for the first day, but comes out at night. So long as the
period lasts, she stays in the bower during the day-time, but is not
again covered with sand. Afterwards her body is painted red and white
from the head to the hips, and she returns to the camp, where she squats
first on the right side, then on the left side, and then on the lap of
her future husband, who has been previously selected for her.[102] Among
the natives of the Pennefather River, in the Cape York Peninsula,
Queensland, when a girl menstruates for the first time, her mother takes
her away from the camp to some secluded spot, where she digs a circular
hole in the sandy soil under the shade of a tree. In this hole the girl
squats with crossed legs and is covered with sand from the waist
downwards. A digging-stick is planted firmly in the sand on each side of
her, and the place is surrounded by a fence of bushes except in front,
where her mother kindles a fire. Here the girl stays all day, sitting
with her arms crossed and the palms of her hands resting on the sand.
She may not move her arms except to take food from her mother or to
scratch herself; and in scratching herself she may not touch herself
with her own hands, but must use for the purpose a splinter of wood,
which, when it is not in use, is stuck in her hair. She may speak to
nobody but her mother; indeed nobody else would think of coming near
her. At evening she lays hold of the two digging-sticks and by their
help frees herself from the superincumbent weight of sand and returns to
the camp. Next morning she is again buried in the sand under the shade
of the tree and remains there again till evening. This she does daily
for five days. On her return at evening on the fifth day her mother
decorates her with a waist-band, a forehead-band, and a necklet of
pearl-shell, ties green parrot feathers round her arms and wrists and
across her chest, and smears her body, back and front, from the waist
upwards with blotches of red, white, and yellow paint. She has in like
manner to be buried in the sand at her second and third menstruations,
but at the fourth she is allowed to remain in camp, only signifying her
condition by wearing a basket of empty shells on her back.[103] Among
the Kia blacks of the Prosperine River, on the east coast of Queensland,
a girl at puberty has to sit or lie down in a shallow pit away from the
camp; a rough hut of bushes is erected over her to protect her from the
inclemency of the weather. There she stays for about a week, waited on
by her mother and sister, the only persons to whom she may speak. She is
allowed to drink water, but may not touch it with her hands; and she may
scratch herself a little with a mussel-shell. This seclusion is repeated
at her second and third monthly periods, but when the third is over she
is brought to her husband bedecked with savage finery. Eagle-hawk or
cockatoo feathers are stuck in her hair: a shell hangs over her
forehead: grass bugles encircle her neck and an apron of opossum skin
her waist: strings are tied to her arms and wrists; and her whole body
is mottled with patterns drawn in red, white, and yellow pigments and

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in the islands of Torres Straits.]

Among the Uiyumkwi tribe in Red Island the girl lies at full length in a
shallow trench dug in the foreshore, and sand is lightly thrown over her
legs and body up to the breasts, which appear not to be covered. A rough
shelter of boughs is then built over her, and thus she remains lying for
a few hours. Then she and her attendant go into the bush and look for
food, which they cook at a fire close to the shelter. They sleep under
the boughs, the girl remaining secluded from the camp but apparently not
being again buried. At the end of the symptoms she stands over hot
stones and water is poured over her, till, trickling from her body on
the stones, it is converted into steam and envelops her in a cloud of
vapour. Then she is painted with red and white stripes and returns to
the camp. If her future husband has already been chosen, she goes to him
and they eat some food together, which the girl has previously brought
from the bush.[105] In Prince of Wales Island, Torres Strait, the
treatment of the patient is similar, but lasts for about two months.
During the day she lies covered up with sand in a shallow hole on the
beach, over which a hut is built. At night she may get out of the hole,
but she may not leave the hut. Her paternal aunt looks after her, and
both of them must abstain from eating turtle, dugong, and the heads of
fish. Were they to eat the heads of fish no more fish would be caught.
During the time of the girl's seclusion, the aunt who waits upon her has
the right to enter any house and take from it anything she likes without
payment, provided she does so before the sun rises. When the time of her
retirement has come to an end, the girl bathes in the sea while the
morning star is rising, and after performing various other ceremonies is
readmitted to society.[106] In Saibai, another island of Torres Straits,
at her first monthly sickness a girl lives secluded in the forest for
about a fortnight, during which no man may see her; even the women who
have spoken to her in the forest must wash in salt water before they
speak to a man. Two girls wait upon and feed the damsel, putting the
food into her mouth, for she is not allowed to touch it with her own
hands. Nor may she eat dugong and turtle. At the end of a fortnight the
girl and her attendants bathe in salt water while the tide is running
out. Afterwards they are clean, may again speak to men without ceremony,
and move freely about the village. In Yam and Tutu a girl at puberty
retires for a month to the forest, where no man nor even her own mother
may look upon her. She is waited on by women who stand to her in a
certain relationship (_mowai_), apparently her paternal aunts. She is
blackened all over with charcoal and wears a long petticoat reaching
below her knees. During her seclusion the married women of the village
often assemble in the forest and dance, and the girl's aunts relieve the
tedium of the proceedings by thrashing her from time to time as a useful
preparation for matrimony. At the end of a month the whole party go into
the sea, and the charcoal is washed off the girl. After that she is
decorated, her body blackened again, her hair reddened with ochre, and
in the evening she is brought back to her father's house, where she is
received with weeping and lamentation because she has been so long

Sec. 4. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty among the Indians of North America_

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Indians of California]

Among the Indians of California a girl at her first menstruation "was
thought to be possessed of a particular degree of supernatural power,
and this was not always regarded as entirely defiling or malevolent.
Often, however, there was a strong feeling of the power of evil inherent
in her condition. Not only was she secluded from her family and the
community, but an attempt was made to seclude the world from her. One of
the injunctions most strongly laid upon her was not to look about her.
She kept her head bowed and was forbidden to see the world and the sun.
Some tribes covered her with a blanket. Many of the customs in this
connection resembled those of the North Pacific Coast most strongly,
such as the prohibition to the girl to touch or scratch her head with
her hand, a special implement being furnished her for the purpose.
Sometimes she could eat only when fed and in other cases fasted
altogether. Some form of public ceremony, often accompanied by a dance
and sometimes by a form of ordeal for the girl, was practised nearly
everywhere. Such ceremonies were well developed in Southern California,
where a number of actions symbolical of the girl's maturity and
subsequent life were performed."[108] Thus among the Maidu Indians of
California a girl at puberty remained shut up in a small separate hut.
For five days she might not eat flesh or fish nor feed herself, but was
fed by her mother or other old woman. She had a basket, plate, and cup
for her own use, and a stick with which to scratch her head, for she
might not scratch it with her fingers. At the end of five days she took
a warm bath and, while she still remained in the hut and plied the
scratching-stick on her head, was privileged to feed herself with her
own hands. After five days more she bathed in the river, after which her
parents gave a great feast in her honour. At the feast the girl was
dressed in her best, and anybody might ask her parents for anything he
pleased, and they had to give it, even if it was the hand of their
daughter in marriage. During the period of her seclusion in the hut the
girl was allowed to go by night to her parents' house and listen to
songs sung by her friends and relations, who assembled for the purpose.
Among the songs were some that related to the different roots and seeds
which in these tribes it is the business of women to gather for food.
While the singers sang, she sat by herself in a corner of the house
muffled up completely in mats and skins; no man or boy might come near
her.[109] Among the Hupa, another Indian tribe of California, when a
girl had reached maturity her male relatives danced all night for nine
successive nights, while the girl remained apart, eating no meat and
blindfolded. But on the tenth night she entered the house and took part
in the last dance.[110] Among the Wintun, another Californian tribe, a
girl at puberty was banished from the camp and lived alone in a distant
booth, fasting rigidly from animal food; it was death to any person to
touch or even approach her.[111]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Indians of Washington State.]

In the interior of Washington State, about Colville, "the customs of the
Indians, in relation to the treatment of females, are singular. On the
first appearance of the menses, they are furnished with provisions, and
sent into the woods, to remain concealed for two days; for they have a
superstition, that if a man should be seen or met with during that time,
death will be the consequence. At the end of the second day, the woman
is permitted to return to the lodge, when she is placed in a hut just
large enough for her to lie in at full length, in which she is compelled
to remain for twenty days, cut off from all communication with her
friends, and is obliged to hide her face at the appearance of a man.
Provisions are supplied her daily. After this, she is required to
perform repeated ablutions, before she can resume her place in the
family. At every return, the women go into seclusion for two or more
days."[112] Among the Chinook Indians who inhabited the coast of
Washington State, from Shoalwater Bay as far as Grey's Harbour, when a
chief's daughter attained to puberty, she was hidden for five days from
the view of the people; she might not look at them nor at the sky, nor
might she pick berries. It was believed that if she were to look at the
sky, the weather would be bad; that if she picked berries, it would
rain; and that when she hung her towel of cedar-bark on a spruce-tree,
the tree withered up at once. She went out of the house by a separate
door and bathed in a creek far from the village. She fasted for some
days, and for many days more she might not eat fresh food.[113]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Nootka Indians of Vancouver

Amongst the Aht or Nootka Indians of Vancouver Island, when girls reach
puberty they are placed in a sort of gallery in the house "and are there
surrounded completely with mats, so that neither the sun nor any fire
can be seen. In this cage they remain for several days. Water is given
them, but no food. The longer a girl remains in this retirement the
greater honour is it to the parents; but she is disgraced for life if it
is known that she has seen fire or the sun during this initiatory
ordeal."[114] Pictures of the mythical thunder-bird are painted on the
screens behind which she hides. During her seclusion she may neither
move nor lie down, but must always sit in a squatting posture. She may
not touch her hair with her hands, but is allowed to scratch her head
with a comb or a piece of bone provided for the purpose. To scratch her
body is also forbidden, as it is believed that every scratch would leave
a scar. For eight months after reaching maturity she may not eat any
fresh food, particularly salmon; moreover, she must eat by herself, and
use a cup and dish of her own.[115]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Haida Indians of the Queen
Charlotte Islands.]

Among the Haida Indians of the Queen Charlotte Islands girls at puberty
were secluded behind screens in the house for about twenty days. In some
parts of the islands separate fires were provided for the girls, and
they went out and in by a separate door at the back of the house. If a
girl at such a time was obliged to go out by the front door, all the
weapons, gambling-sticks, medicine, and other articles had to be removed
from the house till her return, for otherwise it was thought that they
would be unlucky; and if there was a good hunter in the house, he also
had to go out at the same time on pain of losing his good luck if he
remained. During several months or even half a year the girl was bound
to wear a peculiar cloak or hood made of cedar-bark, nearly conical in
shape and reaching down below the breast, but open before the face.
After the twenty days were over the girl took a bath; none of the water
might be spilled, it had all to be taken back to the woods, else the
girl would not live long. On the west coast of the islands the damsel
might eat nothing but black cod for four years; for the people believed
that other kinds of fish would become scarce if she partook of them. At
Kloo the young woman at such times was forbidden to look at the sea, and
for forty days she might not gaze at the fire; for a whole year she
might not walk on the beach below high-water mark, because then the tide
would come in, covering part of the food supply, and there would be bad
weather. For five years she might not eat salmon, or the fish would be
scarce; and when her family went to a salmon-creek, she landed from the
canoe at the mouth of the creek and came to the smoke-house from behind;
for were she to see a salmon leap, all the salmon might leave the creek.
Among the Haidas of Masset it was believed that if the girl looked at
the sky, the weather would be bad, and that if she stepped over a
salmon-creek, all the salmon would disappear.[116]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Tlingit Indians of Alaska.]

Amongst the Tlingit (Thlinkeet) or Kolosh Indians of Alaska, when a girl
shewed signs of womanhood she used to be confined to a little hut or
cage, which was completely blocked up with the exception of a small
air-hole. In this dark and filthy abode she had to remain a year,
without fire, exercise, or associates. Only her mother and a female
slave might supply her with nourishment. Her food was put in at the
little window; she had to drink out of the wing-bone of a white-headed
eagle. The time of her seclusion was afterwards reduced in some places
to six or three months or even less. She had to wear a sort of hat with
long flaps, that her gaze might not pollute the sky; for she was thought
unfit for the sun to shine upon, and it was imagined that her look would
destroy the luck of a hunter, fisher, or gambler, turn things to stone,
and do other mischief. At the end of her confinement her old clothes
were burnt, new ones were made, and a feast was given, at which a slit
was cut in her under lip parallel to the mouth, and a piece of wood or
shell was inserted to keep the aperture open.[117]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Tsetsaut and Bella Coola
Indians of British Columbia.]

In the Tsetsaut tribe of British Columbia a girl at puberty wears a
large hat of skin which comes down over her face and screens it from the
sun. It is believed that if she were to expose her face to the sun or to
the sky, rain would fall. The hat protects her face also against the
fire, which ought not to strike her skin; to shield her hands she wears
mittens. In her mouth she carries the tooth of an animal to prevent her
own teeth from becoming hollow. For a whole year she may not see blood
unless her face is blackened; otherwise she would grow blind. For two
years she wears the hat and lives in a hut by herself, although she is
allowed to see other people. At the end of two years a man takes the hat
from her head and throws it away.[118] In the Bilqula or Bella Coola
tribe of British Columbia, when a girl attains puberty she must stay in
the shed which serves as her bedroom, where she has a separate
fireplace. She is not allowed to descend to the main part of the house,
and may not sit by the fire of the family. For four days she is bound to
remain motionless in a sitting posture. She fasts during the day, but is
allowed a little food and drink very early in the morning. After the
four days' seclusion she may leave her room, but only through a separate
opening cut in the floor, for the houses are raised on piles. She may
not yet come into the chief room. In leaving the house she wears a large
hat which protects her face against the rays of the sun. It is believed
that if the sun were to shine on her face her eyes would suffer. She may
pick berries on the hills, but may not come near the river or sea for a
whole year. Were she to eat fresh salmon she would lose her senses, or
her mouth would be changed into a long beak.[119]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Tinneh Indians of British

Among the Tinneh Indians about Stuart Lake, Babine Lake, and Fraser Lake
in British Columbia "girls verging on maturity, that is when their
breasts begin to form, take swans' feathers mixed with human hair and
plait bands, which they tie round their wrists and ankles to secure long
life. At this time they are careful that the dishes out of which they
eat, are used by no other person, and wholly devoted to their own use;
during this period they eat nothing but dog fish, and starvation _only_
will drive them to eat either fresh fish or meat. When their first
periodical sickness comes on, they are fed by their mothers or nearest
female relation by _themselves_, and on no account will they touch their
food with their own hands. They are at this time also careful not to
touch their heads with their hands, and keep a small stick to scratch
their heads with. They remain outside the lodge, all the time they are
in this state, in a hut made for the purpose. During all this period
they wear a skull-cap made of skin to fit very tight; this is never
taken off until their first monthly sickness ceases; they also wear a
strip of black paint about one inch wide across their eyes, and wear a
fringe of shells, bones, etc., hanging down from their foreheads to
below their eyes; and this is never taken off till the second monthly
period arrives and ceases, when the nearest male relative makes a feast;
after which she is considered a fully matured woman; but she has to
refrain from eating anything fresh for one year after her first monthly
sickness; she may however eat partridge, but it must be cooked in the
crop of the bird to render it harmless. I would have thought it
impossible to perform this feat had I not seen it done. The crop is
blown out, and a small bent willow put round the mouth; it is then
filled with water, and the meat being first minced up, put in also, then
put on the fire and boiled till cooked. Their reason for hanging fringes
before their eyes, is to hinder any bad medicine man from harming them
during this critical period: they are very careful not to drink whilst
facing a medicine man, and do so only when their backs are turned to
him. All these habits are left off when the girl is a recognised woman,
with the exception of their going out of the lodge and remaining in a
hut, every time their periodical sickness comes on. This is a rigidly
observed law with both single and married women."[120]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Tinneh Indians of Alaska.]

Among the Hareskin Tinneh a girl at puberty was secluded for five days
in a hut made specially for the purpose; she might only drink out of a
tube made from a swan's bone, and for a month she might not break a
hare's bones, nor taste blood, nor eat the heart or fat of animals, nor
birds' eggs.[121] Among the Tinneh Indians of the middle Yukon valley,
in Alaska, the period of the girl's seclusion lasts exactly a lunar
month; for the day of the moon on which the symptoms first occur is
noted, and she is sequestered until the same day of the next moon. If
the season is winter, a corner of the house is curtained off for her use
by a blanket or a sheet of canvas; if it is summer, a small tent is
erected for her near the common one. Here she lives and sleeps. She
wears a long robe and a large hood, which she must pull down over her
eyes whenever she leaves the hut, and she must keep it down till she
returns. She may not speak to a man nor see his face, much less touch
his clothes or anything that belongs to him; for if she did so, though
no harm would come to her, he would grow unmanly. She has her own dishes
for eating out of and may use no other; at Kaltag she must suck the
water through a swan's bone without applying her lips to the cup. She
may eat no fresh meat or fish except the flesh of the porcupine. She may
not undress, but sleeps with all her clothes on, even her mittens. In
her socks she wears, next to the skin, the horny soles cut from the feet
of a porcupine, in order that for the rest of her life her shoes may
never wear out. Round her waist she wears a cord to which are tied the
heads of femurs of a porcupine; because of all animals known to the
Tinneh the porcupine suffers least in parturition, it simply drops its
young and continues to walk or skip about as if nothing had happened.
Hence it is easy to see that a girl who wears these portions of a
porcupine about her waist, will be delivered just as easily as the
animal. To make quite sure of this, if anybody happens to kill a
porcupine big with young while the girl is undergoing her period of
separation, the foetus is given to her, and she lets it slide down
between her shirt and her body so as to fall on the ground like an
infant.[122] Here the imitation of childbirth is a piece of homoeopathic
or imitative magic designed to facilitate the effect which it

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Thompson Indians of British

Among the Thompson Indians of British Columbia, when a girl attained
puberty, she was at once separated from all the people. A conical hut of
fir branches and bark was erected at some little distance from the other
houses, and in it the girl had to squat on her heels during the day.
Often a deep circular hole was dug in the hut and the girl squatted in
the hole, with her head projecting above the surface of the ground. She
might quit the hut for various purposes in the early morning, but had
always to be back at sunrise. On the first appearance of the symptoms
her face was painted red all over, and the paint was renewed every
morning during her term of seclusion. A heavy blanket swathed her body
from top to toe, and during the first four days she wore a conical cap
made of small fir branches, which reached below the breast but left an
opening for the face. In her hair was fastened an implement made of
deer-bone with which she scratched herself. For the first four days she
might neither wash nor eat, but a little water was given her in a
birch-bark cup painted red, and she sucked up the liquid through a tube
made out of the leg of a crane, a swan, or a goose, for her lips might
not touch the surface of the water. After the four days she was allowed,
during the rest of the period of isolation, to eat, to wash, to lie
down, to comb her hair, and to drink of streams and springs. But in
drinking at these sources she had still to use her tube, otherwise the
spring would dry up. While her seclusion lasted she performed by night
various ceremonies, which were supposed to exert a beneficial influence
on her future life. For example, she ran as fast as she could, praying
at the same time to the Earth or Nature that she might be fleet of foot
and tireless of limb. She dug trenches, in order that in after life she
might be able to dig well and to work hard. These and other ceremonies
she repeated for four nights or mornings in succession, four times each
morning, and each time she supplicated the Dawn of the Day. Among the
Lower Thompson Indians she carried a staff for one night; and when the
day was breaking she leaned the staff against the stump of a tree and
prayed to the Dawn that she might be blessed with a good husband, who
was symbolized by the staff. She also wandered some nights to lonely
parts of the mountains, where she would dance, imploring the spirits to
pity and protect her during her future life; then, the dance and prayer
over, she would lie down on the spot and fall asleep. Again, she carried
four stones in her bosom to a spring, where she spat upon the stones and
threw them one after the other into the water, praying that all disease
might leave her, as these stones did. Also she ran four times in the
early morning with two small stones in her bosom; and as she ran the
stones slipped down between her bare body and her clothes and fell to
the ground. At the same time she prayed to the Dawn that when she should
be with child, she might be delivered as easily as she was delivered of
these stones. But whatever exercises she performed or prayers she
offered on the lonely mountains during the hours of darkness or while
the morning light was growing in the east, she must always be back in
her little hut before the sun rose. There she often passed the tedious
hours away picking the needles, one by one, from the cones on two large
branches of fir, which hung from the roof of her hut on purpose to
provide her with occupation. And as she picked she prayed to the
fir-branch that she might never be lazy, but always quick and active at
work. During her seclusion, too, she had to make miniatures of all the
articles that Indian women make, or used to make, such as baskets, mats,
ropes, and thread. This she did in order that afterwards she might be
able to make the real things properly. Four large fir-branches also were
placed in front of the hut, so that when she went out or in, she had to
step over them. The branches were renewed every morning and the old ones
thrown away into the water, while the girl prayed, "May I never bewitch
any man, nor my fellow-women! May it never happen!" The first four times
that she went out and in, she prayed to the fir-branches, saying, "If
ever I step into trouble or difficulties or step unknowingly inside the
magical spell of some person, may you help me, O Fir-branches, with your
power!" Every day she painted her face afresh, and she wore strings of
parts of deer-hoofs round her ankles and knees, and tied to her
waistband on either side, which rattled when she walked or ran. Even the
shape of the hut in which she lived was adapted to her future rather
than to her present needs and wishes. If she wished to be tall, the hut
was tall; if she wished to be short, it was low, sometimes so low that
there was not room in it for her to stand erect, and she would lay the
palm of her hand on the top of her head and pray to the Dawn that she
might grow no taller. Her seclusion lasted four months. The Indians say
that long ago it extended over a year, and that fourteen days elapsed
before the girl was permitted to wash for the first time. The dress
which she wore during her time of separation was afterwards taken to the
top of a hill and burned, and the rest of her clothes were hung up on

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Lillooet Indians of British

Among the Lillooet Indians of British Columbia, neighbours of the
Thompsons, the customs observed by girls at puberty were similar. The
damsels were secluded for a period of not less than one year nor more
than four years, according to their own inclination and the wishes of
their parents. Among the Upper Lillooets the hut in which the girl
lodged was made of bushy fir-trees set up like a conical tent, the inner
branches being lopped off, while the outer branches were closely
interwoven and padded to form a roof. Every month or half-month the hut
was shifted to another site or a new one erected. By day the girl sat in
the hut; for the first month she squatted in a hole dug in the middle of
it; and she passed the time making miniature baskets of birch-bark and
other things, praying that she might be able to make the real things
well in after years. At the dusk of the evening she left the hut and
wandered about all night, but she returned before the sun rose. Before
she quitted the hut at nightfall to roam abroad, she painted her face
red and put on a mask of fir-branches, and in her hand, as she walked,
she carried a basket-rattle to frighten ghosts and guard herself from
evil. Among the Lower Lillooets, the girl's mask was often made of
goat-skin, covering her head, neck, shoulders and breast, and leaving
only a narrow opening from the brow to the chin. During the nocturnal
hours she performed many ceremonies. Thus she put two smooth stones in
her bosom and ran, and as they fell down between her body and her
clothes, she prayed, saying, "May I always have easy child-births!" Now
one of these stones represented her future child and the other
represented the afterbirth. Also she dug trenches, praying that in the
years to come she might be strong and tireless in digging roots; she
picked leaves and needles from the fir-trees, praying that her fingers
might be nimble in picking berries; and she tore sheets of birch-bark
into shreds, dropping the shreds as she walked and asking that her hands
might never tire and that she might make neat and fine work of
birch-bark. Moreover, she ran and walked much that she might be light of
foot. And every evening, when the shadows were falling, and every
morning, when the day was breaking, she prayed to the Dusk of the
Evening or to the Dawn of Day, saying, "O Dawn of Day!" or "O Dusk," as
it might be, "may I be able to dig roots fast and easily, and may I
always find plenty!" All her prayers were addressed to the Dusk of the
Evening or the Dawn of Day. She supplicated both, asking for long life,
health, wealth, and happiness.[125]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Shuswap Indians of British

Among the Shuswap Indians of British Columbia, who are neighbours of the
Thompsons and Lillooets, "a girl on reaching maturity has to go through
a great number of ceremonies. She must leave the village and live alone
in a small hut on the mountains. She cooks her own food, and must not
eat anything that bleeds. She is forbidden to touch her head, for which
purpose she uses a comb with three points. Neither is she allowed to
scratch her body, except with a painted deer-bone. She wears the bone
and the comb suspended from her belt. She drinks out of a painted cup of
birch-bark, and neither more nor less than the quantity it holds. Every
night she walks about her hut, and plants willow twigs, which she has
painted, and to the ends of which she has attached pieces of cloth, into
the ground. It is believed that thus she will become rich in later life.
In order to become strong she should climb trees and try to break off
their points. She plays with _lehal_ sticks that her future husbands
might have good luck when gambling."[126] During the day the girl stays
in her hut and occupies herself in making miniature bags, mats, and
baskets, in sewing and embroidery, in manufacturing thread, twine, and
so forth; in short she makes a beginning of all kinds of woman's work,
in order that she may be a good housewife in after life. By night she
roams the mountains and practises running, climbing, carrying burdens,
and digging trenches, so that she may be expert at digging roots. If she
has wandered far and daylight overtakes her, she hides herself behind a
veil of fir branches; for no one, except her instructor or nearest
relatives, should see her face during her period of seclusion. She wore
a large robe painted red on the breast and sides, and her hair was done
up in a knot at each ear.[127]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Delaware and Cheyenne Indians.]

Ceremonies of the same general type were probably observed by girls at
puberty among all the Indian tribes of North America. But the record of
them is far less full for the Central and Eastern tribes, perhaps
because the settlers who first came into contact with the Red Man in
these regions were too busy fighting him to find leisure, even if they
had the desire, to study his manners and customs. However, among the
Delaware Indians, a tribe in the extreme east of the continent, we read
that "when a Delaware girl has her first monthly period, she must
withdraw into a hut at some distance from the village. Her head is
wrapped up for twelve days, so that she can see nobody, and she must
submit to frequent vomits and fasting, and abstain from all labor. After
this she is washed and new clothed, but confined to a solitary life for
two months, at the close of which she is declared marriageable."[128]
Again, among the Cheyennes, an Indian tribe of the Missouri valley, a
girl at her first menstruation is painted red all over her body and
secluded in a special little lodge for four days. However, she may
remain in her father's lodge provided that there are no charms
("medicine"), no sacred bundle, and no shield in it, or that these and
all other objects invested with a sacred character have been removed.
For four days she may not eat boiled meat; the flesh of which she
partakes must be roasted over coals. Young men will not eat from the
dish nor drink from the pot, which has been used by her; because they
believe that were they to do so they would be wounded in the next fight.
She may not handle nor even touch any weapon of war or any sacred
object. If the camp moves, she may not ride a horse, but is mounted on a

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Esquimaux.]

Among the Esquimaux also, in the extreme north of the continent, who
belong to an entirely different race from the Indians, the attainment of
puberty in the female sex is, or used to be, the occasion of similar
observances. Thus among the Koniags, an Esquimau people of Alaska, a
girl at puberty was placed in a small hut in which she had to remain on
her hands and knees for six months; then the hut was enlarged a little
so as to allow her to straighten her back, but in this posture she had
to remain for six months more. All this time she was regarded as an
unclean being with whom no one might hold intercourse. At the end of the
year she was received back by her parents and a great feast held.[130]
Again, among the Malemut, and southward from the lower Yukon and
adjacent districts, when a girl reaches the age of puberty she is
considered unclean for forty days and must therefore live by herself in
a corner of the house with her face to the wall, always keeping her hood
over her head and her hair hanging dishevelled over her eyes. But if it
is summer, she commonly lives in a rough shelter outside the house. She
may not go out by day, and only once at night, when every one else is
asleep. At the end of the period she bathes and is clothed in new
garments, whereupon she may be taken in marriage. During her seclusion
she is supposed to be enveloped in a peculiar atmosphere of such a sort
that were a young man to come near enough for it to touch him, it would
render him visible to every animal he might hunt, so that his luck as a
hunter would be gone.[131]

Sec. 5. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty among the Indians of South America_

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Guaranis, Chiriguanos, and
Lengua Indians of South America.]

When symptoms of puberty appeared on a girl for the first time, the
Guaranis of Southern Brazil, on the borders of Paraguay, used to sew her
up in her hammock, leaving only a small opening in it to allow her to
breathe. In this condition, wrapt up and shrouded like a corpse, she was
kept for two or three days or so long as the symptoms lasted, and during
this time she had to observe a most rigorous fast. After that she was
entrusted to a matron, who cut the girl's hair and enjoined her to
abstain most strictly from eating flesh of any kind until her hair
should be grown long enough to hide her ears. Meanwhile the diviners
drew omens of her future character from the various birds or animals
that flew past or crossed her path. If they saw a parrot, they would say
she was a chatterbox; if an owl, she was lazy and useless for domestic
labours, and so on.[132] In similar circumstances the Chiriguanos of
southeastern Bolivia hoisted the girl in her hammock to the roof, where
she stayed for a month: the second month the hammock was let half-way
down from the roof; and in the third month old women, armed with sticks,
entered the hut and ran about striking everything they met, saying they
were hunting the snake that had wounded the girl.[133] The Lengua
Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco under similar circumstances hang the
girl in her hammock from the roof of the house, but they leave her there
only three days and nights, during which they give her nothing to eat
but a little Paraguay tea or boiled maize. Only her mother or
grandmother has access to her; nobody else approaches or speaks to her.
If she is obliged to leave the hammock for a little, her friends take
great care to prevent her from touching the _Boyrusu_, which is an
imaginary serpent that would swallow her up. She must also be very
careful not to set foot on the droppings of fowls or animals, else she
would suffer from sores on the throat and breast. On the third day they
let her down from the hammock, cut her hair, and make her sit in a
corner of the room with her face turned to the wall. She may speak to
nobody, and must abstain from flesh and fish. These rigorous observances
she must practise for nearly a year. Many girls die or are injured for
life in consequence of the hardships they endure at this time. Their
only occupations during their seclusion are spinning and weaving.[134]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Yuracares of Bolivia.]

Among the Yuracares, an Indian tribe of Bolivia, at the eastern foot of
the Andes, when a girl perceives the signs of puberty, she informs her
parents. The mother weeps and the father constructs a little hut of palm
leaves near the house. In this cabin he shuts up his daughter so that
she cannot see the light, and there she remains fasting rigorously for
four days. Meantime the mother, assisted by the women of the
neighbourhood, has brewed a large quantity of the native intoxicant
called _chicha_, and poured it into wooden troughs and palm leaves. On
the morning of the fourth day, three hours before the dawn, the girl's
father, having arrayed himself in his savage finery, summons all his
neighbours with loud cries. The damsel is seated on a stone, and every
guest in turn cuts off a lock of her hair, and running away hides it in
the hollow trunk of a tree in the depths of the forest. When they have
all done so and seated themselves again gravely in the circle, the girl
offers to each of them a calabash full of very strong _chicha_. Before
the wassailing begins, the various fathers perform a curious operation
on the arms of their sons, who are seated beside them. The operator
takes a very sharp bone of an ape, rubs it with a pungent spice, and
then pinching up the skin of his son's arm he pierces it with the bone
through and through, as a surgeon might introduce a seton. This
operation he repeats till the young man's arm is riddled with holes at
regular intervals from the shoulder to the wrist. Almost all who take
part in the festival are covered with these wounds, which the Indians
call _culucute_. Having thus prepared themselves to spend a happy day,
they drink, play on flutes, sing and dance till evening. Rain, thunder,
and lightning, should they befall, have no effect in damping the general
enjoyment or preventing its continuance till after the sun has set. The
motive for perforating the arms of the young men is to make them skilful
hunters; at each perforation the sufferer is cheered by the promise of
another sort of game or fish which the surgical operation will
infallibly procure for him. The same operation is performed on the arms
and legs of the girls, in order that they may be brave and strong; even
the dogs are operated on with the intention of making them run down the
game better. For five or six months afterwards the damsel must cover her
head with bark and refrain from speaking to men. The Yuracares think
that if they did not submit a young girl to this severe ordeal, her
children would afterwards perish by accidents of various kinds, such as
the sting of a serpent, the bite of a jaguar, the fall of a tree, the
wound of an arrow, or what not.[135]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Indians of the Gran Chaco.]

Among the Matacos or Mataguayos, an Indian tribe of the Gran Chaco, a
girl at puberty has to remain in seclusion for some time. She lies
covered up with branches or other things in a corner of the hut, seeing
no one and speaking to no one, and during this time she may eat neither
flesh nor fish. Meantime a man beats a drum in front of the house.[136]
Similarly among the Tobas, another Indian tribe of the same region, when
a chief's daughter has just attained to womanhood, she is shut up for
two or three days in the house, all the men of the tribe scour the
country to bring in game and fish for a feast, and a Mataco Indian is
engaged to drum, sing, and dance in front of the house without
cessation, day and night, till the festival is over. As the merrymaking
lasts for two or three weeks, the exhaustion of the musician at the end
of it may be readily conceived. Meat and drink are supplied to him on
the spot where he pays his laborious court to the Muses. The proceedings
wind up with a saturnalia and a drunken debauch.[137] Among the Yaguas,
an Indian tribe of the Upper Amazon, a girl at puberty is shut up for
three months in a lonely hut in the forest, where her mother brings her
food daily.[138] When a girl of the Peguenches tribe perceives in
herself the first signs of womanhood, she is secluded by her mother in a
corner of the hut screened off with blankets, and is warned not to lift
up her eyes on any man. Next day, very early in the morning and again
after sunset, she is taken out by two women and made to run till she is
tired; in the interval she is again secluded in her corner. On the
following day she lays three packets of wool beside the path near the
house to signify that she is now a woman.[139] Among the Passes, Mauhes,
and other tribes of Brazil the young woman in similar circumstances is
hung in her hammock from the roof and has to fast there for a month or
as long as she can hold out.[140] One of the early settlers in Brazil,
about the middle of the sixteenth century, has described the severe
ordeal which damsels at puberty had to undergo among the Indians on the
south-east coast of that country, near what is now Rio de Janeiro. When
a girl had reached this critical period of life, her hair was burned or
shaved off close to the head. Then she was placed on a flat stone and
cut with the tooth of an animal from the shoulders all down the back,
till she ran with blood. Next the ashes of a wild gourd were rubbed into
the wounds; the girl was bound hand and foot, and hung in a hammock,
being enveloped in it so closely that no one could see her. Here she had
to stay for three days without eating or drinking. When the three days
were over, she stepped out of the hammock upon the flat stone, for her
feet might not touch the ground. If she had a call of nature, a female
relation took the girl on her back and carried her out, taking with her
a live coal to prevent evil influences from entering the girl's body.
Being replaced in her hammock, she was now allowed to get some flour,
boiled roots, and water, but might not taste salt or flesh. Thus she
continued to the end of the first monthly period, at the expiry of which
she was gashed on the breast and belly as well as all down the back.
During the second month she still stayed in her hammock, but her rule of
abstinence was less rigid, and she was allowed to spin. The third month
she was blackened with a certain pigment and began to go about as

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Indians of Guiana; custom of
beating the girls and of causing them to be stung by ants.]

Amongst the Macusis of British Guiana, when a girl shews the first signs
of puberty, she is hung in a hammock at the highest point of the hut.
For the first few days she may not leave the hammock by day, but at
night she must come down, light a fire, and spend the night beside it,
else she would break out in sores on her neck, throat, and other parts
of her body. So long as the symptoms are at their height, she must fast
rigorously. When they have abated, she may come down and take up her
abode in a little compartment that is made for her in the darkest corner
of the hut. In the morning she may cook her food, but it must be at a
separate fire and in a vessel of her own. After about ten days the
magician comes and undoes the spell by muttering charms and breathing on
her and on the more valuable of the things with which she has come in
contact. The pots and drinking-vessels which she used are broken and the
fragments buried. After her first bath, the girl must submit to be
beaten by her mother with thin rods without uttering a cry. At the end
of the second period she is again beaten, but not afterwards. She is now
"clean," and can mix again with people.[142] Other Indians of Guiana,
after keeping the girl in her hammock at the top of the hut for a month,
expose her to certain large ants, whose bite is very painful.[143]
Sometimes, in addition to being stung with ants, the sufferer has to
fast day and night so long as she remains slung up on high in her
hammock, so that when she comes down she is reduced to a skeleton. The
intention of stinging her with ants is said to be to make her strong to
bear the burden of maternity.[144] Amongst the Uaupes of Brazil a girl
at puberty is secluded in the house for a month, and allowed only a
small quantity of bread and water. Then she is taken out into the midst
of her relations and friends, each of whom gives her four or five blows
with pieces of _sipo_ (an elastic climber), till she falls senseless or
dead. If she recovers, the operation is repeated four times at intervals
of six hours, and it is considered an offence to the parents not to
strike hard. Meantime, pots of meats and fish have been made ready; the
_sipos_ are dipped into them and then given to the girl to lick, who is
now considered a marriageable woman.[145]

[Custom in South America of causing young men to be stung with ants as
an initiatory rite.]

The custom of stinging the girl at such times with ants or beating her
with rods is intended, we may be sure, not as a punishment or a test of
endurance, but as a purification, the object being to drive away the
malignant influences with which a girl in this condition is believed to
be beset and enveloped. Examples of purification, by beating, by
incisions in the flesh, and by stinging with ants, have already come
before us.[146] In some Indian tribes of Brazil and Guiana young men do
not rank as warriors and may not marry till they have passed through a
terrible ordeal, which consists in being stung by swarms of venomous
ants whose bite is like fire. Thus among the Mauhes on the Tapajos
river, a southern tributary of the Amazon, boys of eight to ten years
are obliged to thrust their arms into sleeves stuffed with great
ferocious ants, which the Indians call _tocandeira_ (_Cryptocerus
atratus_, F.). When the young victim shrieks with pain, an excited mob
of men dances round him, shouting and encouraging him till he falls
exhausted to the ground. He is then committed to the care of old women,
who treat his fearfully swollen arms with fresh juice of the manioc; and
on his recovery he has to shew his strength and skill in bending a bow.
This cruel ordeal is commonly repeated again and again, till the lad has
reached his fourteenth year and can bear the agony without betraying any
sign of emotion. Then he is a man and can marry. A lad's age is reckoned
by the number of times he has passed through the ordeal.[147] An
eye-witness has described how a young Mauhe hero bore the torture with
an endurance more than Spartan, dancing and singing, with his arms cased
in the terrible mittens, before every cabin of the great common house,
till pallid, staggering, and with chattering teeth he triumphantly laid
the gloves before the old chief and received the congratulations of the
men and the caresses of the women; then breaking away from his friends
and admirers he threw himself into the river and remained in its cool
soothing water till nightfall.[148] Similarly among the Ticunas of the
Upper Amazon, on the border of Peru, the young man who would take his
place among the warriors must plunge his arm into a sort of basket full
of venomous ants and keep it there for several minutes without uttering
a cry. He generally falls backwards and sometimes succumbs to the fever
which ensues; hence as soon as the ordeal is over the women are prodigal
of their attentions to him, and rub the swollen arm with a particular
kind of herb.[149] Ordeals of this sort appear to be in vogue among the
Indians of the Rio Negro as well as of the Amazon.[150] Among the
Rucuyennes, a tribe of Indians in the north of Brazil, on the borders of
Guiana, young men who are candidates for marriage must submit to be
stung all over their persons not only with ants but with wasps, which
are applied to their naked bodies in curious instruments of trellis-work
shaped like fantastic quadrupeds or birds. The patient invariably falls
down in a swoon and is carried like dead to his hammock, where he is
tightly lashed with cords. As they come to themselves, they writhe in
agony, so that their hammocks rock violently to and fro, causing the hut
to shake as if it were about to collapse. This dreadful ordeal is called
by the Indians a _marake_.[151]

[Custom of causing men and women to be stung with ants to improve their
character and health or to render them invulnerable.]

The same ordeal, under the same name, is also practised by the Wayanas,
an Indian tribe of French Guiana, but with them, we are told, it is no
longer deemed an indispensable preliminary to marriage; "it is rather a
sort of national medicine administered chiefly to the youth of both
sexes." Applied to men, the _marake_, as it is called, "sharpens them,
prevents them from being heavy and lazy, makes them active, brisk,
industrious, imparts strength, and helps them to shoot well with the
bow; without it the Indians would always be slack and rather sickly,
would always have a little fever, and would lie perpetually in their
hammocks. As for the women, the _marake_ keeps them from going to sleep,
renders them active, alert, brisk, gives them strength and a liking for
work, makes them good housekeepers, good workers at the stockade, good
makers of _cachiri_. Every one undergoes the _marake_ at least twice in
his life, sometimes thrice, and oftener if he likes. It may be had from
the age of about eight years and upward, and no one thinks it odd that a
man of forty should voluntarily submit to it."[152] Similarly the
Indians of St. Juan Capistrano in California used to be branded on some
part of their bodies, generally on the right arm, but sometimes on the
leg also, not as a proof of manly fortitude, but because they believed
that the custom "added greater strength to the nerves, and gave a better
pulse for the management of the bow." Afterwards "they were whipped with
nettles, and covered with ants, that they might become robust, and the
infliction was always performed in summer, during the months of July and
August, when the nettle was in its most fiery state. They gathered small
bunches, which they fastened together, and the poor deluded Indian was
chastised, by inflicting blows with them upon his naked limbs, until
unable to walk; and then he was carried to the nest of the nearest and
most furious species of ants, and laid down among them, while some of
his friends, with sticks, kept annoying the insects to make them still
more violent. What torments did they not undergo! What pain! What
hellish inflictions! Yet their faith gave them power to endure all
without a murmur, and they remained as if dead. Having undergone these
dreadful ordeals, they were considered as invulnerable, and believed
that the arrows of their enemies could no longer harm them."[153] Among
the Alur, a tribe inhabiting the south-western region of the upper Nile,
to bury a man in an ant-hill and leave him there for a while is the
regular treatment for insanity.[154]

[In such cases the beating or stinging was originally a purification; at
a later time it is interpreted as a test of courage and endurance.]

In like manner it is probable that beating or scourging as a religious
or ceremonial rite was originally a mode of purification. It was meant
to wipe off and drive away a dangerous contagion, whether personified as
demoniacal or not, which was supposed to be adhering physically, though
invisibly, to the body of the sufferer.[155] The pain inflicted on the
person beaten was no more the object of the beating than it is of a
surgical operation with us; it was a necessary accident, that was all.
In later times such customs were interpreted otherwise, and the pain,
from being an accident, became the prime object of the ceremony, which
was now regarded either as a test of endurance imposed upon persons at
critical epochs of life, or as a mortification of the flesh well
pleasing to the god. But asceticism, under any shape or form, is never
primitive. The savage, it is true, in certain circumstances will
voluntarily subject himself to pains and privations which appear to us
wholly needless; but he never acts thus unless he believes that some
solid temporal advantage is to be gained by so doing. Pain for the sake
of pain, whether as a moral discipline in this life or as a means of
winning a glorious immortality hereafter, is not an object which he sets
himself deliberately to pursue.

[This explanation confirmed with reference to the beating of girls at
puberty among the South American Indians; treatment of a girl at puberty
among the Banivas of the Orinoco; symptoms of puberty in a girl regarded
as wounds inflicted by a demon.]

If this view is correct, we can understand why so many Indian tribes of
South America compel the youth of both sexes to submit to these painful
and sometimes fatal ordeals. They imagine that in this way they rid the
young folk of certain evils inherent in youth, especially at the
critical age of puberty; and when they picture to themselves the evils
in a personal form as dangerous spirits or demons, the ceremony of their
expulsion may in the strict sense be termed an exorcism. This certainly
appears to be the interpretation which the Banivas of the Orinoco put
upon the cruel scourgings which they inflict on girls at puberty. At her
first menstruation a Baniva girl must pass several days and nights in
her hammock, almost motionless and getting nothing to eat and drink but
water and a little manioc. While she lies there, the suitors for her
hand apply to her father, and he who can afford to give most for her or
can prove himself the best man, is promised the damsel in marriage. The
fast over, some old men enter the hut, bandage the girl's eyes, cover
her head with a bonnet of which the fringes fall on her shoulders, and
then lead her forth and tie her to a post set up in an open place. The
head of the post is carved in the shape of a grotesque face. None but
the old men may witness what follows. Were a woman caught peeping and
prying, it would go ill with her; she would be marked out for the
vengeance of the demon, who would make her expiate her crime at the very
next moon by madness or death. Every participant in the ceremony comes
armed with a scourge of cords or of fish skins; some of them reinforce
the virtue of the instrument by tying little sharp stones to the end of
the thongs. Then, to the dismal and deafening notes of shell-trumpets
blown by two or three supernumeraries, the men circle round and round
the post, every one applying his scourge as he passes to the girl's
back, till it streams with blood. At last the musicians, winding
tremendous blasts on their trumpets against the demon, advance and touch
the post in which he is supposed to be incorporate. Then the blows cease
to descend; the girl is untied, often in a fainting state, and carried
away to have her wounds washed and simples applied to them. The youngest
of the executioners, or rather of the exorcists, hastens to inform her
betrothed husband of the happy issue of the exorcism. "The spirit," he
says, "had cast thy beloved into a sleep as deep almost as that of
death. But we have rescued her from his attacks, and laid her down in
such and such a place. Go seek her." Then going from house to house
through the village he cries to the inmates, "Come, let us burn the
demon who would have taken possession of such and such a girl, our
friend." The bridegroom at once carries his wounded and suffering bride
to his own house; and all the people gather round the post for the
pleasure of burning it and the demon together. A great pile of firewood
has meanwhile been heaped up about it, and the women run round the pyre
cursing in shrill voices the wicked spirit who has wrought all this
evil. The men join in with hoarser cries and animate themselves for the
business in hand by deep draughts of an intoxicant which has been
provided for the occasion by the parents-in-law. Soon the bridegroom,
having committed the bride to the care of his mother, appears on the
scene brandishing a lighted torch. He addresses the demon with bitter
mockery and reproaches; informs him that the fair creature on whom he,
the demon, had nefarious designs, is now his, the bridegroom's, blooming
spouse; and shaking his torch at the grinning head on the post, he
screams out, "This is how the victims of thy persecution take vengeance
on thee!" With these words he puts a light to the pyre. At once the
drums strike up, the trumpets blare, and men, women, and children begin
to dance. In two long rows they dance, the men on one side, the women on
the other, advancing till they almost touch and then retiring again.
After that the two rows join hands, and forming a huge circle trip it
round and round the blaze, till the post with its grotesque face is
consumed in the flames and nothing of the pyre remains but a heap of red
and glowing embers. "The evil spirit has been destroyed. Thus delivered
from her persecutor, the young wife will be free from sickness, will not
die in childbed, and will bear many children to her husband."[156] From
this account it appears that the Banivas attribute the symptoms of
puberty in girls to the wounds inflicted on them by an amorous devil,
who, however, can be not only exorcised but burnt to ashes at the stake.

Sec. 6. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in India and Cambodia_

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Hindoos; seclusion of girls at
puberty in Southern India.]

When a Hindoo maiden reaches maturity she is kept in a dark room for
four days, and is forbidden to see the sun. She is regarded as unclean;
no one may touch her. Her diet is restricted to boiled rice, milk,
sugar, curd, and tamarind without salt. On the morning of the fifth day
she goes to a neighbouring tank, accompanied by five women whose
husbands are alive. Smeared with turmeric water, they all bathe and
return home, throwing away the mat and other things that were in the
room.[157] The Rarhi Brahmans of Bengal compel a girl at puberty to live
alone, and do not allow her to see the face of any male. For three days
she remains shut up in a dark room, and has to undergo certain penances.
Fish, flesh, and sweetmeats are forbidden her; she must live upon rice
and ghee.[158] Among the Tiyans of Malabar a girl is thought to be
polluted for four days from the beginning of her first menstruation.
During this time she must keep to the north side of the house, where she
sleeps on a grass mat of a particular kind, in a room festooned with
garlands of young coco-nut leaves. Another girl keeps her company and
sleeps with her, but she may not touch any other person, tree or plant.
Further, she may not see the sky, and woe betide her if she catches
sight of a crow or a cat! Her diet must be strictly vegetarian, without
salt, tamarinds, or chillies. She is armed against evil spirits by a
knife, which is placed on the mat or carried on her person.[159] Among
the Kappiliyans of Madura and Tinnevelly a girl at her first monthly
period remains under pollution for thirteen days, either in a corner of
the house, which is screened off for her use by her maternal uncle, or
in a temporary hut, which is erected by the same relative on the common
land of the village. On the thirteenth day she bathes in a tank, and, on
entering the house, steps over a pestle and a cake. Near the entrance
some food is placed and a dog is allowed to partake of it; but his
enjoyment is marred by suffering, for while he eats he receives a sound
thrashing, and the louder he howls the better, for the larger will be
the family to which the young woman will give birth; should there be no
howls, there will be no children. The temporary hut in which the girl
passed the days of her seclusion is burnt down, and the pots which she
used are smashed to shivers.[160] Similarly among the Parivarams of
Madura, when a girl attains to puberty she is kept for sixteen days in a
hut, which is guarded at night by her relations; and when her
sequestration is over the hut is burnt down and the pots she used are
broken into very small pieces, because they think that if rain-water
gathered in any of them, the girl would be childless.[161] The Pulayars
of Travancore build a special hut in the jungle for the use of a girl at
puberty; there she remains for seven days. No one else may enter the
hut, not even her mother. Women stand a little way off and lay down food
for her. At the end of the time she is brought home, clad in a new or
clean cloth, and friends are treated to betel-nut, toddy, and
arack.[162] Among the Singhalese a girl at her first menstruation is
confined to a room, where she may neither see nor be seen by any male.
After being thus secluded for two weeks she is taken out, with her face
covered, and is bathed by women at the back of the house. Near the
bathing-place are kept branches of any milk-bearing tree, usually of the
_jak_-tree. In some cases, while the time of purification or uncleanness
lasts, the maiden stays in a separate hut, which is afterwards burnt

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in Cambodia.]

In Cambodia a girl at puberty is put to bed under a mosquito curtain,
where she should stay a hundred days. Usually, however, four, five, ten,
or twenty days are thought enough; and even this, in a hot climate and
under the close meshes of the curtain, is sufficiently trying.[164]
According to another account, a Cambodian maiden at puberty is said to
"enter into the shade." During her retirement, which, according to the
rank and position of her family, may last any time from a few days to
several years, she has to observe a number of rules, such as not to be
seen by a strange man, not to eat flesh or fish, and so on. She goes
nowhere, not even to the pagoda. But this state of seclusion is
discontinued during eclipses; at such times she goes forth and pays her
devotions to the monster who is supposed to cause eclipses by catching
the heavenly bodies between his teeth.[165] This permission to break her
rule of retirement and appear abroad during an eclipse seems to shew how
literally the injunction is interpreted which forbids maidens entering
on womanhood to look upon the sun.

Sec. 7. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in Folk-tales_

[Traces of the seclusion of girls at puberty in folk-tales. Danish story
of the girl who might not see the sun.]

A superstition so widely diffused as this might be expected to leave
traces in legends and folk-tales. And it has done so. In a Danish story
we read of a princess who was fated to be carried off by a warlock if
ever the sun shone on her before she had passed her thirtieth year; so
the king her father kept her shut up in the palace, and had all the
windows on the east, south, and west sides blocked up, lest a sunbeam
should fall on his darling child, and he should thus lose her for ever.
Only at evening, when the sun was down, might she walk for a little in
the beautiful garden of the castle. In time a prince came a-wooing,
followed by a train of gorgeous knights and squires on horses all ablaze
with gold and silver. The king said the prince might have his daughter
to wife on condition that he would not carry her away to his home till
she was thirty years old but would live with her in the castle, where
the windows looked out only to the north. The prince agreed, so married
they were. The bride was only fifteen, and fifteen more long weary years
must pass before she might step out of the gloomy donjon, breathe the
fresh air, and see the sun. But she and her gallant young bridegroom
loved each other and they were happy. Often they sat hand in hand at the
window looking out to the north and talked of what they would do when
they were free. Still it was a little dull to look out always at the
same window and to see nothing but the castle woods, and the distant
hills, and the clouds drifting silently over them. Well, one day it
happened that all the people in the castle had gone away to a
neighbouring castle to witness a tournament and other gaieties, and the
two young folks were left as usual all alone at the window looking out
to the north. They sat silent for a time gazing away to the hills. It
was a grey sad day, the sky was overcast, and the weather seemed to draw
to rain. At last the prince said, "There will be no sunshine to-day.
What if we were to drive over and join the rest at the tournament?" His
young wife gladly consented, for she longed to see more of the world
than those eternal green woods and those eternal blue hills, which were
all she ever saw from the window. So the horses were put into the coach,
and it rattled up to the door, and in they got and away they drove. At
first all went well. The clouds hung low over the woods, the wind sighed
in the trees, a drearier day you could hardly imagine. So they joined
the rest at the other castle and took their seats to watch the jousting
in the lists. So intent were they in watching the gay spectacle of the
prancing steeds, the fluttering pennons, and the glittering armour of
the knights, that they failed to mark the change, the fatal change, in
the weather. For the wind was rising and had begun to disperse the
clouds, and suddenly the sun broke through, and the glory of it fell
like an aureole on the young wife, and at once she vanished away. No
sooner did her husband miss her from his side than he, too, mysteriously
disappeared. The tournament broke up in confusion, the bereft father
hastened home, and shut himself up in the dark castle from which the
light of life had departed. The green woods and the blue hills could
still be seen from the window that looked to the north, but the young
faces that had gazed out of it so wistfully were gone, as it seemed, for

[Tyrolese story of the girl who might not see the sun.]

A Tyrolese story tells how it was the doom of a lovely maiden with
golden hair to be transported into the belly of a whale if ever a
sunbeam fell on her. Hearing of the fame of her beauty the king of the
country sent for her to be his bride, and her brother drove the fair
damsel to the palace in a carefully closed coach, himself sitting on the
box and handling the reins. On the way they overtook two hideous
witches, who pretended they were weary and begged for a lift in the
coach. At first the brother refused to take them in, but his
tender-hearted sister entreated him to have compassion on the two poor
footsore women; for you may easily imagine that she was not acquainted
with their true character. So down he got rather surlily from the box,
opened the coach door, and in the two witches stepped, laughing in their
sleeves. But no sooner had the brother mounted the box and whipped up
the horses, than one of the two wicked witches bored a hole in the
closed coach. A sunbeam at once shot through the hole and fell on the
fair damsel. So she vanished from the coach and was spirited away into
the belly of a whale in the neighbouring sea. You can imagine the
consternation of the king, when the coach door opened and instead of his
blooming bride out bounced two hideous hags![167]

[Modern Greek stories of the maid who might not see the sun.]

In a modern Greek folk-tale the Fates predict that in her fifteenth year
a princess must be careful not to let the sun shine on her, for if this
were to happen she would be turned into a lizard.[168] In another modern
Greek tale the Sun bestows a daughter upon a childless woman on
condition of taking the child back to himself when she is twelve years
old. So, when the child was twelve, the mother closed the doors and
windows, and stopped up all the chinks and crannies, to prevent the Sun
from coming to fetch away her daughter. But she forgot to stop up the
key-hole, and a sunbeam streamed through it and carried off the
girl.[169] In a Sicilian story a seer foretells that a king will have a
daughter who, in her fourteenth year, will conceive a child by the Sun.
So, when the child was born, the king shut her up in a lonely tower
which had no window, lest a sunbeam should fall on her. When she was
nearly fourteen years old, it happened that her parents sent her a piece
of roasted kid, in which she found a sharp bone. With this bone she
scraped a hole in the wall, and a sunbeam shot through the hole and got
her with child.[170]

[The story of Danae and its parallel in a Kirghiz legend.]

The old Greek story of Danae, who was confined by her father in a
subterranean chamber or a brazen tower, but impregnated by Zeus, who
reached her in the shape of a shower of gold,[171] perhaps belongs to
the same class of tales. It has its counterpart in the legend which the
Kirghiz of Siberia tell of their ancestry. A certain Khan had a fair
daughter, whom he kept in a dark iron house, that no man might see her.
An old woman tended her; and when the girl was grown to maidenhood she
asked the old woman, "Where do you go so often?" "My child," said the
old dame, "there is a bright world. In that bright world your father and
mother live, and all sorts of people live there. That is where I go."
The maiden said, "Good mother, I will tell nobody, but shew me that
bright world." So the old woman took the girl out of the iron house. But
when she saw the bright world, the girl tottered and fainted; and the
eye of God fell upon her, and she conceived. Her angry father put her in
a golden chest and sent her floating away (fairy gold can float in
fairyland) over the wide sea.[172] The shower of gold in the Greek
story, and the eye of God in the Kirghiz legend, probably stand for
sunlight and the sun.

[Impregnation of women by the sun in legends.]

The idea that women may be impregnated by the sun is not uncommon in
legends. Thus, for example, among the Indians of Guacheta in Colombia,
it is said, a report once ran that the sun would impregnate one of their
maidens, who should bear a child and yet remain a virgin. The chief had
two daughters, and was very desirous that one of them should conceive in
this miraculous manner. So every day he made them climb a hill to the
east of his house in order to be touched by the first beams of the
rising sun. His wishes were fulfilled, for one of the damsels conceived
and after nine months gave birth to an emerald. So she wrapped it in
cotton and placed it in her bosom, and in a few days it turned into a
child, who received the name of Garanchacha and was universally
recognized as a son of the sun.[173] Again, the Samoans tell of a woman
named Mangamangai, who became pregnant by looking at the rising sun. Her
son grew up and was named "Child of the Sun." At his marriage he applied
to his mother for a dowry, but she bade him apply to his father, the
sun, and told him how to go to him. So one morning he took a long vine
and made a noose in it; then climbing up a tree he threw the noose over
the sun and caught him fast. Thus arrested in his progress, the luminary
asked him what he wanted, and being told by the young man that he wanted
a present for his bride, the sun obligingly packed up a store of
blessings in a basket, with which the youth descended to the earth.[174]

[Traces in marriage customs of the belief that women can be impregnated
by the sun.]

Even in the marriage customs of various races we may perhaps detect
traces of this belief that women can be impregnated by the sun. Thus
amongst the Chaco Indians of South America a newly married couple used
to sleep the first night on a mare's or bullock's skin with their heads
towards the west, "for the marriage is not considered ratified till the
rising sun shines on their feet the succeeding morning."[175] At old
Hindoo marriages the first ceremony was the "Impregnation-rite"
(_Garbh[=a]dh[=a]na_); during the previous day the bride was made to
look towards the sun or to be in some way exposed to its rays.[176]
Amongst the Turks of Siberia it was formerly the custom on the morning
after the marriage to lead the young couple out of the hut to greet the
rising sun. The same custom is said to be still practised in Iran and
Central Asia under a belief that the beams of the rising sun are the
surest means of impregnating the new bride.[177]

[Belief in the impregnation of women by the moon.]

And as some people think that women may be gotten with child by the sun,
so others imagine that they can conceive by the moon. According to the
Greenlanders the moon is a young man, and he "now and then comes down to
give their wives a visit and caress them; for which reason no woman dare
sleep lying upon her back, without she first spits upon her fingers and
rubs her belly with it. For the same reason the young maids are afraid
to stare long at the moon, imagining they may get a child by the
bargain."[178] Similarly Breton peasants are reported to believe that
women or girls who expose their persons to the moonlight may be
impregnated by it and give birth to monsters.[179]

Sec. 8. _Reasons for the Seclusion of Girls at Puberty_

[The reason for the seclusion of women at puberty is the dread of
menstruous blood.]

The motive for the restraints so commonly imposed on girls at puberty is
the deeply engrained dread which primitive man universally entertains of
menstruous blood. He fears it at all times but especially on its first
appearance; hence the restrictions under which women lie at their first
menstruation are usually more stringent than those which they have to
observe at any subsequent recurrence of the mysterious flow. Some
evidence of the fear and of the customs based on it has been cited in an
earlier part of this work;[180] but as the terror, for it is nothing
less, which the phenomenon periodically strikes into the mind of the
savage has deeply influenced his life and institutions, it may be well
to illustrate the subject with some further examples.

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the aborigines of

Thus in the Encounter Bay tribe of South Australia there is, or used to
be, a "superstition which obliges a woman to separate herself from the
camp at the time of her monthly illness, when, if a young man or boy
should approach, she calls out, and he immediately makes a circuit to
avoid her. If she is neglectful upon this point, she exposes herself to
scolding, and sometimes to severe beating by her husband or nearest
relation, because the boys are told from their infancy, that if they see
the blood they will early become grey-headed, and their strength will
fail prematurely."[181] And of the South Australian aborigines in
general we read that there is a "custom requiring all boys and
uninitiated young men to sleep at some distance from the huts of the
adults, and to remove altogether away in the morning as soon as daylight
dawns, and the natives begin to move about. This is to prevent their
seeing the women, some of whom may be menstruating; and if looked upon
by the young males, it is supposed that dire results will follow."[182]
And amongst these tribes women in their courses "are not allowed to eat
fish of any kind, or to go near the water at all; it being one of their
superstitions, that if a female, in that state, goes near the water, no
success can be expected by the men in fishing."[183] Similarly, among
the natives of the Murray River, menstruous women "were not allowed to
go near water for fear of frightening the fish. They were also not
allowed to eat them, for the same reason. A woman during such periods
would never cross the river in a canoe, or even fetch water for the
camp. It was sufficient for her to say _Thama_, to ensure her husband
getting the water himself."[184] The Dieri of Central Australia believe
that if women at these times were to eat fish or bathe in a river, the
fish would all die and the water would dry up. In this tribe a mark made
with red ochre round a woman's mouth indicates that she has her courses;
no one would offer fish to such a woman.[185] The Arunta of Central
Australia forbid menstruous women to gather the _irriakura_ bulbs, which
form a staple article of diet for both men and women. They believe that
were a woman to break this rule, the supply of bulbs would fail.[186]
Among the aborigines of Victoria the wife at her monthly periods had to
sleep on the opposite side of the fire from her husband; she might
partake of nobody's food, and nobody would partake of hers, for people
thought that if they ate or drank anything that had been touched by a
woman in her courses, it would make them weak or ill. Unmarried girls
and widows at such times had to paint their heads and the upper parts of
their bodies red,[187] no doubt as a danger signal.

[Severe penalties inflicted for breaches of the custom of seclusion.]

In some Australian tribes the seclusion of menstruous women was even
more rigid, and was enforced by severer penalties than a scolding or a
beating. Thus with regard to certain tribes of New South Wales and
Southern Queensland we are told that "during the monthly illness, the
woman is not allowed to touch anything that men use, or even to walk on
a path that any man frequents, on pain of death."[188] Again, "there is
a regulation relating to camps in the Wakelbura tribe which forbids the
women coming into the encampment by the same path as the men. Any
violation of this rule would in a large camp be punished with death. The
reason for this is the dread with which they regard the menstrual period
of women. During such a time, a woman is kept entirely away from the
camp, half a mile at least. A woman in such a condition has boughs of
some tree of her totem tied round her loins, and is constantly watched
and guarded, for it is thought that should any male be so unfortunate as
to see a woman in such a condition, he would die. If such a woman were
to let herself be seen by a man, she would probably be put to death.
When the woman has recovered, she is painted red and white, her head
covered with feathers, and returns to the camp."[189]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women in the Torres Straits Islands,
New Guinea, Galela, and Sumatra.]

In Muralug, one of the Torres Straits Islands, a menstruous woman may
not eat anything that lives in the sea, else the natives believe that
the fisheries would fail. Again, in Mabuiag, another of these islands,
women who have their courses on them may not eat turtle flesh nor turtle
eggs, probably for a similar reason. And during the season when the
turtles are pairing the restrictions laid on such a woman are much
severer. She may not even enter a house in which there is turtle flesh,
nor approach a fire on which the flesh is cooking; she may not go near
the sea and she should not walk on the beach below high-water mark. Nay,
the infection extends to her husband, who may not himself harpoon or
otherwise take an active part in catching turtle; however, he is
permitted to form one of the crew on a turtling expedition, provided he
takes the precaution of rubbing his armpits with certain leaves, to
which no doubt a disinfectant virtue is ascribed.[190] Among the Kai of
German New Guinea women at their monthly sickness must live in little
huts built for them in the forest; they may not enter the cultivated
fields, for if they did go to them, and the pigs were to taste of the
blood, it would inspire the animals with an irresistible desire to go
likewise into the fields, where they would commit great depredations on
the growing crops. Hence the issue from women at these times is
carefully buried to prevent the pigs from getting at it. And conversely,
if the pigs often break into the fields, the blame is laid on the women
who by the neglect of these elementary precautions have put temptation
in the way of the swine.[191] In Galela, to the west of New Guinea,
women at their monthly periods may not enter a tobacco-field, or the
plants would be attacked by disease.[192] The Minangkabauers of Sumatra
are persuaded that if a woman in her unclean state were to go near a
rice-field, the crop would be spoiled.[193]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the tribes of South

The Bushmen of South Africa think that, by a glance of a girl's eye at
the time when she ought to be kept in strict retirement, men become
fixed in whatever position they happen to occupy, with whatever they
were holding in their hands, and are changed into trees that talk.[194]
Cattle-rearing tribes of South Africa hold that their cattle would die
if the milk were drunk by a menstruous woman;[195] and they fear the
same disaster if a drop of her blood were to fall on the ground and the
oxen were to pass over it. To prevent such a calamity women in general,
not menstruous women only, are forbidden to enter the cattle enclosure;
and more than that, they may not use the ordinary paths in entering the
village or in passing from one hut to another. They are obliged to make
circuitous tracks at the back of the huts in order to avoid the ground
in the middle of the village where the cattle stand or lie down. These
women's tracks may be seen at every Caffre village.[196]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the tribes of Central and
East Africa.]

Similarly among the Bahima, a cattle-breeding tribe of Ankole, in
Central Africa, no menstruous woman may drink milk, lest by so doing she
should injure the cows; and she may not lie on her husband's bed, no
doubt lest she should injure him. Indeed she is forbidden to lie on a
bed at all and must sleep on the ground. Her diet is restricted to
vegetables and beer.[197] Among the Baganda, in like manner, no
menstruous woman might drink milk or come into contact with any
milk-vessel;[198] and she might not touch anything that belonged to her
husband, nor sit on his mat, nor cook his food. If she touched anything
of his at such a time it was deemed equivalent to wishing him dead or to
actually working magic for his destruction.[199] Were she to handle any
article of his, he would surely fall ill; were she to handle his
weapons, he would certainly be killed in the next battle. Even a woman
who did not menstruate was believed by the Baganda to be a source of
danger to her husband, indeed capable of killing him. Hence, before he
went to war, he used to wound her slightly with his spear so as to draw
blood; this was thought to ensure his safe return.[200] Apparently the
notion was that if the wife did not lose blood in one way or another,
her husband would be bled in war to make up for her deficiency; so by
way of guarding against this undesirable event, he took care to relieve
her of a little superfluous blood before he repaired to the field of
honour. Further, the Baganda would not suffer a menstruous woman to
visit a well; if she did so, they feared that the water would dry up,
and that she herself would fall sick and die, unless she confessed her
fault and the medicine-man made atonement for her.[201] Among the
Akikuyu of British East Africa, if a new hut is built in a village and
the wife chances to menstruate in it on the day she lights the first
fire there, the hut must be broken down and demolished the very next
day. The woman may on no account sleep a second night in it; there is a
curse (_thahu_) both on her and on it.[202] In the Suk tribe of British
East Africa warriors may not eat anything that has been touched by
menstruous women. If they did so, it is believed that they would lose
their virility; "in the rain they will shiver and in the heat they will
faint." Suk men and women take their meals apart, because the men fear
that one or more of the women may be menstruating.[203] The Anyanja of
British Central Africa, at the southern end of Lake Nyassa, think that a
man who should sleep with a woman in her courses would fall sick and
die, unless some remedy were applied in time. And with them it is a rule
that at such times a woman should not put any salt into the food she is
cooking, otherwise the people who partook of the food salted by her
would suffer from a certain disease called _tsempo_; hence to obviate
the danger she calls a child to put the salt into the dish.[204]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the tribes of West

Among the Hos, a tribe of Ewe negroes of Togoland in West Africa, so
long as a wife has her monthly sickness she may not cook for her
husband, nor lie on his bed, nor sit on his stool; an infraction of
these rules would assuredly, it is believed, cause her husband to die.
If her husband is a priest, or a magician, or a chief, she may not pass
the days of her uncleanness in the house, but must go elsewhere till she
is clean.[205] Among the Ewe negroes of this region each village has its
huts where women who have their courses on them must spend their time
secluded from intercourse with other people. Sometimes these huts stand
by themselves in public places; sometimes they are mere shelters built
either at the back or front of the ordinary dwelling-houses. A woman is
punishable if she does not pass the time of her monthly sickness in one
of these huts or shelters provided for her use. Thus, if she shews
herself in her own house or even in the yard of the house, she may be
fined a sheep, which is killed, its flesh divided among the people, and
its blood poured on the image of the chief god as a sin-offering to
expiate her offence. She is also forbidden to go to the place where the
villagers draw water, and if she breaks the rule, she must give a goat
to be killed; its flesh is distributed, and its blood, diluted with
water and mixed with herbs, is sprinkled on the watering-place and on
the paths leading to it. Were any woman to disregard these salutary
precautions, the chief fetish-man in the village would fall sick and
die, which would be an irreparable loss to society.[206]

[Powerful influence ascribed to menstruous blood in Arab legend.]

The miraculous virtue ascribed to menstruous blood is well illustrated
in a story told by the Arab chronicler Tabari. He relates how Sapor,
king of Persia, besieged the strong city of Atrae, in the desert of
Mesopotamia, for several years without being able to take it. But the
king of the city, whose name was Daizan, had a daughter, and when it was
with her after the manner of women she went forth from the city and
dwelt for a time in the suburb, for such was the custom of the place.
Now it fell out that, while she tarried there, Sapor saw her and loved
her, and she loved him; for he was a handsome man and she a lovely maid.
And she said to him, "What will you give me if I shew you how you may
destroy the walls of this city and slay my father?" And he said to her,
"I will give you what you will, and I will exalt you above my other
wives, and will set you nearer to me than them all." Then she said to
him, "Take a greenish dove with a ring about its neck, and write
something on its foot with the menstruous blood of a blue-eyed maid;
then let the bird loose, and it will perch on the walls of the city, and
they will fall down." For that, says the Arab historian, was the
talisman of the city, which could not be destroyed in any other way. And
Sapor did as she bade him, and the city fell down in a heap, and he
stormed it and slew Daizan on the spot.[207]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Jews and in Syria.]

According to the Talmud, if a woman at the beginning of her period
passes between two men, she thereby kills one of them; if she passes
between them towards the end of her period, she only causes them to
quarrel violently.[208] Maimonides tells us that down to his time it was
a common custom in the East to keep women at their periods in a separate
house and to burn everything on which they had trodden; a man who spoke
with such a woman or who was merely exposed to the same wind that blew
over her, became thereby unclean.[209] Peasants of the Lebanon think
that menstruous women are the cause of many misfortunes; their shadow
causes flowers to wither and trees to perish, it even arrests the
movements of serpents; if one of them mounts a horse, the animal might
die or at least be disabled for a long time.[210] In Syria to this day a
woman who has her courses on her may neither salt nor pickle, for the
people think that whatever she pickled or salted would not keep.[211]
The Toaripi of New Guinea, doubtless for a similar reason, will not
allow women at such times to cook.[212]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women in India.]

The Bhuiyars, a Dravidian tribe of South Mirzapur, are said to feel an
intense dread of menstrual pollution. Every house has two doors, one of
which is used only by women in this condition. During her impurity the
wife is fed by her husband apart from the rest of the family, and
whenever she has to quit the house she is obliged to creep out on her
hands and knees in order not to defile the thatch by her touch.[213] The
Kharwars, another aboriginal tribe of the same district, keep their
women at such seasons in the outer verandah of the house for eight days,
and will not let them enter the kitchen or the cowhouse; during this
time the unclean woman may not cook nor even touch the cooking vessels.
When the eight days are over, she bathes, washes her clothes, and
returns to family life.[214] Hindoo women seclude themselves at their
monthly periods and observe a number of rules, such as not to drink
milk, not to milk cows, not to touch fire, not to lie on a high bed, not
to walk on common paths, not to cross the track of animals, not to walk
by the side of flowering plants, and not to observe the heavenly
bodies.[215] The motive for these restrictions is not mentioned, but
probably it is a dread of the baleful influence which is supposed to
emanate from women at these times. The Parsees, who reverence fire, will
not suffer menstruous women to see it or even to look on a lighted
taper;[216] during their infirmity the women retire from their houses to
little lodges in the country, whither victuals are brought to them
daily; at the end of their seclusion they bathe and send a kid, a fowl,
or a pigeon to the priest as an offering.[217] In Annam a woman at her
monthly periods is deemed a centre of impurity, and contact with her is
avoided. She is subject to all sorts of restrictions which she must
observe herself and which others must observe towards her. She may not
touch any food which is to be preserved by salting, whether it be fish,
flesh, or vegetables; for were she to touch it the food would putrefy.
She may not enter any sacred place, she may not be present at any
religious ceremony. The linen which she wears at such times must be
washed by herself at sunrise, never at night. On reaching puberty girls
may not touch flowers or the fruits of certain trees, for touched by
them the flowers would fade and the fruits fall to the ground. "It is on
account of their reputation for impurity that the women generally live
isolated. In every house they have an apartment reserved for them, and
they never eat at the same table as the men. For the same reason they
are excluded from all religious ceremonies. They may only be present at
family ceremonies, but without ever officiating in them."[218]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Indians of South and
Central America.]

The Guayquiries of the Orinoco think that when a woman has her courses,
everything upon which she steps will die, and that if a man treads on
the place where she has passed, his legs will immediately swell up.[219]
Among the Guaraunos of the same great river, women at their periods are
regarded as unclean and kept apart in special huts, where all that they
need is brought to them.[220] In like manner among the Piapocos, an
Indian tribe on the Guayabero, a tributary of the Orinoco, a menstruous
woman is secluded from her family every month for four or five days. She
passes the time in a special hut, whither her husband brings her food;
and at the end of the time she takes a bath and resumes her usual
occupations.[221] So among the Indians of the Mosquito territory in
Central America, when a woman is in her courses, she must quit the
village for seven or eight days. A small hut is built for her in the
wood, and at night some of the village girls go and sleep with her to
keep her company. Or if the nights are dark and jaguars are known to be
prowling in the neighbourhood, her husband will take his gun or bow and
sleep in a hammock near her. She may neither handle nor cook food; all
is prepared and carried to her. When the sickness is over, she bathes in
the river, puts on clean clothes, and returns to her household
duties.[222] Among the Bri-bri Indians of Costa Rica a girl at her first
menstruation retires to a hut built for the purpose in the forest, and
there she must stay till she has been purified by a medicine-man, who
breathes on her and places various objects, such as feathers, the beaks
of birds, the teeth of beasts, and so forth, upon her body. A married
woman at her periods remains in the house with her husband, but she is
reckoned unclean (_bukuru_) and must avoid all intimate relations with
him. She uses for plates only banana leaves, which, when she has done
with them, she throws away in a sequestered spot; for should a cow find
and eat them, the animal would waste away and perish. Also she drinks
only out of a special vessel, because any person who should afterwards
drink out of the same vessel would infallibly pine away and die.[223]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Indians of North

Among most tribes of North American Indians the custom was that women in
their courses retired from the camp or the village and lived during the
time of their uncleanness in special huts or shelters which were
appropriated to their use. There they dwelt apart, eating and sleeping
by themselves, warming themselves at their own fires, and strictly
abstaining from all communications with men, who shunned them just as if
they were stricken with the plague. No article of furniture used in
these menstrual huts might be used in any other, not even the flint and
steel with which in the old days the fires were kindled. No one would
borrow a light from a woman in her seclusion. If a white man in his
ignorance asked to light his pipe at her fire, she would refuse to grant
the request, telling him that it would make his nose bleed and his head
ache, and that he would fall sick in consequence. If an Indian's wooden
pipe cracked, his friends would think that he had either lit it at one
of these polluted fires or had held some converse with a woman during
her retirement, which was esteemed a most disgraceful and wicked thing
to do. Decent men would not approach within a certain distance of a
woman at such times, and if they had to convey anything to her they
would stand some forty or fifty paces off and throw it to her.
Everything which was touched by her hands during this period was deemed
ceremonially unclean. Indeed her touch was thought to convey such
pollution that if she chanced to lay a finger on a chief's lodge or his
gun or anything else belonging to him, it would be instantly destroyed.
If she crossed the path of a hunter or a warrior, his luck for that day
at least would be gone. Were she not thus secluded, it was supposed that
the men would be attacked by diseases of various kinds, which would
prove mortal. In some tribes a woman who infringed the rules of
separation might have to answer with her life for any misfortunes that
might happen to individuals or to the tribe in consequence, as it was
supposed, of her criminal negligence. When she quitted her tent or hut
to go into retirement, the fire in it was extinguished and the ashes
thrown away outside of the village, and a new fire was kindled, as if
the old one had been defiled by her presence. At the end of their
seclusion the women bathed in running streams and returned to their
usual occupations.[224]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Creek, Choctaw,
Omaha, and Cheyenne Indians.]

Thus, to take examples, the Creek and kindred Indians of the United
States compelled women at menstruation to live in separate huts at some
distance from the village. There the women had to stay, at the risk of
being surprised and cut off by enemies. It was thought "a most horrid
and dangerous pollution" to go near the women at such times; and the
danger extended to enemies who, if they slew the women, had to cleanse
themselves from the pollution by means of certain sacred herbs and
roots.[225] Similarly, the Choctaw women had to quit their huts during
their monthly periods, and might not return till after they had been
purified. While their uncleanness lasted they had to prepare their own
food. The men believed that if they were to approach a menstruous woman,
they would fall ill, and that some mishap would overtake them when they
went to the wars.[226] When an Omaha woman has her courses on her, she
retires from the family to a little shelter of bark or grass, supported
by sticks, where she kindles a fire and cooks her victuals alone. Her
seclusion lasts four days. During this time she may not approach or
touch a horse, for the Indians believe that such contamination would
impoverish or weaken the animal.[227] Among the Potawatomis the women at
their monthly periods "are not allowed to associate with the rest of the
nation; they are completely laid aside, and are not permitted to touch
any article of furniture or food which the men have occasion to use. If
the Indians be stationary at the time, the women are placed outside of
the camp; if on a march, they are not allowed to follow the trail, but
must take a different path and keep at a distance from the main
body."[228] Among the Cheyennes menstruous women slept in special
lodges; the men believed that if they slept with their wives at such
times, they would probably be wounded in their next battle. A man who
owned a shield had very particularly to be on his guard against women in
their courses. He might not go into a lodge where one of them happened
to be, nor even into a lodge where one of them had been, until a
ceremony of purification had been performed. Sweet grass and juniper
were burnt in the tent, and the pegs were pulled up and the covering
thrown back, as if the tent were about to be struck. After this pretence
of decamping from the polluted spot the owner of the shield might enter
the tent.[229]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Indians of British

The Stseelis Indians of British Columbia imagined that if a menstruous
woman were to step over a bundle of arrows, the arrows would thereby be
rendered useless and might even cause the death of their owner; and
similarly that if she passed in front of a hunter who carried a gun, the
weapon would never shoot straight again. Neither her husband nor her
father would dream of going out to hunt while she was in this state; and
even if he had wished to do so, the other hunters would not go with him.
Hence to keep them out of harm's way, the women, both married and
unmarried, were secluded at these times for four days in shelters.[230]
Among the Thompson Indians of British Columbia every woman had to
isolate herself from the rest of the people during every recurring
period of menstruation, and had to live some little way off in a small
brush or bark lodge made for the purpose. At these times she was
considered unclean, must use cooking and eating utensils of her own, and
was supplied with food by some other woman. If she smoked out of a pipe
other than her own, that pipe would ever afterwards be hot to smoke. If
she crossed in front of a gun, that gun would thenceforth be useless for
the war or the chase, unless indeed the owner promptly washed the weapon
in "medecine" or struck the woman with it once on each principal part of
her body. If a man ate or had any intercourse with a menstruous woman,
nay if he merely wore clothes or mocassins made or patched by her, he
would have bad luck in hunting and the bears would attack him fiercely.
Before being admitted again among the people, she had to change all her
clothes and wash several times in clear water. The clothes worn during
her isolation were hung on a tree, to be used next time, or to be
washed. For one day after coming back among the people she did not cook
food. Were a man to eat food cooked by a woman at such times, he would
have incapacitated himself for hunting and exposed himself to sickness
or death.[231]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Chippeway Indians.]

Among the Chippeways and other Indians of the Hudson Bay Territory,
menstruous women are excluded from the camp, and take up their abode in
huts of branches. They wear long hoods, which effectually conceal the
head and breast. They may not touch the household furniture nor any
objects used by men; for their touch "is supposed to defile them, so
that their subsequent use would be followed by certain mischief or
misfortune," such as disease or death. They must drink out of a swan's
bone. They may not walk on the common paths nor cross the tracks of
animals. They "are never permitted to walk on the ice of rivers or
lakes, or near the part where the men are hunting beaver, or where a
fishing-net is set, for fear of averting their success. They are also
prohibited at those times from partaking of the head of any animal, and
even from walking in or crossing the track where the head of a deer,
moose, beaver, and many other animals have lately been carried, either
on a sledge or on the back. To be guilty of a violation of this custom
is considered as of the greatest importance; because they firmly believe
that it would be a means of preventing the hunter from having an equal
success in his future excursions."[232] So the Lapps forbid women at
menstruation to walk on that part of the shore where the fishers are in
the habit of setting out their fish;[233] and the Esquimaux of Bering
Strait believe that if hunters were to come near women in their courses
they would catch no game.[234]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Tinneh or Dene
Indians; customs and beliefs of the Carrier Indians in regard to
menstruous women.]

But the beliefs and superstitions of this sort that prevail among the
western tribes of the great Dene or Tinneh stock, to which the
Chippeways belong, have been so well described by an experienced
missionary, that I will give his description in his own words. Prominent
among the ceremonial rites of these Indians, he says, "are the
observances peculiar to the fair sex, and many of them are remarkably
analogous to those practised by the Hebrew women, so much so that, were
it not savouring of profanity, the ordinances of the Dene ritual code
might be termed a new edition 'revised and considerably augmented' of
the Mosaic ceremonial law. Among the Carriers,[235] as soon as a girl
has experienced the first flow of the menses which in the female
constitution are a natural discharge, her father believed himself under
the obligation of atoning for her supposedly sinful condition by a small
impromptu distribution of clothes among the natives. This periodical
state of women was considered as one of legal impurity fateful both to
the man who happened to have any intercourse, however indirect, with
her, and to the woman herself who failed in scrupulously observing all
the rites prescribed by ancient usage for persons in her condition.

[Seclusion of Carrier girls at puberty.]

"Upon entering into that stage of her life, the maiden was immediately
sequestered from company, even that of her parents, and compelled to
dwell in a small branch hut by herself away from beaten paths and the
gaze of passers-by. As she was supposed to exercise malefic influence on
any man who might inadvertently glance at her, she had to wear a sort of
head-dress combining in itself the purposes of a veil, a bonnet, and a
mantlet. It was made of tanned skin, its forepart was shaped like a long
fringe completely hiding from view the face and breasts; then it formed
on the head a close-fitting cap or bonnet, and finally fell in a broad
band almost to the heels. This head-dress was made and publicly placed
on her head by a paternal aunt, who received at once some present from
the girl's father. When, three or four years later, the period of
sequestration ceased, only this same aunt had the right to take off her
niece's ceremonial head-dress. Furthermore, the girl's fingers, wrists,
and legs at the ankles and immediately below the knees, were encircled
with ornamental rings and bracelets of sinew intended as a protection
against the malign influences she was supposed to be possessed
with.[236] To a belt girding her waist were suspended two bone
implements called respectively _Tsoenkuz_ (bone tube) and _Tsiltsoet_
(head scratcher). The former was a hollowed swan bone to drink with, any
other mode of drinking being unlawful to her. The latter was fork-like
and was called into requisition whenever she wanted to scratch her
head--immediate contact of the fingers with the head being reputed
injurious to her health. While thus secluded, she was called _asta_,
that is 'interred alive' in Carrier, and she had to submit to a rigorous
fast and abstinence. Her only allowed food consisted of dried fish
boiled in a small bark vessel which nobody else must touch, and she had
to abstain especially from meat of any kind, as well as fresh fish. Nor
was this all she had to endure; even her contact, however remote, with
these two articles of diet was so dreaded that she could not cross the
public paths or trails, or the tracks of animals. Whenever absolute
necessity constrained her to go beyond such spots, she had to be packed
or carried over them lest she should contaminate the game or meat which
had passed that way, or had been brought over these paths; and also for
the sake of self-preservation against tabooed, and consequently to her,
deleterious food. In the same way she was never allowed to wade in
streams or lakes, for fear of causing death to the fish.

"It was also a prescription of the ancient ritual code for females
during this primary condition to eat as little as possible, and to
remain lying down, especially in course of each monthly flow, not only
as a natural consequence of the prolonged fast and resulting weakness;
but chiefly as an exhibition of a becoming penitential spirit which was
believed to be rewarded by long life and continual good health in after

[Seclusion of Carrier women at their monthly periods; reasons for the
seclusion of menstruous women among the Indians.]

"These mortifications or seclusion did not last less than three or four
years. Useless to say that during all that time marriage could not be
thought of, since the girl could not so much as be seen by men. When
married, the same sequestration was practised relatively to husband and
fellow-villagers--without the particular head-dress and rings spoken
of--on the occasion of every recurring menstruation. Sometimes it was
protracted as long as ten days at a time, especially during the first
years of cohabitation. Even when she returned to her mate, she was not
permitted to sleep with him on the first nor frequently on the second
night, but would choose a distant corner of the lodge to spread her
blanket, as if afraid to defile him with her dread uncleanness."[237]
Elsewhere the same writer tells us that most of the devices to which
these Indians used to resort for the sake of ensuring success in the
chase "were based on their regard for continence and their excessive
repugnance for, and dread of, menstruating women."[238] But the strict
observances imposed on Tinneh or Dene women at such times were designed
at the same time to protect the women themselves from the evil
consequences of their dangerous condition. Thus it was thought that
women in their courses could not partake of the head, heart, or hind
part of an animal that had been caught in a snare without exposing
themselves to a premature death through a kind of rabies. They might not
cut or carve salmon, because to do so would seriously endanger their
health, and especially would enfeeble their arms for life. And they had
to abstain from cutting up the grebes which are caught by the Carriers
in great numbers every spring, because otherwise the blood with which
these fowls abound would occasion haemorrhage or an unnaturally
prolonged flux in the transgressor.[239] Similarly Indian women of the
Thompson tribe abstained from venison and the flesh of other large game
during menstruation, lest the animals should be displeased and the
menstrual flow increased.[240] For a similar reason, probably, Shuswap
girls during their seclusion at puberty are forbidden to eat anything
that bleeds.[241] The same principle may perhaps partly explain the
rule, of which we have had some examples, that women at such times
should refrain from fish and flesh, and restrict themselves to a
vegetable diet.

[Similar rules of seclusion enjoined on menstruous women in ancient
Hindoo, Persian, and Hebrew codes.]

The philosophic student of human nature will observe, or learn, without
surprise that ideas thus deeply ingrained in the savage mind reappear at
a more advanced stage of society in those elaborate codes which have
been drawn up for the guidance of certain peoples by lawgivers who claim
to have derived the rules they inculcate from the direct inspiration of
the deity. However we may explain it, the resemblance which exists
between the earliest official utterances of the deity and the ideas of
savages is unquestionably close and remarkable; whether it be, as some
suppose, that God communed face to face with man in those early days,
or, as others maintain, that man mistook his wild and wandering thoughts
for a revelation from heaven. Be that as it may, certain it is that the
natural uncleanness of woman at her monthly periods is a conception
which has occurred, or been revealed, with singular unanimity to several
ancient legislators. The Hindoo lawgiver Manu, who professed to have
received his institutes from the creator Brahman, informs us that the
wisdom, the energy, the strength, the sight, and the vitality of a man
who approaches a woman in her courses will utterly perish; whereas, if
he avoids her, his wisdom, energy, strength, sight, and vitality will
all increase.[242] The Persian lawgiver Zoroaster, who, if we can take
his word for it, derived his code from the mouth of the supreme being
Ahura Mazda, devoted special attention to the subject. According to him,
the menstrous flow, at least in its abnormal manifestations, is a work
of Ahriman, or the devil. Therefore, so long as it lasts, a woman "is
unclean and possessed of the demon; she must be kept confined, apart
from the faithful whom her touch would defile, and from the fire which
her very look would injure; she is not allowed to eat as much as she
wishes, as the strength she might acquire would accrue to the fiends.
Her food is not given her from hand to hand, but is passed to her from a
distance, in a long leaden spoon."[243] The Hebrew lawgiver Moses, whose
divine legation is as little open to question as that of Manu and
Zoroaster, treats the subject at still greater length; but I must leave
to the reader the task of comparing the inspired ordinances on this head
with the merely human regulations of the Carrier Indians which they so
closely resemble.

[Superstitions as to menstruous women in ancient and modern Europe.]

Amongst the civilized nations of Europe the superstitions which cluster
round this mysterious aspect of woman's nature are not less extravagant
than those which prevail among savages. In the oldest existing
cyclopaedia--the _Natural History_ of Pliny--the list of dangers
apprehended from menstruation is longer than any furnished by mere
barbarians. According to Pliny, the touch of a menstruous woman turned
wine to vinegar, blighted crops, killed seedlings, blasted gardens,
brought down the fruit from trees, dimmed mirrors, blunted razors,
rusted iron and brass (especially at the waning of the moon), killed
bees, or at least drove them from their hives, caused mares to miscarry,
and so forth.[244] Similarly, in various parts of Europe, it is still
believed that if a woman in her courses enters a brewery the beer will
turn sour; if she touches beer, wine, vinegar, or milk, it will go bad;
if she makes jam, it will not keep; if she mounts a mare, it will
miscarry; if she touches buds, they will wither; if she climbs a cherry
tree, it will die.[245] In Brunswick people think that if a menstruous
woman assists at the killing of a pig, the pork will putrefy.[246] In
the Greek island of Calymnos a woman at such times may not go to the
well to draw water, nor cross a running stream, nor enter the sea. Her
presence in a boat is said to raise storms.[247]

[The intention of secluding menstruous women is to neutralize the
dangerous influences which are thought to emanate from them in that
condition; suspension between heaven and earth.]

Thus the object of secluding women at menstruation is to neutralize the
dangerous influences which are supposed to emanate from them at such
times. That the danger is believed to be especially great at the first
menstruation appears from the unusual precautions taken to isolate girls
at this crisis. Two of these precautions have been illustrated above,
namely, the rules that the girl may not touch the ground nor see the
sun. The general effect of these rules is to keep her suspended, so to
say, between heaven and earth. Whether enveloped in her hammock and
slung up to the roof, as in South America, or raised above the ground in
a dark and narrow cage, as in New Ireland, she may be considered to be
out of the way of doing mischief, since, being shut off both from the
earth and from the sun, she can poison neither of these great sources of
life by her deadly contagion. In short, she is rendered harmless by
being, in electrical language, insulated. But the precautions thus taken
to isolate or insulate the girl are dictated by a regard for her own
safety as well as for the safety of others. For it is thought that she
herself would suffer if she were to neglect the prescribed regimen. Thus
Zulu girls, as we have seen, believe that they would shrivel to
skeletons if the sun were to shine on them at puberty, and in some
Brazilian tribes the young women think that a transgression of the rules
would entail sores on the neck and throat. In short, the girl is viewed
as charged with a powerful force which, if not kept within bounds, may
prove destructive both to herself and to all with whom she comes in
contact. To repress this force within the limits necessary for the
safety of all concerned is the object of the taboos in question.

[The same explanation applies to the similar rules of seclusion observed
by divine kings and priests; suspension between heaven and earth.]

The same explanation applies to the observance of the same rules by
divine kings and priests. The uncleanness, as it is called, of girls at
puberty and the sanctity of holy men do not, to the primitive mind,
differ materially from each other. They are only different
manifestations of the same mysterious energy which, like energy in
general, is in itself neither good nor bad, but becomes beneficent or
maleficent according to its application.[248] Accordingly, if, like
girls at puberty, divine personages may neither touch the ground nor see
the sun, the reason is, on the one hand, a fear lest their divinity
might, at contact with earth or heaven, discharge itself with fatal
violence on either; and, on the other hand, an apprehension that the
divine being, thus drained of his ethereal virtue, might thereby be
incapacitated for the future performance of those magical functions,
upon the proper discharge of which the safety of the people and even of
the world is believed to hang. Thus the rules in question fall under the
head of the taboos which we examined in the second part of this
work;[249] they are intended to preserve the life of the divine person
and with it the life of his subjects and worshippers. Nowhere, it is
thought, can his precious yet dangerous life be at once so safe and so
harmless as when it is neither in heaven nor in earth, but, as far as
possible, suspended between the two.[250]

[Stories of immortality attained by suspension between heaven and

In legends and folk-tales, which reflect the ideas of earlier ages, we
find this suspension between heaven and earth attributed to beings who
have been endowed with the coveted yet burdensome gift of immortality.
The wizened remains of the deathless Sibyl are said to have been
preserved in a jar or urn which hung in a temple of Apollo at Cumae; and
when a group of merry children, tired, perhaps, of playing in the sunny
streets, sought the shade of the temple and amused themselves by
gathering underneath the familiar jar and calling out, "Sibyl, what do
you wish?" a hollow voice, like an echo, used to answer from the urn, "I
wish to die."[251] A story, taken down from the lips of a German peasant
at Thomsdorf, relates that once upon a time there was a girl in London
who wished to live for ever, so they say:

"_London, London is a fine town.
A maiden prayed to live for ever._"

And still she lives and hangs in a basket in a church, and every St.
John's Day, about the hour of noon, she eats a roll of bread.[252]
Another German story tells of a lady who resided at Danzig and was so
rich and so blest with all that life can give that she wished to live
always. So when she came to her latter end, she did not really die but
only looked like dead, and very soon they found her in a hollow of a
pillar in the church, half standing and half sitting, motionless. She
stirred never a limb, but they saw quite plainly that she was alive, and
she sits there down to this blessed day. Every New Year's Day the
sacristan comes and puts a morsel of the holy bread in her mouth, and
that is all she has to live on. Long, long has she rued her fatal wish
who set this transient life above the eternal joys of heaven.[253] A
third German story tells of a noble damsel who cherished the same
foolish wish for immortality. So they put her in a basket and hung her
up in a church, and there she hangs and never dies, though many a year
has come and gone since they put her there. But every year on a certain
day they give her a roll, and she eats it and cries out, "For ever! for
ever! for ever!" And when she has so cried she falls silent again till
the same time next year, and so it will go on for ever and for
ever.[254] A fourth story, taken down near Oldenburg in Holstein, tells
of a jolly dame that ate and drank and lived right merrily and had all
that heart could desire, and she wished to live always. For the first
hundred years all went well, but after that she began to shrink and
shrivel up, till at last she could neither walk nor stand nor eat nor
drink. But die she could not. At first they fed her as if she were a
little child, but when she grew smaller and smaller they put her in a
glass bottle and hung her up in the church. And there she still hangs,
in the church of St. Mary, at Luebeck. She is as small as a mouse, but
once a year she stirs.[255]


[64] Pechuel-Loesche, "Indiscretes aus Loango," _Zeitschrift fuer
Ethnologie_, x. (1878) p. 23.

[65] Rev. J. Macdonald, "Manners, Customs, Superstitions, and Religions
of South African Tribes," _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_,
xx. (1891) p. 118.

[66] Dudley Kidd, _The Essential Kafir_ (London, 1904), p. 209. The
prohibition to drink milk under such circumstances is also mentioned,
though without the reason for it, by L. Alberti (_De Kaffersaan de
Zuidkust van Afrika_, Amsterdam, 1810, p. 79), George Thompson (_Travels
and Adventures in Southern Africa_, London, 1827, ii. 354 _sq._), and
Mr. Warner (in Col. Maclean's _Compendium of Kafir Laws and Customs_;
Cape Town, 1866, p. 98). As to the reason for the prohibition, see
below, p. 80.

[67] C.W. Hobley, _Ethnology of A-Kamba and other East African Tribes_
(Cambridge, 1910), p. 65.

[68] Rev. J. Roscoe, _The Baganda_ (London, 1911), p. 80. As to the
interpretation which the Baganda put on the act of jumping or stepping
over a woman, see _id._, pp. 48, 357 note 1. Apparently some of the
Lower Congo people interpret the act similarly. See J.H. Weeks, "Notes
on some Customs of the Lower Congo People," _Folk-lore_, xix. (1908) p.
431. Among the Baganda the separation of children from their parents
took place after weaning; girls usually went to live either with an
elder married brother or (if there was none such) with one of their
father's brothers; boys in like manner went to live with one of their
father's brothers. See J. Roscoe, _op. cit._ p. 74. As to the
prohibition to touch food with the hands, see _Taboo and the Perils of
the Soul_, pp. 138 _sqq._, 146 _sqq._, etc.

[69] Rev. J. Roscoe, _The Baganda_, p. 80.

[70] De la Loubere, _Du royaume de Siam_ (Amsterdam, 1691), i. 203. In
Travancore it is believed that women at puberty and after childbirth are
peculiarly liable to be attacked by demons. See S. Mateer, _The Land of
Charity_ (London, 1871), p. 208.

[71] Rev. J. Roscoe, _The Baganda_, p. 80.

[72] C. Gouldsbury and H. Sheane, _The Great Plateau of Northern
Nigeria_ (London, 1911), pp. 158-160.

[73] R. Sutherland Rattray, _Some Folk-lore, Stories and Songs in
Chinyanja_ (London, 1907), pp. 102-105.

[74] Rev. H. Cole, "Notes on the Wagogo of German East Africa," _Journal
of the Anthropological Institute_, xxxii. (1902) pp. 309 _sq._

[75] R. Sutherland Rattray, _op. cit._ pp. 191 _sq._

[76] _The Grihya Sutras_, translated by H. Oldenberg, Part i. p. 357,
Part ii. p. 267 (_Sacred Books of the East_, vols. xxix., xxx.).

[77] Rev. J. Roscoe, _The Baganda_ (London, 1911), pp. 393 _sq._,
compare pp. 396, 398.

[78] See _Totemism and Exogamy_, iv. 224 _sqq._

[79] Sir Harry H. Johnston, _British Central Africa_ (London, 1897), p.

[80] Oscar Baumann, _Durch Massailand zur Nilquelle_ (Berlin, 1894), p.

[81] Lionel Decle, _Three Years in Savage Africa_ (London, 1898), p. 78.
Compare E. Jacottet, _Etudes sur les Langues du Haut-Zambeze_, Troisieme
Partie (Paris, 1901), pp. 174 _sq._ (as to the A-Louyi).

[82] E. Beguin, _Les Ma-rotse_ (Lausanne and Fontaines, 1903), p. 113.

[83] Henri A. Junod, _The Life of a South African Tribe_ (Neuchatel,
1912-1913), i. 178 _sq._

[84] G. McCall Theal, _Kaffir Folk-lore_ (London, 1886), p. 218.

[85] L. Alberti, _De Kaffers aan de Zuidkust van Afrika_ (Amsterdam,
1810), pp. 79 _sq._; H. Lichtenstein, _Reisen im suedlichen Africa_
(Berlin, 1811-1812), i. 428.

[86] Gustav Fritsch, _Die Eingeborenen Sued-Afrika's_ (Breslau, 1872), p.
112. This statement applies especially to the Ama-Xosa.

[87] G. McCall Theal, _Kaffir Folk-lore_, p. 218.

[88] Rev. Canon Henry Callaway, _Nursery Tales, Traditions, and
Histories of the Zulus_ (Natal and London, 1868), p. 182, note 20. From
one of the Zulu texts which the author edits and translates (p. 189) we
may infer that during the period of her seclusion a Zulu girl may not
light a fire. Compare above, p. 28.

[89] E. Casalis, _The Basutos_ (London, 1861), p. 268.

[90] J. Merolla, "Voyage to Congo," in J. Pinkerton's _Voyages and
Travels_ (London, 1808-1814), xvi. 238; Father Campana, "Congo; Mission
Catholique de Landana," _Les Missions Catholiques_, xxvii. (1895) p.
161; R.E. Dennett, _At the Back of the Black Man's Mind_ (London, 1906),
pp. 69 _sq._. According to Merolla, it is thought that if girls did not
go through these ceremonies, they would "never be fit for procreation."
The other consequences supposed to flow from the omission of the rites
are mentioned by Father Campana. From Mr. Dennett's account (_op. cit._
pp. 53, 67-71) we gather that drought and famine are thought to result
from the intercourse of a man with a girl who has not yet passed through
the "paint-house," as the hut is called where the young women live in
seclusion. According to O. Dapper, the women of Loango paint themselves
red on every recurrence of their monthly sickness; also they tie a cord
tightly round their heads and take care neither to touch their husband's
food nor to appear before him (_Description de l'Afrique_, Amsterdam,
1686, p. 326).

[91] The Rev. G. Brown, quoted by the Rev. B. Danks, "Marriage Customs
of the New Britain Group," _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_,
xviii. (1889) pp. 284. _sq.; id., Melanesians and Polynesians_ (London,
1910), pp. 105-107. Compare _id._, "Notes on the Duke of York Group, New
Britain, and New Ireland," _Journal of the Royal Geographical Society_,
xlvii. (1877) pp. 142 _sq._; A. Hahl, "Das mittlere Neumecklenburg,"
_Globus_, xci. (1907) p. 313. Wilfred Powell's description of the New
Ireland custom is similar (_Wanderings in a Wild Country_, London, 1883,
p. 249). According to him, the girls wear wreaths of scented herbs round
the waist and neck; an old woman or a little child occupies the lower
floor of the cage; and the confinement lasts only a month. Probably the
long period mentioned by Dr. Brown is that prescribed for chiefs'
daughters. Poor people could not afford to keep their children so long
idle. This distinction is sometimes expressly stated. See above, p. 30.
Among the Goajiras of Colombia rich people keep their daughters shut up
in separate huts at puberty for periods varying from one to four years,
but poor people cannot afford to do so for more than a fortnight or a
month. See F.A. Simons, "An Exploration of the Goajira Peninsula,"
_Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society_, N.S., vii. (1885) p.
791. In Fiji, brides who were being tattooed were kept from the sun
(Thomas Williams, _Fiji and the Fijians_, Second Edition, London, 1860,
i. 170). This was perhaps a modification of the Melanesian custom of
secluding girls at puberty. The reason mentioned by Mr. Williams, "to
improve her complexion," can hardly have been the original one.

[92] Rev. R.H. Rickard, quoted by Dr. George Brown, _Melanesians and
Polynesians_, pp. 107 _sq._. His observations were made in 1892.

[93] R. Parkinson, _Dreissig Jahre in der Suedsee_ (Stuttgart, 1907), p.
272. The natives told Mr. Parkinson that the confinement of the girls
lasts from twelve to twenty months. The length of it may have been
reduced since Dr. George Brown described the custom in 1876.

[94] J. Chalmers and W. Wyatt Gill, _Work and Adventure in New Guinea_
(London, 1885), p. 159.

[95] H. Zahn and S. Lehner, in R. Neuhauss's _Deutsch New-Guinea_
(Berlin, 1911), iii. 298, 418-420. The customs of the two tribes seem to
be in substantial agreement, and the accounts of them supplement each
other. The description of the Bukaua practice is the fuller.

[96] C.A.L.M. Schwaner, _Borneo, Beschrijving van het stroomgebied van
den Barito_ (Amsterdam, 1853-1854), ii. 77 _sq._; W.F.A. Zimmermann,
_Die Inseln des Indischen und Stillen Meeres_ (Berlin, 1864-1865), ii.
632 _sq._; Otto Finsch, _Neu Guinea und seine Bewohner_ (Bremen, 1865),
pp. 116 _sq._.

[97] J.G.F. Riedel, _De sluik--en kroesharige rassen tusschen Selebes
en Papua_ (The Hague, 1886), p. 138.

[98] A. Senfft, "Ethnographische Beitraege ueber die Karolineninsel Yap,"
_Petermanns Mitteilungen_, xlix. (1903) p. 53; _id._, "Die Rechtssitten
der Jap-Eingeborenen," _Globus_, xci. (1907) pp. 142 _sq._.

[99] Dr. C.G. Seligmann, in _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_,
xxix. (1899) pp. 212 _sq.; id._, in _Reports of the Cambridge
Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits_, v. (Cambridge, 1904) pp.
203 _sq._

[100] Dr. C.G. Seligmann, in _Reports of the Cambridge Expedition to
Torres Straits_, v. (Cambridge, 1904) p. 205.

[101] L. Crauford, in _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_, xxiv.
(1895) p. 181.

[102] Dr. C.G. Seligmann, _op. cit._ v. 206.

[103] Walter E. Roth, _North Queensland Ethnography, Bulletin No. 5,
Superstition, Magic, and Medicine_ (Brisbane, 1903), pp. 24 _sq._

[104] Walter E. Roth, _op. cit._ p. 25.

[105] Dr. C.G. Seligmann, in _Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological
Expedition to Torres Straits_, v. (Cambridge, 1904), p. 205.

[106] From notes kindly sent me by Dr. C.G. Seligmann. The practice of
burying a girl at puberty was observed also by some Indian tribes of
California, but apparently rather for the purpose of producing a sweat
than for the sake of concealment. The treatment lasted only twenty-four
hours, during which the patient was removed from the ground and washed
three or four times, to be afterwards reimbedded. Dancing was kept up
the whole time by the women. See H. R. Schoolcraft, _Indian Tribes of
the United States_ (Philadelphia, 1853-1856), v. 215.

[107] Dr. C.G. Seligmann, in _Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological
Expedition to Torres Straits_, v. 201 _sq._

[108] A.L. Kroeber, "The Religion of the Indians of California,"
_University of California Publications in American Archaeology and
Ethnology_, vol. iv. No. 6 (September, 1907), p. 324.

[109] Roland B. Dixon, "The Northern Maidu," _Bulletin of the American
Museum of Natural History_, vol. xvii. Part iii. (May 1905) pp. 232
_sq._, compare pp. 233-238.

[110] Stephen Powers, _Tribes of California_ (Washington, 1877), p. 85
(_Contributions to North American Ethnology_, vol. iii.).

[111] Stephen Powers, _op. cit._ p. 235.

[112] Charles Wilkes, _Narrative of the United States Exploring
Expedition_, New Edition (New York, 1851), iv. 456.

[113] Franz Boas, _Chinook Texts_ (Washington, 1894), pp. 246 _sq._ The
account, taken down from the lips of a Chinook Indian, is not perfectly
clear; some of the restrictions were prolonged after the girl's second
monthly period.

[114] G.M. Sproat, _Scenes and Studies of Savage Life_ (London, 1868),
pp. 93 _sq._

[115] Franz Boas, in _Sixth Report on the North-Western Tribes of
Canada_, pp. 40-42 (separate reprint from the _Report of the British
Association for the Advancement of Science_, Leeds meeting, 1890). The
rule not to lie down is observed also during their seclusion at puberty
by Tsimshian girls, who always sit propped up between boxes and mats;
their heads are covered with small mats, and they may not look at men
nor at fresh salmon and olachen. See Franz Boas, in _Fifth Report on the
North-Western Tribes of Canada_, p. 41 (separate reprint from the
_Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science_,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne meeting, 1889); G.M. Dawson, _Report on the Queen
Charlotte Islands, 1878_ (Montreal, 1880), pp. 130 B _sq._ Some divine
kings are not allowed to lie down. See _Taboo and the Perils of the
Soul_, p. 5.

[116] George M. Dawson, _Report on the Queen Charlotte Islands, 1878_
(Montreal, 1880), p. 130 B; J.R. Swanton, _Contributions to the
Ethnology of the Haida_ (Leyden and New York, 1905), pp. 48-50 (_The
Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Memoir of the American Museum of Natural
History_, New York). Speaking of the customs observed at Kloo, where the
girls had to abstain from salmon for five years, Mr. Swanton says (p.
49): "When five years had passed, the girl came out, and could do as she
pleased." This seems to imply that the girl was secluded in the house
for five years. We have seen (above, p. 32) that in New Ireland the
girls used sometimes to be secluded for the same period.

[117] G.H. von Langsdorff, _Reise um die Welt_ (Frankfort, 1812), ii.
114 _sq._; H.J. Holmberg, "Ethnographische Skizzen ueber die Voelker des
Russischen Amerika," _Acta Societatis Scientiarum Fennicae_, iv.
(Helsingfors, 1856) pp. 319 _sq._; T. de Pauly, _Description
Ethnographique des Peuples de la Russie_ (St. Petersburg, 1862),
_Peuples de l'Amerique Russe_, p. 13; A. Erman, "Ethnographische
Wahrnehmungen und Erfahrungen an den Kuesten des Berings-Meeres,"
_Zeitschrift fuer Ethnologie_, ii. (1870) pp. 318 _sq._; H.H. Bancroft,
_Native Races of the Pacific States_ (London, 1875-1876), i. 110 _sq._;
Rev. Sheldon Jackson, "Alaska and its Inhabitants," _The American
Antiquarian_, ii. (Chicago, 1879-1880) pp. 111 _sq._; A. Woldt, _Captain
Jacobsen's Reise an der Nordwestkiiste Americas, 1881-1883_ (Leipsic,
1884), p. 393; Aurel Krause, _Die Tlinkit-Indianer_ (Jena, 1885), pp.
217 _sq._; W.M. Grant, in _Journal of American Folk-lore_, i. (1888) p.
169; John R. Swanton, "Social Conditions, Beliefs, and Linguistic
Relationship of the Tlingit Indians," _Twenty-sixth Annual Report of the
Bureau of American Ethnology_ (Washington, 1908), p. 428.

[118] Franz Boas, in _Tenth Report of the Committee on the North-Western
Tribes of Canada_, p. 45 (separate reprint from the _Report of the
British Association for the Advancement of Science_, Ipswich meeting,

[119] Franz Boas, in _Fifth Report of the Committee on the North-Western
Tribes of Canada_, p. 42 (separate reprint from the _Report of the
British Association for the Advancement of Science_, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
meeting, 1889); _id._, in _Seventh Report_, etc., p. 12 (separate
reprint from the _Report of the British Association for the Advancement
of Science_, Cardiff meeting, 1891).

[120] "Customs of the New Caledonian women belonging to the Nancaushy
Tine, or Stuart's Lake Indians, Natotin Tine, or Babine's and Nantley
Tine, or Fraser Lake Tribes," from information supplied by Gavin
Hamilton, chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company's service, who has
been for many years among these Indians, both he and his wife speaking
their languages fluently (communicated by Dr. John Rae), _Journal of the
Anthropological Institute_, vii. (1878) pp. 206 _sq._

[121] Emile Petitot, _Traditions Indiennes du Canada Nord-ouest_ (Paris,
1886), pp. 257 _sq._

[122] Fr. Julius Jette, S.J., "On the Superstitions of the Ten'a
Indians," _Anthropos_, vi. (1911) pp. 700-702.

[123] Compare _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_, i. 70 _sqq._

[124] James Teit, _The Thompson Indians of British Columbia_, pp.
311-317 (_The Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Memoir of the American
Museum of Natural History_, New York, April, 1900). As to the customs
observed among these Indians by the father of a girl at such times in
order not to lose his luck in hunting, see _Spirits of the Corn and of
the Wild_, ii. 268.

[125] James Teit, _The Lillooet Indians_ (Leyden and New York, 1906),
pp. 263-265 (_The Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Memoir of the American
Museum of Natural History_, New York). Compare C. Hill Tout, "Report on
the Ethnology of the Stlatlumh of British Columbia," _Journal of the
Anthropological Institute_, xxxv. (1905) p. 136.

[126] Franz Boas, in _Sixth Report of the Committee on the North-Western
Tribes of Canada_, pp. 89 _sq_. (separate reprint from the _Report of
the British Association for the Advancement of Science_, Leeds meeting,

[127] James Teit, _The Shuswap_ (Leyden and New York, 1909), pp. 587
_sq._ (_The Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Memoir of the American
Museum of Natural History_, New York).

[128] G.H. Loskiel, _History of the Mission of the United Brethren among
the Indians of North America_ (London, 1794), Part i. pp. 56 _sq_.

[129] G.B. Grinnell, "Cheyenne Woman Customs," _American
Anthropologist_, New Series, iv. (New York, 1902) pp. 13 _sq_. The
Cheyennes appear to have been at first settled on the Mississippi, from
which they were driven westward to the Missouri. See _Handbook of
American Indians north of Mexico_, edited by F.W. Hodge (Washington,
1907-1910), i. 250 _sqq_.

[130] H.J. Holmberg, "Ueber die Voelker des Russischen Amerika," _Acta
Societatis Scientiarum Fennicae_, iv. (Helsingfors, 1856) pp. 401 _sq._;
Ivan Petroff, _Report on the Population, Industries and Resources of
Alaska_, p. 143.

[131] E.W. Nelson, "The Eskimo about Bering Strait," _Eighteenth Annual
Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology_, Part i. (Washington, 1899)
p. 291.

[132] Jose Guevara, "Historia del Paraguay, Rio de la Plata, y Tucuman,"
pp. 16 _sq._, in Pedro de Angelis, _Coleccion de Obras y Documentos
relativos a la Historia antigua y moderna de las Provincias del Rio de
la Plata_, vol. ii. (Buenos-Ayres, 1836); J.F. Lafitau, _Moeurs des
Sauvages Ameriquains_ (Paris, 1724), i. 262 _sq._

[133] Father Ignace Chome, in _Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses_,
Nouvelle Edition (Paris, 1780-1783), viii. 333. As to the Chiriguanos,
see C.F. Phil. von Martius, _Zur Ethnographie Amerika's, zumal
Brasiliens_ (Leipsic, 1867), pp. 212 _sqq._; Colonel G.E. Church,
_Aborigines of South America_ (London, 1912), pp. 207-227.

[134] A. Thouar, _Explorations dans l'Amerique du Sud_ (Paris, 1891),
pp. 48 _sq._; G. Kurze, "Sitten und Gebraeuche der Lengua-Indianer,"
_Mitteilungen der Geographischen Gesellschaft zu Jena_, xxiii. (1905)
pp. 26 _sq._ The two accounts appear to be identical; but the former
attributes the custom to the Chiriguanos, the latter to the Lenguas. As
the latter account is based on the reports of the Rev. W.B. Grubb, a
missionary who has been settled among the Indians of the Chaco for many
years and is our principal authority on them, I assume that the
ascription of the custom to the Lenguas is correct. However, in the
volume on the Lengua Indians, which has been edited from Mr. Grubb's
papers (_An Unknown People in an Unknown Land_, London, 1911), these
details as to the seclusion of girls at puberty are not mentioned,
though what seems to be the final ceremony is described (_op. cit._ pp.
177 _sq._). From the description we learn that boys dressed in ostrich
feathers and wearing masks circle round the girl with shrill cries, but
are repelled by the women.

[135] Alcide d'Orbigny, _Voyage dans l'Amerique Meridionale_ vol. iii.
1to Partie (Paris and Strasburg, 1844), pp. 205 _sq_.

[136] A. Thouar, _Explorations dans l'Amerique du Sud_ (Paris, 1891) pp.
56 _sq._; Father Cardus, quoted in J. Pelleschi's _Los Indios Matacos_
(Buenos Ayres, 1897), pp. 47 _sq._

[137] A. Thouar, _op. cit._ p. 63.

[138] Francis de Castelnau, _Expedition dans les parties centrales de
l'Amerique du Sud_ (Paris, 1850-1851), v. 25.

[139] D. Luis de la Cruz, "Descripcion de la Naturaleza de los Terrenos
que se comprenden en los Andes, poseidos por los Peguenches y los demas
espacios hasta el rio de Chadileuba," p. 62, in Pedro de Angelis,
_Coleccion de Obras y Documentos relativos a la Historia antigua y
moderna de las Provincias del Rio de la Plata_, vol. i. (Buenos-Ayres,
1836). Apparently the Peguenches are an Indian tribe of Chili.

[140] J.B. von Spix und C.F. Ph. von Martius, _Reise in Brasilien_
(Munich, 1823-1831), iii. 1186, 1187, 1318.

[141] Andre Thevet, _Cosmographie Universelle_ (Paris, 1575), ii. 946 B
[980] _sq._; _id., Les Singularites de la France Antarctique, autrement
nommee Amerique_ (Antwerp, 1558), p. 76; J.F. Lafitau, _Moeurs des
Sauvages Ameriquains_ (Paris, 1724), i. 290 _sqq_.

[142] R. Schomburgk, _Reisen in Britisch Guiana_ (Leipsic, 1847-1848),
ii. 315 _sq._; C.F.Ph. von Martius, _Zur Ethnographie Amerika's, zumal
Brasiliens_ (Leipsic, 1867), p. 644.

[143] Labat, _Voyage du Chevalier des Marchais en Guinee, Isles
voisines, et a Cayenne_, iv. 365 _sq._ (Paris, 1730), pp. 17 _sq._
(Amsterdam, 1731).

[144] A. Caulin, _Historia Coro-graphica natural y evangelica dela Nueva
Andalucia_ (1779), p. 93. A similar custom, with the omission of the
stinging, is reported of the Tamanaks in the region of the Orinoco. See
F.S. Gilij, _Saggio di Storia Americana_, ii. (Rome, 1781), p. 133.

[145] A.R. Wallace, _Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro_,
p. 496 (p. 345 of the Minerva Library edition, London, 1889).

[146] _Taboo and the Perils of the Soul_, pp. 105 _sqq._; _The
Scapegoat_> pp. 259 _sqq._

[147] J.B. von Spix and C.F.Ph. von Martius, _Reise in Brasilien_
(Munich, 1823-1831), iii. 1320.

[148] W. Lewis Herndon, _Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon_
(Washington, 1854), pp. 319 _sq._ The scene was described to Mr. Herndon
by a French engineer and architect, M. de Lincourt, who witnessed it at
Manduassu, a village on the Tapajos river. Mr. Herndon adds: "The
_Tocandeira_ ants not only bite, but are also armed with a sting like
the wasp; but the pain felt from it is more violent. I think it equal to
that occasioned by the sting of the black scorpion." He gives the name
of the Indians as Mahues, but I assume that they are the same as the
Mauhes described by Spix and Martius.

[149] Francis de Castelnau, _Expedition dans les parties centrals de
l'Amerique du Sud_ (Paris, 1850-1851), v. 46.

[150] L'Abbe Durand, "Le Rio Negro du Nord et son bassin," _Bulletin de
la Societe de Geographie_ (Paris), vi. Serie, iii. (1872) pp. 21 _sq._
The writer says that the candidate has to keep his arms plunged up to
the shoulders in vessels full of ants, "as in a bath of vitriol," for
hours. He gives the native name of the ant as _issauba_.

[151] J. Crevaux, _Voyages dans l'Amerique du Sud_ (Paris, 1883), pp.

[152] H. Coudreau, _Chez nos Indiens: quatre annees dans la Guyane
Francaise_ (Paris, 1895), p. 228. For details as to the different modes
of administering the _marake_ see _ibid._ pp. 228-235.

[153] Father Geronimo Boscana, "Chinigchinich," in _Life in California
by an American_ [A. Robinson] (New York, 1846), pp. 273 _sq._

[154] F. Stuhlmann, _Mit Emin Pascha ins Herz von Afrika_ (Berlin,
1894), p. 506.

[155] As a confirmation of this view it may be pointed out that beating
or scourging is inflicted on inanimate objects expressly for the purpose
indicated in the text. Thus the Indians of Costa Rica hold that there
are two kinds of ceremonial uncleanness, _nya_ and _bu-ku-ru_. Anything
that has been connected with a death is _nya_. But _bu-ku-ru_ is much
more virulent. It can not only make one sick but kill. "_Bu-ku-ru_
emanates in a variety of ways; arms, utensils, even houses become
affected by it after long disuse, and before they can be used again must
be purified. In the case of portable objects left undisturbed for a long
time, the custom is to beat them with a stick before touching them. I
have seen a woman take a long walking-stick and beat a basket hanging
from the roof of a house by a cord. On asking what that was for, I was
told that the basket contained her treasures, that she would probably
want to take something out the next day, and that she was driving off
the _bu-ku-ru_. A house long unused must be swept, and then the person
who is purifying it must take a stick and beat not only the movable
objects, but the beds, posts, and in short every accessible part of the
interior. The next day it is fit for occupation. A place not visited for
a long time or reached for the first time is _bu-ku-ru_. On our return
from the ascent of Pico Blanco, nearly all the party suffered from
little calenturas, the result of extraordinary exposure to wet and cold
and of want of food. The Indians said that the peak was especially
_bu-ku-ru_ since nobody had ever been on it before." One day Mr. Gabb
took down some dusty blow-guns amid cries of _bu-ku-ru_ from the
Indians. Some weeks afterwards a boy died, and the Indians firmly
believed that the _bu-ku-ru_ of the blow-guns had killed him. "From all
the foregoing, it would seem that _bu-ku-ru_ is a sort of evil spirit
that takes possession of the object, and resents being disturbed; but I
have never been able to learn from the Indians that they consider it so.
They seem to think of it as a property the object acquires. But the
worst _bu-ku-ru_ of all, is that of a young woman in her first
pregnancy. She infects the whole neighbourhood. Persons going from the
house where she lives, carry the infection with them to a distance, and
all the deaths or other serious misfortunes in the vicinity are laid to
her charge. In the old times, when the savage laws and customs were in
full force, it was not an uncommon thing for the husband of such a woman
to pay damages for casualties thus caused by his unfortunate wife." See
Wm. M. Gabb, "On the Indian Tribes and Languages of Costa Rica,"
_Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society held at
Philadelphia_, xiv. (Philadelphia, 1876) pp. 504 _sq._

[156] J. Chaffanjon, _L'Orenoque et le Caura_ (Paris, 1889), pp.

[157] Shib Chunder Bose, _The Hindoos as they are_ (London and Calcutta,
1881), p. 86. Similarly, after a Brahman boy has been invested with the
sacred thread, he is for three days strictly forbidden to see the sun.
He may not eat salt, and he is enjoined to sleep either on a carpet or a
deer's skin, without a mattress or mosquito curtain (_ibid._ p. 186). In
Bali, boys who have had their teeth filed, as a preliminary to marriage,
are kept shut up in a dark room for three days (R. Van Eck, "Schetsen
van het eiland Bali," _Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch Indie_, N.S., ix.
(1880) pp. 428 _sq._).

[158] (Sir) H.H. Risley, _Tribes and Castes of Bengal, Ethnographic
Glossary_ (Calcutta, 1891-1892), i. 152.

[159] Edgar Thurston, _Castes and Tribes of Southern India_ (Madras,
1909), vii. 63 _sq._

[160] Edgar Thurston, _op. cit._ iii. 218.

[161] Edgar Thurston, _op. cit._ vi. 157.

[162] S. Mateer, _Native Life in Travancore_ (London, 1883), p. 45.

[163] Arthur A. Perera, "Glimpses of Singhalese Social Life," _Indian
Antiquary_ xxxi, (1902) p. 380.

[164] J. Moura, _Le Royaume du Cambodge_ (Paris, 1883), i. 377.

[165] Etienne Aymonier, "Notes sur les coutumes et croyances
superstitieuses des Cambodgiens," _Cochinchine Francaise: Excursions et
Reconnaissances_, No. 16 (Saigon, 1883), pp. 193 _sq._ Compare _id.,
Notice sur le Cambodge_ (Paris, 1875), p. 50 _id., Notes sur le Laos_
(Saigon, 1885), p. 177.

[166] Svend Grundtvig, _Daenische Volks-maerchen_, uebersetzt von A.
Strodtmann, Zweite Sammlung (Leipsic, 1879), pp. 199 _sqq._

[167] Christian Schneller, _Maerchen und Sagen aus Waelschtirol_
(Innsbruck, 1867), No. 22, pp. 51 _sqq._

[168] Bernbard Schmidt, _Griechische Maerchen, Sagen und Volkslieder_
(Leipsic, 1877), p. 98.

[169] J.G. von Hahn, _Griechische und albanesische Maerchen_ (Leipsic,
1864), No. 41, vol. i. pp. 245 _sqq._

[170] Laura Gonzenbach, _Sicilianische Maerchen_ (Leipsic, 1870), No. 28,
vol. i. pp. 177 _sqq._ The incident of the bone occurs in other
folk-tales. A prince or princess is shut up for safety in a tower and
makes his or her escape by scraping a hole in the wall with a bone which
has been accidentally conveyed into the tower; sometimes it is expressly
said that care was taken to let the princess have no bones with her meat
(J.G. von Hahn, _op. cit._ No. 15; L. Gonzenbach, _op. cit._ Nos. 26,
27; _Der Pentamerone, aus dem Neapolitanischen uebertragen_ von Felix
Liebrecht (Breslau, 1846), No. 23, vol. i. pp. 294 _sqq._). From this we
should infer that it is a rule with savages not to let women handle the
bones of animals during their monthly seclusions. We have already seen
the great respect with which the savage treats the bones of game
(_Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild_ ii. 238 _sqq._, 256 _sqq._); and
women in their courses are specially forbidden to meddle with the hunter
or fisher, as their contact or neighbourhood would spoil his sport (see
below, pp. 77, 78 _sq._, 87, 89 _sqq._). In folk-tales the hero who uses
the bone is sometimes a boy; but the incident might easily be
transferred from a girl to a boy after its real meaning had been
forgotten. Amongst the Tinneh Indians a girl at puberty is forbidden to
break the bones of hares (above, p. 48). On the other hand, she drinks
out of a tube made of a swan's bone (above, pp. 48, 49), and the same
instrument is used for the same purpose by girls of the Carrier tribe of
Indians (see below, p. 92). We have seen that a Tlingit (Thlinkeet) girl
in the same circumstances used to drink out of the wing-bone of a
white-headed eagle (above, p. 45), and that among the Nootka and Shuswap
tribes girls at puberty are provided with bones or combs with which to
scratch themselves, because they may not use their fingers for this
purpose (above, pp. 44, 53).

[171] Sophocles, _Antigone_, 944 _sqq._; Apollodorus, _Bibliotheca_, ii.
4. I; Horace, _Odes_, iii. 16. I _sqq._; Pausanias, ii. 23. 7.

[172] W. Radloff, _Proben der Volks-litteratur der tuerkischen Staemme
Sued-Siberiens,_ iii. (St. Petersburg, 1870) pp. 82 _sq._

[173] H. Ternaux-Compans, _Essai sur l'ancien Cundinamarca_ (Paris,
N.D.), p. 18.

[174] George Turner, LL.D., _Samoa, a Hundred Years ago and long before_
(London, 1884), p. 200. For other examples of such tales, see Adolph
Bastian, _Die Voelker des Oestlichen Asien_, i. 416, vi. 25; _Panjab
Notes and Queries_, ii. p. 148, Sec. 797 (June, 1885); A. Pfizmaier,
"Nachrichten von den alten Bewohnern des heutigen Corea,"
_Sitzungsberichte der philosoph. histor. Classe der kaiser. Akademie der
Wissenschaften_ (Vienna), lvii. (1868) pp. 495 _sq._

[175] Thomas J. Hutchinson, "On the Chaco and other Indians of South
America," _Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London_, N.S.
iii. (1865) p. 327. Amongst the Lengua Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco
the marriage feast is now apparently extinct. See W. Barbrooke Grubb,
_An Unknown People in an Unknown Land_ (London, 1911), p. 179.

[176] Monier Williams, _Religious Thought and Life in India_ (London,
1883), p. 354.

[177] H. Vambery, _Das Tuerkenvolk_ (Leipsic, 1885), p. 112.

[178] Hans Egede, _A Description of Greenland_ (London, 1818), p. 209.

[179] _Revue des Traditions Populaires_, xv. (1900) p. 471.

[180] _Taboo and the Perils of the Soul_, pp. 145 _sqq._

[181] H.E.A. Meyer, "Manners and Customs of the Aborigines of the
Encounter Bay Tribe, South Australia," _The Native Tribes of South
Australia_ (Adelaide, 1879), p. 186.

[182] E.J. Eyre, _Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central
Australia_ (London, 1845), ii. 304.

[183] E.J. Eyre, _op. cit._ ii. 295.

[184] R. Brough Smyth, _The Aborigines of Victoria_ (Melbourne and
London, 1878), i. 236.

[185] Samuel Gason, in _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_, xxiv.
(1895) p. 171.

[186] Baldwin Spencer and F.J. Gillen, _Native Tribes of Central
Australia_ (London, 1899), p. 473; _idem, Northern Tribes of Central
Australia_ (London, 1904), p. 615.

[187] James Dawson, _Australian Aborigines_ (Melbourne, Sydney, and
Adelaide, 1881), pp. ci. _sq._

[188] Rev. William Ridley, "Report on Australian Languages and
Traditions," _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_, ii. (1873) p.
268. Compare _id., Kamilaroi and other Australian Languages_ (Sydney,
1875), p. 157.

[189] A.W. Howitt, _The Native Tribes of South-East Australia_ (London,
1904.), pp. 776 _sq._, on the authority of Mr. J.C. Muirhead. The
Wakelbura are in Central Queensland. Compare Captain W.E. Armit, quoted
in _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_, ix. (1880) pp. 459 _sq._

[190] _Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres
Straits_, v. (Cambridge, 1904) pp. 196, 207.

[191] Ch. Keysser, "Aus dem Leben der Kaileute," in R. Neuhauss's
_Deutsch Neu-Guinea_ (Berlin, 1911), iii. 91.

[192] M.J. van Baarda, "Fabelen, Verhalen en Overleveringen der
Galelareezen," _Bijdragen tot de Taal-Landen Volkenkinde van
Nederlandsch-Indie_, xlv. (1895) p. 489.

[193] J.L. van der Toorn, "Het animisme bij den Minangkabauer der
Padangsche Bovenlanden," _Bijdragen tot de Taal-Land- en Volkenkunde van
Nederlandsch-Indie_, xxxix. (1890) p. 66.

[194] W.H.I. Bleek, _A Brief Account of Bushman Folk-lore_ (London,
1875), p. 14; compare _ibid._, p. 10.

[195] Rev. James Macdonald, "Manners, Customs, Superstitions and
Religions of South African Tribes," _Journal of the Anthropological
Institute_, xx. (1891) p. 138; _id., Light in Africa_, Second Edition
(London, 1890), p. 221.

[196] Dudley Kidd, _The Essential Kafir_ (London, 1904), p. 238; Mr.
Warren's Notes, in Col. Maclean's _Compendium of Kafir Laws and Customs_
(Cape Town, 1866), p. 93; Rev. J. Macdonald, _Light in Africa_, p. 221;
_id., Religion and Myth_ (London, 1893), p. 198. Compare Henri A. Junod,
"Les conceptions physiologiques des Bantou Sud-Africains et leurs
tabous," _Revue d'Ethnographie et de Sociologie_, i. (1910) p. 139. The
danger of death to the cattle from the blood of women is mentioned only
by Mr. Kidd. The part of the village which is frequented by the cattle,
and which accordingly must be shunned by women, has a special name,
_inkundhla_ (Mr. Warner's Notes, _l.c._).

[197] Rev. J. Roscoe, "The Bahima, a Cow Tribe of Enkole," _Journal of
the Royal Anthropological Institute_, xxxvii. (1907) p. 106.

[198] Rev. J. Roscoe, _The Baganda_ (London, 1911), p. 419.

[199] Rev. J. Roscoe, _The Baganda_, p. 96.

[200] Rev. J. Roscoe, "Notes on the Manners and Customs of the Baganda,"
_Journal of the Anthropological Institute_, xxxi. (1901) p. 121; _id._,
"Further Notes on the Manners and Customs of the Baganda," _Journal of
the Anthropological Institute_, xxxii. (1902) p. 39; _id., The Baganda_,
p. 352.

[201] Rev. J. Roscoe, _The Baganda_, p. 459.

[202] C.W. Hobley, "Further Researches into Kikuyu and Kamba Religious
Beliefs and Customs," _Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute_,
xli. (1911) p. 409.

[203] Mervyn W.H. Beech, _The Suk, their Language and Folklore_ (Oxford,
1911), p. 11.

[204] H.S. Stannus, "Notes on some Tribes of British Central Africa,"
_Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute_, xl. (1910) p. 305; R.
Sutherland Rattray, _Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja_
(London, 1907), p. 191. See above, p. 27.

[205] Jakob Spieth, _Die Ewe-Staemme_ (Berlin, 1906), p. 192.

[206] Anton Witte, "Menstruation und Pubertaetsfeier der Maedchen in
Kpandugebiet Togo," _Baessler-Archiv_, i. (1911) p. 279.

[207] Th. Noeldeke, _Geschichte der Perser und Araber zur Zeit der
Sassaniden, aus der arabischen Chronik des Tabari uebersetzt_ (Leyden,
1879), pp. 33-38. I have to thank my friend Professor A.A. Bevan for
pointing out to me this passage. Many ancient cities had talismans on
the preservation of which their safety was believed to depend. The
Palladium of Troy is the most familiar instance. See Chr. A. Lobeck,
_Aglaophamus_ (Koenigsberg, 1829), pp. 278 _sqq._, and my note on
Pausanias, viii. 47. 5 (vol. iv. pp. 433 _sq._).

[208] J. Mergel, _Die Medezin der Talmudisten_ (Leipsic and Berlin,
1885), pp. 15 _sq._

[209] Maimonides, quoted by D. Chwolsohn, _Die Ssabier und der
Ssabismus_ (St. Petersburg, 1856), ii. 483. According to the editor (p.
735) by the East Maimonides means India and eastern countries generally.

[210] L'abbe Bechara Chemali, "Naissance et premier age au Liban,"
_Anthropos_, v. (1910) p. 735.

[211] Eijub Abela, "Beitraege zur Kenntniss aberglaeubischer Gebraeuche in
Syrien," _Zeitschrift des deutschen Palaestina-Vereins_, vii. (1884) p.

[212] J. Chalmers, "Toaripi," _Journal of the Anthropological
Institute_, xxvii. (1898) p. 328.

[213] W. Crooke, _Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces and
Qudh_ (Calcutta, 1896), ii. 87.

[214] W. Crooke, in _North Indian Notes and Queries_, i. p. 67, Sec. 467
(July, 1891).

[215] L.K. Anantha Krishna Iyer, _The Cochin Tribes and Castes_, i.
(Madras, 1909) pp. 201-203. As to the seclusion of menstruous women
among the Hindoos, see also Sonnerat, _Voyage aux Indes Orientates et a
la Chine_ (Paris, 1782), i. 31; J.A. Dubois, _Moeurs, Institutions et
Ceremonies des Peuples de l'Inde_ (Paris, 1825), i. 245 _sq._ Nair women
in Malabar seclude themselves for three days at menstruation and prepare
their food in separate pots and pans. See Duarte Barbosa, _Description
of the Coasts of East Africa and Malabar in the beginning of the
Sixteenth Century_ (Hakluyt Society, London, 1866), pp. 132 _sq._

[216] G. Hoffman, _Auszuege aus Syrischen Akten persisischer Martyrer
uebersetzt_ (Leipsic, 1880), p. 99. This passage was pointed out to me by
my friend Professor A.A. Bevan.

[217] J.B. Tavernier, _Voyages en Turquie, en Perse, et aux Indes_ (The
Hague, 1718), i. 488.

[218] Paul Giran, _Magie et Religion Annamites_ (Paris, 1912), pp. 107
_sq._, 112.

[219] Joseph Gumilla, _Histoire Naturelle, Civile, et Geographique de
l'Orenoque_ (Avignon, 1758), i. 249.

[220] Dr. Louis Plassard, "Les Guaraunos et le delta de l'Orenoque,"
_Bulletin de la Societe de Geographie_ (Paris), v. Serie, xv. (1868) p.

[221] J. Crevaux, _Voyages dans l'Amerique du Sud_ (Paris, 1883), p.
526. As to the customs observed at menstruation by Indian women in South
America, see further A. d'Orbigny, _L'Homme Americain_ (Paris, 1839), i.

[222] Chas. N. Bell, "The Mosquito Territory," _Journal of the Royal
Geographical Society_, xxxii. (1862) p. 254.

[223] H. Pittier de Fabrega, "Die Sprache der Bribri-Indianer in Costa
Rica," _Sitztungsberichte der philosophischen-historischen Classe der
Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften_ (Vienna), cxxxviii. (1898) pp.
19 _sq._

[224] Gabriel Sagard, _Le Grand Voyage du Pays des Hurons_, Nouvelle
Edition (Paris, 1865), p. 54 (original edition, Paris, 1632); J.F.
Lafitau, _Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains_ (Paris, 1724), i. 262;
Charlevoix, _Histoire de la Nouvelle France_ (Paris, 1744), v. 423
_sq._; Captain Jonathan Carver, _Travels through the Interior Parts of
North America_, Third Edition (London, 1781), pp. 236 _sq._; Captains
Lewis and Clark, _Expedition to the Sources of the Missouri_, etc.
(London, 1905), iii. 90 (original edition, 1814); Rev. Jedidiah Morse,
_Report to the Secretary of War of the United States on Indian Affairs_
(New Haven, 1822), pp. 136 _sq._; _Annales de l'Association de la
Propagation de la Foi_, iv, (Paris and Lyons, 1830) pp. 483, 494 _sq._;
George Catlin, _Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition
of the North American Indians_, Fourth Edition (London, 1844), ii. 233;
H.R. Schoolcraft, _Indian Tribes of the United States_ (Philadelphia,
1853-1856), v. 70; A.L. Kroeber, "The Religion of the Indians of
California," _University of California Publication in American
Archaeology and Ethnology_, vol. iv. No. 6 (Berkeley, September, 1907),
pp. 323 _sq._; Frank G. Speck, _Ethnology of the Yuchi Indians_
(Philadelphia, 1909), p. 96. Among the Hurons of Canada women at their
periods did not retire from the house or village, but they ate from
small dishes apart from the rest of the family at these times (Gabriel
Sagard, _l.c._).

[225] James Adair, _History of the American Indians_ (London, 1775), pp.
123 _sq._

[226] Bossu, _Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes occidentales_ (Paris, 1768),
ii. 105.

[227] Edwin James, _Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the
Rocky Mountains_ (London, 1823), i. 214.

[228] William H. Keating, _Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of
St. Peter's River_ (London, 1825), i. 132.

[229] G.B. Grinnell, "Cheyenne Woman Customs," _American
Anthropologist_, New Series, iv. (New York, 1902) p. 14.

[230] C. Hill Tout, "Ethnological Report on the Stseelis and Skaulits
Tribes of the Halokmelem Division of the Salish of British Columbia,"
_Journal of the Anthropological Institute_, xxxiv. (1904) p. 320.

[231] James Teit, _The Thompson Indians of British Columbia_, pp. 326
_sq._ (_The Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Memoir of the American
Museum of Natural History_, New York, April, 1900).

[232] Samuel Hearne, _Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's
Bay to the Northern Ocean_ (London, 1795), pp. 314 _sq._; Alex.
Mackenzie, _Voyages through the Continent of North America_ (London,
1801), p. cxxiii.; E. Petitot, _Monographic des Dene-Dindjie_ (Paris,
1876), pp. 75 _sq._

[233] C. Leemius, _De Lapponibus Finmarchiae eorumque lingua vita et
religione pristina_ (Copenhagen, 1767), p. 494.

[234] E.W. Nelson, "The Eskimo about Bering Strait," _Eighteenth Annual
Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology_, Part i. (Washington, 1899)
p. 440.

[235] The Carriers are a tribe of Dene or Tinneh Indians who get their
name from a custom observed among them by widows, who carry, or rather
used to carry, the charred bones of their dead husbands about with them
in bundles.

[236] Hence we may conjecture that the similar ornaments worn by Mabuiag
girls in similar circumstances are also amulets. See above, p. 36. Among
the aborigines of the Upper Yarra river in Victoria, a girl at puberty
used to have cords tied very tightly round several parts of her body.
The cords were worn for several days, causing the whole body to swell
very much and inflicting great pain. The girl might not remove them till
she was clean. See R. Brough Smyth, _Aborigines of Victoria_ (Melbourne
and London, 1878), i. 65. Perhaps the cords were intended to arrest the
flow of blood.

[237] Rev. Father A.G. Morice, "The Western Denes, their Manners and
Customs," _Proceedings of the Canadian Institute, Toronto_, Third
Series, vii. (1888-89) pp. 162-164. The writer has repeated the
substance of this account in a later work, _Au pays de l'Ours Noir: chez
les sauvages de la Colombia Britannique_ (Paris and Lyons, 1897), pp. 72

[238] A.G. Morice, "Notes, Archaeological, Industrial, and Sociological,
on the Western Denes," _Transactions of the Canadian Institute_, iv.
(1892-93) pp. 106 _sq._ Compare Rev. Father Julius Jette, "On the
Superstitions of the Ten'a Indians," _Anthropos_, vi. (1911) pp. 703
_sq._, who tells us that Tinneh women at these times may not lift their
own nets, may not step over other people's nets, and may not pass in a
boat or canoe near a place where nets are being set.

[239] A.G. Morice, in _Transactions of the Canadian Institute_, iv.
(1892-93) pp. 107, 110.

[240] James Teit, _The Thompson Indians of British Columbia_, p. 327
(_The Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Memoir of the American Museum of
Natural History_, New York, April 1900).

[241] See above, p. 53.

[242] _Laws of Manu_, translated by G. Buhler (Oxford, 1886), ch. iv. 41
_sq._, p. 135 (_Sacred Books of the East_, vol. xxv.).

[243] _The Zend-Avesta_, translated by J. Darmesteter, i. (Oxford, 1880)
p. xcii. (_Sacred Books of the East_, vol. iv.). See _id._, pp. 9,
181-185, _Fargard_, i. 18 and 19, xvi. 1-18.

[244] Pliny, _Nat. Hist._ vii. 64 _sq._, xxviii. 77 _sqq._ Compare
_Geoponica_, xii. 20. 5 and 25. 2; Columella, _De re rustica_, xi. 357

[245] August Schleicher, _Volkstuemliches aus Sonnenberg_ (Weimar, 1858),
p. 134; B. Souche, _Croyances, Presages et Traditions diverses_ (Niort,
1880), p. 11; A. Meyrac, _Traditions, Coutumes Legendes et Contes des
Ardennes_ (Charleville, 1890), p. 171; V. Fossel, _Volksmedicin und
medicinischer Aberglaube in Steiermark[2]_ (Graz, 1886), p. 124. A
correspondent, who withholds her name, writes to me that in a Suffolk
village, where she used to live some twenty or thirty years ago, "every
one pickled their own beef, and it was held that if the pickling were
performed by a woman during her menstrual period the meat would not
keep. If the cook were incapacitated at the time when the pickling was
due, another woman was sent for out of the village rather than risk what
was considered a certainty." Another correspondent informs me that in
some of the dales in the north of Yorkshire a similar belief prevailed
down to recent years with regard to the salting of pork. Another
correspondent writes to me: "The prohibition that a menstruating woman
must not touch meat that is intended for keeping appears to be common
all over the country; at least I have met with it as a confirmed and
active custom in widely separated parts of England.... It is in regard
to the salting of meat for bacon that the prohibition is most usual,
because that is the commonest process; but it exists in regard to any
meat food that is required to be kept."

[246] R. Andree, _Braunschweiger Volkskunde_ (Brunswick, 1896), p. 291.

[247] W.R. Paton, in _Folk-lore_, i. (1890) p. 524.

[248] The Greeks and Romans thought that a field was completely
protected against insects if a menstruous woman walked round it with
bare feet and streaming hair (Pliny, _Nat. Hist._ xvii. 266, xxviii. 78;
Columella, _De re rustica_, x. 358 _sq._, xi. 3. 64; Palladius, _De re
rustica_, i. 35. 3; _Geoponica_, xii. 8. 5 _sq._; Aelian, _Nat. Anim._
vi. 36). A similar preventive is employed for the same purpose by North
American Indians and European peasants. See H.R. Schoolcraft, _Indian
Tribes of the United States_ (Philadelphia, 1853-1856), v. 70; F.J.
Wiedemann, _Aus dem inneren und auessern Leben der Ehsten_ (St.
Petersburg, 1876), p. 484. Compare J. Haltrich, _Zur Volkskunde der
Siebenbuerger Sachsen_ (Vienna, 1885), p. 280; Adolph Heinrich,
_Agrarische Sitten und Gebraeuche unter den Sachsen Siebenbuergens_
(Hermannstadt, 1880), p. 14; J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] iii.
468; G. Lammert, _Volksmedizin und medizinischer Aberglaube aus Bayern_
(Wuerzburg, 1869), p. 147. Among the Western Denes it is believed that
one or two transverse lines tattooed on the arms or legs of a young man
by a pubescent girl are a specific against premature weakness of these
limbs. See A.G. Morice, "Notes, Archaeological, Industrial, and
Sociological, on the Western Denes," _Transactions of the Canadian
Institute_, iv. (1892-93) p. 182. The Thompson Indians of British
Columbia thought that the Dawn of Day could and would cure hernia if
only an adolescent girl prayed to it to do so. Just before daybreak the
girl would put some charcoal in her mouth, chew it fine, and spit it out
four times on the diseased place. Then she prayed: "O Day-dawn! thy
child relies on me to obtain healing from thee, who art mystery. Remove
thou the swelling of thy child. Pity thou him, Day-Dawn!" See James
Teit, _The Thompson Indians of British Columbia_, pp. 345 _sq._ (_The
Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Memoir of the American Museum of Natural
History_, New York, April, 1900). To cure the painful and dangerous
wound inflicted by a ray-fish, the Indians of the Gran Chaco smoke the
wounded limb and then cause a woman in her courses to sit astride of it.
See G. Pelleschi, _Eight Months on the Gran Chaco of the Argentine
Republic_ (London, 1886), p. 106. An ancient Hindoo method of securing
prosperity was to swallow a portion of the menstruous fluid. See W.
Caland, _Altindisches Zauberritual_ (Amsterdam, 1900), pp. 57 _sq._ To
preserve a new cow from the evil eye Scottish Highlanders used to
sprinkle menstruous blood on the animal; and at certain seasons of the
year, especially at Beltane (the first of May) and Lammas (the first of
August) it was their custom to sprinkle the same potent liquid on the
doorposts and houses all round to guard them from harm. The fluid was
applied by means of a wisp of straw, and the person who discharged this
salutary office went round the house in the direction of the sun. See
J.G. Campbell, _Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland_
(Glasgow, 1900), p. 248. These are examples of the beneficent
application of the menstruous energy.

[249] _Taboo and the Perils of the Soul_, pp. 1 _sqq._

[250] For a similar reason, perhaps, ancient Hindoo ritual prescribed
that when the hair of a child's head was shorn in the third year, the
clippings should be buried in a cow-stable, or near an _udumbara_ tree,
or in a clump of _darbha_ grass, with the words, "Where Pushan,
Brihaspati, Savitri, Soma, Agni dwell, they have in many ways searched
where they should deposit it, between heaven and earth, the waters and
heaven." See _The Grihya-Sutras_, translated by H. Oldenberg, Part ii.
(Oxford, 1892) p. 218 (_Sacred Books of the East_, vol. xxx.).

[251] Petronius, _Sat._ 48; Pausanias, x. 12: 8; Justin Martyr, _Cohort
ad Graecos_, 37, p. 34 c (ed. 1742). According to another account, the
remains of the Sibyl were enclosed in an iron cage which hung from a
pillar in an ancient temple of Hercules at Argyrus (Ampelius, _Liber
Memorialis_, viii. 16).

[252] A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, _Nord-deutsche Sagen, Maerchen und
Gebraeuche_ (Leipsic, 1848), p. 70, No. 72. i. This and the following
German parallels to the story of the Sibyl's wish were first indicated
by Dr. M.R. James (_Classical Review_, vi. (1892) p. 74). I have already
given the stories at length in a note on Pausanias, x. 12. 8 (vol. v.
pp. 292 _sq._).

[253] A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, _op. cit._ pp. 70 _sq._, No. 72. 2.

[254] A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, _op. cit._ p. 71, No. 72. 3.

[255] Karl Muellenhoff, _Sagen, Maerchen und Lieder der Herzogthuemer
Holstein und Lauenburg_ (Kiel, 1845), pp. 158 _sg._, No. 217.



[How Balder, the good and beautiful god, was done to death by a stroke
of the mistletoe.]

A deity whose life might in a sense be said to be neither in heaven nor
on earth but between the two, was the Norse Balder, the good and
beautiful god, the son of the great god Odin, and himself the wisest,
mildest, best beloved of all the immortals. The story of his death, as
it is told in the younger or prose _Edda_, runs thus. Once on a time
Balder dreamed heavy dreams which seemed to forebode his death.
Thereupon the gods held a council and resolved to make him secure
against every danger. So the goddess Frigg took an oath from fire and
water, iron and all metals, stones and earth, from trees, sicknesses and
poisons, and from all four-footed beasts, birds, and creeping things,
that they would not hurt Balder. When this was done Balder was deemed
invulnerable; so the gods amused themselves by setting him in their
midst, while some shot at him, others hewed at him, and others threw
stones at him. But whatever they did, nothing could hurt him; and at
this they were all glad. Only Loki, the mischief-maker, was displeased,
and he went in the guise of an old woman to Frigg, who told him that the
weapons of the gods could not wound Balder, since she had made them all
swear not to hurt him. Then Loki asked, "Have all things sworn to spare
Balder?" She answered, "East of Walhalla grows a plant called mistletoe;
it seemed to me too young to swear." So Loki went and pulled the
mistletoe and took it to the assembly of the gods. There he found the
blind god Hother standing at the outside of the circle. Loki asked him,
"Why do you not shoot at Balder?" Hother answered, "Because I do not see
where he stands; besides I have no weapon." Then said Loki, "Do like the
rest and shew Balder honour, as they all do. I will shew you where he
stands, and do you shoot at him with this twig." Hother took the
mistletoe and threw it at Balder, as Loki directed him. The mistletoe
struck Balder and pierced him through and through, and he fell down
dead. And that was the greatest misfortune that ever befell gods and
men. For a while the gods stood speechless, then they lifted up their
voices and wept bitterly. They took Balder's body and brought it to the
sea-shore. There stood Balder's ship; it was called Ringhorn, and was
the hugest of all ships. The gods wished to launch the ship and to burn
Balder's body on it, but the ship would not stir. So they sent for a
giantess called Hyrrockin. She came riding on a wolf and gave the ship
such a push that fire flashed from the rollers and all the earth shook.
Then Balder's body was taken and placed on the funeral pile upon his
ship. When his wife Nanna saw that, her heart burst for sorrow and she
died. So she was laid on the funeral pile with her husband, and fire was
put to it. Balder's horse, too, with all its trappings, was burned on
the pile.[256]

[Tale of Balder in the older _Edda_.]

In the older or poetic _Edda_ the tragic tale of Balder is hinted at
rather than told at length. Among the visions which the Norse Sibyl sees
and describes in the weird prophecy known as the _Voluspa_ is one of the
fatal mistletoe. "I behold," says she, "Fate looming for Balder, Woden's
son, the bloody victim. There stands the Mistletoe slender and delicate,
blooming high above the ground. Out of this shoot, so slender to look
on, there shall grow a harmful fateful shaft. Hod shall shoot it, but
Frigga in Fen-hall shall weep over the woe of Wal-hall."[257] Yet
looking far into the future the Sibyl sees a brighter vision of a new
heaven and a new earth, where the fields unsown shall yield their
increase and all sorrows shall be healed; then Balder will come back to
dwell in Odin's mansions of bliss, in a hall brighter than the sun,
shingled with gold, where the righteous shall live in joy for ever

[The story of Balder as related by Saxo Grammaticus.]

Writing about the end of the twelfth century, the old Danish historian
Saxo Grammaticus tells the story of Balder in a form which professes to
be historical. According to him, Balder and Hother were rival suitors
for the hand of Nanna, daughter of Gewar, King of Norway. Now Balder was
a demigod and common steel could not wound his sacred body. The two
rivals encountered each other in a terrific battle, and though Odin and
Thor and the rest of the gods fought for Balder, yet was he defeated and
fled away, and Hother married the princess. Nevertheless Balder took
heart of grace and again met Hother in a stricken field. But he fared
even worse than before; for Hother dealt him a deadly wound with a magic
sword, which he had received from Miming, the Satyr of the woods; and
after lingering three days in pain Balder died of his hurt and was
buried with royal honours in a barrow.[259]

[Balder worshipped in Norway.]

Whether he was a real or merely a mythical personage, Balder was
worshipped in Norway. On one of the bays of the beautiful Sogne Fiord,
which penetrates far into the depths of the solemn Norwegian mountains,
with their sombre pine-forests and their lofty cascades dissolving into
spray before they reach the dark water of the fiord far below, Balder
had a great sanctuary. It was called Balder's Grove. A palisade enclosed
the hallowed ground, and within it stood a spacious temple with the
images of many gods, but none of them was worshipped with such devotion
as Balder. So great was the awe with which the heathen regarded the
place that no man might harm another there, nor steal his cattle, nor
defile himself with women. But women cared for the images of the gods in
the temple; they warmed them at the fire, anointed them with oil, and
dried them with cloths.[260]

[The legendary death of Balder resembles the legendary death of the
Persian hero Isfendiyar in the epic of Firdusi.]

It might be rash to affirm that the romantic figure of Balder was
nothing but a creation of the mythical fancy, a radiant phantom conjured
up as by a wizard's wand to glitter for a time against the gloomy
background of the stern Norwegian landscape. It may be so; yet it is
also possible that the myth was founded on the tradition of a hero,
popular and beloved in his lifetime, who long survived in the memory of
the people, gathering more and more of the marvellous about him as he
passed from generation to generation of story-tellers. At all events it
is worth while to observe that a somewhat similar story is told of
another national hero, who may well have been a real man. In his great
poem, _The Epic of Kings_, which is founded on Persian traditions, the
poet Firdusi tells us that in the combat between Rustem and Isfendiyar
the arrows of the former did no harm to his adversary, "because Zerdusht
had charmed his body against all dangers, so that it was like unto
brass." But Simurgh, the bird of God, shewed Rustem the way he should
follow in order to vanquish his redoubtable foe. He rode after her, and
they halted not till they came to the sea-shore. There she led him into
a garden, where grew a tamarisk, tall and strong, and the roots thereof
were in the ground, but the branches pierced even unto the sky. Then the
bird of God bade Rustem break from the tree a branch that was long and
slender, and fashion it into an arrow, and she said, "Only through his
eyes can Isfendiyar be wounded. If, therefore, thou wouldst slay him,
direct this arrow unto his forehead, and verily it shall not miss its
aim." Rustem did as he was bid; and when next he fought with Isfendiyar,
he shot the arrow at him, and it pierced his eye, and he died. Great was
the mourning for Isfendiyar. For the space of one year men ceased not to
lament for him, and for many years they shed bitter tears for that
arrow, and they said, "The glory of Iran hath been laid low."[261]

[The myth of Balder was perhaps acted as a magical ceremony. The two
chief incidents of the myth, namely the pulling of the mistletoe and the
death and burning of the god, have perhaps their counterparts in popular

Whatever may be thought of an historical kernel underlying a mythical
husk in the legend of Balder, the details of the story suggest that it
belongs to that class of myths which have been dramatized in ritual, or,
to put it otherwise, which have been performed as magical ceremonies for
the sake of producing those natural effects which they describe in
figurative language. A myth is never so graphic and precise in its
details as when it is, so to speak, the book of the words which are
spoken and acted by the performers of the sacred rite. That the Norse
story of Balder was a myth of this sort will become probable if we can
prove that ceremonies resembling the incidents in the tale have been
performed by Norsemen and other European peoples. Now the main incidents
in the tale are two--first, the pulling of the mistletoe, and second,
the death and burning of the god; and both of them may perhaps be found
to have had their counterparts in yearly rites observed, whether
separately or conjointly, by people in various parts of Europe. These
rites will be described and discussed in the following chapters. We
shall begin with the annual festivals of fire and shall reserve the
pulling of the mistletoe for consideration later on.


[256] _Die Edda_, uebersetzt von K. Simrock*[8] (Stuttgart, 1882), pp.
286-288. Compare pp. 8, 34, 264. Balder's story is told in a professedly
historical form by the old Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus in his
third book. See below, p. 103. In English the story is told at length by
Professor (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Heathendom_ (London and Edinburgh,
1888), pp. 529 _sqq._ It is elaborately discussed by Professor F.
Knuffmann in a learned monograph, _Balder, Mythus und Sage_ (Strasburg,

[257] Gudbrand Vigfusson and F. York Powell, _Corpus Poeticum Boreale_,
i. (Oxford, 1883) p. 197. Compare _Edda Rhythmica seu Antiquior, vulgo
Saemundina dicta_, Pars iii. (Copenhagen, 1828) pp. 39 _sq._; _Die
Edda_, uebersetzt von K. Simrock*[8] (Stuttgart, 1882), p. 8; K.
Muellenhoff, _Deutsche Altertumskunde_, v. Zweite Abteilung (Berlin,
1891), pp. 78 _sq._; Fr. Kauffmann, _Balder, Mythus und Sage_, pp. 20
_sq._ In this passage the words translated "bloody victim" (_blaupom
tivor_) and "fate looming" (_orlog folgen_) are somewhat uncertain and
have been variously interpreted. The word _tivor_, usually understood to
mean "god," seems to be found nowhere else. Professor H.M. Chadwick has
kindly furnished me with the following literal translation of the
passage: "I saw (or 'have seen') held in safe keeping the life of
Balder, the bloody god, Othin's son. High above the fields (i.e. the
surface of the earth) grew a mistletoe, slender and very beautiful. From
a shaft (or 'stem') which appeared slender, came a dangerous
sorrow-bringing missile (i.e. the shaft became a ... missile); Hodr
proceeded to shoot. Soon was a brother of Balder born. He, Othin's son,
proceeded to do battle when one day old. He did not wash his hands or
comb his head before he brought Balder's antagonist on to the pyre. But
Frigg in Fen-salir (i.e. the Fen-abode) lamented the trouble of
Val-holl." In translating the words _orlog folgen_ "held in safe keeping
the life" Professor Chadwick follows Professor F. Kauffmann's rendering
("_das Leben verwahrt_"); but he writes to me that he is not quite
confident about it, as the word _orlog_ usually means "fate" rather than
"life." Several sentences translated by Professor Chadwick ("Soon was a
brother of Balder born ... he brought Balder's antagonist on the pyre")
are omitted by some editors and translators of the _Edda_.

[258] G. Vigfusson and F. York Powell, _Corpus Poeticum Boreale_, i. 200
_sq._; _Edda Rhythmica seu Antiquior, vulgo Saemundina dicta_, Pars iii.
pp. 51-54; _Die Edda_, uebersetzt von K. Simrock,*[8] p. 10 _sq._; K.
Muellenhoff, _Deutsche Altertumskunde_, v. Zweite Abteilung, pp. 84 _sq._

[259] Saxo Grammaticus, _Historia Danica_, ed. P.E. Mueller (Copenhagen,
1839-1858), _lib._ iii. vol. i. pp. 110 _sqq._; _The First Nine Books of
the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus_, translated by Oliver Elton
(London, 1894), pp. 83-93.

[260] _Fridthjofs Saga, aus dem Alt-islaendischen_, von J.C. Poestion,
(Vienna, 1879), pp. 3 _sq._, 14-17, 45-52.

[261] _The Epic of Kings, Stories retold from Firdusi_, by Helen Zimmern
(London, 1883), pp. 325-331. The parallel between Balder and Isfendiyar
was pointed out in the "Lexicon Mythologicum" appended to the _Edda
Rhythmifa seu Antiquior, vulgo Saemundina dicta_, Pars iii. (Copenhagen,
1828) p. 513 note, with a reference to _Schah Namech, verdeutscht von
Goerres_, ii. 324, 327 _sq._ It is briefly mentioned by Dr. P. Wagler,
_Die Eiche in alter und neuer Zeit_, ii. Teil (Berlin, 1891), p. 40.



Sec. 1. _The Lenten Fires_

[European custom of kindling bonfires on certain days of the year,
dancing round them and leaping over them. Effigies are sometimes burnt
in the fires.]

All over Europe the peasants have been accustomed from time immemorial
to kindle bonfires on certain days of the year, and to dance round or
leap over them. Customs of this kind can be traced back on historical
evidence to the Middle Ages,[262] and their analogy to similar customs
observed in antiquity goes with strong internal evidence to prove that
their origin must be sought in a period long prior to the spread of
Christianity. Indeed the earliest proof of their observance in Northern
Europe is furnished by the attempts made by Christian synods in the
eighth century to put them down as heathenish rites.[263] Not uncommonly
effigies are burned in these fires, or a pretence is made of burning a
living person in them; and there are grounds for believing that
anciently human beings were actually burned on these occasions. A
general survey of the customs in question will bring out the traces of
human sacrifice, and will serve at the same time to throw light on their

[Seasons of the year at which the bonfires are lit.]

The seasons of the year when these bonfires are most commonly lit are
spring and midsummer; but in some places they are kindled also at the
end of autumn or during the course of the winter, particularly on Hallow
E'en (the thirty-first of October), Christmas Day, and the Eve of
Twelfth Day. We shall consider them in the order in which they occur in
the calendar year. The earliest of them is the winter festival of the
Eve of Twelfth Day (the fifth of January); but as it has been already
described in an earlier part of this work[265] we shall pass it over
here and begin with the fire-festivals of spring, which usually fall on
the first Sunday of Lent (_Quadragesima_ or _Invocavit_),[266] Easter
Eve, and May Day.

[Custom of kindling bonfires on the first Sunday in Lent in the Belgian

The custom of kindling bonfires on the first Sunday in Lent has
prevailed in Belgium, the north of France, and many parts of Germany.
Thus in the Belgian Ardennes for a week or a fortnight before the "day
of the great fire," as it is called, children go about from farm to farm
collecting fuel. At Grand Halleux any one who refuses their request is
pursued next day by the children, who try to blacken his face with the
ashes of the extinct fire. When the day has come, they cut down bushes,
especially juniper and broom, and in the evening great bonfires blaze on
all the heights. It is a common saying that seven bonfires should be
seen if the village is to be safe from conflagrations. If the Meuse
happens to be frozen hard at the time, bonfires are lit also on the ice.
At Grand Halleux they set up a pole called _makral_ or "the witch," in
the midst of the pile, and the fire is kindled by the man who was last
married in the village. In the neighbourhood of Morlanwelz a straw man
is burnt in the fire. Young people and children dance and sing round the
bonfires, and leap over the embers to secure good crops or a happy
marriage within the year, or as a means of guarding themselves against
colic. In Brabant on the same Sunday, down to the beginning of the
nineteenth century, women and men disguised in female attire used to go
with burning torches to the fields, where they danced and sang comic
songs for the purpose, as they alleged, of driving away "the wicked
sower," who is mentioned in the Gospel for the day. At Maeseyck and in
many villages of Limburg, on the evening of the day children run through
the streets carrying lighted torches; then they kindle little fires of
straw in the fields and dance round them. At Ensival old folks tell
young folks that they will have as many Easter eggs as they see bonfires
on this day.[267] At Paturages, in the province of Hainaut, down to
about 1840 the custom was observed under the name of _Escouvion_ or
_Scouvion_. Every year on the first Sunday of Lent, which was called the
Day of the Little Scouvion, young folks and children used to run with
lighted torches through the gardens and orchards. As they ran they cried
at the pitch of their voices,

"_Bear apples, bear pears
And cherries all black
  To Scouvion!_"

At these words the torch-bearer whirled his blazing brand and hurled it
among the branches of the apple-trees, the pear-trees, and the
cherry-trees. The next Sunday was called the Day of the Great Scouvion,
and the same race with lighted torches among the trees of the orchards
was repeated in the afternoon till darkness fell. The same custom was
observed on the same two days at Wasmes.[268] In the neighbourhood of
Liege, where the Lenten fires were put down by the police about the
middle of the nineteenth century, girls thought that by leaping over the
fires without being smirched they made sure of a happy marriage.
Elsewhere in order to get a good husband it was necessary to see seven
of the bonfires from one spot. In Famenne, a district of Namur, men and
cattle who traversed the Lenten fires were thought to be safe from
sickness and witchcraft. Anybody who saw seven such fires at once had
nothing to fear from sorcerers. An old saying ran, that if you do not
light "the great fire," God will light it for you; which seems to imply
that the kindling of the bonfires was deemed a protection against
conflagrations throughout the year.[269]

[Bonfires on the first Sunday of Lent in the French department of the

In the French department of the Ardennes the whole village used to dance
and sing round the bonfires which were lighted on the first Sunday in
Lent. Here, too, it was the person last married, sometimes a man and
sometimes a woman, who put the match to the fire. The custom is still
kept up very commonly in the district. Cats used to be burnt in the fire
or roasted to death by being held over it; and while they were burning
the shepherds drove their flocks through the smoke and flames as a sure
means of guarding them against sickness and witchcraft. In some communes
it was believed that the livelier the dance round the fire, the better
would be the crops that year.[270] In the Vosges Mountains it is still
customary to light great fires on the heights and around the villages on
the first Sunday in Lent; and at Rupt and elsewhere the right of
kindling them belongs to the person who was last married. Round the
fires the people dance and sing merrily till the flames have died out.
Then the master of the fire, as they call the man who kindled it,
invites all who contributed to the erection of the pile to follow him to
the nearest tavern, where they partake of good cheer. At Dommartin they
say that, if you would have the hemp tall, it is absolutely necessary
that the women should be tipsy on the evening of this day.[271] At
Epinal in the Vosges, on the first Sunday in Lent, bonfires used to be
kindled at various places both in the town and on the banks of the
Moselle. They consisted of pyramids of sticks and faggots, which had
been collected some days earlier by young folks going from door to door.
When the flames blazed up, the names of various couples, whether young
or old, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, were called out, and the persons
thus linked in mock marriage were forced, whether they liked it or not,
to march arm in arm round the fire amid the laughter and jests of the
crowd. The festivity lasted till the fire died out, and then the
spectators dispersed through the streets, stopping under the windows of
the houses and proclaiming the names of the _fechenots_ and
_fechenottes_ or Valentines whom the popular voice had assigned to each
other. These couples had to exchange presents; the mock bridegroom gave
his mock bride something for her toilet, while she in turn presented him
with a cockade of coloured ribbon. Next Sunday, if the weather allowed
it, all the couples, arrayed in their best attire and attended by their
relations, repaired to the wood of Saint Antony, where they mounted a
famous stone called the _danserosse_ or _danseresse_. Here they found
cakes and refreshments of all sorts, and danced to the music of a couple
of fiddlers. The evening bell, ringing the Angelus, gave the signal to
depart. As soon as its solemn chime was heard, every one quitted the
forest and returned home. The exchange of presents between the
Valentines went by the name of ransom or redemption (_rachat_), because
it was supposed to redeem the couple from the flames of the bonfire. Any
pair who failed thus to ransom themselves were not suffered to share the
merrymaking at the great stone in the forest; and a pretence was made of
burning them in small fires kindled before their own doors.[272]

[Bonfires on the First Sunday of Lent in Franche-Comte.]

In the French province of Franche-Comte, to the west of the Jura
Mountains, the first Sunday of Lent is known as the Sunday of the
Firebrands (_Brandons_), on account of the fires which it is customary
to kindle on that day. On the Saturday or the Sunday the village lads
harness themselves to a cart and drag it about the streets, stopping at
the doors of the houses where there are girls and begging for a faggot.
When they have got enough, they cart the fuel to a spot at some little
distance from the village, pile it up, and set it on fire. All the
people of the parish come out to see the bonfire. In some villages, when
the bells have rung the Angelus, the signal for the observance is given
by cries of, "To the fire! to the fire!" Lads, lasses, and children
dance round the blaze, and when the flames have died down they vie with
each other in leaping over the red embers. He or she who does so without
singeing his or her garments will be married within the year. Young folk
also carry lighted torches about the streets or the fields, and when
they pass an orchard they cry out, "More fruit than leaves!" Down to
recent years at Laviron, in the department of Doubs, it was the young
married couples of the year who had charge of the bonfires. In the midst
of the bonfire a pole was planted with a wooden figure of a cock
fastened to the top. Then there were races, and the winner received the
cock as a prize.[273]

[Bonfires on the first Sunday of Lent in Auvergne; the Granno invoked at
these bonfires may be the old Celtic god Grannus, who was identified
with Apollo.]

In Auvergne fires are everywhere kindled on the evening of the first
Sunday in Lent. Every village, every hamlet, even every ward, every
isolated farm has its bonfire or _figo_, as it is called, which blazes
up as the shades of night are falling. The fires may be seen flaring on
the heights and in the plains; the people dance and sing round about
them and leap through the flames. Then they proceed to the ceremony of
the _Grannas-mias_. A _granno-mio_[274] is a torch of straw fastened to
the top of a pole. When the pyre is half consumed, the bystanders kindle
the torches at the expiring flames and carry them into the neighbouring
orchards, fields, and gardens, wherever there are fruit-trees. As they
march they sing at the top of their voices,

"_Granno, mo mio,
Granno, mon pouere,
Granno, mo mouere!_"

that is, "Grannus my friend, Grannus my father, Grannus my mother." Then
they pass the burning torches under the branches of every tree, singing,

"_Brando, brandounci
Tsaque brantso, in plan panei!_"

that is, "Firebrand burn; every branch a basketful!" In some villages
the people also run across the sown fields and shake the ashes of the
torches on the ground; also they put some of the ashes in the fowls'
nests, in order that the hens may lay plenty of eggs throughout the
year. When all these ceremonies have been performed, everybody goes home
and feasts; the special dishes of the evening are fritters and
pancakes.[275] Here the application of the fire to the fruit-trees, to
the sown fields, and to the nests of the poultry is clearly a charm
intended to ensure fertility; and the Granno to whom the invocations are
addressed, and who gives his name to the torches, may possibly be, as
Dr. Pommerol suggests,[276] no other than the ancient Celtic god
Grannus, whom the Romans identified with Apollo, and whose worship is
attested by inscriptions found not only in France but in Scotland and on
the Danube.[277] If the name Grannus is derived, as the learned tell us,
from a root meaning "to glow, burn, shine,"[278] the deity who bore the
name and was identified with Apollo may well have been a sun-god; and in
that case the prayers addressed to him by the peasants of the Auvergne,
while they wave the blazing, crackling torches about the fruit-trees,
would be eminently appropriate. For who could ripen the fruit so well as
the sun-god? and what better process could be devised to draw the
blossoms from the bare boughs than the application to them of that
genial warmth which is ultimately derived from the solar beams? Thus the
fire-festival of the first Sunday in Lent, as it is observed in
Auvergne, may be interpreted very naturally and simply as a religious or
rather perhaps magical ceremony designed to procure a due supply of the
sun's heat for plants and animals. At the same time we should remember
that the employment of fire in this and kindred ceremonies may have been
designed originally, not so much to stimulate growth and reproduction,
as to burn and destroy all agencies, whether in the shape of vermin,
witches, or what not, which threatened or were supposed to threaten the
growth of the crops and the multiplication of animals. It is often
difficult to decide between these two different interpretations of the
use of fire in agricultural rites. In any case the fire-festival of
Auvergne on the first Sunday in Lent may date from Druidical times.

[French custom of carrying lighted torches (_brandons_) about the
orchards and fields to fertilize them on the first Sunday of Lent.]

The custom of carrying lighted torches of straw (_brandons_) about the
orchards and fields to fertilize them on the first Sunday of Lent seems
to have been common in France, whether it was accompanied with the
practice of kindling bonfires or not. Thus in the province of Picardy
"on the first Sunday of Lent people carried torches through the fields,
exorcising the field-mice, the darnel, and the smut. They imagined that
they did much good to the gardens and caused the onions to grow large.
Children ran about the fields, torch in hand, to make the land more
fertile. All that was done habitually in Picardy, and the ceremony of
the torches is not entirely forgotten, especially in the villages on
both sides the Somme as far as Saint-Valery."[279] "A very agreeable
spectacle, said the curate of l'Etoile, is to survey from the portal of
the church, situated almost on the top of the mountain, the vast plains
of Vimeux all illuminated by these wandering fires. The same pastime is
observed at Poix, at Conty, and in all the villages round about."[280]
Again, in the district of Beauce a festival of torches (_brandons_ or
_brandelons_) used to be held both on the first and on the second Sunday
in Lent; the first was called "the Great Torches" and the second "the
Little Torches." The torches were, as usual, bundles of straw wrapt
round poles. In the evening the village lads carried the burning brands
through the country, running about in disorder and singing,

      "_Torches burn
At these vines, at this wheat_;
       _Torches burn
For the maidens that shall wed_!"

From time to time the bearers would stand still and smite the earth all
together with the blazing straw of the torches, while they cried, "A
sheaf of a peck and a half!" (_Gearbe a boissiaux_). If two torchbearers
happened to meet each other on their rounds, they performed the same
ceremony and uttered the same words. When the straw was burnt out, the
poles were collected and a great bonfire made of them. Lads and lasses
danced round the flames, and the lads leaped over them. Afterwards it
was customary to eat a special sort of hasty-pudding made of wheaten
flour. These usages were still in vogue at the beginning of the
nineteenth century, but they have now almost disappeared. The peasants
believed that by carrying lighted torches through the fields they
protected the crops from field-mice, darnel, and smut.[281] "At Dijon,
in Burgundy, it is the custom upon the first Sunday in Lent to make
large fires in the streets, whence it is called Firebrand Sunday. This
practice originated in the processions formerly made on that day by the
peasants with lighted torches of straw, to drive away, as they called
it, the bad air from the earth."[282] In some parts of France, while the
people scoured the country with burning brands on the first Sunday in
Lent, they warned the fruit-trees that if they did not take heed and
bear fruit they would surely be cut down and cast into the fire.[283] On
the same day peasants in the department of Loiret used to run about the
sowed fields with burning torches in their hands, while they adjured the
field-mice to quit the wheat on pain of having their whiskers
burned.[284] In the department of Ain the great fires of straw and
faggots which are kindled in the fields at this time are or were
supposed to destroy the nests of the caterpillars.[285] At Verges, a
lonely village surrounded by forests between the Jura and the Combe
d'Ain, the torches used at this season were kindled in a peculiar
manner. The young people climbed to the top of a mountain, where they
placed three nests of straw in three trees. These nests being then set
on fire, torches made of dry lime-wood were lighted at them, and the
merry troop descended the mountain to their flickering light, and went
to every house in the village, demanding roasted peas and obliging all
couples who had been married within the year to dance.[286] In Berry, a
district of central France, it appears that bonfires are not lighted on
this day, but when the sun has set the whole population of the villages,
armed with blazing torches of straw, disperse over the country and scour
the fields, the vineyards, and the orchards. Seen from afar, the
multitude of moving lights, twinkling in the darkness, appear like
will-o'-the-wisps chasing each other across the plains, along the
hillsides, and down the valleys. While the men wave their flambeaus
about the branches of the fruit-trees, the women and children tie bands
of wheaten-straw round the tree-trunks. The effect of the ceremony is
supposed to be to avert the various plagues from which the fruits of the
earth are apt to suffer; and the bands of straw fastened round the stems
of the trees are believed to render them fruitful.[287] In the peninsula
of La Manche the Norman peasants used to spend almost the whole night of
the first Sunday in Lent rushing about the country with lighted torches
for the purpose, as they supposed, of driving away the moles and
field-mice; fires were also kindled on some of the dolmens.[288]

[Bonfires on the first Sunday in Lent in Germany and Austria; burning
the witch; burning discs thrown into the air; burning wheels rolled down
hill; bonfires on the first Sunday in Lent in Switzerland.]

In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland at the same season similar customs
have prevailed. Thus in the Eifel Mountains, Rhenish Prussia, on the
first Sunday in Lent young people used to collect straw and brushwood
from house to house. These they carried to an eminence and piled up
round a tall, slim beech-tree, to which a piece of wood was fastened at
right angles to form a cross. The structure was known as the "hut" or
"castle." Fire was set to it and the young people marched round the
blazing "castle" bareheaded, each carrying a lighted torch and praying
aloud. Sometimes a straw-man was burned in the "hut." People observed
the direction in which the smoke blew from the fire. If it blew towards
the corn-fields, it was a sign that the harvest would be abundant. On
the same day, in some parts of the Eifel, a great wheel was made of
straw and dragged by three horses to the top of a hill. Thither the
village boys marched at nightfall, set fire to the wheel, and sent it
rolling down the slope. Two lads followed it with levers to set it in
motion again, in case it should anywhere meet with a check. At
Oberstattfeld the wheel had to be provided by the young man who was last
married.[289] About Echternach in Luxemburg the same ceremony is called
"burning the witch"; while it is going on, the older men ascend the
heights and observe what wind is blowing, for that is the wind which
will prevail the whole year.[290] At Voralberg in the Tyrol, on the
first Sunday in Lent, a slender young fir-tree is surrounded with a pile
of straw and firewood. To the top of the tree is fastened a human figure
called the "witch," made of old clothes and stuffed with gunpowder. At
night the whole is set on fire and boys and girls dance round it,
swinging torches and singing rhymes in which the words "corn in the
winnowing-basket, the plough in the earth" may be distinguished.[291] In
Swabia on the first Sunday in Lent a figure called the "witch" or the
"old wife" or "winter's grandmother" is made up of clothes and fastened
to a pole. This is stuck in the middle of a pile of wood, to which fire
is applied. While the "witch" is burning, the young people throw blazing
discs into the air. The discs are thin round pieces of wood, a few
inches in diameter, with notched edges to imitate the rays of the sun or
stars. They have a hole in the middle, by which they are attached to the
end of a wand. Before the disc is thrown it is set on fire, the wand is
swung to and fro, and the impetus thus communicated to the disc is
augmented by dashing the rod sharply against a sloping board. The
burning disc is thus thrown off, and mounting high into the air,
describes a long fiery curve before it reaches the ground. A single lad
may fling up forty or fifty of these discs, one after the other. The
object is to throw them as high as possible. The wand by which they are
hurled must, at least in some parts of Swabia, be of hazel. Sometimes
the lads also leap over the fire brandishing lighted torches of
pine-wood. The charred embers of the burned "witch" and discs are taken
home and planted in the flaxfields the same night, in the belief that
they will keep vermin from the fields.[292] At Wangen, near Molsheim in
Baden, a like custom is observed on the first Sunday in Lent. The young
people kindle a bonfire on the crest of the mountain above the village;
and the burning discs which they hurl into the air are said to present
in the darkness the aspect of a continual shower of falling stars. When
the supply of discs is exhausted and the bonfire begins to burn low, the
boys light torches and run with them at full speed down one or other of
the three steep and winding paths that descend the mountain-side to the
village. Bumps, bruises, and scratches are often the result of their
efforts to outstrip each other in the headlong race.[293] In the Rhoen
Mountains, situated on the borders of Hesse and Bavaria, the people used
to march to the top of a hill or eminence on the first Sunday in Lent.
Children and lads carried torches, brooms daubed with tar, and poles
swathed in straw. A wheel, wrapt in combustibles, was kindled and rolled
down the hill; and the young people rushed about the fields with their
burning torches and brooms, till at last they flung them in a heap, and
standing round them, struck up a hymn or a popular song. The object of
running about the fields with the blazing torches was to "drive away the
wicked sower." Or it was done in honour of the Virgin, that she might
preserve the fruits of the earth throughout the year and bless
them.[294] In neighbouring villages of Hesse, between the Rhoen and the
Vogel Mountains, it is thought that wherever the burning wheels roll,
the fields will be safe from hail and storm.[295] At Konz on the
Moselle, on the Thursday before the first Sunday in Lent, the two guilds
of the butchers and the weavers used to repair to the Marxberg and there
set up an oak-tree with a wheel fastened to it. On the following Sunday
the people ascended the hill, cut down the oak, set fire to the wheel,
and sent both oak and wheel rolling down the hillside, while a guard of
butchers, mounted on horses, fired at the flaming wheel in its descent.
If the wheel rolled down into the Moselle, the butchers were rewarded
with a waggon-load of wine by the archbishop of Treves.[296]

[Burning discs thrown into the air.]

In Switzerland, also, it is or used to be customary to kindle bonfires
on high places on the evening of the first Sunday in Lent, and the day
is therefore popularly known as Spark Sunday. The custom prevailed, for
example, throughout the canton of Lucerne. Boys went about from house to
house begging for wood and straw, then piled the fuel on a conspicuous
mountain or hill round about a pole, which bore a straw effigy called
"the witch." At nightfall the pile was set on fire, and the young folks
danced wildly round it, some of them cracking whips or ringing bells;
and when the fire burned low enough, they leaped over it. This was
called "burning the witch." In some parts of the canton also they used
to wrap old wheels in straw and thorns, put a light to them, and send
them rolling and blazing down hill. The same custom of rolling lighted
wheels down hill is attested by old authorities for the cantons of
Aargau and Bale. The more bonfires could be seen sparkling and flaring
in the darkness, the more fruitful was the year expected to be; and the
higher the dancers leaped beside or over the fire, the higher, it was
thought, would grow the flax. In the district of Freiburg and at Birseck
in the district of Bale it was the last married man or woman who must
kindle the bonfire. While the bonfires blazed up, it was customary in
some parts of Switzerland to propel burning discs of wood through the
air by means of the same simple machinery which is used for the purpose
in Swabia. Each lad tried to send his disc fizzing and flaring through
the darkness as far as possible, and in discharging it he mentioned the
name of the person to whose honour it was dedicated. But in Praettigau
the words uttered in launching the fiery discs referred to the abundance
which was apparently expected to follow the performance of the ceremony.
Among them were, "Grease in the pan, corn in the fan, and the plough in
the earth!"[297]

[Connexion of these bonfires with the custom of "carrying out Death;"
effigies burnt on Shrove Tuesday.]

It seems hardly possible to separate from these bonfires, kindled on the
first Sunday in Lent, the fires in which, about the same season, the
effigy called Death is burned as part of the ceremony of "carrying out
Death." We have seen that at Spachendorf, in Austrian Silesia, on the
morning of Rupert's Day (Shrove Tuesday?), a straw-man, dressed in a fur
coat and a fur cap, is laid in a hole outside the village and there
burned, and that while it is blazing every one seeks to snatch a
fragment of it, which he fastens to a branch of the highest tree in his
garden or buries in his field, believing that this will make the crops
to grow better. The ceremony is known as the "burying of Death."[298]
Even when the straw-man is not designated as Death, the meaning of the
observance is probably the same; for the name Death, as I have tried to
shew, does not express the original intention of the ceremony. At Cobern
in the Eifel Mountains the lads make up a straw-man on Shrove Tuesday.
The effigy is formally tried and accused of having perpetrated all the
thefts that have been committed in the neighbourhood throughout the
year. Being condemned to death, the straw-man is led through the
village, shot, and burned upon a pyre. They dance round the blazing
pile, and the last bride must leap over it.[299] In Oldenburg on the
evening of Shrove Tuesday people used to make long bundles of straw,
which they set on fire, and then ran about the fields waving them,
shrieking, and singing wild songs. Finally they burned a straw-man on
the field.[300] In the district of Duesseldorf the straw-man burned on
Shrove Tuesday was made of an unthreshed sheaf of corn.[301] On the
first Monday after the spring equinox the urchins of Zurich drag a
straw-man on a little cart through the streets, while at the same time
the girls carry about a May-tree. When vespers ring, the straw-man is
burned.[302] In the district of Aachen on Ash Wednesday a man used to be
encased in peas-straw and taken to an appointed place. Here he slipped
quietly out of his straw casing, which was then burned, the children
thinking that it was the man who was being burned.[303] In the Val di
Ledro (Tyrol) on the last day of the Carnival a figure is made up of
straw and brushwood and then burned. The figure is called the Old Woman,
and the ceremony "burning the Old Woman."[304]

Sec. 2. _The Easter Fires_

[Fire-festivals on Easter Eve. Custom in Catholic countries of kindling
a holy new fire at the church on Easter Saturday; marvellous properties
ascribed to the embers of the fire; the burning of Judas.]

Another occasion on which these fire-festivals are held is Easter Eve,
the Saturday before Easter Sunday. On that day it has been customary in
Catholic countries to extinguish all the lights in the churches, and
then to make a new fire, sometimes with flint and steel, sometimes with
a burning-glass. At this fire is lit the great Paschal or Easter candle,
which is then used to rekindle all the extinguished lights in the
church. In many parts of Germany a bonfire is also kindled, by means of
the new fire, on some open space near the church. It is consecrated, and
the people bring sticks of oak, walnut, and beech, which they char in
the fire, and then take home with them. Some of these charred sticks are
thereupon burned at home in a newly-kindled fire, with a prayer that God
will preserve the homestead from fire, lightning, and hail. Thus every
house receives "new fire." Some of the sticks are kept throughout the
year and laid on the hearth-fire during heavy thunder-storms to prevent
the house from being struck by lightning, or they are inserted in the
roof with the like intention. Others are placed in the fields, gardens,
and meadows, with a prayer that God will keep them from blight and hail.
Such fields and gardens are thought to thrive more than others; the corn
and the plants that grow in them are not beaten down by hail, nor
devoured by mice, vermin, and beetles; no witch harms them, and the ears
of corn stand close and full. The charred sticks are also applied to the
plough. The ashes of the Easter bonfire, together with the ashes of the
consecrated palm-branches, are mixed with the seed at sowing. A wooden
figure called Judas is sometimes burned in the consecrated bonfire, and
even where this custom has been abolished the bonfire itself in some
places goes by the name of "the burning of Judas."[305]

[Easter fires in Bavaria and the Abruzzi.]

In the Hollertau, Bavaria, the young men used to light their lanterns at
the newly-kindled Easter candle in the church and then race to the
bonfire; he who reached it first set fire to the pile, and next day,
Easter Sunday, was rewarded at the church-door by the housewives, who
presented him with red eggs. Great was the jubilation while the effigy
of the traitor was being consumed in the flames. The ashes were
carefully collected and thrown away at sunrise in running water.[306] In
many parts of the Abruzzi, also, pious people kindle their fires on
Easter Saturday with a brand brought from the sacred new fire in the
church. When the brand has thus served to bless the fire on the domestic
hearth, it is extinguished, and the remainder is preserved, partly in a
cranny of the outer wall of the house, partly on a tree to which it is
tied. This is done for the purpose of guarding the homestead against
injury by storms. At Campo di Giove the people say that if you can get a
piece of one of the three holy candles which the priest lights from the
new fire, you should allow a few drops of the wax to fall into the crown
of your hat; for after that, if it should thunder and lighten, you have
nothing to do but to clap the hat on your head, and no flash of
lightning can possibly strike you.[307]

[Water as well as fire consecrated in the Abruzzi on Easter Saturday;
water consecrated in Calabria on Easter Saturday; water and fire
consecrated on Easter Saturday among the Germans of Bohemia; Easter
rites of fire and water at Hildesheim.]

Further, it deserves to be noted that in the Abruzzi water as well as
fire is, as it were, renewed and consecrated on Easter Saturday. Most
people fetch holy water on that day from the churches, and every member
of the family drinks a little of it, believing that it has power to
protect him or her against witchcraft, fever, and stomach-aches of all
sorts. And when the church bells ring again after their enforced
silence, the water is sprinkled about the house, and especially under
the beds, with the help of a palm-branch. Some of this blessed water is
also kept in the house for use in great emergencies, when there is no
time to fetch a priest; thus it may be employed to baptize a newborn
infant gasping for life or to sprinkle a sick man in the last agony;
such a sprinkling is reckoned equal to priestly absolution.[308] In
Calabria the customs with regard to the new water, as it is called, on
Easter Saturday are similar; it is poured into a new vessel, adorned
with ribbons and flowers, is blessed by the priest, and is tasted by
every one of the household, beginning with the parents. And when the air
vibrates with the glad music of the church bells announcing the
resurrection, the people sprinkle the holy water about the houses,
bidding in a loud voice all evil things to go forth and all good things
to come in. At the same time, to emphasize the exorcism, they knock on
doors, window-shutters, chests, and other domestic articles of
furniture. At Cetraro people who suffer from diseases of the skin bathe
in the sea at this propitious moment; at Pietro in Guarano they plunge
into the river on the night of Easter Saturday before Easter Sunday
dawns, and while they bathe they utter never a word. Moreover, the
Calabrians keep the "new water" as a sacred thing. They believe that it
serves as a protection against witchcraft if it is sprinkled on a fire
or a lamp, when the wood crackles or the wick sputters; for they regard
it as a bad omen when the fire talks, as they say.[309] Among the
Germans of Western Bohemia, also, water as well as fire is consecrated
by the priest in front of the church on Easter Saturday. People bring
jugs full of water to the church and set them beside the holy fire;
afterwards they use the water to sprinkle on the palm-branches which are
stuck in the fields. Charred sticks of the Judas fire, as it is
popularly called, are supposed to possess a magical and healing virtue;
hence the people take them home with them, and even scuffle with each
other for the still glowing embers in order to carry them, still
glimmering, to their houses and so obtain "the light" or "the holy
light."[310] At Hildesheim, also, and the neighbouring villages of
central Germany rites both of fire and water are or were till lately
observed at Easter. Thus on Easter night many people fetch water from
the Innerste river and keep it carefully, believing it to be a remedy
for many sorts of ailments both of man and beast. In the villages on the
Leine river servant men and maids used to go silently on Easter night
between the hours of eleven and twelve and silently draw water in
buckets from the river; they mixed the water with the fodder and the
drink of the cattle to make the animals thrive, and they imagined that
to wash in it was good for human beings. Many were also of opinion that
at the same mystic hour the water turned to wine as far as the crowing
of a cock could be heard, and in this belief they laid themselves flat
on their stomachs and kept their tongues in the water till the
miraculous change occurred, when they took a great gulp of the
transformed water. At Hildesheim, too, and the neighbouring villages
fires used to blaze on all the heights on Easter Eve; and embers taken
from the bonfires were dipped in the cattle troughs to benefit the
beasts and were kept in the houses to avert lightning.[311]

[New fire at Easter in Carinthia; consecration of fire and water by the
Catholic Church at Easter.]

In the Lesachthal, Carinthia, all the fires in the houses used to be
extinguished on Easter Saturday, and rekindled with a fresh fire brought
from the churchyard, where the priest had lit it by the friction of
flint and steel and had bestowed his blessing on it.[312] Such customs
were probably widespread. In a Latin poem of the sixteenth century,
written by a certain Thomas Kirchmeyer and translated into English by
Barnabe Googe, we read:--

"_On Easter Eve the fire all is quencht in every place,
And fresh againe from out the flint is fetcht with solemne grace:
The priest doth halow this against great daungers many one,
A brande whereof doth every man with greedie mind take home,
That when the fearefull storme appeares, or tempest black arise,
By lighting this he safe may be from stroke of hurtful skies:
A taper great, the Paschall namde, with musicke then they blesse,
And franckensence herein they pricke, for greater holynesse:
This burneth night and day as signe of Christ that conquerde hell,
As if so be this foolish toye suffiseth this to tell.
Then doth the Bishop or the Priest, the water halow straight,
That for their baptisme is reservde: for now no more of waight
Is that they usde the yeare before, nor can they any more,
Yong children christen with the same, as they have done before.
With wondrous pompe and furniture, amid the Church they go,
With candles, crosses, banners, Chrisme, and oyle appoynted tho:
Nine times about the font they marche, and on the saintes doe call,
Then still at length they stande, and straight the Priest begins withall,
And thrise the water doth he touche, and crosses thereon make,
Here bigge and barbrous wordes he speakes, to make the devill quake:
And holsome waters conjureth, and foolishly doth dresse,
Supposing holyar that to make, which God before did blesse:
And after this his candle than, he thrusteth in the floode,
And thrise he breathes thereon with breath, that stinkes of former foode:
And making here an ende, his Chrisme he poureth thereupon,
The people staring hereat stande, amazed every one;
Beleeving that great powre is given to this water here,
By gaping of these learned men, and such like trifling gere.
Therefore in vessels brought they draw, and home they carie some,
Against the grieves that to themselves, or to their beastes may come.
Then Clappers ceasse, and belles are set againe at libertee,
And herewithall the hungrie times of fasting ended bee."_[313]

It is said that formerly all the fires in Rome were lighted afresh from
the holy fire kindled in St. Peter's on Easter Saturday.[314]

[The new fire on Easter Saturday at Florence.]

In Florence the ceremony of kindling the new fire on Easter Eve is
peculiar. The holy flame is elicited from certain flints which are said
to have been brought by a member of the Pazzi family from the Holy Land.
They are kept in the church of the Holy Apostles on the Piazza del
Limbo, and on the morning of Easter Saturday the prior strikes fire from
them and lights a candle from the new flame. The burning candle is then
carried in solemn procession by the clergy and members of the
municipality to the high altar in the cathedral. A vast crowd has
meanwhile assembled in the cathedral and the neighbouring square to
witness the ceremony; amongst the spectators are many peasants drawn
from the surrounding country, for it is commonly believed that on the
success or failure of the ceremony depends the fate of the crops for the
year. Outside the door of the cathedral stands a festal car drawn by two
fine white oxen with gilded horns. The body of the car is loaded with a
pyramid of squibs and crackers and is connected by a wire with a pillar
set up in front of the high altar. The wire extends down the middle of
the nave at a height of about six feet from the ground. Beneath it a
clear passage is left, the spectators being ranged on either side and
crowding the vast interior from wall to wall. When all is ready, High
Mass is celebrated, and precisely at noon, when the first words of the
_Gloria_ are being chanted, the sacred fire is applied to the pillar,
which like the car is wreathed with fireworks. A moment more and a fiery
dove comes flying down the nave, with a hissing sound and a sputter of
sparks, between the two hedges of eager spectators. If all goes well,
the bird pursues its course along the wire and out at the door, and in
another moment a prolonged series of fizzes, pops and bangs announces to
the excited crowd in the cathedral that the fireworks on the car are
going off. Great is the joy accordingly, especially among the bumpkins,
who are now sure of an abundant harvest. But if, as sometimes happens,
the dove stops short in its career and fizzles out, revealing itself as
a stuffed bird with a packet of squibs tied to its tail, great is the
consternation, and deep the curses that issue from between the set teeth
of the clodhoppers, who now give up the harvest for lost. Formerly the
unskilful mechanician who was responsible for the failure would have
been clapped into gaol; but nowadays he is thought sufficiently punished
by the storm of public indignation and the loss of his pay. The disaster
is announced by placards posted about the streets in the evening; and
next morning the newspapers are full of gloomy prognostications.[315]

[The new fire and burning of Judas on Easter Saturday in Mexico.]

Some of these customs have been transported by the Catholic Church to
the New World. Thus in Mexico the new fire is struck from a flint early
in the morning of Easter Saturday, and a candle which has been lighted
at the sacred flame is carried through the church by a deacon shouting
"_Lumen Christi_." Meantime the whole city, we are informed, has been
converted into a vast place of execution. Ropes stretch across the
streets from house to house, and from every house dangles an effigy of
Judas, made of paper pulp. Scores or hundreds of them may adorn a single
street. They are of all shapes and sizes, grotesque in form and garbed
in strange attire, stuffed with gunpowder, squibs and crackers,
sometimes, too, with meat, bread, soap, candy, and clothing, for which
the crowd will scramble and scuffle while the effigies are burning.
There they hang grim, black, and sullen in the strong sunshine, greeted
with a roar of execration by the pious mob. A peal of bells from the
cathedral tower on the stroke of noon gives the signal for the
execution. At the sound a frenzy seizes the crowd. They throw themselves
furiously on the figures of the detested traitor, cut them down, hurl
them with curses into the fire, and fight and struggle with each other
in their efforts to tear the effigies to tatters and appropriate their
contents. Smoke, stink, sputter of crackers, oaths, curses, yells are
now the order of the day. But the traitor does not perish unavenged. For
the anatomy of his frame has been cunningly contrived so as in burning
to discharge volleys of squibs into his assailants; and the wounds and
burns with which their piety is rewarded form a feature of the morning's
entertainment. The English Jockey Club in Mexico used to improve on this
popular pastime by suspending huge figures of Judas, stuffed with copper
coins, from ropes in front of their clubhouse. These were ignited at the
proper moment and lowered within reach of the expectant rabble, and it
was the privilege of members of the club, seated in the balcony, to
watch the grimaces and to hear the shrieks of the victims, as they
stamped and capered about with the hot coppers sticking to their hands,
divided in their minds between an acute sense of pain and a thirst for
filthy lucre.[316]

[The burning of Judas at Easter in South America.]

Scenes of the same sort, though on a less ambitious scale, are witnessed
among the Catholics of South America on the same day. In Brazil the
mourning for the death of Christ ceases at noon on Easter Saturday and
gives place to an extravagant burst of joy at his resurrection. Shots
are fired everywhere, and effigies of Judas are hung on trees or dragged
about the streets, to be finally burned or otherwise destroyed.[317] In
the Indian villages scattered among the wild valleys of the Peruvian
Andes figures of the traitor, made of pasteboard and stuffed with squibs
and crackers, are hanged on gibbets before the door of the church on
Easter Saturday. Fire is set to them, and while they crackle and
explode, the Indians dance and shout for joy at the destruction of their
hated enemy.[318] Similarly at Rio Hacha, in Colombia, Judas is
represented during Holy Week by life-sized effigies, and the people fire
at them as if they were discharging a sacred duty.[319]

[The new fire on Easter Saturday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at

But usages of this sort are not confined to the Latin Church; they are
common to the Greek Church also. Every year on the Saturday before
Easter Sunday a new fire is miraculously kindled at the Holy Sepulchre
in Jerusalem. It descends from heaven and ignites the candles which the
patriarch holds in his hands, while with closed eyes he wrestles in
prayer all alone in the chapel of the Angel. The worshippers meanwhile
wait anxiously in the body of the church, and great are their transports
of joy when at one of the windows of the chapel, which had been all dark
a minute before, there suddenly appears the hand of an angel, or of the
patriarch, holding a lighted taper. This is the sacred new fire; it is
passed out to the expectant believers, and the desperate struggle which
ensues among them to get a share of its blessed influence is only
terminated by the intervention of the Turkish soldiery, who restore
peace and order by hustling the whole multitude impartially out of the
church. In days gone by many lives were often lost in these holy
scrimmages. For example, in the year 1834, the famous Ibrahim Pasha
witnessed the frantic scene from one of the galleries, and, being moved
with compassion at the sight, descended with a few guards into the arena
in the chimerical hope of restoring peace and order among the contending
Christians. He contrived to force his way into the midst of the dense
crowd, but there the heat and pressure were so great that he fainted
away; a body of soldiers, seeing his danger, charged straight into the
throng and carried him out of it in their arms, trampling under foot the
dying and dead in their passage. Nearly two hundred people were killed
that day in the church. The fortunate survivors on these occasions who
succeeded in obtaining a portion of the coveted fire applied it freely
to their faces, their beards, and their garments. The theory was that
the fire, being miraculous, could only bless and not burn them; but the
practical results of the experiment were often disappointing, for while
the blessings were more or less dubious, there could be no doubt
whatever about the burns.[320] The history of the miracle has been
carefully investigated by a Jesuit father. The conclusions at which he
arrives are that the miracle was a miracle indeed so long as the
Catholics had the management of it; but that since it fell into the
hands of the heretics it has been nothing but a barefaced trick and
imposture.[321] Many people will be disposed to agree with the latter
conclusion who might hesitate to accept the former.

[The new fire and the burning of Judas on Easter Saturday in Greece.]

At Athens the new fire is kindled in the cathedral at midnight on Holy
Saturday. A dense crowd with unlit candles in their hands fills the
square in front of the cathedral; the king, the archbishop, and the
highest dignitaries of the church, arrayed in their gorgeous robes,
occupy a platform; and at the exact moment of the resurrection the bells
ring out, and the whole square bursts as by magic into a blaze of light.
Theoretically all the candles are lit from the sacred new fire in the
cathedral, but practically it may be suspected that the matches which
bear the name of Lucifer have some share in the sudden
illumination.[322] Effigies of Judas used to be burned at Athens on
Easter Saturday, but the custom has been forbidden by the Government.
However, firing goes on more or less continuously all over the city both
on Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday, and the cartridges used on this
occasion are not always blank. The shots are aimed at Judas, but
sometimes they miss him and hit other people. Outside of Athens the
practice of burning Judas in effigy still survives in some places. For
example, in Cos a straw image of the traitor is made on Easter Day, and
after being hung up and shot at it is burned.[323] A similar custom
appears to prevail at Thebes;[324] it used to be observed by the
Macedonian peasantry, and it is still kept up at Therapia, a fashionable
summer resort of Constantinople.[325]

[The new fire at Candlemas in Armenia.]

In the Armenian Church the sacred new fire is kindled not at Easter but
at Candlemas, that is, on the second of February, or on the eve of that
festival. The materials of the bonfire are piled in an open space near a
church, and they are generally ignited by young couples who have been
married within the year. However, it is the bishop or his vicar who
lights the candles with which fire is set to the pile. All young married
pairs are expected to range themselves about the fire and to dance round
it. Young men leap over the flames, but girls and women content
themselves with going round them, while they pray to be preserved from
the itch and other skin-diseases. When the ceremony is over, the people
eagerly pick up charred sticks or ashes of the fire and preserve them or
scatter them on the four corners of the roof, in the cattle-stall, in
the garden, and on the pastures; for these holy sticks and ashes protect
men and cattle against disease, and fruit-trees against worms and
caterpillars. Omens, too, are drawn from the direction in which the wind
blows the flames and the smoke: if it carries them eastward, there is
hope of a good harvest; but if it inclines them westward, the people
fear that the crops will fail.[326]

[The new fire and the burning of Judas at Easter are probably relics of

In spite of the thin cloak of Christianity thrown over these customs by
representing the new fire as an emblem of Christ and the figure burned
in it as an effigy of Judas, we can hardly doubt that both practices are
of pagan origin. Neither of them has the authority of Christ or of his
disciples; but both of them have abundant analogies in popular custom
and superstition. Some instances of the practice of annually
extinguishing fires and relighting them from a new and sacred flame have
already come before us;[327] but a few examples may here be cited for
the sake of illustrating the wide diffusion of a custom which has found
its way into the ritual both of the Eastern and of the Western Church.

[The new fire at the summer solstice among the Incas of Peru;
the new fire among the Indians of Mexico and New Mexico; the new fire
among the Esquimaux.]

The Incas of Peru celebrated a festival called Raymi, a word which their
native historian Garcilasso de la Vega tells us was equivalent to our
Easter. It was held in honour of the sun at the solstice in June. For
three days before the festival the people fasted, men did not sleep with
their wives, and no fires were lighted in Cuzco, the capital. The sacred
new fire was obtained direct from the sun by concentrating his beams on
a highly polished concave plate and reflecting them on a little cotton
wool. With this holy fire the sheep and lambs offered to the sun were
consumed, and the flesh of such as were to be eaten at the festival was
roasted. Portions of the new fire were also conveyed to the temple of
the sun and to the convent of the sacred virgins, where they were kept
burning all the year, and it was an ill omen if the holy flame went
out.[328] At a festival held in the last month of the old Mexican year
all the fires both in the temples and in the houses were extinguished,
and the priest kindled a new fire by rubbing two sticks against each
other before the image of the fire-god.[329] The Zuni Indians of New
Mexico kindle a new fire by the friction of wood both at the winter and
the summer solstice. At the winter solstice the chosen fire-maker
collects a faggot of cedar-wood from every house in the village, and
each person, as he hands the wood to the fire-maker, prays that the
crops may be good in the coming year. For several days before the new
fire is kindled, no ashes or sweepings may be removed from the houses
and no artificial light may appear outside of them, not even a burning
cigarette or the flash of firearms. The Indians believe that no rain
will fall on the fields of the man outside whose house a light has been
seen at this season. The signal for kindling the new fire is given by
the rising of the Morning Star. The flame is produced by twirling an
upright stick between the hands on a horizontal stick laid on the floor
of a sacred chamber, the sparks being caught by a tinder of cedar-dust.
It is forbidden to blow up the smouldering tinder with the breath, for
that would offend the gods. After the fire has thus been ceremonially
kindled, the women and girls of all the families in the village clean
out their houses. They carry the sweepings and ashes in baskets or bowls
to the fields and leave them there. To the sweepings the woman says: "I
now deposit you as sweepings, but in one year you will return to me as
corn." And to the ashes she says: "I now deposit you as ashes, but in
one year you will return to me as meal." At the summer solstice the
sacred fire which has been procured by the friction of wood is used to
kindle the grass and trees, that there may be a great cloud of smoke,
while bull-roarers are swung and prayers offered that the Rain-makers up
aloft will water the earth.[330] From this account we see how intimately
the kindling of a new fire at the two turning-points of the sun's course
is associated in the minds of these Indians with the fertility of the
land, particularly with the growth of the corn. The rolling smoke is
apparently an imitation of rain-clouds designed, on the principle of
homoeopathic magic, to draw showers from the blue sky. Once a year the
Iroquois priesthood supplied the people with a new fire. As a
preparation for the annual rite the fires in all the huts were
extinguished and the ashes scattered about. Then the priest, wearing the
insignia of his office, went from hut to hut relighting the fires by
means of a flint.[331] Among the Esquimaux with whom C.F. Hall resided,
it was the custom that at a certain time, which answered to our New
Year's Day, two men went about from house to house blowing out every
light in the village. One of the men was dressed to represent a woman.
Afterwards the lights were rekindled from a fresh fire. An Esquimau
woman being asked what all this meant, replied, "New sun--new
light."[332] Among the Esquimaux of Iglulik, when the sun first rises
above the horizon after the long night of the Arctic winter, the
children who have watched for his reappearance run into the houses and
blow out the lamps. Then they receive from their mothers presents of
pieces of wick.[333]

[The new fire in Wadai, among the Swahili, and in other parts of

In the Sudanese kingdom of Wadai all the fires in the villages are put
out and the ashes removed from the houses on the day which precedes the
New Year festival. At the beginning of the new year a new fire is lit by
the friction of wood in the great straw hut where the village elders
lounge away the sultry hours together; and every man takes thence a
burning brand with which he rekindles the fire on his domestic
hearth.[334] In the Bahr-el-Ghazal province of the Egyptian Sudan the
people extinguish their old fires at the Arab New Year and bring in new
fire. On the same occasion they beat the walls of their huts, the grass
thatches, and the walls of their enclosures in order to drive away the
devil or evil spirits. The beating of the walls and roofs is accompanied
by the firing of guns, the shouting of men, and the shriller cries of
the women.[335] Thus these people combine an annual expulsion of demons
with an annual lighting of a new fire. Among the Swahili of East Africa
the greatest festival is that of the New Year, which falls in the second
half of August. At a given moment all the fires are extinguished with
water and afterwards relit by the friction of two dry pieces of wood.
The ashes of the old fires are carried out and deposited at cross-roads.
All the people get up very early in the morning and bathe in the sea or
some other water, praying to be kept in good health and to live that
they may bathe again next year. Sham-fights form part of the amusements
of the day; sometimes they pass into grim reality. Indeed the day was
formerly one of general license; every man did that which was good in
his own eyes. No awkward questions were asked about any crimes committed
on this occasion, so some people improved the shining hour by knocking a
few poor devils on the head. Shooting still goes on during the whole
day, and at night the proceedings generally wind up with a great
dance.[336] The King of Benametapa, as the early Portuguese traders
called him, in East Africa used to send commissioners annually to every
town in his dominions; on the arrival of one of these officers the
inhabitants of each town had to put out all their fires and to receive a
new fire from him. Failure to comply with this custom was treated as
rebellion.[337] Some tribes of British Central Africa carefully
extinguish the fires on the hearths at the beginning of the hoeing
season and at harvest; the fires are afterwards rekindled by friction,
and the people indulge in dances of various kinds.[338]

[The new fire among the Todas of Southern India and among the Nagas of
North-Eastern India.]

The Todas of the Neilgheny Hills, in Southern India, annually kindle a
sacred new fire by the friction of wood in the month which begins with
the October moon. The ceremony is performed by two holy dairymen at the
foot of a high hill. When they have lighted the fire by rubbing two dry
sticks together, and it begins to burn well, they stand a little way off
and pray, saying, "May the young grass flower! May honey flourish! May
fruit ripen!" The purpose of the ceremony is to make the grass and honey
plentiful. In ancient times the Todas lived largely on wild fruits, and
then the rite of the new fire was very important. Now that they subsist
chiefly on the milk of their buffaloes, the ceremony has lost much of
its old significance.[339] When the Nagas of North-Eastern India have
felled the timber and cut down the scrub in those patches of jungle
which they propose to cultivate, they put out all the fires in the
village and light a new fire by rubbing two dry pieces of wood together.
Then having kindled torches at it they proceed with them to the jungle
and ignite the felled timber and brushwood. The flesh of a cow or
buffalo is also roasted on the new fire and furnishes a sacrificial
meal.[340] Near the small town of Kahma in Burma, between Prome and
Thayetmyo, certain gases escape from a hollow in the ground and burn
with a steady flame during the dry season of the year. The people regard
the flame as the forge of a spectral smith who here carried on his
business after death had removed him from his old smithy in the village.
Once a year all the household fires in Kahma are extinguished and then
lighted afresh from the ghostly flame.[341]

[The new fire in China and Japan.]

In China every year, about the beginning of April, certain officials,
called _Sz'hueen_, used of old to go about the country armed with wooden
clappers. Their business was to summon the people and command them to
put out every fire. This was the beginning of a season called
_Han-shih-tsieh_, or "eating cold food." For three days all household
fires remained extinct as a preparation for the solemn renewal of the
fire, which took place on the fifth or sixth day of April, being the
hundred and fifth day after the winter solstice. The ceremony was
performed with great pomp by the same officials, who procured the new
fire from heaven by reflecting the sun's rays either from a metal mirror
or from a crystal on dry moss. Fire thus obtained is called by the
Chinese heavenly fire, and its use is enjoined in sacrifices; whereas
fire elicited by the friction of wood is termed by them earthly fire,
and its use is prescribed for cooking and other domestic purposes. When
once the new fire had thus been drawn from the sun, all the people were
free to rekindle their domestic hearths; and, as a Chinese distich has

"_At the festival of the cold food there are a thousand white stalks
    among the flowers;
On the day Tsing-ming, at sunrise, you may see the smoke of ten
thousand houses_."

According to a Chinese philosopher, the reason for thus renewing fire
periodically is that the vital principle grows weaker and weaker in old
fire, whereas in new fire it is young and vigorous. This annual renewal
of fire was a ceremony of very great antiquity in China, since it is
known to have been observed in the time of the first dynasty, about two
thousand years before Christ. Under the Tcheou dynasty a change in the
calendar led to shifting the fire-festival from spring to the summer
solstice, but afterwards it was brought back to its original date.
Although the custom appears to have long fallen into disuse, the
barbarous inhabitants of Hainan, an island to the south of China, still
call a year "a fire," as if in memory of the time when the years were
reckoned by the annually recurring ceremony of rekindling the sacred
fire.[342] "A Japanese book written two centuries ago informs us that
sticks resembling the wands used for offerings at the purification
ceremony were part shaven and set up in bundles at the four corners of
the Gion shrine on the last day of the year. The priests, after prayers
were recited, broke up the bundles and set fire to the sticks, which the
people then carried home to light their household fires with for the New
Year. The object of this ceremony was to avert pestilence."[343]

[The new fire in ancient Greece and Rome.]

In classical antiquity the Greek island of Lemnos was devoted to the
worship of the smith-god Hephaestus, who was said to have fallen on it
when Zeus hurled him from heaven.[344] Once a year every fire in the
island was extinguished and remained extinct for nine days, during which
sacrifices were offered to the dead and to the infernal powers. New fire
was brought in a ship from the sacred isle of Delos, and with it the
fires in the houses and the workshops were relit. The people said that
with the new fire they made a new beginning of life. If the ship that
bore the sacred flame arrived too soon, it might not put in to shore,
but had to cruise in the offing till the nine days were expired.[345] At
Rome the sacred fire in the temple of Vesta was kindled anew every year
on the first of March, which used to be the beginning of the Roman
year;[346] the task of lighting it was entrusted to the Vestal Virgins,
and they performed it by drilling a hole in a board of lucky wood till
the flame was elicited by friction. The new fire thus produced was
carried into the temple of Vesta by one of the virgins in a bronze

[The new fire at Hallow E'en among the old Celts of Ireland; the new
fire on September 1st among the Russian peasants.]

Among the Celts of Ireland a new fire was annually kindled on Hallowe'en
or the Eve of Samhain, as they called it, the last day of October, from
which the Irish new year began; and all the hearths throughout the
country are said to have been relighted from the fresh fire. The place
where this holy flame was lit bore the name of Tlachtga or Tlactga; it
has been identified with a rath or native fort on the Hill of Ward near
Athboy in the county of Meath. "It was there," says the old Irish
historian, Geoffrey Keating, "that the Festival of the Fire of Tlactga
was ordered to be held, and it was thither that the Druids of Ireland
were wont to repair and to assemble, in solemn meeting, on the eve of
Samhain, for the purpose of making a sacrifice to all the gods. It was
in that fire at Tlactga, that their sacrifice was burnt; and it was made
obligatory, under pain of punishment, to extinguish all the fires of
Ireland, on that eve; and the men of Ireland were allowed to kindle no
other fire but that one; and for each of the other fires, which were all
to be lighted from it, the king of Munster was to receive a tax of a
_sgreball_, that is, of three pence, because the land, upon which
Tlactga was built, belongs to the portion of Meath which had been taken
from Munster."[348] In the villages near Moscow at the present time the
peasants put out all their fires on the eve of the first of September,
and next morning at sunrise a wise man or a wise woman rekindles them
with the help of muttered incantations and spells.[349]

[Thus the ceremony of the new fire in the Eastern and Western Church is
probably a relic of an old heathen rite.]

Instances of such practices might doubtless be multiplied, but the
foregoing examples may suffice to render it probable that the
ecclesiastical ceremony of lighting a sacred new fire on Easter Saturday
had originally nothing to do with Christianity, but is merely one case
of a world-wide custom which the Church has seen fit to incorporate in
its ritual. It might be supposed that in the Western Church the custom
was merely a survival of the old Roman usage of renewing the fire on the
first of March, were it not that the observance by the Eastern Church of
the custom on the same day seems to point back to a still older period
when the ceremony of lighting a new fire in spring, perhaps at the
vernal equinox, was common to many peoples of the Mediterranean area. We
may conjecture that wherever such a ceremony has been observed, it
originally marked the beginning of a new year, as it did in ancient Rome
and Ireland, and as it still does in the Sudanese kingdom of Wadai and
among the Swahili of Eastern Africa.

[The pagan character of the Easter fire appears from the superstitions
associated with it, such as the belief that the fire fertilizes the
fields and protects houses from conflagration and sickness.]

The essentially pagan character of the Easter fire festival appears
plainly both from the mode in which it is celebrated by the peasants and
from the superstitious beliefs which they associate with it. All over
northern and central Germany, from Altmark and Anhalt on the east,
through Brunswick, Hanover, Oldenburg, the Harz district, and Hesse to
Westphalia the Easter bonfires still blaze simultaneously on the
hill-tops. As many as forty may sometimes be counted within sight at
once. Long before Easter the young people have been busy collecting
firewood; every farmer contributes, and tar-barrels, petroleum cases,
and so forth go to swell the pile. Neighbouring villages vie with each
other as to which shall send up the greatest blaze. The fires are always
kindled, year after year, on the same hill, which accordingly often
takes the name of Easter Mountain. It is a fine spectacle to watch from
some eminence the bonfires flaring up one after another on the
neighbouring heights. As far as their light reaches, so far, in the
belief of the peasants, the fields will be fruitful, and the houses on
which they shine will be safe from conflagration or sickness. At
Volkmarsen and other places in Hesse the people used to observe which
way the wind blew the flames, and then they sowed flax seed in that
direction, confident that it would grow well. Brands taken from the
bonfires preserve houses from being struck by lightning; and the ashes
increase the fertility of the fields, protect them from mice, and mixed
with the drinking-water of cattle make the animals thrive and ensure
them against plague. As the flames die down, young and old leap over
them, and cattle are sometimes driven through the smouldering embers. In
some places tar-barrels or wheels wrapt in straw used to be set on fire,
and then sent rolling down the hillside. In others the boys light
torches and wisps of straw at the bonfires and rush about brandishing
them in their hands. Where the people are divided between Protestantism
and Catholicism, as in Hildesheim, it has been observed that among
Protestants the Easter bonfires are generally left to the boys, while in
Catholic districts they are cared for by grown-up persons, and here the
whole population will gather round the blazing pile and join in singing
choral hymns, which echo far and wide in the stillness of night.[350]

[The Easter fires in Muensterland, Oldenburg, the Harz Mountains and the

In Muensterland these Easter fires are always kindled upon certain
definite hills, which are hence known as Easter or Paschal Mountains.
The whole community assembles about the fire. Fathers of families form
an inner circle round it. An outer circle is composed of the young men
and maidens, who, singing Easter hymns, march round and round the fire
in the direction of the sun, till the blaze dies down. Then the girls
jump over the fire in a line, one after the other, each supported by two
young men who hold her hands and run beside her. When the fire has
burned out, the whole assembly marches in solemn procession to the
church, singing hymns. They go thrice round the church, and then break
up. In the twilight boys with blazing bundles of straw run over the
fields to make them fruitful.[351] At Delmenhorst, in Oldenburg, it used
to be the custom to cut down two trees, plant them in the ground side by
side, and pile twelve tar-barrels, one above the other, against each of
the trees. Brushwood was then heaped about the trees, and on the evening
of Easter Saturday the boys, after rushing about with blazing beanpoles
in their hands, set fire to the whole. At the end of the ceremony the
urchins tried to blacken each other and the clothes of grown-up
people.[352] In Schaumburg the Easter bonfires may be seen blazing on
all the mountains around for miles. They are made with a tar-barrel
fastened to a pine-tree, which is wrapt in straw. The people dance
singing round them.[353] In the Harz Mountains the fire is commonly made
by piling brushwood about a tree and setting it on fire. At Osterode
every one tries to snatch a brand from the bonfire and runs about with
it; the better it burns, the more lucky it is. In Grund there are
torch-races.[354] In the Altmark the Easter bonfires are composed of
tar-barrels, bee-hives, and so forth, piled round a pole. The young folk
dance round the fire; and when it has died out, the old folk come and
collect the ashes, which they preserve as a remedy for the ailments of
bees. It is also believed that as far as the blaze of the bonfire is
visible, the corn will grow well throughout the year, and no
conflagration will break out.[355] At Braunroede, in the Harz Mountains,
it was the custom to burn squirrels in the Easter bonfire.[356] In the
Altmark, bones were burned in it.[357]

[The Easter fires in Bavaria; the burning of Judas; burning the Easter

Further south the Easter fires are, or used to be, lit in many districts
of Bavaria. Thus on Easter Monday in some parts of Middle Franken the
schoolboys collect all the old worn-out besoms they can lay hands on,
and march with them in a long procession to a neighbouring height. When
the first chime of the evening bell comes up from the dale they set fire
to the brooms, and run along the ridges waving them, so that seen from
below the hills appear to be crested with a twinkling and moving chain
of fire.[358] In some parts of Upper Bavaria at Easter burning arrows or
discs of wood were shot from hill-tops high into the air, as in the
Swabian and Swiss customs already described.[359] At Oberau, instead of
the discs, an old cart-wheel was sometimes wrapt in straw, ignited, and
sent rolling and blazing down the mountain. The lads who hurled the
discs received painted Easter eggs from the girls.[360] Near Forchheim,
in Upper Franken, a straw-man called the Judas used to be burned in the
churchyards on Easter Saturday. The whole village contributed wood to
the pyre on which he perished, and the charred sticks were afterwards
kept and planted in the fields on Walpurgis Day (the first of May) to
preserve the wheat from blight and mildew.[361] About a hundred years
ago or more the custom at Althenneberg, in Upper Bavaria, used to be as
follows. On the afternoon of Easter Saturday the lads collected wood,
which they piled in a cornfield, while in the middle of the pile they
set up a tall wooden cross all swathed in straw. After the evening
service they lighted their lanterns at the consecrated candle in the
church, and ran with them at full speed to the pyre, each striving to
get there first. The first to arrive set fire to the heap. No woman or
girl might come near the bonfire, but they were allowed to watch it from
a distance. As the flames rose the men and lads rejoiced and made merry,
shouting, "We are burning the Judas!" Two of them had to watch the
glowing embers the whole night long, lest people should come and steal
them. Next morning at sunrise they carefully collected the ashes, and
threw them into the running water of the Roeten brook. The man who had
been the first to reach the pyre and to kindle it was rewarded on Easter
Sunday by the women, who gave him coloured eggs at the church door.
Well-to-do women gave him two; poorer women gave him only one. The
object of the whole ceremony was to keep off the hail. About a century
ago the Judas fire, as it was called, was put down by the police.[362]
At Giggenhausen and Aufkirchen, two other villages of Upper Bavaria, a
similar custom prevailed, yet with some interesting differences. Here
the ceremony, which took place between nine and ten at night on Easter
Saturday, was called "burning the Easter Man." On a height about a mile
from the village the young fellows set up a tall cross enveloped in
straw, so that it looked like a man with his arms stretched out. This
was the Easter Man. No lad under eighteen years of age might take part
in the ceremony. One of the young men stationed himself beside the
Easter Man, holding in his hand a consecrated taper which he had brought
from the church and lighted. The rest stood at equal intervals in a
great circle round the cross. At a given signal they raced thrice round
the circle, and then at a second signal ran straight at the cross and at
the lad with the lighted taper beside it; the one who reached the goal
first had the right of setting fire to the Easter Man. Great was the
jubilation while he was burning. When he had been consumed in the
flames, three lads were chosen from among the rest, and each of the
three drew a circle on the ground with a stick thrice round the ashes.
Then they all left the spot. On Easter Monday the villagers gathered the
ashes and strewed them on their fields; also they planted in the fields
palm-branches which had been consecrated on Palm Sunday, and sticks
which had been charred and hallowed on Good Friday, all for the purpose
of protecting their fields against showers of hail. The custom of
burning an Easter Man made of straw on Easter Saturday was observed also
at Abensberg, in Lower Bavaria.[363] In some parts of Swabia the Easter
fires might not be kindled with iron or steel or flint, but only by the
friction of wood.[364]

[The Easter fires in Baden; "Thunder poles."]

In Baden bonfires are still kindled in the churchyards on Easter
Saturday, and ecclesiastical refuse of various sorts, such as
candle-ends, old surplices, and the wool used by the priest in the
application of extreme unction, is consumed in the flames. At Zoznegg
down to about 1850 the fire was lighted by the priest by means of a
flint which had never been used before. People bring sticks, especially
oaken sticks, char them in the fire, and then carry them home and keep
them in the house as a preservative against lightning. At Zoznegg these
oaken sticks were sword-shaped, each about an ell and a half long, and
they went by the name of "weather or thunder poles" (_Wetterpfaehle_).
When a thunderstorm threatened to break out, one of the sticks was put
into a small fire, in order that the hallowed smoke, ascending to the
clouds, might ward off the lightning from the house and the hail from
the fields and gardens. At Schoellbronn the oaken sticks, which are thus
charred in the Easter bonfire and kept in the house as a protective
against thunder and lightning, are three in number, perhaps with an
allusion to the Trinity; they are brought every Easter to be consecrated
afresh in the bonfire, till they are quite burnt away. In the lake
district of Baden it is also customary to burn one of these holy sticks
in the fire when a heavy thunderstorm is raging.[365] Hence it seems
that the ancient association of the oak with the thunder[366] persists
in the minds of German peasants to the present day.

[Easter fires in Holland and Sweden; the burning of Judas in Bohemia.]

Thus the custom of the Easter fires appears to have prevailed all over
central and western Germany from north to south. We find it also in
Holland, where the fires were kindled on the highest eminences, and the
people danced round them and leaped through the flames or over the
glowing embers. Here too, as so often in Germany, the materials for the
bonfire were collected by the young folk from door to door.[367] In many
parts of Sweden firearms are, as at Athens, discharged in all directions
on Easter eve, and huge bonfires are lighted on hills and eminences.
Some people think that the intention is to keep off the Troll and other
evil spirits who are especially active at this season.[368] When the
afternoon service on Good Friday is over, German children in Bohemia
drive Judas out of the church by running about the sacred edifice and
even the streets shaking rattles and clappers. Next day, on Easter
Saturday, the remains of the holy oil are burnt before the church door
in a fire which must be kindled with flint and steel. This fire is
called "the burning of Judas," but in spite of its evil name a
beneficent virtue is ascribed to it, for the people scuffle for the
cinders, which they put in the roofs of their houses as a safeguard
against fire and lightning.[369]

Sec. 3. _The Beltane Fires_

[The Beltane fires on the first of May in the Highlands of Scotland;
description of the Beltane fires by John Ramsay of Ochtertyre in the
eighteenth century.]

In the central Highlands of Scotland bonfires, known as the Beltane
fires, were formerly kindled with great ceremony on the first of May,
and the traces of human sacrifices at them were particularly clear and
unequivocal. The custom of lighting the bonfires lasted in various
places far into the eighteenth century, and the descriptions of the
ceremony by writers of that period present such a curious and
interesting picture of ancient heathendom surviving in our own country
that I will reproduce them in the words of their authors. The fullest of
the descriptions, so far as I know, is the one bequeathed to us by John
Ramsay, laird of Ochtertyre, near Crieff, the patron of Burns and the
friend of Sir Walter Scott. From his voluminous manuscripts, written in
the last quarter of the eighteenth century, a selection was published in
the latter part of the nineteenth century. The following account of
Beltane is extracted from a chapter dealing with Highland superstitions.
Ramsay says: "But the most considerable of the Druidical festivals is
that of Beltane, or May-day, which was lately observed in some parts of
the Highlands with extraordinary ceremonies. Of later years it is
chiefly attended to by young people, persons advanced in years
considering it as inconsistent with their gravity to give it any
countenance. Yet a number of circumstances relative to it may be
collected from tradition, or the conversation of very old people, who
witnessed this feast in their youth, when the ancient rites were better


"This festival is called in Gaelic _Beal-tene_--i.e., the fire of
Bel.... Like the other public worship of the Druids, the Beltane feast
seems to have been performed on hills or eminences. They thought it
degrading to him whose temple is the universe, to suppose that he would
dwell in any house made with hands. Their sacrifices were therefore
offered in the open air, frequently upon the tops of hills, where they
were presented with the grandest views of nature, and were nearest the
seat of warmth and order. And, according to tradition, such was the
manner of celebrating this festival in the Highlands within the last
hundred years. But since the decline of superstition, it has been
celebrated by the people of each hamlet on some hill or rising ground
around which their cattle were pasturing. Thither the young folks
repaired in the morning, and cut a trench, on the summit of which a seat
of turf was formed for the company. And in the middle a pile of wood or
other fuel was placed, which of old they kindled with _tein-eigin_--
i.e., forced-fire or _need-fire_. Although, for many years past, they
have been contented with common fire, yet we shall now describe the
process, because it will hereafter appear that recourse is still had to
the _tein-eigin_ upon extraordinary emergencies.

[Need-fire kindled by the friction of oak wood.]

"The night before, all the fires in the country were carefully
extinguished, and next morning the materials for exciting this sacred
fire were prepared. The most primitive method seems to be that which was
used in the islands of Skye, Mull, and Tiree. A well-seasoned plank of
oak was procured, in the midst of which a hole was bored. A wimble of
the same timber was then applied, the end of which they fitted to the
hole. But in some parts of the mainland the machinery was different.
They used a frame of green wood, of a square form, in the centre of
which was an axle-tree. In some places three times three persons, in
others three times nine, were required for turning round by turns the
axle-tree or wimble. If any of them had been guilty of murder, adultery,
theft, or other atrocious crime, it was imagined either that the fire
would not kindle, or that it would be devoid of its usual virtue. So
soon as any sparks were emitted by means of the violent friction, they
applied a species of agaric which grows on old birch-trees, and is very
combustible. This fire had the appearance of being immediately derived
from heaven, and manifold were the virtues ascribed to it. They esteemed
it a preservative against witchcraft, and a sovereign remedy against
malignant diseases, both in the human species and in cattle; and by it
the strongest poisons were supposed to have their nature changed.

[The Beltane cake and the Beltane carline (_cailleach_).]

"After kindling the bonfire with the _tein-eigin_ the company prepared
their victuals. And as soon as they had finished their meal, they amused
themselves a while in singing and dancing round the fire. Towards the
close of the entertainment, the person who officiated as master of the
feast produced a large cake baked with eggs and scalloped round the
edge, called _am bonnach beal-tine--i.e._ the Beltane cake. It was
divided into a number of pieces, and distributed in great form to the
company. There was one particular piece which whoever got was called
_cailleach beal-tine--i.e._, the Beltane _carline_, a term of great
reproach. Upon his being known, part of the company laid hold of him and
made a show of putting him into the fire; but the majority interposing,
he was rescued. And in some places they laid him flat on the ground,
making as if they would quarter him. Afterwards, he was pelted with
egg-shells, and retained the odious appellation during the whole year.
And while the feast was fresh in people's memory, they affected to speak
of the _cailleach beal-tine_ as dead.

"This festival was longest observed in the interior Highlands, for
towards the west coast the traces of it are faintest. In Glenorchy and
Lorne, a large cake is made on that day, which they consume in the
house; and in Mull it has a large hole in the middle, through which each
of the cows in the fold is milked. In Tiree it is of a triangular form.
The more elderly people remember when this festival was celebrated
without-doors with some solemnity in both these islands. There are at
present no vestiges of it in Skye or the Long Island, the inhabitants of
which have substituted the _connach Micheil_ or St. Michael's cake. It
is made at Michaelmas with milk and oatmeal, and some eggs are sprinkled
on its surface. Part of it is sent to the neighbours.

"It is probable that at the original Beltane festival there were two
fires kindled near one another. When any person is in a critical
dilemma, pressed on each side by unsurmountable difficulties, the
Highlanders have a proverb, _The e' eada anda theine bealtuin_--i.e., he
is between the two Beltane fires. There are in several parts small round
hills, which, it is like, owe their present names to such solemn uses.
One of the highest and most central in Icolmkil is called
_Cnoch-nan-ainneal_--i.e., the hill of the fires. There is another of
the same name near the kirk of Balquhidder; and at Killin there is a
round green eminence which seems to have been raised by art. It is
called _Tom-nan-ainneal_--i.e., the eminence of the fires. Around it
there are the remains of a circular wall about two feet high. On the top
a stone stands upon end. According to the tradition of the inhabitants,
it was a place of Druidical worship; and it was afterwards pitched on as
the most venerable spot for holding courts of justice for the country of
Breadalbane. The earth of this eminence is still thought to be possessed
of some healing virtue, for when cattle are observed to be diseased some
of it is sent for, which is rubbed on the part affected."[370]

[Local differences in the Beltane cakes; evidence of two fires at
Beltane; Beltane pies and cakes in the parish of Callander.]

In the parish of Callander, a beautiful district of western Perthshire,
the Beltane custom was still in vogue towards the end of the eighteenth
century. It has been described as follows by the parish minister of the
time: "Upon the first day of May, which is called _Beltan_, or
_Bal-tein_ day, all the boys in a township or hamlet, meet in the moors.
They cut a table in the green sod, of a round figure, by casting a
trench in the ground, of such circumference as to hold the whole
company. They kindle a fire, and dress a repast of eggs and milk in the
consistence of a custard. They knead a cake of oatmeal, which is toasted
at the embers against a stone. After the custard is eaten up, they
divide the cake into so many portions, as similar as possible to one
another in size and shape, as there are persons in the company. They
daub one of these portions all over with charcoal, until it be perfectly
black. They put all the bits of the cake into a bonnet. Every one,
blindfold, draws out a portion. He who holds the bonnet, is entitled to
the last bit. Whoever draws the black bit, is the _devoted_ person who
is to be sacrificed to _Baal_[371] whose favour they mean to implore, in
rendering the year productive of the sustenance of man and beast. There
is little doubt of these inhuman sacrifices having been once offered in
this country, as well as in the east, although they now pass from the
act of sacrificing, and only compel the _devoted_ person to leap three
times through the flames; with which the ceremonies of this festival are

[Pennant's description of the Beltane fires and cakes in Perthshire.]

Thomas Pennant, who travelled in Perthshire in the year 1769, tells us
that "on the first of May, the herdsmen of every village hold their
Bel-tien, a rural sacrifice. They cut a square trench on the ground,
leaving the turf in the middle; on that they make a fire of wood, on
which they dress a large caudle of eggs, butter, oatmeal and milk; and
bring besides the ingredients of the caudle, plenty of beer and whisky;
for each of the company must contribute something. The rites begin with
spilling some of the caudle on the ground, by way of libation: on that
every one takes a cake of oatmeal, upon which are raised nine square
knobs, each dedicated to some particular being, the supposed preserver
of their flocks and herds, or to some particular animal, the real
destroyer of them: each person then turns his face to the fire, breaks
off a knob, and flinging it over his shoulders, says, 'This I give to
thee, preserve thou my horses; this to thee, preserve thou my sheep; and
so on,' After that, they use the-same ceremony to the noxious animals:
'This I give to thee, O fox! spare thou my lambs; this to thee, O hooded
crow! this to thee, O eagle!' When the ceremony is over, they dine on
the caudle; and after the feast is finished, what is left is hid by two
persons deputed for that purpose; but on the next Sunday they
re-assemble, and finish the reliques of the first entertainment"[373]

[Beltane cakes and fires in the parishes of Logierait and Kirkmichael;
omens drawn from the cakes.]

Another writer of the eighteenth century has described the Beltane
festival as it was held in the parish of Logierait in Perthshire. He
says: "On the first of May, O.S., a festival called _Beltan_ is annually
held here. It is chiefly celebrated by the cow-herds, who assemble by
scores in the fields, to dress a dinner for themselves, of boiled milk
and eggs. These dishes they eat with a sort of cakes baked for the
occasion, and having small lumps in the form of _nipples_, raised all
over the surface."[374] In this last account no mention is made of
bonfires, but they were probably lighted, for a contemporary writer
informs us that in the parish of Kirkmichael, which adjoins the parish
of Logierait on the east, the custom of lighting a fire in the fields
and baking a consecrated cake on the first of May was not quite obsolete
in his time.[375] We may conjecture that the cake with knobs was
formerly used for the purpose of determining who should be the "Beltane
carline" or victim doomed to the flames. A trace of this custom
survived, perhaps, in the custom of baking oatmeal cakes of a special
kind and rolling them down hill about noon on the first of May; for it
was thought that the person whose cake broke as it rolled would die or
be unfortunate within the year. These cakes, or bannocks as we call them
in Scotland, were baked in the usual way, but they were washed over with
a thin batter composed of whipped egg, milk or cream, and a little
oatmeal. This custom appears to have prevailed at or near Kingussie in
Inverness-shire. At Achterneed, near Strathpeffer in Ross-shire, the
Beltane bannocks were called _tcharnican_ or hand-cakes, because they
were kneaded entirely in the hand, and not on a board or table like
common cakes; and after being baked they might not be placed anywhere
but in the hands of the children who were to eat them.[376]

[Beltane fires in the north-east of Scotland to burn the witches; the
Beltane cake.]

In the north-east of Scotland the Beltane fires were still kindled in
the latter half of the eighteenth century; the herdsmen of several farms
used to gather dry wood, kindle it, and dance three times "southways"
about the burning pile.[377] But in this region, according to a later
authority, the Beltane fires were lit not on the first but on the second
of May, Old Style. They were called bone-fires. The people believed that
on that evening and night the witches were abroad and busy casting
spells on cattle and stealing cows' milk. To counteract their
machinations, pieces of rowan-tree and woodbine, but especially of
rowan-tree, were placed over the doors of the cow-houses, and fires were
kindled by every farmer and cottar. Old thatch, straw, furze, or broom
was piled in a heap and set on fire a little after sunset. While some of
the bystanders kept tossing the blazing mass, others hoisted portions of
it on pitchforks or poles and ran hither and thither, holding them as
high as they could. Meantime the young people danced round the fire or
ran through the smoke shouting, "Fire! blaze and burn the witches; fire!
fire! burn the witches." In some districts a large round cake of oat or
barley meal was rolled through the ashes. When all the fuel was
consumed, the people scattered the ashes far and wide, and till the
night grew quite dark they continued to run through them, crying, "Fire!
burn the witches."[378]

[Beltane cakes and fires in the Hebrides.]

In the Hebrides "the Beltane bannock is smaller than that made at St.
Michael's, but is made in the same way; it is no longer made in Uist,
but Father Allan remembers seeing his grandmother make one about
twenty-five years ago. There was also a cheese made, generally on the
first of May, which was kept to the next Beltane as a sort of charm
against the bewitching of milk-produce. The Beltane customs seem to have
been the same as elsewhere. Every fire was put out and a large one lit
on the top of the hill, and the cattle driven round it sunwards
(_dessil_), to keep off murrain all the year. Each man would take home
fire wherewith to kindle his own."[379]

[Beltane fires and cakes in Wales.]

In Wales also the custom of lighting Beltane fires at the beginning of
May used to be observed, but the day on which they were kindled varied
from the Eve of May Day to the third of May. The flame was sometimes
elicited by the friction of two pieces of oak, as appears from the
following description. "The fire was done in this way. Nine men would
turn their pockets inside out, and see that every piece of money and all
metals were off their persons. Then the men went into the nearest woods,
and collected sticks of nine different kinds of trees. These were
carried to the spot where the fire had to be built. There a circle was
cut in the sod, and the sticks were set crosswise. All around the circle
the people stood and watched the proceedings. One of the men would then
take two bits of oak, and rub them together until a flame was kindled.
This was applied to the sticks, and soon a large fire was made.
Sometimes two fires were set up side by side. These fires, whether one
or two, were called _coelcerth_ or bonfire. Round cakes of oatmeal and
brown meal were split in four, and placed in a small flour-bag, and
everybody present had to pick out a portion. The last bit in the bag
fell to the lot of the bag-holder. Each person who chanced to pick up a
piece of brown-meal cake was compelled to leap three times over the
flames, or to run thrice between the two fires, by which means the
people thought they were sure of a plentiful harvest. Shouts and screams
of those who had to face the ordeal could be heard ever so far, and
those who chanced to pick the oatmeal portions sang and danced and
clapped their hands in approval, as the holders of the brown bits leaped
three times over the flames, or ran three times between the two fires.
As a rule, no danger attended these curious celebrations, but
occasionally somebody's clothes caught fire, which was quickly put out.
The greatest fire of the year was the eve of May, or May first, second,
or third. The Midsummer Eve fire was more for the harvest. Very often a
fire was built on the eve of November. The high ground near the Castle
Ditches at Llantwit Major, in the Vale of Glamorgan, was a familiar spot
for the Beltane on May third and on Midsummer Eve.... Sometimes the
Beltane fire was lighted by the flames produced by stone instead of wood
friction. Charred logs and faggots used in the May Beltane were
carefully preserved, and from them the next fire was lighted. May fires
were always started with old faggots of the previous year, and midsummer
from those of the last summer. It was unlucky to build a midsummer fire
from May faggots. People carried the ashes left after these fires to
their homes, and a charred brand was not only effectual against
pestilence, but magical in its use. A few of the ashes placed in a
person's shoes protected the wearer from any great sorrow or woe."[380]

[Welsh belief that passage over or between the fires ensured good

From the foregoing account we learn that bonfires were kindled in Wales
on Midsummer Eve and Hallowe'en (the thirty-first of October), as well
as at the beginning of May, but that the Beltane fires in May were
deemed the most important. To the Midsummer Eve and Hallowe'en fires we
shall return presently. The belief of the people that by leaping thrice
over the bonfires or running thrice between them they ensured a
plentiful harvest is worthy of note. The mode in which this result was
supposed to be brought about is indicated by another writer on Welsh
folk-lore, according to whom it used to be held that "the bonfires
lighted in May or Midsummer protected the lands from sorcery, so that
good crops would follow. The ashes were also considered valuable as
charms."[381] Hence it appears that the heat of the fires was thought to
fertilize the fields, not directly by quickening the seeds in the
ground, but indirectly by counteracting the baleful influence of
witchcraft or perhaps by burning up the persons of the witches.

[Beltane fires in the Isle of Man to burn the witches; Beltane fires in

"The Druidical anniversary of Beil or Baal is still celebrated in the
Isle of Man. On the first of May, 1837, the Baal fires were, as usual on
that day, so numerous as to give the island the appearance of a general
conflagration."[382] By May Day in Manx folk-lore is meant May Day Old
Style, or _Shenn Laa Boaldyn_, as it is called in Manx. The day was one
on which the power of elves and witches was particularly dreaded, and
the people resorted to many precautions in order to protect themselves
against these mischievous beings. Hence at daybreak they set fire to the
ling or gorse, for the purpose of burning out the witches, who are wont
to lurk in the form of hares.[383] On the Hemlock Stone, a natural
pillar of sandstone standing on Stapleford Hill in Nottinghamshire, a
fire used to be solemnly kindled every year on Beltane Eve. The custom
seems to have survived down to the beginning of the nineteenth century;
old people could remember and describe the ceremony long after it had
fallen into desuetude.[384]

[Beltane fires in Ireland.]

The Beltane fires appear to have been kindled also in Ireland, for
Cormac, "or somebody in his name, says that _belltaine_, May-day, was so
called from the 'lucky fire,' or the 'two fires,' which the druids of
Erin used to make on that day with great incantations; and cattle, he
adds, used to be brought to those fires, or to be driven between them,
as a safeguard against the diseases of the year."[385] Again, a very
ancient Irish poem, enumerating the May Day celebrations, mentions among
them a bonfire on a hill (_tendal ar cnuc_); and another old authority
says that these fires were kindled in the name of the idol-god Bel.[386]
From an old life of St. Patrick we learn that on a day in spring the
heathen of Ireland were wont to extinguish all their fires until a new
fire was kindled with solemn ceremony in the king's house at Tara. In
the year in which St. Patrick landed in Ireland it chanced that the
night of the extinguished fires coincided with the Eve of Easter; and
the saint, ignorant of this pagan superstition, resolved to celebrate
his first Easter in Ireland after the true Christian fashion by lighting
the holy Paschal fire on the hill of Slane, which rises high above the
left bank of the Boyne, about twelve miles from the mouth of the river.
So that night, looking from his palace at Tara across the darkened
landscape, the king of Tara saw the solitary fire flaring on the top of
the hill of Slane, and in consternation he asked his wise men what that
light meant. They warned him of the danger that it betokened for the
ancient faith of Erin.[387] In spite of the difference of date between
Easter and Beltane, we may suspect that the new fire annually kindled
with solemn ceremony about Easter in the king of Ireland's palace at
Tara was no other than the Beltane fire. We have seen that in the
Highlands of Scotland down to modern times it was customary to
extinguish all fires in the neighbourhood before proceeding to kindle
the sacred flame.[388] The Irish historian Geoffrey Keating, who wrote
in the first part of the seventeenth century, tells us that the men of
Ireland held a great fair every year in the month of May at Uisnech
(_Ushnagh_) in the county of Meath, "and at it they were wont to
exchange their goods and their wares and their jewels. At it, they were,
also, wont to make a sacrifice to the Arch-God that they adored, whose
name was Bel (_bayl_). It was, likewise, their usage to light two fires
to Bel, in every district of Ireland, at this season, and to drive a
pair of each kind of cattle that the district contained, between those
two fires, as a preservative to guard them against all the diseases of
that year. It is from that fire, thus made in honour of Bel, that the
day [the first of May] on which the noble feast of the apostles, Philip
and James, is held, has been called Beltaini, or Bealtaine
(_Bayltinnie_); for Beltaini is the same as Beil-teine, i.e. Teine Bheil
(_Tinnie Vayl_) or Bel's Fire."[389] The custom of driving cattle
through or between fires on May Day or the eve of May Day persisted in
Ireland down to a time within living memory. Thus Sir John Rhys was
informed by a Manxman that an Irish cattle-dealer of his acquaintance
used to drive his cattle through fire on May Day so as to singe them a
little, since he believed that it would preserve them from harm. When
the Manxman was asked where the dealer came from, he answered, "From the
mountains over there," pointing to the Mourne Mountains then looming
faintly in the mists on the western horizon.[390]

[Fires on the Eve of May Day in Sweden; fires on the Eve of May Day in
Austria and Saxony for the purpose of burning the witches.]

The first of May is a great popular festival in the more midland and
southern parts of Sweden. On the eve of the festival, huge bonfires,
which should be lighted by striking two flints together, blaze on all
the hills and knolls. Every large hamlet has its own fire, round which
the young people dance in a ring. The old folk notice whether the flames
incline to the north or to the south. In the former case, the spring
will be cold and backward; in the latter, it will be mild and
genial.[391] Similarly, in Bohemia, on the eve of May Day, young people
kindle fires on hills and eminences, at crossways, and in pastures, and
dance round them. They leap over the glowing embers or even through the
flames. The ceremony is called "burning the witches." In some places an
effigy representing a witch used to be burnt in the bonfire.[392] We
have to remember that the eve of May Day is the notorious Walpurgis
Night, when the witches are everywhere speeding unseen through the air
on their hellish errands. On this witching night children in Voigtland
also light bonfires on the heights and leap over them. Moreover, they
wave burning brooms or toss them into the air. So far as the light of
the bonfire reaches, so far will a blessing rest on the fields. The
kindling of the fires on Walpurgis Night is called "driving away the
witches."[393] The custom of kindling fires on the eve of May Day
(Walpurgis Night) for the purpose of burning the witches is, or used to
be, widespread in the Tyrol, Moravia, Saxony and Silesia.[394]

Sec. 4. _The Midsummer Fires_

[The great season for fire-festivals in Europe is the summer solstice,
Midsummer Eve or Midsummer Day, which the church has dedicated to St.
John the Baptist; the bonfires, the torches, and the burning wheels of
the festival.]

But the season at which these fire-festivals have been mostly generally
held all over Europe is the summer solstice, that is Midsummer Eve (the
twenty-third of June) or Midsummer Day (the twenty-fourth of June). A
faint tinge of Christianity has been given to them by naming Midsummer
Day after St. John the Baptist, but we cannot doubt that the celebration
dates from a time long before the beginning of our era. The summer
solstice, or Midsummer Day, is the great turning-point in the sun's
career, when, after climbing higher and higher day by day in the sky,
the luminary stops and thenceforth retraces his steps down the heavenly
road. Such a moment could not but be regarded with anxiety by primitive
man so soon as he began to observe and ponder the courses of the great
lights across the celestial vault; and having still to learn his own
powerlessness in face of the vast cyclic changes of nature, he may have
fancied that he could help the sun in his seeming decline--could prop
his failing steps and rekindle the sinking flame of the red lamp in his
feeble hand. In some such thoughts as these the midsummer festivals of
our European peasantry may perhaps have taken their rise. Whatever their
origin, they have prevailed all over this quarter of the globe, from
Ireland on the west to Russia on the east, and from Norway and Sweden on
the north to Spain and Greece on the south.[395] According to a mediaeval
writer, the three great features of the midsummer celebration were the
bonfires, the procession with torches round the fields, and the custom
of rolling a wheel. He tells us that boys burned bones and filth of
various kinds to make a foul smoke, and that the smoke drove away
certain noxious dragons which at this time, excited by the summer heat,
copulated in the air and poisoned the wells and rivers by dropping their
seed into them; and he explains the custom of trundling a wheel to mean
that the sun, having now reached the highest point in the ecliptic,
begins thenceforward to descend.[396]

[T. Kirchmeyer's description of the Midsummer Festival.]

A good general account of the midsummer customs, together with some of
the reasons popularly alleged for observing them, is given by Thomas
Kirchmeyer, a writer of the sixteenth century, in his poem _The Popish

"_Then doth the joyfull feast of John the Baptist take his turne,
When bonfiers great with loftie flame, in every towne doe burne;
And yong men round about with maides, doe daunce in every streete,
With garlands wrought of Motherwort, or else with Vervain sweete,
And many other flowres faire, with Violets in their handes,
Whereas they all do fondly thinke, that whosoever standes,
And thorow the flowres beholds the flame, his eyes shall feele no paine.
When thus till night they daunced have, they through the fire amaine
With striving mindes doe runne, and all their hearbes they cast therin,
And then with wordes devout and prayers, they solemnely begin,
Desiring God that all their illes may there consumed bee,
Whereby they thinke through all that yeare from Agues to be free.
Some others get a rotten wheele, all worne and cast aside,
Which covered round about with strawe, and tow, they closely hide:
And caryed to some mountaines top, being all with fire light,
They hurle it downe with violence, when darke appeares the night:
Resembling much the Sunne, that from the heavens downe should fal,
A straunge and monstrous sight it seemes, and fearfull to them all;
But they suppose their mischiefes all are likewise throwne to hell,
And that from harmes and daungers now, in safetie here they dwell_."[397]

From these general descriptions, which to some extent still hold good,
or did so till lately, we see that the main features of the midsummer
fire-festival resemble those which we have found to characterize the
vernal festivals of fire. The similarity of the two sets of ceremonies
will plainly appear from the following examples.

[The Midsummer fires in Germany; the celebration at Konz on the Moselle:
the rolling of a burning wheel down hill.]

A writer of the first half of the sixteenth century informs us that in
almost every village and town of Germany public bonfires were kindled on
the Eve of St. John, and young and old, of both sexes, gathered about
them and passed the time in dancing and singing. People on this occasion
wore chaplets of mugwort and vervain, and they looked at the fire
through bunches of larkspur which they held in their hands, believing
that this would preserve their eyes in a healthy state throughout the
year. As each departed, he threw the mugwort and vervain into the fire,
saying, "May all my ill-luck depart and be burnt up with these."[398] At
Lower Konz, a village prettily situated on a hillside overlooking the
Moselle, in the midst of a wood of walnut-trees and fruit-trees, the
midsummer festival used to be celebrated as follows. A quantity of straw
was collected on the top of the steep Stromberg Hill. Every inhabitant,
or at least every householder, had to contribute his share of straw to
the pile; a recusant was looked at askance, and if in the course of the
year he happened to break a leg or lose a child, there was not a gossip
in the village but knew the reason why. At nightfall the whole male
population, men and boys, mustered on the top of the hill; the women and
girls were not allowed to join them, but had to take up their position
at a certain spring half-way down the slope. On the summit stood a huge
wheel completely encased in some of the straw which had been jointly
contributed by the villagers; the rest of the straw was made into
torches. From each side of the wheel the axle-tree projected about three
feet, thus furnishing handles to the lads who were to guide it in its
descent. The mayor of the neighbouring town of Sierck, who always
received a basket of cherries for his services, gave the signal; a
lighted torch was applied to the wheel, and as it burst into flame, two
young fellows, strong-limbed and swift of foot, seized the handles and
began running with it down the slope. A great shout went up. Every man
and boy waved a blazing torch in the air, and took care to keep it
alight so long as the wheel was trundling down the hill. Some of them
followed the fiery wheel, and watched with amusement the shifts to which
its guides were put in steering it round the hollows and over the broken
ground on the mountainside. The great object of the young men who guided
the wheel was to plunge it blazing into the water of the Moselle; but
they rarely succeeded in their efforts, for the vineyards which cover
the greater part of the declivity impeded their progress, and the wheel
was often burned out before it reached the river. As it rolled past the
women and girls at the spring, they raised cries of joy which were
answered by the men on the top of the mountain; and the shouts were
echoed by the inhabitants of neighbouring villages who watched the
spectacle from their hills on the opposite bank of the Moselle. If the
fiery wheel was successfully conveyed to the bank of the river and
extinguished in the water, the people looked for an abundant vintage
that year, and the inhabitants of Konz had the right to exact a
waggon-load of white wine from the surrounding vineyards. On the other
hand, they believed that, if they neglected to perform the ceremony, the
cattle would be attacked by giddiness and convulsions and would dance in
their stalls.[399]

[The Midsummer fires in Bavaria; Cattle driven through the fire; the new
fire; omens of the harvest drawn from the fires; burning discs thrown
into the air.]

Down at least to the middle of the nineteenth century the midsummer
fires used to blaze all over Upper Bavaria. They were kindled especially
on the mountains, but also far and wide in the lowlands, and we are told
that in the darkness and stillness of night the moving groups, lit up by
the flickering glow of the flames, presented an impressive spectacle. In
some places the people shewed their sense of the sanctity of the fires
by using for fuel the trees past which the gay procession had defiled,
with fluttering banners, on Corpus Christi Day. In others the children
collected the firewood from door to door on the eve of the festival,
singing their request for fuel at every house in doggerel verse. Cattle
were driven through the fire to cure the sick animals and to guard such
as were sound against plague and harm of every kind throughout the year.
Many a householder on that day put out the fire on the domestic hearth
and rekindled it by means of a brand taken from the midsummer bonfire.
The people judged of the height to which the flax would grow in the year
by the height to which the flames of the bonfire rose; and whoever
leaped over the burning pile was sure not to suffer from backache in
reaping the corn at harvest. But it was especially the practice for
lovers to spring over the fire hand in hand, and the way in which each
couple made the leap was the subject of many a jest and many a
superstition. In one district the custom of kindling the bonfires was
combined with that of lighting wooden discs and hurling them in the air
after the manner which prevails at some of the spring festivals.[400] In
many parts of Bavaria it was believed that the flax would grow as high
as the young people leaped over the fire.[401] In others the old folk
used to plant three charred sticks from the bonfire in the fields,
believing that this would make the flax grow tall.[402] Elsewhere an
extinguished brand was put in the roof of the house to protect it
against fire. In the towns about Wuerzburg the bonfires used to be
kindled in the market-places, and the young people who jumped over them
wore garlands of flowers, especially of mugwort and vervain, and carried
sprigs of larkspur in their hands. They thought that such as looked at
the fire holding a bit of larkspur before their face would be troubled
by no malady of the eyes throughout the year.[403] Further, it was
customary at Wuerzburg, in the sixteenth century, for the bishop's
followers to throw burning discs of wood into the air from a mountain
which overhangs the town. The discs were discharged by means of flexible
rods, and in their flight through the darkness presented the appearance
of fiery dragons.[404]

[The Midsummer fires in Swabia; omens drawn from the leaps over the
fires; burning wheels rolled down hill; burning the Angel-Man at

In the valley of the Lech, which divides Upper Bavaria from Swabia, the
midsummer customs and beliefs are, or used to be, very similar. Bonfires
are kindled on the mountains on Midsummer Day; and besides the bonfire a
tall beam, thickly wrapt in straw and surmounted by a cross-piece, is
burned in many places. Round this cross as it burns the lads dance with
loud shouts; and when the flames have subsided, the young people leap
over the fire in pairs, a young man and a young woman together. If they
escape unsmirched, the man will not suffer from fever, and the girl will
not become a mother within the year. Further, it is believed that the
flax will grow that year as high as they leap over the fire; and that if
a charred billet be taken from the fire and stuck in a flax-field it
will promote the growth of the flax.[405] Similarly in Swabia, lads and
lasses, hand in hand, leap over the midsummer bonfire, praying that the
hemp may grow three ells high, and they set fire to wheels of straw and
send them rolling down the hill. Among the places where burning wheels
were thus bowled down hill at Midsummer were the Hohenstaufen mountains
in Wurtemberg and the Frauenberg near Gerhausen.[406] At Deffingen, in
Swabia, as the people sprang over the midsummer bonfire they cried out,
"Flax, flax! may the flax this year grow seven ells high!"[407] At
Rottenburg in Swabia, down to the year 1807 or 1808, the festival was
marked by some special features. About mid-day troops of boys went about
the town begging for firewood at the houses. In each troop there were
three leaders, one of whom carried a dagger, a second a paper banner,
and a third a white plate covered with a white cloth. These three
entered each house and recited verses, in which they expressed an
intention of roasting Martin Luther and sending him to the devil; and
for this meritorious service they expected to be paid, the contributions
being received in the cloth-covered plate. In the evening they counted
up their money and proceeded to "behead the Angel-man." For this
ceremony an open space was chosen, sometimes in the middle of the town.
Here a stake was thrust into the ground and straw wrapt about it, so as
to make a rude effigy of human form with arms, head, and face. Every boy
brought a handful of nosegays and fastened them to the straw-man, who
was thus enveloped in flowers. Fuel was heaped about the stake and set
on fire. When the Angel-man, as the straw-effigy was called, blazed up,
all the boys of the neighbourhood, who had gathered expectantly around,
fell upon him with their wooden swords and hewed him to pieces. As soon
as he had vanished in smoke and flame, the lads leaped backward and
forward over the glowing embers, and later in the evening they feasted
on the proceeds of their collection.[408] Here the Angel-man burnt in
the fire appears to be identified with Martin Luther, to whom, as we
have seen, allusion was made during the house-to-house visitation. The
identification was probably modern, for we may assume that the custom of
burning an effigy in the Midsummer bonfire is far older than the time of

[The Midsummer fires in Baden; omens drawn from leaps over the fires;
burning discs thrown into the air; Midsummer fires in Alsace, Lorraine,
the Eifel, the Harz districts and Thuringia; burning barrel swung round
a pole.]

In Baden the children used to collect fuel from house to house for the
Midsummer bonfire on St. John's Day; and lads and lasses leaped over the
fire in couples. Here, as elsewhere, a close connexion was traced
between these bonfires and the harvest. In some places it was thought
that those who leaped over the fires would not suffer from backache at
reaping. Sometimes, as the young folk sprang over the flames, they
cried, "Grow, that the hemp may be three ells high!" This notion that
the hemp or the corn would grow as high as the flames blazed or as the
people jumped over them, seems to have been widespread in Baden. It was
held that the parents of the young people who bounded highest over the
fire would have the most abundant harvest; and on the other hand, if a
man contributed nothing to the bonfire, it was imagined that there would
be no blessing on his crops, and that his hemp in particular would never
grow.[409] In the neighbourhood of Buehl and Achern the St. John's fires
were kindled on the tops of hills; only the unmarried lads of the
village brought the fuel, and only the unmarried young men and women
sprang through the flames. But most of the villagers, old and young,
gathered round the bonfires, leaving a clear space for the leapers to
take their run. One of the bystanders would call out the names of a pair
of sweethearts; on which the two would step out from the throng, take
each other by the hand, and leap high and lightly through the swirling
smoke and flames, while the spectators watched them critically and drew
omens of their married life from the height to which each of them
bounded. Such an invitation to jump together over the bonfire was
regarded as tantamount to a public betrothal.[410] Near Offenburg, in
the Black Forest, on Midsummer Day the village boys used to collect
faggots and straw on some steep and conspicuous height, and they spent
some time in making circular wooden discs by slicing the trunk of a
pine-tree across. When darkness had fallen, they kindled the bonfire,
and then, as it blazed up, they lighted the discs at it, and, after
swinging them to and fro at the end of a stout and supple hazel-wand,
they hurled them one after the other, whizzing and flaming, into the
air, where they described great arcs of fire, to fall at length, like
shooting-stars, at the foot of the mountain.[411] In many parts of
Alsace and Lorraine the midsummer fires still blaze annually or did so
not very many years ago.[412] At Speicher in the Eifel, a district which
lies on the middle Rhine, to the west of Coblentz, a bonfire used to be
kindled in front of the village on St. John's Day, and all the young
people had to jump over it. Those who failed to do so were not allowed
to join the rest in begging for eggs from house to house. Where no eggs
were given, they drove a wedge into the keyhole of the door. On this day
children in the Eifel used also to gather flowers in the fields, weave
them into garlands, and throw the garlands on the roofs or hang them on
the doors of the houses. So long as the flowers remained there, they
were supposed to guard the house from fire and lightning.[413] In the
southern Harz district and in Thuringia the Midsummer or St. John's
fires used to be commonly lighted down to about the middle of the
nineteenth century, and the custom has probably not died out. At
Edersleben, near Sangerhausen, a high pole was planted in the ground and
a tar-barrel was hung from it by a chain which reached to the ground.
The barrel was then set on fire and swung round the pole amid shouts of

[Midsummer fires kindled by the friction of wood in Germany and
Switzerland; driving away demons and witches.]

According to one account, German tradition required that the midsummer
fire should be lighted, not from a common hearth, but by the friction of
two sorts of wood, namely oak and fir.[415] In some old farm-houses of
the Surenthal and Winenthal, in Switzerland, a couple of holes or a
whole row of them may be seen facing each other in the door-posts of the
barn or stable. Sometimes the holes are smooth and round; sometimes they
are deeply burnt and blackened. The explanation of them is this. About
midsummer, but especially on Midsummer Day, two such holes are bored
opposite each other, into which the extremities of a strong pole are
fixed. The holes are then stuffed with tow steeped in resin and oil; a
rope is looped round the pole, and two young men, who must be brothers
or must have the same baptismal name, and must be of the same age, pull
the ends of the rope backwards and forwards so as to make the pole
revolve rapidly, till smoke and sparks issue from the two holes in the
door-posts. The sparks are caught and blown up with tinder, and this is
the new and pure fire, the appearance of which is greeted with cries of
joy. Heaps of combustible materials are now ignited with the new fire,
and blazing bundles are placed on boards and sent floating down the
brook. The boys light torches at the new fire and run to fumigate the
pastures. This is believed to drive away all the demons and witches that
molest the cattle. Finally the torches are thrown in a heap on the
meadow and allowed to burn out. On their way back the boys strew the
ashes over the fields, which is supposed to make them fertile. If a
farmer has taken possession of a new house, or if servants have changed
masters, the boys fumigate the new abode and are rewarded by the farmer
with a supper.[416]

[Midsummer fires in Silesia; scaring away the witches.]

In Silesia, from the south-eastern part of the Sudeten range and
north-westward as far as Lausitz, the mountains are ablaze with bonfires
on Midsummer Eve; and from the valleys and the plains round about
Leobschuetz, Neustadt, Zuelz, Oels, and other places answering fires
twinkle through the deepening gloom. While they are smouldering and
sending forth volumes of smoke across the fields, young men kindle
broom-stumps, soaked in pitch, at the bonfires and then, brandishing the
stumps, which emit showers of sparks, they chase one another or dance
with the girls round the burning pile. Shots, too, are fired, and shouts
raised. The fire, the smoke, the shots, and the shouts are all intended
to scare away the witches, who are let loose on this witching day, and
who would certainly work harm to the crops and the cattle, if they were
not deterred by these salutary measures. Mere contact with the fire
brings all sorts of blessings. Hence when the bonfire is burning low,
the lads leap over it, and the higher they bound, the better is the luck
in store for them. He who surpasses his fellows is the hero of the day
and is much admired by the village girls. It is also thought to be very
good for the eyes to stare steadily at the bonfire without blinking;
moreover he who does so will not drowse and fall asleep betimes in the
long winter evenings. On Midsummer Eve the windows and doors of houses
in Silesia are crowned with flowers, especially with the blue
cornflowers and the bright corn-cockles; in some villages long strings
of garlands and nosegays are stretched across the streets. The people
believe that on that night St. John comes down from heaven to bless the
flowers and to keep all evil things from house and home.[417]

[The Midsummer fires in Denmark and Norway; keeping off the witches; the
Midsummer fires in Sweden.]

In Denmark and Norway also Midsummer fires were kindled on St. John's
Eve on roads, open spaces, and hills. People in Norway thought that the
fires banished sickness from among the cattle.[418] Even yet the fires
are said to be lighted all over Norway on the night of June the
twenty-third, Midsummer Eve, Old Style. As many as fifty or sixty
bonfires may often be counted burning on the hills round Bergen.
Sometimes fuel is piled on rafts, ignited, and allowed to drift blazing
across the fiords in the darkness of night. The fires are thought to be
kindled in order to keep off the witches, who are said to be flying from
all parts that night to the Blocksberg, where the big witch lives.[419]
In Sweden the Eve of St. John (St. Hans) is the most joyous night of the
whole year. Throughout some parts of the country, especially in the
provinces of Bohus and Scania and in districts bordering on Norway, it
is celebrated by the frequent discharge of firearms and by huge
bonfires, formerly called Balder's Balefires (_Balder's Balar_), which
are kindled at dusk on hills and eminences and throw a glare of light
over the surrounding landscape. The people dance round the fires and
leap over or through them. In parts of Norrland on St. John's Eve the
bonfires are lit at the cross-roads. The fuel consists of nine different
sorts of wood, and the spectators cast into the flames a kind of
toad-stool (_Baeran_) in order to counteract the power of the Trolls and
other evil spirits, who are believed to be abroad that night; for at
that mystic season the mountains open and from their cavernous depths
the uncanny crew pours forth to dance and disport themselves for a time.
The peasants believe that should any of the Trolls be in the vicinity
they will shew themselves; and if an animal, for example a he or she
goat, happens to be seen near the blazing, crackling pile, the peasants
are firmly persuaded that it is no other than the Evil One in
person.[420] Further, it deserves to be remarked that in Sweden St.
John's Eve is a festival of water as well as of fire; for certain holy
springs are then supposed to be endowed with wonderful medicinal
virtues, and many sick people resort to them for the healing of their

[The Midsummer fires in Switzerland and Austria; effigies burnt in the
fires; burning wheels rolled down hill.]

In Switzerland on Midsummer Eve fires are, or used to be, kindled on
high places in the cantons of Bern, Neuchatel, Valais, and Geneva.[422]
In Austria the midsummer customs and superstitions resemble those of
Germany. Thus in some parts of the Tyrol bonfires are kindled and
burning discs hurled into the air.[423] In the lower valley of the Inn a
taterdemalian effigy is carted about the village on Midsummer Day and
then burned. He is called the _Lotter_, which has been corrupted into
Luther. At Ambras, one of the villages where Martin Luther is thus
burned in effigy, they say that if you go through the village between
eleven and twelve on St. John's Night and wash yourself in three wells,
you will see all who are to die in the following year.[424] At Gratz on
St. John's Eve (the twenty-third of June) the common people used to make
a puppet called the _Tatermann_, which they dragged to the bleaching
ground, and pelted with burning besoms till it took fire.[425] At
Reutte, in the Tyrol, people believed that the flax would grow as high
as they leaped over the midsummer bonfire, and they took pieces of
charred wood from the fire and stuck them in their flax-fields the same
night, leaving them there till the flax harvest had been got in.[426] In
Lower Austria fires are lit in the fields, commonly in front of a cross,
and the people dance and sing round them and throw flowers into the
flames. Before each handful of flowers is tossed into the fire, a set
speech is made; then the dance is resumed and the dancers sing in chorus
the last words of the speech. At evening bonfires are kindled on the
heights, and the boys caper round them, brandishing lighted torches
drenched in pitch. Whoever jumps thrice across the fire will not suffer
from fever within the year. Cart-wheels are often smeared with pitch,
ignited, and sent rolling and blazing down the hillsides.[427]

[Midsummer fires in Bohemia; wreaths thrown across the fire; uses made
of the singed wreaths; burning wheels rolled down hill; embers of the
fire stuck in fields, gardens, and houses as a talisman against
lightning and conflagration; use of mugwort; cattle protected against

All over Bohemia bonfires still burn on Midsummer Eve. In the afternoon
boys go about with handcarts from house to house collecting fuel, such
as sticks, brushwood, old besoms, and so forth. They make their request
at each house in rhyming verses, threatening with evil consequences the
curmudgeons who refuse them a dole. Sometimes the young men fell a tall
straight fir in the woods and set it up on a height, where the girls
deck it with nosegays, wreaths of leaves, and red ribbons. Then
brushwood is piled about it, and at nightfall the whole is set on fire.
While the flames break out, the young men climb the tree and fetch down
the wreaths which the girls had placed on it. After that, lads and
lasses stand on opposite sides of the fire and look at one another
through the wreaths to see whether they will be true to each other and
marry within the year. Also the girls throw the wreaths across the
flames to the men, and woe to the awkward swain who fails to catch the
wreath thrown him by his sweetheart. When the blaze has died down, each
couple takes hands, and leaps thrice across the fire. He or she who does
so will be free from ague throughout the year, and the flax will grow as
high as the young folks leap. A girl who sees nine bonfires on Midsummer
Eve will marry before the year is out. The singed wreaths are carried
home and carefully preserved throughout the year. During thunderstorms a
bit of the wreath is burned on the hearth with a prayer; some of it is
given to kine that are sick or calving, and some of it serves to
fumigate house and cattle-stall, that man and beast may keep hale and
well. Sometimes an old cartwheel is smeared with resin, ignited, and
sent rolling down the hill. Often the boys collect all the worn-out
besoms they can get hold of, dip them in pitch, and having set them on
fire wave them about or throw them high into the air. Or they rush down
the hillside in troops, brandishing the flaming brooms and shouting,
only however to return to the bonfire on the summit when the brooms have
burnt out. The stumps of the brooms and embers from the fire are
preserved and stuck in cabbage gardens to protect the cabbages from
caterpillars and gnats. Some people insert charred sticks and ashes from
the bonfire in their sown fields and meadows, in their gardens and the
roofs of their houses, as a talisman against lightning and foul weather;
or they fancy that the ashes placed in the roof will prevent any fire
from breaking out in the house. In some districts they crown or gird
themselves with mugwort while the midsummer fire is burning, for this is
supposed to be a protection against ghosts, witches, and sickness; in
particular, a wreath of mugwort is a sure preventive of sore eyes.
Sometimes the girls look at the bonfires through garlands of wild
flowers, praying the fire to strengthen their eyes and eyelids. She who
does this thrice will have no sore eyes all that year. In some parts of
Bohemia they used to drive the cows through the midsummer fire to guard
them against witchcraft.[428]

[The Midsummer fires in Moravia, Austrian Silesia, and the district of
Cracow; fire kindled by the friction of wood.]

The Germans of Moravia in like manner still light bonfires on open
grounds and high places on Midsummer Eve; and they kindle besoms in the
flames and then stick the charred stumps in the cabbage-fields as a
powerful protection against caterpillars. On the same mystic evening
Moravian girls gather flowers of nine sorts and lay them under their
pillow when they go to sleep; then they dream every one of him who is to
be her partner for life. For in Moravia maidens in their beds as well as
poets by haunted streams have their Midsummer Night's dreams.[429] In
Austrian Silesia the custom also prevails of lighting great bonfires on
hilltops on Midsummer Eve, and here too the boys swing blazing besoms or
hurl them high in the air, while they shout and leap and dance wildly.
Next morning every door is decked with flowers and birchen
saplings.[430] In the district of Cracow, especially towards the
Carpathian Mountains, great fires are kindled by the peasants in the
fields or on the heights at nightfall on Midsummer Eve, which among them
goes by the name of Kupalo's Night. The fire must be kindled by the
friction of two sticks. The young people dance round or leap over it;
and a band of sturdy fellows run a race with lighted torches, the winner
being rewarded with a peacock's feather, which he keeps throughout the
year as a distinction. Cattle also are driven round the fire in the
belief that this is a charm against pestilence and disease of every

[The Midsummer fires among the Slavs of Russia; cattle protected against
witchcraft; the fires lighted by the friction of wood.]

The name of Kupalo's Night, applied in this part of Galicia to Midsummer
Eve, reminds us that we have now passed from German to Slavonic ground;
even in Bohemia the midsummer celebration is common to Slavs and
Germans. We have already seen that in Russia the summer solstice or Eve
of St. John is celebrated by young men and maidens, who jump over a
bonfire in couples carrying a straw effigy of Kupalo in their arms.[432]
In some parts of Russia an image of Kupalo is burnt or thrown into a
stream on St. John's Night.[433] Again, in some districts of Russia the
young folk wear garlands of flowers and girdles of holy herbs when they
spring through the smoke or flames; and sometimes they drive the cattle
also through the fire in order to protect the animals against wizards
and witches, who are then ravenous after milk.[434] In Little Russia a
stake is driven into the ground on St. John's Night, wrapt in straw, and
set on fire. As the flames rise the peasant women throw birchen boughs
into them, saying, "May my flax be as tall as this bough!"[435] In
Ruthenia the bonfires are lighted by a flame procured by the friction of
wood. While the elders of the party are engaged in thus "churning" the
fire, the rest maintain a respectful silence; but when the flame bursts
from the wood, they break forth into joyous songs. As soon as the
bonfires are kindled, the young people take hands and leap in pairs
through the smoke, if not through the flames; and after that the cattle
in their turn are driven through the fire.[436]

[The Midsummer fires in Prussia and Lithuania thought to protect against
witchcraft, thunder, hail, and cattle disease; the fire kindled by the
friction of wood.]

In many parts of Prussia and Lithuania great fires are kindled on
Midsummer Eve. All the heights are ablaze with them, as far as the eye
can see. The fires are supposed to be a protection against witchcraft,
thunder, hail, and cattle disease, especially if next morning the cattle
are driven over the places where the fires burned. Above all, the
bonfires ensure the farmer against the arts of witches, who try to steal
the milk from his cows by charms and spells. That is why next morning
you may see the young fellows who lit the bonfire going from house to
house and receiving jugfuls of milk. And for the same reason they stick
burs and mugwort on the gate or the hedge through which the cows go to
pasture, because that is supposed to be a preservative against
witchcraft.[437] In Masuren, a district of Eastern Prussia inhabited by
a branch of the Polish family, it is the custom on the evening of
Midsummer Day to put out all the fires in the village. Then an oaken
stake is driven into the ground and a wheel is fixed on it as on an
axle. This wheel the villagers, working by relays, cause to revolve with
great rapidity till fire is produced by friction. Every one takes home a
lighted brand from the new fire and with it rekindles the fire on the
domestic hearth.[438] In the sixteenth century Martin of Urzedow, a
Polish priest, denounced the heathen practices of the women who on St.
John's Eve (Midsummer Eve) kindled fires by the friction of wood,
danced, and sang songs in honour of the devil.[439]

[The Midsummer fires among the Letts of Russia; Midsummer Day in ancient

Among the Letts who inhabit the Baltic provinces of Russia the most
joyful festival of the year is held on Midsummer Day. The people drink
and dance and sing and adorn themselves and their houses with flowers
and branches. Chopped boughs of fir are strewn about the rooms, and
leaves are stuck in the roofs. In every farm-yard a birch tree is set
up, and every person of the name of John who enters the farm that day
must break off a twig from the tree and hang up on its branches in
return a small present for the family. When the serene twilight of the
summer night has veiled the landscape, bonfires gleam on all the hills,
and wild shouts of "Ligho! Ligho!" echo from the woods and fields. In
Riga the day is a festival of flowers. From all the neighbourhood the
peasants stream into the city laden with flowers and garlands. A market
of flowers is held in an open square and on the chief bridge over the
river; here wreaths of immortelles, which grow wild in the meadows and
woods, are sold in great profusion and deck the houses of Riga for long
afterwards. Roses, too, are now at the prime of their beauty, and masses
of them adorn the flower-stalls. Till far into the night gay crowds
parade the streets to music or float on the river in gondolas decked
with flowers.[440] So long ago in ancient Rome barges crowned with
flowers and crowded with revellers used to float down the Tiber on
Midsummer Day, the twenty-fourth of June,[441] and no doubt the strains
of music were wafted as sweetly across the water to listeners on the
banks as they still are to the throngs of merrymakers at Riga.

[The Midsummer fires among the South Slavs.]

Bonfires are commonly kindled by the South Slavonian peasantry on
Midsummer Eve, and lads and lasses dance and shout round them in the
usual way. The very names of St. John's Day (_Ivanje_) and the St.
John's fires (_kries_) are said to act like electric sparks on the
hearts and minds of these swains, kindling a thousand wild, merry, and
happy fancies and ideas in their rustic breasts. At Kamenagora in
Croatia the herdsmen throw nine three-year old vines into the bonfire,
and when these burst into flames the young men who are candidates for
matrimony jump through the blaze. He who succeeds in leaping over the
fire without singeing himself will be married within the year. At
Vidovec in Croatia parties of two girls and one lad unite to kindle a
Midsummer bonfire and to leap through the flames; he or she who leaps
furthest will soonest wed. Afterwards lads and lasses dance in separate
rings, but the ring of lads bumps up against the ring of girls and
breaks it, and the girl who has to let go her neighbour's hand will
forsake her true love hereafter.[442] In Servia on Midsummer Eve
herdsmen light torches of birch bark and march round the sheepfolds and
cattle-stalls; then they climb the hills and there allow the torches to
burn out.[443]

[The Midsummer fires among the Magyars of Hungary.]

Among the Magyars in Hungary the midsummer fire-festival is marked by
the same features that meet us in so many parts of Europe. On Midsummer
Eve in many places it is customary to kindle bonfires on heights and to
leap over them, and from the manner in which the young people leap the
bystanders predict whether they will marry soon. At Nograd-Ludany the
young men and women, each carrying a truss of straw, repair to a meadow,
where they pile the straw in seven or twelve heaps and set it on fire.
Then they go round the fire singing, and hold a bunch of iron-wort in
the smoke, while they say, "No boil on my body, no sprain in my foot!"
This holding of the flowers over the flames is regarded, we are told, as
equally important with the practice of walking through the fire barefoot
and stamping it out. On this day also many Hungarian swineherds make
fire by rotating a wheel round a wooden axle wrapt in hemp, and through
the fire thus made they drive their pigs to preserve them from
sickness.[444] In villages on the Danube, where the population is a
cross between Magyar and German, the young men and maidens go to the
high banks of the river on Midsummer Eve; and while the girls post
themselves low down the slope, the lads on the height above set fire to
little wooden wheels and, after swinging them to and fro at the end of a
wand, send them whirling through the air to fall into the Danube. As he
does so, each lad sings out the name of his sweetheart, and she listens
well pleased down below.[445]

[The Midsummer fires among the Esthonians; the Midsummer fires in

The Esthonians of Russia, who, like the Magyars, belong to the great
Turanian family of mankind, also celebrate the summer solstice in the
usual way. On the Eve of St. John all the people of a farm, a village,
or an estate, walk solemnly in procession, the girls decked with
flowers, the men with leaves and carrying bundles of straw under their
arms. The lads carry lighted torches or flaming hoops steeped in tar at
the top of long poles. Thus they go singing to the cattle-sheds, the
granaries, and so forth, and afterwards march thrice round the
dwelling-house. Finally, preceded by the shrill music of the bagpipes
and shawms, they repair to a neighbouring hill, where the materials of a
bonfire have been collected. Tar-barrels filled with combustibles are
hung on poles, or the trunk of a felled tree has been set up with a
great mass of juniper piled about it in the form of a pyramid. When a
light has been set to the pile, old and young gather about it and pass
the time merrily with song and music till break of day. Every one who
comes brings fresh fuel for the fire, and they say, "Now we all gather
together, where St. John's fire burns. He who comes not to St. John's
fire will have his barley full of thistles, and his oats full of weeds."
Three logs are thrown into the fire with special ceremony; in throwing
the first they say, "Gold of pleasure (a plant with yellow flowers) into
the fire!" in throwing the second they say, "Weeds to the unploughed
land!" but in throwing the third they cry, "Flax on my field!" The fire
is said to keep the witches from the cattle.[446] According to others,
it ensures that for the whole year the milk shall be "as pure as silver
and as the stars in the sky, and the butter as yellow as the sun and the
fire and the gold."[447] In the Esthonian island of Oesel, while they
throw fuel into the midsummer fire, they call out, "Weeds to the fire,
flax to the field," or they fling three billets into the flames, saying,
"Flax grow long!" And they take charred sticks from the bonfire home
with them and keep them to make the cattle thrive. In some parts of the
island the bonfire is formed by piling brushwood and other combustibles
round a tree, at the top of which a flag flies. Whoever succeeds in
knocking down the flag with a pole before it begins to burn will have
good luck. Formerly the festivities lasted till daybreak, and ended in
scenes of debauchery which looked doubly hideous by the growing light of
a summer morning.[448]

[The Midsummer fires among the Finns and Cheremiss of Russia.]

Still farther north, among a people of the same Turanian stock, we learn
from an eye-witness that Midsummer Night used to witness a sort of
witches' sabbath on the top of every hill in Finland. The bonfire was
made by setting up four tall birches in a square and piling the
intermediate space with fuel. Round the roaring flames the people sang
and drank and gambolled in the usual way.[449] Farther east, in the
valley of the Volga, the Cheremiss celebrate about midsummer a festival
which Haxthausen regarded as identical with the midsummer ceremonies of
the rest of Europe. A sacred tree in the forest, generally a tall and
solitary oak, marks the scene of the solemnity. All the males assemble
there, but no woman may be present. A heathen priest lights seven fires
in a row from north-west to south-east; cattle are sacrificed and their
blood poured in the fires, each of which is dedicated to a separate
deity. Afterwards the holy tree is illumined by lighted candles placed
on its branches; the people fall on their knees and with faces bowed to
the earth pray that God would be pleased to bless them, their children,
their cattle, and their bees, grant them success in trade, in travel,
and in the chase, enable them to pay the Czar's taxes, and so

[The Midsummer fires in France; Bossuet on the Midsummer festival.]

When we pass from the east to the west of Europe we still find the
summer solstice celebrated with rites of the same general character.
Down to about the middle of the nineteenth century the custom of
lighting bonfires at midsummer prevailed so commonly in France that
there was hardly a town or a village, we are told, where they were not
kindled.[451] Though the pagan origin of the custom may be regarded as
certain, the Catholic Church threw a Christian cloak over it by boldly
declaring that the bonfires were lit in token of the general rejoicing
at the birth of the Baptist, who opportunely came into the world at the
solstice of summer, just as his greater successor did at the solstice of
winter; so that the whole year might be said to revolve on the golden
hinges of these two great birthdays.[452] Writing in the seventeenth
century Bishop Bossuet expressly affirms this edifying theory of the
Midsummer bonfires, and he tells his catechumens that the Church herself
participated in the illumination, since in several dioceses, including
his own diocese of Meaux, a number of parishes kindled what were called
ecclesiastical fires for the purpose of banishing the superstitions
practised at the purely mundane bonfires. These superstitions, he goes
on to say, consisted in dancing round the fire, playing, feasting,
singing ribald songs, throwing herbs across the fire, gathering herbs at
noon or while fasting, carrying them on the person, preserving them
throughout the year, keeping brands or cinders of the fire, and other
similar practices.[453] However excellent the intentions of the
ecclesiastical authorities may have been, they failed of effecting their
purpose; for the superstitions as well as the bonfires survived in
France far into the nineteenth century, if indeed they are extinct even
now at the beginning of the twentieth. Writing in the latter part of the
nineteenth century Mr. Ch. Cuissard tells us that he himself witnessed
in Touraine and Poitou the superstitious practices which he describes as
follows: "The most credulous examine the ways in which the flame burns
and draw good or bad omens accordingly. Others, after leaping through
the flames crosswise, pass their little children through them thrice,
fully persuaded that the little ones will then be able to walk at once.
In some places the shepherds make their sheep tread the embers of the
extinct fire in order to preserve them from the foot-rot. Here you may
see about midnight an old woman grubbing among the cinders of the pyre
to find the hair of the Holy Virgin or Saint John, which she deems an
infallible specific against fever. There, another woman is busy plucking
the roots of the herbs which have been burned on the surface of the
ground; she intends to eat them, imagining that they are an infallible
preservative against cancer. Elsewhere a girl wears on her neck a flower
which the touch of St. John's fire has turned for her into a talisman,
and she is sure to marry within the year. Shots are fired at the tree
planted in the midst of the fire to drive away the demons who might
purpose to send sicknesses about the country. Seats are set round about
the bonfire, in order that the souls of dead relations may come and
enjoy themselves for a little with the living."[454]

[The Midsummer fires in Brittany; uses made of the charred sticks and

In Brittany, apparently, the custom of the Midsummer bonfires is kept up
to this day. Thus in Lower Brittany every town and every village still
lights its _tantad_ or bonfire on St. John's Night. When the flames have
died down, the whole assembly kneels round about the bonfire and an old
man prays aloud. Then they all rise and march thrice round the fire; at
the third turn they stop and every one picks up a pebble and throws it
on the burning pile. After that they disperse.[455] In Finistere the
bonfires of St. John's Day are kindled by preference in an open space
near a chapel of St. John; but if there is no such chapel, they are
lighted in the square facing the parish church and in some districts at
cross-roads. Everybody brings fuel for the fire, it may be a faggot, a
log, a branch, or an armful of gorse. When the vespers are over, the
parish priest sets a light to the pile. All heads are bared, prayers
recited, and hymns sung. Then the dancing begins. The young folk skip
round the blazing pile and leap over it, when the flames have died down.
If anybody makes a false step and falls or rolls in the hot embers, he
or she is greeted with hoots and retires abashed from the circle of
dancers. Brands are carried home from the bonfire to protect the houses
against lightning, conflagrations, and certain maladies and spells. The
precious talisman is carefully kept in a cupboard till St. John's Day of
the following year.[456] At Quimper, and in the district of Leon, chairs
used to be placed round the midsummer bonfire, that the souls of the
dead might sit on them and warm themselves at the blaze.[457] At Brest
on this day thousands of people used to assemble on the ramparts towards
evening and brandish lighted torches, which they swung in circles or
flung by hundreds into the air. The closing of the town gates put an end
to the spectacle, and the lights might be seen dispersing in all
directions like wandering will-o'-the-wisps.[458] In Upper Brittany the
materials for the midsummer bonfires, which generally consist of bundles
of furze and heath, are furnished by voluntary contributions, and piled
on the tops of hills round poles, each of which is surmounted by a
nosegay or a crown. This nosegay or crown is generally provided by a man
named John or a woman named Jean, and it is always a John or a Jean who
puts a light to the bonfire. While the fire is blazing the people dance
and sing round it, and when the flames have subsided they leap over the
glowing embers. Charred sticks from the bonfire are thrown into wells to
improve the water, and they are also taken home as a protection against
thunder.[459] To make them thoroughly effective, however, against
thunder and lightning you should keep them near your bed, between a bit
of a Twelfth Night cake and a sprig of boxwood which has been blessed on
Palm Sunday.[460] Flowers from the nosegay or crown which overhung the
fire are accounted charms against disease and pain, both bodily and
spiritual; hence girls hang them at their breast by a thread of scarlet
wool. In many parishes of Brittany the priest used to go in procession
with the crucifix and kindle the bonfire with his own hands; and farmers
were wont to drive their flocks and herds through the fire in order to
preserve them from sickness till midsummer of the following year. Also
it was believed that every girl who danced round nine of the bonfires
would marry within the year.[461]

[The Midsummer fires in Normandy; the fires as a protection against
witchcraft; the Brotherhood of the Green Wolf at Jumieges; pretence of
throwing the Green Wolf into the fire.]

In Normandy the midsummer fires have now almost disappeared, at least in
the district known as the Bocage, but they used to shine on every hill.
They were commonly made by piling brushwood, broom, and ferns about a
tall tree, which was decorated with a crown of moss and sometimes with
flowers. While they burned, people danced and sang round them, and young
folk leaped over the flames or the glowing ashes. In the valley of the
Orne the custom was to kindle the bonfire just at the moment when the
sun was about to dip below the horizon; and the peasants drove their
cattle through the fires to protect them against witchcraft, especially
against the spells of witches and wizards who attempted to steal the
milk and butter.[462] At Jumieges in Normandy, down to the first half of
the nineteenth century, the midsummer festival was marked by certain
singular features which bore the stamp of a very high antiquity. Every
year, on the twenty-third of June, the Eve of St. John, the Brotherhood
of the Green Wolf chose a new chief or master, who had always to be
taken from the hamlet of Conihout. On being elected, the new head of the
brotherhood assumed the title of the Green Wolf, and donned a peculiar
costume consisting of a long green mantle and a very tall green hat of a
conical shape and without a brim. Thus arrayed he stalked solemnly at
the head of the brothers, chanting the hymn of St. John, the crucifix
and holy banner leading the way, to a place called Chouquet. Here the
procession was met by the priest, precentors, and choir, who conducted
the brotherhood to the parish church. After hearing mass the company
adjourned to the house of the Green Wolf, where a simple repast, such as
is required by the church on fast-days, was served up to them. Then they
danced before the door till it was time to light the bonfire. Night
being come, the fire was kindled to the sound of hand-bells by a young
man and a young woman, both decked with flowers. As the flames rose, the
_Te Deum_ was sung, and a villager thundered out a parody in the Norman
dialect of the hymn _ut queant laxis_. Meantime the Green Wolf and his
brothers, with their hoods down on their shoulders and holding each
other by the hand, ran round the fire after the man who had been chosen
to be the Green Wolf of the following year. Though only the first and
the last man of the chain had a hand free, their business was to
surround and seize thrice the future Green Wolf, who in his efforts to
escape belaboured the brothers with a long wand which he carried. When
at last they succeeded in catching him they carried him to the burning
pile and made as if they would throw him on it. This ceremony over, they
returned to the house of the Green Wolf, where a supper, still of the
most meagre fare, was set before them. Up till midnight a sort of
religious solemnity prevailed. No unbecoming word might fall from the
lips of any of the company, and a censor, armed with a hand-bell, was
appointed to mark and punish instantly any infraction of the rule. But
at the stroke of twelve all this was changed. Constraint gave way to
license; pious hymns were replaced by Bacchanalian ditties, and the
shrill quavering notes of the village fiddle hardly rose above the roar
of voices that went up from the merry brotherhood of the Green Wolf.
Next day, the twenty-fourth of June or Midsummer Day, was celebrated by
the same personages with the same noisy gaiety. One of the ceremonies
consisted in parading, to the sound of musketry, an enormous loaf of
consecrated bread, which, rising in tiers, was surmounted by a pyramid
of verdure adorned with ribbons. After that the holy handbells,
deposited on the step of the altar, were entrusted as insignia of office
to the man who was to be the Green Wolf next year.[463]

[The Midsummer fires in Picardy.]

In the canton of Breteuil in Picardy (department of Oise) the priest
used to kindle the midsummer bonfire, and the people marched thrice
round it in procession. Some of them took ashes of the fire home with
them to protect the houses against lightning.[464] The custom is, or was
down to recent years, similar at Vorges, near Laon. An enormous pyre,
some fifty or sixty feet high, supported in the middle by a tall pole,
is constructed every year on the twenty-third of June, the Eve of St.
John. It stands at one end of the village, and all the inhabitants
contribute fuel to it: a cart goes round the village in the morning, by
order of the mayor, collecting combustibles from house to house: no one
would dream of refusing to comply with the customary obligation. In the
evening, after a service in honour of St. John has been performed in the
church, the clergy, the mayor, the municipal authorities, the rural
police, and the fire-brigade march in procession to the bonfire,
accompanied by the inhabitants and a crowd of idlers drawn by curiosity
from the neighbouring villages. After addressing the throng in a sermon,
to which they pay little heed, the parish priest sprinkles the pyre with
holy water, and taking a lighted torch from the hand of an assistant
sets fire to the pile. The enormous blaze, flaring up against the dark
sky of the summer night, is seen for many miles around, particularly
from the hill of Laon. When it has died down into a huge heap of glowing
embers and grey ashes, every one carries home a charred stick or some
cinders; and the fire-brigade, playing their hose on what remains,
extinguishes the smouldering fire. The people preserve the charred
sticks and cinders throughout the year, believing that these relics of
St John's bonfire have power to guard them from lightning and from
contagious diseases.[465] At Chateau-Thierry, a town of the department
of Aisne, between Paris and Reims, the custom of lighting bonfires and
dancing round them at the midsummer festival of St. John lasted down to
about 1850; the fires were kindled especially when June had been rainy,
and the people thought that the lighting of the bonfires would cause the
rain to cease.[466]

[The Midsummer fires in Beauce and Perche; the fires as a protection
against witchcraft.]

In Beauce and Perche, two neighbouring districts of France to the
south-west of Paris, the midsummer bonfires have nearly or wholly
disappeared, but formerly they were commonly kindled and went by the
name of the "fires of St. John." The site of the bonfire was either the
village square or beside the cross in the cemetery. Here a great pile of
faggots, brushwood, and grass was accumulated about a huge branch, which
bore at the top a crown of fresh flowers. The priest blessed the bonfire
and the people danced round it. When it blazed and crackled, the
bystanders thrust their heads into the puffs of smoke, in the belief
that it would preserve them from a multitude of ills; and when the fire
was burnt out, they rushed upon the charred embers and ashes and carried
them home, imagining that they had a secret virtue to guard their houses
from being struck by lightning or consumed by fire. Some of the Perche
farmers in the old days, not content with the public bonfire, used to
light little private bonfires in their farmyards and make all their
cattle pass through the smoke and flames for the purpose of protecting
them against witchcraft or disease.[467]

[The Midsummer fires in the Ardennes, the Vosges, and the Jura; the
Midsummer fires in Franche-Comte; the Midsummer fires in Berry and other
parts of Central France.]

In the department of the Ardennes every one was wont to contribute his
faggot to the midsummer bonfire, and the clergy marched at the head of
the procession to kindle it. Failure to light the fires would, in the
popular belief, have exposed the fields to the greatest danger. At Revin
the young folk, besides dancing round the fire to the strains of the
village fiddler, threw garlands of flowers across the flames to each
other.[468] In the Vosges it is still customary to kindle bonfires upon
the hill-tops on Midsummer Eve; the people believe that the fires help
to preserve the fruits of the earth and ensure good crops.[469] In the
Jura Mountains the midsummer bonfires went by the name of _ba_ or
_beau_. They were lit on the most conspicuous points of the
landscape.[470] Near St. Jean, in the Jura, it appears that at this
season young people still repair to the cross-roads and heights, and
there wave burning torches so as to present the appearance of fiery
wheels in the darkness.[471] In Franche-Comte, the province of France
which lies immediately to the west of the Jura mountains, the fires of
St. John still shone on the saint's day in several villages down to
recent years. They were generally lit on high ground and the young folks
of both sexes sang and danced round them, and sprang over the dying
flames.[472] In Bresse bonfires used to be kindled on Midsummer Eve (the
twenty-third of June) and the people danced about them in a circle.
Devout persons, particularly old women, circumambulated the fires
fourteen times, telling their beads and mumbling seven _Paters_ and
seven _Aves_ in the hope that thereby they would feel no pains in their
backs when they stooped over the sickle in the harvest field.[473] In
Berry, a district of Central France, the midsummer fire was lit on the
Eve of St. John and went by the name of the _jonee, joannee_, or
_jouannee_. Every family according to its means contributed faggots,
which were piled round a pole on the highest ground in the
neighbourhood. In the hamlets the office of kindling the fire devolved
on the oldest man, but in the towns it was the priest or the mayor who
discharged the duty. Here, as in Brittany, people supposed that a girl
who had danced round nine of the midsummer bonfires would marry within
the year. To leap several times over the fire was regarded as a sort of
purification which kept off sickness and brought good luck to the
leaper. Hence the nimble youth bounded through the smoke and flames, and
when the fire had somewhat abated parents jumped across it with their
children in their arms in order that the little ones might also partake
of its beneficent influence. Embers from the extinct bonfire were taken
home, and after being dipped in holy water were kept as a talisman
against all kinds of misfortune, but especially against lightning.[474]
The same virtue was ascribed to the ashes and charred sticks of the
midsummer bonfire in Perigord, where everybody contributed his share of
fuel to the pile and the whole was crowned with flowers, especially with
roses and lilies.[475] On the borders of the departments of Creuse and
Correze, in Central France, the fires of St. John used to be lit on the
Eve of the saint's day (the twenty-third of June); the custom seems to
have survived till towards the end of the nineteenth century. Men,
women, and children assembled round the fires, and the young people
jumped over them. Children were brought by their parents or elder
brothers into contact with the flames in the belief that this would save
them from fever. Older people girded themselves with stalks of rye taken
from a neighbouring field, because they fancied that by so doing they
would not grow weary in reaping the corn at harvest.[476]

[The Midsummer fires in Poitou.]

Bonfires were lit in almost all the hamlets of Poitou on the Eve of St.
John. People marched round them thrice, carrying a branch of walnut in
their hand. Shepherdesses and children passed sprigs of mullein
(_verbascum_) and nuts across the flames; the nuts were supposed to cure
toothache, and the mullein to protect the cattle from sickness and
sorcery. When the fire died down people took some of the ashes home with
them, either to keep them in the house as a preservative against thunder
or to scatter them on the fields for the purpose of destroying
corn-cockles and darnel. Stones were also placed round the fire, and it
was believed that the first to lift one of these stones next morning
would find under it the hair of St. John.[477] In Poitou also it used to
be customary on the Eve of St. John to trundle a blazing wheel wrapt in
straw over the fields to fertilize them.[478] This last custom is said
to be now extinct,[479] but it is still usual, or was so down to recent
years, in Poitou to kindle fires on this day at cross-roads or on the
heights. The oldest or youngest person present sets a light to the pile,
which consists of broom, gorse, and heath. A bright and crackling blaze
shoots up, but soon dies down, and over it the young folk leap. They
also throw stones into it, picking the stone according to the size of
the turnips that they wish to have that year. It is said that "the good
Virgin" comes and sits on the prettiest of the stones, and next morning
they see there her beautiful golden tresses. At Lussac, in Poitou, the
lighting of the midsummer bonfire is still an affair of some ceremony. A
pyramid of faggots is piled round a tree or tall pole on the ground
where the fair is held; the priest goes in procession to the spot and
kindles the pile. When prayers have been said and the clergy have
withdrawn, the people continue to march round the fire, telling their
beads, but it is not till the flames have begun to die down that the
youth jump over them. A brand from the midsummer bonfire is supposed to
be a preservative against thunder.[480]

[The Midsummer fires in the departments of Vienne and Deux-Sevres and in
the provinces of Saintonge and Aunis.]

In the department of Vienne the bonfire was kindled by the oldest man,
and before the dance round the flames began it was the custom to pass
across them a great bunch of mullein (_bouillon blanc_) and a branch of
walnut, which next morning before sunrise were fastened over the door of
the chief cattle-shed.[481] A similar custom prevailed in the
neighbouring department of Deux-Sevres; but here it was the priest who
kindled the bonfire, and old men used to put embers of the fire in their
wooden shoes as a preservative against many evils.[482] In some towns
and villages of Saintonge and Aunis, provinces of Western France now
mostly comprised in the department of Charente Inferieure, the fires of
St. John are still kindled on Midsummer Eve, but the custom is neither
so common nor carried out with so much pomp and ceremony as formerly.
Great quantities of wood used to be piled on an open space round about a
huge post or a tree stripped of its leaves and branches. Every one took
care to contribute a faggot to the pile, and the whole population
marched to the spot in procession with the crucifix at their head and
the priest bringing up the rear. The squire, or other person of high
degree, put the torch to the pyre, and the priest blessed it. In the
southern and eastern parts of Saintonge children and cattle were passed
through the smoke of the bonfires to preserve them from contagious
diseases, and when the fire had gone out the people scuffled for the
charred fragments of the great post, which they regarded as talismans
against thunder. Next morning, on Midsummer Day, every shepherdess in
the neighbourhood was up very early, for the first to drive her sheep
over the blackened cinders and ashes of the great bonfire was sure to
have the best flock all that year. Where the shepherds shrunk from
driving their flocks through the smoke and flames of the bonfire they
contented themselves with marking the hinder-quarters of the animals
with a broom which had been blackened in the ashes.[483]

[The Midsummer fires in Southern France; Midsummer festival of fire and
water in Provence; bathing in the sea at Midsummer; temporary Midsummer
kings at Aix and Marseilles.]

In the mountainous part of Comminges, a province of Southern France, now
comprised in the department of Haute Garonne, the midsummer fire is made
by splitting open the trunk of a tall tree, stuffing the crevice with
shavings, and igniting the whole. A garland of flowers is fastened to
the top of the tree, and at the moment when the fire is lighted the man
who was last married has to climb up a ladder and bring the flowers
down. In the flat parts of the same district the materials of the
midsummer bonfires consist of fuel piled in the usual way; but they must
be put together by men who have been married since the last midsummer
festival, and each of these benedicts is obliged to lay a wreath of
flowers on the top of the pile.[484] At the entrance of the valley of
Aran young people set up on the banks of the Garonne a tree covered with
ribbons and garlands; at the end of a year the withered tree and faded
flowers furnish excellent fuel. So on the Eve of St. John the villagers
assemble, and an old man or a child kindles the fire which is to consume
tree and garlands together. While the blaze lasts the people sing and
dance; and the burnt tree is then replaced by another which will suffer
the same fate after the lapse of a year.[485] In some districts of the
French Pyrenees it is deemed necessary to leap nine times over the
midsummer fire if you would be assured of prosperity.[486] A traveller
in Southern France at the beginning of the nineteenth century tells us
that "the Eve of St. John is also a day of joy for the Provencals. They
light great fires and the young folk leap over them. At Aix they shower
squibs and crackers on the passers-by, which has often had disagreeable
consequences. At Marseilles they drench each other with scented water,
which is poured from the windows or squirted from little syringes; the
roughest jest is to souse passers-by with clean water, which gives rise
to loud bursts of laughter."[487] At Draguignan, in the department of
Var, fires used to be lit in every street on the Eve of St. John, and
the people roasted pods of garlic at them; the pods were afterwards
distributed to every family. Another diversion of the evening was to
pour cans of water from the houses on the heads of people in the
streets.[488] In Provence the midsummer fires are still popular.
Children go from door to door begging for fuel, and they are seldom sent
empty away. Formerly the priest, the mayor, and the aldermen used to
walk in procession to the bonfire, and even deigned to light it; after
which the assembly marched thrice round the burning pile, while the
church bells pealed and rockets fizzed and sputtered in the air. Dancing
began later, and the bystanders threw water on each other. At Ciotat,
while the fire was blazing, the young people plunged into the sea and
splashed each other vigorously. At Vitrolles they bathed in a pond in
order that they might not suffer from fever during the year, and at
Saintes-Maries they watered the horses to protect them from the
itch.[489] At Aix a nominal king, chosen from among the youth for his
skill in shooting at a popinjay, presided over the festival. He selected
his own officers, and escorted by a brilliant train marched to the
bonfire, kindled it, and was the first to dance round it. Next day he
distributed largesse to his followers. His reign lasted a year, during
which he enjoyed certain privileges. He was allowed to attend the mass
celebrated by the commander of the Knights of St. John on St. John's
Day: the right of hunting was accorded to him; and soldiers might not be
quartered in his house. At Marseilles also on this day one of the guilds
chose a king of the _badache_ or double axe; but it does not appear that
he kindled the bonfire, which is said to have been lighted with great
ceremony by the prefet and other authorities.[490]

[The Midsummer fires in Belgium; bonfires on St. Peter's Day in Brabant;
the King and Queen of the Roses; effigies burnt in the Midsummer fires.]

In Belgium the custom of kindling the midsummer bonfires has long
disappeared from the great cities, but it is still kept up in rural
districts and small towns of Brabant, Flanders, and Limburg. People leap
across the fires to protect themselves against fever, and in eastern
Flanders women perform similar leaps for the purpose of ensuring an easy
delivery. At Termonde young people go from door to door collecting fuel
for the fires and reciting verses, in which they beg the inmates to give
them "wood of St. John" and to keep some wood for St. Peter's Day (the
twenty-ninth of June); for in Belgium the Eve of St. Peter's Day is
celebrated by bonfires and dances exactly like those which commemorate
St. John's Eve. The ashes of the St. John's fires are deemed by Belgian
peasants an excellent remedy for consumption, if you take a spoonful or
two of them, moistened with water, day by day. People also burn vervain
in the fires, and they say that in the ashes of the plant you may find,
if you look for it, the "Fool's Stone."[491] In many parts of Brabant
St. Peter's bonfire used to be much larger than that of his rival St.
John. When it had burned out, both sexes engaged in a game of ball, and
the winner became the King of Summer or of the Ball and had the right to
choose his Queen. Sometimes the winner was a woman, and it was then her
privilege to select her royal mate. This pastime was well known at
Louvain and it continued to be practised at Grammont and Mespelaer down
to the second half of the nineteenth century. At Mespelaer, which is a
village near Termonde, a huge pile of eglantine, reeds, and straw was
collected in a marshy meadow for the bonfire; and next evening after
vespers the young folk who had lit it assembled at the "Good Life"
tavern to play the game. The winner was crowned with a wreath of roses,
and the rest danced and sang in a ring about him. At Grammont, while the
bonfire was lit and the dances round it took place on St. Peter's Eve,
the festival of the "Crown of Roses" was deferred till the following
Sunday. The young folk arranged among themselves beforehand who should
be King and Queen of the Roses: the rosy wreaths were hung on cords
across the street: the dancers danced below them, and at a given moment
the wreaths fell on the heads of the chosen King and Queen, who had to
entertain their fellows at a feast. According to some people the fires
of St. Peter, like those of St. John, were lighted in order to drive
away dragons.[492] In French Flanders down to 1789 a straw figure
representing a man was always burned in the midsummer bonfire, and the
figure of a woman was burned on St. Peter's Day.[493] In Belgium people
jump over the midsummer bonfires as a preventive of colic, and they keep
the ashes at home to hinder fire from breaking out.[494]

[The Midsummer fires in England; Stow's description of the Midsummer
fires in London; the Midsummer fires at Eton.]

The custom of lighting bonfires at midsummer has been observed in many
parts of our own country. "On the Vigil of Saint John the Baptist,
commonly called Midsummer Eve, it was usual in most country places, and
also in towns and cities, for the inhabitants, both old and young, and
of both sexes, to meet together, and make merry by the side of a large
fire made in the middle of the street, or in some open and convenient
place, over which the young men frequently leaped by way of frolic, and
also exercised themselves with various sports and pastimes, more
especially with running, wrestling, and dancing. These diversions they
continued till midnight, and sometimes till cock-crowing."[495] In the
streets of London the midsummer fires were lighted in the time of Queen
Elizabeth down to the end of the sixteenth century, as we learn from
Stow's description, which runs thus: "In the months of June and July, on
the vigils of festival days, and on the same festival days in the
evenings after the sun setting, there were usually made bonfires in the
streets, every man bestowing wood or labour towards them; the wealthier
sort also, before their doors near to the said bonfires, would set out
tables on the vigils furnished with sweet bread and good drink, and on
the festival days with meats and drinks plentifully, whereunto they
would invite their neighbours and passengers also to sit and be merry
with them in great familiarity, praising God for His benefits bestowed
on them. These were called bonfires as well of good amity amongst
neighbours that being before at controversy, were there, by the labour
of others, reconciled, and made of bitter enemies loving friends; and
also for the virtue that a great fire hath to purge the infection of the
air. On the vigil of St. John the Baptist, and on St. Peter and Paul the
Apostles, every man's door being shadowed with green birch, long fennel,
St John's wort, orpin, white lilies, and such like, garnished upon with
garlands of beautiful flowers, had also lamps of glass, with oil burning
in them all the night; some hung out branches of iron curiously wrought,
containing hundreds of lamps alight at once, which made a goodly show,
namely, in New Fish Street, Thames Street, etc."[496] In the sixteenth
century the Eton boys used to kindle a bonfire on the east side of the
church both on St John's Day and on St. Peter's Day.[497] Writing in the
second half of the seventeenth century, the antiquary John Aubrey tells
us that bonfires were still kindled in many places on St. John's Night,
but that the civil wars had thrown many of these old customs out of
fashion. Wars, he adds, extinguish superstition as well as religion and
laws, and there is nothing like gunpowder for putting phantoms to

[The Midsummer fires in the north of England; the Midsummer fires in

In the north of England these fires used to be lit in the open streets.
Young and old gathered round them, and while the young leaped over the
fires and engaged in games, their elders looked on and probably
remembered with regret the days when they used to foot it as nimbly.
Sometimes the fires were kindled on the tops of high hills. The people
also carried firebrands about the fields.[499] The custom of kindling
bonfires on Midsummer Eve prevailed all over Cumberland down to the
second half of the eighteenth century.[500] In Northumberland the custom
seems to have lasted into the first quarter of the nineteenth century;
the fires were lit in the villages and on the tops of high hills, and
the people sported and danced round them.[501] Moreover, the villagers
used to run with burning brands round their fields and to snatch ashes
from a neighbour's fire, saying as they did so, "We have the flower (or
flour) of the wake."[502] At Sandhill bonfires were kindled on the Eve
of St. Peter as well as on Midsummer Eve; the custom is attested for the
year 1575, when it was described as ancient.[503] We are told that "on
Midsummer's eve, reckoned according to the old style, it was formerly
the custom of the inhabitants, young and old, not only of Whalton, but
of most of the adjacent villages, to collect a large cartload of whins
and other combustible materials, which was dragged by them with great
rejoicing (a fiddler being seated on the top of the cart) into the
village and erected into a pile. The people from the surrounding country
assembled towards evening, when it was set on fire; and whilst the young
danced around it, the elders looked on smoking their pipes and drinking
their beer, until it was consumed. There can be little doubt that this
curious old custom dates from a very remote antiquity." In a law-suit,
which was tried in 1878, the rector of Whalton gave evidence of the
constant use of the village green for the ceremony since 1843. "The
bonfire," he said, "was lighted a little to the north-east of the well
at Whalton, and partly on the footpath, and people danced round it and
jumped through it. That was never interrupted." The Rev. G.R. Hall,
writing in 1879, says that "the fire festivals or bonfires of the summer
solstice at the Old Midsummer until recently were commemorated on
Christenburg Crags and elsewhere by leaping through and dancing round
the fires, as those who have been present have told me."[504] Down to
the early part of the nineteenth century bonfires called Beal-fires used
to be lit on Midsummer Eve all over the wolds in the East Riding of

[The Midsummer fires in Herefordshire, Somersetshire, Devonshire, and
Cornwall; the Cornish fires on Midsummer Eve and St. Peter's Eve.]

In Herefordshire and Somersetshire the peasants used to make fires in
the fields on Midsummer Eve "to bless the apples."[506] In Devonshire
the custom of leaping over the midsummer fires was also observed.[507]
"In Cornwall, the festival fires, called bonfires, are kindled on the
Eves of St. John Baptist and St. Peter's day; and Midsummer is thence,
in the Cornish tongue, called _Goluan_, which signifies both light and
rejoicing. At these fires the Cornish attend with lighted torches,
tarred and pitched at the end, and make their perambulations round their
fires, going from village to village and carrying their torches before
them; this is certainly the remains of Druid superstition; for, _Faces
praeferre_, to carry lighted torches was reckoned a kind of gentilism,
and as such particularly prohibited by the Gallick Councils."[508] At
Penzance and elsewhere in the county the people danced and sang about
the bonfires on Midsummer Eve. On Whiteborough, a large tumulus near
Launceston, a huge bonfire used to be kindled on Midsummer Eve; a tall
summer pole with a large bush at the top was fixed in the centre of the
bonfire.[509] The Cornish fires at this season appear to have been
commonly lit on high and conspicuous hills, such as Tregonan, Godolphin,
Carnwarth, and Cam Brea. When it grew dusk on Midsummer Eve, old men
would hobble away to some height whence they counted the fires and drew
a presage from their number.[510] "It is the immemorial usage in
Penzance, and the neighbouring towns and villages, to kindle bonfires
and torches on Midsummer-eve; and on Midsummer-day to hold a fair on
Penzance quay, where the country folks assemble from the adjoining
parishes in great numbers to make excursions on the water. St. Peter's
Eve (the twenty-eighth of June) is distinguished by a similar display of
bonfires and torches, although the 'quay-fair' on St. Peter's-day (the
twenty-ninth of June), has been discontinued upwards of forty years. On
these eves a line of tar-barrels, relieved occasionally by large
bonfires, is seen in the centre of each of the principal streets in
Penzance. On either side of this line young men and women pass up and
down, swinging round their heads heavy torches made of large pieces of
folded canvas steeped in tar, and nailed to the ends of sticks between
three and four feet long; the flames of some of these almost equal those
of the tar-barrels. Rows of lighted candles, also, when the air is calm,
are fixed outside the windows or along the sides of the streets. In St.
Just, and other mining parishes, the young miners, mimicking their
fathers' employments, bore rows of holes in the rocks, load them with
gunpowder, and explode them in rapid succession by trains of the same
substance. As the holes are not deep enough to split the rocks, the same
little batteries serve for many years. On these nights, Mount's Bay has
a most animating appearance, although not equal to what was annually
witnessed at the beginning of the present century, when the whole coast,
from the Land's End to the Lizard, wherever a town or a village existed,
was lighted up with these stationary or moving fires. In the early part
of the evening, children may be seen wearing wreaths of flowers--a
custom in all probability originating from the ancient use of these
ornaments when they danced around the fires. At the close of the
fireworks in Penzance, a great number of persons of both sexes, chiefly
from the neighbourhood of the quay, used always, until within the last
few years, to join hand in hand, forming a long string, and run through
the streets, playing 'thread the needle,' heedless of the fireworks
showered upon them, and oftentimes leaping over the yet glowing embers.
I have on these occasions seen boys following one another, jumping
through flames higher than themselves."[511]

[The Midsummer fires in Wales and the Isle of Man; burning wheel rolled
down hill.]

In Wales the midsummer fires were kindled on St. John's Eve and on St.
John's Day. Three or nine different kinds of wood and charred faggots
carefully preserved from the last midsummer were deemed necessary to
build the bonfire, which was generally done on rising ground. Various
herbs were thrown into the blaze; and girls with bunches of three or
nine different kinds of flowers would take the hands of boys, who wore
flowers in their buttonholes and hats, and together the young couples
would leap over the fires. On the same two midsummer days roses and
wreaths of flowers were hung over the doors and windows. "Describing a
midsummer fire, an old inhabitant, born in 1809, remembered being taken
to different hills in the Vale of Glamorgan to see festivities in which
people from all parts of the district participated. She was at that time
about fourteen, and old enough to retain a vivid recollection of the
circumstances. People conveyed trusses of straw to the top of the hill,
where men and youths waited for the contributions. Women and girls were
stationed at the bottom of the hill. Then a large cart-wheel was thickly
swathed with straw, and not an inch of wood was left in sight. A pole
was inserted through the centre of the wheel, so that long ends extended
about a yard on each side. If any straw remained, it was made up into
torches at the top of tall sticks. At a given signal the wheel was
lighted, and sent rolling downhill. If this fire-wheel went out before
it reached the bottom of the hill, a very poor harvest was promised. If
it kept lighted all the way down, and continued blazing for a long time,
the harvest would be exceptionally abundant. Loud cheers and shouts
accompanied the progress of the wheel."[512] At Darowen in Wales small
bonfires were kindled on Midsummer Eve.[513] On the same day people in
the Isle of Man were wont to light fires to the windward of every field,
so that the smoke might pass over the corn; and they folded their cattle
and carried blazing furze or gorse round them several times.[514]

[The Midsummer fires in Ireland; passage of people and cattle through
the fires; cattle driven through the fire; ashes used to fertilize the
fields; the White Horse at the Midsummer fire.]

A writer of the last quarter of the seventeenth century tells us that in
Ireland, "on the Eves of St. John Baptist and St. Peter, they always
have in every town a bonfire, late in the evenings, and carry about
bundles of reeds fast tied and fired; these being dry, will last long,
and flame better than a torch, and be a pleasing divertive prospect to
the distant beholder; a stranger would go near to imagine the whole
country was on fire."[515] Another writer says of the South of Ireland:
"On Midsummer's Eve, every eminence, near which is a habitation, blazes
with bonfires; and round these they carry numerous torches, shouting and
dancing, which affords a beautiful sight."[516] An author who described
Ireland in the first quarter of the eighteenth century says: "On the
vigil of St. John the Baptist's Nativity, they make bonfires, and run
along the streets and fields with wisps of straw blazing on long poles
to purify the air, which they think infectious, by believing all the
devils, spirits, ghosts, and hobgoblins fly abroad this night to hurt
mankind."[517] Another writer states that he witnessed the festival in
Ireland in 1782: "At the house where I was entertained, it was told me,
that we should see, at midnight, the most singular sight in Ireland,
which was the lighting of fires in honour of the sun. Accordingly,
exactly at midnight, the fires began to appear; and taking the advantage
of going up to the leads of the house, which had a widely extended view,
I saw on a radius of thirty miles, all around, the fires burning on
every eminence which the country afforded. I had a farther satisfaction
in learning, from undoubted authority, that the people danced round the
fires, and at the close went through these fires, and made their sons
and daughters, together with their cattle, pass through the fire; and
the whole was conducted with religious solemnity."[518] That the custom
prevailed in full force as late as 1867 appears from a notice in a
newspaper of that date, which runs thus: "The old pagan fire-worship
still survives in Ireland, though nominally in honour of St. John. On
Sunday night bonfires were observed throughout nearly every county in
the province of Leinster. In Kilkenny, fires blazed on every hillside at
intervals of about a mile. There were very many in the Queen's County,
also in Kildare and Wexford. The effect in the rich sunset appeared to
travellers very grand. The people assemble, and dance round the fires,
the children jump through the flames, and in former times live coals
were carried into the corn-fields to prevent blight."[519] In County
Leitrim on St. John's Eve, which is called Bonfire Day, fires are still
lighted after dusk on the hills and along the sides of the roads.[520]
All over Kerry the same thing continues to be done, though not so
commonly as of old. Small fires were made across the road, and to drive
through them brought luck for the year. Cattle were also driven through
the fires. On Lettermore Island, in South Connemara, some of the ashes
from the midsummer bonfire are thrown on the fields to fertilize
them.[521] One writer informs us that in Munster and Connaught a bone
must always be burned in the fire; for otherwise the people believe that
the fire will bring no luck. He adds that in many places sterile beasts
and human beings are passed through the fire, and that as a boy he
himself jumped through the fire "for luck."[522] An eye-witness has
described as follows a remarkable ceremony observed in Ireland on
Midsummer Eve: "When the fire burned for some hours, and got low, an
indispensable part of the ceremony commenced. Every one present of the
peasantry passed through it, and several children were thrown across the
sparkling embers; while a wooden frame, of some eight feet long, with a
horse's head fixed to one end, and a large white sheet thrown over it
concealing the wood and the man on whose head it was carried, made its
appearance. This was greeted with loud shouts of 'The white horse!' and
having been safely carried by the skill of its bearer several times
through the fire with a bold leap, it pursued the people, who ran
screaming and laughing in every direction. I asked what the horse was
meant for, and was told that it represented 'all cattle.'"[523]

[Lady Wilde's account of the Midsummer fires in Ireland.]

Lady Wilde's account of the midsummer festival in Ireland is picturesque
and probably correct in substance, although she does not cite her
authorities. As it contains some interesting features which are not
noticed by the other writers on Ireland whom I have consulted, I will
quote the greater part of it in full. "In ancient times," she says, "the
sacred fire was lighted with great ceremony on Midsummer Eve; and on
that night all the people of the adjacent country kept fixed watch on
the western promontory of Howth, and the moment the first flash was seen
from that spot the fact of ignition was announced with wild cries and
cheers repeated from village to village, when all the local fires began
to blaze, and Ireland was circled by a cordon of flame rising up from
every hill. Then the dance and song began round every fire, and the wild
hurrahs filled the air with the most frantic revelry. Many of these
ancient customs are still continued, and the fires are still lighted on
St. John's Eve on every hill in Ireland. When the fire has burned down
to a red glow the young men strip to the waist and leap over or through
the flames; this is done backwards and forwards several times, and he
who braves the greatest blaze is considered the victor over the powers
of evil, and is greeted with tremendous applause. When the fire burns
still lower, the young girls leap the flame, and those who leap clean
over three times back and forward will be certain of a speedy marriage
and good luck in after-life, with many children. The married women then
walk through the lines of the burning embers; and when the fire is
nearly burnt and trampled down, the yearling cattle are driven through
the hot ashes, and their back is singed with a lighted hazel twig. These
rods are kept safely afterwards, being considered of immense power to
drive the cattle to and from the watering places. As the fire diminishes
the shouting grows fainter, and the song and the dance commence; while
professional story-tellers narrate tales of fairy-land, or of the good
old times long ago, when the kings and princes of Ireland dwelt amongst
their own people, and there was food to eat and wine to drink for all
comers to the feast at the king's house. When the crowd at length
separate, every one carries home a brand from the fire, and great virtue
is attached to the lighted _brone_ which is safely carried to the house
without breaking or falling to the ground. Many contests also arise
amongst the young men; for whoever enters his house first with the
sacred fire brings the good luck of the year with him."[524]

[Holy water resorted to on Midsummer Eve in Ireland.]

In Ireland, as elsewhere, water was also apparently thought to acquire a
certain mystical virtue at midsummer. "At Stoole, near Downpatrick,
there is a ceremony commencing at twelve o'clock at night on Midsummer
Eve. Its sacred mount is consecrated to St. Patrick; the plain contains
three wells, to which the most extraordinary virtues are attributed.
Here and there are heaps of stones, around some of which appear great
numbers of people, running with as much speed as possible; around others
crowds of worshippers kneel with bare legs and feet as an indispensable
part of the penance. The men, without coats, with handkerchiefs on their
heads instead of hats, having gone seven times round each heap, kiss the
ground, cross themselves, and proceed to the hill; here they ascend, on
their bare knees, by a path so steep and rugged that it would be
difficult to walk up. Many hold their hands clasped at the back of their
necks, and several carry large stones on their heads. Having repeated
this ceremony seven times, they go to what is called St. Patrick's
Chair, which are two great flat stones fixed upright in the hill; here
they cross and bless themselves as they step in between these stones,
and, while repeating prayers, an old man, seated for the purpose, turns
them round on their feet three times, for which he is paid; the devotee
then goes to conclude his penance at a pile of stones, named the Altar.
While this busy scene is continued by the multitude, the wells and
streams issuing from them are thronged by crowds of halt, maimed, and
blind, pressing to wash away their infirmities with water consecrated by
their patron saint, and so powerful is the impression of its efficacy on
their minds, that many of those who go to be healed, and who are not
totally blind, or altogether crippled, really believe for a time that
they are by means of its miraculous virtues perfectly restored."[525]

[The Midsummer fires in Scotland; fires on St. Peter's Day (the
twenty-ninth of June).]

In Scotland the traces of midsummer fires are few. We are told by a
writer of the eighteenth century that "the midsummer-even fire, a relict
of Druidism," was kindled in some parts of the county of Perth.[526]
Another writer of the same period, describing what he calls the
Druidical festivals of the Highlanders, says that "the least
considerable of them is that of midsummer. In the Highlands of
Perthshire there are some vestiges of it. The cowherd goes three times
round the fold, according to the course of the sun, with a burning torch
in his hand. They imagined this rite had a tendency to purify their
herds and flocks, and to prevent diseases. At their return the landlady
makes an entertainment for the cowherd and his associates."[527] In the
northeast of Scotland, down to the latter half of the eighteenth
century, farmers used to go round their lands with burning torches about
the middle of June.[528] On the hill of Cairnshee, in the parish of
Durris, Kincardineshire, the herdsmen of the country round about
annually kindle a bonfire at sunset on Midsummer Day (the twenty-fourth
of June); the men or lads collect the fuel and push each other through
the smoke and flames. The custom is kept up through the benefaction of a
certain Alexander Hogg, a native of the parish, who died about 1790 and
left a small sum for the maintenance of a midsummer bonfire on the spot,
because as a boy he had herded cattle on the hill. We may conjecture
that in doing so he merely provided for the continuance of an old custom
which he himself had observed in the same place in his youth.[529] At
the village of Tarbolton in Ayrshire a bonfire has been annually kindled
from time immemorial on the evening of the first Monday after the
eleventh of June. A noted cattle-market was formerly held at the fair on
the following day. The bonfire is still lit at the gloaming by the lads
and lasses of the village on a high mound or hillock just outside of the
village. Fuel for it is collected by the lads from door to door. The
youth dance round the fire and leap over the fringes of it. The many
cattle-drovers who used to assemble for the fair were wont to gather
round the blazing pile, smoke their pipes, and listen to the young folk
singing in chorus on the hillock. Afterwards they wrapped themselves in
their plaids and slept round the bonfire, which was intended to last all
night.[530] Thomas Moresin of Aberdeen, a writer of the sixteenth
century, says that on St. Peter's Day, which is the twenty-ninth of
June, the Scotch ran about at night with lighted torches on mountains
and high grounds, "as Ceres did when she roamed the whole earth in
search of Proserpine";[531] and towards the end of the eighteenth
century the parish minister of Loudoun, a district of Ayrshire whose
"bonny woods and braes" have been sung by Burns, wrote that "the custom
still remains amongst the herds and young people to kindle fires in the
high grounds in honour of Beltan. _Beltan_, which in Gaelic signifies
_Baal_, or _Bel's-fire_, was antiently the time of this solemnity. It is
now kept on St. Peter's day."[532]

[The Midsummer fires in Spain and the Azores; divination on Midsummer
Eve in the Azores; the Midsummer fires in Corsica and Sardinia.]

All over Spain great bonfires called _lumes_ are still lit on Midsummer
Eve. They are kept up all night, and the children leap over them in a
certain rhythmical way which is said to resemble the ancient dances. On
the coast, people at this season plunge into the sea; in the inland
districts the villagers go and roll naked in the dew of the meadows,
which is supposed to be a sovereign preservative against diseases of the
skin. On this evening, too, girls who would pry into the future put a
vessel of water on the sill outside their window; and when the clocks
strike twelve, they break an egg in the water and see, or fancy they
see, in the shapes assumed by the pulp, as it blends with the liquid,
the likeness of future bridegrooms, castles, coffins, and so forth. But
generally, as might perhaps have been anticipated, the obliging egg
exhibits the features of a bridegroom.[533] In the Azores, also,
bonfires are lit on Midsummer Eve (St. John's Eve), and boys jump over
them for luck. On that night St. John himself is supposed to appear in
person and bless all the seas and waters, driving out the devils and
demons who had been disporting themselves in them ever since the second
day of November; that is why in the interval between the second of
November and the twenty-third of June nobody will bathe in the sea or in
a hot spring. On Midsummer Eve, too, you can always see the devil, if
you will go into a garden at midnight. He is invariably found standing
near a mustard-plant. His reason for adopting this posture has not been
ascertained; perhaps in the chilly air of the upper world he is
attracted by the genial warmth of the mustard. Various forms of
divination are practised by people in the Azores on Midsummer Eve. Thus
a new-laid egg is broken into a glass of water, and the shapes which it
assumes foreshadow the fate of the person concerned. Again, seven
saucers are placed in a row, filled respectively with water, earth,
ashes, keys, a thimble, money, and grass, which things signify travel,
death, widowhood, housekeeping, spinsterhood, riches, and farming. A
blindfolded person touches one or other of the saucers with a wand and
so discovers his or her fate. Again, three broad beans are taken; one is
left in its skin, one is half peeled, and the third is peeled outright.
The three denote respectively riches, competence, and poverty. They are
hidden and searched for; and he who finds one of them knows accordingly
whether he will be rich, moderately well-off, or poor. Again, girls take
slips of paper and write the names of young men twice over on them.
These they fold up and crumple and place one set under their pillows and
the other set in a saucer full of water. In the morning they draw one
slip of paper from under their pillow, and see whether one in the water
has opened out. If the names on the two slips are the same, it is the
name of her future husband. Young men do the same with girls' names.
Once more, if a girl rises at sunrise, goes out into the street, and
asks the first passer-by his Christian name, that will be her husband's
name.[534] Some of these modes of divination resemble those which are or
used to be practised in Scotland at Hallowe'en.[535] In Corsica on the
Eve of St. John the people set fire to the trunk of a tree or to a whole
tree, and the young men and maidens dance round the blaze, which is
called _fucaraia_.[536] We have seen that at Ozieri, in Sardinia, a
great bonfire is kindled on St. John's Eve, and that the young people
dance round it.[537]

[The Midsummer fires in the Abruzzi; bathing on Midsummer Eve in the
Abruzzi; the Midsummer fires in Sicily; the witches at Midsummer.]

Passing to Italy, we find that the midsummer fires are still lighted on
St. John's Eve in many parts of the Abruzzi. They are commonest in the
territory which was inhabited in antiquity by the Vestini; they are
rarer in the land of the ancient Marsi, and they disappear entirely in
the lower valley of the Sangro. For the most part, the fires are fed
with straw and dry grass, and are kindled in the fields near the
villages or on high ground. As they blaze up, the people dance round or
over them. In leaping across the flames the boys cry out, "St. John,
preserve my thighs and legs!" Formerly it used to be common to light the
bonfires also in the towns in front of churches of St. John, and the
remains of the sacred fire were carried home by the people; but this
custom has mostly fallen into disuse. However, at Celano the practice is
still kept up of taking brands and ashes from the bonfires to the
houses, although the fires are no longer kindled in front of the
churches, but merely in the streets.[538] In the Abruzzi water also is
supposed to acquire certain marvellous and beneficent properties on St.
John's Night. Hence many people bathe or at least wash their faces and
hands in the sea or a river at that season, especially at the moment of
sunrise. Such a bath is said to be an excellent cure for diseases of the
skin. At Castiglione a Casauria the people, after washing in the river
or in springs, gird their waists and wreath their brows with sprigs of
briony in order to keep them from aches and pains.[539] In various parts
of Sicily, also, fires are kindled on Midsummer Eve (St. John's Eve),
the twenty-third of June. On the Madonie mountains, in the north of the
island, the herdsmen kindle them at intervals, so that the crests of the
mountains are seen ablaze in the darkness for many miles. About
Acireale, on the east coast of the island, the bonfires are lit by boys,
who jump over them. At Chiaromonte the witches that night acquire
extraordinary powers; hence everybody then puts a broom outside of his
house, because a broom is an excellent protective against
witchcraft.[540] At Orvieto the midsummer fires were specially excepted
from the prohibition directed against bonfires in general.[541]

[The Midsummer fires in Malta ]

In Malta also the people celebrate Midsummer Eve (St. John's Eve) "by
kindling great fires in the public streets, and giving their children
dolls to carry in their arms on this day, in order to make good the
prophecy respecting the Baptist, _Multi in nativitate ejus gaudebunt_.
Days and even weeks before this festival, groups of children are seen
going out into the country fields to gather straw, twigs, and all sorts
of other combustibles, which they store up for St. John's Eve. On the
night of the twenty-third of June, the day before the festival of the
Saint, great fires are kindled in the streets, squares, and market
places of the towns and villages of the Island, and as fire after fire
blazes out of the darkness of that summer night, the effect is
singularly striking. These fires are sometimes kept up for hours, being
continually fed by the scores of bystanders, who take great delight in
throwing amidst the flames some old rickety piece of furniture which
they consider as lumber in their houses. Lots of happy and reckless
children, and very often men, are seen merrily leaping in succession
over and through the crackling flames. At the time of the Order of St.
John of Jerusalem, the Grand Master himself, soon after the _Angelus_,
used to leave his palace, accompanied by the Grand Prior, the Bishop,
and two bailiffs, to set fire to some pitch barrels which were placed
for the occasion in the square facing the sacred Hospital. Great crowds
used to assemble here in order to assist at this ceremony. The setting
ablaze of the five casks, and later on of the eight casks, by the Grand
Master, was a signal for the others to kindle their fires in the
different parts of the town."[542]

[The Midsummer fires in Greece; the Midsummer fires in Macedonia and

In Greece, the custom of kindling fires on St. John's Eve and jumping
over them is said to be still universal. One reason assigned for it is a
wish to escape from the fleas.[543] According to another account, the
women cry out, as they leap over the fire, "I leave my sins behind
me."[544] In Lesbos the fires on St. John's Eve are usually lighted by
threes, and the people spring thrice over them, each with a stone on his
head, saying, "I jump the hare's fire, my head a stone!" On the morning
of St. John's Day those who dwell near the coast go to bathe in the sea.
As they go they gird themselves with osiers, and when they are in the
water they let the osiers float away, saying, "Let my maladies go away!"
Then they look for what is called "the hairy stone," which possesses the
remarkable property not only of keeping moths from clothes but even of
multiplying the clothes in the chest where it is laid up, and the more
hairs on the stone the more will the clothes multiply in the chest.[545]
In Calymnos the midsummer fire is supposed to ensure abundance in the
coming year as well as deliverance from fleas. The people dance round
the fires singing, with stones on their heads, and then jump over the
blaze or the glowing embers. When the fire is burning low, they throw
the stones into it; and when it is nearly out, they make crosses on
their legs and then go straightway and bathe in the sea.[546] In Cos the
lads and lasses dance round the bonfires on St. John's Eve. Each of the
lads binds a black stone on his head, signifying that he wishes to
become as strong as the stone. Also they make the sign of the cross on
their feet and legs and jump over the fire.[547] On Midsummer Eve the
Greeks of Macedonia light fires after supper in front of their gates.
The garlands, now faded, which were hung over the doors on May Day, are
taken down and cast into the flames, after which the young folk leap
over the blaze, fully persuaded that St. John's fire will not burn
them.[548] In Albania fires of dry herbage are, or used to be, lit
everywhere on St. John's Eve; young and old leap over them, for such a
leap is thought to be good for the health.[549]

[The Midsummer fires in America.]

From the Old World the midsummer fires have been carried across the
Atlantic to America. In Brazil people jump over the fires of St. John,
and at this season they can take hot coals in their mouths without
burning themselves.[550] In Bolivia on the Eve of St. John it is usual
to see bonfires lighted on the hills and even in the streets of the
capital La Paz. As the city stands at the bottom of an immense ravine,
and the Indians of the neighbourhood take a pride in kindling bonfires
on heights which might seem inaccessible, the scene is very striking
when the darkness of night is suddenly and simultaneously lit up by
hundreds of fires, which cast a glare on surrounding objects, producing
an effect at once weird and picturesque.[551]

[The Midsummer fires among the Mohammedans of Morocco and Algeria.]

The custom of kindling bonfires on Midsummer Day or on Midsummer Eve is
widely spread among the Mohammedan peoples of North Africa, particularly
in Morocco and Algeria; it is common both to the Berbers and to many of
the Arabs or Arabic-speaking tribes. In these countries Midsummer Day
(the twenty-fourth of June, Old Style) is called [Arabic: _l'ansara_].
The fires are lit in the courtyards, at cross-roads, in the fields, and
sometimes on the threshing-floors. Plants which in burning give out a
thick smoke and an aromatic smell are much sought after for fuel on
these occasions; among the plants used for the purpose are giant-fennel,
thyme, rue, chervil-seed, camomile, geranium, and penny-royal. People
expose themselves, and especially their children, to the smoke, and
drive it towards the orchards and the crops. Also they leap across the
fires; in some places everybody ought to repeat the leap seven times.
Moreover they take burning brands from the fires and carry them through
the houses in order to fumigate them. They pass things through the fire,
and bring the sick into contact with it, while they utter prayers for
their recovery. The ashes of the bonfires are also reputed to possess
beneficial properties; hence in some places people rub their hair or
their bodies with them.[552] For example, the Andjra mountaineers of
Morocco kindle large fires in open places of their villages on Midsummer
Day. Men, women, and children jump over the flames or the glowing
embers, believing that by so doing they rid themselves of all misfortune
which may be clinging to them; they imagine, also, that such leaps cure
the sick and procure offspring for childless couples. Moreover, they
burn straw, together with some marjoram and alum, in the fold where the
cattle, sheep, and goats are penned for the night; the smoke, in their
opinion, will make the animals thrive. On Midsummer Day the Arabs of the
Mnasara tribe make fires outside their tents, near their animals, on
their fields, and in their gardens. Large quantities of penny-royal are
burned in these fires, and over some of them the people leap thrice to
and fro. Sometimes small fires are also kindled inside the tents. They
say that the smoke confers blessings on everything with which it comes
into contact. At Salee, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, persons who
suffer from diseased eyes rub them with the ashes of the midsummer fire;
and in Casablanca and Azemmur the people hold their faces over the fire,
because the smoke is thought to be good for the eyes. The Arab tribe
Ulad Bu Aziz, in the Dukkala province of Morocco, kindle midsummer
bonfires, not for themselves and their cattle, but only for crops and
fruit; nobody likes to reap his crops before Midsummer Day, because if
he did they would lose the benefit of the blessed influence which flows
from the smoke of the bonfires. Again, the Beni Mgild, a Berber tribe of
Morocco, light fires of straw on Midsummer Eve and leap thrice over them
to and fro. They let some of the smoke pass underneath their clothes,
and married women hold their breasts over the fire, in order that their
children may be strong. Moreover, they paint their eyes and lips with
some black powder, in which ashes of the bonfire are mixed. And in order
that their horses may also benefit by the fires, they dip the right
forelegs of the animals in the smoke and flames or in the hot embers,
and they rub ashes on the foreheads and between the nostrils of the
horses. Berbers of the Rif province, in northern Morocco, similarly make
great use of fires at midsummer for the good of themselves, their
cattle, and their fruit-trees. They jump over the bonfires in the belief
that this will preserve them in good health, and they light fires under
fruit-trees to keep the fruit from falling untimely. And they imagine
that by rubbing a paste of the ashes on their hair they prevent the hair
from falling off their heads.[553]

[Beneficial effect ascribed to the smoke of the fires; ill luck supposed
to be burnt in the Midsummer fires; the Midsummer festival in North
Africa comprises rites concerned with water as well as with fire; the
Midsummer festival in North Africa is probably older than

In all these Moroccan customs, we are told, the beneficial effect is
attributed wholly to the smoke, which is supposed to be endued with a
magical quality that removes misfortune from men, animals, fruit-trees,
and crops. But in some parts of Morocco people at midsummer kindle fires
of a different sort, not for the sake of fumigation, but in order to
burn up misfortune in the flames. Thus on Midsummer Eve the Berber tribe
of the Beni Mgild burn three sheaves of unthreshed wheat or barley, "one
for the children, one for the crops, and one for the animals." On the
same occasion they burn the tent of a widow who has never given birth to
a child; by so doing they think to rid the village of ill luck. It is
said that at midsummer the Zemmur burn a tent, which belongs to somebody
who was killed in war during a feast; or if there is no such person in
the village, the schoolmaster's tent is burned instead. Among the
Arabic-speaking Beni Ahsen it is customary for those who live near the
river Sbu to make a little hut of straw at midsummer, set it on fire,
and let it float down the river. Similarly the inhabitants of Salee burn
a straw hut on the river which flows past their town.[554]

Further it deserves to be noticed that in Northern Africa, as in
Southern Europe, the midsummer festival comprises rites concerned with
water as well as with fire. For example, among the Beni-Snous the women
light a fire in an oven, throw perfumes into it, and circumambulate a
tank, which they also incense after a fashion. In many places on the
coast, as in the province of Oran and particularly in the north of
Morocco, everybody goes and bathes in the sea at midsummer; and in many
towns of the interior, such as Fez, Mequinez, and especially Merrakech,
people throw water over each other on this day; and where water is
scarce, earth is used instead, according to the Mohammedan principle
which permits ablutions to be performed with earth or sand when water
cannot be spared for the purpose.[555] People of the Andjra district in
Morocco not only bathe themselves in the sea or in rivers at midsummer,
they also bathe their animals, their horses, mules, donkeys, cattle,
sheep, and goats; for they think that on that day water possesses a
blessed virtue (_baraka_), which removes sickness and misfortune. In
Aglu, again, men, women, and children bathe in the sea or springs or
rivers at midsummer, alleging that by so doing they protect themselves
against disease for the whole year. Among the Berbers of the Rif
district the custom of bathing on this day is commonly observed, and
animals share the ablutions.[556]

[Some Mohammedans of North Africa kindle fires and observe water
ceremonies at their movable New Year; water ceremonies at New Year in
Morocco; the rites of fire and water at Midsummer and New Year in
Morocco seem to be identical in character; the duplication of the
festival is probably due to a conflict between the solar calendar of the
Romans and the lunar calendar of the Arabs.]

The celebration of a midsummer festival by Mohammedan peoples is
particularly remarkable, because the Mohammedan calendar, being purely
lunar and uncorrected by intercalation, necessarily takes no note of
festivals which occupy fixed points in the solar year; all strictly
Mohammedan feasts, being pinned to the moon, slide gradually with that
luminary through the whole period of the earth's revolution about the
sun. This fact of itself seems to prove that among the Mohammedan
peoples of Northern Africa, as among the Christian peoples of Europe,
the midsummer festival is quite independent of the religion which the
people publicly profess, and is a relic of a far older paganism. There
are, indeed, independent grounds for thinking that the Arabs enjoyed the
advantage of a comparatively well-regulated solar year before the
prophet of God saddled them with the absurdity and inconvenience of a
purely lunar calendar.[557] Be that as it may, it is notable that some
Mohammedan people of North Africa kindle fires and bathe in water at the
movable New Year of their lunar calendar instead of at the fixed
Midsummer of the solar year; while others again practise these
observances at both seasons. New Year's Day, on which the rites are
celebrated, is called _Ashur_; it is the tenth day of Moharram, the
first month of the Mohammedan calendar. On that day bonfires are kindled
in Tunis and also at Merrakech and among some tribes of the
neighbourhood.[558] At Demnat, in the Great Atlas mountains, people
kindle a large bonfire on New Year's Eve and leap to and fro over the
flames, uttering words which imply that by these leaps they think to
purify themselves from all kinds of evil. At Aglu, in the province of
Sus, the fire is lighted at three different points by an unmarried girl,
and when it has died down the young men leap over the glowing embers,
saying, "We shook on you, O Lady Ashur, fleas, and lice, and the
illnesses of the heart, as also those of the bones; we shall pass
through you again next year and the following years with safety and
health." Both at Aglu and Glawi, in the Great Atlas, smaller fires are
also kindled, over which the animals are driven. At Demnat girls who
wish to marry wash themselves in water which has been boiled over the
New Year fire; and in Dukkala people use the ashes of that fire to rub
sore eyes with. New Year fires appear to be commonly kindled among the
Berbers who inhabit the western portion of the Great Atlas, and also
among the Arabic-speaking tribes of the plains; but Dr. Westermarck
found no traces of such fires among the Arabic-speaking mountaineers of
Northern Morocco and the Berbers of the Rif province. Further, it should
be observed that water ceremonies like those which are practised at
Midsummer are very commonly observed in Morocco at the New Year, that
is, on the tenth day of the first month. On the morning of that day
(_Ashur_) all water or, according to some people, only spring water is
endowed with a magical virtue (_baraka_), especially before sunrise.
Hence at that time the people bathe and pour water over each other; in
some places they also sprinkle their animals, tents, or rooms. In
Dukkala some of the New Year water is preserved at home till New Year's
Day (_Ashur_) of next year; some of it is kept to be used as medicine,
some of it is poured on the place where the corn is threshed, and some
is used to water the money which is to be buried in the ground; for the
people think that the earth-spirits will not be able to steal the buried
treasures which have thus been sanctified with the holy water.[559]

[The Midsummer festival in Morocco seems to be of Berber origin.]

Thus the rites of fire and water which are observed in Morocco at
Midsummer and New Year appear to be identical in character and
intention, and it seems certain that the duplication of the rites is due
to a conflict between two calendars, namely the old Julian calendar of
the Romans, which was based on the sun, and the newer Mohammedan
calendar of the Arabs, which is based on the moon. For not only was the
Julian calendar in use throughout the whole of Northern Africa under the
Roman Empire; to this day it is everywhere employed among Mohammedans
for the regulation of agriculture and all the affairs of daily life; its
practical convenience has made it indispensable, and the lunar calendar
of orthodox Mohammedanism is scarcely used except for purposes of
chronology. Even the old Latin names of the months are known and
employed, in slightly disguised forms, throughout the whole Moslem
world; and little calendars of the Julian year circulate in manuscript
among Mohammedans, permitting them to combine the practical advantages
of pagan science with a nominal adherence to orthodox absurdity.[560]
Thus the heathen origin of the midsummer festival is too palpable to
escape the attention of good Mohammedans, who accordingly frown upon the
midsummer bonfires as pagan superstitions, precisely as similar
observances in Europe have often been denounced by orthodox
Christianity. Indeed, many religious people in Morocco entirely
disapprove of the whole of the midsummer ceremonies, maintaining that
they are all bad; and a conscientious schoolmaster will even refuse his
pupils a holiday at midsummer, though the boys sometimes offer him a
bribe if he will sacrifice his scruples to his avarice.[561] As the
midsummer customs appear to flourish among all the Berbers of Morocco
but to be unknown among the pure Arabs who have not been affected by
Berber influence, it seems reasonable to infer with Dr. Westermarck that
the midsummer festival has belonged from time immemorial to the Berber
race, and that so far as it is now observed by the Arabs of Morocco, it
has been learned by them from the Berbers, the old indigenous
inhabitants of the country. Dr. Westermarck may also be right in holding
that, in spite of the close similarity which obtains between the
midsummer festival of Europe and the midsummer festival of North Africa,
the latter is not a copy of the former, but that both have been handed
down independently from a time beyond the purview of history, when such
ceremonies were common to the Mediterranean race.[562]

Sec. 5. _The Autumn Fires_

[Festivals of fire in August; Russian feast of Florus and Laurus on
August 18th; "Living fire" made by the friction of wood.]

In the months which elapse between midsummer and the setting in of
winter the European festivals of fire appear to be few and unimportant.
On the evening of the first day of August, which is the Festival of the
Cross, bonfires are commonly lit in Macedonia and boys jump over them,
shouting, "Dig up! bury!" but whom or what they wish to dig up or bury
they do not know.[563] The Russians hold the feast of two martyrs,
Florus and Laurus, on the eighteenth day of August, Old Style. "On this
day the Russians lead their horses round the church of their village,
beside which on the foregoing evening they dig a hole with two mouths.
Each horse has a bridle made of the bark of the linden-tree. The horses
go through this hole one after the other, opposite to one of the mouths
of which the priest stands with a sprinkler in his hand, with which he
sprinkles them. As soon as the horses have passed by their bridles are
taken off, and they are made to go between two fires that they kindle,
called by the Russians _Givoy Agon_, that is to say, living fires, of
which I shall give an account. I shall before remark, that the Russian
peasantry throw the bridles of their horses into one of these fires to
be consumed. This is the manner of their lighting these _givoy agon_, or
living fires. Some men hold the ends of a stick made of the plane-tree,
very dry, and about a fathom long. This stick they hold firmly over one
of birch, perfectly dry, and rub with violence and quickly against the
former; the birch, which is somewhat softer than the plane, in a short
time inflames, and serves them to light both the fires I have

[Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin on the eighth of September at Capri
and Naples.]

The Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin on the eighth day of September
is celebrated at Naples and Capri with fireworks, bonfires, and
assassinations. On this subject my friend Professor A. E. Housman, who
witnessed the celebration in different years at both places, has kindly
furnished me with the following particulars: "In 1906 I was in the
island of Capri on September the eighth, the feast of the Nativity of
the Virgin. The anniversary was duly solemnised by fire-works at nine or
ten in the evening, which I suppose were municipal; but just after
sundown the boys outside the villages were making small fires of
brushwood on waste bits of ground by the wayside. Very pretty it looked,
with the flames blowing about in the twilight; but what took my
attention was the listlessness of the boys and their lack of interest in
the proceeding. A single lad, the youngest, would be raking the fire
together and keeping it alight, but the rest stood lounging about and
looking in every other direction, with the air of discharging
mechanically a traditional office from which all zest had evaporated."
"The pious orgy at Naples on September the eighth went through the
following phases when I witnessed it in 1897. It began at eight in the
evening with an illumination of the facade of Santa Maria Piedigrotta
and with the whole population walking about blowing penny trumpets.
After four hours of this I went to bed at midnight, and was lulled to
sleep by barrel-organs, which supersede the trumpets about that hour. At
four in the morning I was waked by detonations as if the British fleet
were bombarding the city, caused, I was afterwards told, by dynamite
rockets. The only step possible beyond this is assassination, which
accordingly takes place about peep of day: I forget now the number of
the slain, but I think the average is eight or ten, and I know that in
honour of my presence they murdered a few more than usual."

[The Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin may have replaced a pagan
festival; the coincidence of the Midsummer festival with the summer
solstice implies that the founders of the festival regulated their
calendar by observation of the sun.]

It is no doubt possible that these illuminations and fireworks, like the
assassinations, are merely the natural and spontaneous expressions of
that overflowing joy with which the thought of the birth of the Virgin
must fill every pious heart; but when we remember how often the Church
has skilfully decanted the new wine of Christianity into the old bottles
of heathendom, we may be allowed to conjecture that the ecclesiastical
authorities adroitly timed the Nativity of the Virgin so as to coincide
with an old pagan festival of that day, in which fire, noise, and
uproar, if not broken heads and bloodshed, were conspicuous features.
The penny trumpets blown on this occasion recall the like melodious
instruments which figure so largely in the celebration of Befana (the
Eve of Epiphany) at Rome.[565]

Sec. 6. _The Hallowe'en Fires_

[On the other hand the Celts divided their year, not by the solstices,
but by the beginning of summer (the first of May) and the beginning of
winter (the first of November).]

From the foregoing survey we may infer that among the heathen
forefathers of the European peoples the most popular and widespread
fire-festival of the year was the great celebration of Midsummer Eve or
Midsummer Day. The coincidence of the festival with the summer solstice
can hardly be accidental. Rather we must suppose that our pagan
ancestors purposely timed the ceremony of fire on earth to coincide with
the arrival of the sun at the highest point of his course in the sky. If
that was so, it follows that the old founders of the midsummer rites had
observed the solstices or turning-points of the sun's apparent path in
the sky, and that they accordingly regulated their festal calendar to
some extent by astronomical considerations.

[The division seems to have been neither astronomical nor agricultural
but pastoral, being determined by the times when cattle are driven to
and from their summer pasture.]

But while this may be regarded as fairly certain for what we may call
the aborigines throughout a large part of the continent, it appears not
to have been true of the Celtic peoples who inhabited the Land's End of
Europe, the islands and promontories that stretch out into the Atlantic
ocean on the North-West. The principal fire-festivals of the Celts,
which have survived, though in a restricted area and with diminished
pomp, to modern times and even to our own day, were seemingly timed
without any reference to the position of the sun in the heaven. They
were two in number, and fell at an interval of six months, one being
celebrated on the eve of May Day and the other on Allhallow Even or
Hallowe'en, as it is now commonly called, that is, on the thirty-first
of October, the day preceding All Saints' or Allhallows' Day. These
dates coincide with none of the four great hinges on which the solar
year revolves, to wit, the solstices and the equinoxes. Nor do they
agree with the principal seasons of the agricultural year, the sowing in
spring and the reaping in autumn. For when May Day comes, the seed has
long been committed to the earth; and when November opens, the harvest
has long been reaped and garnered, the fields lie bare, the fruit-trees
are stripped, and even the yellow leaves are fast fluttering to the
ground. Yet the first of May and the first of November mark
turning-points of the year in Europe; the one ushers in the genial heat
and the rich vegetation of summer, the other heralds, if it does not
share, the cold and barrenness of winter. Now these particular points of
the year, as has been well pointed out by a learned and ingenious
writer,[566] while they are of comparatively little moment to the
European husbandman, do deeply concern the European herdsman; for it is
on the approach of summer that he drives his cattle out into the open to
crop the fresh grass, and it is on the approach of winter that he leads
them back to the safety and shelter of the stall. Accordingly it seems
not improbable that the Celtic bisection of the year into two halves at
the beginning of May and the beginning of November dates from a time
when the Celts were mainly a pastoral people, dependent for their
subsistence on their herds, and when accordingly the great epochs of the
year for them were the days on which the cattle went forth from the
homestead in early summer and returned to it again in early winter.[567]
Even in Central Europe, remote from the region now occupied by the
Celts, a similar bisection of the year may be clearly traced in the
great popularity, on the one hand, of May Day and its Eve (Walpurgis
Night), and, on the other hand, of the Feast of All Souls at the
beginning of November, which under a thin Christian cloak conceals an
ancient pagan festival of the dead.[568] Hence we may conjecture that
everywhere throughout Europe the celestial division of the year
according to the solstices was preceded by what we may call a
terrestrial division of the year according to the beginning of summer
and the beginning of winter.

[The two great Celtic festivals, Beltane and Hallowe'en.]

Be that as it may, the two great Celtic festivals of May Day and the
first of November or, to be more accurate, the Eves of these two days,
closely resemble each other in the manner of their celebration and in
the superstitions associated with them, and alike, by the antique
character impressed upon both, betray a remote and purely pagan origin.
The festival of May Day or Beltane, as the Celts called it, which
ushered in summer, has already been described;[569] it remains to give
some account of the corresponding festival of Hallowe'en, which
announced the arrival of winter.

[Hallowe'en (the evening of October 31st) seems to have marked the
beginning of the Celtic year; the many forms of divination resorted to
at Hallowe'en are appropriate to the beginning of a New Year; Hallowe'en
also a festival of the dead.]

Of the two feasts Hallowe'en was perhaps of old the more important,
since the Celts would seem to have dated the beginning of the year from
it rather than from Beltane. In the Isle of Man, one of the fortresses
in which the Celtic language and lore longest held out against the siege
of the Saxon invaders, the first of November, Old Style, has been
regarded as New Year's day down to recent times. Thus Manx mummers used
to go round on Hallowe'en (Old Style), singing, in the Manx language, a
sort of Hogmanay song which began "To-night is New Year's Night,
_Hog-unnaa_!"[570] One of Sir John Rhys's Manx informants, an old man of
sixty-seven, "had been a farm servant from the age of sixteen till he
was twenty-six to the same man, near Regaby, in the parish of Andreas,
and he remembers his master and a near neighbour of his discussing the
term New Year's Day as applied to the first of November, and explaining
to the younger men that it had always been so in old times. In fact, it
seemed to him natural enough, as all tenure of land ends at that time,
and as all servant men begin their service then."[571] In ancient
Ireland, as we saw, a new fire used to be kindled every year on
Hallowe'en or the Eve of Samhain, and from this sacred flame all the
fires in Ireland were rekindled.[572] Such a custom points strongly to
Samhain or All Saints' Day (the first of November) as New Year's Day;
since the annual kindling of a new fire takes place most naturally at
the beginning of the year, in order that the blessed influence of the
fresh fire may last throughout the whole period of twelve months.
Another confirmation of the view that the Celts dated their year from
the first of November is furnished by the manifold modes of divination
which, as we shall see presently, were commonly resorted to by Celtic
peoples on Hallowe'en for the purpose of ascertaining their destiny,
especially their fortune in the coming year; for when could these
devices for prying into the future be more reasonably put in practice
than at the beginning of the year? As a season of omens and auguries
Hallowe'en seems to have far surpassed Beltane in the imagination of the
Celts; from which we may with some probability infer that they reckoned
their year from Hallowe'en rather than Beltane. Another circumstance of
great moment which points to the same conclusion is the association of
the dead with Hallowe'en. Not only among the Celts but throughout
Europe, Hallowe'en, the night which marks the transition from autumn to
winter, seems to have been of old the time of year when the souls of the
departed were supposed to revisit their old homes in order to warm
themselves by the fire and to comfort themselves with the good cheer
provided for them in the kitchen or the parlour by their affectionate
kinsfolk.[573] It was, perhaps, a natural thought that the approach of
winter should drive the poor shivering hungry ghosts from the bare
fields and the leafless woodlands to the shelter of the cottage with its
familiar fireside.[574] Did not the lowing kine then troop back from the
summer pastures in the forests and on the hills to be fed and cared for
in the stalls, while the bleak winds whistled among the swaying boughs
and the snow drifts deepened in the hollows? and could the good-man and
the good-wife deny to the spirits of their dead the welcome which they
gave to the cows?

[Fairies and Hobgoblins let loose at Hallowe'en.]

But it is not only the souls of the departed who are supposed to be
hovering unseen on the day "when autumn to winter resigns the pale
year." Witches then speed on their errands of mischief, some sweeping
through the air on besoms, others galloping along the roads on
tabby-cats, which for that evening are turned into coal-black
steeds.[575] The fairies, too, are all let loose, and hobgoblins of
every sort roam freely about In South Uist and Eriskay there is a

"_Hallowe'en will come, will come,
Witchcraft [or divination] will be set agoing,
Fairies will be at full speed,
Running in every pass.
Avoid the road, children, children_."[576]

[Dancing with the fairies at Hallowe'en.]

In Cardiganshire on November Eve a bogie sits on every stile.[577] On
that night in Ireland all the fairy hills are thrown wide open and the
fairies swarm forth; any man who is bold enough may then peep into the
open green hills and see the treasures hidden in them. Worse than that,
the cave of Cruachan in Connaught, known as "the Hell-gate of Ireland,"
is unbarred on Samhain Eve or Hallowe'en, and a host of horrible fiends
and goblins used to rush forth, particularly a flock of copper-red
birds, which blighted crops and killed animals by their poisonous
breath.[578] The Scotch Highlanders have a special name _Samhanach_
(derived from _Samhain_, "All-hallows") for the dreadful bogies that go
about that night stealing babies and committing other atrocities.[579]
And though the fairies are a kindlier folk, it is dangerous to see even
them at their revels on Hallowe'en. A melancholy case of this sort is
reported from the Ferintosh district of the Highlands, though others say
that it happened at the Slope of Big Stones in Harris. Two young men
were coming home after nightfall on Hallowe'en, each with a jar of
whisky on his back, when they saw, as they thought, a house all lit up
by the roadside, from which proceeded the sounds of music and dancing.
In reality it was not a house at all but a fairy knoll, and it was the
fairies who were jigging it about there so merrily. But one of the young
men was deceived and stepping into the house joined in the dance,
without even stopping to put down the jar of whisky. His companion was
wiser; he had a shrewd suspicion that the place was not what it seemed,
and on entering he took the precaution of sticking a needle in the door.
That disarmed the power of the fairies, and he got away safely. Well,
that day twelve months he came back to the spot and what should he see
but his poor friend still dancing away with the jar of whisky on his
back? A weary man was he, as you may well believe, but he begged to be
allowed to finish the reel which he was in the act of executing, and
when they took him out into the open air, there was nothing of him left
but skin and bones.[580] Again, the wicked fairies are apt to carry off
men's wives with them to fairyland; but the lost spouses can be
recovered within a year and a day when the procession of the fairies is
defiling past on Hallowe'en, always provided that the mortals did not
partake of elfin food while they were in elfinland.[581]

[Guleesh and the revels of the fairies at Hallowe'en.]

Sometimes valuable information may be obtained from the fairies on
Hallowe'en. There was a young man named Guleesh in the County of Mayo.
Near his house was a _rath_ or old fort with a fine grass bank running
round it. One Hallowe'en, when the darkness was falling, Guleesh went to
the rath and stood on a gray old flag. The night was calm and still;
there was not a breath of wind stirring, nor a sound to be heard except
the hum of the insects flitting past, or the whistle of the plovers, or
the hoarse scream of the wild geese as they winged their way far
overhead. Above the white fog the moon rose like a knob of fire in the
east, and a thousand thousand stars were twinkling in the sky. There was
a little frost in the air, the grass was white and crisp and crackled
under foot. Guleesh expected to see the fairies, but they did not come.
Hour after hour wore away, and he was just bethinking him of going home
to bed, when his ear caught a sound far off coming towards him, and he
knew what it was in a moment. The sound grew louder and louder; at first
it was like the beating of waves on a stony shore, then it was like the
roar of a waterfall, at last it was like a mighty rushing wind in the
tops of the trees, then the storm burst upon the rath, and sure enough
the fairies were in it. The rout went by so suddenly that Guleesh lost
his breath; but he came to himself and listened. The fairies were now
gathered within the grassy bank of the rath, and a fine uproar they
made. But Guleesh listened with all his ears, and he heard one fairy
saying to another that a magic herb grew by Guleesh's own door, and that
Guleesh had nothing to do but pluck it and boil it and give it to his
sweetheart, the daughter of the King of France, and she would be well,
for just then she was lying very ill. Guleesh took the hint, and
everything went as the fairy had said. And he married the daughter of
the King of France; and they had never a cark nor a care, a sickness nor
a sorrow, a mishap nor a misfortune to the day of their death.[582]

[Divination resorted to in Celtic countries at Hallowe'en.]

In all Celtic countries Hallowe'en seems to have been the great season
of the year for prying into the future; all kinds of divination were put
in practice that night. We read that Dathi, a king of Ireland in the
fifth century, happening to be at the Druids' Hill (_Cnoc-nan-druad_) in
the county of Sligo one Hallowe'en, ordered his druid to forecast for
him the future from that day till the next Hallowe'en should come round.
The druid passed the night on the top of the hill, and next morning made
a prediction to the king which came true.[583] In Wales Hallowe'en was
the weirdest of all the _Teir Nos Ysbrydion_, or Three Spirit Nights,
when the wind, "blowing over the feet of the corpses," bore sighs to the
houses of those who were to die within the year. People thought that if
on that night they went out to a cross-road and listened to the wind,
they would learn all the most important things that would befall them
during the next twelve months.[584] In Wales, too, not so long ago women
used to congregate in the parish churches on the night of Hallowe'en and
read their fate from the flame of the candle which each of them held in
her hand; also they heard the names or saw the coffins of the
parishioners who would die within the year, and many were the sad scenes
to which these gloomy visions gave rise.[585] And in the Highlands of
Scotland anybody who pleased could hear proclaimed aloud the names of
parishioners doomed to perish within the next twelve months, if he would
only take a three-legged stool and go and sit on it at three
cross-roads, while the church clock was striking twelve at midnight on
Hallowe'en. It was even in his power to save the destined victims from
their doom by taking with him articles of wearing apparel and throwing
them away, one by one, as each name was called out by the mysterious

[Hallowe'en bonfires in the Highlands of Scotland; John Ramsay's account
of the Hallowe'en bonfires; divination from stones at the fire;
Hallowe'en fires in the parishes of Callander and Logierait.]

But while a glamour of mystery and awe has always clung to Hallowe'en in
the minds of the Celtic peasantry, the popular celebration of the
festival has been, at least in modern times, by no means of a
prevailingly gloomy cast; on the contrary it has been attended by
picturesque features and merry pastimes, which rendered it the gayest
night of all the year. Amongst the things which in the Highlands of
Scotland contributed to invest the festival with a romantic beauty were
the bonfires which used to blaze at frequent intervals on the heights.
"On the last day of autumn children gathered ferns, tar-barrels, the
long thin stalks called _gainisg_, and everything suitable for a
bonfire. These were placed in a heap on some eminence near the house,
and in the evening set fire to. The fires were called _Samhnagan_. There
was one for each house, and it was an object of ambition who should have
the biggest. Whole districts were brilliant with bonfires, and their
glare across a Highland loch, and from many eminences, formed an
exceedingly picturesque scene."[587] Like the Beltane fires on the first
of May, the Hallowe'en bonfires seem to have been kindled most commonly
in the Perthshire Highlands. Travelling in the parish of Moulin, near
Pitlochrie, in the year 1772, the Englishman Thomas Pennant writes that
"Hallow Eve is also kept sacred: as soon as it is dark, a person sets
fire to a bush of broom fastened round a pole, and, attended with a
crowd, runs about the village. He then flings it down, heaps great
quantity of combustible matters on it, and makes a great bonfire. A
whole tract is thus illuminated at the same time, and makes a fine
appearance."[588] The custom has been described more fully by a
Scotchman of the eighteenth century, John Ramsay of Ochtertyre. On the
evening of Hallowe'en "the young people of every hamlet assembled upon
some eminence near the houses. There they made a bonfire of ferns or
other fuel, cut the same day, which from the feast was called _Samh-nag_
or _Savnag_, a fire of rest and pleasure. Around it was placed a circle
of stones, one for each person of the families to whom they belonged.
And when it grew dark the bonfire was kindled, at which a loud shout was
set up. Then each person taking a torch of ferns or sticks in his hand,
ran round the fire exulting; and sometimes they went into the adjacent
fields, where, if there was another company, they visited the bonfire,
taunting the others if inferior in any respect to themselves. After the
fire was burned out they returned home, where a feast was prepared, and
the remainder of the evening was spent in mirth and diversions of
various kinds. Next morning they repaired betimes to the bonfire, where
the situation of the stones was examined with much attention. If any of
them were misplaced, or if the print of a foot could be discerned near
any particular stone, it was imagined that the person for whom it was
set would not live out the year. Of late years this is less attended to,
but about the beginning of the present century it was regarded as a sure
prediction. The Hallowe'en fire is still kept up in some parts of the
Low country; but on the western coast and in the Isles it is never
kindled, though the night is spent in merriment and
entertainments."[589] In the Perthshire parish of Callander, which
includes the now famous pass of the Trossachs opening out on the winding
and wooded shores of the lovely Loch Katrine, the Hallowe'en bonfires
were still kindled down to near the end of the eighteenth century. When
the fire had died down, the ashes were carefully collected in the form
of a circle, and a stone was put in, near the circumference, for every
person of the several families interested in the bonfire. Next morning,
if any of these stones was found to be displaced or injured, the people
made sure that the person represented by it was _fey_ or devoted, and
that he could not live twelve months from that day.[590] In the parish
of Logierait, which covers the beautiful valley of the Tummel, one of
the fairest regions of all Scotland, the Hallowe'en fire was somewhat
different. Faggots of heath, broom, and the dressings of flax were
kindled and carried on poles by men, who ran with them round the
villages, attended by a crowd. As soon as one faggot was burnt out, a
fresh one was lighted and fastened to the pole. Numbers of these blazing
faggots were often carried about together, and when the night happened
to be dark, they formed a splendid illumination.[591]

[Hallowe'en fires on Loch Tay; Hallowe'en fires at Balquhidder.]

Nor did the Hallowe'en fires die out in Perthshire with the end of the
eighteenth century. Journeying from Dunkeld to Aberfeldy on Hallowe'en
in the first half of the nineteenth century, Sheriff Barclay counted
thirty fires blazing on the hill tops, and saw the figures of the people
dancing like phantoms round the flames.[592] Again, "in 1860, I was
residing near the head of Loch Tay during the season of the Hallowe'en
feast. For several days before Hallowe'en, boys and youths collected
wood and conveyed it to the most prominent places on the hill sides in
their neighbourhood. Some of the heaps were as large as a corn-stack or
hayrick. After dark on Hallowe'en, these heaps were kindled, and for
several hours both sides of Loch Tay were illuminated as far as the eye
could see. I was told by old men that at the beginning of this century
men as well as boys took part in getting up the bonfires, and that, when
the fire was ablaze, all joined hands and danced round the fire, and
made a great noise; but that, as these gatherings generally ended in
drunkenness and rough and dangerous fun, the ministers set their faces
against the observance, and were seconded in their efforts by the more
intelligent and well-behaved in the community; and so the practice was
discontinued by adults and relegated to school boys."[593] At
Balquhidder down to the latter part of the nineteenth century each
household kindled its bonfire at Hallowe'en, but the custom was chiefly
observed by children. The fires were lighted on any high knoll near the
house; there was no dancing round them.[594]

[Hallowe'en fires in Buchan to burn the witches; processions with
torches at Hallowe'en in the Braemar Highlands.]

Hallowe'en fires were also lighted in some districts of the north-east
of Scotland, such as Buchan. Villagers and farmers alike must have their
fire. In the villages the boys went from house to house and begged a
peat from each householder, usually with the words, "Ge's a peat t' burn
the witches." In some villages the lads collected the peats in a cart,
some of them drawing it along and the others receiving the peats and
loading them on the cart. Along with the peats they accumulated straw,
furze, potato haulm, everything that would burn quickly, and when they
had got enough they piled it all in a heap and set it on fire. Then each
of the youths, one after another, laid himself down on the ground as
near to the fire as he could without being scorched, and thus lying
allowed the smoke to roll over him. The others ran through the smoke and
jumped over their prostrate comrade. When the heap was burned down, they
scattered the ashes. Each one took a share in this part of the ceremony,
giving a kick first with the right foot and then with the left; and each
vied with the other who should scatter the most. After that some of them
still continued to run through the scattered ashes and to pelt each
other with the half-burned peats. At each farm a spot as high as
possible, not too near the steading, was chosen for the fire, and the
proceedings were much the same as at the village bonfire. The lads of
one farm, when their own fire was burned down and the ashes scattered,
sometimes went to a neighbouring fire and helped to kick the ashes
about.[595] Referring to this part of Scotland, a writer at the end of
the eighteenth century observes that "the Hallow-even fire, another
relict of druidism, was kindled in Buchan. Various magic ceremonies were
then celebrated to counteract the influence of witches and demons, and
to prognosticate to the young their success or disappointment in the
matrimonial lottery. These being devoutly finished, the hallow fire was
kindled, and guarded by the male part of the family. Societies were
formed, either by pique or humour, to scatter certain fires, and the
attack and defence were often conducted with art and with fury."[596]
Down to about the middle of the nineteenth century "the Braemar
Highlanders made the circuit of their fields with lighted torches at
Hallowe'en to ensure their fertility in the coming year. At that date
the custom was as follows: Every member of the family (in those days
households were larger than they are now) was provided with a bundle of
fir 'can'les' with which to go the round. The father and mother stood at
the hearth and lit the splints in the peat fire, which they passed to
the children and servants, who trooped out one after the other, and
proceeded to tread the bounds of their little property, going slowly
round at equal distances apart, and invariably with the sun. To go
'withershins' seems to have been reserved for cursing and
excommunication. When the fields had thus been circumambulated the
remaining spills were thrown together in a heap and allowed to burn

[Divination at Hallow-e'en in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland;
the stolen kail; sowing hemp seed; the winnowing basket; the wet shirt;
the thrown shoe.]

In the Highlands of Scotland, as the evening of Hallowe'en wore on,
young people gathered in one of the houses and resorted to an almost
endless variety of games, or rather forms of divination, for the purpose
of ascertaining the future fate of each member of the company. Were they
to marry or remain single, was the marriage to take place that year or
never, who was to be married first, what sort of husband or wife she or
he was to get, the name, the trade, the colour of the hair, the amount
of property of the future spouse--these were questions that were eagerly
canvassed and the answers to them furnished never-failing
entertainment.[598] Nor were these modes of divination at Hallowe'en
confined to the Highlands, where the bonfires were kindled; they were
practised with equal faith and in practically the same forms in the
Lowlands, as we learn, for example, from Burns's poem _Hallowe'en_,
which describes the auguries drawn from a variety of omens by the
Ayrshire peasantry. These Lowlanders of Saxon descent may well have
inherited the rites from the Celts who preceded them in the possession
of the south country. A common practice at Hallowe'en was to go out
stealthily to a neighbour's kailyard and there, with shut eyes, to pull
up the first kail stock that came to hand. It was necessary that the
plants should be stolen without the knowledge or consent of their owner;
otherwise they were quite useless for the purpose of divination.
Strictly speaking, too, the neighbour upon whose garden the raid was
made should be unmarried, whether a bachelor or a spinster. The stolen
kail was taken home and examined, and according to its height, shape,
and features would be the height, shape, and features of the future
husband or wife. The taste of the _custock_, that is, the heart of the
stem, was an infallible indication of his or her temper; and a clod of
earth adhering to the root signified, in proportion to its size, the
amount of property which he or she would bring to the common stock. Then
the kail-stock or _runt_, as it was called in Ayrshire, was placed over
the lintel of the door; and the baptismal name of the young man or woman
who first entered the door after the kail was in position would be the
baptismal name of the husband or wife.[599] Again, young women sowed
hemp seed over nine ridges of ploughed land, saying, "I sow hemp seed,
and he who is to be my husband, let him come and harrow it." On looking
back over her left shoulder the girl would see the figure of her future
mate behind her in the darkness. In the north-east of Scotland lint seed
was used instead of hemp seed and answered the purpose quite as
well.[600] Again, a mode of ascertaining your future husband or wife was
this. Take a clue of blue yarn and go to a lime-kiln. Throw the clue
into the kiln, but keep one end of the thread in your hand and wind it
on to another clue. As you come near the end somebody or something will
hold the other end tight in the kiln. Then you call out, "Who holds?"
giving the thread at the same time a gentle pull. Some one or something
will thereupon pull the other end of the thread, and a voice will
mention the name of your future husband or wife.[601] Another way is
this. Go to the barn alone and secretly. Be sure to open both doors and
if possible take them off their hinges; for if the being who is about to
appear should catch you in the barn and clap the doors to on you, he or
she might do you a mischief. Having done this, take the sieve or
winnowing-basket, which in Lowland Scotch is called a _wecht_ or
_waicht_, and go through the action of winnowing corn. Repeat it thrice,
and at the third time the apparition of your future husband or wife will
pass through the barn, entering at the windy door and passing out at the
other.[602] Or this. Go to a southward running stream, where the lands
of three lairds meet, or to a ford where the dead and living have
crossed. Dip the left sleeve of your shirt in the water. Then go home,
take off the shirt, hang it up before a fire to dry, and go to bed,
taking care that the bed stands so that you can see your shirt hanging
before the fire. Keep awake, and at midnight you will see the form of
your future spouse come into the room and turn the other side of the
sleeve to the fire to dry it.[603] A Highland form of divination at
Hallowe'en is to take a shoe by the tip and throw it over the house,
then observe the direction in which the toe points as it lies on the
ground on the other side; for in that direction you are destined to go
before long. If the shoe should fall sole uppermost, it is very unlucky
for you.[604]

[The white of eggs in water; the names on the chimney piece; the nuts in
the fire; the milk and meal; the apples in the water; the three plates.]

These ways of prying into the future are practised outside of the house;
others are observed in the kitchen or the parlour before the cheerful
blaze of the fire. Thus the white of eggs, dropped in a glass of pure
water, indicates by certain marks how many children a person will have.
The impatience and clamour of the children, eager to ascertain the exact
number of their future progeny, often induced the housewife to perform
this ceremony for them by daylight; and the kindly mother, standing with
her face to the window, dropping the white of an egg into a crystal
glass of clean water, and surrounded by a group of children intently
watching her proceedings, made up a pretty picture.[605] When the fun of
the evening had fairly commenced, the names of eligible or likely
matches were written on the chimney-piece, and the young man who wished
to try his fortune was led up blindfolded to the list. Whatever name he
put his finger on would prove that of his future wife.[606] Again, two
nuts, representing a lad and a lass whose names were announced to the
company, were put side by side in the fire. If they burned quietly
together, the pair would be man and wife, and from the length of time
they burned and the brightness of the flame the length and happiness of
the married life of the two were augured. But if instead of burning
together one of the nuts leaped away from the other, then there would be
no marriage, and the blame would rest with the person whose nut had thus
started away by itself.[607] Again, a dish of milk and meal (in Gaelic
_fuarag_, in Lowland Scotch _crowdie_) or of beat potatoes was made and
a ring was hidden in it. Spoons were served out to the company, who
supped the contents of the dish hastily with them, and the one who got
the ring would be the first to be married.[608] Again, apples and a
silver sixpence were put in a tub of water; the apples naturally floated
on the top and the sixpence sank to the bottom. Whoever could lift an
apple or the sixpence from the water with his mouth, without using his
teeth, was counted very lucky and got the prize to himself.[609] Again,
three plates or basins were placed on the hearth. One was filled with
clean water, another with dirty water, and the third was empty. The
enquirer was blindfolded, knelt in front of the hearth, and groped about
till he put his finger in one of them. If he lighted on the plate with
the clean water, he would wed a maid; if on the plate with the dirty
water, he would marry a widow; and if on the empty plate, he would
remain a bachelor. For a girl the answer of the oracle was analogous;
she would marry a bachelor, a widower, or nobody according to the plate
into which she chanced to dip her finger. But to make sure, the
operation had to be repeated thrice, the position of the plates being
changed each time. If the enquirer put his or her finger into the same
plate thrice or even twice, it was quite conclusive.[610]

[The sliced apple; the white of egg in water; the salt cake or salt

These forms of divination in the house were practised by the company in
a body; but the following had to be performed by the person alone. You
took an apple and stood with it in your hand in front of a
looking-glass. Then you sliced the apple, stuck each slice on the point
of the knife, and held it over your left shoulder, while you looked into
the glass and combed your hair. The spectre of your future husband would
then appear in the mirror stretching forth his hand to take the slices
of the apple over your shoulder. Some say that the number of slices
should be nine, that you should eat the first eight yourself, and only
throw the ninth over your left shoulder for your husband; also that at
each slice you should say, "In the name of the Father and the Son."[611]
Again, take an egg, prick it with a pin, and let the white drop into a
wine-glass nearly full of water. Take some of this in your mouth and go
out for a walk. The first name you hear called out aloud will be that of
your future husband or wife. An old woman told a lady that she had tried
this mode of divination in her youth, that the name of Archibald "came
up as it were from the very ground," and that Archibald sure enough was
the name of her husband.[612] In South Uist and Eriskay, two of the
outer Hebrides, a salt cake called _Bonnach Salainn_ is eaten at
Hallowe'en to induce dreams that will reveal the future. It is baked of
common meal with a great deal of salt. After eating it you may not drink
water nor utter a word, not even to say your prayers. A salt herring,
eaten bones and all in three bites, is equally efficacious, always
provided that you drink no water and hold your tongue.[613]

[Hallowe'en fires in Wales; omens drawn from stones thrown into the
fire; divination by stones in the ashes.]

In the northern part of Wales it used to be customary for every family
to make a great bonfire called _Coel Coeth_ on Hallowe'en. The fire was
kindled on the most conspicuous spot near the house; and when it had
nearly gone out everyone threw into the ashes a white stone, which he
had first marked. Then having said their prayers round the fire, they
went to bed. Next morning, as soon as they were up, they came to search
out the stones, and if any one of them was found to be missing, they had
a notion that the person who threw it would die before he saw another
Hallowe'en.[614] A writer on Wales at the beginning of the nineteenth
century says that "the autumnal fire is still kindled in North Wales,
being on the eve of the first day of November, and is attended by many
ceremonies; such as running through the fire and smoke, each casting a
stone into the fire, and all running off at the conclusion to escape
from the black short-tailed sow; then supping upon parsnips, nuts, and
apples; catching up an apple suspended by a string with the mouth alone,
and the same by an apple in a tub of water: each throwing a nut into the
fire; and those that burn bright, betoken prosperity to the owners
through the following year, but those that burn black and crackle,
denote misfortune. On the following morning the stones are searched for
in the fire, and if any be missing, they betide ill to those who threw
them in."[615] According to Sir John Rhys, the habit of celebrating
Hallowe'en by lighting bonfires on the hills is perhaps not yet extinct
in Wales, and men still living can remember how the people who assisted
at the bonfires would wait till the last spark was out and then would
suddenly take to their heels, shouting at the top of their voices, "The
cropped black sow seize the hindmost!" The saying, as Sir John Rhys
justly remarks, implies that originally one of the company became a
victim in dead earnest. Down to the present time the saying is current
in Carnarvonshire, where allusions to the cutty black sow are still
occasionally made to frighten children.[616] We can now understand why
in Lower Brittany every person throws a pebble into the midsummer
bonfire.[617] Doubtless there, as in Wales and the Highlands of
Scotland,[618] omens of life and death have at one time or other been
drawn from the position and state of the pebbles on the morning of All
Saints' Day. The custom, thus found among three separate branches of the
Celtic stock, probably dates from a period before their dispersion, or
at least from a time when alien races had not yet driven home the wedges
of separation between them.

[Divination as to love and marriage at Hallowe'en in Wales.]

In Wales, as in Scotland, Hallowe'en was also the great season for
forecasting the future in respect of love and marriage, and some of the
forms of divination employed for this purpose resembled those which were
in use among the Scotch peasantry. Two girls, for example, would make a
little ladder of yarn, without breaking it from the ball, and having
done so they would throw it out of the window. Then one of the girls,
holding the ball in her hand, would wind the yarn back, repeating a
rhyme in Welsh. This she did thrice, and as she wound the yarn she would
see her future husband climbing up the little ladder. Again, three bowls
or basins were placed on a table. One of them contained clean water, one
dirty water, and one was empty. The girls of the household, and
sometimes the boys too, then eagerly tried their fortunes. They were
blindfolded, led up to the table, and dipped their hands into a bowl. If
they happened to dip into the clean water, they would marry maidens or
bachelors; if into the dirty water, they would be widowers or widows; if
into the empty bowl, they would live unmarried. Again, if a girl,
walking backwards, would place a knife among the leeks on Hallowe'en,
she would see her future husband come and pick up the knife and throw it
into the middle of the garden.[619]

[Divination at Hallowe'en in Ireland.]

In Ireland the Hallowe'en bonfires would seem to have died out, but the
Hallowe'en divination has survived. Writing towards the end of the
eighteenth century, General Vallancey tells us that on Hallowe'en or the
vigil of Saman, as he calls it, "the peasants in Ireland assemble with
sticks and clubs (the emblems of laceration) going from house to house,
collecting money, bread-cake, butter, cheese, eggs, etc., etc., for the
feast, repeating verses in honour of the solemnity, demanding
preparations for the festival, in the name of St. Columb Kill, desiring
them to lay aside the fatted calf, and to bring forth the black sheep.
The good women are employed in making the griddle cake and candles;
these last are sent from house to house in the vicinity, and are lighted
up on the (Saman) next day, before which they pray, or are supposed to
pray, for the departed souls of the donor. Every house abounds in the
best viands they can afford: apples and nuts are devoured in abundance:
the nut-shells are burnt, and from the ashes many strange things are
foretold: cabbages are torn up by the root: hemp seed is sown by the
maidens, and they believe, that if they look back, they will see the
apparition of the man intended for their future spouse: they hang a
smock before the fire, on the close of the feast, and sit up all night,
concealed in a corner of the room, convinced that his apparition will
come down the chimney and turn the smock: they throw a ball of yarn out
of the window, and wind it on the reel within, convinced, that if they
repeat the _Pater Noster_ backwards, and look at the ball of yarn
without, they will then also see his _sith_ or apparition: they dip for
apples in a tub of water, and endeavour to bring one up in the mouth:
they suspend a cord with a cross-stick, with apples at one point, and
candles lighted at the other, and endeavour to catch the apple, while it
is in a circular motion, in the mouth. These, and many other
superstitious ceremonies, the remains of Druidism, are observed on this
holiday, which will never be eradicated, while the name of _Saman_ is
permitted to remain."[620]

[Divination at Hallow-e'en in Queen's County; divination at Hallow-e'en
in County Leitrim; divination at Hallowe'en in County Roscommon.]

In Queen's County, Ireland, down to the latter part of the nineteenth
century children practised various of these rites of divination on
Hallowe'en. Girls went out into the garden blindfold and pulled up
cabbages: if the cabbage was well grown, the girl would have a handsome
husband, but if it had a crooked stalk, the future spouse would be a
stingy old man. Nuts, again, were placed in pairs on the bar of the
fire, and from their behaviour omens were drawn of the fate in love and
marriage of the couple whom they represented. Lead, also, was melted and
allowed to drop into a tub of cold water, and from the shapes which it
assumed in the water predictions were made to the children of their
future destiny. Again, apples were bobbed for in a tub of water and
brought up with the teeth; or a stick was hung from a hook with an apple
at one end and a candle at the other, and the stick being made to
revolve you made a bite at the apple and sometimes got a mouthful of
candle instead.[621] In County Leitrim, also, down to near the end of
the nineteenth century various forms of divination were practised at
Hallowe'en. Girls ascertained the character of their future husbands by
the help of cabbages just as in Queen's County. Again, if a girl found a
branch of a briar-thorn which had bent over and grown into the ground so
as to form a loop, she would creep through the loop thrice late in the
evening in the devil's name, then cut the briar and put it under her
pillow, all without speaking a word. Then she would lay her head on the
pillow and dream of the man she was to marry. Boys, also, would dream in
like manner of love and marriage at Hallowe'en, if only they would
gather ten leaves of ivy without speaking, throw away one, and put the
other nine under their pillow. Again, divination was practised by means
of a cake called _barm-breac_, in which a nut and a ring were baked.
Whoever got the ring would be married first; whoever got the nut would
marry a widow or a widower; but if the nut were an empty shell, he or
she would remain unwed. Again, a girl would take a clue of worsted, go
to a lime kiln in the gloaming, and throw the clew into the kiln in the
devil's name, while she held fast the other end of the thread. Then she
would rewind the thread and ask, "Who holds my clue?" and the name of
her future husband would come up from the depth of the kiln. Another way
was to take a rake, go to a rick and walk round it nine times, saying,
"I rake this rick in the devil's name." At the ninth time the wraith of
your destined partner for life would come and take the rake out of your
hand. Once more, before the company separated for the night, they would
rake the ashes smooth on the hearth, and search them next morning for
tracks, from which they judged whether anybody should come to the house,
or leave it, or die in it before another year was out.[622] In County
Roscommon, which borders on County Leitrim, a cake is made in nearly
every house on Hallowe'en, and a ring, a coin, a sloe, and a chip of
wood are put into it. Whoever gets the coin will be rich; whoever gets
the ring will be married first; whoever gets the chip of wood, which
stands for a coffin, will die first; and whoever gets the sloe will live
longest, because the fairies blight the sloes in the hedges on
Hallowe'en, so that the sloe in the cake will be the last of the year.
Again, on the same mystic evening girls take nine grains of oats in
their mouths, and going out without speaking walk about till they hear a
man's name pronounced; it will be the name of their future husband. In
County Roscommon, too, on Hallowe'en there is the usual dipping in water
for apples or sixpences, and the usual bites at a revolving apple and
tallow candle.[623]

[Hallowe'en fires in the Isle of Man; divination at Hallowe'en in the
Isle of Man.]

In the Isle of Man also, another Celtic country, Hallow-e'en was
celebrated down to modern times by the kindling of fires, accompanied
with all the usual ceremonies designed to prevent the baneful influence
of fairies and witches. Bands of young men perambulated the island by
night, and at the door of every dwelling-house they struck up a Manx
rhyme, beginning

"_Noght oie howney hop-dy-naw_,"

that is to say, "This is Hollantide Eve." For Hollantide is the Manx way
of expressing the old English _All hallowen tide_, that is, All Saints'
Day, the first of November. But as the people reckon this festival
according to the Old Style, Hollantide in the Isle of Man is our twelfth
of November. The native Manx name for the day is _Sauin_ or _Laa
Houney_. Potatoes, parsnips and fish, pounded up together and mixed with
butter, formed the proper evening meal (_mrastyr_) on Hallowe'en in the
Isle of Man.[624] Here, too, as in Scotland forms of divination are
practised by some people on this important evening. For example, the
housewife fills a thimble full of salt for each member of the family and
each guest; the contents of the thimblefuls are emptied out in as many
neat little piles on a plate, and left there over night. Next morning
the piles are examined, and if any of them has fallen down, he or she
whom it represents will die within the year. Again, the women carefully
sweep out the ashes from under the fireplace and flatten them down
neatly on the open hearth. If they find next morning a footprint turned
towards the door, it signifies a death in the family within the year;
but if the footprint is turned in the opposite direction, it bodes a
marriage. Again, divination by eavesdropping is practised in the Isle of
Man in much the same way as in Scotland. You go out with your mouth full
of water and your hands full of salt and listen at a neighbour's door,
and the first name you hear will be the name of your husband. Again,
Manx maids bandage their eyes and grope about the room till they dip
their hands in vessels full of clean or dirty water, and so on; and from
the thing they touch they draw corresponding omens. But some people in
the Isle of Man observe these auguries, not on Hallowe'en or Hollantide
Eve, as they call it, which was the old Manx New Year's Eve, but on the
modern New Year's Eve, that is, on the thirty-first of December. The
change no doubt marks a transition from the ancient to the modern mode
of dating the beginning of the year.[625]

[Hallowe'en fires and divination in Lancashire; candles lighted to keep
off the witches; divination at Hallowe'en in Northumberland; Hallowe'en
fires in France.]

In Lancashire, also, some traces of the old Celtic celebration of
Hallowe'en have been reported in modern times. It is said that "fires
are still lighted in Lancashire, on Hallowe'en, under the name of
Beltains or Teanlas; and even such cakes as the Jews are said to have
made in honour of the Queen of Heaven, are yet to be found at this
season amongst the inhabitants of the banks of the Ribble.... Both the
fires and the cakes, however, are now connected with superstitious
notions respecting Purgatory, etc."[626] On Hallowe'en, too, the
Lancashire maiden "strews the ashes which are to take the form of one or
more letters of her lover's name; she throws hemp-seed over her shoulder
and timidly glances to see who follows her."[627] Again, witches in
Lancashire used to gather on Hallowe'en at the Malkin Tower, a ruined
and desolate farm-house in the forest of Pendle. They assembled for no
good purpose; but you could keep the infernal rout at bay by carrying a
lighted candle about the fells from eleven to twelve o'clock at night.
The witches tried to blow out the candle, and if they succeeded, so much
the worse for you; but if the flame burned steadily till the clocks had
struck midnight, you were safe. Some people performed the ceremony by
deputy; and parties went about from house to house in the evening
collecting candles, one for each inmate, and offering their services to
_late_ or _leet_ the witches, as the phrase ran. This custom was
practised at Longridge Fell in the early part of the nineteenth
century.[628] In Northumberland on Hallowe'en omens of marriage were
drawn from nuts thrown into the fire; and the sports of ducking for
apples and biting at a revolving apple and lighted candle were also
practised on that evening.[629] The equivalent of the Hallowe'en
bonfires is reported also from France. We are told that in the
department of Deux-Sevres, which forms part of the old province of
Poitou, young people used to assemble in the fields on All Saints' Day
(the first of November) and kindle great fires of ferns, thorns, leaves,
and stubble, at which they roasted chestnuts. They also danced round the
fires and indulged in noisy pastimes.[630]

Sec. 7. _The Midwinter Fires_

[A Midwinter festival of fire; Christmas the continuation of an old
heathen festival of the sun.]

If the heathen of ancient Europe celebrated, as we have good reason to
believe, the season of Midsummer with a great festival of fire, of which
the traces have survived in many places down to our own time, it is
natural to suppose that they should have observed with similar rites the
corresponding season of Midwinter; for Midsummer and Midwinter, or, in
more technical language, the summer solstice and the winter solstice,
are the two great turning-points in the sun's apparent course through
the sky, and from the standpoint of primitive man nothing might seem
more appropriate than to kindle fires on earth at the two moments when
the fire and heat of the great luminary in heaven begin to wane or to
wax. In this way the savage philosopher, to whose meditations on the
nature of things we owe many ancient customs and ceremonies, might
easily imagine that he helped the labouring sun to relight his dying
lamp, or at all events to blow up the flame into a brighter blaze.
Certain it is that the winter solstice, which the ancients erroneously
assigned to the twenty-fifth of December, was celebrated in antiquity as
the Birthday of the Sun, and that festal lights or fires were kindled on
this joyful occasion. Our Christmas festival is nothing but a
continuation under a Christian name of this old solar festivity; for the
ecclesiastical authorities saw fit, about the end of the third or the
beginning of the fourth century, arbitrarily to transfer the nativity of
Christ from the sixth of January to the twenty-fifth of December, for
the purpose of diverting to their Lord the worship which the heathen had
hitherto paid on that day to the sun.[631]

[The Yule log is the Midwinter counterpart of the Midsummer bonfire.]

In modern Christendom the ancient fire-festival of the winter solstice
appears to survive, or to have survived down to recent years, in the old
custom of the Yule log, clog, or block, as it was variously called in
England.[632] The custom was widespread in Europe, but seems to have
flourished especially in England, France, and among the South Slavs; at
least the fullest accounts of the custom come from these quarters. That
the Yule log was only the winter counterpart of the Midsummer bonfire,
kindled within doors instead of in the open air on account of the cold
and inclement weather of the season, was pointed out long ago by our
English antiquary John Brand;[633] and the view is supported by the many
quaint superstitions attaching to the Yule log, superstitions which have
no apparent connexion with Christianity but carry their heathen origin
plainly stamped upon them. But while the two solstitial celebrations
were both festivals of fire, the necessity or desirability of holding
the winter celebration within doors lent it the character of a private
or domestic festivity, which contrasts strongly with the publicity of
the summer celebration, at which the people gathered on some open space
or conspicuous height, kindled a huge bonfire in common, and danced and
made merry round it together.

[The Yule log in Germany; the Yule log in Switzerland.]

Among the Germans the custom of the Yule log is known to have been
observed in the eleventh century; for in the year 1184 the parish priest
of Ahlen, in Muensterland, spoke of "bringing a tree to kindle the festal
fire at the Lord's Nativity."[634] Down to about the middle of the
nineteenth century the old rite was kept up in some parts of central
Germany, as we learn from an account of it given by a contemporary
writer. After mentioning the custom of feeding the cattle and shaking
the fruit-trees on Christmas night, to make them bear fruit, he goes on
as follows: "Other customs pointing back to the far-off times of
heathendom may still be met with among the old-fashioned peasants of the
mountain regions. Such is in the valleys of the Sieg and Lahn the
practice of laying a new log as a foundation of the hearth. A heavy
block of oak-wood, generally a stump grubbed up from the ground, is
fitted either into the floor of the hearth, or into a niche made for the
purpose in the wall under the hook on which the kettle hangs. When the
fire on the hearth glows, this block of wood glows too, but it is so
placed that it is hardly reduced to ashes within a year. When the new
foundation is laid, the remains of the old block are carefully taken
out, ground to powder, and strewed over the fields during the Twelve
Nights. This, so people fancied, promotes the fruitfulness of the year's
crops."[635] In some parts of the Eifel Mountains, to the west of
Coblentz, a log of wood called the _Christbrand_ used to be placed on
the hearth on Christmas Eve; and the charred remains of it on Twelfth
Night were put in the corn-bin to keep the mice from devouring the
corn.[636] At Weidenhausen and Girkshausen, in Westphalia, the practice
was to withdraw the Yule log (_Christbrand_) from the fire so soon as it
was slightly charred; it was then kept carefully to be replaced on the
fire whenever a thunder-storm broke, because the people believed that
lightning would not strike a house in which the Yule log was
smouldering.[637] In some villages near Berleburg in Westphalia the old
custom was to tie up the Yule log in the last sheaf cut at harvest.[638]
On Christmas Eve the peasantry of the Oberland, in Meiningen, a province
of Central Germany, used to put a great block of wood called the
_Christklots_ on the fire before they went to bed; it should burn all
night, and the charred remains were believed to guard the house for the
whole year against the risk of fire, burglary, and other
misfortunes.[639] The Yule log seems to be known only in the
French-speaking parts of Switzerland, where it goes by the usual French
name of _Buche de Noel_. In the Jura mountains of the canton of Bern,
while the log is burning on the hearth the people sing a blessing over
it as follows:--

"_May the log burn!
May all good come in!
May the women have children
And the sheep lambs!
White bread for every one
And the vat full of wine_!"

The embers of the Yule log were kept carefully, for they were believed
to be a protection against lightning.[640]

[The Yule log in Belgium.]

"The Christmas fires, which were formerly lit everywhere in the Low
Countries, have fallen into disuse. But in Flanders a great log of wood,
called the _kersavondblok_ and usually cut from the roots of a fir or a
beech, is still put on the fire; all the lights in the house are
extinguished, and the whole family gathers round the log to spend part
of the night in singing, in telling stories, especially about ghosts,
were-wolves, and so on, and also in drinking gin. At Grammont and in the
neighbourhood of that town, where the Yule log is called _Kersmismot_,
it is customary to set fire to the remainder of the gin at the moment
when the log is reduced to ashes. Elsewhere a piece of the log is kept
and put under the bed to protect the house against thunder and
lightning. The charcoal of the log which burned during Christmas Night,
if pounded up and mixed with water, is a cure for consumption. In the
country of Limburg the log burns several nights, and the pounded
charcoal is kept as a preventive (so they say), of toothache."[641]

[The Yule log in France.]

In several provinces of France, and particularly in Provence, the custom
of the Yule log or _trefoir_, as it was called in many places, was long
observed. A French writer of the seventeenth century tells us that on
Christmas Eve the log was prepared, and when the whole family had
assembled in the kitchen or parlour of the house, they went and brought
it in, walking in procession and singing Provencal verses to the
following effect:--

"_Let the log rejoice,
To-morrow is the day of bread;
Let all good enter here;
Let the women bear children;
Let the she-goats bring forth kids;
Let the ewes drop lambs;
Let there be much wheat and flour,
And the vat full of wine_."

Then the log was blessed by the smallest and youngest child of the
house, who poured a glass of wine over it saying, _In nomine patris_,
etc.; after which the log was set on the fire. The charcoal of the burnt
wood was kept the whole year, and used as an ingredient in several

[French superstitions as to the Yule log.]

Amongst the superstitions denounced by the same writer is "the belief
that a log called the _trefoir_ or Christmas brand, which you put on the
fire for the first time on Christmas Eve and continue to put on the fire
for a little while every day till Twelfth Night, can, if kept under the
bed, protect the house for a whole year from fire and thunder; that it
can prevent the inmates from having chilblains on their heels in winter;
that it can cure the cattle of many maladies; that if a piece of it be
steeped in the water which cows drink it helps them to calve; and lastly
that if the ashes of the log be strewn on the fields it can save the
wheat from mildew."[643]

[The Yule log at Marseilles and in Perigord; virtues ascribed to the
charcoal and ashes of the burnt log; the Yule log in Berry.]

In Marseilles the Yule log used to be a great block of oak, which went
by the name of _calendeau_ or _calignau_; it was sprinkled with wine and
oil, and the head of the house kindled it himself.[644] "The Yule log
plays a great part at the festival of the winter solstice in Perigord.
The countryman thinks that it is best made of plum-tree, cherry, or oak,
and that the larger it is the better. If it burns well, it is a good
omen, the blessing of heaven rests upon it. The charcoal and ashes,
which are collected very carefully, are excellent for healing swollen
glands; the part of the trunk which has not been burnt in the fire is
used by ploughmen to make the wedge (_tecoin ou cale_) for their plough,
because they allege that it causes the seeds to thrive better; and the
women keep pieces of it till Twelfth Night for the sake of their
chickens. Nevertheless if you sit down on the log, you become subject to
boils, and to cure yourself of them you must pass nine times under a
bramble branch which happens to be rooted in the ground at both ends.
The charcoal heals sheep of a disease called the _goumon_; and the
ashes, carefully wrapt up in white linen, preserve the whole household
from accidents. Some people think that they will have as many chickens
as there are sparks that fly out of the brands of the log when they
shake them; and others place the extinct brands under the bed to drive
away vermin. In Vienne, on Christmas Eve, when supper is over, the
master of the house has a great log--the Christmas brand--brought in,
and then, surrounded by all the spectators gathered in profound silence,
he sprinkles salt and water on the log. It is then put on the fire to
burn during the three festivals; but they carefully preserve a piece to
be kindled every time that it thunders."[645] In Berry, a district of
Central France, the Yule log was called the _cosse de Nau_, the last
word being an abbreviation of the usual French word for Christmas
(Noel). It consisted of an enormous tree-trunk, so heavy that the united
strength of several men was needed to carry it in and place it on the
hearth, where it served to feed the fire during the three days of the
Christmas festivity. Strictly speaking, it should be the trunk of an old
oak-tree which had never been lopped and had been felled at midnight. It
was placed on the hearth at the moment when the tinkle of the bell
announced the elevation of the host at the midnight mass; and the head
of the family, after sprinkling it with holy water, set it on fire. The
remains of the log were preserved till the same day next year. They were
kept under the bed of the master of the house; and whenever thunder was
heard, one of the family would take a piece of the log and throw it on
the fire, which was believed to guard the family against lightning. In
the Middle Ages, we are told, several fiefs were granted on condition
that the vassal should bring in person a Yule log every year for the
hearth of his liege lord.[646]

[The Yule log in Normandy and Brittany.]

Similar customs and beliefs survived till recent years in some of the
remote country villages of the picturesque district known as the Bocage
of Normandy. There it was the grandfather or other oldest man of the
family who chose the Yule log in good time and had it ready for
Christmas Eve. Then he placed it on the hearth at the moment when the
church bell began to ring for the evening service. Kneeling reverently
at the hearth with the members of his family in a like attitude of
devotion, the old man recited three _Pater Nosters_ and three _Aves_,
and invoked the blessing of heaven on the log and on the cottage. Then
at the sound of the bell which proclaimed the sacrament of the mass, or,
if the church was too far off to allow the tinkle of the bell to be
heard, at the moment when they judged that the priest was elevating the
host before the high altar, the patriarch sprinkled the burning log with
holy water, blessed it in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Ghost, and drew it out of the fire. The charred log was then
carefully kept till the following Christmas as a precious relic which
would guard the house against the levin bolt, evil spirits, sorcerers,
and every misfortune that might befall in the course of the year.[647]
In the department of Orne "the Yule-log is called _trefouet_; holy water
is poured on it; it should last the three days of the festival, and the
remains of it are kept to be put on the fire when it thunders. This
brand is a protection both against thunder and against sorcerers."[648]
In Upper Brittany, also, the Yule log is thought to be a safeguard
against thunder and lightning. It is sprinkled with holy water on
Christmas morning and allowed to burn till evening. If a piece of it is
thrown into the well, it will ensure a supply of good water.[649]

[The Yule log in the Ardennes.]

"In almost all the families of the Ardennes," we are told, "at the
present day they never fail to put the Yule log on the fireplace, but
formerly it was the object of a superstitious worship which is now
obsolete. The charred remains of it, placed under the pillow or under
the house, preserved the house from storms, and before it was burned the
Virgin used to come and sit on it, invisible, swaddling the infant
Jesus. At Nouzon, twenty years ago, the traditional log was brought into
the kitchen on Christmas Eve, and the grandmother, with a sprig of box
in her hand, sprinkled the log with holy water as soon as the clock
struck the first stroke of midnight. As she did so she chanted,

'_When Christmas comes,
Every one should rejoice,
For it is a New Covenant_.'

"Following the grandmother and joining in the song, the children and the
rest of the family marched thrice round the log, which was as fine a log
as could be got."[650] We can now, perhaps, understand why in Perigord
people who sat on the Yule log suffered from boils,[651] and why in
Lorraine young folks used to be warned that if they sat on it they would
have the scab.[652] The reason probably was that the Virgin and child
were supposed to be seated, invisible, upon the log and to resent the
indignity of contact with mortal children.

[The Yule log in the Vosges; the Yule log in Franche-Comte and

On Christmas Eve the mountaineers of Rupt, in the Vosges, also never
fail to put on the hearth the largest log which the hearth can hold;
they call it _la galeuche de Noe_, that is, the Yule log. Next morning
they rake the ashes for any charred fragments and keep them as valuable
talismans to guard them against the stroke of lightning. At Vagney and
other places near it in the Vosges it used to be customary on the same
evening to grease the hinges and the latches of the doors, that no harsh
grating sound should break the slumbers of the infant Christ. In the
Vosges Mountains, too, as indeed in many other places, cattle acquired
the gift of speech on Christmas Eve and conversed with each other in the
language of Christians. Their conversation was, indeed, most
instructive; for the future, it seems, had no secret worth mentioning
for them. Yet few people cared to be caught eavesdropping at the byre;
wise folk contented themselves with setting a good store of fodder in
the manger, then shut the door, and left the animals to their
ruminations. A farmer of Vecoux once hid in a corner of the byre to
overhear the edifying talk of the beasts. But it did him little good;
for one ox said to another ox, "What shall we do to-morrow?" and the
other replied, "We shall carry our master to the churchyard." Sure
enough the farmer died that very night and was buried next morning.[653]
In Franche-Comte, the province of France to the west of the Jura
mountains, if the Yule log is really to protect a house against thunder
and lightning, it is essential that it should burn during the midnight
mass, and that the flame should not go out before the divine service is
concluded. Otherwise the log is quite useless for the purpose.[654] In
Burgundy the log which is placed on the fire on Christmas Eve is called
the _suche_. While it is burning, the father of the family, assisted by
his wife and children, sings Christmas carols; and when he has finished,
he tells the smallest children to go into a corner of the room and pray
God that the log may give them sweeties. The prayer is invariably

[The Yule log and the Yule candle in England.]

In England the customs and beliefs concerning the Yule log, clog, or
block, as it was variously called, used to be similar. On the night of
Christmas Eve, says the antiquary John Brand, "our ancestors were wont
to light up candles of an uncommon size, called Christmas Candles, and
lay a log of wood upon the fire, called a Yule-clog or Christmas-block,
to illuminate the house, and, as it were, to turn night into day. This
custom is, in some measure, still kept up in the North of England. In
the buttery of St. John's College, Oxford, an ancient candle-socket of
stone still remains ornamented with the figure of the Holy Lamb. It was
formerly used to burn the Christmas Candle in, on the high table at
supper, during the twelve nights of that festival."[656] "A tall mould
candle, called a Yule candle, is lighted and set on the table; these
candles are presented by the chandlers and grocers to their customers.
The Yule-log is bought of the carpenters' lads. It would be unlucky to
light either of them before the time, or to stir the fire or candle
during the supper; the candle must not be snuffed, neither must any one
stir from the table till supper is ended. In these suppers it is
considered unlucky to have an odd number at table. A fragment of the log
is occasionally saved, and put under a bed, to remain till next
Christmas: it secures the house from fire; a small piece of it thrown
into a fire occurring at the house of a neighbour, will quell the raging
flame. A piece of the candle should likewise be kept to ensure good
luck."[657] In the seventeenth century, as we learn from some verses of
Herrick, the English custom was to light the Yule log with a fragment of
its predecessor, which had been kept throughout the year for the
purpose; where it was so kept, the fiend could do no mischief.[658]
Indeed the practice of preserving a piece of the Yule-log of one year to
light that of the next was observed by at least one family at Cheadle in
Staffordshire down to the latter part of the nineteenth century.[659]

[The Yule-log in Yorkshire; the Yule log in Lincolnshire; the Yule log
in Warwickshire, Shropshire, and Herefordshire; the Yule log in Wales.]

In the North of England farm-servants used to lay by a large knotty
block of wood for the Christmas fire, and so long as the block lasted
they were entitled by custom to ale at their meals. The log was as large
as the hearth could hold.[660] At Belford, in Northumberland, "the lord
of the manor sends round to every house, on the afternoon of Christmas
Eve, the Yule Logs--four or five large logs--to be burnt on Christmas
Eve and Day. This old custom has always, I am told, been kept up
here."[661] The custom of burning the Yule log at Christmas used to be
observed in Wensleydale and other parts of Yorkshire, and prudent
housewives carefully preserved pieces of the log throughout the year. At
Whitby the portions so kept were stowed away under the bed till next
Christmas, when they were burnt with the new log; in the interval they
were believed to protect the house from conflagration, and if one of
them were thrown into the fire, it would quell a raging storm.[662] The
practice and the belief were similar at Filey on the coast of Yorkshire,
where besides the Yule log a tall Yule candle was lit on the same
evening.[663] In the West Riding, while the log blazed cheerfully, the
people quaffed their ale and sang, "Yule! Yule! a pack of new cards and
a Christmas stool!"[664] At Clee, in Lincolnshire, "when Christmas Eve
has come the Yule cake is duly cut and the Yule log lit, and I know of
some even middle-class houses where the new log must always rest upon
and be lighted by the old one, a small portion of which has been
carefully stored away to preserve a continuity of light and heat."[665]
At the village of Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, down to 1759 at least,
the Yule-block, as it was called, was drawn into the house by a horse on
Christmas Eve "as a foundation for the fire on Christmas Day, and
according to the superstition of those times for the twelve days
following, as the said block was not to be entirely reduced to ashes
till that time had passed by."[666] As late as 1830, or thereabout, the
scene of lighting the hearth-fire on Christmas Eve, to continue burning
throughout the Christmas season, might have been witnessed in the
secluded and beautiful hill-country of West Shropshire, from Chirbury
and Worthen to Pulverbatch and Pontesbury. The Christmas brand or brund,
as they called it, was a great trunk of seasoned oak, holly, yew, or
crab-tree, drawn by horses to the farm-house door and thence rolled by
means of rollers and levers to the back of the wide open hearth, where
the fire was made up in front of it. The embers were raked up to it
every night, and it was carefully tended, that it might not go out
during the whole Christmas season. All those days no light might be
struck, given, or borrowed. Such was the custom at Worthen in the early
part of the nineteenth century.[667] In Herefordshire the Christmas
feast "lasted for twelve days, and no work was done. All houses were,
and are now, decorated with sprigs of holly and ivy, which must not be
brought in until Christmas Eve. A Yule log, as large as the open hearth
could accommodate, was brought into the kitchen of each farmhouse, and
smaller ones were used in the cottages. W---- P---- said he had seen a
tree drawn into the kitchen at Kingstone Grange years ago by two cart
horses; when it had been consumed a small portion was carefully kept to
be used for lighting next year's log. 'Mother always kept it very
carefully; she said it was lucky, and kept the house from fire and from
lightning.' It seems to have been the general practice to light it on
Christmas Eve."[668] "In many parts of Wales it is still customary to
keep part of the Yule-log until the following Christmas Eve 'for luck.'
It is then put into the fireplace and burnt, but before it is consumed
the new log is put on, and thus 'the old fire and the new' burn
together. In some families this is done from force of habit, and they
cannot now tell why they do it; but in the past the observance of this
custom was to keep witches away, and doubtless was a survival of

[The Yule log in Servia; the cutting of the oak tree to form the Yule

But nowhere, apparently, in Europe is the old heathen ritual of the Yule
log preserved to the present day more perfectly than in Servia. At early
dawn on Christmas Eve (_Badnyi Dan_) every peasant house sends two of
its strongest young men to the nearest forest to cut down a young oak
tree and bring it home. There, after offering up a short prayer or
crossing themselves thrice, they throw a handful of wheat on the chosen
oak and greet it with the words, "Happy _Badnyi_ day to you!" Then they
cut it down, taking care that it shall fall towards the east at the
moment when the sun's orb appears over the rim of the eastern horizon.
Should the tree fall towards the west, it would be the worst possible
omen for the house and its inmates in the ensuing year; and it is also
an evil omen if the tree should be caught and stopped in its fall by
another tree. It is important to keep and carry home the first chip from
the fallen oak. The trunk is sawn into two or three logs, one of them
rather longer than the others. A flat, unleavened cake of the purest
wheaten flour is brought out of the house and broken on the larger of
the logs by a woman. The logs are left for the present to stand outside,
leaning on one of the walls of the house. Each of them is called a Yule
log (_badnyak_).

[Prayers to Colleda.]

Meanwhile the children and young people go from house to house singing
special songs called _Colleda_ because of an old pagan divinity Colleda,
who is invoked in every line. In one of them she is spoken of as "a
beautiful little maid"; in another she is implored to make the cows
yield milk abundantly. The day is spent in busy preparations. The women
bake little cakes of a special sort in the shape of lambs, pigs, and
chickens; the men make ready a pig for roasting, for in every Servian
house roast pig is the principal dish at Christmas. A bundle of straw,
tied with a rope, is brought into the courtyard and left to stand there
near the Yule logs.

[The bringing in of the Yule log.]

At the moment when the sun is setting all the members of the family
assemble in the central hall (the great family kitchen) of the principal
house. The mother of the family (or the wife of the chief of the
Zadrooga)[670] gives a pair of woollen gloves to one of the young men,
who goes out and presently returns carrying in his gloved hands the
largest of the logs. The mother receives him at the threshold, throwing
at him a handful of wheat, in which the first chip of the oak tree cut
in the early morning for the Yule log has been kept all day. Entering
the central hall with the Yule log the young man greets all present with
the words: "Good evening, and may you have a happy Christmas!" and they
all answer in chorus, "May God and the happy and holy Christmas help
thee!" In some parts of Servia the chief of the family, holding a glass
of red wine in his hand, greets the Yule log as if it were a living
person, and drinks to its health. After that, another glass of red wine
is poured on the log. Then the oldest male member of the family,
assisted by the young man who brought in the log, places it on the
burning fire so that the thicker end of the log protrudes for about a
foot from the hearth. In some places this end is smeared with honey.

[The ceremony with the straw; the Yule candle.]

Next the mother of the family brings in the bundle of straw which was
left standing outside. All the young children arrange themselves behind
her in a row. She then walks slowly round the hall and the adjoining
rooms, throwing handfuls of straw on the floor and imitating the
cackling of a hen, while all the children follow her peeping with their
lips as if they were chickens cheeping and waddling after the mother
bird. When the floor is well strewn with straw, the father or the eldest
member of the family throws a few walnuts in every corner of the hall,
pronouncing the words: "In the name of God the Father, and the Son, and
the Holy Ghost, Amen!" A large pot, or a small wooden box, filled with
wheat is placed high in the east corner of the hall, and a tall candle
of yellow wax is stuck in the middle of the wheat. Then the father of
the family reverently lights the candle and prays God to bless the
family with health and happiness, the fields with a good harvest, the
beehives with plenty of honey, the cattle and sheep with young, and the
cows with abundant milk and rich cream. After that they all sit down to
supper, squatting on the floor, for the use of chairs and tables is
forbidden on this occasion.

[The roast Pig; the drawing of the water.]

By four o'clock next morning (Christmas Day) the whole village is astir;
indeed most people do not sleep at all that night. It is deemed most
important to keep the Yule log burning brightly all night long. Very
early, too, the pig is laid on the fire to roast, and at the same moment
one of the family goes out into the yard and fires a pistol or gun; and
when the roast pig is removed from the fire the shot is repeated. Hence
for several hours in the early morning of Christmas Day such a popping
and banging of firearms goes on that a stranger might think a stubborn
skirmish was in progress. Just before the sun rises a girl goes and
draws water at the village spring or at the brook. Before she fills her
vessels, she wishes the water a happy Christmas and throws a handful of
wheat into it. The first cupfuls of water she brings home are used to
bake a special Christmas cake (_chesnitsa_), of which all the members
partake at dinner, and portions are kept for absent relatives. A small
silver coin is baked in the cake, and he or she who gets it will be
lucky during the year.

[The Christmas visiter (_polaznik_).]

All the family gathered round the blazing Yule log now anxiously expect
the arrival of the special Christmas visiter, who bears the title of
_polaznik_. He is usually a young boy of a friendly family. No other
person, not even the priest or the mayor of the village, would be
allowed to set foot in the house before the arrival of this important
personage. Therefore he ought to come, and generally does come, very
early in the morning. He carries a woollen glove full of wheat, and when
the door is opened at his knock he throws handfuls of wheat on the
family gathered round the hearth, greeting them with the words, "Christ
is born!" They all answer, "He is born indeed," and the hostess flings a
handful of wheat over the Christmas visiter, who moreover casts some of
his wheat into the corners of the hall as well as upon the people. Then
he walks straight to the hearth, takes a shovel and strikes the burning
log so that a cloud of sparks flies up the chimney, while he says, "May
you have this year so many oxen, so many horses, so many sheep, so many
pigs, so many beehives full of honey, so much good luck, prosperity,
progress, and happiness!" Having uttered these good wishes, he embraces
and kisses his host. Then he turns again to the hearth, and after
crossing himself falls on his knees and kisses the projecting part of
the Yule log. On rising to his feet he places a coin on the log as his
gift. Meanwhile a low wooden chair has been brought in by a woman, and
the visiter is led to it to take his seat. But just as he is about to do
so, the chair is jerked away from under him by a male member of the
family and he measures his length on the floor. By this fall he is
supposed to fix into the ground all the good wishes which he has uttered
that morning. The hostess thereupon wraps him in a thick blanket, and he
sits quietly muffled in it for a few minutes; the thick blanket in which
he is swathed is believed, on the principles of homoeopathic magic, to
ensure that the cows will give thick cream next year. While he sits thus
enriching the milk of the dairy, the lads who are to herd the sheep in
the coming year go to the hearth and kneeling down before it kiss each
other across the projecting end of the Yule log. By this demonstration
of affection they are thought to seal the love of the ewes for their

[The Yule log among the Servians of Slavonia; the Christmas visiter

The ritual of the Yule log is observed in a similar form by the Servians
who inhabit the southern provinces of Austria. Thus in Syrmia, a
district of Slavonia which borders on Servia, the head of the house
sends out one or two young men on Christmas Eve to cut the Yule log in
the nearest forest. On being brought in, the log is not mixed with the
ordinary fuel but placed by itself, generally leaning against a
fruit-tree till the evening shadows begin to fall. When a man carries it
into the kitchen and lays it on the fire, the master of the house throws
corn over him, and the two greet each other solemnly the one saying,
"Christ is born," and the other answering "He is born indeed." Later in
the evening the master of the house pours a glass of wine on the charred
end of the log, whereupon one of the younger men takes the burnt piece
of wood, carries it to the orchard, and sets it up against one of the
fruit-trees. For this service he is rewarded by the master of the house
with a piece of money. On Christmas Day, when the family is assembled at
table, they expect the arrival of the special Christmas visiter (called
_polazenik_), the only person who is allowed to enter the house that
day. When he comes, he goes to the hearth, stirs the fire with the poker
and says, "Christ is born. May the family enjoy all good luck and
happiness in this year! May the cattle increase in number like the
sparks I have struck!" As he says these words, the mistress of the house
pours corn over him and leads him to the parlour, where he takes the
place of honour beside the master of the house. He is treated with
marked attention and respect. The family are at pains to entertain him;
they sing their best songs for his amusement, and after midnight a
numerous band of men and maidens escorts him by torchlight, with songs
and jubilation, to his own house.[672]

[The Yule log among the Servians of Dalmatia, Herzegovina, and
Montenegro; the Yule log in Albania.]

Among the Servians of Dalmatia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro it is
customary on Christmas Eve (_Badnyi Dan_) to fetch a great Yule log
(_badnyak_), which serves as a symbol of family luck. It is generally
cut from an evergreen oak, but sometimes from an olive-tree or a beech.
At nightfall the master of the house himself brings in the log and lays
it on the fire. Then he and all present bare their heads, sprinkle the
log with wine, and make a cross on it. After that the master of the
house says, "Welcome, O log! May God keep you from mishap!" So saying he
strews peas, maize, raisins, and wheat on the log, praying for God's
blessing on all members of the family living and dead, for heaven's
blessing on their undertakings, and for domestic prosperity. In
Montenegro they meet the log with a loaf of bread and a jug of wine,
drink to it, and pour wine on it, whereupon the whole family drinks out
of the same beaker. In Dalmatia and other places, for example in Rizano,
the Yule logs are decked by young women with red silk, flowers, laurel
leaves, ribbons, and even gold wire; and the lights near the doorposts
are kindled when the log is brought into the house. Among the Morlaks,
as soon as the master of the house crosses the threshold with the Yule
log, one of the family must sprinkle corn on him and say, "God bless
you," to which he answers, "The same to you." A piece of the log is kept
till New Year's Day to kindle a light with or it is carried out to the
fields to protect them from hail. It is customary to invite before hand
a Christmas visitor (_polazaynik_) and to admit no one else into the
house on that day. He comes early, carrying in his sleeves a quantity of
corn which he throws into the house, saying, "Christ is born." One of
the household replies, "He is born indeed," and throws corn on the
visiter. Then the newcomer goes up to the hearth, pokes the fire and
strikes the burning log with the poker so hard that sparks fly off in
all directions. At each blow he says, "I wish the family as many cows,
calves, sucking pigs, goats, and sheep, and as many strokes of good
luck, as the sparks that now fly from the log." With these words he
throws some small coins into the ashes.[673] In Albania down to recent
years it was a common custom to burn a Yule log at Christmas, and with
it corn, maize, and beans; moreover, wine and _rakia_ were poured on the
flames, and the ashes of the fire were scattered on the fields to make
them fertile.[674] The Huzuls, a Slavonic people of the Carpathians,
kindle fire by the friction of wood on Christmas Eve (Old Style, the
fifth of January) and keep it burning till Twelfth Night.[675]

[Belief that the Yule log protects against fire and lightning.]

It is remarkable how common the belief appears to have been that the
remains of the Yule-log, if kept throughout the year, had power to
protect the house against fire and especially against lightning.[676] As
the Yule log was frequently of oak,[677] it seems possible that this
belief may be a relic of the old Aryan creed which associated the
oak-tree with the god of thunder.[678] Whether the curative and
fertilizing virtues ascribed to the ashes of the Yule log, which are
supposed to heal cattle as well as men, to enable cows to calve, and to
promote the fruitfulness of the earth,[679] may not be derived from the
same ancient source, is a question which deserves to be considered.

[Public celebrations of the fire-festival at Midwinter; the bonfire on
Christmas Eve at Schweina in Thuringia.]

Thus far we have regarded only the private or domestic celebration of
the fire-festival at midwinter. The public celebration of such rites at
that season of the year appears to have been rare and exceptional in
Central and Northern Europe. However, some instances are on record. Thus
at Schweina, in Thuringia, down to the second half of the nineteenth
century, the young people used to kindle a great bonfire on the Antonius
Mountain every year on Christmas Eve. Neither the civil nor the
ecclesiastical authorities were able to suppress the celebration; nor
could the cold, rain, and snow of the season damp or chill the
enthusiasm of the celebrants. For some time before Christmas the young
men and boys were busy building a foundation for the bonfire on the top
of the mountain, where the oldest church of the village used to stand.
The foundation consisted of a pyramidal structure composed of stones,
turf, and moss. When Christmas Eve came round, a strong pole, with
bundles of brushwood tied to it, was erected on the pyramid. The young
folk also provided themselves with poles to which old brooms or faggots
of shavings were attached. These were to serve as torches. When the
evening grew dark and the church bells rang to service, the troop of
lads ascended the mountain; and soon from the top the glare of the
bonfire lit up the darkness, and the sound of a hymn broke the stillness
of night. In a circle round the great fire lesser fires were kindled;
and last of all the lads ran about swinging their lighted torches, till
these twinkling points of fire, moving down the mountain-side, went out
one by one in the darkness. At midnight the bells rang out from the
church tower, mingled with the blast of horns and the sound of singing.
Feasting and revelry were kept up throughout the night, and in the
morning young and old went to early mass to be edified by hearing of the
light eternal.[680]

[Bonfires on Christmas Eve in Normandy.]

In the Bocage of Normandy the peasants used to repair, often from a
distance of miles, to the churches to hear the midnight mass on
Christmas Eve. They marched in procession by torchlight, chanting
Christmas carols, and the fitful illumination of the woods, the hedges,
and the fields as they moved through the darkness, presented a
succession of picturesque scenes. Mention is also made of bonfires
kindled on the heights; the custom is said to have been observed at
Athis near Conde down to recent years.[681]

[Bonfires on St. Thomas's Day in the Isle of Man; the "Burning of the
Clavie" at Burghead on the last day of December; the old rampart at

In the Isle of Man, "on the twenty-first of December, a day dedicated to
Saint Thomas, the people went to the mountains to catch deer and sheep
for Christmas, and in the evenings always kindled a large fire on the
top of every _fingan_ or cliff. Hence, at the time of casting peats,
every one laid aside a large one, saying, '_Faaid mooar moayney son
oie'l fingan_'; that is, 'a large turf for Fingan Eve.'"[682] At
Burghead, an ancient village on the southern shore of the Moray Firth,
about nine miles from the town of Elgin, a festival of fire called "the
Burning of the Clavie" has been celebrated from time immemorial on
Hogmanay, the last day of December. A tar-barrel is sawn in two, one
half of it is set on the top of a stout pole, and filled with tar and
other combustibles. The half-barrel is fastened to the pole by means of
a long nail, which is made for the purpose and furnished gratuitously by
the village blacksmith. The nail must be knocked in with a stone; the
use of a hammer is forbidden. When the shades of evening have begun to
fall, the Clavie, as it is called, is set on fire by means of a burning
peat, which is always fetched from the same house; it may not be kindled
with a match. As soon as it is in a blaze, it is shouldered by a man,
who proceeds to carry it at a run, flaring and dripping melted tar,
round the old boundaries of the village; the modern part of the town is
not included in the circuit. Close at his heels follows a motley crowd,
cheering and shouting. One bearer relieves another as each wearies of
his burden. The first to shoulder the Clavie, which is esteemed an
honour, is usually a man who has been lately married. Should the bearer
stumble or fall, it is deemed a very ill omen for him and for the
village. In bygone times it was thought necessary that one man should
carry it all round the village; hence the strongest man was chosen for
the purpose. Moreover it was customary to carry the burning Clavie round
every fishing-boat and vessel in the harbour; but this part of the
ceremony was afterwards discontinued. Finally, the blazing tar-barrel is
borne to a small hill called the Doorie, which rises near the northern
end of the promontory. Here the pole is fixed into a socket in a pillar
of freestone, and fresh fuel is heaped upon the flames, which flare up
higher and brighter than ever. Formerly the Clavie was allowed to burn
here the whole night, but now, after blazing for about half an hour, it
is lifted from the socket and thrown down the western slope of the hill.
Then the crowd rushes upon it, demolishes it, and scrambles for the
burning, smoking embers, which they carry home and carefully preserve as
charms to protect them against witchcraft and misfortune.[683] The great
antiquity of Burghead, where this curious and no doubt ancient festival
is still annually observed, appears from the remains of a very
remarkable rampart which formerly encircled the place. It consists of a
mound of earth faced on both sides with a solid wall of stone and
strengthened internally by oak beams and planks, the whole being laid on
a foundation of boulders. The style of the rampart agrees in general
with Caesar's description of the mode in which the Gauls constructed
their walls of earth, stone, and logs,[684] and it resembles the ruins
of Gallic fortifications which have been discovered in France, though it
is said to surpass them in the strength and solidity of its structure.
No similar walls appear to be known in Britain. A great part of this
interesting prehistoric fortress was barbarously destroyed in the early
part of the nineteenth century, much of it being tumbled into the sea
and many of the stones used to build the harbour piers.[685]

[Procession with burning tar-barrels on Christmas Eve (Old Style) at

In Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands, "on Christmas Eve, the
fourth of January,--for the old style is still observed--the children go
_a guizing_, that is to say, they disguising themselves in the most
fantastic and gaudy costumes, parade the streets, and infest the houses
and shops, begging for the wherewithal to carry on their Christmas
amusements. One o'clock on Yule morning having struck, the young men
turn out in large numbers, dressed in the coarsest of garments, and, at
the double-quick march, drag huge tar barrels through the town, shouting
and cheering as they go, or blowing loud blasts with their 'louder
horns.' The tar barrel simply consists of several--say from four to
eight--tubs filled with tar and chips, placed on a platform of wood. It
is dragged by means of a chain, to which scores of jubilant youths
readily yoke themselves. They have recently been described by the worthy
burgh officer of Lerwick as 'fiery chariots, the effect of which is
truly grand and terrific.' In a Christmas morning the dark streets of
Lerwick are generally lighted up by the bright glare, and its atmosphere
blackened by the dense smoke of six or eight tar barrels in succession.
On the appearance of daybreak, at six A.M., the morning revellers put
off their coarse garments--well begrimed by this time--and in their turn
become guizards. They assume every imaginable form of costume--those of
soldiers, sailors, Highlanders, Spanish chevaliers, etc. Thus disguised,
they either go in pairs, as man and wife, or in larger groups, and
proceed to call on their friends, to wish them the compliments of the
season. Formerly, these adolescent guizards used to seat themselves in
crates, and accompanied by fiddlers, were dragged through the

[Persian festival of fire at the winter solstice.]

The Persians used to celebrate a festival of fire called _Sada_ or
_Saza_ at the winter solstice. On the longest night of the year they
kindled bonfires everywhere, and kings and princes tied dry grass to the
feet of birds and animals, set fire to the grass, and then let the birds
and beasts fly or run blazing through the air or over the fields and
mountains, so that the whole air and earth appeared to be on fire.[687]

Sec. 8. _The Need-fire_

[European festivals of fire in seasons of distress and calamity; the

The fire-festivals hitherto described are all celebrated periodically at
certain stated times of the year. But besides these regularly recurring
celebrations the peasants in many parts of Europe have been wont from
time immemorial to resort to a ritual of fire at irregular intervals in
seasons of distress and calamity, above all when their cattle were
attacked by epidemic disease. No account of the popular European
fire-festivals would be complete without some notice of these remarkable
rites, which have all the greater claim on our attention because they
may perhaps be regarded as the source and origin of all the other
fire-festivals; certainly they must date from a very remote antiquity.
The general name by which they are known among the Teutonic peoples is

[The needfire in the Middle Ages; the needfire at Neustadt in 1598.]

The history of the need-fire can be traced back to early Middle Ages;
for in the reign of Pippin, King of Franks, the practice of kindling
need-fires was denounced as a heathen superstition by a synod of
prelates and nobles held under the presidency of Boniface, Archbishop of
Mainz.[689] Not long afterwards the custom was again forbidden, along
with many more relics of expiring paganism, in an "Index of
Superstitions and Heathenish Observances," which has been usually
referred to the year 743 A.D., though some scholars assign it a later
date under the reign of Charlemagne.[690] In Germany the need-fires
would seem to have been popular down to the second half of the
nineteenth century. Thus in the year 1598, when a fatal cattle-plague
was raging at Neustadt, near Marburg, a wise man of the name of Joh.
Koehler induced the authorities of the town to adopt the following
remedy. A new waggon-wheel was taken and twirled round an axle, which
had never been used before, until the friction elicited fire. With this
fire a bonfire was next kindled between the gates of the town, and all
the cattle were driven through the smoke and flames. Moreover, every
householder had to rekindle the fire on his hearth by means of a light
taken from the bonfire. Strange to say, this salutary measure had no
effect whatever in staying the cattle-plague, and seven years later the
sapient Joh. Koehler himself was burnt as a witch. The farmers, whose
pigs and cows had derived no benefit from the need-fire, perhaps
assisted as spectators at the burning, and, while they shook their
heads, agreed among themselves that it served Joh. Koehler perfectly
right.[691] According to a writer who published his book about nine
years afterwards, some of the Germans, especially in the Wassgaw
mountains, confidently believed that a cattle-plague could be stayed by
driving the animals through a need-fire which had been kindled by the
violent friction of a pole on a quantity of dry oak wood; but it was a
necessary condition of success that all fires in the village should
previously be extinguished with water, and any householder who failed to
put out his fire was heavily fined.[692]

[Method kindling the need fire.]

The method of kindling the need-fire is described as follows by a writer
towards the end of the seventeenth century: "When an evil plague has
broken out among the cattle, large and small, and the herds have thereby
suffered great ravages, the peasants resolve to light a need-fire. On a
day appointed there must be no single flame in any house nor on any
hearth. From every house a quantity of straw and water and underwood
must be brought forth; then a strong oaken pole is fixed firmly in the
earth, a hole is bored in it, and a wooden winch, well smeared with
pitch and tar, is inserted in the hole and turned round forcibly till
great heat and then fire is generated. The fire so produced is caught in
fuel and fed with straw, heath, and underwood till it bursts out into a
regular need-fire, which must then be somewhat spread out between walls
or fences, and the cattle and horses driven through it twice or thrice
with sticks and whips. Others set up two posts, each with a hole in it,
and insert a winch, along with old greasy rags, in the holes. Others use
a thick rope, collect nine kinds of wood, and keep them in violent
motion till fire leaps forth. Perhaps there may be other ways of
generating or kindling this fire, but they are all directed simply at
the cure of the cattle. After passing twice or thrice through the fire
the cattle are driven to their stalls or to pasture, and the heap of
wood that had been collected is destroyed, but in some places every
householder must take with him a brand, extinguish it in a washing-tub
or trough, and put it in the manger where the cattle are fed, where it
must lie for some time. The poles that were used to make the need-fire,
together with the wood that was employed as a winch, are sometimes
burned with the rest of the fuel, sometimes carefully preserved after
the cattle have been thrice driven through the flames."[693]

[The mode of kindling the need-fire about Hildesheim.]

Sometimes the need-fire was known as the "wild fire," to distinguish it
no doubt from the tame fire produced by more ordinary methods. The
following is Grimm's account of the mode of kindling it which prevailed
in some parts of Central Germany, particularly about Hildesheim, down
apparently to the first half of the nineteenth century: "In many places
of Lower Saxony, especially among the mountains, the custom prevails of
preparing the so-called 'wild fire' for the purpose of preventing
cattle-plague; and through it first the pigs, then the cows, and last of
all the geese are driven. The proceedings on the occasion are as
follows. The principal farmers and parishioners assemble, and notice is
served to every inhabitant to extinguish entirely all fire in his house,
so that not even a spark remains alight in the whole village. Then young
and old repair to a road in a hollow, usually towards evening, the women
carrying linen, and the men wood and tow. Two oaken poles are driven
into the ground about a foot and a half from each other. Each pole has
in the side facing the other a socket into which a cross-piece as thick
as a man's arm is fitted. The sockets are stuffed with linen, and the
cross-piece is rammed in as tight as possible, while the poles are bound
together at the top by ropes. A rope is wound about the round, smooth
cross-piece, and the free ends of the rope at both sides are gripped by
several persons, who pull the cross-piece to and fro with the utmost
rapidity, till through the friction the linen in the sockets takes fire.
The sparks of the linen are immediately caught in tow or oakum and waved
about in a circle until they burst into a bright glow, when straw is
applied to it, and the flaming straw used to kindle the brushwood which
has been stacked in piles in the hollow way. When this wood has blazed
up and the fire has nearly died out again, the people hasten to the
herds, which have been waiting in the background, and drive them
forcibly, one after the other, through the glow. As soon as all the
beasts are through, the young folk rush wildly at the ashes and cinders,
sprinkling and blackening each other with them; those who have been most
sprinkled and blackened march in triumph behind the cattle into the
village and do not wash themselves for a long time. If after long
rubbing the linen should not catch fire, they guess that there is still
fire somewhere in the village; then a strict search is made from house
to house, any fire that may be found is put out, and the householder is
punished or upbraided. The 'wild fire' must be made by prolonged
friction; it may not be struck with flint and steel. Some villages do
not prepare it yearly as a preventive of cattle-plague, but only kindle
it when the disease has actually broken out."[694] In the Halberstadt
district the ends of the rope which was used to make the cross-piece
revolve in the sockets had to be pulled by two chaste young men.[695]

[The mode of kindling the need-fire in the Mark.]

In the Mark down to the first half of the nineteenth century the
practice was similar. We read that "in many parts of the Mark there
still prevails on certain occasions the custom of kindling a need-fire,
it happens particularly when a farmer has sick pigs. Two posts of dry
wood are planted in the earth amid solemn silence before the sun rises,
and round these posts hempen ropes are pulled to and fro till the wood
kindles; whereupon the fire is fed with dry leaves and twigs and the
sick beasts are driven through it In some places the fire is produced by
the friction of an old cart-wheel."[696]

[The mode of kindling the need-fire in Mecklenburg]

In Mecklenburg the need-fire used to be lighted by the friction of a
rope wound about an oaken pole or by rubbing two boards against each
other. Having been thus elicited, the flame was fed with wood of seven
kinds. The practice was forbidden by Gustavus Adolphus, Duke of
Mecklenburg, in 1682; but the prohibition apparently had little effect,
for down to the end of the eighteenth century the custom was so common
that the inhabitants even of large towns made no scruple of resorting to
it. For example, in the month of July 1792 sickness broke out among the
cattle belonging to the town of Sternberg; some of the beasts died
suddenly, and so the people resolved to drive all the survivors through
a need-fire. On the tenth day of July the magistrates issued a
proclamation announcing that next morning before sunrise a need-fire
would be kindled for the behoof of all the cattle of the town, and
warning all the inhabitants against lighting fires in their kitchens
that evening. So next morning very early, about two o'clock, nearly the
whole population was astir, and having assembled outside one of the
gates of the town they helped to drive the timid cattle, not without
much ado, through three separate need-fires; after which they dispersed
to their homes in the unalterable conviction that they had rescued the
cattle from destruction. But to make assurance doubly sure they deemed
it advisable to administer the rest of the ashes as a bolus to the
animals. However, some people in Mecklenburg used to strew the ashes of
the need-fire on fields for the purpose of protecting the crops against
vermin. As late as June 1868 a traveller in Mecklenburg saw a couple of
peasants sweating away at a rope, which they were pulling backwards and
forwards so as to make a tarry roller revolve with great speed in the
socket of an upright post. Asked what they were about, they vouchsafed
no reply; but an old woman who appeared on the scene from a neighbouring
cottage was more communicative. In the fulness of her heart she confided
to the stranger that her pigs were sick, that the two taciturn bumpkins
were her sons, who were busy extracting a need-fire from the roller, and
that, when they succeeded, the flame would be used to ignite a heap of
rags and brushwood, through which the ailing swine would be driven. She
further explained that the persons who kindle a need-fire should always
be two brothers or at least bear the same Christian name.[697]

[The mode of kindling the need-fire in Hanover.]

In the summer of 1828 there was much sickness among the pigs and the
cows of Eddesse, a village near Meinersen, in the south of Hanover. When
all ordinary measures to arrest the malady failed, the farmers met in
solemn conclave on the village green and determined that next morning
there should be a need-fire. Thereupon the head man of the village sent
word from house to house that on the following day nobody should kindle
a fire before sunrise, and that everybody should stand by ready to drive
out the cattle. The same afternoon all the necessary preparations were
made for giving effect to the decision of the collective wisdom. A
narrow street was enclosed with planks, and the village carpenter set to
work at the machinery for kindling the fire. He took two posts of oak
wood, bored a hole about three inches deep and broad in each, and set
the two poles up facing each other at a distance of about two feet. Then
he fitted a roller of oak wood into the two holes of the posts, so that
it formed a cross-piece between them. About two o'clock next morning
every householder brought a bundle of straw and brushwood and laid it
down across the street in a prescribed order. The sturdiest swains who
could be found were chosen to make the need-fire. For this purpose a
long hempen rope was wound twice round the oaken roller in the oaken
posts: the pivots were well smeared with pitch and tar: a bundle of tow
and other tinder was laid close at hand, and all was ready. The stalwart
clodhoppers now seized the two ends of the rope and went to work with a
will. Puffs of smoke soon issued from the sockets, but to the
consternation of the bystanders not a spark of fire could be elicited.
Some people openly declared their suspicion that some rascal had not put
out the fire in his house, when suddenly the tinder burst into flame.
The cloud passed away from all faces; the fire was applied to the heaps
of fuel, and when the flames had somewhat died down, the herds were
forcibly driven through the fire, first the pigs, next the cows, and
last of all the horses. The herdsmen then drove the beasts to pasture,
and persons whose faith in the efficacy of the need-fire was
particularly robust carried home brands.[698]

[The mode of kindling the need-fire in the Harz Mountains.]

Again, at a village near Quedlinburg, in the Harz Mountains, it was
resolved to put a herd of sick swine through the need-fire. Hearing of
this intention the Superintendent of Quedlinburg hurried to the spot and
has described for us what he saw. The beadles went from house to house
to see that there was no fire in any house; for it is well known that
should there be common fire burning in a house the need-fire will not
kindle. The men made their rounds very early in the morning to make
quite sure that all lights were out. At two o'clock a night-light was
still burning in the parsonage, and this was of course a hindrance to
the need-fire. The peasants knocked at the window and earnestly
entreated that the night-light might be extinguished. But the parson's
wife refused to put the light out; it still glimmered at the window; and
in the darkness outside the angry rustics vowed that the parson's pigs
should get no benefit of the need-fire. However, as good luck would have
it, just as the morning broke, the night-light went out of itself, and
the hopes of the people revived. From every house bundles of straw, tow,
faggots and so forth were now carried to feed the bonfire. The noise and
the cheerful bustle were such that you might have thought they were all
hurrying to witness a public execution. Outside the village, between two
garden walls, an oaken post had been driven into the ground and a hole
bored through it. In the hole a wooden winch, smeared with tar, was
inserted and made to revolve with such force and rapidity that fire and
smoke in time issued from the socket. The collected fuel was then thrown
upon the fire and soon a great blaze shot up. The pigs were now driven
into the upper end of the street. As soon as they saw the fire, they
turned tail, but the peasants drove them through with shrieks and shouts
and lashes of whips. At the other end of the street there was another
crowd waiting, who chased the swine back through the fire a second time.
Then the other crowd repeated the manoeuvre, and the herd of swine was
driven for the third time through the smoke and flames. That was the end
of the performance. Many pigs were scorched so severely that they gave
up the ghost. The bonfire was broken up, and every householder took home
with him a brand, which he washed in the water-barrel and laid for some
time, as a treasure of great price, in the manger from which the cattle
were fed. But the parson's wife had reason bitterly to repent her folly
in refusing to put out that night-light; for not one of her pigs was
driven through the need-fire, so they died.[699]

[The mode of kindling the need-fire in Brunswick.]

In Brunswick, also, the need-fire is known to have been repeatedly
kindled during the nineteenth century. After driving the pigs through
the fire, which was kindled by the friction of wood, some people took
brands home, dipped them in water, and then gave the water to the pigs
to drink, no doubt for the purpose of inoculating them still more
effectually with the precious virtue of the need-fire. In the villages
of the Droemling district everybody who bore a hand in kindling the "wild
fire" must have the same Christian name; otherwise they laboured in
vain. The fire was produced by the friction of a rope round the beams of
a door; and bread, corn, and old boots contributed their mites to swell
the blaze through which the pigs as usual were driven. In one place,
apparently not far from Wolfenbuettel, the needfire is said to have been
kindled, contrary to custom, by the smith striking a spark from the cold
anvil.[700] At Gandersheim down to about the beginning of the nineteenth
century the need-fire was lit in the common way by causing a cross-bar
to revolve rapidly on its axis between two upright posts. The rope which
produced the revolution of the bar had to be new, but it was if possible
woven from threads taken from a gallows-rope, with which people had been
hanged. While the need-fire was being kindled in this fashion, every
other fire in the town had to be put out; search was made through the
houses, and any fire discovered to be burning was extinguished. If in
spite of every precaution no flame could be elicited by the friction of
the rope, the failure was set down to witchcraft; but if the efforts
were successful, a bonfire was lit with the new fire, and when the
flames had died down, the sick swine were driven thrice through the
glowing embers.[701] On the lower Rhine the need-fire is said to have
been kindled by the friction of oak-wood on fir-wood, all fires in the
village having been previously extinguished. The bonfires so kindled
were composed of wood of nine different sorts; there were three such
bonfires, and the cattle were driven round them with great gravity and

[The mode of kindling the need-fire in Silesia and Bohemia.]

In Silesia, also, need-fires were often employed for the purpose of
curing a murrain or preventing its spread. While all other lights within
the boundaries were extinguished, the new fire was produced by the
friction of nine kinds of wood, and the flame so obtained was used to
kindle heaps of brushwood or straw to which every inhabitant had
contributed. Through these fires the cattle, both sick and sound, were
driven in the confident expectation that thereby the sick would be
healed and the sound saved from sickness.[703] When plague breaks out
among the herds at Dobischwald, in Austrian Silesia, a splinter of wood
is chipped from the threshold of every house, the cattle are driven to a
cross-road, and there a tree, growing at the boundary, is felled by a
pair of twin brothers. The wood of the tree and the splinters from the
thresholds furnish the fuel of a bonfire, which is kindled by the
rubbing of two pieces of wood together. When the bonfire is ablaze, the
horns of the cattle are pared and the parings thrown into the flames,
after which the animals are driven through the fire. This is believed to
guard the herd against the plague.[704] The Germans of Western Bohemia
resort to similar measures for staying a murrain. You set up a post,
bore a hole in it, and insert in the hole a stick, which you have first
of all smeared with pitch and wrapt in inflammable stuffs. Then you wind
a rope round the stick and give the two ends of the rope to two persons
who must either be brothers or have the same baptismal name. They haul
the rope backwards and forwards so as to make the tarred stick revolve
rapidly, till the rope first smokes and then emits sparks. The sparks
are used to kindle a bonfire, through which the cattle are driven in the
usual way. And as usual no other fire may burn in the village while the
need-fire is being kindled; for otherwise the rope could not possibly be
ignited.[705] In Upper Austria sick pigs are reported to have been
driven through a need-fire about the beginning of the nineteenth

[The use the need-fire in Switzerland.]

The need-fire is still in use in some parts of Switzerland, but it seems
to have degenerated into a children's game and to be employed rather for
the dispersal of a mist than for the prevention or cure of
cattle-plague. In some cantons it goes by the name of "mist-healing,"
while in others it is called "butter-churning." On a misty or rainy day
a number of children will shut themselves up in a stable or byre and
proceed to make fire for the purpose of improving the weather. The way
in which they make it is this. A boy places a board against his breast,
takes a peg pointed at both ends, and, setting one end of the peg
against the board on his breast, presses the other end firmly against a
second board, the surface of which has been flaked into a nap. A string
is tied round the peg, and two other boys pull it to and fro, till
through the rapid motion of the point of the peg a hole is burnt in the
flaked board, to which tow or dry moss is then applied as a tinder. In
this way fire and smoke are elicited, and with their appearance the
children fancy that the mist will vanish.[707] We may conjecture that
this method of dispersing a mist, which is now left to children, was
formerly practised in all seriousness by grown men in Switzerland. It is
thus that religious or magical rites dwindle away into the sports of
children. In the canton of the Grisons there is still in common use an
imprecation, "Mist, go away, or I'll heal you," which points to an old
custom of burning up the fog with fire. A longer form of the curse
lingers in the Vallee des Bagnes of the canton Valais. It runs thus:
"Mist, mist, fly, fly, or St. Martin will come with a sheaf of straw to
burn your guts, a great log of wood to smash your brow, and an iron
chain to drag you to hell."[708]

[The mode of kindling the need-fire in Sweden and Norway; the need-fire
as a protection against witchcraft.]

In Sweden the need-fire is called, from the mode of its production,
either _vrid-eld_, "turned fire," or _gnid-eld_, "rubbed fire." Down to
near the end of the eighteenth century the need-fire was kindled, as in
Germany, by the violent rubbing of two pieces of wood against each
other; sometimes nine different kinds of wood were used for the purpose.
The smoke of the fire was deemed salutary; fruit-trees and nets were
fumigated with it, in order that the trees might bear fruit and the nets
catch fish. Cattle were also driven through the smoke.[709] In Sundal, a
narrow Norwegian valley, shut in on both sides by precipitous mountains,
there lived down to the second half of the nineteenth century an old man
who was very superstitious. He set salmon-traps in the river Driva,
which traverses the valley, and he caught many fish both in spring and
autumn. When his fishing went wrong, he kindled _naueld_ ("need-fire")
or _gnideild_ ("rubbed fire," "friction fire") to counteract the
witchcraft, which he believed to be the cause of his bad luck. He set up
two planks near each other, bored a hole in each, inserted a pointed rod
in the holes, and twisted a long cord round the rod. Then he pulled the
cord so as to make the rod revolve rapidly. Thus by reason of the
friction he at last drew fire from the wood. That contented him, for "he
believed that the witchery was thus rendered powerless, and that good
luck in his fishing was now ensured."[710]

[The need-fire among the Slavonic peoples.]

Slavonic peoples hold the need-fire in high esteem. They call it "living
fire," and attribute to it a healing virtue. The ascription of medicinal
power to fire kindled by the friction of wood is said to be especially
characteristic of the Slavs who inhabit the Carpathian Mountains and the
Balkan peninsula. The mode in which they produce the need-fire differs
somewhat in different places. Thus in the Schar mountains of Servia the
task is entrusted to a boy and girl between eleven and fourteen years of
age. They are led into a perfectly dark room, and having stripped
themselves naked kindle the fire by rubbing two rollers of lime wood
against each other, till the friction produces sparks, which are caught
in tinder. The Serbs of Western Macedonia drive two oaken posts into the
ground, bore a round hole in the upper end of each, insert a roller of
lime wood in the holes, and set it revolving rapidly by means of a cord,
which is looped round the roller and worked by a bow. Elsewhere the
roller is put in motion by two men, who hold each one end of the cord
and pull it backwards and forwards forcibly between them. Bulgarian
shepherds sometimes kindle the need-fire by drawing a prism-shaped piece
of lime wood to and fro across the flat surface of a tree-stump in the
forest.[711] But in the neighbourhood of Kuestendil, in Bulgaria, the
need-fire is kindled by the friction of two pieces of oak wood and the
cattle are driven through it.[712]

[The need-fire in Russia and Poland; the need-fire in Slavonia.]

In many districts of Russia, also, "living fire" is made by the friction
of wood on St. John's Day, and the herds are driven through it, and the
people leap over it in the conviction that their health is thereby
assured; when a cattle-plague is raging, the fire is produced by rubbing
two pieces of oak wood against each other, and it is used to kindle the
lamps before the holy pictures and the censers in the churches.[713]
Thus it appears that in Russia the need-fire is kindled for the sake of
the cattle periodically as well as on special emergencies. Similarly in
Poland the peasants are said to kindle fires in the village streets on
St. Rochus's day and to drive the cattle thrice through them in order to
protect the animals against the murrain. The fire is produced by rubbing
a pole of poplar wood on a plank of poplar or fir wood and catching the
sparks in tow. The embers are carried home to be used as remedies in
sickness.[714] As practised in Slavonia, the custom of the need-fire
used to present some interesting features, which are best described in
the words of an eyewitness:--"In the year 1833 I came for the first time
as a young merchant to Slavonia; it was to Gaj that I went, in the
Pozega district. The time was autumn, and it chanced that a
cattle-plague was raging in the neighbourhood, which inflicted much loss
on the people. The peasants believed that the plague was a woman, an
evil spirit (_Kutga_), who was destroying the cattle; so they sought to
banish her. I had then occasion to observe the proceedings in the
villages of Gaj, Kukunjevac, Brezina, and Brekinjska. Towards evening
the whole population of the village was busy laying a ring of brushwood
round the boundaries of the village. All fires were extinguished
throughout the village. Then pairs of men in several places took pieces
of wood, which had been specially prepared for the purpose, and rubbed
them together till they emitted sparks. The sparks were allowed to fall
on tinder and fanned into a flame, with which the dry brushwood was
kindled. Thus the fire burned all round the village. The peasants
persuaded themselves that thereupon _Kuga_ must take her

[The need-fire in Servia.]

This last account leaves no doubt as to the significance of the
need-fire in the minds of Slavonian peasantry. They regard it simply as
a barrier interposed between their cattle and the evil spirit, which
prowls, like a hungry wolf, round the fold and can, like a wolf, be kept
at bay by fire. The same interpretation of the need-fire comes out,
hardly less clearly, in the account which another writer gives of a
ceremony witnessed by him at the village of Setonje, at the foot of the
Homolje mountains in the great forest of Servia. An epidemic was raging
among the children, and the need-fire was resorted to as a means of
staying the plague. It was produced by an old man and an old woman in
the first of the ways described above; that is, they made it in the dark
by rubbing two sticks of lime wood against each other. Before the
healing virtue of the fire was applied to the inhabitants of the
village, two old women performed the following ceremony. Both bore the
name of Stana, from the verb _stati_, "to remain standing"; for the
ceremony could not be successfully performed by persons of any other
name. One of them carried a copper kettle full of water, the other an
old house-lock with the key. Thus equipped they repaired to a spot
outside of the village, and there the old dame with the kettle asked the
old dame with the lock, "Whither away?" and the other answered her, "I
came to shut the village against ill-luck." With that she locked the
lock and threw it with the key into the kettle of water. Then they
marched thrice round the village, repeating the ceremony of the lock and
key at each round. Meantime all the villagers, arrayed in their best
clothes, were assembled in an open place. All the fires in the houses
had been previously extinguished. Two sturdy yokels now dug a tunnel
through a mound beside an oak tree; the tunnel was just high enough to
let a man creep through it on all fours. Two fires, lit by the
need-fire, were now laid, one at each end of the tunnel; and the old
woman with the kettle took her stand at the entrance of the tunnel,
while the one with the lock posted herself at the exit. Facing the
latter stood another woman with a great pot of milk before her, and on
the other side was set a pot full of melted swine's fat. All was now
ready. The villagers thereupon crawled through the tunnel on hands and
knees, one behind the other. Each, as he emerged from the tunnel,
received a spoonful of milk from the woman and looked at his face
reflected in the pot of melted swine's fat. Then another woman made a
cross with a piece of charcoal on his back. When all the inhabitants had
thus crept through the tunnel and been doctored at the other end, each
took some glowing embers home with him in a pot wherewith to rekindle
the fire on the domestic hearth. Lastly they put some of the charcoal in
a vessel of water and drank the mixture in order to be thereby magically
protected against the epidemic.[716]

It would be superfluous to point out in detail how admirably these
measures are calculated to arrest the ravages of disease; but for the
sake of those, if there are any, to whom the medicinal effect of
crawling through a hole on hands and knees is not at once apparent, I
shall merely say that the procedure in question is one of the most
powerful specifics which the wit of man has devised for maladies of all
sorts. Ample evidence of its application will be adduced in a later part
of this work.[717]

[The need-fire in Bulgaria.]

In Bulgaria the herds suffer much from the raids of certain
blood-sucking vampyres called _Ustrels_. An _Ustrel_ is the spirit of a
Christian child who was born on a Saturday and died unfortunately before
he could be baptized. On the ninth day after burial he grubs his way out
of the grave and attacks the cattle at once, sucking their blood all
night and returning at peep of dawn to the grave to rest from his
labours. In ten days or so the copious draughts of blood which he has
swallowed have so fortified his constitution that he can undertake
longer journeys; so when he falls in with great herds of cattle or
flocks of sheep he returns no more to the grave for rest and refreshment
at night, but takes up his quarters during the day either between the
horns of a sturdy calf or ram or between the hind legs of a milch-cow.
Beasts whose blood he has sucked die the same night. In any herd that he
may fasten on he begins with the fattest animal and works his way down
steadily through the leaner kine till not one single beast is left
alive. The carcases of the victims swell up, and when the hide is
stripped off you can always perceive the livid patch of flesh where the
monster sucked the blood of the poor creature. In a single night he may,
by working hard, kill five cows; but he seldom exceeds that number. He
can change his shape and weight very easily; for example, when he is
sitting by day between the horns of a ram, the animal scarcely feels his
weight, but at night he will sometimes throw himself on an ox or a cow
so heavily that the animal cannot stir, and lows so pitifully that it
would make your heart bleed to hear. People who were born on a Saturday
can see these monsters, and they have described them accurately, so that
there can be no doubt whatever about their existence. It is, therefore,
a matter of great importance to the peasant to protect his flocks and
herds against the ravages of such dangerous vampyres. The way in which
he does so is this. On a Saturday morning before sunrise the village
drummer gives the signal to put out every fire in the village; even
smoking is forbidden. Next all the domestic animals, with the exception
of fowls, geese, and ducks, are driven out into the open. In front of
the flocks and herds march two men, whose names during the ceremony may
not be mentioned in the village. They go into the wood, pick two dry
branches, and having stript themselves of their clothes they rub the two
branches together very hard till they catch fire; then with the fire so
obtained they kindle two bonfires, one on each side of a cross-road
which is known to be frequented by wolves. After that the herd is driven
between the two fires. Coals from the bonfires are then taken back to
the village and used to rekindle the fires on the domestic hearths. For
several days no one may go near the charred and blackened remains of the
bonfires at the cross-road. The reason is that the vampyre is lying
there, having dropped from his seat between the cow's horns when the
animals were driven between the two fires. So if any one were to pass by
the spot during these days, the monster would be sure to call him by
name and to follow him to the village; whereas if he is left alone, a
wolf will come at midnight and strangle him, and in a few days the
herdsmen can see the ground soaked with his slimy blood. So that is the
end of the vampyre.[718] In this Bulgarian custom, as in the Slavonian
custom described above, the conception of the need-fire as a barrier set
up between the cattle and a dangerous spirit is clearly worked out. The
spirit rides the cow till he comes to the narrow pass between the two
fires, but the heat there is too much for him; he drops in a faint from
the saddle, or rather from the horns, and the now riderless animal
escapes safe and sound beyond the smoke and flame, leaving her
persecutor prostrate on the ground on the further side of the blessed

[The need-fire in Bosnia and Herzegovina.]

In Bosnia and Herzegovina there are some local differences in the mode
of kindling the need-fire, or "living fire," as it is called. Thus at
Jablanica both the uprights and the roller or cross-piece, which by its
revolution kindles the fire, are made of cornel-tree wood; whereas at
Dolac, near Sarajevo, the uprights and the cross-piece or roller are all
made of lime wood. In Gacko, contrary to the usual custom, the fire is
made by striking a piece of iron on an anvil, till sparks are given out,
which are caught in tinder. The "living fire" thus produced is employed
for purposes of healing. In particular, if any one suffers from wounds
or sores, ashes of the need-fire are sprinkled on the ailing part. In
Gacko it is also believed that if a pregnant woman witnesses a
conflagration, her child will either be born with a red eruption on its
skin or will contract the malady sooner or later afterwards. The only
remedy consists in ashes of the need-fire, which are mixed with water
and given to the child to drink.[719]

[The need-fire in England; the need-fire in Yorkshire.]

In England the earliest notice of the need-fire seems to be contained in
the Chronicle of Lanercost for the year 1268. The annalist tells with
pious horror how, when an epidemic was raging in that year among the
cattle, "certain beastly men, monks in garb but not in mind, taught the
idiots of their country to make fire by the friction of wood and to set
up an image of Priapus, whereby they thought to succour the
animals."[720] The use of the need-fire is particularly attested for the
counties of Yorkshire and Northumberland. Thus in Yorkshire down to the
middle of the eighteenth century "the favourite remedy of the country
people, not only in the way of cure, but of prevention, was an odd one;
it was to smoke the cattle almost to suffocation, by kindling straw,
litter, and other combustible matter about them. The effects of this
mode of cure are not stated, but the most singular part of it was that
by which it was reported to have been discovered. An angel (says the
legend), descended into Yorkshire, and there set a large tree on fire;
the strange appearance of which or else the savour of the smoke, incited
the cattle around (some of which were infected) to draw near the
miracle, when they all either received an immediate cure or an absolute
prevention of the disorder. It is not affirmed that the angel staid to
speak to anybody, but only that he left a _written_ direction for the
neighbouring people to catch this supernatural fire, and to communicate
it from one to another with all possible speed throughout the country;
and in case it should be extinguished and utterly lost, that then new
fire, of equal virtue, might be obtained, not by any common method, but
by rubbing two pieces of wood together till they ignited. Upon what
foundation this story stood, is not exactly known, but it put the
farmers actually into a hurry of communicating flame and smoke from one
house to another with wonderful speed, making it run like wildfire over
the country."[721] Again, we read that "the father of the writer, who
died in 1843, in his seventy-ninth year, had a perfect remembrance of a
great number of persons, belonging to the upper and middle classes of
his native parish of Bowes, assembling on the banks of the river Greta
to work for need-fire. A disease among cattle, called the murrain, then
prevailed to a very great extent through that district of Yorkshire. The
cattle were made to pass through the smoke raised by this miraculous
fire, and their cure was looked upon as certain, and to neglect doing so
was looked upon as wicked. This fire was produced by the violent and
continued friction of two dry pieces of wood until such time as it was
thereby obtained. 'To work as though one was working for need-fire' is a
common proverb in the North of England."[722] At Ingleton, a small town
nestling picturesquely at the foot of the high hill of Ingleborough in
western Yorkshire, "within the last thirty years or so it was a common
practice to kindle the so-called 'Need-fire' by rubbing two pieces of
wood briskly together, and setting ablaze a large heap of sticks and
brushwood, which were dispersed, and cattle then driven through the
smoking brands. This was thought to act as a charm against the spread or
developement of the various ailments to which cattle are liable, and the
farmers seem to have had great faith in it."[723] Writing about the
middle of the nineteenth century, Kemble tells us that the will-fire or
need-fire had been used in Devonshire for the purpose of staying a
murrain within the memory of man.[724]

[The need-fire in Northumberland.]

So in Northumberland, down to the first half of the nineteenth century,
"when a contagious disease enters among cattle, the fires are
extinguished in the adjacent villages. Two pieces of dried wood are then
rubbed together until fire be produced; with this a quantity of straw is
kindled, juniper is thrown into the flame, and the cattle are repeatedly
driven through the smoke. Part of the forced fire is sent to the
neighbours, who again forward it to others, and, as great expedition is
used, the fires may be seen blazing over a great extent of country in a
very short space of time."[725] "It is strange," says the antiquary
William Henderson, writing about 1866, "to find the custom of lighting
'need-fires' on the occasion of epidemics among cattle still lingering
among us, but so it is. The vicar of Stamfordham writes thus respecting
it: 'When the murrain broke out among the cattle about eighteen years
ago, this fire was produced by rubbing two pieces of dry wood together,
and was carried from place to place all through this district, as a
charm against cattle taking the disease. Bonfires were kindled with it,
and the cattle driven into the smoke, where they were left for some
time. Many farmers hereabouts, I am informed, had the need-fire.'"[726]

[Martin's account of the need-fire in the Highlands of Scotland.]

In the earliest systematic account of the western islands of Scotland we
read that "the inhabitants here did also make use of a fire called
_Tin-egin, i.e._ a forced fire, or fire of necessity, which they used as
an antidote against the plague or murrain in cattle; and it was
performed thus: all the fires in the parish were extinguished, and then
eighty-one married men, being thought the necessary number for effecting
this design, took two great planks of wood, and nine of them were
employed by turns, who by their repeated efforts rubbed one of the
planks against the other until the heat thereof produced fire; and from
this forced fire each family is supplied with new fire, which is no
sooner kindled than a pot full of water is quickly set on it, and
afterwards sprinkled upon the people infected with the plague, or upon
the cattle that have the murrain. And this they all say they find
successful by experience: it was practised in the main land, opposite to
the south of Skie, within these thirty years."[727]

[The need-fire in the island of Mull; sacrifice of a heifer.]

In the island of Mull, one of the largest of the Hebrides, the need-fire
was kindled as late as 1767. "In consequence of a disease among the
black cattle the people agreed to perform an incantation, though they
esteemed it a wicked thing. They carried to the top of Carnmoor a wheel
and nine spindles of oakwood. They extinguished every fire in every
house within sight of the hill; the wheel was then turned from east to
west over the nine spindles long enough to produce fire by friction. If
the fire were not produced before noon, the incantation lost its effect.
They failed for several days running. They attributed this failure to
the obstinacy of one householder, who would not let his fires be put out
for what he considered so wrong a purpose. However, by bribing his
servants they contrived to have them extinguished and on that morning
raised their fire. They then sacrificed a heifer, cutting in pieces and
burning, while yet alive, the diseased part. They then lighted their own
hearths from the pile and ended by feasting on the remains. Words of
incantation were repeated by an old man from Morven, who came over as
master of the ceremonies, and who continued speaking all the time the
fire was being raised. This man was living a beggar at Bellochroy. Asked
to repeat the spell, he said, the sin of repeating it once had brought
him to beggary, and that he dared not say those words again. The whole
country believed him accursed."[728] From this account we see that in
Mull the kindling of the need-fire as a remedy for cattle disease was
accompanied by the sacrifice of one of the diseased animals; and though
the two customs are for the most part mentioned separately by our
authorities, we may surmise that they were often, perhaps usually,
practised together for the purpose of checking the ravages of sickness
in the herds.[729]

[The need-fire in Caithness.]

In the county of Caithness, forming the extreme northeast corner of the
mainland of Scotland, the practice of the need-fire survived down at
least to about 1788. We read that "in those days, when the stock of any
considerable farmer was seized with the murrain, he would send for one
of the charm-doctors to superintend the raising of a _need-fire_. It was
done by friction, thus; upon any small island, where the stream of a
river or burn ran on each side, a circular booth was erected, of stone
and turf, as it could be had, in which a semicircular or highland couple
of birch, or other hard wood, was set; and, in short, a roof closed on
it. A straight pole was set up in the centre of this building, the upper
end fixed by a wooden pin to the top of the couple, and the lower end in
an oblong _trink_ in the earth or floor; and lastly, another pole was
set across horizontally, having both ends tapered, one end of which was
supported in a hole in the side of the perpendicular pole, and the other
in a similar hole in the couple leg. The horizontal stick was called the
auger, having four short arms or levers fixed in its centre, to work it
by; the building having been thus finished, as many men as could be
collected in the vicinity, (being divested of all kinds of metal in
their clothes, etc.), would set to work with the said auger, two after
two, constantly turning it round by the arms or levers, and others
occasionally driving wedges of wood or stone behind the lower end of the
upright pole, so as to press it the more on the end of the auger: by
this constant friction and pressure, the ends of the auger would take
fire, from which a fire would be instantly kindled, and thus the
_needfire_ would be accomplished. The fire in the farmer's house, etc.,
was immediately quenched with water, a fire kindled from this needfire,
both in the farm-houses and offices, and the cattle brought to feel the
smoke of this new and sacred fire, which preserved them from the

[The need-fire in Caithness.]

The last recorded case of the need-fire in Caithness happened in 1809 or
1810. At Houstry, Dunbeath, a crofter named David Gunn had made for
himself a kail-yard and in doing so had wilfully encroached on one of
those prehistoric ruins called _brochs_, which the people of the
neighbourhood believed to be a fairy habitation. Soon afterwards a
murrain broke out among the cattle of the district and carried off many
beasts. So the wise men put their heads together and resolved to light a
_teine-eigin_ or need-fire as the best way of stopping the plague. They
cut a branch from a tree in a neighbouring wood, stripped it of bark,
and carried it to a small island in the Houstry Burn. Every fire in the
district having been quenched, new fire was made by the friction of wood
in the island, and from this sacred flame all the hearths of the houses
were lit afresh. One of the sticks used in making the fire was preserved
down to about the end of the nineteenth century; apparently the mode of
operation was the one known as the fire-drill: a pointed stick was
twirled in a hole made in another stick till fire was elicited by the

[Another account of the need-fire in the Highlands.]

Another account of the use of need-fire in the Highlands of Scotland
runs as follows: "When, by the neglect of the prescribed safeguards
[against witchcraft], the seeds of iniquity have taken root, and a
person's means are decaying in consequence, the only alternative, in
this case, is to resort to that grand remedy, the _Tein Econuch_, or
'Forlorn Fire,' which seldom fails of being productive of the best
effects. The cure for witchcraft, called _Tein Econuch_, is wrought in
the following manner:--A consultation being held by the unhappy sufferer
and his friends as to the most advisable measures of effecting a cure,
if this process is adopted, notice is privately communicated to all
those householders who reside within the nearest of two running streams,
to extinguish their lights and fires on some appointed morning. On its
being ascertained that this notice has been duly observed, a
spinning-wheel, or some other convenient instrument, calculated to
produce fire by friction, is set to work with the most furious
earnestness by the unfortunate sufferer, and all who wish well to his
cause. Relieving each other by turns, they drive on with such
persevering diligence, that at length the spindle of the wheel, ignited
by excessive friction, emits 'forlorn fire' in abundance, which, by the
application of tow, or some other combustible material, is widely
extended over the whole neighbourhood. Communicating the fire to the
tow, the tow communicates it to a candle, the candle to a fir-torch, the
torch to a cartful of peats, which the master of the ceremonies, with
pious ejaculations for the success of the experiment, distributes to
messengers, who will proceed with portions of it to the different houses
within the said two running streams, to kindle the different fires. By
the influence of this operation, the machinations and spells of
witchcraft are rendered null and void."[732]

[Alexander Carmichael's account of the need-fire in the Highlands of
Scotland during the nineteenth century.]

In various parts of the Highlands of Scotland the needfire was still
kindled during the first half of the nineteenth century, as we learn
from the following account:--

"_Tein-eigin_, neid-fire, need-fire, forced fire, fire produced by the
friction of wood or iron against wood.

"The fire of purification was kindled from the neid-fire, while the
domestic fire on the hearth was re-kindled from the purification fire on
the knoll. Among other names, the purification fire was called _Teine
Bheuil_, fire of Beul, and _Teine mor Bheuil_, great fire of Beul. The
fire of Beul was divided into two fires between which people and cattle
rushed australly for purposes of purification. The ordeal was trying, as
may be inferred from phrases still current. _Is teodha so na teine
teodha Bheuil_, 'Hotter is this than the hot fire of Beul.' Replying to
his grandchild, an old man in Lewis said ... 'Mary! sonnie, it were
worse for me to do that for thee than to go between the two great fires
of Beul.'

"The neid-fire was resorted to in imminent or actual calamity upon the
first day of the quarter, and to ensure success in great or important

[The needfire in Arran.]

"The writer conversed with several persons who saw the neid-fire made,
and who joined in the ceremony. As mentioned elsewhere, a woman in Arran
said that her father, and the other men of the townland, made the
neid-fire on the knoll on _La buidhe Bealltain_--Yellow Day of Beltane.
They fed the fire from _cuaile mor conaidh caoin_--great bundles of
sacred faggots brought to the knoll on Beltane Eve. When the sacred fire
became kindled, the people rushed home and brought their herds and drove
them through and round the fire of purification, to sain them from the
_bana bhuitseach mhor Nic Creafain Mac Creafain_--the great arch witch
Mac Crauford, now Crawford. That was in the second decade of this

[The need-fire in North Uist.]

"John Macphail, Middlequarter, North Uist, said that the last occasion
on which the neid-fire was made in North Uist was _bliadhna an
t-sneachda bhuidhe_--the year of the yellow snow--1829 (?). The snow lay
so deep and remained so long on the ground, that it became yellow. Some
suggest that the snow was originally yellow, as snow is occasionally
red. This extraordinary continuance of snow caused much want and
suffering throughout the Isles. The people of North Uist extinguished
their own fires and generated a purification fire at Sail Dharaich,
Sollas. The fire was produced from an oak log by rapidly boring with an
auger. This was accomplished by the exertions of _naoi naoinear ciad
ginealach mac_--the nine nines of first-begotten sons. From the
neid-fire produced on the knoll the people of the parish obtained fire
for their dwellings. Many cults and ceremonies were observed on the
occasion, cults and ceremonies in which Pagan and Christian beliefs
intermingled. _Sail Dharaich_, Oak Log, obtained its name from the log
of oak for the neid-fire being there. A fragment of this log riddled
with auger holes marks a grave in _Cladh Sgealoir_, the burying-ground
of _Sgealoir_, in the neighbourhood.

[The need-fire in Reay, Sutherland.]

"Mr. Alexander Mackay, Edinburgh, a native of Reay, Sutherland,
says:--'My father was the skipper of a fishing crew. Before beginning
operations for the season, the crew of the boat met at night in our
house to settle accounts for the past, and to plan operations for the
new season. My mother and the rest of us were sent to bed. I lay in the
kitchen, and was listening and watching, though they thought I was
asleep. After the men had settled their past affairs and future plans,
they put out the fire on the hearth, not a spark being allowed to live.
They then rubbed two pieces of wood one against another so rapidly as to
produce fire, the men joining in one after the other, and working with
the utmost energy and never allowing the friction to relax. From this
friction-fire they rekindled the fire on the hearth, from which all the
men present carried away a kindling to their own homes. Whether their
success was due to their skill, their industry, their perseverance, or
to the neid-fire, I do not know, but I know that they were much the most
successful crew in the place. They met on Saturday, and went to church
on Sunday like the good men and the good Christians they were--a little
of their Pagan faith mingling with their Christian belief. I have reason
to believe that other crews in the place as well as my father's crew
practised the neid-fire.'

"A man at Helmsdale, Sutherland, saw the _tein-eigin_ made in his

"The neid-fire was made in North Uist about the year 1829, in Arran
about 1820, in Helmsdale about 1818, in Reay about 1830."[733]

[The Beltane fire a precaution against witchcraft.]

From the foregoing account we learn that in Arran the annual Beltane
fire was regularly made by the friction of wood, and that it was used to
protect men and cattle against a great witch. When we remember that
Beltane Eve or the Eve of May Day (Walpurgis Night) is the great
witching time of the year throughout Europe, we may surmise that
wherever bonfires have been ceremonially kindled on that day it has been
done simply as a precaution against witchcraft; indeed this motive is
expressly alleged not only in Scotland, but in Wales, the Isle of Man,
and many parts of Central Europe.[734] It deserves, further, to be
noticed that in North Uist the wood used to kindle the need-fire was
oak, and that the nine times nine men by whose exertions the flame was
elicited were all first-born sons. Apparently the first-born son of a
family was thought to be endowed with more magical virtue than his
younger brothers. Similarly in the Punjaub "the supernatural power
ascribed to the first born is not due to his being unlucky, but the idea
underlying the belief seems to be that being the first product of the
parents, he inherits the spiritual powers (or magnetism) in a high
degree. The success of such persons in stopping rain and hail and in
stupefying snakes is proverbial. It is believed that a first child born
with feet forward can cure backache by kicking the patient in the back,
on a crossing."[735]

[The need-fire in Aberdeenshire.]

In the north-east of Aberdeenshire and the neighbourhood, when the
cattle-disease known as the "quarter-ill" broke out, "the 'muckle wheel'
was set in motion and turned till fire was produced. From this virgin
flame fires were kindled in the byres. At the same time, if neighbours
requested the favour, live coals were given them to kindle fires for the
purification of their homesteads and turning off the disease. Fumigating
the byres with juniper was a method adopted to ward off disease. Such a
fire was called 'needfyre.' The kindling of it came under the censure of
the Presbytery at times."[736]

[The need-fire in Perthshire.]

In Perthshire the need-fire was kindled as a remedy for cattle-disease
as late as 1826. "A wealthy old farmer, having lost several of his
cattle by some disease very prevalent at present, and being able to
account for it in no way so rationally as by witchcraft, had recourse to
the following remedy, recommended to him by a weird sister in his
neighbourhood, as an effectual protection from the attacks of the foul
fiend. A few stones were piled together in the barnyard, and woodcoals
having been laid thereon, the fuel was ignited by _will-fire_, that is
fire obtained by friction; the neighbours having been called in to
witness the solemnity, the cattle were made to pass through the flames,
in the order of their dignity and age, commencing with the horses and
ending with the swine. The ceremony having been duly and decorously gone
through, a neighbouring farmer observed to the enlightened owner of the
herd, that he, along with his family, ought to have followed the example
of the cattle, and the sacrifice to Baal would have been complete."[737]

[The need-fire in Ireland.]

In County Leitrim, Ireland, in order to prevent fever from spreading,
"all the fires on the townland, and the two adjoining (one on each
side), would be put out. Then the men of the three townlands would come
to one house, and get two large blocks of wood. One would be set in the
ground, and the other one, fitted with two handles, placed on the top of
it. The men would then draw the upper block backwards and forwards over
the lower until fire was produced by friction, and from this the fires
would be lighted again. This would prevent the fever from

[The use of the need-fire a relic of a time when all fires were kindled
by the friction of wood.]

Thus it appears that in many parts of Europe it has been customary to
kindle fire by the friction of wood for the purpose of curing or
preventing the spread of disease, particularly among cattle. The mode of
striking a light by rubbing two dry sticks against each other is the one
to which all over the world savages have most commonly resorted for the
sake of providing themselves with fire;[739] and we can scarcely doubt
that the practice of kindling the need-fire in this primitive fashion is
merely a survival from the time when our savage forefathers lit all
their fires in that way. Nothing is so conservative of old customs as
religious or magical ritual, which invests these relics of the past with
an atmosphere of mysterious virtue and sanctity. To the educated mind it
seems obvious that a fire which a man kindles with the sweat of his brow
by laboriously rubbing one stick against each other can possess neither
more nor less virtue than one which he has struck in a moment by the
friction of a lucifer match; but to the ignorant and superstitious this
truth is far from apparent, and accordingly they take infinite pains to
do in a roundabout way what they might have done directly with the
greatest ease, and what, even when it is done, is of no use whatever for
the purpose in hand. A vast proportion of the labour which mankind has
expended throughout the ages has been no better spent; it has been like
the stone of Sisyphus eternally rolled up hill only to revolve eternally
down again, or like the water poured for ever by the Danaids into broken
pitchers which it could never fill.

[The belief that the need-fire cannot kindle if any other fire remains
alight in the neighbourhood.]

The curious notion that the need-fire cannot kindle if any other fire
remains alight in the neighbourhood seems to imply that fire is
conceived as a unity which is broken up into fractions and consequently
weakened in exact proportion to the number of places where it burns;
hence in order to obtain it at full strength you must light it only at a
single point, for then the flame will burst out with a concentrated
energy derived from the tributary fires which burned on all the
extinguished hearths of the country. So in a modern city if all the gas
were turned off simultaneously at all the burners but one, the flame
would no doubt blaze at that one burner with a fierceness such as no
single burner could shew when all are burning at the same time. The
analogy may help us to understand the process of reasoning which leads
the peasantry to insist on the extinction of all common fires when the
need-fire is about to be kindled. Perhaps, too, it may partly explain
that ceremonial extinction of all old fires on other occasions which is
often required by custom as a preliminary to the lighting of a new and
sacred fire.[740] We have seen that in the Highlands of Scotland all
common fires were extinguished on the Eve of May-day as a preparation
for kindling the Beltane bonfire by friction next morning;[741] and no
doubt the reason for the extinction was the same as in the case of the
need-fire. Indeed we may assume with a fair degree of probability that
the need-fire was the parent of the periodic fire-festivals; at first
invoked only at irregular intervals to cure certain evils as they
occurred, the powerful virtue of fire was afterwards employed at regular
intervals to prevent the occurrence of the same evils as well as to
remedy such as had actually arisen.

[The needfire among the Iroquois of North America.]

The need-fire of Europe has its parallel in a ceremony which used to be
observed by the Iroquois Indians of North America. "Formerly when an
epidemic prevailed among the Iroquois despite the efforts to stay it, it
was customary for the principal shaman to order the fires in every cabin
to be extinguished and the ashes and cinders to be carefully removed;
for it was believed that the pestilence was sent as a punishment for
neglecting to rekindle 'new fire,' or because of the manner in which the
fire then in use had been kindled. So, after all the fires were out, two
suitable logs of slippery elm (_Ulmus fulva_) were provided for the new
fire. One of the logs was from six to eight inches in diameter and from
eight to ten feet long; the other was from ten to twelve inches in
diameter and about ten feet long. About midway across the larger log a
cuneiform notch or cut about six inches deep was made, and in the
wedge-shaped notch punk was placed. The other log was drawn rapidly to
and fro in the cut by four strong men chosen for the purpose until the
punk was ignited by the friction thus produced. Before and during the
progress of the work of igniting the fire the shaman votively sprinkled
_tcar-hu'-en-we_, 'real tobacco,' three several times into the cuneiform
notch and offered earnest prayers to the Fire-god, beseeching him 'to
aid, to bless, and to redeem the people from their calamities.' The
ignited punk was used to light a large bonfire, and then the head of
every family was required to take home 'new fire' to rekindle a fire in
his or her fire-place."[742]

Sec. 9. _The Sacrifice of an Animal to stay a Cattle-Plague_

[The burnt sacrifice of a calf in England and Wales; burnt sacrifice a
pig in Scotland.]

Sometimes apparently in England as well as in Scotland the kindling of a
need-fire was accompanied by the sacrifice of a calf. Thus in
Northamptonshire, at some time during the first half of the nineteenth
century, "Miss C---- and her cousin walking saw a fire in a field and a
crowd round it. They said, 'What is the matter?' 'Killing a calf.' 'What
for?' 'To stop the murrain.' They went away as quickly as possible. On
speaking to the clergyman he made enquiries. The people did not like to
talk of the affair, but it appeared that when there is a disease among
the cows or the calves are born sickly, they sacrifice (i.e. kill and
burn) one 'for good luck.'"[743] It is not here said that the fire was a
need-fire, of which indeed the two horrified ladies had probably never
heard; but the analogy of the parallel custom in Mull[744] renders it
probable that in Northamptonshire also the fire was kindled by the
friction of wood, and that the calf or some part of it was burnt in the
fire. Certainly the practice of burning a single animal alive in order
to save all the others would seem to have been not uncommon in England
down to the nineteenth century. Thus a farmer in Cornwall about the year
1800, having lost many cattle by disease, and tried many remedies in
vain, consulted with some of his neighbours and laying their heads
together "they recalled to their recollections a tale, which tradition
had handed down from remote antiquity, that the calamity would not cease
until he had actually burned alive the finest calf which he had upon his
farm; but that, when this sacrifice was made, the murrain would afflict
his cattle no more." Accordingly, on a day appointed they met, lighted a
large fire, placed the best calf in it, and standing round the blazing
pile drove the animal with pitchforks back into the flames whenever it
attempted to escape. Thus the victim was burned alive to save the rest
of the cattle.[745] "There can be no doubt but that a belief prevailed
until a very recent period, amongst the small farmers in the districts
remote from towns in Cornwall, that a living sacrifice appeased the
wrath of God. This sacrifice must be by fire; and I have heard it argued
that the Bible gave them warranty for this belief.... While correcting
these sheets I am informed of two recent instances of this superstition.
One of them was the sacrifice of a calf by a farmer near Portreath, for
the purpose of removing a disease which had long followed his horses and
his cows. The other was the burning of a living lamb, to save, as the
farmer said, 'his flocks from spells which had been cast on 'em.'"[746]
In a recent account of the fire-festivals of Wales we read that "I have
also heard my grandfather and father say that in times gone by the
people would throw a calf in the fire when there was any disease among
the herds. The same would be done with a sheep if there was anything the
matter with a flock. I can remember myself seeing cattle being driven
between two fires to 'stop the disease spreading.' When in later times
it was not considered humane to drive the cattle between the fires, the
herdsmen were accustomed to force the animals over the wood ashes to
protect them against various ailments."[747] Writing about 1866, the
antiquary W. Henderson says that a live ox was burned near Haltwhistle
in Northumberland "only twenty years ago" to stop a murrain.[748] "About
the year 1850 disease broke out among the cattle of a small farm in the
parish of Resoliss, Black Isle, Ross-shire. The farmer prevailed on his
wife to undertake a journey to a wise woman of renown in Banffshire to
ask a charm against the effects of the 'ill eye.' The long journey of
upwards of fifty miles was performed by the good wife, and the charm was
got. One chief thing ordered was to burn to death a pig, and sprinkle
the ashes over the byre and other farm buildings. This order was carried
out, except that the pig was killed before it was burned. A more
terrible sacrifice was made at times. One of the diseased animals was
rubbed over with tar, driven forth, set on fire, and allowed to run till
it fell down and died."[749] "Living animals have been burnt alive in
sacrifice within memory to avert the loss of other stock. The burial of
three puppies 'brandise-wise' in a field is supposed to rid it of weeds.
Throughout the rural districts of Devon witchcraft is an article of
current faith, and the toad is thrown into the flames as an emissary of
the evil one."[750]

[The calf is burnt in order to break a spell which has been cast on the

But why, we may ask, should the burning alive of a calf or a sheep be
supposed to save the rest of the herd or the flock from the murrain?
According to one writer, as we have seen, the burnt sacrifice was
thought to appease the wrath of God.[751] The idea of appeasing the
wrath of a ferocious deity by burning an animal alive is probably no
more than a theological gloss put on an old heathen rite; it would
hardly occur to the simple mind of an English bumpkin, who, though he
may be stupid, is not naturally cruel and does not conceive of a
divinity who takes delight in the contemplation of suffering. To his
thinking God has little or nothing to do with the murrain, but witches,
ill-wishers, and fairies have a great deal to do with it. The English
farmer who burned one of his lambs alive said that he did it "to save
his flocks from spells which had been cast on them"; and the Scotch
farmer who was bidden to burn a pig alive for a similar purpose, but who
had the humanity to kill the animal first, believed that this was a
remedy for the "evil eye" which had been cast upon his beasts. Again, we
read that "a farmer, who possessed broad acres, and who was in many
respects a sensible man, was greatly annoyed to find that his cattle
became diseased in the spring. Nothing could satisfy him but that they
were bewitched, and he was resolved to find out the person who had cast
the evil eye on his oxen. According to an anciently-prescribed rule, the
farmer took one of his bullocks and bled it to death, catching all the
blood on bundles of straw. The bloody straw was then piled into a heap,
and set on fire. Burning with a vast quantity of smoke, the farmer
expected to see the witch, either in reality or in shadow, amidst the
smoke."[752] Such reasons express the real beliefs of the peasants.
"Cattle, like human beings, were exposed to the influences of the evil
eye, of forespeaking, and of the casting of evil. Witches and warlocks
did the work of evil among their neighbours' cattle if their anger had
been aroused in any way. The fairies often wrought injury amongst
cattle. Every animal that died suddenly was killed by the dart of the
fairies, or, in the language of the people, was 'shot-a-dead.' Flint
arrows and spear-heads went by the name of 'faery dairts....' When an
animal died suddenly the canny woman of the district was sent for to
search for the 'faery dairt,' and in due course she found one, to the
great satisfaction of the owner of the dead animal."[753]

[Mode in which the burning of a bewitched animal is supposed to break
the spell.]

But how, we must still ask, can burning an animal alive break the spell
that has been cast upon its fellows by a witch or a warlock? Some light
is thrown on the question by the following account of measures which
rustic wiseacres in Suffolk are said to have adopted as a remedy for
witchcraft. "A woman I knew forty-three years had been employed by my
predecessor to take care of his poultry. At the time I came to make her
acquaintance she was a bedridden toothless crone, with chin and nose all
but meeting. She did not discourage in her neighbours the idea that she
knew more than people ought to know, and had more power than others had.
Many years before I knew her it happened one spring that the ducks,
which were a part of her charge, failed to lay eggs.... She at once took
it for granted that the ducks had been bewitched. This misbelief
involved very shocking consequences, for it necessitated the idea that
so diabolical an act could only be combated by diabolical cruelty. And
the most diabolical act of cruelty she could imagine was that of baking
alive in a hot oven one of the ducks. And that was what she did. The
sequence of thought in her mind was that the spell that had been laid on
the ducks was that of preternaturally wicked wilfulness; that this spell
could only be broken through intensity of suffering, in this case death
by burning; that the intensity of suffering would break the spell in the
one roasted to death; and that the spell broken in one would be
altogether broken, that is, in all the ducks.... Shocking, however, as
was this method of exorcising the ducks, there was nothing in it
original. Just about a hundred years before, everyone in the town and
neighbourhood of Ipswich had heard, and many had believed, that a witch
had been burnt to death in her own house at Ipswich by the process of
burning alive one of the sheep she had bewitched. It was curious, but it
was as convincing as curious, that the hands and feet of this witch were
the only parts of her that had not been incinerated. This, however, was
satisfactorily explained by the fact that the four feet of the sheep, by
which it had been suspended over the fire, had not been destroyed in the
flames that had consumed its body."[754] According to a slightly
different account of the same tragic incident, the last of the "Ipswitch
witches," one Grace Pett, "laid her hand heavily on a farmer's sheep,
who, in order to punish her, fastened one of the sheep in the ground and
burnt it, except the feet, which were under the earth. The next morning
Grace Pett was found burnt to a cinder, except her feet. Her fate is
recorded in the _Philosophical Transactions_ as a case of spontaneous

[In burning the bewitched animal you burn the witch herself.]

This last anecdote is instructive, if perhaps not strictly authentic. It
shows that in burning alive one of a bewitched flock or herd what you
really do is to burn the witch, who is either actually incarnate in the
animal or perhaps more probably stands in a relation of sympathy with it
so close as almost to amount to identity. Hence if you burn the creature
to ashes, you utterly destroy the witch and thereby save the whole of
the rest of the flock or herd from her abominable machinations; whereas
if you only partially burn the animal, allowing some parts of it to
escape the flames, the witch is only half-baked, and her power for
mischief may be hardly, if at all, impaired by the grilling. We can now
see that in such matters half-measures are useless. To kill the animal
first and burn it afterwards is a weak compromise, dictated no doubt by
a well-meant but utterly mistaken kindness; it is like shutting the
stable-door when the steed is stolen, for obviously by leaving the
animal's, and therefore the witch's, body nearly intact at the moment of
death, it allows her soul to escape and return safe and sound to her own
human body, which all the time is probably lying quietly at home in bed.
And the same train of reasoning that justifies the burning alive of
bewitched animals justifies and indeed requires the burning alive of the
witches themselves; it is really the only way of destroying them, body
and soul, and therefore of thoroughly extirpating the whole infernal

[Practice of burning cattle and sheep as sacrifices in the Isle of Man.]

In the Isle of Man the practice of burning cattle alive in order to stop
a murrain seems to have persisted down to a time within living memory.
On this subject I will quote the evidence collected by Sir John Rhys: "A
respectable farmer from Andreas told me that he was driving with his
wife to the neighbouring parish of Jurby some years ago, and that on the
way they beheld the carcase of a cow or an ox burning in a field, with a
woman engaged in stirring the fire. On reaching the village to which
they were going, they found that the burning beast belonged to a farmer
whom they knew. They were further told it was no wonder that the said
farmer had one of his cattle burnt, as several of them had recently
died. Whether this was a case of sacrifice or not I cannot say. But let
me give you another instance: a man whom I have already mentioned, saw
at a farm nearer the centre of the island a live calf being burnt. The
owner bears an English name, but his family has long been settled in
Man. The farmer's explanation to my informant was that the calf was
burnt to secure luck for the rest of the herd, some of which were
threatening to die. My informant thought there was absolutely nothing
the matter with them, except that they had too little to eat. Be that as
it may, the one calf was sacrificed as a burnt-offering to secure luck
for the rest of the cattle. Let me here also quote Mr. Moore's note in
his _Manx Surnames_, p. 184, on the place name _Cabbal yn Oural Losht_,
or the Chapel of the Burnt Sacrifice. 'This name,' he says, 'records a
circumstance which took place in the nineteenth century, but which, it
is to be hoped, was never customary in the Isle of Man. A farmer, who
had lost a number of his sheep and cattle by murrain, burned a calf as a
propitiatory offering to the Deity on this spot, where a chapel was
afterwards built. Hence the name.' Particulars, I may say, of time,
place, and person could be easily added to Mr. Moore's statement,
excepting, perhaps as to the deity in question; on that point I have
never been informed, but Mr. Moore is probably right in the use of the
capital _d_, as the sacrificer is, according to all accounts, a highly
devout Christian. One more instance: an octogenarian woman, born in the
parish of Bride, and now living at Kirk Andreas, saw, when she was a
'lump of a girl' of ten or fifteen years of age, a live sheep being
burnt in a field in the parish of Andreas, on May-day, whereby she meant
the first of May reckoned according to the Old Style. She asserts very
decidedly that it was _son oural_, 'as a sacrifice,' as she put it, and
'for an object to the public': those were her words when she expressed
herself in English. Further, she made the statement that it was a custom
to burn a sheep on old May-day for a sacrifice. I was fully alive to the
interest of this evidence, and cross-examined her so far as her age
allows of it, and I find that she adheres to her statement with all

[By burning a bewitched animal you compel the witch to appear.]

But Manxmen burn beasts when they are dead as well as when they are
alive; and their reasons for burning the dead animals may help us to
understand their reasons for burning the living animals. On this subject
I will again quote Sir John Rhys: "When a beast dies on a farm, of
course it dies, according to the old-fashioned view of things, as I
understand it, from the influence of the evil eye or the interposition
of a witch. So if you want to know to whom you are indebted for the loss
of the beast, you have simply to burn its carcase in the open air and
watch who comes first to the spot or who first passes by; that is the
criminal to be charged with the death of the animal, and he cannot help
coming there--such is the effect of the fire. A Michael woman, who is
now about thirty, related to me how she watched while the carcase of a
bewitched colt was burning, how she saw the witch coming, and how she
remembers her shrivelled face, with nose and chin in close proximity.
According to another native of Michael, a well-informed middle-aged man,
the animal in question was oftenest a calf, and it was wont to be burnt
whole, skin and all. The object, according to him, is invariably to
bring the bewitcher on the spot, and he always comes; but I am not clear
what happens to him when he appears. My informant added, however, that
it was believed that, unless the bewitcher got possession of the heart
of the burning beast, he lost all his power of bewitching."[757]

[Magic sympathy between the witch and the bewitched animal.]

These statements shew that in the Isle of Man the sympathetic relation
between the witch and his or her animal victim is believed to be so
close that by burning the animal you compel the witch to appear. The
original idea may have been that, by virtue of a magic sympathy which
binds the two together, whatever harm you do to the animal is felt by
the witch as if it were done to herself. That notion would fully explain
why Manx people used also to burn bewitched animals alive; in doing so
they probably imagined that they were simultaneously burning the witch
who had cast the spell on their cattle.

[Parallel belief in magic sympathy between the animal shape of a
were-wolf and his or her ordinary human shape: by wounding the wolf you
simultaneously wound the man or woman.]

This explanation of the reason for burning a bewitched animal, dead or
alive, is confirmed by the parallel belief concerning were-wolves. It is
commonly supposed that certain men and women can transform themselves by
magic art into wolves or other animals, but that any wound inflicted on
such a transformed beast (a were-wolf or other were-animal) is
simultaneously inflicted on the human body of the witch or warlock who
had transformed herself or himself into the creature. This belief is
widely diffused; it meets us in Europe, Asia, and Africa. For example,
Olaus Magnus tells us that in Livonia, not many years before he wrote, a
noble lady had a dispute with her slave on the subject of were-wolves,
she doubting whether there were any such things, and he maintaining that
there were. To convince her he retired to a room, from which he soon
appeared in the form of a wolf. Being chased by the dogs into the forest
and brought to bay, the wolf defended himself fiercely, but lost an eye
in the struggle. Next day the slave returned to his mistress in human
form but with only one eye.[758] Again, it happened in the year 1588
that a gentleman in a village among the mountains of Auvergne, looking
out of the window one evening, saw a friend of his going out to hunt. He
begged him to bring him back some of his bag, and his friend said that
he would. Well, he had not gone very far before he met a huge wolf. He
fired and missed it, and the animal attacked him furiously, but he stood
on his guard and with an adroit stroke of his hunting knife he cut off
the right fore-paw of the brute, which thereupon fled away and he saw it
no more. He returned to his friend, and drawing from his pouch the
severed paw of the wolf he found to his horror that it was turned into a
woman's hand with a golden ring on one of the fingers. His friend
recognized the ring as that of his own wife and went to find her. She
was sitting by the fire with her right arm under her apron. As she
refused to draw it out, her husband confronted her with the hand and the
ring on it. She at once confessed the truth, that it was she in the form
of a were-wolf whom the hunter had wounded. Her confession was confirmed
by applying the severed hand to the stump of her arm, for the two fitted
exactly. The angry husband delivered up his wicked wife to justice; she
was tried and burnt as a witch.[759] It is said that a were-wolf,
scouring the streets of Padua, was caught, and when they cut off his
four paws he at once turned into a man, but with both his hands and feet
amputated.[760] Again, in a farm of the French district of Beauce, there
was once a herdsman who never slept at home. These nocturnal absences
naturally attracted attention and set people talking. At the same time,
by a curious coincidence, a wolf used to prowl round the farm every
night and to excite the dogs in the farmyard to fury by thrusting his
snout derisively through the cat's hole in the great gate. The farmer
had his suspicions and he determined to watch. One night, when the
herdsman went out as usual, his master followed him quietly till he came
to a hut, where with his own eyes he saw the man put on a broad belt and
at once turn into a wolf, which scoured away over the fields. The farmer
smiled a sickly sort of smile and went back to the farm. There he took a
stout stick and sat down at the cat's hole to wait. He had not long to
wait. The dogs barked like mad, a wolf's snout shewed through the hole,
down came the stick, out gushed the blood, and a voice was heard to say
without the gate, "A good job too. I had still three years to run." Next
day the herdsman appeared as usual, but he had a scar on his brow, and
he never went out again at night.[761]

[Werewolves in China.]

In China also the faith in similar transformation is reflected in the
following tale. A certain man in Sung-yang went into the mountains to
gather fuel. Night fell and he was pursued by two tigers, but scrambled
up a tree out of their reach. Then said the one tiger to the other
tiger, "If we can find Chu-Tu-shi, we are sure to catch this man up the
tree." So off went one of them to find Chu-Tu-shi, while the other kept
watch at the foot of the tree. Soon after that another tiger, leaner and
longer than the other two, appeared on the scene and made a grab at the
man's coat. But fortunately the moon was shining, the man saw the paw,
and with a stroke of his axe cut off one of its claws. The tigers roared
and fled, one after the other, so the man climbed down the tree and went
home. When he told his tale in the village, suspicion naturally fell on
the said Chu-Tu-shi; next day some men went to see him in his house.
They were told that they could not see him; for he had been out the
night before and had hurt his hand, and he was now ill in bed. So they
put two and two together and reported him to the police. The police
arrived, surrounded the house, and set fire to it; but Chu-Tu-shi rose
from his bed, turned into a tiger, charged right through the police, and
escaped, and to this day nobody ever knew where he went to.[762]

[Werewolves among the Toradjas of Central Celebes.]

The Toradjas of Central Celebes stand in very great fear of werewolves,
that is of men and women, who have the power of transforming their
spirits into animals such as cats, crocodiles, wild pigs, apes, deer,
and buffaloes, which roam about battening on human flesh, and especially
on human livers, while the men and women in their own proper human form
are sleeping quietly in their beds at home. Among them a man is either
born a were-wolf or becomes one by infection; for mere contact with a
were-wolf, or even with anything that has been touched by his spittle,
is quite enough to turn the most innocent person into a were-wolf; nay
even to lean your head against anything against which a were-wolf has
leaned his head suffices to do it. The penalty for being a were-wolf is
death; but the sentence is never passed until the accused has had a fair
trial and his guilt has been clearly demonstrated by an ordeal, which
consists in dipping the middle finger into boiling resin. If the finger
is not burnt, the man is no were-wolf; but if it is burnt, a werewolf he
most assuredly is, so they take him away to a quiet spot and hack him to
bits. In cutting him up the executioners are naturally very careful not
to be bespattered with his blood, for if that were to happen they would
of course be turned into were-wolves themselves. Further, they place his
severed head beside his hinder-quarters to prevent his soul from coming
to life again and pursuing his depredations. So great is the horror of
were-wolves among the Toradjas, and so great is their fear of
contracting the deadly taint by infection, that many persons have
assured a missionary that they would not spare their own child if they
knew him to be a were-wolf.[763] Now these people, whose faith in
were-wolves is not a mere dying or dead superstition but a living,
dreadful conviction, tell stories of were-wolves which conform to the
type which we are examining. They say that once upon a time a were-wolf
came in human shape under the house of a neighbour, while his real body
lay asleep as usual at home, and calling out softly to the man's wife
made an assignation with her to meet him in the tobacco-field next day.
But the husband was lying awake and he heard it all, but he said nothing
to anybody. Next day chanced to be a busy one in the village, for a roof
had to be put on a new house and all the men were lending a hand with
the work, and among them to be sure was the were-wolf himself, I mean to
say his own human self; there he was up on the roof working away as hard
as anybody. But the woman went out to the tobacco-field, and behind went
unseen her husband, slinking through the underwood. When they were come
to the field, he saw the were-wolf make up to his wife, so out he rushed
and struck at him with a stick. Quick as thought, the were-wolf turned
himself into a leaf, but the man was as nimble, for he caught up the
leaf, thrust it into the joint of bamboo, in which he kept his tobacco,
and bunged it up tight. Then he walked back with his wife to the
village, carrying the bamboo with the werewolf in it. When they came to
the village, the human body of the were-wolf was still on the roof,
working away with the rest. The man put the bamboo in a fire. At that
the human were-wolf looked down from the roof and said, "Don't do that."
The man drew the bamboo from the fire, but a moment afterwards he put it
in the fire again, and again the human were-wolf on the roof looked down
and cried, "Don't do that." But this time the man kept the bamboo in the
fire, and when it blazed up, down fell the human were-wolf from the roof
as dead as a stone.[764] Again, the following story went round among the
Toradjas not so very many years ago. The thing happened at Soemara, on
the Gulf of Tomori. It was evening and some men sat chatting with a
certain Hadji Mohammad. When it had grown dark, one of the men went out
of the house for something or other. A little while afterwards one of
the company thought he saw a stag's antlers standing out sharp and clear
against the bright evening sky. So Hadji Mohammad raised his gun and
fired. A minute or two afterwards back comes the man who had gone out,
and says he to Hadji Mohammad, "You shot at me and hit me. You must pay
me a fine." They searched him but found no wound on him anywhere. Then
they knew that he was a were-wolf who had turned himself into a stag and
had healed the bullet-wound by licking it. However, the bullet had found
its billet, for two days afterwards he was a dead man.[765]

[Were-wolves in the Egyptian Sudan.]

In Sennar, a province of the Egyptian Sudan, the Hammeg and Fungi enjoy
the reputation of being powerful magicians who can turn themselves into
hyaenas and in that guise scour the country at night, howling and
gorging themselves. But by day they are men again. It is very dangerous
to shoot at such human hyaenas by night. On the Jebel Bela mountain a
soldier once shot at a hyaena and hit it, but it dragged itself off,
bleeding, in the darkness and escaped. Next morning he followed up the
trail of blood and it led him straight to the hut of a man who was
everywhere known for a wizard. Nothing of the hyaena was to be seen, but
the man himself was laid up in the house with a fresh wound and died
soon afterwards. And the soldier did not long survive him.[766]

[The were-wolf story in Petronius.]

But the classical example of these stories is an old Roman tale told by
Petronius. It is put in the mouth of one Niceros. Late at night he left
the town to visit a friend of his, a widow, who lived at a farm five
miles down the road. He was accompanied by a soldier, who lodged in the
same house, a man of Herculean build. When they set out it was near
dawn, but the moon shone as bright as day. Passing through the outskirts
of the town, they came amongst the tombs, which lined the highroad for
some distance. There the soldier made an excuse for retiring behind a
monument, and Niceros sat down to wait for him, humming a tune and
counting the tombstones to pass the time. In a little he looked round
for his companion, and saw a sight which froze him with horror. The
soldier had stripped off his clothes to the last rag and laid them at
the side of the highway. Then he performed a certain ceremony over them,
and immediately was changed into a wolf, and ran howling into the
forest. When Niceros had recovered himself a little, he went to pick up
the clothes, but found that they were turned to stone. More dead than
alive, he drew his sword, and, striking at every shadow cast by the
tombstones on the moonlit road, he tottered to his friend's house. He
entered it like a ghost, to the surprise of the widow, who wondered to
see him abroad so late. "If you had only been here a little ago," said
she, "you might have been of some use. For a wolf came tearing into the
yard, scaring the cattle and bleeding them like a butcher. But he did
not get off so easily, for the servant speared him in the neck." After
hearing these words, Niceros felt that he could not close an eye, so he
hurried away home again. It was now broad daylight, but when he came to
the place where the clothes had been turned to stone, he found only a
pool of blood. He reached home, and there lay the soldier in bed like an
ox in the shambles, and the doctor was bandaging his neck. "Then I
knew," said Niceros, "that the man was a were-wolf, and never again
could I break bread with him, no, not if you had killed me for it."[767]

[Witches like were-wolves can temporarily transform themselves into

These stories may help us to understand the custom of burning a
bewitched animal, which has been observed in our own country down to
recent times, if indeed it is even now extinct. For a close parallel may
be traced in some respects between witches and were-wolves. Like
were-wolves, witches are commonly supposed to be able to transform
themselves temporarily into animals for the purpose of playing their
mischievous pranks;[768] and like were-wolves they can in their animal
disguise be compelled to unmask themselves to any one who succeeds in
drawing their blood. In either case the animal-skin is conceived as a
cloak thrown round the wicked enchanter; and if you can only pierce the
skin, whether by the stab of a knife or the shot of a gun, you so rend
the disguise that the man or woman inside of it stands revealed in his
or her true colours. Strictly speaking, the stab should be given on the
brow or between the eyes in the case both of a witch and of a
were-wolf;[769] and it is vain to shoot at a were-wolf unless you have
had the bullet blessed in a chapel of St. Hubert or happen to be
carrying about you, without knowing it, a four-leaved clover; otherwise
the bullet will merely rebound from the were-wolf like water from a
duck's back.[770] However, in Armenia they say that the were-wolf, who
in that country is usually a woman, can be killed neither by shot nor by
steel; the only way of delivering the unhappy woman from her bondage is
to get hold of her wolf's skin and burn it; for that naturally prevents
her from turning into a wolf again. But it is not easy to find the skin,
for she is cunning enough to hide it by day.[771] So with witches, it is
not only useless but even dangerous to shoot at one of them when she has
turned herself into a hare; if you do, the gun may burst in your hand or
the shot come back and kill you. The only way to make quite sure of
hitting a witch-animal is to put a silver sixpence or a silver button in
your gun.[772] For example, it happened one evening that a native of the
island of Tiree was going home with a new gun, when he saw a black sheep
running towards him across the plain of Reef. Something about the
creature excited his suspicion, so he put a silver sixpence in his gun
and fired at it. Instantly the black sheep became a woman with a drugget
coat wrapt round her head. The man knew her quite well, for she was a
witch who had often persecuted him before in the shape of a cat.[773]

[Wounds inflicted on an animal into which a witch has transformed
herself are inflicted on the witch herself.]

Again, the wounds inflicted on a witch-hare or a witch-cat are to be
seen on the witch herself, just as the wounds inflicted on a were-wolf
are to be seen on the man himself when he has doffed the wolfs skin. To
take a few instances out of a multitude, a young man in the island of
Lismore was out shooting. When he was near Balnagown loch, he started a
hare and fired at it. The animal gave an unearthly scream, and then for
the first time it occurred to him that there were no real hares in
Lismore. He threw away his gun in terror and fled home; and next day he
heard that a notorious witch was laid up with a broken leg. A man need
be no conjuror to guess how she came by that broken leg.[774] Again, at
Thurso certain witches used to turn themselves into cats and in that
shape to torment an honest man. One night he lost patience, whipped out
his broadsword, and put them to flight. As they were scurrying away he
struck at them and cut off a leg of one of the cats. To his astonishment
it was a woman's leg, and next morning he found one of the witches short
of the corresponding limb.[775] Glanvil tells a story of "an old woman
in Cambridge-shire, whose astral spirit, coming into a man's house (as
he was sitting alone at the fire) in the shape of an huge cat, and
setting her self before the fire, not far from him, he stole a stroke at
the back of it with a fire-fork, and seemed to break the back of it, but
it scambled from him, and vanisht he knew not how. But such an old
woman, a reputed witch, was found dead in her bed that very night, with
her back broken, as I have heard some years ago credibly reported."[776]
In Yorkshire during the latter half of the nineteenth century a parish
clergyman was told a circumstantial story of an old witch named Nanny,
who was hunted in the form of a hare for several miles over the
Westerdale moors and kept well away from the dogs, till a black one
joined the pack and succeeded in taking a bit out of one of the hare's
legs. That was the end of the chase, and immediately afterwards the
sportsmen found old Nanny laid up in bed with a sore leg. On examining
the wounded limb they discovered that the hurt was precisely in that
part of it which in the hare had been bitten by the black dog and, what
was still more significant, the wound had all the appearance of having
been inflicted by a dog's teeth. So they put two and two together.[777]
The same sort of thing is often reported in Lincolnshire. "One night,"
said a servant from Kirton Lindsey, "my father and brother saw a cat in
front of them. Father knew it was a witch, and took a stone and hammered
it. Next day the witch had her face all tied up, and shortly afterwards
died." Again, a Bardney bumpkin told how a witch in his neighbourhood
could take all sorts of shapes. One night a man shot a hare, and when he
went to the witch's house he found her plastering a wound just where he
had shot the hare.[778] So in County Leitrim, in Ireland, they say that
a hare pursued by dogs fled to a house near at hand, but just as it was
bolting in at the door one of the dogs came up with it and nipped a
piece out of its leg. The hunters entered the house and found no hare
there but only an old woman, and her side was bleeding; so they knew
what to think of her.[779]

[Wounded witches in the Vosges.]

Again, in the Vosges Mountains a great big hare used to come out every
evening to take the air at the foot of the Mont des Fourches. All the
sportsmen of the neighbourhood tried their hands on that hare for a
month, but not one of them could hit it. At last one marksman, more
knowing than the rest, loaded his gun with some pellets of a consecrated
wafer in addition to the usual pellets of lead. That did the trick. If
puss was not killed outright, she was badly hurt, and limped away
uttering shrieks and curses in a human voice. Later it transpired that
she was no other than the witch of a neighbouring village who had the
power of putting on the shape of any animal she pleased.[780] Again, a
hunter of Travexin, in the Vosges, fired at a hare and almost shot away
one of its hind legs. Nevertheless the creature contrived to escape into
a cottage through the open door. Immediately a child's cries were heard
to proceed from the cottage, and the hunter could distinguish these
words, "Daddy, daddy, come quick! Poor mammy has her leg broken."[781]

[Wounded witches in Swabia.]

In Swabia the witches are liable to accidents of the same sort when they
go about their business in the form of animals. For example, there was a
soldier who was betrothed to a young woman and used to visit her every
evening when he was off duty. But one evening the girl told him that he
must not come to the house on Friday nights, because it was never
convenient to her to see him then. This roused his suspicion, and the
very next Friday night he set out to go to his sweetheart's house. On
the way a white cat ran up to him in the street and dogged his steps,
and when the animal would not make off he drew his sword and slashed off
one of its paws. On that the cat bolted. The soldier walked on, but when
he came to his sweetheart's house he found her in bed, and when he asked
her what was the matter, she gave a very confused reply. Noticing stains
of blood on the bed, he drew down the coverlet and saw that the girl was
weltering in her gore, for one of her feet was lopped off. "So that's
what's the matter with you, you witch!" said he, and turned on his heel
and left her, and within three days she was dead.[782] Again, a farmer
in the neighbourhood of Wiesensteig frequently found in his stable a
horse over and above the four horses he actually owned. He did not know
what to make of it and mentioned the matter to the smith. The smith said
quietly, "The next time you see a fifth horse in the stable, just you
send for me." Well, it was not long before the strange horse was there
again, and the farmer at once sent for the smith. He came bringing four
horse-shoes with him, and said, "I'm sure the nag has no shoes; I'll
shoe her for you." No sooner said than done. However, the smith
overreached himself; for next day when his friend the farmer paid him a
visit he found the smith's own wife prancing about with horse-shoes
nailed on her hands and feet. But it was the last time she ever appeared
in the shape of a horse.[783]

[The miller's wife and the two grey cats.]

Once more, in Silesia they tell of a miller's apprentice, a sturdy and
industrious young fellow, who set out on his travels. One day he came to
a mill, and the miller told him that he wanted an apprentice but did not
care to engage one, because hitherto all his apprentices had run away in
the night, and when he came down in the morning the mill was at a stand.
However, he liked the looks of the young chap and took him into his pay.
But what the new apprentice heard about the mill and his predecessors
was not encouraging; so the first night when it was his duty to watch in
the mill he took care to provide himself with an axe and a prayer-book,
and while he kept one eye on the whirring, humming wheels he kept the
other on the good book, which he read by the flickering light of a
candle set on a table. So the hours at first passed quietly with nothing
to disturb him but the monotonous drone and click of the machinery. But
on the stroke of twelve, as he was still reading with the axe lying on
the table within reach, the door opened and in came two grey cats
mewing, an old one and a young one. They sat down opposite him, but it
was easy to see that they did not like his wakefulness and the
prayer-book and the axe. Suddenly the old cat reached out a paw and made
a grab at the axe, but the young chap was too quick for her and held it
fast. Then the young cat tried to do the same for the prayer-book, but
the apprentice gripped it tight. Thus balked, the two cats set up such a
squalling that the young fellow could hardly say his prayers. Just
before one o'clock the younger cat sprang on the table and fetched a
blow with her right paw at the candle to put it out. But the apprentice
struck at her with his axe and sliced the paw off, whereupon the two
cats vanished with a frightful screech. The apprentice wrapped the paw
up in paper to shew it to his master. Very glad the miller was next
morning when he came down and found the mill going and the young chap at
his post. The apprentice told him what had happened in the night and
gave him the parcel containing the cat's paw. But when the miller opened
it, what was the astonishment of the two to find in it no cat's paw but
a woman's hand! At breakfast the miller's young wife did not as usual
take her place at the table. She was ill in bed, and the doctor had to
be called in to bind up her right arm, because in hewing wood, so they
said, she had made a slip and cut off her own right hand. But the
apprentice packed up his traps and turned his back on that mill before
the sun had set.[784]

[The analogy of were-wolves confirms the view that the reason for
burning bewitched animals is either to burn the witch or to compel her
to appear.]

It would no doubt be easy to multiply instances, all equally well
attested and authentic, of the transformation of witches into animals
and of the damage which the women themselves have sustained through
injuries inflicted on the animals.[785] But the foregoing evidence may
suffice to establish the complete parallelism between witches and
were-wolves in these respects. The analogy appears to confirm the view
that the reason for burning a bewitched animal alive is a belief that
the witch herself is in the animal, and that by burning it you either
destroy the witch completely or at least unmask her and compel her to
reassume her proper human shape, in which she is naturally far less
potent for mischief than when she is careering about the country in the
likeness of a cat, a hare, a horse, or what not. This principle is still
indeed clearly recognized by people in Oldenburg, though, as might be
expected, they do not now carry out the principle to its logical
conclusion by burning the bewitched animal or person alive; instead they
resort to a feeble and, it must be added, perfectly futile subterfuge
dictated by a mistaken humanity or a fear of the police. "When anything
living is bewitched in a house, for example, children or animals, they
burn or boil the nobler inwards of animals, especially the hearts, but
also the lungs or the liver. If animals have died, they take the inwards
of one of them or of an animal of the same kind slaughtered for the
purpose; but if that is not possible they take the inwards of a cock, by
preference a black one. The heart, lung, or liver is stuck all over with
needles, or marked with a cross cut, or placed on the fire in a tightly
closed vessel, strict silence being observed and doors and windows well
shut. When the heart boils or is reduced to ashes, the witch must
appear, for during the boiling she feels the burning pain. She either
begs to be released or seeks to borrow something, for example, salt or a
coal of fire, or she takes the lid off the pot, or tries to induce the
person whose spell is on her to speak. They say, too, that a woman comes
with a spinning-wheel. If it is a sheep that has died, you proceed in
the same way with a tripe from its stomach and prick it with needles
while it is on the boil. Instead of boiling it, some people nail the
heart to the highest rafter of the house, or lay it on the edge of the
hearth, in order that it may dry up, no doubt because the same thing
happens to the witch. We may conjecture that other sympathetic means of
destruction are employed against witchcraft. The following is expressly
reported: the heart of a calf that has died is stuck all over with
needles, enclosed in a bag, and thrown into flowing water before

[There is the same reason for burning bewitched things; similarly by
burning alive a person whose form a witch has assumed, you compel the
witch to disclose herself.]

And the same thing holds good also of inanimate objects on which a witch
has cast her spell. In Wales they say that "if a thing is bewitched,
burn it, and immediately afterwards the witch will come to borrow
something of you. If you give what she asks, she will go free; if you
refuse it, she will burn, and a mark will be on her body the next
day."[787] So, too, in Oldenburg, "the burning of things that are
bewitched or that have been received from witches is another way of
breaking the spell. It is often said that the burning should take place
at a cross-road, and in several places cross-roads are shewn where the
burning used to be performed.... As a rule, while the things are
burning, the guilty witches appear, though not always in their own
shape. At the burning of bewitched butter they often appear as
cockchafers and can be killed with impunity. Victuals received from
witches may be safely consumed if only you first burn a portion of
them."[788] For example, a young man in Oldenburg was wooing a girl, and
she gave him two fine apples as a gift. Not feeling any appetite at the
time, he put the apples in his pocket, and when he came home he laid
them by in a chest. Two or three days afterwards he remembered the
apples and went to the chest to fetch them. But when he would have put
his hand on them, what was his horror to find in their stead two fat
ugly toads in the chest. He hastened to a wise man and asked him what he
should do with the toads. The man told him to boil the toads alive, but
while he was doing so he must be sure on no account to lend anything out
of the house. Well, just as he had the toads in a pot on the fire and
the water began to grow nicely warm, who should come to the door but the
girl who had given him the apples, and she wished to borrow something;
but he refused to give her anything, rated her as a witch, and drove her
out of the house. A little afterwards in came the girl's mother and
begged with tears in her eyes for something or other; but he turned her
out also. The last word she said to him was that he should at least
spare her daughter's life; but he paid no heed to her and let the toads
boil till they fell to bits. Next day word came that the girl was
dead.[789] Can any reasonable man doubt that the witch herself was
boiled alive in the person of the toads?

[The burning alive of a supposed witch in Ireland in 1895.]

Moreover, just as a witch can assume the form of an animal, so she can
assume the form of some other human being, and the likeness is sometimes
so good that it is difficult to detect the fraud. However, by burning
alive the person whose shape the witch has put on, you force the witch
to disclose herself, just as by burning alive the bewitched animal you
in like manner oblige the witch to appear. This principle may perhaps be
unknown to science, falsely so called, but it is well understood in
Ireland and has been acted on within recent years. In March 1895 a
peasant named Michael Cleary, residing at Ballyvadlea, a remote and
lonely district in the county of Tipperary, burned his wife Bridget
Cleary alive over a slow fire on the kitchen hearth in the presence of
and with the active assistance of some neighbours, including the woman's
own father and several of her cousins. They thought that she was not
Bridget Cleary at all, but a witch, and that when they held her down on
the fire she would vanish up the chimney; so they cried, while she was
burning, "Away she goes! Away she goes!" Even when she lay quite dead on
the kitchen floor (for contrary to the general expectation she did not
disappear up the chimney), her husband still believed that the woman
lying there was a witch, and that his own dear wife had gone with the
fairies to the old _rath_ or fort on the hill of Kylenagranagh, where he
would see her at night riding a grey horse and roped to the saddle, and
that he would cut the ropes, and that she would stay with him ever
afterwards. So he went with some friends to the fort night after night,
taking a big table-knife with him to cut the ropes. But he never saw his
wife again. He and the men who had held the woman on the fire were
arrested and tried at Clonmel for wilful murder in July 1895; they were
all found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to various terms of penal
servitude and imprisonment; the sentence passed on Michael Cleary was
twenty years' penal servitude.[790]

[Sometimes bewitched animals are buried alive instead of being burned.]

However, our British peasants, it must be confessed, have not always
acted up to the strict logical theory which seems to call for death by
fire as the proper treatment both of bewitched animals and of witches.
Sometimes, perhaps in moments of weakness, they have merely buried the
bewitched animals alive instead of burning them. For example, in the
year 1643, "many cattle having died, John Brughe and Neane Nikclerith,
also one of the initiated, conjoined their mutual skill for the safety
of the herd. The surviving animals were drove past a tub of water
containing two enchanted stones: and each was sprinkled from the liquid
contents in its course. One, however, being unable to walk, 'was by
force drawin out at the byre dure; and the said Johnne with Nikclerith
smelling the nois thereof said it wald not leive, caused are hoill to be
maid in Maw Greane, quhilk was put quick in the hole and maid all the
rest of the cattell theireftir to go over that place: and in that
devillische maner, be charmeing,' they were cured."[791] Again, during
the prevalence of a murrain about the year 1629, certain persons
proposed to stay the plague with the help of a celebrated "cureing
stane" of which the laird of Lee was the fortunate owner. But from this
they were dissuaded by one who "had sene bestiall curet be taking are
quik seik ox, and making are deip pitt, and bureing him therin, and be
calling the oxin and bestiall over that place." Indeed Issobell Young,
the mother of these persons, had herself endeavoured to check the
progress of the distemper by taking "ane quik ox with ane catt, and ane
grit quantitie of salt," and proceeding "to burie the ox and catt quik
with the salt, in ane deip hoill in the grund, as ane sacrifice to the
devill, that the rest of the guidis might be fred of the seiknes or
diseases."[792] Writing towards the end of the eighteenth century, John
Ramsay of Ochtertyre tells us that "the violent death even of a brute is
in some cases held to be of great avail. There is a disease called the
_black spauld_, which sometimes rages like a pestilence among black
cattle, the symptoms of which are a mortification in the legs and a
corruption of the mass of blood. Among the other engines of superstition
that are directed against this fatal malady, the first cow seized with
it is commonly buried alive, and the other cattle are forced to pass
backwards and forwards over the pit. At other times the heart is taken
out of the beast alive, and then the carcass is buried. It is remarkable
that the leg affected is cut off, and hung up in some part of the house
or byre, where it remains suspended, notwithstanding the seeming danger
of infection. There is hardly a house in Mull where these may not be
seen. This practice seems to have taken its rise antecedent to
Christianity, as it reminds us of the pagan custom of hanging up
offerings in their temples. In Breadalbane, when a cow is observed to
have symptoms of madness, there is recourse had to a peculiar process.
They tie the legs of the mad creature, and throw her into a pit dug at
the door of the fold. After covering the hole with earth, a large fire
is kindled upon it; and the rest of the cattle are driven out, and
forced to pass through the fire one by one."[793] In this latter custom
we may suspect that the fire kindled on the grave of the buried cow was
originally made by the friction of wood, in other words, that it was a
need-fire. Again, writing in the year 1862, Sir Arthur Mitchell tells us
that "for the cure of the murrain in cattle, one of the herd is still
sacrificed for the good of the whole. This is done by burying it alive.
I am assured that within the last ten years such a barbarism occurred in
the county of Moray."[794]

[Calves killed and buried to save the rest of the herd.]

Sometimes, however, the animal has not even been buried alive, it has
been merely killed and then buried. In this emasculated form the
sacrifice, we may say with confidence, is absolutely useless for the
purpose of stopping a murrain. Nevertheless, it has been tried. Thus in
Lincolnshire, when the cattle plague was so prevalent in 1866, there
was, I believe, not a single cowshed in Marshland but had its wicken
cross over the door; and other charms more powerful than this were in
some cases resorted to. I never heard of the use of the needfire in the
Marsh, though it was, I believe, used on the wolds not many miles off.
But I knew of at least one case in which a calf was killed and solemnly
buried feet pointing upwards at the threshold of the cowshed. When our
garthman told me of this, I pointed out to him that the charm had
failed, for the disease had not spared that shed. But he promptly
replied, "Yis, but owd Edwards were a soight too cliver; he were that
mean he slew nobbutt a wankling cauf as were bound to deny anny road; if
he had nobbutt tekken his best cauf it wud hev worked reight enuff;
'tain't in reason that owd skrat 'ud be hanselled wi' wankling


[262] See Jacob Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_*[4] (Berlin, 1875-1878), i.
502, 510, 516.

[263] W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus der Germanen und ihrer
Nachbarstaemme_ (Berlin, 1875), pp. 518 _sq._

[264] In the following survey of these fire-customs I follow chiefly W.
Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, kap. vi. pp. 497 _sqq._ Compare also J.
Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 500 _sqq._; Walter E. Kelly,
_Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore_ (London, 1863),
pp. 46 _sqq._; F. Vogt, "Scheibentreiben und Fruehlingsfeuer,"
_Zeitschrift des Vereins fuer Volkskunde_, iii. (1893) pp. 349-369;
_ibid._ iv. (1894) pp. 195-197.

[265] _The Scapegoat_, pp. 316 _sqq._

[266] The first Sunday in Lent is known as _Invocavit_ from the first
word of the mass for the day (O. Frh. von Reinsberg-Dueringsfeld,
_Fest-Kalender aus Boehmen_, p. 67).

[267] Le Baron de Reinsberg-Dueringsfeld, _Calendrier Belge_ (Brussels,
1861-1862), i. 141-143; E. Monseur, _Le Folklore Wallon_ (Brussels,
N.D.), pp. 124 _sq._

[268] Emile Hublard, _Fetes du Temps Jadis, les Feux du Careme_ (Mons,
1899), pp. 25. For the loan of this work I am indebted to Mrs. Wherry of
St. Peter's Terrace, Cambridge.

[269] E. Hublard, _op. cit._ pp. 27 _sq._

[270] A. Meyrac, _Traditions, coutumes, legendes et contes des Ardennes_
(Charleville, 1890), p. 68.

[271] L.F. Sauve, _Le Folk-lore des Hautes-Vosges_ (Paris, 1889), p. 56.
The popular name for the bonfires in the Upper Vosges (_Hautes-Vosges_)
is _chavandes_.

[272] E. Cortet, _Essai sur les fetes religieuses_ (Paris, 1867), pp.
101 _sq._ The local name for these bonfires is _bures_.

[273] Charles Beauquier, _Les mois en Franche-Comte_ (Paris, 1900), pp.
33 _sq._ In Bresse the custom was similar. See _La Bresse Louhannaise,
Bulletin Mensuel, Organe de la Societe d'Agriculture et d'Horticulture
de l'Arrondissement de Louhans_, Mars, 1906, pp. 111 _sq._; E. Cortet,
_op. cit._ p. 100. The usual name for the bonfires is _chevannes_ or
_schvannes_; but in some places they are called _fouleres, foualeres,
failles_, or _bourdifailles_ (Ch. Beauquier, _op. cit._ p. 34). But the
Sunday is called the Sunday of the _brandons, bures, bordes_, or
_boides_, according to the place. The _brandons_ are the torches which
are carried about the streets and the fields; the bonfires, as we have
seen, bear another name. A curious custom, observed on the same Sunday
in Franche-Comte, requires that couples married within the year should
distribute boiled peas to all the young folks of both sexes who demand
them at the door. The lads and lasses go about from house to house,
making the customary request; in some places they wear masks or are
otherwise disguised. See Ch. Beauquier, _op. cit._ pp. 31-33.

[274] Curiously enough, while the singular is _granno-mio_, the plural
is _grannas-mias_.

[275] Dr. Pommerol, "La fete des Brandons et le dieu Gaulois Grannus,"
_Bulletins et Memoires de la Societe d'Anthropologie de Paris_, v.
Serie, ii. (1901) pp. 427-429.

[276] _Op. cit._ pp. 428 _sq._

[277] H. Dessau, _Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae_, vol. ii. Pars i.
(Berlin, 1902) pp. 216 _sq._, Nos. 4646-4652.

[278] (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Heathendom_ (London, 1888), pp. 22-25.

[279] Emile Hublard, _Fetes du Temps Jadis, les Feux du Careme_ (Mons,
1899), p. 38, quoting Dom Grenier, _Histoire de la Province de

[280] E. Hublard, _op. cit._ p. 39, quoting Dom Grenier.

[281] M. Desgranges, "Usages du Canton de Bonneval," _Memoires de la
Societe Royale des Antiquaires de France_, i. (Paris, 1817) pp. 236-238;
Felix Chapiseau, _Le folk-lore de la Beauce et du Perche_ (Paris, 1902),
i. 315 _sq._

[282] John Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London,
1882-1883), i. 100.

[283] E. Cortet, _Essai sur les fetes religieuses_ (Paris, 1867), pp. 99
_sq.; La Bresse Louhannaise_, Mars, 1906, p. 111.

[284] A. de Nore, _Coutumes, mythes et traditions des provinces de
France_ (Paris and Lyons, 1846), pp. 283 _sq._ A similar, though not
identical, custom prevailed at Valenciennes (_ibid._ p. 338).

[285] A. de Nore, _op. cit._ p. 302.

[286] Desire Monnier, _Traditions populaires comparees_ (Paris, 1854),
pp. 191 _sq._

[287] Laisnel de la Salle, _Croyances et legendes du centre de la
France_ (Paris, 1875). i. 35 _sqq._

[288] Jules Lecoeur, _Esquisses du Rocage Normand_ (Conde-sur-Noireau,
1887), ii. 131 _sq._ For more evidence of customs of this sort observed
in various parts of France on the first Sunday in Lent, see Madame
Clement, _Histoire des Fetes civiles et religieuses_, etc., _du
Departement du Nord_*[2] (Cambrai, 1836), pp. 351 _sqq._; Emile Hublard,
_Fetes du Temps Jadis, les Feux du Careme_ (Mons, 1899), pp. 33 _sqq._

[289] J.H. Schmitz, _Sitten und Sagen, Lieder, Spruechwoerter und Raethsel
des Eifler Volkes_ (Treves, 1856-1858), i. 21-25; N. Hocker, in
_Zeitschrift fuer deutsche Mythologie und Sittenkunde_, i. (1853) p. 90;
W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus der Germanen und ihrer Nachbarstaemme_
(Berlin, 1875), p. 501.

[290] N. Hocker, _op. cit._ pp. 89 _sq._; W. Mannhardt, _l.c._

[291] F.J. Vonbun, _Beitraege zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Chur, 1862), p.
20; W. Mannhardt, _l.c._

[292] Ernst Meier, _Deutsche Sagen, Sitten und Gebraeuche aus Schwaben_
(Stuttgart, 1852), pp. 380 _sqq._; Anton Birlinger, _Volksthuemliches aus
Schwaben_ (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1861-1862), ii. 56 _sqq._, 66 _sqq._;
_Bavaria, Landes-und Volkskunde des Koenigreichs Bayern_ (Munich,
1860-1867), ii. 2, pp. 838 _sq._; F. Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen
Mythologie_ (Munich, 1848-1855), i. 211, Sec. 232; W. Mannhardt, _l.c._ One
of the popular German names for the first Sunday in Lent is White
Sunday, which is not to be confused with the first Sunday after Easter,
which also goes by the name of White Sunday (E. Meier, _op. cit._ p.
380; A. Birlinger, _op. cit._ ii. 56).

[293] H. Gaidoz, "Le dieu gaulois du soleil et le symbolisme de la
roue," _Revue Archeologique_, iii. serie, iv. (1884) pp. 139 _sq._

[294] August Witzschel, _Sagen, Sitten und Gebraeuche aus Thueringen_
(Vienna, 1878), p. 189; F. Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie_
(Munich, 1848-1855), ii. 207; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus,_ pp. 500

[295] W. Kolbe, _Hessiche Volks-Sitten und Gebraeuche_*[2] (Marburg,
1888), p. 36.

[296] Adalbert Kuhn, _Die Herabkunft des Feuers und des
Goettertranks_*[2] (Guetersloh, 1886), p. 86, quoting Hocker, _Des
Mosellandes Geschichten, Sagen und Legenden_ (Trier, 1852), pp. 415
_sqq._ Compare W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 501; and below, pp.
163 _sq._ Thus it appears that the ceremony of rolling the fiery wheel
down hill was observed twice a year at Konz, once on the first Sunday in
Lent, and once at Midsummer.

[297] H. Herzog, _Schweizerische Volksfeste, Sitten und Gebraeuche_
(Aarau, 1884), pp. 214-216; E. Hoffmann-Krayer, "Fruchtbarkeitsriten im
schweizerischen Volksbrauch," _Schweizerisches Archiv fuer Volkskunde_,
xi. (1907) pp. 247-249; _id., Feste und Braeuche des Schweizervolkes_
(Zurich, 1913), pp. 135 _sq._

[298] Theodor Vernaleken, _Mythen und Braeuche des Volkes in Oesterreich_
(Vienna, 1859), pp. 293 _sq._; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 498.
See _The Dying God_, p. 239.

[299] J. H. Schmitz, _Sitten und Sagen, Lieder, Spruechwoerter und Raethsel
des Eifler Volkes_ (Treves, 1856-1858), i. 20; W. Mannhardt, _Der
Baumkultus_, p. 499.

[300] L. Strackerjan, _Aberglaube und Sagen aus dem Herzogthum
Oldenburg_ (Oldenburg, 1867), ii. 39, Sec. 306; W. Mannhardt, _Der
Baumkultus_, p. 498.

[301] W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 499.

[302] W. Mannhardt, _op. cit._ pp. 498 _sq._

[303] W. Mannhardt, _op. cit._ p. 499.

[304] Christian Schneller, _Maerchen und Sagen aus Waelschtirol_
(Innsbruck, 1867), pp. 234 _sq._; W. Mannhardt, _op. cit._ pp. 499 _sq._

[305] John Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London,
1882-1883), i. 157 _sq._; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, pp. 502-505;
Karl Freiherr von Leoprechting, _Aus dem Lechrain_ (Munich, 1855), pp.
172 _sq._; Anton Birlinger, _Volksthuemliches aus Schwaben_ (Freiburg im
Breisgau, 1861-1862), i. 472 _sq._; Montanus, _Die deutschen Volksfeste,
Volksbraeuche und deutscher Volksglaube_ (Iserlohn, N.D.), p. 26; F.
Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Munich, 1848-1855), ii. 241
_sq._; Ernst Meier, _Deutsche Sagen, Sitten und Gebraeuche aus Schwaben_
(Stuttgart, 1852), pp. 139 _sq._; _Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde des
Koenigreichs Bayern_ (Munich, 1860-1867), i. 371; A. Wuttke, _Der
deutsche Volksaberglaube_*[2] (Berlin, 1869), pp. 68 _sq._, Sec. 81; Ignaz
V. Zingerle, _Sitten, Braeuche und Meinungen des Tiroler Volkes_*[2]
(Innsbruck, 1871), p. 149, Sec.Sec. 1286-1289; W. Kolbe, _Hessische
Volks-Sitten und Gebraeuche_*[2] (Marburg, 1888), pp. 44 _sqq._; _County
Folk-lore, Printed Extracts, Leicestershire and Rutland_, collected by
C.J. Billson (London, 1895), pp. 75 _sq._; A. Tiraboschi, "Usi pasquali
nel Bergamasco," _Archivio per lo Studio delle Tradizione Popolari_, i.
(1892) pp. 442 _sq._ The ecclesiastical custom of lighting the Paschal
or Easter candle is very fully described by Mr. H.J. Feasey, _Ancient
English Holy Week Ceremonial_ (London, 1897), pp. 179 _sqq._ These
candles were sometimes of prodigious size; in the cathedrals of Norwich
and Durham, for example, they reached almost to the roof, from which
they had to be lighted. Often they went by the name of the Judas Light
or the Judas Candle; and sometimes small waxen figures of Judas were
hung on them. See H.J. Feasey, _op. cit._ pp. 193, 213 _sqq._ As to the
ritual of the new fire at St. Peter's in Rome, see R. Chambers, _The
Book of Days_ (London and Edinburgh, 1886), i. 421; and as to the early
history of the rite in the Catholic church, see Mgr. L. Duchesne,
_Origines du Culte Chretien_*[3] (Paris, 1903), pp. 250-257.]

[306] _Bavaria, Landes und Volkskunde des Koenigreichs Bayern_ (Munich,
1860-1867), i. 1002 _sq._

[307] Gennaro Finamore, _Credenze, Usi e Costumi Abruzzesi_ (Palermo,
1890), pp. 122 _sq._

[308] G. Finamore, _op. cit._ pp. 123 _sq._

[309] Vincenzo Dorsa, _La Tradizione Greco-Latina negli Usi e nelle
Credenze Popolari della Calabria Citeriore_ (Cosenza, 1884), pp. 48

[310] Alois John, _Sitte, Brauch und Volksglaube im deutschen
Westboehmen_ (Prague, 1905), pp. 62 _sq._

[311] K. Seifart, _Sagen, Maerchen, Schwaenke und Gebraeuche aits Stadt und
Stift Hildesheim_*[2] (Hildesheim, 1889), pp. 177 _sq._, 179 _sq._

[312] M. Lexer, "Volksueberlieferungen aus dem Lesachthal in Karnten,"
_Zeitschrift fuer deutsche Mythologie und Sittenkunde_, iii. (1855) p.

[313] _The Popish Kingdome or reigne of Antichrist, written in Latin
verse by Thomas Naogeorgus and Englyshed by Barnabe Googe_, 1570, edited
by R.C. Hope (London, 1880), p. 52, _recto._ The title of the original
poem was _Regnum Papisticum_. The author, Thomas Kirchmeyer (Naogeorgus,
as he called himself), died in 1577. The book is a satire on the abuses
and superstitions of the Catholic Church. Only one perfect copy of
Googe's translation is known to exist: it is in the University Library
at Cambridge. See Mr. R.C. Hope's introduction to his reprint of this
rare work, pp. xv. _sq._ The words, "Then Clappers ceasse, and belles
are set againe at libertee," refer to the custom in Catholic countries
of silencing the church bells for two days from noon on Maundy Thursday
to noon on Easter Saturday and substituting for their music the harsh
clatter of wooden rattles. See R. Chambers, _The Book of Days_ (London
and Edinburgh, 1886), i, 412 _sq._ According to another account the
church bells are silent from midnight on the Wednesday preceding Maundy
Thursday till matins on Easter Day. See W. Smith and S. Cheetham,
_Dictionary of Christian Antiquities_ (London, 1875-1880), ii. 1161,
referring to _Ordo Roman_. i. _u.s._

[314] R. Chambers, _The Book of Days_ (London and Edinburgh, 1886), i.

[315] Miss Jessie L. Weston, "The _Scoppio del Carro_ at Florence,"
_Folk-lore_, xvi. (1905) pp. 182-184; "Lo Scoppio del Carro,"
_Resurrezione, Numero Unico del Sabato Santo_ (Florence, April, 1906),
p. 1 (giving a picture of the car with its pyramid of fire-works). The
latter paper was kindly sent to me from Florence by my friend Professor
W.J. Lewis. I have also received a letter on the subject from Signor
Carlo Placci, dated 4 (or 7) September, 1905, 1 Via Alfieri, Firenze.

[316] Frederick Starr, "Holy Week in Mexico," _The Journal of American
Folk-lore_, xii. (1899) pp. 164 _sq._; C. Boyson Taylor, "Easter in Many
Lands," _Everybody's Magazine_, New York, 1903, p. 293. I have to thank
Mr. S.S. Cohen, of 1525 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, for sending me a
cutting from the latter magazine.

[317] K. von den Steinen, _Unter den Naturvoelkern Zentral-Brasiliens_
(Berlin, 1894), pp. 458 _sq._; E. Montet, "Religion et Superstition dans
l'Amerique du Sud," _Revue de l'Histoire des Religions_, xxxii. (1895)
p. 145.

[318] J.J. von Tschudi, _Peru, Reiseskizzen aus den Jahren 1838-1842_
(St. Gallen, 1846), ii. 189 _sq._

[319] H. Candelier, _Rio-Hacha et les Indiens Goajires_ (Paris, 1893),
p. 85.

[320] Henry Maundrell, "A Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem at Easter,
A.D. 1697," in Bohn's _Early Travellers in Palestine_ (London, 1848),
pp. 462-465; Mgr. Auvergne, in _Annales de la Propagation de la Foi_, x.
(1837) pp. 23 _sq._; A.P. Stanley, _Sinai and Palestine_, Second Edition
(London, 1856), pp. 460-465; E. Cortet, _Essai sur les Fetes
Religieuses_ (Paris, 1867), pp. 137-139; A.W. Kinglake, _Eothen_,
chapter xvi. pp. 158-163 (Temple Classics edition); Father N. Abougit,
S.J., "Le feu du Saint-Sepulcre," _Les Missions Catholiques_, viii.
(1876) pp. 518 _sq._; Rev. C.T. Wilson, _Peasant Life in the Holy Land_
(London, 1906), pp. 45 _sq._; P. Saint-yves, "Le Renouvellement du Feu
Sacre," _Revue des Traditions Populaires_, xxvii. (1912) pp. 449 _sqq._
The distribution of the new fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is
the subject of a picture by Holman Hunt. From some printed notes on the
picture, with which Mrs. Holman Hunt was so kind as to furnish me, it
appears that the new fire is carried by horsemen to Bethlehem and Jaffa,
and that a Russian ship conveys it from Jaffa to Odessa, whence it is
distributed all over the country.

[321] Father X. Abougit, S.J., "Le feu du Saint-Sepulcre," _Les Missions
Catholiques_, viii. (1876) pp. 165-168.

[322] I have described the ceremony as I witnessed it at Athens, on
April 13th, 1890. Compare _Folk-lore_, i. (1890) p. 275. Having been
honoured, like other strangers, with a place on the platform, I did not
myself detect Lucifer at work among the multitude below; I merely
suspected his insidious presence.

[323] W.H.D. Rouse, "Folk-lore from the Southern Sporades," _Folk-lore_,
x. (1899) p. 178.

[324] Mrs. A.E. Gardner was so kind as to send me a photograph of a
Theban Judas dangling from a gallows and partially enveloped in smoke.
The photograph was taken at Thebes during the Easter celebration of

[325] G.F. Abbott, _Macedonian Folklore_ (Cambridge, 1903) p. 37.

[326] Cirbied, "Memoire sur la gouvernment et sur la religion des
anciens Armeniens," _Memoires publiees par la Societe Royale des
Antiquaires de France_, ii. (1820) pp. 285-287; Manuk Abeghian, _Der
armenische Volksglaube_ (Leipsic, 1899), pp. 72-74. The ceremony is said
to be merely a continuation of an old heathen festival which was held at
the beginning of spring in honour of the fire-god Mihr. A bonfire was
made in a public place, and lamps kindled at it were kept burning
throughout the year in each of the fire-god's temples.

[327] _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_, i. 32, ii. 243;
_Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild_, ii. 65, 74, 75, 78, 136.

[328] Garcilasso de la Vega, _Royal Commentaries of the Yncas_
translated by (Sir) Clements R. Markham (Hakluyt Society, London,
1869-1871), vol. ii. pp. 155-163. Compare Juan de Velasco, "Histoire du
Royaume de Quito," in H. Ternaux-Compans's _Voyages, Relations et
Memoires originaux pour servir a l'Histoire de la Decouverte de
l'Amerique_, xviii. (Paris, 1840) p. 140.

[329] B. de Sahagun, _Histoire Generale des Choses de la Nouvelle
Espagne_, traduite par D. Jourdanet et R. Simeon (Paris, 1880), bk. ii.
chapters 18 and 37, pp. 76, 161; Brasseur de Bourbourg, _Histoire des
Nations civilisees du Mexique et de l'Amerique-Centrale_ (Paris,
1857-1859), iii. 136.

[330] Mrs. Matilda Coxe Stevenson, "The Zuni Indians," _Twenty-third
Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology_ (Washington, 1904),
pp. 108-141, 148-162, especially pp. 108, 109, 114 _sq._, 120 _sq._, 130
_sq._, 132, 148 _sq._, 157 _sq._ I have already described these
ceremonies in _Totemism and Exogamy_, iii. 237 _sq._ Among the Hopi
(Moqui) Indians of Walpi, another pueblo village of this region, new
fire is ceremonially kindled by friction in November. See Jesse Walter
Fewkes, "The Tusayan New Fire Ceremony," _Proceedings of the Boston
Society of Natural History_, xxvi. 422-458; _id._, "The Group of Tusayan
Ceremonials called _Katcinas," Fifteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of
Ethnology_ (Washington, 1897), p. 263; _id._, "Hopi _Katcinas,"
Twenty-first Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology_
(Washington, 1903), p. 24.

[331] Henry R. Schoolcraft, _Notes on the Iroquois_ (Albany, 1847), p.
137. Schoolcraft did not know the date of the ceremony, but he
conjectured that it fell at the end of the Iroquois year, which was a
lunar year of twelve or thirteen months. He says: "That the close of the
lunar series should have been the period of putting out the fire, and
the beginning of the next, the time of relumination, from new fire, is
so consonant to analogy in the tropical tribes, as to be probable" (_op.
cit._ p. 138).

[332] C.F. Hall, _Life with the Esquimaux_ (London, 1864), ii. 323.

[333] Franz Boas, "The Eskimo of Baffin Land and Hudson Bay," _Bulletin
of the American Museum of Natural, History_, xv. Part i. (New York,
1901) p. 151.

[334] G. Nachtigal, _Sahara und Sudan_, iii. (Leipsic, 1889) p. 251.

[335] Major C. Percival, "Tropical Africa, on the Border Line of
Mohamedan Civilization," _The Geographical Journal_, xlii. (1913) pp.
253 _sq._

[336] Adrien Germain, "Note sur Zanzibar et la cote orientale de
l'Afrique," _Bulletin de la Societe de Geographie_ (Paris), v. Serie
xvi. (1868) p. 557; _Les Missions Catholiques_, iii. (1870) p. 270;
Charles New, _Life, Wanderings, and Labours in Eastern Africa_ (London,
1873), p. 65; Jerome Becker, _La Vie en Afrique_ (Paris and Brussels,
1887), ii. 36; O. Baumann, _Usambara und seine Nachbargebiele_ (Berlin,
1891), pp. 55 _sq._; C. Velten, _Sitten und Gebraeucheaer Suaheli_
(Goettingen,1903), pp. 342-344.

[337] Duarte Barbosa, _Description of the Coasts of East Africa and
Malabar_ (Hakluyt Society, London, 1866), p. 8; _id._, in _Records of
South-Eastern Africa_, collected by G. McCall Theal, vol. i. (1898) p.
96; Damiao de Goes, "Chronicle of the Most Fortunate King Dom Emanuel,"
in _Records of South-Eastern Africa_, collected by G. McCall Theal, vol.
iii. (1899) pp. 130 _sq._ The name Benametapa (more correctly
_monomotapa_) appears to have been the regular title of the paramount
chief, which the Portuguese took to be the name of the country. The
people over whom he ruled seem to have been the Bantu tribe of the
Makalanga in the neighbourhood of Sofala. See G. McCall Theal, _Records
of South-Eastern Africa_, vii. (1901) pp. 481-484. It is to their custom
of annually extinguishing and relighting the fire that Montaigne refers
in his essay (i. 22, vol. i. p. 140 of Charpentier's edition), though he
mentions no names.

[338] Sir H.H. Johnson, _British Central Africa_ (London, 1897), pp.
426, 439.

[339] W.H.R. Rivers, _The Todas_ (London, 1906), pp. 290-292.

[340] Lieut. R. Stewart, "Notes on Northern Cachar," _Journal of the
Asiatic Society of Bengal_ xxiv. (1855) p. 612.

[341] A. Bastian, _Die Voelker des oestlichen Asien_, ii. (Leipsic, 1866)
pp. 49 _sq._; Shway Yoe, _The Burman_ (London, 1882), ii. 325 _sq._

[342] G. Schlegel, _Uranographie Chinoise_ (The Hague and Leyden, 1875),
pp. 139-143; C. Puini, "Il fuoco nella tradizione degli antichi Cinesi,"
_Giornale della Societa Asiatica Italiana_, i. (1887) pp. 20-23; J.J.M.
de Groot, _Les Fetes annuellement celebrees a Emoui (Amoy)_ (Paris,
1886), i. 208 _sqq._ The notion that fire can be worn out with age meets
us also in Brahman ritual. See the _Satapatha Brahmana_, translated by
Julius Eggeling, Part i. (Oxford, 1882) p. 230 (_Sacred Books of the
East_, vol. xii.).

[343] W.G. Aston, _Shinto, The Way of the Gods_ (London, 1905), pp. 258
_sq._, compare p. 193. The wands in question are sticks whittled near
the top into a mass of adherent shavings; they go by the name of
_kedzurikake_ ("part-shaved"), and resemble the sacred _inao_ of the
Aino. See W.G. Aston, _op. cit._ p. 191; and as to the _inao_, see
_Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild_, ii. 185, with note 2.

[344] Ovid, _Fasti_, iii. 82; Homer, _Iliad_, i. 590, _sqq._

[345] Philostiatus, _Heroica_, xx. 24.

[346] Ovid, _Fasti_, iii. 143 _sq._; Macrobius, _Saturn_, i. 12. 6.

[347] Festus, ed. C.O. Mueller (Leipsic, 1839), p. 106, _s.v._ "Ignis."
Plutarch describes a method of rekindling the sacred fire by means of
the sun's rays reflected from a hollow mirror (_Numa_, 9); but he seems
to be referring to a Greek rather than to the Roman custom. The rule of
celibacy imposed on the Vestals, whose duty it was to relight the sacred
fire as well as to preserve it when it was once made, is perhaps
explained by a superstition current among French peasants that if a girl
can blow up a smouldering candle into a flame she is a virgin, but that
if she fails to do so, she is not. See Jules Lecoeur, _Esquisses du
Bocage Normand_ (Conde-sur-Noireau, 1883-1887), ii. 27; B. Souche,
_Croyances, Presages et Traditions diverses_ (Niort, 1880), p. 12. At
least it seems more likely that the rule sprang from a superstition of
this sort than from a simple calculation of expediency, as I formerly
suggested (_Journal of Philology_, xiv. (1885) p. 158). Compare _The
Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings>_ ii. 234 _sqq._

[348] Geoffrey Keating, D.D., _The History of Ireland, translated from
the original Gaelic, and copiously annotated_, by John O'Mahony (New
York, 1857), p. 300, with the translator's note. Compare (Sir) John
Rhys, _Celtic Heathendom_ (London, 1888), pp. 514 _sq._

[349] W.R.S. Ralston, _Songs of the Russian People_, Second Edition
(London, 1872), pp. 254 _sq._

[350] A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, _Norddeutsche Sagen, Maerchen und
Gebraeuche_ (Leipsic, 1848), p. 373; A. Kuhn, _Sagen, Gebraeuche und
Maerchen aus Westfalen_ (Leipsic, 1859), ii. 134 _sqq.; id., Maerkische
Sagen und Maerchen_ (Berlin, 1843), pp. 312 _sq._; J.D.H. Temme, _Die
Volkssagen der Altmark_ (Berlin, 1839), pp. 75 _sq._; K. Lynker,
_Deutsche Sagen und Sitten in hessischen Gauen_*[2] (Cassel and
Goettingen, 1860), p. 240; H. Proehle, _Harzbilder_ (Leipsic, 1855), p.
63; R. Andree, _Braunschweiger Volkskunde_ (Brunswick, 1896), pp.
240-242; W. Kolbe, _Hessische Volks-Sitten und Gebraeuche_ (Marburg,
1888), pp. 44-47; F.A. Reimann, _Deutsche Volksfeste_ (Weimar, 1839), p.
37; "Sitten und Gebraeuche in Duderstadt," _Zeitschrift fuer deutsche
Mythologie und Sitten-kunde_, ii. (1855) p. 107; K. Seifart, _Sagen,
Maerchen, Schwaenke und Gebraeuche aus Stadt und Stift Hildesheim_*[2]
(Hildesheim, 1889), pp. 177, 180; O. Hartung, "Zur Volkskunde aus
Anhalt," _Zeitschrift des Vereins fuer Volkskunde_, vii. (1897) p. 76.

[351] L. Strackerjan, _Aberglaube und Sagen aus dem Herzogthum
Oldenburg_ (Oldenburg, 1867), ii. p. 43 _sq._, Sec.313; W. Mannhardt, _Der
Baumkultus der Germanen und ihrer Nachbarstaemme_ (Berlin, 1875), pp. 505

[352] L. Strackerjan, _op. cit._ ii. p. 43, Sec.313.

[353] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] (Berlin, 1875-1878), i. 512;
W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus der Germanen und ihrer Nachbarstaemme_, pp.
506 _sq._

[354] H. Proehle, _Harzbilder_ (Leipsic, 1855), p. 63; _id._, in
_Zeitschrift fuer deutsche Mythologie und Sittenkunde_, i. (1853) p. 79;
A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, _Norddeutsche Sagen, Maerchen und Gebraeuche_
(Leipsic, 1848), p. 373; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 507.

[355] A. Kuhn, _Maerkische Sagen und Maerchen_ (Berlin, 1843), pp. 312
_sq._; W. Mannhardt, _l.c._

[356] W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_ p. 508. Compare J.W. Wolf,
_Beitraege zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Goettingen, 1852-1857), i. 74; J.
Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 512. The two latter writers only
state that before the fires were kindled it was customary to hunt
squirrels in the woods.

[357] A. Kuhn, _l.c._; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 508.

[358] _Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde des Koenigreichs Bayern_ (Munich,
1860-1867), iii. 956.

[359] See above, pp. 116 _sq._, 119.

[360] F. Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Munich, 1848-1855),
i. pp. 211 _sq._, Sec. 233; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, pp. 507 _sq._

[361] _Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde des Koenigreichs Bayern_, iii.

[362] F. Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Munich, 1848-1855),
i. pp. 212 _sq._, Sec. 236.

[363] F. Panzer, _op. cit._ ii. pp. 78 _sq._, Sec.Sec. 114, 115. The customs
observed at these places and at Althenneberg are described together by
W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 505.

[364] A. Birlinger, _Volksthuemliches aus Schwaben_ (Freiburg im
Breisgau, 1861-1862), ii. p. 82, Sec. 106; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_,
p. 508.

[365] Elard Hugo Meyer, _Badisches Volksleben_ (Strasburg, 1900), pp. 97

[366] _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_, ii. 349 _sqq._ See
further below, vol. ii. pp. 298 _sqq._

[367] J.W. Wolf, _Beitraege sur deutschen Mythologie_, i. 75 _sq._; W.
Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 506.

[368] L. Lloyd, _Peasant Life in Sweden_ (London, 1870), p. 228.

[369] W. Mueller, _Beitraege sur Volkskunde der Deutschen in Mahren_
(Vienna and Olmuetz, 1893), pp. 321, 397 _sq._ In Wagstadt, a town of
Austrian Silesia, a boy in a red waistcoat used to play the part of
Judas on the Wednesday before Good Friday. He was chased from before the
church door by the other school children, who pursued him through the
streets with shouts and the noise of rattles and clappers till they
reached a certain suburb, where they always caught and beat him because
he had betrayed the Redeemer. See Anton Peter, _Volksthuemliches aus
oesterreichisch-Schlesien_ (Troppau, 1865-1867), ii. 282 _sq._; Paul
Drechsler, _Sitte, Brauch und Volksglaube in Schlesien_ (Leipsic,
1903-1906), i. 77 _sq._

[370] _Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century_, from the MSS.
of John Ramsay, Esq., of Ochtertyre, edited by Alexander Allardyce
(Edinburgh and London, 1888), ii. 439-445. As to the _tein-eigin_ or
need-fire, see below, pp. 269 _sqq_. The etymology of the word Beltane
is uncertain; the popular derivation of the first part from the
Phoenician Baal is absurd. See, for example, John Graham Dalyell, _The
Darker Superstitions of Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1834), pp. 176 _sq._: "The
recognition of the pagan divinity Baal, or Bel, the Sun, is discovered
through innumerable etymological sources. In the records of Scottish
history, down to the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, multiplied
prohibitions were issued from the fountains of ecclesiastical
ordinances, against kindling _Bailfires_, of which the origin cannot be
mistaken. The festival of this divinity was commemorated in Scotland
until the latest date." Modern scholars are not agreed as to the
derivation of the name Beltane. See Rev. John Gregorson Campbell,
_Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland_
(Glasgow, 1902), pp. 268 _sq._; J.A. MacCulloch, _The Religion of the
Ancient Celts_ (Edinburgh, 1911), p. 264.

[371] "_Bal-tein_ signifies the _fire of Baal. Baal_ or _Ball_ is the
only word in Gaelic for _a globe_. This festival was probably in honour
of the sun, whose return, in his apparent annual course, they
celebrated, on account of his having such a visible influence, by his
genial warmth, on the productions of the earth. That the Caledonians
paid a superstitious respect to the sun, as was the practice among many
other nations, is evident, not only by the sacrifice at Baltein, but
upon many other occasions. When a Highlander goes to bathe, or to drink
waters out of a consecrated fountain, he must always approach by going
round the place, _from east to west on the south side_, in imitation of
the apparent diurnal motion of the sun. When the dead are laid in the
earth, the grave is approached by going round in the same manner. The
bride is conducted to her future spouse, in the presence of the
minister, and the glass goes round a company, in the course of the sun.
This is called, in Gaelic, going round the right, or the _lucky way_.
The opposite course is the wrong, or the _unlucky_ way. And if a
person's meat or drink were to affect the wind-pipe, or come against his
breath, they instantly cry out _deisheal_! which is an ejaculation
praying that it may go by the right way" (Rev. J. Robertson, in Sir John
Sinclair's _Statistical Account of Scotland_, xi. 621 note). Compare
J.G. Campbell, _Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland_
(Glasgow, 1900), pp. 229 _sq._: "_The Right-hand Turn_ (_Deiseal_).--
This was the most important of all the observances. The rule is
'_Deiseal_ (i.e. the right-hand turn) for everything,' and consists in
doing all things with a motion corresponding to the course of the sun,
or from left to right. This is the manner in which screw-nails are
driven, and is common with many for no reason but its convenience. Old
men in the Highlands were very particular about it. The coffin was taken
_deiseal_ about the grave, when about to be lowered; boats were turned
to sea according to it, and drams are given to the present day to a
company. When putting a straw rope on a house or corn-stack, if the
assistant went _tuaitheal_ (i.e. against the course of the sun), the old
man was ready to come down and thrash him. On coming to a house the
visitor should go round it _deiseal_ to secure luck in the object of his
visit. After milking a cow the dairy-maid should strike it _deiseal_
with the shackle, saying 'out and home' (_mach 'us dachaigh_). This
secures its safe return. The word is from _deas_, right-hand, and _iul_,
direction, and of itself contains no allusion to the sun." Compare M.
Martin, "Description of the Western Islands of Scotland," in J.
Pinkerton's _Voyages and Travels_, iii. 612 _sq._: "There was an ancient
custom in the island of Lewis, to make a fiery circle about the houses,
corn, cattle, etc., belonging to each particular family: a man carried
fire in his right hand, and went round, and it was called _dessil_, from
the right hand, which in the ancient language is called _dess_.... There
is another way of the _dessil_, or carrying fire round about women
before they are churched, after child-bearing; and it is used likewise
about children until they are christened; both which are performed in
the morning and at night. This is only practised now by some of the
ancient midwives: I enquired their reason for this custom, which I told
them was altogether unlawful; this disobliged them mightily, insomuch
that they would give me no satisfaction. But others, that were of a more
agreeable temper, told me that fire-round was an effectual means to
preserve both the mother and the infant from the power of evil spirits,
who are ready at such times to do mischief, and sometimes carry away the
infant; and when they get them once in their possession, return them
poor meagre skeletons; and these infants are said to have voracious
appetites, constantly craving for meat. In this case it was usual with
those who believed that their children were thus taken away, to dig a
grave in the fields upon quarter-day, and there to lay the fairy
skeleton till next morning; at which time the parents went to the place,
where they doubted not to find their own child instead of this skeleton.
Some of the poorer sort of people in these islands retain the custom of
performing these rounds sun-ways about the persons of their benefactors
three times, when they bless them, and wish good success to all their
enterprizes. Some are very careful when they set out to sea that the
boat be first rowed about sun-ways; and if this be neglected, they are
afraid their voyage may prove unfortunate." Probably the superstition
was based entirely on the supposed luckiness of the right hand, which
accordingly, in making a circuit round an object, is kept towards the
centre. As to a supposed worship of the sun among the Scottish
Highlanders, compare J.G. Campbell, _Witchcraft and Second Sight in the
Highlands and Islands of Scotland_, p. 304: "Both the sun (_a Ghrian_)
and moon (_a Ghealach_) are feminine in Gaelic, and the names are simply
descriptive of their appearance. There is no trace of a Sun-God or
Moon-Goddess." As to the etymology of Beltane, see above, p. 149 note.

[372] Rev. James Robertson (Parish Minister of Callander), in Sir John
Sinclair's _Statistical Account of Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1791-1799), xi.
620 _sq._

[373] Pennant's "Tour in Scotland," in John Pinkerton's _Voyages and
Travels_ (London, 1808-1814), iii. 49.

[374] Rev. Dr. Thomas Bisset, in Sir John Sinclair's _Statistical
Account of Scotland_, v. 84.

[375] Rev. Allan Stewart, in Sir John Sinclair's _Statistical Account of
Scotland_, xv. 517 note.

[376] Rev. Walter Gregor, "Notes on Beltane Cakes," _Folk-lore_, vi.
(1895) pp. 2 _sq._ The Beltane cakes with the nine knobs on them remind
us of the cakes with twelve knobs which the Athenians offered to Cronus
and other deities (see _The Scapegoat_, p. 351). The King of the Bean on
Twelfth Night was chosen by means of a cake, which was broken in as many
pieces as there were persons present, and the person who received the
piece containing a bean or a coin became king. See J. Boemus, _Mores,
leges et ritus omnium gentium_ (Lyons, 1541), p. 222; John Brand,
_Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London, 1882-1883), i. 22 _sq.;
The Scapegoat_, pp. 313 _sqq._

[377] Shaw, in Pennant's "Tour in Scotland," printed in J. Pinkerton's
_Voyages and Travels_, iii. 136. The part of Scotland to which Shaw's
description applies is what he calls the province or country of Murray,
extending from the river Spey on the east to the river Beauly on the
west, and south-west to Loch Lochy.

[378] Rev. Walter Gregor, _Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of
Scotland_ (London, 1881), p. 167.

[379] A. Goodrich-Freer, "More Folklore from the Hebrides," _Folk-lore_,
xiii. (1902) p. 41. The St. Michael's cake (_Struthan na h'eill
Micheil_), referred to in the text, is described as "the size of a
quern" in circumference. "It is kneaded simply with water, and marked
across like a scone, dividing it into four equal parts, and then placed
in front of the fire resting on a quern. It is not polished with dry
meal as is usual in making a cake, but when it is cooked a thin coating
of eggs (four in number), mixed with buttermilk, is spread first on one
side, then on the other, and it is put before the fire again. An earlier
shape, still in use, which tradition associates with the female sex, is
that of a triangle with the corners cut off. A _struhthan_ or
_struhdhan_ (the word seems to be used for no other kind of cake) is
made for each member of the household, including servants and herds.
When harvest is late, an early patch of corn is mown on purpose for the
_struthan_" (A. Goodrich-Freer, _op. cit._ pp. 44. _sq._.)

[380] Marie Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales_ (London,
1909), pp. 22-24.

[381] Jonathan Ceredig Davies, _Folklore of West and Mid-Wales_
(Aberystwyth, 1911), p. 76.

[382] Joseph Train, _An Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle
of Man_ (Douglas, Isle of Man, 1845), i. 314 _sq._

[383] (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Folk-lore, Welsh and Manx_ (Oxford,
1901), i. 309; _id._, "The Coligny Calendar," _Proceedings of the
British Academy, 1909-1910_, pp. 261 _sq._ See further _The Magic Art
and the Evolution of Kings_, ii. 53 _sq._

[384] Professor Frank Granger, "Early Man," in _The Victoria History of
the County of Nottingham_, edited by William Page, i. (London, 1906) pp.
186 _sq._

[385] (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Folk-lore, Welsh and Manx_ (Oxford,
1901), i. 310; _id._, "Manx Folk-lore and Superstitions," _Folk-lore_,
ii. (1891) pp. 303 _sq._

[386] P.W. Joyce, _A Social History of Ancient Ireland_ (London, 1903),
i. 290 _sq._, referring to Kuno Meyer, _Hibernia Minora_, p. 49 and
_Glossary_, 23.

[387] J.B. Bury, _The Life of St. Patrick_ (London, 1905), pp. 104

[388] Above, p. 147.

[389] Geoffrey Keating, D.D., _The History of Ireland_, translated by
John O'Mahony (New York, 1857), pp. 300 _sq._

[390] (Sir) John Rhys, "Manx Folk-lore and Superstition," _Folk-lore_,
ii. (1891) p. 303; _id., Celtic Folk-lore, Welsh and Manx_ (Oxford,
1901), i. 309. Compare P.W. Joyce, _A Social History of Ancient Ireland_
(London, 1903), i. 291: "The custom of driving cattle through fires
against disease on the eve of the 1st of May, and on the eve of the 24th
June (St. John's Day), continued in Ireland, as well as in the Scottish
Highlands, to a period within living memory." In a footnote Mr. Joyce
refers to Carmichael, _Carmina Gadelica_, ii. 340, for Scotland, and
adds, "I saw it done in Ireland."

[391] L. Lloyd, _Peasant Life in Sweden_ (London, 1870), pp. 233 _sq._

[392] Reinsberg-Dueringsfeld, _Fest-Kalender aus Boehmen_ (Prague, N.D.),
pp. 211 _sq._; Br. Jelinek, "Materialien zur Vorgeschichte und
Volkskunde Boehmens," _Mittheilungen der anthropologischen Gesellschaft
in Wien_, xxi. (1891) p. 13; Alois John, _Sitte, Branch, und Volksglaube
im deutschen Westboehmen_ (Prague, 1905), p. 71.

[393] J.A.E. Koehler, _Volksbrauch, Aberglauben, Sagen und andre alte
Ueberlieferungen im Voigtlande_ (Leipsic, 1867), p. 373. The
superstitions relating to witches at this season are legion. For
instance, in Saxony and Thuringia any one who labours under a physical
blemish can easily rid himself of it by transferring it to the witches
on Walpurgis Night. He has only to go out to a cross-road, make three
crosses on the blemish, and say, "In the name of God the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost." Thus the blemish, whatever it may be, is left
behind him at the cross-road, and when the witches sweep by on their way
to the Brocken, they must take it with them, and it sticks to them
henceforth. Moreover, three crosses chalked up on the doors of houses
and cattle-stalls on Walpurgis Night will effectually prevent any of the
infernal crew from entering and doing harm to man or beast. See E.
Sommer, _Sagen, Maerchen und Gebraeuche aus Sachsen und Thueringen_ (Halle,
1846), pp. 148 _sq.; Die gestriegelte Rockenphilosophie_ (Chemnitz,
1759), p. 116.

[394] See _The Scapegoat_, pp. 158 _sqq._

[395] As to the Midsummer Festival of Europe in general see the evidence
collected in the "Specimen Calendarii Gentilis," appended to the _Edda
Rhythmica seu Antiquior, vulgo Saemundina dicta_, Pars iii. (Copenhagen,
1828) pp. 1086-1097.

[396] John Mitchell Kemble, _The Saxons in England_, New Edition
(London, 1876), i. 361 _sq_., quoting "an ancient MS. written in
England, and now in the Harleian Collection, No. 2345, fol. 50." The
passage is quoted in part by J. Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great
Britain_ (London, 1882-1883), i. 298 _sq._, by R.T. Hampson, _Medii Aevi
Kalendarium_ (London, 1841), i. 300, and by W. Mannhardt, _Der
Baumkultus_, p. 509. The same explanations of the Midsummer fires and of
the custom of trundling a burning wheel on Midsummer Eve are given also
by John Beleth, a writer of the twelfth century. See his _Rationale
Divinorum Officiorum_ (appended to the _Rationale Divinorum Officiorum_
of G. [W.] Durandus, Lyons, 1584), p. 556 _recto: "Solent porro hoc
tempore_ [the Eve of St. John the Baptist] _ex veteri consuetudine
mortuorum animalium ossa comburi, quod hujusmodi habet originem. Sunt
enim animalia, quae dracones appellamus.... Haec inquam animalia in aere
volant, in aquis natant, in terra ambulant. Sed quando in aere ad
libidinem concitantur (quod fere fit) saepe ipsum sperma vel in puteos,
vel in aquas fluviales ejicunt ex quo lethalis sequitur annus. Adversus
haec ergo hujusmodi inventum est remedium, ut videlicet rogus ex ossibus
construeretur, et ita fumus hujusmodi animalia fugaret. Et quia istud
maxime hoc tempore fiebat, idem etiam modo ab omnibus observatur....
Consuetum item est hac vigilia ardentes deferri faculas quod Johannes
fuerit ardens lucerna, et qui vias Domini praeparaverit. Sed quod etiam
rota vertatur hinc esse putant quia in eum circulum tunc Sol descenderit
ultra quem progredi nequit, a quo cogitur paulatim descendere_." The
substance of the passage is repeated in other words by G. Durandus
(Wilh. Durantis), a writer of the thirteenth century, in his _Rationale
Divinorum Officiorum_, lib. vii. cap. 14 (p. 442 _verso_, ed. Lyons,
1584). Compare J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 516.

With the notion that the air is poisoned at midsummer we may compare the
popular belief that it is similarly infected at an eclipse. Thus among
the Esquimaux on the Lower Yukon river in Alaska "it is believed that a
subtle essence or unclean influence descends to the earth during an
eclipse, and if any of it is caught in utensils of any kind it will
produce sickness. As a result, immediately on the commencement of an
eclipse, every woman turns bottom side up all her pots, wooden buckets,
and dishes" (E.W. Nelson, "The Eskimo about Bering Strait," _Eighteenth
Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology_, Part i. (Washington,
1899) p. 431). Similar notions and practices prevail among the peasantry
of southern Germany. Thus the Swabian peasants think that during an
eclipse of the sun poison falls on the earth; hence at such a time they
will not sow, mow, gather fruit or eat it, they bring the cattle into
the stalls, and refrain from business of every kind. If the eclipse
lasts long, the people get very anxious, set a burning candle on the
mantel-shelf of the stove, and pray to be delivered from the danger. See
Anton Birlinger, _Volksthuemliches aus Schwaben_ (Freiburg im Breisgau,
1861-1862), i. 189. Similarly Bavarian peasants imagine that water is
poisoned during a solar eclipse (F. Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen
Mythologie_, ii. 297); and Thuringian bumpkins cover up the wells and
bring the cattle home from pasture during an eclipse either of the sun
or of the moon; an eclipse is particularly poisonous when it happens to
fall on a Wednesday. See August Witzschel, _Sagen, Sitten und Gebraeuche
aus Thueringen_ (Vienna, 1878), p. 287. As eclipses are commonly supposed
by the ignorant to be caused by a monster attacking the sun or moon
(E.B. Tylor, _Primitive Culture_,*[2] London, 1873, i. 328 _sqq._), we
may surmise, on the analogy of the explanation given of the Midsummer
fires, that the unclean influence which is thought to descend on the
earth at such times is popularly attributed to seed discharged by the
monster or possibly by the sun or moon then in conjunction with each

[397] _The Popish Kingdome or reigne of Antichrist, written in Latin
verse by Thomas Naogeorgus and Englyshed by Barnabe Googe, 1570_, edited
by R.C. Hope (London, 1880), p. 54 _verso_. As to this work see above,
p. 125 note 1.

[398] J. Boemus, _Mores, leges et ritus omnium gentium_ (Lyons, 1541),
pp. 225 _sq._

[399] Tessier, "Sur la fete annuelle de la roue flamboyante de la
Saint-Jean, a Basse-Kontz, arrondissement de Thionville," _Memoires et
dissertations publies par la Societe Royale des Antiquaires de France_,
v. (1823) pp. 379-393. Tessier witnessed the ceremony, 23rd June 1822
(not 1823, as is sometimes stated). His account has been reproduced more
or less fully by J. Grimm (_Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 515 _sq._) W.
Mannhardt (_Der Baumkultus_, pp. 510 _sq._), and H. Gaidoz ("Le dieu
gaulois du Soleil et le symbolisme de la Roue," _Revue Archeologique_,
iii. Serie, iv. (1884) pp. 24 _sq._).

[400] _Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde des Koenigreichs Bayern_ (Munich,
1860-1867), i. 373 _sq_.; compare _id_., iii. 327 _sq_. As to the
burning discs at the spring festivals, see above, pp. 116 _sq_., 119,

[401] _Op. cit_. ii. 260 _sq_., iii. 936, 956, iv. 2. p. 360.

[402] _Op. cit_. ii. 260.

[403] _Op. cit._ iv. i. p. 242. We have seen (p. 163) that in the
sixteenth century these customs and beliefs were common in Germany. It
is also a German superstition that a house which contains a brand from
the midsummer bonfire will not be struck by lightning (J.W. Wolf,
_Beitraege, zur deutschen Mythologie_, i. p. 217, Sec. 185).

[404] J. Boemus, _Mores, leges et ritus omnium gentium_ (Lyons, 1541),
p. 226.

[405] Karl Freiherr von Leoprechting, _Aus dem Lechrain_ (Munich, 1855),
pp. 181 _sqq._; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 510.

[406] A. Birlinger, _Volksthuemliches aus Schwaben_ (Freiburg im
Breisgau, 1861-1862), ii. pp. 96 _sqq._, Sec. 128, pp. 103 _sq._, Sec. 129;
_id., Aus Schwaben_ (Wiesbaden, 1874), ii. 116-120; E. Meier, _Deutsche
Sagen, Sitten und Gebraeuche aus Schwaben_ (Stuttgart, 1852), pp. 423
_sqq._; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 510.

[407] F. Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Munich, 1848-1855),
i. pp. 215 _sq._, Sec. 242; _id._, ii. 549.

[408] A. Birlinger, _Volksthuemliches aus Schwaben_ (Freiburg im
Breisgau, 1861-1862), ii. 99-101.

[409] Elard Hugo Mayer, _Badisches Volksleben_ (Strasburg, 1900), pp.
103 _sq._, 225 _sq._

[410] W. von Schulenberg, in _Verhandlungen der Berliner Gesellschaft
fuer Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte, Jahrgang 1897_, pp. 494
_sq._ (bound up with _Zeitschrift fuer Ethnologie_, xxix. 1897).

[411] H. Gaidoz, "Le dieu Gaulois du Soleil et le symbolisme de la
Roue," _Revue Archeologique_, iii. Serie, iv. (1884) pp. 29 _sq._

[412] Bruno Stehle, "Volksglauben, Sitten und Gebraeuche in Lothringen,"
_Globus_, lix. (1891) pp. 378 _sq._; "Die Sommerwendfeier im St.
Amarinthale," _Der Urquell_, N.F., i. (1897) pp. 181 _sqq._

[413] J.H. Schmitz, _Sitten und Sagen Lieder, Spruechwoerter und Raethsel
des Eifler Volkes_ (Treves, 1856-1858), i. 40 _sq._ According to one
writer, the garlands are composed of St. John's wort (Montanus, _Die
deutschen Volksfeste, Volksbraeuche und deutscher Volksglaube_, Iserlohn,
N.D., p. 33). As to the use of St. John's wort at Midsummer, see below,
vol. ii. pp. 54 _sqq._

[414] A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, _Norddeutsche Sagen, Maerchen und
Gebraeuche_ (Leipsic, 1848), p. 390.

[415] Montanus, _Die deutschen Volksfeste, Volksbraeuche und deutscher
Volksglaube_ (Iserlohn, N.D.), pp. 33 _sq._

[416] C.L. Rochholz, _Deutscher Glaube und Brauch_ (Berlin, 1867), ii.
144 _sqq._

[417] Philo vom Walde, _Schlesien in Sage und Brauch_ (Berlin, N.D.), p.
124; Paul Drechsler, _Sitte, Brauch, und Volksglaube in Schlesien_
(Leipsic, 1903-1906), i. 136 _sq._

[418] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie,_*[4] i. 517 _sq._

[419] From information supplied by Mr. Sigurd K. Heiberg, engineer, of
Bergen, Norway, who in his boyhood regularly collected fuel for the
fires. I have to thank Miss Anderson, of Barskimming, Mauchline,
Ayrshire, for kindly procuring the information for me from Mr. Heiberg.

The Blocksberg, where German as well as Norwegian witches gather for
their great Sabbaths on the Eve of May Day (Walpurgis Night) and
Midsummer Eve, is commonly identified with the Brocken, the highest peak
of the Harz mountains. But in Mecklenburg, Pomerania, and probably
elsewhere, villages have their own local Blocksberg, which is generally
a hill or open place in the neighbourhood; a number of places in
Pomerania go by the name of the Blocksberg. See J. Grimm, _Deutsche
Mythologie_*[4] ii. 878 _sq._; Ulrich Jahn, _Hexenwesen und Zauberei in
Pommern_ (Breslau, 1886), pp. 4 _sq._; _id._, _Volkssagen aus Pommern
und Ruegen_ (Stettin, 1886), p. 329.

[420] L. Lloyd, _Peasant Life in Sweden_ (London, 1870), pp. 259, 265.

[421] L. Lloyd, _op. cit._ pp. 261 _sq._ These springs are called
"sacrificial fonts" (_Offer kaellor_) and are "so named because in
heathen times the limbs of the slaughtered victim, whether man or beast,
were here washed prior to immolation" (L. Lloyd, _op. cit._ p. 261).

[422] E. Hoffmann-Krayer, _Feste und Braeuche des Schweizervolkes_
(Zurich, 1913), p. 164.

[423] Ignaz V. Zingerle, _Sitten, Braeuche und Meinungen des Tiroler
Volkes_*[2] (Innsbruck, 1871), ii. p. 159, Sec. 1354.

[424] I.V. Zingerle, _op. cit._ p. 159, Sec.Sec. 1353, 1355, 1356; W.
Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 513.

[425] W. Mannhardt, _l.c._

[426] F. Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Munich, 1848-1855),
i. p. 210, Sec. 231.

[427] Theodor Vernaleken, _Mythen und Braeuche des Volkes in Oesterreich_
(Vienna, 1859), pp. 307 _sq._

[428] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_*[4] i. 519; Theodor Vernaleken,
_Mythen und Braeuche des Volkes in Oesterreich_ (Vienna, 1859), p. 308;
Joseph Virgil Grohmann, _Aberglauben und Gebraeuche aus Bohmen und
Maehren_ (Prague and Leipsic, 1864), p. 80, Sec. 636; Reinsberg-Dueringsfeld,
_Fest-Kalender aus Bohmen_ (Prague, N.D.), pp. 306-311; Br. Jelfnek,
"Materialien zur Vorgeschichte und Volkskunde Boehmens," _Mittheilungen
der anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien>_ xxi. (1891) p. 13; Alois
John, _Sitte, Brauch und Volksglaube im deutschen Westboehmen_ (Prague,
1905) pp. 84-86.

[429] Willibald Mueller, _Beitraege zur Volkskunde der Deutschen in
Maehren_ (Vienna and Olmutz, 1893), pp. 263-265.

[430] Anton Peter, _Volksthuemliches aus Oesterreichisch-Schlesien_
(Troppau, 1865-1867), ii. 287.

[431] Th. Vernaleken, _Mythen und Braeuche des Volkes in Oesterreich_
(Vienna, 1859), pp. 308 _sq._

[432] _The Dying God_, p. 262. Compare M. Kowalewsky, in _Folk-lore_, i.
(1890) p. 467.

[433] W.R.S. Ralston, _Songs of the Russian People_, Second Edition
(London, 1872), p. 240.

[434] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 519; W.R.S. Ralston,
_Songs of the Russian People_ (London, 1872), pp. 240, 391.

[435] W.R.S. Ralston, _op. cit._ p. 240.

[436] W.R.S. Ralston, _l.c._

[437] W.J.A. von Tettau und J.D.H. Temme, _Die Volkssagen Ostpreussens,
Litthauens und Westpreussens_ (Berlin, 1837), p. 277.

[438] M. Toeppen, _Aberglauben aus Masuren_*[2] (Danzig, 1867), p. 71.

[439] F.S. Krauss, "Altslavische Feuergewinnung," _Globus_, lix. (1891)
p. 318.

[440] J.G. Kohl, _Die deutsch-russischen Ostseeprovinzen_ (Dresden and
Leipsic, 1841), i. 178-180, ii. 24 _sq._ Ligho was an old heathen deity,
whose joyous festival used to fall in spring.

[441] Ovid, _Fasti_, vi. 775 _sqq._

[442] Friederich S. Krauss, _Sitte und Brauch der Suedslaven_ (Vienna,
1885), pp. 176 _sq._

[443] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 519.

[444] H. von Wlislocki, _Volksglaube und religioeser Brauch der Magyar_
(Muenster i. W., 1893), pp. 40-44.

[445] A. von Ipolyi, "Beitraege zur deutschen Mythologie aus Ungarn,"
_Zeitschrift fuer deutsche Mythologie und Sittenkunde_, i. (1853) pp. 270

[446] J.G. Kohl, _Die deutsch-russischen Ostseeprovinzen_, ii. 268
_sq._; F.J. Wiedemann, _Aus dem inneren und aeusseren Leben der Ehsten_
(St. Petersburg, 1876), p. 362. The word which I have translated "weeds"
is in Esthonian _kaste-heinad_, in German _Thaugras_. Apparently it is
the name of a special kind of weed.

[447] Fr. Kreutzwald und H. Neus, _Mythische und Magische Lieder der
Ehsten_ (St. Petersburg, 1854), p. 62.

[448] J.B. Holzmayer, "Osiliana," _Verhandlungen der gelehrten
Estnischen Gesellschaft zu Dorpat_, vii. (1872) pp. 62 _sq._ Wiedemann
also observes that the sports in which young couples engage in the woods
on this evening are not always decorous (_Aus dem inneren und aeusseren
Leben der Ehsten_, p. 362).

[449] J.G. Kohl, _Die deutsch-russischen Ostseeprovinzen_, ii. 447 _sq._

[450] J.G. Georgi, _Beschreibung aller Nationen des russischen Reichs_
(St. Petersburg, 1776), p. 36; August Freiherr von Haxthausen, _Studien
ueber die innere Zustaende das Volksleben und insbesondere die laendlichen
Einrichtungen Russlands_ (Hanover, 1847), i. 446 _sqq._

[451] Alfred de Nore, _Coutumes, Mythes et Traditions des Provinces de
France_ (Paris and Lyons, 1846), p. 19.

[452] It is notable that St. John is the only saint whose birthday the
Church celebrates with honours like those which she accords to the
nativity of Christ. Compare Edmond Doutte, _Magie et Religion dans
l'Afrique du Nord_ (Algiers, 1908), p. 571 note I.

[453] Bossuet, _Oeuvres_ (Versailles, 1815-1819), vi. 276 ("Catechisme
du diocese de Meaux"). His description of the superstitions is, in his
own words, as follows: "_Danser a l'entour du feu, jouer, faire des
festins, chanter des chansons deshonnetes, jeter des herbes par-dessus
le feu, en cueillir avant midi ou a jeun, en porter sur soi, les
conserver le long de l'annee, garder des tisons ou des charbons du feu,
et autres semblables._" This and other evidence of the custom of
kindling Midsummer bonfires in France is cited by Ch. Cuissard in his
tract _Les Feux de la Saint-Jean_ (Orleans, 1884).

[454] Ch. Cuissard, _Les Feux de la Saint-Jean_ (Orleans, 1884), pp. 40

[455] A. Le Braz, _La Legende de la Mort en Basse-Bretagne_ (Paris,
1893), p. 279. For an explanation of the custom of throwing a pebble
into the fire, see below, p. 240.

[456] M. Quellien, quoted by Alexandre Bertrand, _La Religion des
Gaulois_ (Paris, 1897), pp. 116 _sq._

[457] Collin de Plancy, _Dictionnaire Infernal_ (Paris, 1825-1826), iii.
40; J.W. Wolf, _Beitraege zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Goettingen,
1852-1857), i. p. 217, Sec. 185; A. Breuil, "Du Culte de St. Jean
Baptiste," _Memoires de la Societe des Antiquaires de Picardie_, viii.
(Amiens, 1845) pp. 189 _sq._

[458] Eugene Cortet, _Essai sur les Fetes Religieuses_ (Paris, 1867), p.
216; Ch. Cuissard, _Les Feux de la Saint-Jean_ (Orleans, 1884), p. 24.

[459] Paul Sebillot, _Coutumes populaires de la Haute-Bretagne_ (Paris,
1886), pp. 192-195. In Upper Brittany these bonfires are called _rieux_
or _raviers_.

[460] A. de Nore, _Coutumes, Mythes et Traditions des Provinces de
France_ (Paris and Lyons, 1846), p. 219; E. Cortet, _Essai sur les Fetes
Religieuses_, p. 216.

[461] A. de Nore, _Coutumes, Mythes et Traditions des Provinces de
France_, pp. 219, 228, 231; E. Cortet, _op. cit._ pp. 215 _sq._

[462] J. Lecoeur, _Esquisses du Bocage Normand_ (Conde-sur-Noireau,
1883-1887), ii. 219-224.

[463] This description is quoted by Madame Clement (_Histoire des fetes
civites et religieuses_, etc., _de la Belgique Meridionale_, Avesnes,
1846, pp. 394-396); F. Liebrecht (_Des Gervasius von Tilbury Otia
Imperialia_, Hanover, 1856, pp. 209 _sq._); and W. Mannhardt (_Antike
Wald und Feldkulte_, Berlin, 1877, pp. 323 _sqq._) from the _Magazin
pittoresque_, Paris, viii. (1840) pp. 287 _sqq._ A slightly condensed
account is given, from the same source, by E. Cortet (_Essai sur les
Fetes Religieuses_, pp. 221 _sq._).

[464] Bazin, quoted by Breuil, in _Memoires de la Societe d' Antiquaires
de Picardie_, viii. (1845) p. 191 note.

[465] Correspondents quoted by A. Bertrand, _La Religion des Gaulois_
(Paris, 1897), pp. 118, 406.

[466] Correspondent quoted by A. Bertrand, _op. cit._ p. 407.

[467] Felix Chapiseau, _Le folk-lore de la Beauce et du Perche_ (Paris,
1902), i. 318-320. In Perche the midsummer bonfires were called
_marolles_. As to the custom formerly observed at Bullou, near
Chateaudun, see a correspondent quoted by A. Bertrand, _La Religion des
Gaulois_ (Paris, 1897), p. 117.

[468] Albert Meyrac, _Traditions, Coutumes, Legendes, et Contes des
Ardennes_ (Charleville, 1890), pp. 88 _sq._

[469] L.F. Sauve, _Le Folk-lore des Hautes-Vosges_ (Paris, 1889), p.

[470] Desire Monnier, _Traditions populaires comparees_ (Paris, 1854),
pp. 207 _sqq._; E. Cortet, _Essai sur les Fetes Religieuses_, pp. 217

[471] Berenger-Feraud, _Reminiscences populaires de la Provence_ (Paris,
1885), p. 142.

[472] Charles Beauquier, _Les Mois en Franche-Comte_ (Paris, 1900), p.
89. The names of the bonfires vary with the place; among them are
_failles, bourdifailles, bas_ or _baux, feuleres_ or _folieres_, and

[473] _La Bresse Louhannaise_, Juin, 1906, p. 207.

[474] Laisnel de la Salle, _Croyances et Legendes du Centre de la
France_ (Paris, 1875), i. 78 _sqq._ The writer adopts the absurd
derivation of _jonee_ from Janus. Needless to say that our old friend
Baal, Bel, or Belus figures prominently in this and many other accounts
of the European fire-festivals.

[475] A. de Nore, _Coutumes, Mythes et Traditions des Provinces de
France_ (Paris and Lyons, 1846), p. 150.

[476] Correspondent, quoted by A. Bertrand, _La Religion des Gaulois_
(Paris, 1897), p. 408.

[477] Guerry, "Sur les usages et traditions du Poitou," _Memoires et
dissertations publies par la Societe Royale des Antiquaires de France_,
viii. (1829) pp. 451 _sq._

[478] Breuil, in _Memoires de la Societe des Antiquaires de Picardie_,
viii. (1845) p. 206; E. Cortet, _Essai sur les Fetes Religieuses_, p.
216; Laisnel de la Salle, _Croyances et Legendes du Centre de la
France_, i. 83; J. Lecoeur, _Esquisses du Bocage Normand_, ii. 225.

[479] H. Gaidoz, "Le dieu gaulois du soleil et le symbolisme de la
roue," _Revue Archeologique_, iii. Serie, iv. (1884) p. 26, note 3.

[480] L. Pineau, _Le Folk-lore du Poitou_ (Paris, 1892), pp. 499 _sq._
In Perigord the ashes of the midsummer bonfire are searched for the hair
of the Virgin (E. Cortet, _Essai sur les Fetes Religieuses_, p. 219).

[481] A. de Nore, _Coutumes Mythes et Traditions des Provinces de
France_, pp. 149 _sq._; E. Cortet, _op. cit._ pp. 218 _sq._

[482] Dupin, "Notice sur quelques fetes et divertissemens populaires du
departement des Deux-Sevres," _Memoires et Dissertations publies par la
Societe Royale des Antiquaires de France_, iv. (1823) p. 110.

[483] J.L.M. Nogues, _Les moeurs d'autrefois en Saintonge et en Aunis_
(Saintes, 1891), pp. 72, 178 _sq._

[484] H. Gaidoz, "Le dieu soleil et le symbolisme de la roue," _Revue
Archeologique_, iii. Serie, iv. (1884) p. 30.

[485] Ch. Cuissard, _Les Feux de la Saint-Jean_ (Orleans, 1884), pp. 22

[486] A. de Nore, _Coutumes, Mythes et Traditions des Provinces de
France_ p. 127.

[487] Aubin-Louis Millin, _Voyage dans les Departemens du Midi de la
France_ (Paris, 1807-1811), iii. 341 _sq._

[488] Aubin-Louis Millin, _op. cit._ iii. 28.

[489] A. de Nore, _op. cit._ pp. 19 _sq._; Berenger-Feraud,
_Reminiscences populaires de la Provence_ (Paris, 1885), pp. 135-141. As
to the custom at Toulon, see Poncy, quoted by Breuil, _Memoires de la
Societe des Antiquaires de Picardie_, viii. (1845) p. 190 note. The
custom of drenching people on this occasion with water used to prevail
in Toulon, as well as in Marseilles and other towns in the south of
France. The water was squirted from syringes, poured on the heads of
passers-by from windows, and so on. See Breuil, _op. cit._ pp. 237 _sq._

[490] A. de Nore, _op. cit._ pp. 20 _sq._; E. Cortet, _op. cit._ pp.
218, 219 _sq._

[491] Le Baron de Reinsberg-Dueringsfeld, _Calendrier Belge_ (Brussels,
1861-1862), i. 416 _sq._ 439.

[492] Le Baron de Reinsberg-Dueringsfeld, _op. cit._ i. 439-442.

[493] Madame Clement, _Histoire des fetes civiles et religieuses_, etc.,
_du Departement du Nord_ (Cambrai, 1836), p. 364; J.W. Wolf, _Beitraege
zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Goettingen, 1852-1857), ii. 392; W. Mannhardt,
_Der Baumkultus_. p. 513.

[494] E. Monseur, _Folklore Wallon_ (Brussels, N.D.), p. 130, Sec.Sec. 1783,
1786, 1787.

[495] Joseph Strutt, _The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England_,
New Edition, by W. Hone (London, 1834), p. 359.

[496] John Stow, _A Survay of London_, edited by Henry Morley (London,
N.D.), pp. 126 _sq._ Stow's _Survay_ was written in 1598.

[497] John Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London,
1882-1883), i. 338; T.F. Thiselton Dyer, _British Popular Customs_
(London, 1876), p. 331. Both writers refer to _Status Scholae Etonensis_
(A.D. 1560).

[498] John Aubrey, _Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme_ (London, 1881),
p. 26.

[499] J. Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London,
1882-1883), i. 300 _sq._, 318, compare pp. 305, 306, 308 _sq._; W.
Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus_, p. 512. Compare W. Hutchinson, _View of
Northumberland_, vol. ii. (Newcastle, 1778), Appendix, p. (15), under
the head "Midsummer":--"It is usual to raise fires on the tops of high
hills and in the villages, and sport and danse around them; this is of
very remote antiquity, and the first cause lost in the distance of

[500] Dr. Lyttelton, Bishop of Carlisle, quoted by William Borlase,
_Antiquities, Historical and Monumental, of the County of Cornwall_
(London, 1769), p. 135 note.

[501] _County Folk-lore_, vol. iv. _Northumberland_, collected by M.C.
Balfour (London, 1904), p. 76, quoting E. Mackenzie, _An Historical,
Topographical, and Descriptive View of the County of Northumberland_,
Second Edition (Newcastle, 1825), i. 217.

[502] _County Folk-lore_, vol. iv. _Northumberland_, collected by M.C.
Balfour, p. 75.

[503] _County Folk-lore_, vol. iv. _Northumberland_, collected by M.C.
Balfour, p. 75.

[504] _The Denham Tracts_, edited by J. Hardy (London, 1892-1895), ii.
342 _sq._, quoting _Archaelogia Aeliana_, N.S., vii. 73, and the
_Proceedings_ of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, vi. 242 _sq._;
_County Folk-lore_, vol. iv. _Northumberland_, collected by M.C. Balfour
(London, 1904), pp. 75 _sq._ Whalton is a village of Northumberland, not
far from Morpeth.

[505] _County Folk-lore_, vol. vi. _East Riding of Yorkshire_, collected
and edited by Mrs. Gutch (London, 1912), p. 102.

[506] John Aubrey, _Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme_ (London, 1881),
p. 96, compare _id._, p. 26.

[507] J. Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London,
1882-1883), i. 311.

[508] William Borlase, LL.D., _Antiquities, Historical and Monumental,
of the County of Cornwall_ (London, 1769), pp. 135 _sq._ The Eve of St.
Peter is June 28th. Bonfires have been lit elsewhere on the Eve or the
day of St. Peter. See above, pp. 194 _sq._ 196 _sq._, and below, pp. 199
_sq._, 202, 207.

[509] J. Brand, _op. cit._ i. 318, 319; T.F. Thiselton Dyer, _British
Popular Customs_ (London, 1876), p. 315.

[510] William Bottrell, _Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West
Cornwall_ (Penzance, 1870), pp. 8 _sq._, 55 _sq._; James Napier,
_Folk-lore, or Superstitious Beliefs in the West of Scotland_ (Paisley,
1879), p. 173.

[511] Richard Edmonds, _The Land's End District_ (London, 1862), pp. 66
_sq._; Robert Hunt, _Popular Romances of the West of England_, Third
Edition (London, 1881), pp. 207 _sq._

[512] Marie Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales_ (London,
1909), pp. 27 _sq._ Compare Jonathan Ceredig Davies, _Folk-lore of West
and Mid-Wales_ (Aberystwyth, 1911), p. 76.

[513] J. Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London,
1882-1883), i. 318.

[514] Joseph Train, _Account of the Isle of Man_ (Douglas, Isle of Man,
1845), ii. 120.

[515] Sir Henry Piers, _Description of the County of Westmeath_, written
in 1682, published by (General) Charles Vallancey, _Collectanea de Rebus
Hibernieis_, i. (Dublin, 1786) pp. 123 _sq._

[516] J. Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London,
1882-1883), i. 303, quoting the author of the _Survey of the South of
Ireland_, p. 232.

[517] J. Brand, _op. cit._ i. 305, quoting the author of the _Comical
Pilgrim's Pilgrimage into Ireland_ (1723), p. 92.

[518] _The Gentleman's Magazine_, vol. lxv. (London, 1795) pp. 124 _sq._
The writer dates the festival on June 21st, which is probably a mistake.

[519] T.F. Thiselton Dyer, _British Popular Customs_ (London, 1876), pp.
321 _sq._, quoting the _Liverpool Mercury_ of June 29th, 1867.

[520] L.L. Duncan, "Further Notes from County Leitrim," _Folk-lore_, v.
(1894) p. 193.

[521] A.C. Haddon, "A Batch of Irish Folk-lore," _Folk-lore_, iv. (1893)
pp. 351, 359.

[522] G.H. Kinahan, "Notes on Irish Folk-lore," _Folk-lore Record_, iv.
(1881) p. 97.

[523] Charlotte Elizabeth, _Personal Recollections_, quoted by Rev.
Alexander Hislop, _The Two Babylons_ (Edinburgh, 1853), p. 53.

[524] Lady Wilde, _Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of
Ireland_ (London, 1887), i. 214 _sq._

[525] T.F. Thiselton Dyer, _British Popular Customs_ (London, 1876), pp.
322 _sq._, quoting the _Hibernian Magazine_, July 1817. As to the
worship of wells in ancient Ireland, see P.W. Joyce, _A Social History
of Ancient Ireland_ (London, 1903), i. 288 _sq._, 366 _sqq._

[526] Rev. A. Johnstone, describing the parish of Monquhitter in
Perthshire, in Sir John Sinclair's _Statistical Account of Scotland_
(Edinburgh, 1791-1799), xxi. 145. Mr. W. Warde Fowler writes that in
Scotland "before the bonfires were kindled on midsummer eve, the houses
were decorated with foliage brought from the woods" (_Roman Festivals of
the Period of the Republic_, London, 1899, pp. 80 _sq._). For his
authority he refers to _Chambers' Journal_, July, 1842.

[527] John Ramsay, of Ochtertyre, _Scotland and Scotsmen in the
Eighteenth Century_, edited by A. Allardyce (Edinburgh, 1888), ii. 436.

[528] Rev. Mr. Shaw, Minister of Elgin, in Pennant's "Tour in Scotland,"
printed in John Pinkerton's _Voyages and Travels_ (London, 1808-1814),
iii. 136.

[529] A. Macdonald, "Midsummer Bonfires," _Folk-lore_, xv. (1904) pp.
105 _sq._

[530] From notes kindly furnished to me by the Rev. J.C. Higgins, parish
minister of Tarbolton. Mr. Higgins adds that he knows of no superstition
connected with the fire, and no tradition of its origin. I visited the
scene of the bonfire in 1898, but, as Pausanias says (viii. 41. 6) in
similar circumstances, "I did not happen to arrive at the season of the
festival." Indeed the snow was falling thick as I trudged to the village
through the beautiful woods of "the Castle o' Montgomery" immortalized
by Burns. From a notice in _The Scotsman_ of 26th June, 1906 (p. 8) it
appears that the old custom was observed as usual that year.

[531] Thomas Moresinus, _Papatus seu Depravatae Religionis Origo et
Incrementum_ (Edinburgh, 1594), p. 56.

[532] Rev. Dr. George Lawrie, in Sir John Sinclair's _Statistical
Account of Scotland_, iii. (Edinburgh, 1792) p. 105.

[533] Letter from Dr. Otero Acevado of Madrid, published in _Le Temps_,
September 1898. An extract from the newspaper was sent me, but without
mention of the day of the month when it appeared. The fires on St.
John's Eve in Spain are mentioned also by J. Brand, _Popular Antiquities
of Great Britain_, i. 317. Jacob Grimm inferred the custom from a
passage in a romance (_Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 518). The custom of
washing or bathing on the morning of St. John's Day is mentioned by the
Spanish historian Diego Duran, _Historia de las Indias de Nueva Espana_,
edited by J.F. Ramirez (Mexico, 1867-1880), vol. ii. p. 293. To roll in
the dew on the morning of St. John's Day is a cure for diseases of the
skin in Normandy, Perigord, and the Abruzzi, as well as in Spain. See J.
Lecoeur, _Esquisses du Bocage Normand_, ii. 8; A. de Nore, _Coutumes,
Mythes et Traditions des Provinces de France_, p. 150; Gennaro Finamore,
_Credenze, Usi e Costumi Abruzzesi_ (Palermo, 1890), p. 157.

[534] M. Longworth Dames and Mrs. E. Seemann, "Folklore of the Azores,"
_Folk-lore_, xiv. (1903) pp. 142 _sq._; Theophilo Braga, _O Povo
Portuguez nos seus Costumes, Crencas e Tradicoes_ (Lisbon, 1885), ii.
304 _sq._, 307 _sq._

[535] See below, pp. 234 _sqq._

[536] Angelo de Gubernatis, _Mythologie des Plantes_ (Paris, 1878-1882),
i. 185 note 1.

[537] _Adonis, Attis, Osiris_, Second Edition, pp. 202 _sq._

[538] G. Finamore, _Credenze, Usi e Costumi Abruzzesi_ (Palermo, 1890),
pp. 154 _sq._

[539] G. Finamore, _Credenze, Usi e Costumi Abruzzesi_, pp. 158-160. We
may compare the Provencal and Spanish customs of bathing and splashing
water at Midsummer. See above, pp. 193 _sq._, 208.

[540] Giuseppe Pitre, _Spettacoli e Feste Popolari Siciliane_ (Palermo,
1881), pp. 246, 308 _sq._; _id., Usi e Costumi, Credenze e Pregiudizi
del Popolo Siciliano_ (Palermo, 1889), pp. 146 _sq._

[541] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 518.

[542] V. Busuttil, _Holiday Customs in Malta, and Sports, Usages,
Ceremonies, Omens, and Superstitions of the Maltese People_ (Malta,
1894), pp. 56 _sqq._ The extract was kindly sent to me by Mr. H.W.
Underwood (letter dated 14th November, 1902, Birbeck Bank Chambers,
Southampton Buildings, Chancery Lane, W.C.). See _Folk-lore_, xiv.
(1903) pp. 77 _sq._

[543] W. R. Paton, in _Folk-lore_, ii. (1891) p. 128. The custom was
reported to me when I was in Greece in 1890 (_Folk-lore_, i. (1890) p.

[544] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 519.

[545] G. Georgeakis et L. Pineau, _Le Folk-lore de Lesbos_ (Paris,
1894), pp. 308 _sq._

[546] W.R. Paton, in _Folk-lore_, vi. (1895) p. 94. From the stones cast
into the fire omens may perhaps be drawn, as in Scotland, Wales, and
probably Brittany. See above, p. 183, and below, pp. 230 _sq._, 239,

[547] W.H.D. Rouse, "Folklore from the Southern Sporades," _Folk-lore_,
x. (1899) p. 179.

[548] Lucy M.J. Garnett, _The Women of Turkey and their Folk-lore, the
Christian Women_ (London, 1890), p. 122; G.F. Abbott, _Macedonian
Folklore_ (Cambridge, 1903), p. 57.

[549] J.G. von Hahn, _Albanesische Studien_ (Jena, 1854), i. 156.

[550] K. von den Steinen, _Unter den Natur-Voelkern Zentral-Brasiliens_
(Berlin, 1894), p. 561.

[551] Alcide d'Orbigny, _Voyage dans l'Amerique Meridionale_, ii. (Paris
and Strasbourg, 1839-1843), p. 420; D. Forbes, "On the Aymara Indians of
Bolivia and Peru," _Journal of the Ethnological Society of London_, ii.
(1870) p. 235.

[552] Edmond Doutte, _Magie et Religion dans l'Afrique du Nord_
(Algiers, 1908), pp. 566 _sq_. For an older but briefer notice of the
Midsummer fires in North Africa, see Giuseppe Ferraro, _Superstizioni,
Usi e Proverbi Monferrini_ (Palermo, 1886), pp. 34 _sq._: "Also in
Algeria, among the Mussalmans, and in Morocco, as Alvise da Cadamosto
reports in his _Relazione dei viaggi d'Africa_, which may be read in
Ramusio, people used to hold great festivities on St. John's Night; they
kindled everywhere huge fires of straw (the _Palilia_ of the Romans), in
which they threw incense and perfumes the whole night long in order to
invoke the divine blessing on the fruit-trees." See also Budgett Meakin,
_The Moors_ (London, 1902), p. 394: "The Berber festivals are mainly
those of Islam, though a few traces of their predecessors are
observable. Of these the most noteworthy is Midsummer or St. John's Day,
still celebrated in a special manner, and styled _El Ansarah_. In the
Rif it is celebrated by the lighting of bonfires only, but in other
parts there is a special dish prepared of wheat, raisins, etc.,
resembling the frumenty consumed at the New Year. It is worthy of remark
that the Old Style Gregorian calendar is maintained among them, with
corruptions of Latin names."

[553] Edward Westermarck, "Midsummer Customs in Morocco," _Folklore_,
xvi. (1905) pp. 28-30; _id., Ceremonies and Beliefs connected with
Agriculture, Certain Dates of the Solar Year, and the Weather_
(Helsingfors, 1913), pp. 79-83.

[554] E. Westermarck, "Midsummer Customs in Morocco," _Folk-lore_, xvi.
(1905) pp. 30 _sq._; _id., Ceremonies and Beliefs connected with
Agriculture_, etc., pp. 83 _sq._

[555] Edmond Doutte, _Magie et Religion dans l'Afrique du Nord_
(Algiers, 1908), pp. 567 _sq._

[556] E. Westermarck, "Midsummer Customs in Morocco," _Folk-lore_, xvi.
(1905) pp. 31 _sq._; _id., Ceremonies and Beliefs connected with
Agriculture_, etc., pp. 84-86.

[557] See K. Vollers, in Dr. James Hastings's _Encyclopaedia of Religion
and Ethics_ iii. (Edinburgh, 1910) _s.v._ "Calendar (Muslim)," pp. 126
_sq._ However, L. Ideler held that even before the time of Mohammed the
Arab year was lunar and vague, and that intercalation was only employed
in order to fix the pilgrimage month in autumn, which, on account of the
milder weather and the abundance of food, is the best time for pilgrims
to go to Mecca. See L. Ideler, _Handbuch der mathematischen und
techischen Chronologie_ (Berlin, 1825-1826), ii. 495 _sqq._

[558] E. Doutte, _Magie et Religion dans l'Afrique du Nord_, pp. 496,
509, 532, 543, 569. It is somewhat remarkable that the tenth, not the
first, day of the first month should be reckoned New Year's Day.

[559] E. Westermarck, "Midsummer Customs in Morocco," _Folk-lore_, xvi.
(1905) pp. 40-42.

[560] E. Doutte, _Magie et Religion dans l'Afrique du Nord_ (Algiers,
1908), pp. 541 _sq._

[561] E. Westermarck, "Midsummer Customs in Morocco," _Folk-lore_, xvi.
(1905) p. 42; _id., Ceremonies and Beliefs connected with Agriculture,
Certain Dates of the Solar Year, and the Weather in Morocco_
(Helsingfors, 1913), p. 101.

[562] E. Westermarck, "Midsummer Customs in Morocco," _Folk-lore_, xvi.
(1905), pp. 42 _sq._, 46 _sq.; id., Ceremonies and Beliefs connected
with Agriculture_, etc., _in Morocco_, pp. 99 _sqq._

[563] G. F. Abbott, _Macedonian Folklore_ (Cambridge, 1903), pp. 60

[564] "Narrative of the Adventures of four Russian Sailors, who were
cast in a storm upon the uncultivated island of East Spitzbergen,"
translated from the German of P.L. Le Roy, in John Pinkerton's _Voyages
and Travels_ (London, 1808-1814), i. 603. This passage is quoted from
the original by (Sir) Edward B. Tylor, _Researches into the Early
History of Mankind_, Third Edition (London, 1878), pp. 259 _sq._

[565] See _The Scapegoat_, pp. 166 _sq._

[566] E.K. Chambers, _The Mediaeval Stage_ (Oxford, 1903), i. 110 _sqq._

[567] In Eastern Europe to this day the great season for driving out the
cattle to pasture for the first time in spring is St. George's Day, the
twenty-third of April, which is not far removed from May Day. See _The
Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_, ii. 324 _sqq._ As to the
bisection of the Celtic year, see the old authority quoted by P.W.
Joyce, _The Social History of Ancient Ireland_ (London, 1903), ii. 390:
"The whole year was [originally] divided into two parts--Summer from 1st
May to 1st November, and Winter from 1st November to 1st May." On this
subject compare (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Heathendom_ (London and
Edinburgh, 1888), pp. 460, 514 _sqq.; id., Celtic Folk-lore, Welsh and
Manx_ (Oxford, 1901), i. 315 _sqq._; J.A. MacCulloch, in Dr. James
Hastings's _Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics_, iii. (Edinburgh,
1910) p. 80.

[568] See below, p. 225.

[569] Above, pp. 146 _sqq._; _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_,
ii. 59 _sqq._

[570] (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Folk-lore, Manx and Welsh_ (Oxford,
1901), i. 316, 317 _sq._; J.A. MacCulloch, in Dr. James Hastings's
_Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics_, iii. (Edinburgh, 1910) _s.v._
"Calendar," p. 80, referring to Kelly, _English and Manx Dictionary_
(Douglas, 1866), _s.v._ "Blein." Hogmanay is the popular Scotch name for
the last day of the year. See Dr. J. Jamieson, _Etymological Dictionary
of the Scottish Language_, New Edition (Paisley, 1879-1882), ii. 602

[571] (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Folk-lore, Welsh and Manx_, i. 316 _sq._

[572] Above, p. 139.

[573] See _Adonis, Attis, Osiris_, Second Edition, pp. 309-318. As I
have there pointed out, the Catholic Church succeeded in altering the
date of the festival by one day, but not in changing the character of
the festival. All Souls' Day is now the second instead of the first of
November. But we can hardly doubt that the Saints, who have taken
possession of the first of November, wrested it from the Souls of the
Dead, the original proprietors. After all, the Saints are only one
particular class of the Souls of the Dead; so that the change which the
Church effected, no doubt for the purpose of disguising the heathen
character of the festival, is less great than appears at first sight.

[574] In Wales "it was firmly believed in former times that on All
Hallows' Eve the spirit of a departed person was to be seen at midnight
on every cross-road and on every stile" (Marie Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and
Folk-stories of Wales_, London, 1909, p. 254).

[575] E. J. Guthrie, _Old Scottish Customs_ (London and Glasgow, 1885),
p. 68.

[576] A. Goodrich-Freer, "More Folklore from the Hebrides," _Folk-lore_,
xiii. (1902) p. 53.

[577] (Sir) Jolin Rhys, _Celtic Heathendom_ (London and Edinburgh,
1888), p. 516.

[578] P.W. Joyce, _A Social History of Ancient Ireland_ (London, 1903),
i. 264 _sq._, ii. 556.

[579] (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Heathendom_, p. 516.

[580] Rev. John Gregorson Campbell, _Superstitions of the Highlands and
Islands of Scotland_ (Glasgow, 1900), pp. 61 _sq._

[581] Ch. Rogers, _Social Life in Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1884-1886), iii.

[582] Douglas Hyde, _Beside the Fire, a Collection of Irish Gaelic Folk
Stories_ (London, 1890), pp. 104, 105, 121-128.

[583] P.W. Joyce, _Social History of Ancient Ireland_, i. 229.

[584] Marie Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales_ (London,
1909), p. 254.

[585] (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Heathendom_, pp. 514 _sq._ In order to
see the apparitions all you had to do was to run thrice round the parish
church and then peep through the key-hole of the door. See Marie
Trevelyan, _op. cit._ p. 254; J. C. Davies, _Folk-lore of West and
Mid-Wales_ (Aberystwyth, 1911), p. 77.

[586] Miss E. J. Guthrie, _Old Scottish Customs_ (London and Glasgow,
1885), p. 75.

[587] Rev. John Gregorson Campbell, _Witchcraft and Second Sight in the
Highlands and Islands of Scotland_ (Glasgow, 1902), p. 282.

[588] Thomas Pennant, "Tour in Scotland, and Voyage to the Hebrides in
1772," in John Pinkerton's _Voyages and Travels_, iii. (London, 1809)
pp. 383 _sq._ In quoting the passage I have corrected what seem to be
two misprints.

[589] John Ramsay, of Ochtertyre, _Scotland and Scotsmen in the
Eighteenth Century_, edited by Alexander Allardyce (Edinburgh and
London, 1888), ii. 437 _sq._ This account was written in the eighteenth

[590] Rev. James Robertson, Parish minister of Callander, in Sir John
Sinclair's _Statistical Account of Scotland_, xi. (Edinburgh, 1794), pp.
621 _sq._

[591] Rev. Dr. Thomas Bisset, in Sir John Sinclair's _Statistical
Account of Scotland_ v. (Edinburgh, 1793) pp. 84 _sq._

[592] Miss E. J. Guthrie, _Old Scottish Customs_ (London and Glasgow,
1885), p. 67.

[593] James Napier, _Folk Lore, or Superstitious Beliefs in the West of
Scotland within this Century_ (Paisley, 1879), p. 179.

[594] J. G. Frazer, "Folk-lore at Balquhidder," _The Folk-lore Journal_,
vi. (1888) p. 270.

[595] Rev. Walter Gregor, _Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of
Scotland_ (London, 1881), pp. 167 _sq._

[596] Rev. A. Johnstone, as to the parish of Monquhitter, in Sir John
Sinclair's _Statistical Account of Scotland_, xxi. (Edinburgh, 1799) pp.
145 _sq._

[597] A. Macdonald, "Some former Customs of the Royal Parish of Crathie,
Scotland," _Folk-lore_, xviii. (1907) p. 85. The writer adds: "In this
way the 'faulds' were purged of evil spirits." But it does not appear
whether this expresses the belief of the people or only the
interpretation of the writer.

[598] Rev. John Gregorson Campbell, _Witchcraft and Second Sight in the
Highlands and Islands of Scotland_ (Glasgow, 1902), pp. 282 _sq._

[599] Robert Burns, _Hallowe'en_, with the poet's note; Rev. Walter
Gregor, _op. cit._ p. 84; Miss E.J. Guthrie, _op. cit._ p. 69; Rev. J.G.
Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 287.

[600] R. Burns, _l.c._; Rev. Walter Gregor, _l.c._; Miss E.J. Guthrie,
_op. cit._ pp. 70 _sq._; Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 286.

[601] R. Burns, _l.c._.; Rev. W. Gregor, _l.c._; Miss E.J. Guthrie, _op.
cit._ p. 73; Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 285; A. Goodrich-Freer,
"More Folklore from the Hebrides," _Folk-lore_, xiii. (1902) pp. 54

[602] R. Burns, _l.c._; Rev. W. Gregor, _op. cit._ p. 85; Miss E.J.
Guthrie, _op. cit._ p. 71; Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 285.
According to the last of these writers, the winnowing had to be done in
the devil's name.

[603] R. Burns, _l.c._; Rev. W. Gregor, _l.c._; Miss E.J. Guthrie, _op.
cit._ p. 72; Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 286; A. Goodrich-Freer,
"More Folklore from the Hebrides," _Folklore_, xiii. (1902) p. 54.

[604] Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 283.

[605] Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ pp. 283 _sq._; A. Goodrich-Freer,

[606] Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 284.

[607] R. Burns, _l.c._; Rev. W. Gregor, _op. cit._ p. 85; Miss E.J.
Guthrie, _op. cit._ p. 70; Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 284. Where
nuts were not to be had, peas were substituted.

[608] Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 284.

[609] Rev. J.G. Campbell, _l.c._ According to my recollection of
Hallowe'en customs observed in my boyhood at Helensburgh, in
Dumbartonshire, another way was to stir the floating apples and then
drop a fork on them as they bobbed about in the water. Success consisted
in pinning one of the apples with the fork.

[610] R. Burns, _l.c._; Rev. W. Gregor, _op. cit_. pp. 85 _sq_.; Miss
E.J. Guthrie, _op. cit_. pp. 72 _sq_.; Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit_. p.

[611] R. Burns, _l.c._; Rev. W. Gregor, _op. cit_. p. 85; Miss E.J.
Guthrie, _op. cit_. pp. 69 _sq_.; Rev. J.G. Campbell, _op. cit_. p. 285.
It is the last of these writers who gives what may be called the
Trinitarian form of the divination.

[612] Miss E.J. Guthrie, _Old Scottish Customs_ (London and Glasgow,
1885), pp. 74 _sq_.

[613] A. Goodrich-Freer, "More Folklore from the Hebrides," _Folk-lore_,
xiii. (1902) p. 55.

[614] Pennant's manuscript, quoted by J. Brand, _Popular Antiquities of
Great Britain_ (London, 1882-1883), i. 389 _sq_.

[615] Sir Richard Colt Hoare, _The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin
through Wales A.D. MCLXXXVIII. by Giraldus de Barri_ (London, 1806), ii.
315; J. Brand, _Popular Antiquities_, i. 390. The passage quoted in the
text occurs in one of Hoare's notes on the Itinerary. The dipping for
apples, burning of nuts, and so forth, are mentioned also by Marie
Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales_ (London, 1909), pp.
253, 255.

[616] (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Heathendom_ (London and Edinburgh, 1888),
pp. 515 _sq._ As to the Hallowe'en bonfires in Wales compare J.C.
Davies, _Folk-lore of West and Mid-Wales_ (Aberystwyth, 1911), p. 77.

[617] See above, p. 183.

[618] See above, p. 231.

[619] Marie Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales_ (London,
1909), pp. 254 _sq._

[620] (General) Charles Vallancey, _Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis_,
iii. (Dublin, 1786), pp. 459-461.

[621] Miss A. Watson, quoted by A.C. Haddon, "A Batch of Irish
Folk-lore," _Folk-lore_, iv. (1893) pp. 361 _sq._

[622] Leland L. Duncan, "Further Notes from County Leitrim,"
_Folk-lore_, v. (1894) pp. 195-197.

[623] H.J. Byrne, "All Hallows Eve and other Festivals in Connaught,"
_Folk-lore_, xviii. (1907) pp. 437 _sq._

[624] Joseph Train, _Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of
Man_ (Douglas, Isle of Man, 1845), ii. 123; (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic
Folk-lore, Welsh and Manx_ (Oxford, 1901), i. 315 _sqq._

[625] (Sir) John Rhys, _Celtic Folk-lore, Welsh and Manx_ (Oxford,
1901), i. 318-321.

[626] John Harland and T.T. Wilkinson, _Lancashire Folk-lore_
(Manchester and London, 1882), pp. 3 _sq_.

[627] J. Harland and T.T. Wilkinson, _op. cit_. p. 140.

[628] Annie Milner, in William Hone's _Year Book_ (London, preface dated
January, 1832), coll. 1276-1279 (letter dated June, 1831); R.T. Hampson,
_Medii Aevi Kalendarium_ (London, 1841), i. 365; T.F. Thiselton Dyer,
_British Popular Customs_ (London, 1876), p. 395.

[629] _County Folk-lore_ vol. iv. _Northumberland_, collected by M.C.
Balfour (London, 1904), p. 78. Compare W. Henderson, _Notes on the
Folk-lore of the Northern Counties of England_ (London, 1879), pp. 96

[630] Baron Dupin, in _Memoires publiees par la Societe Royale des
Antiquaires de France_, iv. (1823) p. 108.

[631] The evidence for the solar origin of Christmas is given in
_Adonis, Attis, Osiris_, Second Edition, pp. 254-256.

[632] For the various names (Yu-batch, Yu-block, Yule-log, etc.) see
Francis Grose, _Provincial Glossary_, New Edition (London, 1811), p.
141; Joseph Wright, _The English Dialect Dictionary_ (London,
1898-1905), vi. 593, _s.v._ "Yule."

[633] "I am pretty confident that the Yule block will be found, in its
first use, to have been only a counterpart of the Midsummer fires, made
within doors because of the cold weather at this winter solstice, as
those in the hot season, at the summer one, are kindled in the open
air." (John Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_, London,
1882-1883, i. 471). His opinion is approved by W. Mannhardt _(Der
Baumkultus der Germanen und ihrer Nachbarstaemme_, p. 236).

[634] "_Et arborem in nativitate domini ad festivum ignem suum
adducendam esse dicebat_" (quoted by Jacob Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,
i. 522).

[635] Montanus, _Die deutschen Volksfeste, Volksbrauche und deutscher
Volksglaube_ (Iserlohn, N.D.), p. 12. The Sieg and Lahn are two rivers
of Central Germany, between Siegen and Marburg.

[636] J.H. Schmitz, _Sitten und Sagen, Lieder, Spruechwoerter und Raethsel
des Eifler Volkes_ (Treves, 1856-1858), i. 4.

[637] Adalbert Kuhn, _Sagen, Gebraeuche und Maerchen aus Westfalen_
(Leipsic, 1859), ii. Sec. 319, pp. 103 _sq_.

[638] A. Kuhn, _op. cit._ ii. Sec. 523, p. 187.

[639] August Witzschel, _Sagen, Sitten und Gebraeuche aus Thueringen_
(Vienna, 1878), p. 172.

[640] K. Hoffmann-Krayer, _Feste und Braeuche des Schweizervolkes_
(Zurich, 1913), pp. 108 _sq._

[641] Le Baron de Reinsberg-Dueringsfeld, _Calendrier Belge_ (Brussels,
1861-1862), ii. 326 _sq._ Compare J.W. Wolf, _Beitraegezur deutschen
Mythologie_ (Goettingen, 1852-1858), i. 117.

[642] J.B. Thiers, _Traite des Superstitions_*[5] (Paris, 1741), i. 302
_sq._; Eugene Cortet, _Essai sur les Fetes Religieuses_ (Paris, 1867),
pp. _266 sq._

[643] J.B. Thiers, _Traite des Superstitions_ (Paris, 1679), p. 323.

[644] Aubin-Louis Millin, _Voyage dans les Departemens du Midi de la
France_ (Paris, 1807-1811), iii. 336 _sq._ The fire so kindled was
called _caco fuech_.

[645] Alfred de Nore, _Coutumes, Mythes et Traditions des Provinces de
France_ (Paris and Lyons, 1846), pp. 151 _sq._ The three festivals
during which the Yule log is expected to burn are probably Christmas Day
(December 25th), St. Stephen's Day (December 26th), and St. John the
Evangelist's Day (December 27th). Compare J.L.M. Nogues, _Les Moeurs
d'autrefois en Saintonge et en Aunis_ (Saintes, 1891), pp. 45-47.
According to the latter writer, in Saintonge it was the mistress of the
house who blessed the Yule log, sprinkling salt and holy water on it; in
Poitou it was the eldest male who officiated. The log was called the
_cosse de No_.

[646] Laisnel de Salle, _Croyances et Legendes du Centres de la France_
(Paris, 1875), i. 1-3.

[647] Jules Lecoeur, _Esquisses du Bocage Normand_ (Conde-sur-Noireau,
1883-1887), ii. 291. The author speaks of the custom as still practised
in out-of-the-way villages at the time when he wrote. The usage of
preserving the remains of the Yule-log (called _trefouet_) in Normandy
is mentioned also by M'elle Amelie Bosquet, _La Normandie Romanesque et
Merveilleuse_ (Paris and Rouen, 1845), p. 294.

[648] A. de Nore, _Coutumes, Mythes, et Traditions des Provinces de
France_ (Paris and Lyons, 1846), p. 256.

[649] Paul Sebillot, _Coutumes populaires de la Haute-Bretagne_ (Paris,
1886), pp. 217 _sq._

[650] Albert Meyrac, _Traditions, Coutumes, Legendes et Contes des
Ardennes_ (Charleville, 1890), pp. 96 _sq._

[651] See above, p. 251.

[652] Lerouze, in _Memoires de l'Academie Celtique_, iii. (1809) p. 441,
quoted by J. Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London,
1882-1883), i. 469 note.

[653] L.F. Sauve, _Le Folk-lore des Hautes-Vosges_ (Paris, 1889), pp.
370 _sq._

[654] Charles Beauquier, _Les Mois en Franche-Comte_ (Paris, 1900), p.

[655] A. de Nore, _Coutumes, Mythes, et Traditions des Provinces de
France_ (Paris and Lyons, 1846), pp. 302 _sq._

[656] John Brand, _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_ (London,
1882-1883), i. 467.

[657] J. Brand, _op. cit._ i. 455; _The Denham Tracts_, edited by Dr.
James Hardy (London, 1892-1895), ii. 25 _sq._

[658] Herrick, _Hesperides_, "Ceremonies for Christmasse":

"_Come, bring with a noise,
My merrie merrie boyes,
The Christmas log to the firing_;...
_With the last yeeres brand
Light the neiv block_"

And, again, in his verses, "Ceremonies for Candlemasse Day":

"_Kindle the Christmas brand, and then
Till sunne-set let it burne;
Which quencht, then lay it up agen,
Till Christmas next returne.
Part must be kept, wherewith to teend
The Christmas log next yeare;
And where 'tis safely kept, the fiend
Can do no mischiefe there_"

See _The Works of Robert Herrick_ (Edinburgh, 1823), vol. ii. pp. 91,
124. From these latter verses it seems that the Yule log was replaced on
the fire on Candlemas (the second of February).

[659] Miss C. S. Burne and Miss G. F. Jackson, _Shropshire Folk-lore_
(London, 1883), p. 398 note 2. See also below, pp. 257, 258, as to the
Lincolnshire, Herefordshire, and Welsh practice.

[660] Francis Grose, _Provincial Glossary_, Second Edition (London,
1811), pp. 141 _sq._; T.F. Thiselton Dyer, _British Popular Customs_
(London, 1876), p. 466.

[661] _County Folk-lore_, vol. iv. _Northumberland_, collected by M.C.
Balfour and edited by Northcote W. Thomas (London, 1904), p. 79.

[662] _County Folk-lore,_ vol. ii. _North Riding of Yorkshire, York and
the Ainsty,_ collected and edited by Mrs. Gutch (London, 1901), pp. 273,
274, 275 _sq_.

[663] _County Folk-lore_, vol. vi. _East Riding of Yorkshire_, collected
and edited by Mrs. Gutch (London, 1912), pp. 23, 118, compare p. 114.

[664] John Aubrey, _Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme_ (London, 1881),
p. 5.

[665] _County Folk-lore_, vol. v. _Lincolnshire_, collected by Mrs.
Gutch and Mabel Peacock (London, 1908), p. 219. Elsewhere in
Lincolnshire the Yule-log seems to have been called the Yule-clog (_op.
cit_. pp. 215, 216).

[666] Mrs. Samuel Chandler (Sarah Whateley), quoted in _The Folk-lore
Journal_, i. (1883) pp. 351 _sq_.

[667] Miss C.S. Burne and Miss G.F. Jackson, _Shropshire Folk-lore_
(London, 1883), pp. 397 _sq_. One of the informants of these writers
says (_op. cit._ p. 399): "In 1845 I was at the Vessons farmhouse, near
the Eastbridge Coppice (at the northern end of the Stiperstones). The
floor was of flags, an unusual thing in this part. Observing a sort of
roadway through the kitchen, and the flags much broken, I enquired what
caused it, and was told it was from the horses' hoofs drawing in the
'Christmas Brund.'"

[668] Mrs. Ella Mary Leather, _The Folklore of Herefordshire_ (Hereford
and London, 1912), p. 109. Compare Miss C.S. Burne, "Herefordshire
Notes," _The Folk-lore Journal_, iv. (1886) p. 167.

[669] Marie Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales_ (London,
1909), p. 28.

[670] "In earlier ages, and even so late as towards the middle of the
nineteenth century, the Servian village organisation and the Servian
agriculture had yet another distinguishing feature. The dangers from
wild beasts in old time, the want of security for life and property
during the Turkish rule, or rather misrule, the natural difficulties of
the agriculture, more especially the lack in agricultural labourers,
induced the Servian peasants not to leave the parental house but to
remain together on the family's property. In the same yard, within the
same fence, one could see around the ancestral house a number of wooden
huts which contained one or two rooms, and were used as sleeping places
for the sons, nephews and grandsons and their wives. Men and women of
three generations could be often seen living in that way together, and
working together the land which was considered as common property of the
whole family. This expanded family, remaining with all its branches
together, and, so to say, under the same roof, working together,
dividing the fruits of their joint labours together, this family and an
agricultural association in one, was called _Zadrooga_ (The
Association). This combination of family and agricultural association
has morally, economically, socially, and politically rendered very
important services to the Servians. The headman or chief (called
_Stareshina_) of such family association is generally the oldest male
member of the family. He is the administrator of the common property and
director of work. He is the executive chairman of the association.
Generally he does not give any order without having consulted all the
grown-up male members of the _Zadroega_" (Chedo Mijatovich, _Servia and
the Servians_, London, 1908, pp. 237 _sq._). As to the house-communities
of the South Slavs see further Og. M. Utiesenovic, _Die Hauskommunionen
der Suedslaven_ (Vienna, 1859); F. Demelic, _Le Droit Coutumier des
Slaves Meridionaux_ (Paris, 1876), pp. 23 _sqq._; F.S. Krauss, _Sitte
und Brauch der Suedslaven_ (Vienna, 1885), pp. 64 _sqq._ Since Servia,
freed from Turkish oppression, has become a well-regulated European
state, with laws borrowed from the codes of France and Germany, the old
house-communities have been rapidly disappearing (Chedo Mijatovich, _op.
cit._ p. 240).

[671] Chedo Mijatovich, _Servia and the Servians_ (London, 1908), pp.

[672] Baron Rajacsich, _Das Leben, die Sitten und Gebraeuche der im
Kaiserthume Oesterreich lebenden Suedslaven_ (Vienna, 1873), pp. 122-128.

[673] Baron Rajacsich, _Das Leben, die Sitten und Gebrauche der im
Kaiserthume Oesterreich lebenden Suedslaven_ (Vienna, 1873), pp. 129-131.
The Yule log (_badnyak_) is also known in Bulgaria, where the women
place it on the hearth on Christmas Eve. See A. Strausz, _Die Bulgaren_
(Leipsic, 1898), p. 361.

[674] M. Edith Durham, _High Albania_ (London, 1909), p. 129.

[675] R.F. Kaindl, _Die Huzulen_ (Vienna, 1894) p. 71.

[676] See above, pp. 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 258.
Similarly at Candlemas people lighted candles in the churches, then took
them home and kept them, and thought that by lighting them at any time
they could keep off thunder, storm, and tempest. See Barnabe Googe, _The
Popish Kingdom_ (reprinted London, 1880), p. 48 _verso_.

[677] See above, pp. 248, 250, 251, 257, 258, 263.

[678] See _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_, ii. 356 _sqq._

[679] See above, pp. 248, 249, 250, 251, 264.

[680] August Witzschel, _Sagen, Sitten und Gebraeuche aus Thueringen_
(Vienna, 1878), pp. 171 _sq._

[681] Jules Lecoeur, _Esquisses du Bocage Normand_ (Conde-sur-Noireau,
1883-1887), ii. 289 _sq._

[682] Joseph Train, _Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of
Man_ (Douglas, Isle of Man, 1845), ii. 124, referring to Cregeen's _Manx
Dictionary_, p. 67.

[683] R. Chambers, _The Book of Days_ (London and Edinburgh, 1886), ii.
789-791, quoting _The Banffshire Journal_; Miss C.F. Gordon Cumming, _In
the Hebrides_ (London, 1883), p. 226; Miss E.J. Guthrie, _Old Scottish
Customs_ (London and Glasgow, 1885), pp. 223-225; Ch. Rogers, _Social
Life in Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1884-1886), iii. 244 _sq_.; _The Folk-lore
Journal_, vii. (1889) pp. 11-14, 46. Miss Gordon Gumming and Miss
Guthrie say that the burning of the Clavie took place upon Yule Night;
but this seems to be a mistake.

[684] Caesar, _De bello Gallico_, vii. 23.

[685] Hugh W. Young, F.S.A. Scot., _Notes on the Ramparts of Burghead as
revealed by recent Excavations_ (Edinburgh, 1892), pp. 3 _sqq_.; _Notes
on further Excavations at Burghead_ (Edinburgh, 1893), pp. 7 _sqq_.
These papers are reprinted from the _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, vols. xxv., xxvii. Mr. Young concludes as
follows: "It is proved that the fort at Burghead was raised by a people
skilled in engineering, who used axes and chisels of iron; who shot
balista stones over 20 lbs. in weight; and whose daily food was the _bos
longifrons_. A people who made paved roads, and sunk artesian wells, and
used Roman beads and pins. The riddle of Burghead should not now be very
difficult to read." (_Notes on further Excavations at Burghead_, pp. 14
_sq_.). For a loan of Mr. Young's pamphlets I am indebted to the
kindness of Sheriff-Substitute David.

[686] Robert Cowie, M.A., M.D., _Shetland, Descriptive and Historical_
(Aberdeen, 1871), pp. 127 _sq._; _County Folk-lore_, vol. iii. _Orkney
and Shetland Islands_, collected by G.F. Black and edited by Northcote
W. Thomas (London, 1903), pp. 203 _sq._ A similar celebration, known as
Up-helly-a, takes place at Lerwick on the 29th of January, twenty-four
days after Old Christmas. See _The Scapegoat_, pp. 167-169. Perhaps the
popular festival of Up-helly-a has absorbed some of the features of the
Christmas Eve celebration.

[687] Thomas Hyde, _Historia Religionis veterum Persarum_ (Oxford,
1700), pp. 255-257.

[688] On the need-fire see Jacob Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_*[4] i. 501
_sqq._; J.W. Wolf, _Beitraege zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Goettingen and
Leipsic, 1852-1857), i. 116 _sq._, ii. 378 _sqq._; Adalbert Kuhn, _Die
Herabkunjt des Feuers und des Goettertranks_*[2] (Guetersloh, 1886), pp.
41 _sqq._; Walter K. Kelly, _Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and
Folk-lore_ (London, 1863), pp. 48 _sqq._; W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus
der Germanen und ihrer Nachbarstaemme_ (Berlin, 1875), pp. 518 _sqq._;
Charles Elton, _Origins of English History_ (London, 1882), pp. 293
_sqq._; Ulrich Jahn, _Die deutschen Opfergebraeuche bei Ackerbau und
Viehzucht_ (Breslau, 1884), pp. 26 _sqq._ Grimm would derive the name
_need-_fire (German, _niedfyr, nodfyr, nodfeur, nothfeur_) from _need_
(German, _noth_), "necessity," so that the phrase need-fire would mean
"a forced fire." This is the sense attached to it in Lindenbrog's
glossary on the capitularies, quoted by Grimm, _op. cit._ i. p. 502:
"_Eum ergo ignem_ nodfeur _et_ nodfyr, _quasi necessarium ignem vocant_"
C.L. Rochholz would connect _need_ with a verb _nieten_ "to churn," so
that need-fire would mean "churned fire." See C.L. Rochholz, _Deutscher
Glaube und Brauch_ (Berlin, 1867), ii. 149 _sq._ This interpretion is
confirmed by the name _ankenmilch bohren_, which is given to the
need-fire in some parts of Switzerland. See E. Hoffmann-Krayer,
"Fruchtbarkeitsriten im schweizerischen Volksbrauch," _Schweizerisches
Archiv fuer Volkskuende_, xi. (1907) p. 245.

[689] "_Illos sacrilegos ignes, quos_ niedfyr _vocant_," quoted by J.
Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 502; R. Andree, _Braunschweiger
Volkskunde_ (Brunswick, 1896), p. 312.

[690] _Indiculus Superstitionum et Paganiarum_, No. XV., "_De igne
fricato de ligno i.e._ nodfyr." A convenient edition of the _Indiculus_
has been published with a commentary by H.A. Saupe (Leipsic, 1891). As
to the date of the work, see the editor's introduction, pp. 4 _sq_.

[691] Karl Lynker, _Deutsche Sagen und Sitten in hessischen Gauen_,*[2]
(Cassel and Goettingen, 1860), pp. 252 _sq._, quoting a letter of the
mayor (_Schultheiss_) of Neustadt to the mayor of Marburg dated 12th
December 1605.

[692] Bartholomaeus Carrichter, _Der Teutschen Speisskammer_ (Strasburg,
1614), Fol. pag. 17 and 18, quoted by C.L. Rochholz, _Deutscher Glaube
und Brauch_ (Berlin, 1867), ii. 148 _sq._

[693] Joh. Reiskius, _Untersuchung des Notfeuers_ (Frankfort and
Leipsic, 1696), p. 51, quoted by J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i.
502 _sq._; R. Andree, _Braunschweiger Volkskunde_ (Brunswick, 1896), p.

[694] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_, *[4] i. 503 _sq._

[695] J. Grimm, _op. cit._ i. 504.

[696] Adalbert Kuhn, _Maerkische Sagen und Maerchen_ (Berlin, 1843), p.

[697] Karl Bartsch, _Sagen, Maerchen und Gebraeuche aus Mecklenburg_
(Vienna, 1879-1880), ii. 149-151.

[698] Carl und Theodor Colshorn, _Maerchen und Sagen_ (Hanover, 1854),
pp. 234-236, from the description of an eye-witness.

[699] Heinrich Proehle, _Harzbilder, Sitten und Gebraeuche aus dem
Harz-gebirge_ (Leipsic, 1855), pp. 74 _sq._ The date of this need-fire
is not given; probably it was about the middle of the nineteenth

[700] R. Andree, _Braunschweiger Volkskunde_ (Brunswick, 1896), pp. 313

[701] R. Andree, _op. cit._ pp. 314 _sq._

[702] Montanus, _Die deutschen Volks-feste, Volksbraeuche und deutscher
Volksglaube_ (Iserlohn, N.D.), p. 127.

[703] Paul Drechsler, _Sitte, Brauch und Volksglaube in Schlesien_
(Leipsic, 1903-1906), ii. 204.

[704] Anton Peter, _Volksthuemliches aus Oesterreichisch-Schlesien_
(Troppau, 1865-1867), ii. 250.

[705] Alois John, _Sitte, Brauch und Volksglaube im deutschen
Westboehmen_ (Prague, 1905), p. 209.

[706] C.L. Rochholz, _Deutscher Glaube und Brauch_ (Berlin, 1867), ii.

[707] E. Hoffmann-Krayer, "Fruchtbarkeitsriten im schweizerischen
Volksbrauch," _Schweizerisches Archiv fur Volkskunde_, xi. (1907) pp.

[708] E. Hoffmann-Krayer, _op. cit._ p. 246.

[709] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 505.

[710] "Old-time Survivals in remote Norwegian Dales," _Folk-lore_, xx.
(1909) pp. 314, 322 _sq._ This record of Norwegian folk-lore is
translated from a little work _Sundalen og Oeksendalens Beskrivelse_
written by Pastor Chr. Gluekstad and published at Christiania "about
twenty years ago."

[711] Prof. VI. Titelbach, "Das heilige Feuer bei den Balkanslaven,"
_Inter-nationales Archiv fuer Ethnographie_, xiii. (1900) pp. 2 _sq._ We
have seen (above, p. 220) that in Russia the need-fire is, or used to
be, annually kindled on the eighteenth of August. As to the need-fire in
Bulgaria see also below, pp. 284 _sq._

[712] F.S. Krauss, "Altslavische Feuergewinnung," _Globus_, lix. (1891)
p. 318, quoting P. Ljiebenov, _Baba Ega_ (Trnovo, 1887), p. 44.

[713] F.S. Krauss, _op. cit._ p. 319, quoting _Wisla_, vol. iv. pp. 1,
244 _sqq._

[714] F.S. Krauss, _op. cit._ p. 318, quoting Oskar Kolberg, in
_Mazowsze_, vol. iv. p. 138.

[715] F.S. Krauss, "Slavische Feuerbohrer," _Globus_, lix. (1891) p.
140. The evidence quoted by Dr. Krauss is that of his father, who often
told of his experience to his son.

[716] Prof. Vl. Titelbach, "Das heilige Feuer bei den Balkanslaven,"
_Internationales Archiv fur Ethnographie_, xiii. (1900) p. 3.

[717] See below, vol. ii. pp. 168 _sqq._

[718] Adolf Strausz, _Die Bulgaren_ (Leipsic, 1898), pp. 194-199.

[719] _Wissenschaftliche Mittheilungen aus Bosnien und der Hercegovina_,
redigirt von Moriz Hoernes, iii. (Vienna, 1895) pp. 574 _sq._

[720] "_Pro fidei divinae integritate servanda recolat lector quod, cum
hoc anno in Laodonia pestis grassaretur in pecudes armenti, quam vocant
usitate Lungessouth, quidam bestiales, habitu claustrales non animo,
docebant idiotas patriae ignem confrictione de lignis educere et
simulachrum Priapi statuere, et per haec bestiis succurrere_" quoted by
J.M. Kemble, _The Saxons in England_ (London, 1849), i. 358 _sq._; A.
Kuhn, _Die Herabkunft des Feuers und des Goettertranks_*[2] (Guetersloh,
1886), p. 43; Ulrich Jahn, _Die deutschen Opfergebraeuche bei Ackerbau
und Viehzucht_ (Breslau, 1884) p. 31.

[721] W.G.M. Jones Barker, _The Three Days of Wensleydale_ (London,
1854), pp. 90 _sq._; _County Folk-lore_, vol. ii., _North Riding of
Yorkshire, York and the Ainsty_, collected and edited by Mrs. Gutch
(London, 1901), p. 181.

[722] _The Denham Tracts, a Collection of Folklore by Michael Aislabie
Denham_, edited by Dr. James Hardy (London, 1892-1895), ii. 50.

[723] Harry Speight, _Tramps and Drives in the Craven Highlands_
(London, 1895), p. 162. Compare, _id., The Craven and North-West
Yorkshire Highlands_ (London, 1892), pp. 206 _sq._

[724] J.M. Kemble, _The Saxons in England_ (London, 1849), i. 361 note.

[725] E. Mackenzie, _An Historical, Topographical and Descriptive View
of the County of Northumberland_, Second Edition (Newcastle, 1825), i.
218, quoted in _County Folk-lore_, vol. iv. _Northumberland_, collected
by M.C. Balfour (London, 1904), p. 45. Compare J.T. Brockett, _Glossary
of North Country Words_, p. 147, quoted by Mrs. M.C. Balfour, _l.c.:
"Need-fire_ ... an ignition produced by the friction of two pieces of
dried wood. The vulgar opinion is, that an angel strikes a tree, and
that the fire is thereby obtained. Need-fire, I am told, is still
employed in the case of cattle infected with the murrain. They were
formerly driven through the smoke of a fire made of straw, etc." The
first edition of Brockett's _Glossary_ was published in 1825.

[726] W. Henderson, _Notes on the Folklore of the Northern Counties of
England and the Borders_ (London, 1879), pp. 167 _sq._ Compare _County
Folklore_, vol. iv. _Northumberland_, collected by M.C. Balfour (London,
1904), p. 45. Stamfordham is in Northumberland. The vicar's testimony
seems to have referred to the first half of the nineteenth century.

[727] M. Martin, "Description of the Western Islands of Scotland," in J.
Pinkerton's _General Collection of Voyages and Travels_, iii. (London,
1809), p. 611. The second edition of Martin's book, which Pinkerton
reprints, was published at London in 1716. For John Ramsay's account of
the need-fire, see above, pp. 147 _sq._

[728] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 506, referring to Miss
Austin as his authority.

[729] As to the custom of sacrificing one of a plague-stricken herd or
flock for the purpose of saving the rest, see below, pp. 300 _sqq._

[730] John Jamieson, _Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language_,
New Edition, revised by J. Longmuir and D. Donaldson, iii. (Paisley,
1880) pp. 349 _sq._, referring to "Agr. Surv. Caithn., pp. 200, 201."

[731] R.C. Maclagan, "Sacred Fire," _Folk-lore_, ix. (1898) pp. 280
_sq._ As to the fire-drill see _The Magic Art and the Evolution of
Kings_, ii. 207 _sqq._

[732] W. Grant Stewart, _The Popular Superstitions and Festive
Amusements of the Highlanders of Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1823), pp.
214-216; Walter K. Kelly, _Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and
Folk-lore_ (London, 1863), pp. 53 _sq._

[733] Alexander Carmichael, _Carmina Gadelica_ (Edinburgh, 1900), ii.
340 _sq._

[734] See above, pp. 154, 156, 157, 159 _sq._

[735] _Census of India, 1911_, vol. xiv. _Punjab_, Part i. _Report_, by
Pandit Harikishan Kaul (Lahore, 1912), p. 302. So in the north-east of
Scotland "those who were born with their feet first possessed great
power to heal all kinds of sprains, lumbago, and rheumatism, either by
rubbing the affected part, or by trampling on it. The chief virtue lay
in the feet. Those who came into the world in this fashion often
exercised their power to their own profit." See Rev. Walter Gregor,
_Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of Scotland_ (London, 1881),
pp. 45 _sq._

[736] Rev. Walter Gregor, _Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of
Scotland_ (London, 1881), p. 186. The fumigation of the byres with
juniper is a charm against witchcraft. See J.G. Campbell, _Witchcraft
and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland_ (Glasgow,
1902), p. ii. The "quarter-ill" is a disease of cattle, which affects
the animals only in one limb or quarter. "A very gross superstition is
observed by some people in Angus, as an antidote against this ill. A
piece is cut out of the thigh of one of the cattle that has died of it.
This they hang up within the chimney, in order to preserve the rest of
the cattle from being infected. It is believed that as long as it hangs
there, it will prevent the disease from approaching the place. It is
therefore carefully preserved; and in case of the family removing,
transported to the new farm, as one of their valuable effects. It is
handed down from one generation to another" (J. Jamieson, _Etymological
Dictionary of the Scottish Language_, revised by J. Longmuir and D.
Donaldson, iii. 575, _s.v._ "Quarter-ill"). See further Rev. W. Gregor,
_op. cit._ pp. 186 _sq._: "The forelegs of one of the animals that had
died were cut off a little above the knee, and hung over the fire-place
in the kitchen. It was thought sufficient by some if they were placed
over the door of the byre, in the 'crap o' the wa'.' Sometimes the heart
and part of the liver and lungs were cut out, and hung over the
fireplace instead of the fore-feet. Boiling them was at times
substituted for hanging them over the hearth." Compare W. Henderson,
_Notes on the Folk-lore of the Northern Counties of England and the
Borders_ (London, 1879), p. 167: "A curious aid to the rearing of cattle
came lately to the knowledge of Mr. George Walker, a gentleman of the
city of Durham. During an excursion of a few miles into the country, he
observed a sort of rigging attached to the chimney of a farmhouse well
known to him, and asked what it meant. The good wife told him that they
had experienced great difficulty that year in rearing their calves; the
poor little creatures all died off, so they had taken the leg and thigh
of one of the dead calves, and hung it in a chimney by a rope, since
which they had not lost another calf." In the light of facts cited below
(pp. 315 _sqq._) we may conjecture that the intention of cutting off the
legs or cutting out the heart, liver, and lungs of the animals and
hanging them up or boiling them, is by means of homoeopathic magic to
inflict corresponding injuries on the witch who cast the fatal spell on
the cattle.

[737] _The Mirror_, 24th June, 1826, quoted by J. M. Kemble, _The Saxons
in England_ (London, 1849), i. 360 note 2.

[738] Leland L. Duncan, "Fairy Beliefs and other Folklore Notes from
County Leitrim," _Folk-lore_, vii. (1896) pp. 181 _sq._

[739] (Sir) Edward B. Tylor, _Researches into the Early History of
Mankind_, Third Edition (London, 1878), pp. 237 _sqq._; _The Magic Art
and the Evolution of Kings_, ii. 207 _sqq._

[740] For some examples of such extinctions, see _The Magic Art and the
Evolution of Kings_, ii. 261 _sqq._, 267 _sq._; _Spirits of the Corn and
of the Wild_, i. 311, ii. 73 _sq._; and above, pp. 124 _sq._, 132-139.
The reasons for extinguishing fires ceremonially appear to vary with the
occasion. Sometimes the motive seems to be a fear of burning or at least
singeing a ghost, who is hovering invisible in the air; sometimes it is
apparently an idea that a fire is old and tired with burning so long,
and that it must be relieved of the fatiguing duty by a young and
vigorous flame.

[741] Above, pp. 147, 154. The same custom appears to have been observed
in Ireland. See above, p. 158.

[742] J.N.B. Hewitt, "New Fire among the Iroquois," _The American
Anthropologist_, ii. (1889) p. 319.

[743] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 507.

[744] See above, p. 290.

[745] William Hone, _Every-day Book_ (London, preface dated 1827), i.
coll. 853 _sq._ (June 24th), quoting Hitchin's _History of Cornwall_.

[746] Hunt, _Romances and Drolls of the West of England_, 1st series, p.
237, quoted by W. Henderson, _Notes on the Folk-lore of the Northern
Counties of England and the Borders_ (London, 1879), p. 149. Compare
J.G. Dalyell, _The Darker Superstitions of Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1834),
p. 184: "Here also maybe found a solution of that recent expedient so
ignorantly practised in the neighbouring kingdom, where one having lost
many of his herd by witchcraft, as he concluded, burnt a living calf to
break the spell and preserve the remainder."

[747] Marie Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales_ (London,
1909), p. 23.

[748] W. Henderson, _op. cit._ pp. 148 _sq._

[749] Rev. Walter Gregor, _Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of
Scotland_ (London, 1881), p. 186.

[750] R. N. Worth, _History of Devonshire_, Second Edition (London,
1886), p. 339. The diabolical nature of the toad probably explains why
people in Herefordshire think that if you wear a toad's heart concealed
about your person you can steal to your heart's content without being
found out. A suspected thief was overheard boasting, "They never catches
_me_: and they never ooll neither. I allus wears a toad's heart round my
neck, _I_ does." See Mrs. Ella M. Leather, in _Folk-lore_, xxiv. (1913)
p. 238.

[751] Above, p. 301.

[752] Robert Hunt, _Popular Romances of the West of England_, Third
Edition (London, 1881), p. 320. The writer does not say where this took
place; probably it was in Cornwall or Devonshire.

[753] Rev. Walter Gregor, _Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of
Scotland_ (London, 1881), p. 184.

[754] _County Folk-lore, Printed Extracts, No. 2, Suffolk_, collected
and edited by the Lady Eveline Camilla Gurdon (London, 1893), pp. 190
_sq._, quoting _Some Materials for the History of Wherstead_ by F.
Barham Zincke (Ipswich, 1887), p. 168.

[755] _County Folk-lore, Printed Extracts, No. 2, Suffolk_, p. 191,
referring to Murray's _Handbook for Essex, Suffolk_, etc., p. 109.

[756] (Sir) John Rhys, "Manx Folklore and Superstitions," _Folk-lore_,
ii. (1891) pp. 300-302; repeated in his _Celtic Folk-lore, Welsh and
Manx_ (Oxford, 1901), i. 306 _sq._ Sir John Rhys does not doubt that the
old woman saw, as she said, a live sheep being burnt on old May-day; but
he doubts whether it was done as a sacrifice. He adds: "I have failed to
find anybody else in Andreas or Bride, or indeed in the whole island,
who will now confess to having ever heard of the sheep sacrifice on old
May-day." However, the evidence I have adduced of a custom of burnt
sacrifice among English rustics tends to confirm the old woman's
statement, that the burning of the live sheep which she witnessed was
not an act of wanton cruelty but a sacrifice per formed for the public

[757] (Sir) John Rhys, "Manx Folklore and Superstitions," _Folk-lore_,
ii. (1891) pp. 299 _sq.; id., Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Manx_ (Oxford,
1901), i. 304 _sq._ We have seen that by burning the blood of a
bewitched bullock a farmer expected to compel the witch to appear. See
above, p. 303.

[758] Olaus Magnus, _Historia de Gentium Septentrionalium
Conditionibus_, lib xviii. cap. 47, p. 713 (ed. Bale, 1567).

[759] Collin de Plancy, _Dictionnaire Infernal_ (Paris, 1825-1826), iii.
473 _sq._, referring to Boguet.

[760] Collin de Plancy, _op. cit._ iii. 473.

[761] Felix Chapiseau, _Le Folk-lore de la Beauce et du Perche_ (Paris,
1902), i. 239 _sq._ The same story is told in Upper Brittany. See Paul
Sebillot, _Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute-Bretagne_ (Paris,
1882), i. 292. It is a common belief that a man who has once been
transformed into a werewolf must remain a were-wolf for seven years
unless blood is drawn from him in his animal shape, upon which he at
once recovers his human form and is delivered from the bondage and
misery of being a were-wolf. See F. Chapiseau, _op. cit._ i. 218-220;
Amelie Bosquet, _La Normandie Romanesque et Merveilleuse_ (Paris and
Rouen, 1845), p. 233. On the belief in were-wolves in general; see W.
Hertz, _Der Werwolf_ (Stuttgart, 1862); J. Grimm, _Deutsche
Mythologie_*[4] i. 915 _sqq._; (Sir) Edward B. Tylor, _Primitive
Culture_[2] (London, 1873), i. 308 _sqq._; R. Andree, _Ethnographische
Parallelen und Vergleiche_ (Stuttgart, 1878), pp. 62-80. In North
Germany it is believed that a man can turn himself into a wolf by
girding himself with a strap made out of a wolf's hide. Some say that
the strap must have nine, others say twelve, holes and a buckle; and
that according to the number of the hole through which the man inserts
the tongue of the buckle will be the length of time of his
transformation. For example, if he puts the tongue of the buckle through
the first hole, he will be a wolf for one hour; if he puts it through
the second, he will be a wolf for two days; and so on, up to the last
hole, which entails a transformation for a full year. But by putting off
the girdle the man can resume his human form. The time when were-wolves
are most about is the period of the Twelve Nights between Christmas and
Epiphany; hence cautious German farmers will not remove the dung from
the cattle stalls at that season for fear of attracting the were-wolves
to the cattle. See Adalbert Kuhn, _Maerkische Sagen und Maerchen_ (Berlin,
1843), p. 375; Ulrich Jahn, _Volkssagen aus Pommern und Ruegen_ (Stettin,
1886), pp. 384, 386, Nos. 491, 495. Down to the time of Elizabeth it was
reported that in the county of Tipperary certain men were annually
turned into wolves. See W. Camden, _Britain_, translated into English by
Philemon Holland (London, 1610), "Ireland," p. 83.

[762] J.J.M. de Groot, _The Religious System of China_, v. (Leyden,
1907) p. 548.

[763] A. C. Kruijt, "De weerwolf bij de Toradja's van Midden-Celebes,"
_Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal- Landen Volkenkunde,_ xli. (1899) pp.
548-551, 557-560.

[764] A.C. Kruijt, _op. cit._ pp. 552 _sq._

[765] A.C. Kruijt, _op. cit._ pp. 553. For more evidence of the belief
in were-wolves, or rather in were-animals of various sorts, particularly
were-tigers, in the East Indies, see J.J. M. de Groot, "De Weertijger in
onze Kolonien en op het oostaziatische Vasteland," _Bijdragen tot de
Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indie_, xlix. (1898) pp.
549-585; G.P. Rouffaer, "Matjan Gadoengan," _Bijdragen tot de Taal-
Land- en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indie_ 1. (1899) pp. 67-75; J.
Knebel, "De Weertijger op Midden-Java, den Javaan naverteld,"
_Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde_, xli. (1899) pp.
568-587; L.M.F. Plate, "Bijdrage tot de kennis van de lykanthropie bij
de Sasaksche bevolking in Oost-Lombok," _Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-
Land- en Volkenkunde_, liv. (1912) pp. 458-469; G.A. Wilken, "Het
animisme bij de volken van den Indischen Archipel," _Verspreide
Geschriften_ (The Hague, 1912), iii. 25-30.

[766] Ernst Marno, _Reisen im Gebiete des blauen und weissen Nil_
(Vienna, 1874), pp. 239 _sq._

[767] Petronius, _Sat._ 61 _sq._ (pp. 40 _sq._, ed. Fr. Buecheler,*[3]
Berlin, 1882). The Latin word for a were-wolf (_versipellis_) is
expressive: it means literally "skin-shifter," and is equally
appropriate whatever the particular animal may be into which the wizard
transforms himself. It is to be regretted that we have no such general
term in English. The bright moonlight which figures in some of these
were-wolf stories is perhaps not a mere embellishment of the tale but
has its own significance; for in some places it is believed that the
transformation of were-wolves into their bestial shape takes place
particularly at full moon. See A. de Nore, _Coutumes, Mythes et
Traditions des Provinces de France_ (Paris and Lyons, 1846), pp. 99,
157; J.L.M. Nogues, _Les Moeurs d'autrefois en Saintonge et en Aunis_
(Saintes, 1891), p. 141.

[768] J.G. Campbell, _Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and
Islands of Scotland_ (Glasgow, 1902), p. 6: "In carrying out their
unhallowed cantrips, witches assumed various shapes. They became gulls,
cormorants, ravens, rats, mice, black sheep, swelling waves, whales, and
very frequently cats and hares." To this list of animals into which
witches can turn themselves may be added horses, dogs, wolves, foxes,
pigs, owls, magpies, wild geese, ducks, serpents, toads, lizards, flies,
wasps, and butterflies. See A. Wuttke, _Der deutsche
Volksaberglaube_*[2] (Berlin, 1869), p. 150 Sec. 217; L. Strackerjan,
_Aberglaube und Sagen aus dem Herzogthum Oldenburg_ (Oldenburg, 1867),
i. 327 Sec. 220; Ulrich Jahn, _Hexenwesen und Zauberei in Pommern_
(Breslau, 1886), p. 7. In his _Topography of Ireland_ (chap. 19), a work
completed in 1187 A.D., Giraldus Cambrensis records that "it has also
been a frequent complaint, from old times as well as in the present,
that certain hags in Wales, as well as in Ireland and Scotland, changed
themselves into the shape of hares, that, sucking teats under this
counterfeit form, they might stealthily rob other people's milk." See
_The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis_, revised and edited by
Thomas Wright (London, 1887), p. 83.

[769] _The Folk-lore Journal_, iv. (1886) p. 266; Collin de Plancy,
_Dictionnaire Infernal_ (Paris, 1825-1826), iii. 475; J.L.M. Nogues,
_Les Moeurs d'autrefois en Saintonge et en Aunis_ (Saintes, 1891), p.
141. In Scotland the cut was known as "scoring above the breath." It
consisted of two incisions made crosswise on the witch's forehead, and
was "confided in all throughout Scotland as the most powerful
counter-charm." See Sir Walter Scott, _Letters on Demonology and
Witchcraft_ (London, 1884), p. 272; J.G. Dalyell, _The Darker
Superstitions of Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1834), pp. 531 _sq._; M.M. Banks,
"Scoring a Witch above the Breath," _Folk-lore_, xxiii. (1912) p. 490.

[770] J.L.M. Nogues, _l.c._; L.F. Sauve, _Le Folk-lore des
Hautes-Vosges_ (Paris, 1889), P. 187.

[771] M. Abeghian, _Der armenische Volksglaube_ (Leipsic, 1899), p. 117.
The wolf-skin is supposed to fall down from heaven and to return to
heaven after seven years, if the were-wolf has not been delivered from
her unhappy state in the meantime by the burning of the skin.

[772] J.G. Campbell, _Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and
Islands of Scotland_ (Glasgow, 1902), p. 8; compare A. Wuttke, _Der
deutsche Volksaberglaube_*[2] (Berlin, 1869), p. 150 Sec. 217. Some think
that the sixpence should be crooked. See Rev. W. Gregor, _Notes on the
Folk-lore of the North-East of Scotland_ (London, 1881), pp. 71 _sq._,
128; _County Folk-lore_, vol. v. _Lincolnshire_, collected by Mrs. Gutch
and Mabel Peacock (London, 1908), p. 75.

[773] J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 30.

[774] J.G. Campbell, _op. cit._ p. 33.

[775] (Sir) Edward B. Tylor, _Primitive Culture_*[2] (London, 1873), i.

[776] Joseph Glanvil, _Saducismus Triumphatus or Full and Plain Evidence
concerning Witches and Apparitions_ (London, 1681), Part ii. p. 205.

[777] Rev. J.C. Atkinson, _Forty Years in a Moorland Parish_ (London,
1891), pp. 82-84.

[778] _County Folk-lore_, vol. v. _Lincolnshire_, collected by Mrs.
Gutch and Mabel Peacock (London, 1908), pp. 79, 80.

[779] Leland L. Duncan, "Folk-lore Gleanings from County Leitrim,"
_Folklore_, iv. (1893) pp. 183 _sq._

[780] L.F. Sauve, _Le Folk-lore des Hautes-Vosges_ (Paris, 1889), p.

[781] L.F. Sauve, _op. cit._ pp. 176 _sq._

[782] Ernst Meier, _Deutsche Sagen, Sitten und Gebraeuche aus Schwaben_
(Stuttgart, 1852), pp. 184 _sq._, No. 203.

[783] E. Meier, _op. cit._ pp. 191 _sq._, No. 215. A similar story of
the shoeing of a woman in the shape of a horse is reported from Silesia.
See R. Kuehnau, _Schlesische Sagen_ (Berlin, 1910-1913), iii. pp. 27
_sq._, No. 1380.

[784] R. Kuehnau, _Schlesische Sagen_ (Berlin, 1910-1913), iii. pp. 23
_sq._, No. 1375. Compare _id._, iii. pp. 28 _sq._, No. 1381.

[785] See for example L. Strackerjan, _Aberglaube und Sagen aus dem
Herzogthum Oldenburg_ (Oldenburg, 1867), i. pp. 328, 329, 334, 339; W.
von Schulenburg, _Wendische Volkssagen und Gebraeuche aus dem Spreewald_
(Leipsic, 1880), pp. 164, 165 _sq._; H. Proehle, _Harzsagen_ (Leipsic,
1859), i. 100 _sq._ The belief in such things is said to be universal
among the ignorant and superstitious in Germany. See A. Wuttke, _Der
deutsche Volksaberglaube_*[2] (Berlin, 1869), p. 150, Sec. 217. In Wales,
also, "the possibility of injuring or marking the witch in her assumed
shape so deeply that the bruise remained a mark on her in her natural
form was a common belief" (J. Ceredig Davies, _Folk-lore of West and
Mid-Wales_, Aberystwyth, 1911, p. 243). For Welsh stories of this sort,
see J. Ceredig Davies, _l.c._; Rev. Elias Owen, _Welsh Folk-lore_
(Oswestry and Wrexham, N.D., preface dated 1896), pp. 228 _sq._; M.
Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales_ (London, 1909), p. 214.

[786] L. Strackerjan, _Aberglaube und Sagen aus dem Herzogthum
Oldenburg_ (Oldenburg, 1867), i. p. 361, Sec. 239.

[787] Marie Trevelyan, _Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales_ (London,
1909), p. 210.

[788] L. Strackerjan, _Aberglaube und Sagen aus dem Herzogthum
Oldenburg_ (Oldenburg, 1867), i. p. 358, Sec. 238.

[789] L. Strackerjan, _op. cit._ i. p. 360, Sec. 238e.

[790] "The 'Witch-burning' at Clonmell," _Folk-lore_, vi. (1895) pp.
373-384. The account there printed is based on the reports of the
judicial proceedings before the magistrates and the judge, which were
published in _The Irish Times_ for March 26th, 27th, and 28th, April
2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 8th, and July 6th, 1895.

[791] John Graham Dalyell, _The Darker Superstitions of Scotland_
(Edinburgh, 1834), p. 185. In this passage "quick" is used in the old
sense of "living," as in the phrase "the quick and the dead." _Nois_ is
"nose," _hoill_ is "hole," _quhilk (whilk)_ is "which," and _be_ is

[792] J.G. Dalyell, _op. cit._ p. 186. _Bestiall_=animals; _seik_=sick;
_calling_=driving; _guidis_=cattle.

[793] John Ramsay, of Ochtertyre, _Scotland and Scotsmen in the
Eighteenth Century_, edited by Alexander Allardyce (Edinburgh and
London, 1888), ii. 446 _sq._ As to the custom of cutting off the leg of
a diseased animal and hanging it up in the house, see above, p. 296,
note 1.

[794] (Sir) Arthur Mitchell, A.M., M.D., _On Various Superstitions in
the North-West Highlands and Islands of Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1862), p.
12 (reprinted from the _Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of
Scotland_, vol. iv.).

[795] _County Folk-lore_, vol. v. _Lincolnshire_, collected by Mrs.
Gutch and Mabel Peacock (London, 1908), p. 75, quoting Rev. R.M.
Heanley, "The Vikings: traces of their Folklore in Marshland," a paper
read before the Viking Club, London, and printed in its _Saga-Book_,
vol. iii. Part i. Jan. 1902. The wicken-tree is the mountain-ash or
rowan free, which is a very efficient, or at all events a very popular
protective against witchcraft. See _County Folk-lore_, vol. v.
_Lincolnshire_, pp. 26 _sq._, 98 _sq._; Mabel Peacock, "The Folklore of
Lincolnshire," _Folk-lore_, xii. (1901) p. 175; J.G. Campbell,
_Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland_
(Glasgow, 1902), pp. 11 _sq._; Rev. Walter Gregor, _Notes on the
Folk-lore of the North-East of Scotland_ (London, 1881), p. 188. See
further _The Scapegoat_, pp. 266 _sq_.



Sec. 1. _On the Fire-festivals in general_

[General resemblance of the European fire-festivals to each other.]

The foregoing survey of the popular fire-festivals of Europe suggests
some general observations. In the first place we can hardly help being
struck by the resemblance which the ceremonies bear to each other, at
whatever time of the year and in whatever part of Europe they are
celebrated. The custom of kindling great bonfires, leaping over them,
and driving cattle through or round them would seem to have been
practically universal throughout Europe, and the same may be said of the
processions or races with blazing torches round fields, orchards,
pastures, or cattle-stalls. Less widespread are the customs of hurling
lighted discs into the air[796] and trundling a burning wheel down
hill;[797] for to judge by the evidence which I have collected these
modes of distributing the beneficial influence of the fire have been
confined in the main to Central Europe. The ceremonial of the Yule log
is distinguished from that of the other fire-festivals by the privacy
and domesticity which characterize it; but, as we have already seen,
this distinction may well be due simply to the rough weather of
midwinter, which is apt not only to render a public assembly in the open
air disagreeable, but also at any moment to defeat the object of the
assembly by extinguishing the all-important fire under a downpour of
rain or a fall of snow. Apart from these local or seasonal differences,
the general resemblance between the fire-festivals at all times of the
year and in all places is tolerably close. And as the ceremonies
themselves resemble each other, so do the benefits which the people
expect to reap from them. Whether applied in the form of bonfires
blazing at fixed points, or of torches carried about from place to
place, or of embers and ashes taken from the smouldering heap of fuel,
the fire is believed to promote the growth of the crops and the welfare
of man and beast, either positively by stimulating them, or negatively
by averting the dangers and calamities which threaten them from such
causes as thunder and lightning, conflagration, blight, mildew, vermin,
sterility, disease, and not least of all witchcraft.

[Two explanations suggested of the fire-festivals. According to W.
Mannhardt, they are charms to secure a supply of sunshine; according to
Dr. E. Westermarck they are purificatory, being intended to burn and
destroy all harmful influences.]

But we naturally ask, How did it come about that benefits so great and
manifold were supposed to be attained by means so simple? In what way
did people imagine that they could procure so many goods or avoid so
many ills by the application of fire and smoke, of embers and ashes? In
short, what theory underlay and prompted the practice of these customs?
For that the institution of the festivals was the outcome of a definite
train of reasoning may be taken for granted; the view that primitive man
acted first and invented his reasons to suit his actions afterwards, is
not borne out by what we know of his nearest living representatives, the
savage and the peasant. Two different explanations of the fire-festivals
have been given by modern enquirers. On the one hand it has been held
that they are sun-charms or magical ceremonies intended, on the
principle of imitative magic, to ensure a needful supply of sunshine for
men, animals, and plants by kindling fires which mimic on earth the
great source of light and heat in the sky. This was the view of Wilhelm
Mannhardt.[798] It may be called the solar theory. On the other hand it
has been maintained that the ceremonial fires have no necessary
reference to the sun but are simply purificatory in intention, being
designed to burn up and destroy all harmful influences, whether these
are conceived in a personal form as witches, demons, and monsters, or in
an impersonal form as a sort of pervading taint or corruption of the
air. This is the view of Dr. Edward Westermarck[799] and apparently of
Professor Eugen Mogk.[800] It may be called the purificatory theory.
Obviously the two theories postulate two very different conceptions of
the fire which plays the principal part in the rites. On the one view,
the fire, like sunshine in our latitude, is a genial creative power
which fosters the growth of plants and the development of all that makes
for health and happiness; on the other view, the fire is a fierce
destructive power which blasts and consumes all the noxious elements,
whether spiritual or material, that menace the life of men, of animals,
and of plants. According to the one theory the fire is a stimulant,
according to the other it is a disinfectant; on the one view its virtue
is positive, on the other it is negative.

[The two explanations are perhaps not mutually exclusive.]

Yet the two explanations, different as they are in the character which
they attribute to the fire, are perhaps not wholly irreconcilable. If we
assume that the fires kindled at these festivals were primarily intended
to imitate the sun's light and heat, may we not regard the purificatory
and disinfecting qualities, which popular opinion certainly appears to
have ascribed to them, as attributes derived directly from the
purificatory and disinfecting qualities of sunshine? In this way we
might conclude that, while the imitation of sunshine in these ceremonies
was primary and original, the purification attributed to them was
secondary and derivative. Such a conclusion, occupying an intermediate
position between the two opposing theories and recognizing an element of
truth in both of them, was adopted by me in earlier editions of this
work;[801] but in the meantime Dr. Westermarck has argued powerfully in
favour of the purificatory theory alone, and I am bound to say that his
arguments carry great weight, and that on a fuller review of the facts
the balance of evidence seems to me to incline decidedly in his favour.
However, the case is not so clear as to justify us in dismissing the
solar theory without discussion, and accordingly I propose to adduce the
considerations which tell for it before proceeding to notice those which
tell against it. A theory which had the support of so learned and
sagacious an investigator as W. Mannhardt is entitled to a respectful

Sec. 2. _The Solar Theory of the Fire-festivals_

[Theory that the fire-festivals are charms to ensure a supply of

In an earlier part of this work we saw that savages resort to charms for
making sunshine,[802] and it would be no wonder if primitive man in
Europe did the same. Indeed, when we consider the cold and cloudy
climate of Europe during a great part of the year, we shall find it
natural that sun-charms should have played a much more prominent part
among the superstitious practices of European peoples than among those
of savages who live nearer the equator and who consequently are apt to
get in the course of nature more sunshine than they want. This view of
the festivals may be supported by various arguments drawn partly from
their dates, partly from the nature of the rites, and partly from the
influence which they are believed to exert upon the weather and on

[Coincidence of two of the festivals with the solstices.]

First, in regard to the dates of the festivals it can be no mere
accident that two of the most important and widely spread of the
festivals are timed to coincide more or less exactly with the summer and
winter solstices, that is, with the two turning-points in the sun's
apparent course in the sky when he reaches respectively his highest and
his lowest elevation at noon. Indeed with respect to the midwinter
celebration of Christmas we are not left to conjecture; we know from the
express testimony of the ancients that it was instituted by the church
to supersede an old heathen festival of the birth of the sun,[803] which
was apparently conceived to be born again on the shortest day of the
year, after which his light and heat were seen to grow till they
attained their full maturity at midsummer. Therefore it is no very far
fetched conjecture to suppose that the Yule log, which figures so
prominently in the popular celebration of Christmas, was originally
designed to help the labouring sun of midwinter to rekindle his
seemingly expiring light.

[Attempt of the Bushmen to warm up the fire of Sirius in midwinter by
kindling sticks.]

The idea that by lighting a log on earth you can rekindle a fire in
heaven or fan it into a brighter blaze, naturally seems to us absurd;
but to the savage mind it wears a different aspect, and the institution
of the great fire-festivals which we are considering probably dates from
a time when Europe was still sunk in savagery or at most in barbarism.
Now it can be shewn that in order to increase the celestial source of
heat at midwinter savages resort to a practice analogous to that of our
Yule log, if the kindling of the Yule log was originally a magical rite
intended to rekindle the sun. In the southern hemisphere, where the
order of the seasons is the reverse of ours, the rising of Sirius or the
Dog Star in July marks the season of the greatest cold instead of, as
with us, the greatest heat; and just as the civilized ancients ascribed
the torrid heat of midsummer to that brilliant star,[804] so the modern
savage of South Africa attributes to it the piercing cold of midwinter
and seeks to mitigate its rigour by warming up the chilly star with the
genial heat of the sun. How he does so may be best described in his own
words as follows:--[805]

"The Bushmen perceive Canopus, they say to a child: 'Give me yonder
piece of wood, that I may put the end of it in the fire, that I may
point it burning towards grandmother, for grandmother carries Bushman
rice; grandmother shall make a little warmth for us; for she coldly
comes out; the sun[806] shall warm grandmother's eye for us.' Sirius
comes out; the people call out to one another: 'Sirius comes yonder;'
they say to one another: 'Ye must burn a stick for us towards Sirius.'
They say to one another: 'Who was it who saw Sirius?' One man says to
the other: 'Our brother saw Sirius,' The other man says to him: 'I saw
Sirius.' The other man says to him: 'I wish thee to burn a stick for us
towards Sirius; that the sun may shining come out for us; that Sirius
may not coldly come out' The other man (the one who saw Sirius) says to
his son: 'Bring me the small piece of wood yonder, that I may put the
end of it in the fire, that I may burn it towards grandmother; that
grandmother may ascend the sky, like the other one, Canopus.' The child
brings him the piece of wood, he (the father) holds the end of it in the
fire. He points it burning towards Sirius; he says that Sirius shall
twinkle like Canopus. He sings; he sings about Canopus, he sings about
Sirius; he points to them with fire,[807] that they may twinkle like
each other. He throws fire at them. He covers himself up entirely
(including his head) in his kaross and lies down. He arises, he sits
down; while he does not again lie down; because he feels that he has
worked, putting Sirius into the sun's warmth; so that Sirius may warmly
come out. The women go out early to seek for Bushman rice; they walk,
sunning their shoulder blades."[808] What the Bushmen thus do to temper
the cold of midwinter in the southern hemisphere by blowing up the
celestial fires may have been done by our rude forefathers at the
corresponding season in the northern hemisphere.

[The burning wheels and discs of the fire-festivals may be direct
imitations of the sun.]

Not only the date of some of the festivals but the manner of their
celebration suggests a conscious imitation of the sun. The custom of
rolling a burning wheel down a hill, which is often observed at these
ceremonies, might well pass for an imitation of the sun's course in the
sky, and the imitation would be especially appropriate on Midsummer Day
when the sun's annual declension begins. Indeed the custom has been thus
interpreted by some of those who have recorded it.[809] Not less
graphic, it may be said, is the mimicry of his apparent revolution by
swinging a burning tar-barrel round a pole.[810] Again, the common
practice of throwing fiery discs, sometimes expressly said to be shaped
like suns, into the air at the festivals may well be a piece of
imitative magic. In these, as in so many cases, the magic force may be
supposed to take effect through mimicry or sympathy: by imitating the
desired result you actually produce it: by counterfeiting the sun's
progress through the heavens you really help the luminary to pursue his
celestial journey with punctuality and despatch. The name "fire of
heaven," by which the midsummer fire is sometimes popularly known,[811]
clearly implies a consciousness of a connexion between the earthly and
the heavenly flame.

[The wheel sometimes used to kindle the fire by friction may also be an
imitation of the sun.]

Again, the manner in which the fire appears to have been originally
kindled on these occasions has been alleged in support of the view that
it was intended to be a mock-sun. As some scholars have perceived, it is
highly probable that at the periodic festivals in former times fire was
universally obtained by the friction of two pieces of wood.[812] We have
seen that it is still so procured in some places both at the Easter and
the midsummer festivals, and that it is expressly said to have been
formerly so procured at the Beltane celebration both in Scotland and
Wales.[813] But what makes it nearly certain that this was once the
invariable mode of kindling the fire at these periodic festivals is the
analogy of the need-fire, which has almost always been produced by the
friction of wood, and sometimes by the revolution of a wheel. It is a
plausible conjecture that the wheel employed for this purpose represents
the sun,[814] and if the fires at the regularly recurring celebrations
were formerly produced in the same way, it might be regarded as a
confirmation of the view that they were originally sun-charms. In point
of fact there is, as Kuhn has indicated,[815] some evidence to shew that
the midsummer fire was originally thus produced. We have seen that many
Hungarian swineherds make fire on Midsummer Eve by rotating a wheel
round a wooden axle wrapt in hemp, and that they drive their pigs
through the fire thus made.[816] At Obermedlingen, in Swabia, the "fire
of heaven," as it was called, was made on St. Vitus's Day (the fifteenth
of June) by igniting a cartwheel, which, smeared with pitch and plaited
with straw, was fastened on a pole twelve feet high, the top of the pole
being inserted in the nave of the wheel. This fire was made on the
summit of a mountain, and as the flame ascended, the people uttered a
set form of words, with eyes and arms directed heavenward.[817] Here the
fixing of a wheel on a pole and igniting it suggests that originally the
fire was produced, as in the case of the need-fire, by the revolution of
a wheel. The day on which the ceremony takes place (the fifteenth of
June) is near midsummer; and we have seen that in Masuren fire is, or
used to be, actually made on Midsummer Day by turning a wheel rapidly
about an oaken pole,[818] though it is not said that the new fire so
obtained is used to light a bonfire. However, we must bear in mind that
in all such cases the use of a wheel may be merely a mechanical device
to facilitate the operation of fire-making by increasing the friction;
it need not have any symbolical significance.

[The influence which the fires are supposed to exert on the weather and
vegetation may be thought to be due to an increase of solar heat
produced by the fires.]

Further, the influence which these fires, whether periodic or
occasional, are supposed to exert on the weather and vegetation may be
cited in support of the view that they are sun-charms, since the effects
ascribed to them resemble those of sunshine. Thus, the French belief
that in a rainy June the lighting of the midsummer bonfires will cause
the rain to cease[819] appears to assume that they can disperse the dark
clouds and make the sun to break out in radiant glory, drying the wet
earth and dripping trees. Similarly the use of the need-fire by Swiss
children on foggy days for the purpose of clearing away the mist[820]
may very naturally be interpreted as a sun-charm. Again, we have seen
that in the Vosges Mountains the people believe that the midsummer fires
help to preserve the fruits of the earth and ensure good crops.[821] In
Sweden the warmth or cold of the coming season is inferred from the
direction in which the flames of the May Day bonfire are blown; if they
blow to the south, it will be warm, if to the north, cold.[822] No doubt
at present the direction of the flames is regarded merely as an augury
of the weather, not as a mode of influencing it. But we may be pretty
sure that this is one of the cases in which magic has dwindled into
divination. So in the Eifel Mountains, when the smoke blows towards the
corn-fields, this is an omen that the harvest will be abundant.[823] But
the older view may have been not merely that the smoke and flames
prognosticated, but that they actually produced an abundant harvest, the
heat of the flames acting like sunshine on the corn. Perhaps it was with
this view that people in the Isle of Man lit fires to windward of their
fields in order that the smoke might blow over them.[824] So in South
Africa, about the month of April, the Matabeles light huge fires to the
windward of their gardens, "their idea being that the smoke, by passing
over the crops, will assist the ripening of them."[825] Among the Zulus
also "medicine is burned on a fire placed to windward of the garden, the
fumigation which the plants in consequence receive being held to improve
the crop."[826] Again, the idea of our European peasants that the corn
will grow well as far as the blaze of the bonfire is visible,[827] may
be interpreted as a remnant of the belief in the quickening and
fertilizing power of the bonfires. The same belief, it may be argued,
reappears in the notion that embers taken from the bonfires and inserted
in the fields will promote the growth of the crops,[828] and it may be
thought to underlie the customs of sowing flax-seed in the direction in
which the flames blow,[829] of mixing the ashes of the bonfire with the
seed-corn at sowing,[830] of scattering the ashes by themselves over the
field to fertilize it,[831] and of incorporating a piece of the Yule log
in the plough to make the seeds thrive.[832] The opinion that the flax
or hemp will grow as high as the flames rise or the people leap over
them[833] belongs clearly to the same class of ideas. Again, at Konz, on
the banks of the Moselle, if the blazing wheel which was trundled down
the hillside reached the river without being extinguished, this was
hailed as a proof that the vintage would be abundant. So firmly was this
belief held that the successful performance of the ceremony entitled the
villagers to levy a tax upon the owners of the neighbouring
vineyards.[834] Here the unextinguished wheel might be taken to
represent an unclouded sun, which in turn would portend an abundant
vintage. So the waggon-load of white wine which the villagers received
from the vineyards round about might pass for a payment for the sunshine
which they had procured for the grapes. Similarly we saw that in the
Vale of Glamorgan a blazing wheel used to be trundled down hill on
Midsummer Day, and that if the fire were extinguished before the wheel
reached the foot of the hill, the people expected a bad harvest; whereas
if the wheel kept alight all the way down and continued to blaze for a
long time, the farmers looked forward to heavy crops that summer.[835]
Here, again, it is natural to suppose that the rustic mind traced a
direct connexion between the fire of the wheel and the fire of the sun,
on which the crops are dependent.

[The effect which the bonfires are supposed to have in fertilizing
cattle and women may also be attributed to an increase of solar heat
produced by the fires.]

But in popular belief the quickening and fertilizing influence of the
bonfires is not limited to the vegetable world; it extends also to
animals. This plainly appears from the Irish custom of driving barren
cattle through the midsummer fires,[836] from the French belief that the
Yule-log steeped in water helps cows to calve,[837] from the French and
Servian notion that there will be as many chickens, calves, lambs, and
kids as there are sparks struck out of the Yule log,[838] from the
French custom of putting the ashes of the bonfires in the fowls' nests
to make the hens lay eggs,[839] and from the German practice of mixing
the ashes of the bonfires with the drink of cattle in order to make the
animals thrive.[840] Further, there are clear indications that even
human fecundity is supposed to be promoted by the genial heat of the
fires. In Morocco the people think that childless couples can obtain
offspring by leaping over the midsummer bonfire.[841] It is an Irish
belief that a girl who jumps thrice over the midsummer bonfire will soon
marry and become the mother of many children;[842] in Flanders women
leap over the Midsummer fires to ensure an easy delivery;[843] and in
various parts of France they think that if a girl dances round nine
fires she will be sure to marry within the year.[844] On the other hand,
in Lechrain people say that if a young man and woman, leaping over the
midsummer fire together, escape unsmirched, the young woman will not
become a mother within twelve months:[845] the flames have not touched
and fertilized her. In parts of Switzerland and France the lighting of
the Yule log is accompanied by a prayer that the women may bear
children, the she-goats bring forth kids, and the ewes drop lambs.[846]
The rule observed in some places that the bonfires should be kindled by
the person who was last married[847] seems to belong to the same class
of ideas, whether it be that such a person is supposed to receive from,
or to impart to, the fire a generative and fertilizing influence. The
common practice of lovers leaping over the fires hand in hand may very
well have originated in a notion that thereby their marriage would be
blessed with offspring; and the like motive would explain the custom
which obliges couples married within the year to dance to the light of
torches.[848] And the scenes of profligacy which appear to have marked
the midsummer celebration among the Esthonians,[849] as they once marked
the celebration of May Day among ourselves, may have sprung, not from
the mere license of holiday-makers, but from a crude notion that such
orgies were justified, if not required, by some mysterious bond which
linked the life of man to the courses of the heavens at this
turning-point of the year.

[The custom of carrying lighted torches about the country at the
festival may be explained as an attempt to diffuse the Sun's heat.]

At the festivals which we are considering the custom of kindling
bonfires is commonly associated with a custom of carrying lighted
torches about the fields, the orchards, the pastures, the flocks and the
herds; and we can hardly doubt that the two customs are only two
different ways of attaining the same object, namely, the benefits which
are believed to flow from the fire, whether it be stationary or
portable. Accordingly if we accept the solar theory of the bonfires, we
seem bound to apply it also to the torches; we must suppose that the
practice of marching or running with blazing torches about the country
is simply a means of diffusing far and wide the genial influence of the
sunshine, of which these flickering flames are a feeble imitation. In
favour of this view it may be said that sometimes the torches are
carried about the fields for the express purpose of fertilizing
them,[850] and for the same purpose live coals from the bonfires are
sometimes placed in the fields "to prevent blight."[851] On the Eve of
Twelfth Day in Normandy men, women, and children run wildly through the
fields and orchards with lighted torches, which they wave about the
branches and dash against the trunks of the fruit-trees for the sake of
burning the moss and driving away the moles and field mice. "They
believe that the ceremony fulfils the double object of exorcizing the
vermin whose multiplication would be a real calamity, and of imparting
fecundity to the trees, the fields, and even the cattle"; and they
imagine that the more the ceremony is prolonged, the greater will be the
crop of fruit next autumn.[852] In Bohemia they say that the corn will
grow as high as they fling the blazing besoms into the air.[853] Nor are
such notions confined to Europe. In Corea, a few days before the New
Year festival, the eunuchs of the palace swing burning torches, chanting
invocations the while, and this is supposed to ensure bountiful crops
for the next season.[854] The custom of trundling a burning wheel over
the fields, which used to be observed in Poitou for the express purpose
of fertilizing them,[855] may be thought to embody the same idea in a
still more graphic form; since in this way the mock-sun itself, not
merely its light and heat represented by torches, is made actually to
pass over the ground which is to receive its quickening and kindly
influence. Once more, the custom of carrying lighted brands round
cattle[856] is plainly equivalent to driving the animals through the
bonfire; and if the bonfire is a sun-charm, the torches must be so also.

Sec. 3. _The Purificatory Theory of the Fire-festivals_

[Theory that the fires at the festivals are purificatory, being intended
to burn up all harmful things.]

Thus far we have considered what may be said for the theory that at the
European fire-festivals the fire is kindled as a charm to ensure an
abundant supply of sunshine for man and beast, for corn and fruits. It
remains to consider what may be said against this theory and in favour
of the view that in these rites fire is employed not as a creative but
as a cleansing agent, which purifies men, animals, and plants by burning
up and consuming the noxious elements, whether material or spiritual,
which menace all living things with disease and death.

[The purificatory or destructive effect of the fires is often alleged by
the people who light them; the great evil against which the fire at the
festivals is directed appears to be witchcraft.]

First, then, it is to be observed that the people who practise the
fire-customs appear never to allege the solar theory in explanation of
them, while on the contrary they do frequently and emphatically put
forward the purificatory theory. This is a strong argument in favour of
the purificatory and against the solar theory; for the popular
explanation of a popular custom is never to be rejected except for grave
cause. And in the present case there seems to be no adequate reason for
rejecting it. The conception of fire as a destructive agent, which can
be turned to account for the consumption of evil things, is so simple
and obvious that it could hardly escape the minds even of the rude
peasantry with whom these festivals originated. On the other hand the
conception of fire as an emanation of the sun, or at all events as
linked to it by a bond of physical sympathy, is far less simple and
obvious; and though the use of fire as a charm to produce sunshine
appears to be undeniable,[857] nevertheless in attempting to explain
popular customs we should never have recourse to a more recondite idea
when a simpler one lies to hand and is supported by the explicit
testimony of the people themselves. Now in the case of the
fire-festivals the destructive aspect of fire is one upon which the
people dwell again and again; and it is highly significant that the
great evil against which the fire is directed appears to be witchcraft.
Again and again we are told that the fires are intended to burn or repel
the witches;[858] and the intention is sometimes graphically expressed
by burning an effigy of a witch in the fire.[859] Hence, when we
remember the great hold which the dread of witchcraft has had on the
popular European mind in all ages, we may suspect that the primary
intention of all these fire-festivals was simply to destroy or at all
events get rid of the witches, who were regarded as the causes of nearly
all the misfortunes and calamities that befall men, their cattle, and
their crops.[860]

[Amongst the evils for which the fire-festivals are deemed remedies the
foremost is cattle-disease, and cattle-disease is often supposed to be
an effect of witchcraft.]

This suspicion is confirmed when we examine the evils for which the
bonfires and torches were supposed to provide a remedy. Foremost,
perhaps, among these evils we may reckon the diseases of cattle; and of
all the ills that witches are believed to work there is probably none
which is so constantly insisted on as the harm they do to the herds,
particularly by stealing the milk from the cows.[861] Now it is
significant that the need-fire, which may perhaps be regarded as the
parent of the periodic fire-festivals, is kindled above all as a remedy
for a murrain or other disease of cattle; and the circumstance suggests,
what on general grounds seems probable, that the custom of kindling the
need-fire goes back to a time when the ancestors of the European peoples
subsisted chiefly on the products of their herds, and when agriculture
as yet played a subordinate part in their lives. Witches and wolves are
the two great foes still dreaded by the herdsman in many parts of
Europe;[862] and we need not wonder that he should resort to fire as a
powerful means of banning them both. Among Slavonic peoples it appears
that the foes whom the need-fire is designed to combat are not so much
living witches as vampyres and other evil spirits,[863] and the
ceremony, as we saw, aims rather at repelling these baleful beings than
at actually consuming them in the flames. But for our present purpose
these distinctions are immaterial. The important thing to observe is
that among the Slavs the need-fire, which is probably the original of
all the ceremonial fires now under consideration, is not a sun-charm,
but clearly and unmistakably nothing but a means of protecting man and
beast against the attacks of maleficent creatures, whom the peasant
thinks to burn or scare by the heat of the fire, just as he might burn
or scare wild animals.

[Again, the bonfires are thought to avert hail, thunder, lightning, and
other maladies, all of which are attributed to the maleficent arts of

Again, the bonfires are often supposed to protect the fields against
hail[864] and the homestead against thunder and lightning.[865] But both
hail and thunderstorms are frequently thought to be caused by
witches;[866] hence the fire which bans the witches necessarily serves
at the same time as a talisman against hail, thunder, and lightning.
Further, brands taken from the bonfires are commonly kept in the houses
to guard them against conflagration;[867] and though this may perhaps be
done on the principle of homoeopathic magic, one fire being thought to
act as a preventive of another, it is also possible that the intention
may be to keep witch-incendiaries at bay. Again, people leap over the
bonfires as a preventive of colic,[868] and look at the flames steadily
in order to preserve their eyes in good health;[869] and both colic and
sore eyes are in Germany, and probably elsewhere, set down to the
machinations of witches.[870] Once more, to leap over the Midsummer
fires or to circumambulate them is thought to prevent a person from
feeling pains in his back at reaping;[871] and in Germany such pains are
called "witch-shots" and ascribed to witchcraft.[872]

[The burning wheels rolled down hills and the burning discs and brooms
thrown into the air may be intended to burn the invisible witches.]

But if the bonfires and torches of the fire-festivals are to be regarded
primarily as weapons directed against witches and wizards, it becomes
probable that the same explanation applies not only to the flaming discs
which are hurled into the air, but also to the burning wheels which are
rolled down hill on these occasions; discs and wheels, we may suppose,
are alike intended to burn the witches who hover invisible in the air or
haunt unseen the fields, the orchards, and the vineyards on the
hillside.[873] Certainly witches are constantly thought to ride through
the air on broomsticks or other equally convenient vehicles; and if they
do so, how can you get at them so effectually as by hurling lighted
missiles, whether discs, torches, or besoms, after them as they flit
past overhead in the gloom? The South Slavonian peasant believes that
witches ride in the dark hail-clouds; so he shoots at the clouds to
bring down the hags, while he curses them, saying, "Curse, curse
Herodias, thy mother is a heathen, damned of God and fettered through
the Redeemer's blood." Also he brings out a pot of glowing charcoal on
which he has thrown holy oil, laurel leaves, and wormwood to make a
smoke. The fumes are supposed to ascend to the clouds and stupefy the
witches, so that they tumble down to earth. And in order that they may
not fall soft, but may hurt themselves very much, the yokel hastily
brings out a chair and tilts it bottom up so that the witch in falling
may break her legs on the legs of the chair. Worse than that, he cruelly
lays scythes, bill-hooks and other formidable weapons edge upwards so as
to cut and mangle the poor wretches when they drop plump upon them from
the clouds.[874]

[On this view the fertility supposed to follow the use of fire results
indirectly from breaking the spells of witches.]

On this view the fertility supposed to follow the application of fire in
the form of bonfires, torches, discs, rolling wheels, and so forth, is
not conceived as resulting directly from an increase of solar heat which
the fire has magically generated; it is merely an indirect result
obtained by freeing the reproductive powers of plants and animals from
the fatal obstruction of witchcraft. And what is true of the
reproduction of plants and animals may hold good also of the fertility
of the human sexes. We have seen that the bonfires are supposed to
promote marriage and to procure offspring for childless couples. This
happy effect need not flow directly from any quickening or fertilizing
energy in the fire; it may follow indirectly from the power of the fire
to remove those obstacles which the spells of witches and wizards
notoriously present to the union of man and wife.[875]

[On the whole the theory of the purificatory or destructive intention of
the fire-festivals seems the more probable.]

On the whole, then, the theory of the purificatory virtue of the
ceremonial fires appears more probable and more in accordance with the
evidence than the opposing theory of their connexion with the sun. But
Europe is not the only part of the world where ceremonies of this sort
have been performed; elsewhere the passage through the flames or smoke
or over the glowing embers of a bonfire, which is the central feature of
most of the rites, has been employed as a cure or a preventive of
various ills. We have seen that the midsummer ritual of fire in Morocco
is practically identical with that of our European peasantry; and
customs more or less similar have been observed by many races in various
parts of the world. A consideration of some of them may help us to
decide between the conflicting claims of the two rival theories, which
explain the ceremonies as sun-charms or purifications respectively.


[796] Above, pp. 116 _sq._, 119, 143, 165, 166, 168 _sq._, 172.

[797] Above, pp. 116, 117 _sq._, 119, 141, 143, 161, 162 _sq._, 163
_sq._, 173, 191, 201.

[798] W. Mannhardt, _Der Baumkultus der Germanen und ihrer
Nachbarstaemme_ (Berlin, 1875), pp. 521 _sqq._

[799] E. Westermarck, "Midsummer Customs in Morocco," _Folk-lore_, xvi.
(1905) pp. 44 _sqq.; id., The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas_
(London, 1906-1908), i. 56; _id., Ceremonies and Beliefs connected with
Agriculture, certain Dates of the Solar Year, and the Weather in
Morocco_ (Helsingfors, 1913), pp. 93-102.

[800] E. Mogk, "Sitten und Gebraeuche im Kreislauf des Jahres," in R.
Wuttke's _Saechsische Volkskunde_*[2] (Dresden, 1901), pp. 310 _sq._

[801] _The Golden Bough_, Second Edition (London, 1900), iii. 312: "The
custom of leaping over the fire and driving cattle through it may be
intended, on the one hand, to secure for man and beast a share of the
vital energy of the sun, and, on the other hand, to purge them of all
evil influences; for to the primitive mind fire is the most powerful of
all purificatory agents"; and again, _id._ iii. 314: "It is quite
possible that in these customs the idea of the quickening power of fire
may be combined with the conception of it as a purgative agent for the
expulsion or destruction of evil beings, such as witches and the vermin
that destroy the fruits of the earth. Certainly the fires are often
interpreted in the latter way by the persons who light them; and this
purgative use of the element comes out very prominently, as we have
seen, in the general expulsion of demons from towns and villages. But in
the present class of cases this aspect of fire may be secondary, if
indeed it is more than a later misinterpretation of the custom."

[802] _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_, i. 311 _sqq_.

[803] See _Adonis, Attis, Osiris_, Second Edition, pp. 254 _sqq_.

[804] Manilius, _Astronom_. v. 206 _sqq._:

"_Cum vero in vastos surget Nemeaeus
   Exoriturque Canis, latratque Canicula
   Et rabit igne suo geminatque incendia
   Qua subdente facem terris radiosque
     movente_" etc.

Pliny, _Naturalis Historic_ xviii. 269 _sq_.: "_Exoritur dein post
triduum fere ubique confessum inter omnes sidus ingens quod canis ortum
vocamus, sole partem primam leonis ingresso. Hoc fit post solstitium
XXIII. die. Sentiunt id maria et terrae, multae vero et ferae, ut suis
locis diximus. Neque est minor ei veneratio quam descriptis in deos
stellis accendique solem et magnam aestus obtinet causam_."

[805] _Specimens of Bushman Folklore_ collected by the late W.H.I.
Bleek, Ph.D., and L.C. Lloyd (London, 1911), pp. 339, 341. In quoting
the passage I have omitted the brackets which the editors print for the
purpose of indicating the words which are implied, but not expressed, in
the original Bushman text.

[806] "The sun is a little warm, when this star appears in winter"
(Editors of _Specimens of Bushman Folklore_).

[807] "With the stick that he had held in the fire, moving it up and
down quickly" (Editors).

[808] "They take one arm out of the kaross, thereby exposing one
shoulder blade to the sun" (Editors).

[809] See above, pp. 161, 162 _sq._ On the wheel as an emblem of the
sun, see J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] ii. 585; A. Kuhn, _Die
Herabkunft des Feuers und des Goettertranks_*[2] (Guetersloh, 1886), pp.
45 _sqq._; H. Gaidoz, "Le dieu gaulois du soleil et le symbolisme de la
roue," _Revue Archeologique_, iii. Serie, iv. (1884) pp. 14 _sqq._;
William Simpson, _The Buddhist Praying Wheel_ (London, 1896), pp. 87
_sqq._ It is a popular Armenian idea that "the body of the sun has the
shape of the wheel of a water-mill; it revolves and moves forward. As
drops of water sputter from the mill-wheel, so sunbeams shoot out from
the spokes of the sun-wheel" (M. Abeghian, _Der armenische Volksglaube_,
Leipsic, 1899, p. 41). In the old Mexican picture-books the usual
representation of the sun is "a wheel, often brilliant with many
colours, the rays of which are so many bloodstained tongues, by means of
which the Sun receives his nourishment" (E.J. Payne, _History of the New
World called America_, Oxford, 1892, i. 521).

[810] Above, p. 169.

[811] Ernst Meier, _Deutsche Sagen, Sitten und Gebraeuche aus Schwaben_
(Stuttgart, 1852), p. 225; F. Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie_
(Munich, 1848-1855), ii. 240; Anton Birlinger, _Volksthuemliches aus
Schwaben_ (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1861-1862), ii. 57, 97; W. Mannhardt,
_Baumkultus_, p. 510.

[812] Compare J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 521; J.W. Wolf,
_Beitraege zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Gottingen und Leipsic, 1852-1857),
ii. 389; Adalbert Kuhn, _Die Herabkunft des Feuers und des
Goettertranks_*[2] (Guetersloh, 1886), pp. 41 _sq._, 47; W. Mannhardt,
_Baumkultus_, p. 521. Lindenbrog in his Glossary on the Capitularies
(quoted by J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 502) expressly says:
"The rustics in many parts of Germany, particularly on the festival of
St. John the Baptist, wrench a stake from a fence, wind a rope round it,
and pull it to and fro till it catches fire. This fire they carefully
feed with straw and dry sticks and scatter the ashes over the vegetable
gardens, foolishly and superstitiously imagining that in this way the
caterpillar can be kept off. They call such a fire _nodfeur_ or
_nodfyr_, that is to say need-fire."

[813] Above, pp. 144 _sq._, 147 _sq._, 155, 169 _sq._, 175, 177, 179.

[814] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] i. 509; J.W. Wolf, _Beitraege
zur deutschen Mythologie_, i. 117; A. Kuhn, _Die Herabkunft des
Feuers_,*[2] pp. 47 _sq._; W. Mannhardt, _Baumkultus_, p. 521; W.E.
Kelly, _Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore_ (London,
1863), p. 49.

[815] A. Kuhn, _Die Herabkunft des Feuers und des Goettertranks_*[2]
(Guetersloh, 1886), p. 47.

[816] Above, p. 179.

[817] F. Panzer, _Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie_ (Munich, 1848-1855),
ii. 240, Sec. 443.

[818] Above, p. 177.

[819] Above, pp. 187 _sq._

[820] Above, pp. 279 _sq._

[821] Above, p. 188.

[822] Above, p. 159.

[823] Above, p. 116.

[824] Above, p. 201.

[825] L. Decle, _Three Years in Savage Africa_ (London, 1898), pp. 160

[826] Rev. J. Shooter, _The Kafirs of Natal and the Zulu Country_
(London, 1857), p. 18.

[827] Above, pp. 140, 142.

[828] Above, pp. 119, 165, 166, 173, 203.

[829] Above, p. 140.

[830] Above, p. 121.

[831] Above, pp. 141, 170, 190, 203, 248, 250, 264.

[832] Above, p. 251.

[833] Above, pp. 119, 165, 166, 168, 173, 174.

[834] Above, pp. 118, 163 _sq._

[835] Above, p. 201.

[836] Above, p. 203.

[837] Above, p. 250.

[838] Above, pp. 251, 262, 263, 264.

[839] Above, p. 112.

[840] Above, p. 141.

[841] Above, p. 214.

[842] Above, p. 204.

[843] Above, p. 194.

[844] Above, p. 185, 189; compare p. 174.

[845] Above, p. 166.

[846] Above, pp. 249, 250.

[847] Above, pp. 107, 109, 111, 119; compare pp. 116, 192, 193.

[848] Above, p. 115.

[849] Above, p. 180.

[850] Above, pp. 113, 142, 170, 233. The torches of Demeter, which
figure so largely in her myth and on her monuments, are perhaps to be
explained by this custom. See _Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild_, i.
57. W. Mannhardt thought (_Baumkultus_, p. 536) that the torches in the
modern European customs are imitations of lightning. At some of their
ceremonies the Indians of North-West America imitate lightning by means
of pitch-wood torches which are flashed through the roof of the house.
See J.G. Swan, quoted by Franz Boas, "The Social Organization and the
Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians," _Report of the United States
National Museum for 1895_ (Washington, 1897), p. 639.

[851] Above, p. 203.

[852] Amelie Bosquet, _La Normandie Romanesque et Merveilleuse_ (Paris
and Rouen, 1845), pp. 295 _sq._; Jules Lecoeur, _Esquisses du Bocage
Normand_ (Conde-sur-Noireau, 1883-1887), ii. 126-129. See _The
Scapegoat_, pp. 316 _sq._

[853] Br. Jelinek, "Materialen zur Vorgeschichte mid Volkskunde
Boehmens," _Mittheilungen der anthropolog. Gesellschaft in Wien_ xxi.
(1891) p. 13 note.

[854] Mrs. Bishop, _Korea and her Neighbours_ (London, 1898), ii. 56

[855] Above, pp. 190 _sq._

[856] Above, pp. 178, 205, 206.

[857] See _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_, i. 311 _sqq._

[858] Above, pp. 108, 109, 116, 118 _sq._, 121, 148, 154, 156, 157, 159,
160, 170, 171, 174, 175, 176, 180, 183, 185, 188, 232 _sq._, 245, 252,
253, 280, 292, 293, 295, 297. For more evidence of the use of fire to
burn or expel witches on certain days of the year, see _The Scapegoat_
pp. 158 _sqq._ Less often the fires are thought to burn or repel evil
spirits and vampyres. See above, pp. 146, 170, 172, 202, 252, 282, 285.
Sometimes the purpose of the fires is to drive away dragons (above, pp.
161, 195).

[859] Above, pp. 107, 116, 118 _sq._, 159.

[860] "In short, of all the ills incident to the life of man, none are
so formidable as witchcraft, before the combined influence of which, to
use the language of an honest man who had himself severely suffered from
its effects, the great laird of Grant himself could not stand them if
they should fairly yoke upon him" (W. Grant Stewart, _The Popular
Superstitions and Festive Amusements of the Highlanders of Scotland_,
Edinburgh, 1823, pp. 202 _sq._). "Every misfortune and calamity that
took place in the parish, such as ill-health, the death of friends, the
loss of stock, and the failure of crops; yea to such a length did they
carry their superstition, that even the inclemency of the seasons, were
attributed to the influence of certain old women who were supposed to be
in league, and had dealings with the Devil. These the common people
thought had the power and too often the inclination to injure their
property, and torment their persons" (_County Folklore_, vol. v.
_Lincolnshire_, collected by Mrs. Gutch and Mabel Peacock, London, 1908,
p. 76). "The county of Salop is no exception to the rule of
superstition. The late vicar of a parish on the Clee Hills, startled to
find that his parishioners still believed in witchcraft, once proposed
to preach a sermon against it, but he was dissuaded from doing so by the
parish schoolmaster, who assured him that the belief was so deeply
rooted in the people's minds that he would be more likely to alienate
them from the Church than to weaken their faith in witchcraft" (Miss
C.F. Burne and Miss G.F. Jackson, _Shropshire Folk-lore_, London, 1883,
p. 145). "Wherever a man or any living creature falls sick, or a
misfortune of any kind happens, without any natural cause being
discoverable or rather lying on the surface, there in all probability
witchcraft is at work. The sudden stiffness in the small of the back,
which few people can account for at the time, is therefore called a
'witch-shot' and is really ascribed to witchcraft" (L. Strackerjan,
_Aberglaube und Sagen aus dem Herzogthum Oldenburg_, Oldenburg, 1867, i.
p. 298, Sec. 209). What Sir Walter Scott said less than a hundred years ago
is probably still true: "The remains of the superstition sometimes
occur; there can be no doubt that the vulgar are still addicted to the
custom of scoring above the breath (as it is termed), and other
counter-spells, evincing that the belief in witchcraft is only asleep,
and might in remote corners be again awakened to deeds of blood"
(_Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft_, London, 1884, p. 272). Compare
L. Strackerjan, _op. cit._ i. p. 340, Sec. 221: "The great power, the
malicious wickedness of the witches, cause them to be feared and hated
by everybody. The hatred goes so far that still at the present day you
may hear it said right out that it is a pity burning has gone out of
fashion, for the evil crew deserve nothing else. Perhaps the hatred
might find vent yet more openly, if the fear were not so great."

[861] For some evidence, see _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_;
ii. 52-55, 330 _sqq._ It is a popular belief, universally diffused in
Germany, that cattle-plagues are caused by witches (A. Wuttke, _Der
deutsche Volksaberglaube_,*[2] Berlin, 1869, p. 149 Sec. 216). The Scotch
Highlanders thought that a witch could destroy the whole of a farmer's
live stock by hiding a small bag, stuffed with charms, in a cleft of the
stable or byre (W. Grant Stewart, _The Popular superstitions and Festive
Amusements of the Highlanders of Scotland_, Edinburgh, 1823, pp. 201

[862] _The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings_, ii. 330 _sqq._

[863] Above, pp. 282, 284 _sq._

[864] Above, pp. 118, 121, 144, 145, 176.

[865] Above, pp. 121, 122, 124, 140 _sq._, 145, 146, 174, 176, 183, 184,
187, 188, 190, 191, 192, 249, 250, 252, 253, 254, 258.

[866] J. Grimm, _Deutsch Mythologie_,*[4] ii. 908 _sqq._; J.V. Grohmann,
_Aberglauben und Gebraeuche aus Boehmen und Maehren_ (Prague and Leipsic,
1864), p. 32 Sec. 182; A. Wuttke, _Der deutsche Volksaberglaube_*[2]
(Berlin, 1869), pp. 149 _sq._, Sec.216; J. Ceredig Davies, _Folk-lore of
West and Mid-Wales_ (Aberystwyth, 1911), p. 230; Alois John, _Sitte,
Branch und Volksglaube im deutschen Westboehmen_ (Prague, 1905), p. 202.

[867] Above, pp. 108, 121, 140, 146, 165, 183, 188, 196, 250, 255, 256,

[868] Above, pp. 107, 195 _sq._

[869] Above, pp. 162, 163, 166, 171, 174.

[870] A. Wuttke, _Der deutsche Volksaberglaube_*[2] (Berlin, 1869), p.
351, Sec. 395.

[871] Above, pp. 165, 168, 189, compare 190.

[872] A. Wuttke, _Der deutsche Volksaberglaube_*[2] (Berlin, 1869), p.
351, Sec. 395; L. Strackerjan, _Aberglaube und Sagen aus dem Herzogthum
Oldenburg_ (Oldenburg, 1867), i. p. 298, Sec. 209. See above, p. 343 note.

[873] In the Ammerland, a district of Oldenburg, you may sometimes see
an old cart-wheel fixed over the principal door or on the gable of a
house; it serves as a charm against witchcraft and is especially
intended to protect the cattle as they are driven out and in. See L.
Strackerjan, _Aberglaube und Sagen aus dem Herzogthum Oldenburg_
(Oldenburg, 1867), i. p. 357, Sec. 236. Can this use of a wheel as a
talisman against witchcraft be derived from the practice of rolling
fiery wheels down hill for a similar purpose?

[874] F.S. Krauss, _Volksglaube und religioeser Brauch der Suedslaven_
(Muenster i. W., 1890), pp. 118 _sq._

[875] In German such spells are called _Nestelknuepfen_; in French,
_nouer l'aiguilette_. See J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_,*[4] ii. 897,
983; A. Wuttke, _Der deutsche Volksaberglaube_*[2] (Berlin, 1869), p.
252 Sec. 396; K. Doutte, _Magic et Religion dans l'Afrique du Nord_
(Algiers, 1908), pp. 87 _sq._, 294 _sqq._; J.L.M. Nogues, _Les Moeurs
d'autrefois en Saintonge et en Aunis_ (Saintes, 1891), pp. 171 _sq._

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Balder The Beautiful, Vol. I.
by Sir James George Frazer


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