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well-known Australian writers, claim too much for In the foreword them, I think. is Pointed," of his novel, 'The Bone Upfield says that an aboriginal can project his thought into the mind of another; and he goes on: opinion is in error "General aboriginal the with regard to smoke-signalling. The aborigines have not devised a kind of Morse smoke-signal conveys code. A mind that the intelligence a broadcast is about to begin. The in thinks broadcaster probably resimple pictures, and human ceivers pick up and translate the ." thought pictures Anhur W.
that the Australian aboriginal lowest in means is by no scale, as was often the human so earlier Yet days. repeated in before his contact with the Eurothe human pean he represented He mind at its most primitive was and he led Stone man,
has long been
Magic was as real to him, and as unquestionably accepted, as the sunshine and the ram did not He understand it, but then neither did the he understand lightning, the rainbow, the meteor He lived in a world of mystery and magic
discussed is A question seriously whether the aboriginal, for all his did superstitution, and ignorance occult certain not possess hard to explain even by
"Prince of the
"As a matter of truth, the news which had passed so rapidly and accurately wide stretch of over a actually thoughts sent country, was
"spirit seance" witnessed
of the Birraark always spoken of
arts of magic
dusk, and the whole tribe was The "mediassembled. cine man" uttered a coo ee at certain intervals, and at last a faint, unearthly heard in the reply was distance Shortly afterwards the was sound of ghostly footsteps asked, heard, and a strange voice The old man What is wanted?" and the spirits put some questions, voice Finally a spirit answered said At the end We are going of the the mediweird ceremony found unaccine man himself was countably in the top of a tall tree,
of this extraordinary power in adsending their thoughts on vance." bad fiction to me AU this seems much and bad science. We are now inclined to romanticize the blacks. and woman Though every man all could practise magic, in almost who were tribes there were old men From magic-makers. recognised them we have to use rather unsuitlike witchderived terms able doctor, wizard, or medicine man. supernatural supposed Their implicitly believed in. were powers that claimed Individual magicians themselves invisthey could make rivers dryshod, ible at will, cross
pass into one's
through solid tree-trunks, go up the sky. They could capture
account by white men all it Was witnesses We cannot We say mummery? only know that the tribal rainusually were makers and healers
This is who were
and their magic hocus pocus.
could slept, and while its owner that so prevent it from returning, wake up; or the victim could never evil spirit could be sent back an instead. into him usually the witch-doctor, The curer, curser, and rain-maker of the all. tribe, respected and feared by
innatural desire to make an interestteresting thing still more ing has led to be white men even unduly credulous with regard to the blacks.
Both Tarlton Rayment and Upfield, well-known W.
in most a cases cunning fraud the credulity of his playing upon instances the Yet in some dupes. magician himself firmly believed in his occult powers, after extraordinary and drastic initiation by some older magician of the tribe. The blacks believed firmly that an could be killed by "pointenemy ing the bone" at him or by any of a Once dozen other magic methods. the what had been victim learnt against him he did usually done and die. pine away To bring rain, to increase the bees, snakes, and certain favourite plant foods, and magical incantations rituals were used. The tribal magician could cure pain or sickness by elaborate ceremonies. chants and He usually ended by sucking a pebble out of the patient's body a pebble which, of course, had been
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pebble which, of course, had been all the time. The mouth often did get well after that convincing miracle. Such cures were worked by auto-suggestion, just as death from pointing the bone
in his patient
and mediums, and that they practised magic-call it witchcraft, will. diablerie, or what we
must be remembered, though, that to the simple tribespeople such things natural rather than were supernatural. the
invoking of natural powers not fully understood. Fear of the unknown, that great bugbear of the whole human race in all ages, largely dominated the lives of the Australians. Their daily full of taboos, full of routine was restrictions about food, the use of objects, even of certain words.
"sacred," and were The women be visited. forbidden even to see certain were ceremonies, on pain of death. Certain birds never and animals must be spirit-haunted touched. There were full trees and rocks; the bush was of ghostly beings, mostly evil and comic .monstrous, yet there were and harmless ghosts too. an Any unusual happening was evil. of good or evil-mostly omen The blacks held magic ceremonies of a man's to find out the cause death, even when he had been accidentally drowned killed by falling or from a high tree. They did not accept the idea of death from natural causes; always some had enemy killed was done this, and so someone
understand it. worship, sacrifices,
Early missionaries in this country, properly before they had become acquainted with aboriginal psycholdialect, sometimes believed ogy and that some and asserted venerated tribal ancestor, such as Biamee, was Spirit," and the the "Great that blacks gods. worshipped They did not. They venerated mythical ancestors and held mystic ceremonies in connection with them. They also believed in survival after belief in rewards death, but had no after death. or punishments A close study of all this still leaves us uncertain whether they practised unexplained magic as well as easily explainable fraud. Certainly everything has not been explained. It be that spirit manifestamay tions were notunknown to them, that the Stone Age Australians had clairvoyants and mediums, and that