Among Wild Natives of Australia

The necromancers or sorcerers from ancient times to the present have wielded their tremendous power for both good and evil. History tells us of the complete belief of people in the influence of these sorcerers, and even today the wild natives of Australia live in mortal terror of sorcerers. They believe that sorcerers, armed with their mysterious power called "boyl-ya," ride through the sky, invisible except to other sorcerers. They enter the bodies of men and feed on them, not eating the bones, but consuming the flesh. The native feels pain as the "boyl-ya" enters his body like a bit of pointed quartz. Another sorcerer, then, can extract the evil with a piece of quartz in the supposed shape of the "boyl-ya."

The leg bone of a kangaroo can bewitch a man to death if a sorcerer points it at him while he sleeps, these primitive Australian tribesmen believe. And, indeed, many evil things can this sorcerer do to a man while he sleeps, according to them. The sorcerer can creep up to him and steal away his kidney fat, where they believe a man's power lies; or he can call in a demon to strike the man behind the neck with his club; or he can get a lock of hair and roast it with fat over the fire until its former owner pines away and dies.

The Australians, like other barbaric tribes, do not believe that a man can die of causes other than being slain or being bewitched. When a native dies a natural death, it is believed that some hostile sorcerer caused it. This evil magician must be discovered by other forms of magic. This is how it is done. The corpse itself may seem to push its bearers in the direction of the murderer, or the flames of the grave-fire flicker towards where he is, or some insect is seen creeping towards his home. When the next of kin observe these magic signs, they must set off to take vengeance on the murderer.

The necromancer, however, may have kindly duties as well. He sits by a sick man and charms and charms until the stricken man recovers. He may pull the disease out of the body by means of a stone spear-head or a fish bone or may bring it out along a string. Thus the necromancer with his powers of good and evil is both respected and feared. He holds an important position in the tribe and is showered with gifts to keep the natives in his good graces.

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