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course is next the holy fire. He begins the dance, after once going round the holy fire, in solemn and religious silence. He then in the next circle, invokes yah, after their usual manner, on a bass key and with a short accent. In another circle, he sings ho, ho, which is repeated by all the religious procession, till they finish that circle. Then in another round, they repeat he, he, in like manner, in regular notes, and keeping time in the dance. Another circle is continued in like manner, with repeating the word wah, nah, (making in the whole, the divine and holy name of yah, ho, he, wah.*) A little after this is finished, which takes considerable time, they begin again, going fresh rounds, singing hal-hal-le-le-lu-lu-yah-yah, in like manner; and frequently the whole train strike up hallelu, hallelu, halleluyah, halleluyah, with great earnestness, fervour and joy, while each strikes the ground with right and left feet alternately, very quick, but well timed. Then a kind of hollow sounding drum, joins the sacred choir, which excites the old female singers to chant forth their grateful hymns and praises to the divine spirit, and to redouble their quick, joyful steps, in imitation of the leader of the beloved men, at their head.
6 This appears very similar to the dances of the Hebrews, and may we not reasonably suppose, that they formerly understood the psalms and divine hymns, at least those which begin or end with hallelujah; otherwise how comes it to pass, that all the inhabitants of the extensive regions of North and South America, have and retain these very expressive Hebrew words, and repeat them so distinctly, applying them after the manner of the Hebrews, in their religious acclammations.
6. Among the Indians on the northwest side of the Ohio, the Feast of the First Fruits is thus described by the Rev. Dr. Charles Beatty, who was an eye witness of the ceremony : Before they make use of any of the first or spring fruits of the ground, twelve of their old men meet, when a deer and some of the first fruits are provided. The deer is divided into twelve parts. according to the number of the men, and the corn beaten in a mortar and prepared for use by boiling or baking into cakes under the ashes, and of course unleavened. This also is divided into twelve parts. Then these men hold up the venison and first fruits, and pray with their faces to the east, acknowledging, as he supposed, the goodness and bounty of heaven towards them. It is then eaten ; after which they freely enjoy the fruits of the earth.
56 On the evening of the same day, they have another public
feast, besides that of the First Fruits, which looks somewhat like the Passover; when a great quantity of venison is provided, with other things, dressed in the usual way, and distributed to all the guests ; of which they eat freely that evening; but that which is left, is thrown into the fire and burned, as none of it must remain till sun-rise on the next day, nor must a bone of the venison be broken.”
The necessary limits of this compilation prevent the continu ance of extracts from this very valuable work. It may be observed, generally, that a cloud of mystery has always hung over the character of the Aborigines of America. Unlike all other people, in many important features of character, they have excited the profoundest reflections of inquisitive minds, from the days of Columbus to the present time. The researches that have yet been made, concerning their origin, the period of their residence on this continent, their views of civil society, their religion; though many important facts have been brought to light, have been unsatisfactory. With regard to these leading enquiries, great obscurity and difficulties still remain. They are certainly a very interesting people. Less degraded than the Asiatics, more intelligent than the Africans, immoveably attached to the habits of their forefathers, they seem reserved in the providence of God for some rich display of his wisdom and grace in future times. We can say, with safety, Blessed are they that do them good.
OF THE SOUTH SEA ISLANDS.
The deities of Otaheite are nearly as numerous as the persons of the inhabitants. Every family has its tee, or guardian spirit, whom they set up, and worship at the morai: but they have a great god or gods of a superior order denominated Fwhanow Po, born of night.
The general name of deity, in all its ramifications, is Eatooa,
Three are held supreme; standing in a height of celestial dignity that no others can approach unto : and what is more extraordinary, the pames are personal appellations.
1. Tane, te Medooa, the Father.
times of greatest distress, and seasons of peculiar exigency, supposing them too exalted to be troubled with matters of less nro. ment than the illness of a chief, storms, devastations, war, or any great calamity. Indeed, fear and suffering seem to be more motives to worship than gratitude. The house of these fwha. now po is at Oparre ; where the chief earie rahie resides.
For general worship they have an inferior race, a kind of dii penates. Each family has its tee, or guardian spirit; he is supposed to be one of their departed relatives, who, for his superior excellencies, has been exalted to an eatooa. They suppose this spirit can inflict sickness or remove it, and preserve them from a malignant deity, who also bears the name of tee, and is always employed in mischief.
They have a tradition, that once in their anger the great gods broke the whole world in pieces; and that all the islands around them are but little parts of what was once venooa noe, the great land, of which their own island is the eminent part. A curious conversation held with Manne Manne, the high priest, and Taata Orero, the orator and oracle of the country for tradition, is as follows, interpreted by the Swede Andrew :
In the beginning, Tane took Taroa, and begat Avye, fresh water; Atye, or Te Myde, the sea ; also Awa, the water-spout; Matai, the wind ; Arye the sky; and Po, the night; then Mahanna, the sun, in the shape of a man called Oeroa Tabooa ; when he was born, all his brethren and sisters turned to earth only a daughter was left, by name Townoo; she became the wife of Geroa Tabooa, by whom she conceived thirteen children, who are the thirteen months : 1. Papecree; 2. Ownoonon ; 3. Paroromooa; 4. Paroromoree; 5. Mooreeha ; 6. Heaiha; 7. Taoa ; 8. Hoorororera ; 9. Hoorecama'; 10. Teayre; 11. Tetai ; 12. Waeho; 13. Weaha.
Townoo now returned to earth, and Oeroa Tabooa embraced a rock called Poppoharra Harreha, which conceived a son named Tetooboo amata hatoo; after which the rock returned to its original state, and the father of the months himself died, and went to dust. The son he left embraced the sand of the sea, which conceived a son of the name of Tee, and a daughter called Opeera ; then he also died, and returned to the earth. Tee took his sister Opeera to wife, who produced a daughter Oheera, Reene, Monooa ; the mother died, and the father survived ; in her illness she entreated her husband to cure her, and she would do the same for him if he fell sick, and thus they might live for ever ; but the husband refused, and preferred her daugh, ter, whom, on her decease, he took for his wife. The daughter bore him three sons and three daughters : the sons, Ora, Wanoo, Tytory; the daughters, Hennatoomorrooroo, Henaroa,
Noowya. The father and mother dying, the brothers said, Let us take our sisters to wife, and become many. So men began to multiply upon the earth.
Respecting a future state, they suppose no person perishes or becomes extinct. They allow no punishment after death, but degrees of eminence and felicity, as men have been here most pleasing to the deity. They regard the spirits of their ancestors, male and female, as exalted into eatooas, their favour to be secured by prayers and offerings. When the spirit departs from the body, they have a notion it is swallowed by the eatooa bird, who frequents the burying-places and morais; and passes through him in order to be purified, and be united to the deity. And such are afterwards employed by him to attend other human beings, and to inflict punishment, or remove sickness, as shall be judged requisite.
They believe the stars were the children of the sun and moon, attributing every substance to procreative powers; and when the sun and moon are eclipsed, they suppose them in the act of copulation; and pretend to foretel, from their appearance at such times, the future events of war, sickness, or the like.
With regard to their worship, Captain Cook does the Otaheiteans but justice in saying, they reproach many who bear the name of Christian. You see no instances of an Otaheitean drawing near the Eatooa with carelessness and inattention; he is all devotion ; he approaches the place of worship with reyerential awe; uncovers when he treads on sacred ground : and prays with a feryour that would do honour to a better profession. He firrnly credits the traditions of his ancestors. None dares dispute the existence of deity. They put great confidence in dreams, and suppose in sleep the soul leaves the body under the care of the guardian angel, and moves at large through the regions of spirits.
Priesthood and Sacrifices. The priests at the Society Islands are a pretty numerous body ; they are in every district, and have plenty of employment, being called in on all occasions, births or deaths, feast or sickness ; and are the physicians as well as clergy of the country. They affect to possess extraordinary powers, to promote conception or abortion, to jnflict diseases or remove them at their pleasure, and are greatly feared on that account. They are supposed to be able to pray the evil spirit into the food, by rubbing a human skull .with a part of the provisions they eat ; and sometimes to kill men outright.
Their sacrifices and oblations are various and liberal. They offer to their gods all the products of their island, hogs, dogs, fowls, fish, and vegetables ; and at every feast a portion is presented to the Eatooa before they presume to take their own repast. When a priest denounces the necessity of a human sacrifice, or, as on the inauguration of the king, custom requires such offerings, the manner of selecting them is by a council of the chief with the ratirras. The occasion is stated, and the victim pitched upon ; he is usually a marked character, who has been guilty of blasphemy, or some enormous crime, or a stranger who has fled to the district for shelter from some other part on account of his ill conduct. The decision of this council is kept a profound secret, and perhaps the only one which is so. They watch the opportunity of the night, when the culprit is asleep, and dispatch him, if possible with one blow of a stone on the nape of the neck, to prevent any disfigurement of the body ; a bone of him must not be broken, nor the corpse mangled or mutilated. If a man has been bit and disfigured by a woman, he becomes noa, unclean for ever, and can never be offered in sacrifice. The victim is placed in a basket of cocoa-nut leaves fastened to a long pole, and carried in a sacred canoe to the morai, when the eye is offered to the king with great form and ceremony.'
Such were, and alas ! in some of these islands, such, in general still are, the gods and superstitions of this part of the world. Christianity, however, has of late years made rapid progress in the South Seas; and at this time nearly the whole of Otaheite is converted to the worship of the true God, and to a knowledge of and belief in his Son Jesus Christ! The Mission from this country to the Sandwich Islands has been established with good judgment, and conducted with much energy and prudence. The smiles of Heaven have hitherto rested upon it, and the prospect is encouraging that these ignorant and degraded Pa. gans may now be brought to accept the blessings of the divine salvation. Judicious efforts for the spread of the gospel never have been without the divine blessing, and, we trust they always will realize the promises of grace.
The ancient Religion of the South American Indians, in the neighbourhood of Peru, &c. is now nearly extinct ; but then the Peruvians, like the Mexicans, formerly had very splendid temples dedicated to the Sun, in which they offered various costly sacrifices, and presented oblations of wine, fruits, and other products of their country. But there was nothing cruel in the religious rites of the Peruvians, if we except the sacrifices of small animals ; and even they are now almost laid aside.
The Religion of the Siberians, and of some other remote parts of the world, is now greatly changed from what it formerly was ; and is for the most part mixed up with so much of the Catholic rites and notions, as not to merit a distinct notice.