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38 AZM OF DEMOAVOLOGY.
of those actual experiences with which Demonology is chiefly concerned. A myth, as many able writers have pointed out, is, in its origin, an explanation by the uncivilised mind of some natural phenomenon—not an allegory, not an esoteric conceit For this reason it possesses fluidity, and takes on manifold shapes. The apparent sleep of the sun in winter may be represented in a vast range of myths, from the Seven Sleepers to the Man in the Moon of our nursery rhyme; but the variations all have relation to facts and circumstances. Comparative Mythology is mainly concerned with the one thread running through them, and binding them all to the original myth; the task of Demonology is rather to discover the agencies which have given their several shapes. If it be shown that Orthros and Cerberus were primarily the morning and evening twilight or howling winds, either interpretation is here secondary to their personification as dogs. Demonology would ask, Why dogs 2 why not bulls 2 Its answer in each case detaches from the anterior myth its mode, and shows this as the determining force of further myths.
Hunger-demons—Kephn—Miru — Kagura — Ráhu the Hindu sundevourer—The earth monster at Pelsall—A Franconian custom —Sheitan as moon-devourer—Hindu offerings to the dead— Ghoul—Goblin—Vampyres—Leanness of demons—Old Scotch custom.—The origin of sacrifices.
IN every part of the earth man's first struggle was for his daily food. With only a rude implement of stone or bone he had to get fish from the sea, bird from the air, beast from the forest. For ages, with such poor equipment, he had to wring a precarious livelihood from nature. He saw, too, every living form around him similarly trying to satisfy its hunger. There seemed to be a Spirit of Hunger abroad. And, at the same time, there was such a resistance to man's satisfaction of his need—the bird and fish so hard to get, the stingy earth so ready to give him a stone when he asked for bread—that he came to the conclusion that there must be invisible voracious beings who wanted all good things for themselves. So the ancient world was haunted by a vast brood of Hunger-demons. There is an African tribe, the Karens, whose representa
42 MIRU THE-RUDDY.
tion of the Devil (Kephn) is a huge stomach floating through the air; and this repulsive image may be regarded as the type of nearly half the demons which have haunted the human imagination. This, too, is the terrible Miru, with her daughters and slave, haunting the South Sea Islander. ‘The esoteric doctrine of the priests was, that souls leave the body ere breath has quite gone, and travel to the edge of a cliff facing the setting sun (Ră). A large wave now approaches the base of the cliff, and a gigantic bua tree, covered with fragrant blossoms, springs up from Avaiki (nether world) to receive on its far-reaching branches human spirits, who are mysteriously impelled to cluster on its limbs. When at length the mystic tree is covered with human spirits, it goes down with its living freight to the nether world. Akaanga, the slave of fearful Miru, mistress of the invisible world, infallibly catches all these unhappy spirits in his net and laves them to and fro in a lake. In these waters the captive ghosts exhaust themselves by wriggling about like fishes, in the vain hope of escape. The net is pulled up, and the half-drowned spirits enter into the presence of dread Miru, who is ugliness personified. The secret of Miru's power over her intended victims is the ‘kava' root (Piper mythisticum). A bowl of this drink is prepared for each visitor to the shades by her four lovely daughters. Stupefied with the draught, the unresisting victims are borne off to a mighty oven and cooked. Miru, her peerless daughters, her dance-loving son, and the attendants, subsist exclusively on human spirits decoyed to the nether world and then cooked. The drinking-cups of Miru are the skulls of her victims. She is called in song ‘Miru-the-ruddy,' because her cheeks ever glow with the heat of the oven where her captives are cooked. As the surest way to Miru's oven is to die a natural death, one need not marvel that the Rev. Mr. Gill,