410

OverviewTranscribeVersionsHelp

Facsimile

Transcription

Show Translation

410

CHILE.

[an earthquake happens, the Guecubu has given it
a shock : nor does any one die that is not suffo-
cated by the Guccubu. The ulrnenes of their
celestial hierarchy are the genii, who have the
charge of all created things, and who, in concert
with the benevolent Meulen, form a counterpoise
to the enormous power of Guecubu. They are of
both sexes, male and female, who always continue
pure and chaste, propagation being unknown to
their system of the spiritual world. The males are
called gen^ that is, lords, unless this word should
be the same as the ginn of the Arabians. The fe-
males are called amei-malghen, which signifies
spiritual nymphs or fairies, and perform for men the
offices of lares, or familiar spirits. There is not
an Araucanian but imagines he has one of these in
his service. Nien cai gni amchimalghen, “ 1 keep
my nymph still,” is a common expression when
they succeed in an undertaking. The Arauca-
nians carry still farther their ideas of the analogy
between the celestial government and their own ;
for as their ulrnenes have not the right of imposing
any species of service or contributions upon their
subjects, still less, in their opinion, should those of
celestial race require it of man, since they have no
occasion for it. Governed by these singular opi-
nions, they pay to them no exterior worship. They
have neither temples nor idols, nor are they accus-
tomed to offer any sacrifices, except in cases of
Some severe calamity, or on concluding a peace ;
at such times they sacrifice animats, and burn to-
bacco, which they think is the incense the most
agreeable to their deities. Nevertheless they in-
voke them and implore their aid upon urgent oc-
casions, addressing themselves principally to Pillan
and to Meulen. To this little regard for religion,
is oAving the indifference which they have mani-
fested at the introduction of Christianity among
them, which is tolerated in all the provinces of
their dominion. The missionaries are there much
respected, well treated, and have full liberty of
publicly preaching their tenets, but notwithstand-
ing there are but few of the natives who are con-
verted. If the Araucanians discover little regard
for their deities, they are, however, very supersti-
tious in many points of less importance. They
firmly believe in divination, and pay the greatest
attention to such favourable or unfirvourable omens
as the capriciousness of their imagination may sug-
gest. Those idle observations are particularly di-
rected to dreams, to the singing and flight of birds,
which are esteemed by the whole of them the truest
interpreters of the will of the gods. The fearless
Araucanian, who with incredible valour confronts
death in battle, trembles at the sight of an owl.

Their puerile weakness in this respect would ap-
pear incompatible with the strength of their intel-
lect, if the history of the human mind did not fur-
nish us with continual examples of similar contra-
dictions. They consult upon all occasions their
diviners, or pretenders to a knowledge of futu-
rity, who are sometimes called gligim or gugol,
among whom are some Avho pass for genpugnuy
genpiru, &c. which signifies masters of the hea-
vens, of epidemic diseases, and of worms or in-
sects ; and, like the llamas of Tibet, boast of being
able to produce rain, of having the power to cure
all disorders, and to prevent the ravages of the
worms which destroy the corn. They are in great
dread of the calcus, or pretended sorcerers, who,
they imagine, keep concealed by day in caverns
with their disciples, called ivitnches, man-animals,
and who at night transform themselves into noc-
turnal birds, make incursions in the air, and shoot
invisible arrows at their enemies. Their super-
stitious credulity is particularly obvious in the se-
rious stories which they relate of apparitions, phan-
toms, and hobgoblins; respecting which they have
innumerable tales. But, in truth, is there a nation
on earth so far removed from credulity in that par-
ticular, as to claim a right of laughing at the Arau-
canians ? They have, nevertheless, some among
them who are philosophers enough to despise such
credulity as an absurdity, and to laugh at the folly
of their countrymen. They are all, however,
agreed in the belief of the immortality of the soul.
This consolatory truth is deeply rooted, and in a
manner innate with them. They hold that man is
composed of two substances essentially different :
the corruptible body, which they call anca, and
the soul, am or pulli, which they say is ancanoluy
incorporeal, and mugealu, eternal, or existing for
ever. This distinction is so fully established
among them, that they frequently make use of the
word anca metaphorically, to denote a part, the
half, or the subject of any thing. As respects the
state of the soul after its separation from the body,
they are not however agreed. All concur in say-
ing, with the other American tribes, that after
death they go towards the w. beyond (he sea,
to a certain place called Gulcheman ; that is, the
dwelling of the men beyond the mountains. But
some believe that this country is divided into two
parts, one pleasant, and filled with every thing de-
lightful, the abode of the good ; and the other de-
solate, and in want of every thing, the habitation
of the Avicked. Others are of opinion that all in-
discriminately enjoy there eternal pleasures, pre-
tending that the deeds of this life have no influence
upon a future state.]

Notes and Questions

Please sign in to write a note for this page

JoshuaOB

This section is not in Alcedo's text