Trobriand Islands - People - Magic

Magic

A Trobriand woman is thought to be pregnant when an ancestral spirit enters her body and causes conception. Even after a child is born, it is the mother's brother, not the father, who presents a harvest of yams to his sister so that her child will be fed with food from its own matrilineage, not the father's.

The Trobrianders practice many traditional magic spells. Young people learn spells from older kin in exchange for food, tobacco, and money. Spells are often partially or fully lost because the old people give away only a few lines at a time to keep getting gifts. Often, the old person dies before they finish passing on the spells. Trobrianders believe that no one can make up a new magic spell.

Sometimes a man gives a woman magic spells because he wants to give her more than betel nuts or tobacco. People also buy and sell spells. Literate villagers write their magic spells in books and hide them. The beauty magic words are chanted into coconut oil, and then a person rubs it onto their skin, or into flowers and herbs that decorate their armbands and hair. A person may direct magic spells toward heightening the visual and olfactory effects of their body to induce erotic feelings in their lover. Some spells are thought to make a person beautiful, even those who would normally be considered ugly.

Read more about this topic:  Trobriand Islands, People

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Famous quotes containing the word magic:

    Self-esteem is the real magic wand that can form a child’s future. A child’s self-esteem affects every area of her existence, from friends she chooses, to how well she does academically in school, to what kind of job she gets, to even the person she chooses to marry.
    Stephanie Martson (20th century)

    Without, the frost, the blinding snow,
    The storm-wind’s moody madness—
    Within, the firelight’s ruddy glow,
    And childhood’s nest of gladness.
    The magic words shall hold thee fast:
    Thou shalt not heed the raving blast.
    Lewis Carroll [Charles Lutwidge Dodgson] (1832–1898)

    Has the world ever been changed by anything save the thought and its magic vehicle the Word?
    Thomas Mann (1875–1955)