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:

    You become a reader because you saw and heard someone you admired enjoying the experience, someone led you to the world of books even before you could read, let you taste the magic of stories, took you to the library, and allowed you to stay up later at night to read in bed.
    Jim Trelease (20th century)

    You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion.... Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat’s meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough.
    Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)

    To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977)