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DREAMS, subjective apparitions, and similar psychical phenomena are in the native mind so intimately wrapped up with the Amatongo, that this is the proper place for considering their views on such matters, without which their views on the Amatongo would be incomplete.
The Amatongo make revelations by Dreams.
IF during sleep you dream of a man whom you do not thoroughly know to be of such a character that he may do you an injury; yet in your sleep you dream that he suddenly stabs you, not openly, but by stealth, when you awake you are much amazed and say, "Oh! Forsooth I thought such a one a really good man. And does he hate me? I thank the Itongo of our people which has revealed the man to me, that I may know him. Now I know him, for the Itongo has caused him to approach me. And he came to kill me. I do not know in what respect I have injured him." And you continue on your guard against the man, believing that the dream does not lie, but that there is something in the man with which you are not acquainted.
Again, if in your sleep you dream of a beast pursuing you and trying to kill you, when you wake you wonder and say, "How is this that I should dream of a wild beast pursuing me?" And if in the morning they are going to p. 229 hunt, whether wild beasts or game, you go knowing that you are in jeopardy; you know that the Itongo brought the beast to you, that you might know that if you do not take care you may die. If you go to the hunt, you are on your guard. Perhaps you do not go, saying, "Isalakutshelwa hears through trouble.82 Let me stay at home." And you stay at home and take care of yourself, saying, "What do I want further, when the Itongo has already told me that I am going into danger?"83
Again, if during sleep you dream of returning to your people from whom you separated a long time ago; and see that So-and-so and So-and-so are unhappy; and when you wake your body is unstrung;84 you know that the Itongo has taken you to your people that you might see the trouble in which they are; and that if you go to them you will find out the cause of their unhappiness. And you continue listening and expecting to hear news if any one comes. And truly a man may come from the neighbourhood, and you ask after the welfare of your people. If he tells you they are in bad circumstances, you say, "O, I merely p. 230 ask. I have already heard the news in my dream." And if one dies, and there is one who laughs at his death and does not mourn for him, and if the dead man return again and enquire of another who is still living, saying, "Does So-and-so laugh at my death because he will not die?" it is known by the dream that the other laughs. It is said the shade of the dead comes with the message.
Further, among black men, when enemies are numerous, many people are saved by the Itongo; it comes in a dream; perhaps in the middle of the night a man dreams that one of his people who is dead wakes him, saying, "So-and-so, awake, and take your children and cattle, and go away. An enemy is coming into this village." And through despising it and thinking it a mere dream, he goes to sleep. And the Itongo comes again and says, "Awake." And at length he cannot sleep well. And he begins to see there is something real in the dream. Perhaps just as he has got out of the way the enemy surrounds the village, and he hears the people crying. He then returns hearty thanks to the Itongo of his people.
When a dead man comes he does not come in the form of a p. 231 snake, nor as a mere shade; but he comes in very person, just as if he was not dead, and talks with the man of his tribe; and he does not think it is the dead man until he sees on awaking, and says, "Truly I thought that So-and-so was still living; and forsooth it is his shade which has come to me." And when he returns he has the same clothes on as those in which he died, and the clothes are known.
Sometimes among black men a snake enters the house; when it is seen they call one another, saying, "There is a snake." All the people hurry to look at the snake if it does not run away. They say if it were a wild snake85 it would run away when it sees men. But as it does not run away, it is a tame snake.86 Others say, "It is a beast; let it be killed." They dispute, and one kills it and throws it away. They go to sleep, and a dream comes, and the dead man says, "How is it that you kill me when you see me? It is me whom you have killed. I am So-and-so." The man awakes, and tells his dreams, and the people wonder. It is on this account, then, that they say that the Itongo is a snake. They say so because the dead man tells them in dreams that he is the snake which they have seen.
Ecstasy and Dreams.
ECSTASY is a state in which a man becomes slightly insensible. He is awake, but still sees things, which he would not see if he were not in a state of ecstasy.
Undayeni was a clever man, who used to say he was able to see things afar off from him. He would sometimes see what was going on on the other side of a hill, and tell the people, saying, "There is a man coming by that path," whether it was a friend, or a stranger.87
Sometimes in our country they hunted buffalo. If he had slept at night, he would awake in the morning and tell us, saying, "Sirs, if we go to hunt buffaloes to-day, we shall be lucky. I saw some buffaloes during the night; we were hunting them; they were just like cattle." That was all such dreams made known to us. When we found the buffaloes, they were just like cattle, as he had told us; we killed them, and did not get so much as a scratch.
On another occasion, if there was a hunt, the men having already agreed, saying, "Sirs, on such a day it is well for us to go and hunt buffaloes by such a river." p. 233 They would agree, and when the morning arrived set out on their journey. As they were setting out he would say to them, "Sirs, but I have seen in my sleep, although we are going to hunt, do you hunt like men. For I say the buffaloes are full of rage." And truly it was so when they came up with them; although they did not kill any one, they tossed the men or dogs continually. But they went to the hunt made cautious by his dream; and escaped again and again by dodging.
We noticed that although he was not an inyanga, yet his dreams were good. He was besides a brave man and courageous; if there were a buffalo in an open spot, where was no tree upon which a man could climb, he would say to the people, "Do you climb into the trees. I will go and draw him towards you, that we may kill him." But the people could not see that, but said, "How will he draw the buffalo towards us, for he cannot fly, and is not able to run fast? What will he do? How will he escape?" But he went to the buffalo, and began the attack by stabbing it, and then ran away to where the people were, and climbed into a tree; and if there were any men who had assagais, they killed it.
The people used to say of him, that he was a diviner though he did not divine; for he said what was true; and diviners sometimes say what is not true. He was also an eloquent man, for what he said came to pass.
It was said, the Amatongo of his own people and the Amatongo of his maternal uncle disagreed. Those of the maternal uncle wished to make him a diviner; those of his own people did not wish it. After that he was unable to divine like a diviner; but said what was true without divination. But his habits were those of a diviner, though he was not one; for he used to yawn and sneeze continually; and this is done by diviners; although he did not divine, he was midway between divining and not divining.
There is another thing which I remember of Undayeni. We were living on the Umgeni; there was in the neighbourhood a rock, in which was a hollow, where water stood; and that water was the looking glass in which all we younger ones used to look at ourselves. One day on awaking from sleep he asked us, saying, "Is there a place in the rock which you gaze in as a looking glass?" We replied, "What harm is there in that?" He replied, "No. I merely ask because I have seen p. 235 what I have seen during the night." Then we told him that there was such a place. He replied, "I tell you never to go to that place again. There is some one who for some time has seen that you are accustomed to look at yourselves there. And he has put bad medicine88 into the hollow. Leave the place." And because he was a man whom we knew, we saw that he spoke the truth, and did not refuse to obey, but left the place. This he did not see in an ecstatic state, but during sleep.
And even in disputes, if there was any one who was in fault, and Undayeni said to him, "So-and-so, you will lose the case,"—if the man knew Undayeni he would no longer want to go into court, but was now ready to act rightly to the other without going into court.
Such then was the character of Undayeni. This is what I remember of his acts.
And as regards the ecstasy into which he fell, he was a man who did not like to sit in the midst of many people; but liked to sit alone, for he was a man who, we said, spoke the truth.89 I do not p. 236 mean that he never sat amidst other people, but he did not usually do so.
In like manner among black men the real meaning of dreams is not known. For some dreams have every appearance of reality, but they are not true; others point out something which is about to happen. For among black men it is supposed that if a man dream of a great assembly, where they are dancing, if there is any one ill, we have no confidence that he will get well; but immediately the man who dreamt of the dance is much alarmed, and if he is not a man of the same village as that where the man is ill, he continually listens, expecting to hear the funeral wail. And although the wail is not heard on the same day, he is still fearful and without confidence.
But a dream which produces confidence among black men, when any one is ill, is one in which they dream that someone is dead and about to be buried, and that they see the earth poured into the grave, and hear the funeral lamentation for him, and see the destruction90 of all his things during the night. They say of such a dream, "Because we have dreamt of his death he will not die."
We do not understand how this happens. For as regards living and dying, it would appear proper that he who is about to die should die, if when he is ill people dream he is dead; and he who is is about to live should live, if people dream that he is well. But in truth I have seen both. I have dreamt of a wedding-dance, and the man died; again, I have dreamt of the death of a sick man, but he got well. For example, when some years ago our Teacher was ill, I dreamt that he was dead, and that he had died at Pietermaritzburg. But he was not buried in a grave, but was placed in the middle of a house which was white inside; and it was full of dead men, and he was placed on the top of the dead men; his head was directed towards the east, and his hair covered his eyes. This I saw in my sleep. When I awoke, I waited, saying, "Let me look out for the letter which will come shortly; it will came and say, 'O, it is so, he is dead.'" I did not wait for that, but saw it was already really true, and at once wept during the rest of the night; I was afraid for a letter to come, thinking it would tell us of his death. I longed that it might be a long time before it arrived. My eyes remained full of tears p. 238 because of the dream. But when the letter came it was not so. But I heard it said, "Our Teacher has sent for the waggon to go to Pietermaritzburg, to fetch him." So I said, "O, truly, to dream of death does not show that death will take place."
I have not yet come to a certain conclusion that this is true; for some dream of death, and death occurs; and sometimes of health, and the person lives. And I do not say that a dream turns out to be true; sometimes I dream of something, and in fact the thing happens as I have dreamed. But I speak especially of the death or life of one who is ill, that the event turns out different from what it ought to, and goes by contraries.
People say, summer dreams are true; but they do not say they are always true; but they say that summer dreams do not usually miss the mark. But they say the winter is bad, and produces confused imaginations, that is, very many unintelligible dreams. And therefore it is said that winter causes bad dreams, and if a man has dreamed and tells another, he will at once answer him, saying, "O, So-and-so, that is nothing but the confused imaginations caused by the winter." He says thus p. 239 because there is no sense in the dream. In like manner it is said there is not much that is false in the dreams of summer. But when the winter comes the people will bring much rubbish, that is, false dreams.
A dream which is said to be sent by the Itongo, is one which comes with a message from the dead, enquiring why such and such a thing is not done. For example, among black men, if one has an abundant harvest sometimes the head of the village dreams that it is said to him, "How is it, when you have been given so much food, that you do not give thanks?" And as soon as he wakes he has no doubt as to what food the dream means. But he perceives at once that the dream speaks to the point. And he immediately commands his people to make beer, for he is about to sacrifice. So he praises the Amatongo for the food which they have given him. And if he has gained many cattle he does the same.
It happened once when the Amazulu had gone out to battle,91 the word was passed among the people telling them that the cattle were standing without guard at p. 240 Idhlokwe.92 And all the people started up, thinking they should get cattle; and even old men went out, leaning on their staves; and at length our father was carried away by the infection. And as the news came in the afternoon, he said to our mothers, "Make me some bread, that I may eat on the journey." But whilst he was asleep a voice came to him, saying, "Do not go where the others are going; not one will come back again." So in the morning, as it was a shame to a man to say he was not going, he said, "O, for my part, neighbours, when I lay down I had got ready to go; but now my leg prevents me; I have become lame." In fact he pretended to be lame.
They set out thinking they should gain very many cattle; and forsooth death made a very great gain of them. O, one only came back, whose name was Usichile; he came with an assagai wound by his ear. He said, "You see me only." That was a confirmation to my father that he had been truly warned by the dream. And after that he told the dream, saying, "I too was going, but I saw what has happened in a dream."
Again, if when making an incursion into another country one has dreamt that he stabbed a man first and killed him, he murmurs saying, "Oh, how is it that I have dreamt that I killed a man? No. The dream goes by contraries. It is I who shall be killed." So he goes cautiously—does not go in front, but behind the others; but when the two armies have joined battle, then he enters into the engagement, when the enemy is confused, and stabs someone. He does not forget the dream, but bears it constantly in mind.
MY heart is heavy. I have had a bad dream. I dreamt of a funeral lamentation; many people were weeping. How heavy my heart is because I have dreamt of many things! I dreamt also of a wedding-dance; many people were dancing.
I thought in my heart, a wedding is a bad dream. If you dream of a wedding, there is something not right; there is someone who has died; the wedding is a sign of lamentation; if you dream of men dancing, it is a bad dream.
And I woke in the morning and told the people, saying, "My heart is heavy. I have dreamt of a wedding-dance, and of a funeral lamentation." The people said, "You have dreamt of a bad thing. A wedding-dance is a sign that there will be a funeral lamentation. Since when you left home there was someone ill, the funeral lamentation is a good dream; the dream of a wedding is of no consequence; your dream of a funeral lamentation is good; the dream of a wedding is bad." They further said, "And sometimes if you frequently dream of a wedding, it is nothing; or if you dream of it once only, it is not a sign that can be depended on."
I said, "Some time ago I dreamt of a wedding. When I awoke I said, 'It is not right at home. My mother-in-law is dead.'"
Immediately after I had dreamt of the wedding, a man came, and I was alarmed. As soon as I saw him I went out of the cooking house, and saluted him, and said, "Although I thus salute you, as soon as I saw you I felt alarmed; it felt as if there was something you have come to tell me." For as soon as I saw him I felt alarmed. He said, "O, you felt alarm with reason. There is bad news p. 243 at your home. Your mother-in-law is dead." I said, "Of what disease did she die?" He said, "She complained of pain in her throat. And on that very day we heard the funeral lamentation. We could not tell who had died. But asked, 'What is it? Since there is lamentation, what has happened?' They said, 'Uguaise's mother-in-law is dead.' We asked, 'What was the disease? For only the day before yesterday we were with her, and she was not ill?' They answered, 'O, we do not know, and we too are startled. We too hear only by the lamentation.' We said, 'O, what disease is it said to be?' They said, 'She complained of pain in her windpipe. Then her head was affected, and she died.'"
The man wondered at death when the person was not ill. And some said, "Let us go to the diviners, that we may hear what the disease is which kills a man without his having been ill."
They went to the diviners. The diviners said, "She has been killed by someone. He who has killed her is a great man; he wishes to destroy the village; he is a great man, a captain of villages."
So I say, "I have dreamt to-day, and am alarmed. My heart p. 244 remembers the dreams which I formerly dreamt; and my heart asks, 'Can it be, since this dream of a wedding comes to me again, that it is not right at my home? For when I left my home, my wife and mother were ill. Why have I dreamt a dream which I dreamt formerly and it came true?'"
Our people, Umpengula and the rest, answered me, saying, "The dream of a wedding is a bad sign. Your heart is heavy with reason; to dream of a wedding is like dreaming that a man is ill. If you dream of him when he is very ill, you may dream that he is fat, and decked in his fine things; and that man is dead; he does not get well. When a man is ill, it is well to dream he is dead, and that they are weeping for him; then that man will get well; he will not die."
It was Umpengula who answered me thus; and he said, "Yes, yes, Uguaise, but since you have dreamed of a wedding-dance, a wedding-dance is a bad dream." And Uklass answered, "O, as to that, Uguaise, one dream will turn out to be a bad omen; and a man may dream the same dream another time, and it turn out to be but a dream, and nothing come of it."
Umpengula answered, "Yes, p. 245 yes, you say truly, Uklass, it is so sometimes; a man dreams merely of another, and nothing comes of it. And I too, Uguaise, once dreamt a dream. Undayeni was ill. During his illness I dreamt I saw him dressed in his best attire, with his umuntsha of wild cat's skins, and having put on his tails; I dreamt there was a dance. I awoke in the morning, Uguaise, with my heart depressed. I told the people my dream, and remained waiting, my eyes filling with tears. I said, 'If Undayeni is dead—' As I was saying those words,—for I was working with the white men,—I said, 'I will turn my eyes towards the road,' and I saw a lad coming; it was a lad belonging to us. I said, 'O, Undayeni is dead. The lad is coming to tell us.' As soon as he came I said to him, 'Lad, you have come because Undayeni is dead.' The boy said, 'Yes, yes; I come merely for the purpose of telling you that Undayeni is dead.' I replied, 'I too had already seen that it was so.'"
My heart is no longer heavy. But it says if there is any thing the matter, I shall see someone coming to tell me. My heart sees that what the men of the place say is true; and I too now see that if p. 246 there is any thing the matter I shall see a messenger coming to tell me. But I am still in deep expectation, and my heart will be satisfied when many days have passed after the dream. Then I shall say, "No, there is nothing the matter. But sleep has filled my mind with mere senseless images."
As regards those wild animals which a man sees when he is going to pray in secret, I too have seen them again and again. When I was beginning to kneel, or when I was saying the first word perhaps, there was something beginning to approach me; as though it said, "Now he has closed his eyes, and will no longer see me; let me draw near and bite him, or lay hold of him, or stab him." If I steadily refused to arise, O, at once there came a great noise which took away all my courage, and led me to say, "This is something real. The first was a little thing; now there is coming a great thing to kill me."
When these things come to any one they always come separately; there comes a snake with great eyes and very fearful; so that p. 247 when I have knelt, I could not remain firm, but rose up again. If it was not a snake, a leopard would come on stealthily to lay hold of me, for I could not see, but was looking on the ground, intending to pray to the Lord. But my prayer was no longer steady; I began to pray a little in my heart, praying and stopping that my ear may not only listen to my prayer, but also to the crackling made by the leopard as it came to seize me. When I saw that it was something real, and that the leopard was preparing itself to seize me, I arose.
And if it was not a leopard, it would be a man who hated me, with a long assagai in his hand, approaching to kill me, that I may die in that place; and he too went stealthily, that I might not hear him.
For under these circumstances a man who went out to pray would not pray with the heart only, but speak aloud; therefore those animals saw me because they heard the murmuring of my voice; and drew near. And I saw the man when he raised his arm to stab me, or when he really tried to thrust the assagai into my body.
When I prayed under such circumstances I no longer prayed with singleness of heart, but in hurry, wishing to look without delay to the place from which the danger threatened me, for I was in danger.
And when the man was now stabbing me, I would arise, the sentence which I was uttering being unfinished; it was already begun but not ended, but cut in two. I arose that I might escape. When I arose I arose with a start, and looked to the place whence the man came; but did not see him.
It was no longer possible for me to return to my prayers and finish what I had begun to say. No! There was now an end of it, and I could no longer say what I wanted for the false alarm which had frightened me. O, this was repeated again and again. It happened continually in my prayers. I arose ashamed because I had been frightened by fantacy, and believed in it. But at length I saw that it was fantacy, and that it happened because I went out before it was light, leaving the people still asleep, doing so because I should then have time to pray for myself to the Lord; for if I went out while it was day, they too would have gone out to do their daily work, and would hear, p. 249 and whisper about me one to another, saying, "O, that man is now a believer; I heard him praying; it is well for us to go to the place where he prays, and arouse him, or beat him, that he may not repeat such things."
The animals I saw because I went out whilst it was still dark, before the day had fully dawned. But at last I saw that it was not real because they appeared continually for many days, until I despised them, saying, "O, of what use will it be if when I pray I am made to arise from my knees by beasts which devour me, when forsooth they are not real? for I cannot get that for which I awake early to pray to the Lord, being prevented by the beasts which I see. Just let me strengthen myself until I feel them really seizing me, and persevere in prayer without ceasing."
And indeed when I was kneeling there came a snake to do as on other days. I said, "No! To-day let me feel by my body that it has already seized me." Then I conquered. There came a huge leopard. I said also to it, "Let me feel by my body." I conquered. There came a man, running to stab me at once. Since I had despised the leopard, I said too of the man, "Let me feel by my p. 250 body." I conquered him. I went home having ascended a rock of safety, saying, "O, forsooth I have been hindered by fantasies."
I did so again, and the things no longer continued to frighten me. And at last they ceased altogether, and have not returned to the present day. Many are hindered by such things; when they merely begin to pray, they see these beasts which come to devour them, and they at once start and go up, and no one thinks of going to the same place again; but a man says, "To-morrow it will be well for me to go to such a place, and see if the same thing will happen again." It does happen again; and he is afraid ever after. Thus it happens with some. But with the generality these things are known to be fantasies; for if a man is hindered by them, he tells some one else, saying, "O, I wonder, for I am impelled to pray to the Lord. But before I begin to open my mouth, lo, there is a beast, a snake, or a man; these come to kill me, and I start up and am hindered by these things." He is encouraged by the other to whom the same thing has happened; he says, "It is nothing; though you do see such things, do not look; it is proper p. 251 to be firm; you will go home uninjured; you will not be really devoured as it appears to you that you will be." And so it turns out; and he tells his friend, "O, So-and-so, forsooth I was deceived by fantasies."
IT happened when I was being instructed for baptism, I used habitually to pray at all times in secret. I did so because when I prayed it was as if I really saw the Lord; and I went away from prayer with my heart very white indeed. I did so because I saw that it would be well for me too to believe in the Lord, and to become His child. But once when I was praying I saw a venomous beast coming to me as though it was about to injure me. I started up and left off praying. But forsooth I saw nothing. This happened twice; but on the third time I strengthened myself and said, "Let me just see if it will injure me or no." I strengthened myself till I had ended my prayer. And I saw nothing when I had finished. I doubted about it, and asked what it meant. But I had already heard from believers that when a man prayed alone, venomous creatures came to him when p. 252 they were urged on by Satan. I saw by that that I was merely tempted by Satan. But this continued without cessation, until I took courage, and saw that it was nothing. And then there came with power a great light to me; and when I found myself full of light, I reproved myself for being continually startled by nothing. But I strengthened myself with the strength of the Lord, and saw that He was with me always. After that when I prayed I saw that the Lord is, and it was as if I could fly away to Him for the joy which overflowed my heart. So it was. But I do not say that I have mentioned every thing that I saw at that time before the time came for me to be baptised.95
82 Is’-ala-’kutshelwa, He who when told refuses to listen, hears in the time of trouble. A proverbial saying. Another form is, Ihlonga-’ndhlebe li zwa ngomopo, He who is without an ear hears in the time of trouble.
83 Empini, lit., to an army, or enemy.
84 Umzimba u mude, your body is long, that is, relaxed, unstrung.
85 Eyasendhle, a wild snake, that is, not an Itongo.
86 Eyasekaya, a home snake, that is, an Itongo.
87 That is, in the ecstatic state he could see that some one was coming, but could not see whether it was an acquaintance, or a stranger.
88 Ububi, that is, some medicinal substance, capable of making any one who looked into the water hateful to others. See "Superstitious Use of Medicines."—Among the Highland Tales there is mentioned a magic basin which made a person beautiful when he washed in it. (Campbell. Vol. I., p. 97.)
89 He sat alone that he might become ecstatic, and in that state see what he could not see in his ordinary condition.
90 Some of the dead man's personal property—as his assagais, his blanket, and dress—is buried with him, and some is burnt.
91 To fight with the Dutch in the time of Udingane.
92 Idhlokwe, a secure place, where there was abundant pasture and forest, where the cattle could feed in concealment.
95 The reader will see repeated in these narratives the experiences of St. Antony, Hilarion, and other early saints.