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Religious Practices of the Diegueño Indians, by T.T. Waterman, [1910], at

p. 335


A prominent element in all ritualism, whether of the primitive or civilized variety, is the consciousness of a sacred or ceremonial number. The exact implication of the term "ceremonial number" is illustrated by what we know of the special significance among Hebrews of the number seven: or among Christians, especially Roman Catholics, of the number three. A corresponding usage is apparent in all the religious practices of the Diegueño. The author can say, however, what every reader of the foregoing pages has seen for himself, that more or less confusion exists. The Diegueño themselves are unconscious of any rule. Nor does their mythology reflect any definite feeling in the matter. In the absence of direct testimony, however, we can derive certain conclusions from the rituals themselves. Ceremonial actions and gestures are repeated usually either three or four times. The frequent "growling or groaning sound accompanied by blowing," and the exclamation "mwau," are repeated usually thrice, and only occasionally four times. In the latter case, the third repetition is felt by the people to be "doubled." "The last one is just for winding up," is the way one informant put it. In the Horloi dance the saucer of tobacco is raised three times; and many other instances could be quoted. Six sometimes occurs, appearing to be however a duplication of three. Two and also seven do not appear. Five was observed by the writer only once. The ceremonial number varies therefore between three and four, and of these, while the feeling is not very definite, three is much the more usual.

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