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Spiritualistic Séances

IT is customary in Shantung, when any one is sick, for the womenfolk to engage an old sorceress or medium, who strums on a tambourine and performs certain mysterious antics. This custom obtains even more in the capital, where young ladies of the best families frequently organize such séances among themselves. On a table in the hall they spread out a profusion of wine and meat, and burn huge candles which make the place as light as day. Then the sorceress, shortening her skirts, stands on one leg and performs the shangyang, while two of the others support her, one on each side. All this time she is chattering unintelligible sentences, something between a song and a prayer, the words being confused but uttered in a sort of tune; while the hall resounds with the thunder of drums, enough to stun a person, with which her vaticinations are mixed up and lost. By-and-by her head begins to droop, and her eyes to look aslant; and but for her two supporters she would inevitably fall to the ground. Suddenly she stretches forth her neck and bounds several feet into the air, upon which the other women regard her in terror, saying, “The spirits have come to eat;” and immediately all the candles are blown out and everything is in total darkness. Thus they remain for about a quarter of an hour, afraid to speak a word, which in any case would not be heard through the din, until at length the sorceress calls out the personal name of the head of the family and some others; whereupon they immediately relight the candles and hurry up to ask if the reply of the spirits is favourable or otherwise. They then see that every scrap of the food and every drop of the wine has disappeared. Meanwhile, they watch the old woman’s expression, whereby they can tell if the spirits are well disposed; and each one asks her some question, to which she as promptly replies. Should there be any unbelievers among the party, the spirits are at once aware of their presence; and the old sorceress, pointing her finger at such a one, cries out, “Disrespectful mocker! where are your trousers?” upon which the mocker alluded to looks down, and lo! her trousers are gone—gone to the top of a tree in the courtyard, where they will subsequently be found.
Manchu women and girls, especially, are firm believers in spiritualism. On the slightest provocation they consult their medium, who comes into the room gorgeously dressed, and riding on an imitation horse or tiger. In her hand she holds a long spear, with which she mounts the couch and postures in an extraordinary manner, the animal she rides snorting or roaring fiercely all the time. Some call her Kuan Ti, others Chang Fei, and others again Chou Kung, from her terribly martial aspect, which strikes fear into all beholders. And should any daring fellow try to peep in while the séance is going on, out of the window darts the spear, transfixes his hat, and draws it off his head into the room, while women and girls, young and old, hop round one after the other like geese, on one leg, without seeming to get the least fatigued.

跳神

濟俗:民間有病者,閨中以神卜。倩老巫擊鐵環單面鼓,娑婆作態,名曰「跳神」。而此俗都中尤盛。良家少婦,時自為之。堂中肉於案,酒於盆,甚設几上。燒巨燭,明於晝。婦束短幅裙,屈一足,作「商羊舞」。兩人捉臂,左右扶掖之。婦刺刺瑣絮,似歌,又似祝;字多寡參差,無律帶腔。室數鼓亂撾如雷,蓬蓬聒人耳。婦吻闢翕,雜鼓聲,不甚辨了。既而首垂,目斜睨;立全須人,失扶則仆。旋忽伸頸巨躍,離地尺有咫。室中諸女子,凜然愕顧曰:「祖宗來喫食矣。」便一噓,吹燈滅,內外冥黑。人惵息立暗中,無敢交一語;語亦不得聞,鼓聲亂也。食頃,聞婦厲聲呼翁姑及夫嫂小字,始共爇燭,傴僂問休咎。視尊中,盎中,案中,都復空空。望顏色,察嗔喜。肅肅羅問之,答若響。中有腹誹者,神已知,便指某姍笑我,大不敬,將褫汝袴。誹者自顧,瑩然已裸,輒於門外樹頭覓得之。滿洲婦女,奉事尤虔。小有疑,必以決。時嚴妝,騎假虎假馬,執長兵,舞榻上,名曰「跳虎神」。馬虎勢作威怒,尸者聲傖儜。或言關、張、玄壇,不一號。赫氣慘凜,尤能畏怖人。有丈夫穴窗來窺,輒被長兵破窗刺帽,挑入去。一家媼媳姊若妹,森森蹜蹜,雁行立,無歧念,無懈骨。

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