Balder the Beautiful, Volume I. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 545 pages of information about Balder the Beautiful, Volume I..

Now it is remarkable that the foregoing two rules—­not to touch the ground and not to see the sun—­are observed either separately or conjointly by girls at puberty in many parts of the world.  Thus amongst the negroes of Loango girls at puberty are confined in separate huts, and they may not touch the ground with any part of their bare body.[64] Among the Zulus and kindred tribes of South Africa, when the first signs of puberty shew themselves “while a girl is walking, gathering wood, or working in the field, she runs to the river and hides herself among the reeds for the day, so as not to be seen by men.  She covers her head carefully with her blanket that the sun may not shine on it and shrivel her up into a withered skeleton, as would result from exposure to the sun’s beams.  After dark she returns to her home and is secluded” in a hut for some time.[65] During her seclusion, which lasts for about a fortnight, neither she nor the girls who wait upon her may drink any milk, lest the cattle should die.  And should she be overtaken by the first flow while she is in the fields, she must, after hiding in the bush, scrupulously avoid all pathways in returning home.[66] A reason for this avoidance is assigned by the A-Kamba of British East Africa, whose girls under similar circumstances observe the same rule.  “A girl’s first menstruation is a very critical period of her life according to A-Kamba beliefs.  If this condition appears when she is away from the village, say at work in the fields, she returns at once to her village, but is careful to walk through the grass and not on a path, for if she followed a path and a stranger accidentally trod on a spot of blood and then cohabited with a member of the opposite sex before the girl was better again, it is believed that she would never bear a child.”  She remains at home till the symptoms have ceased, and during this time she may be fed by none but her mother.  When the flux is over, her father and mother are bound to cohabit with each other, else it is believed that the girl would be barren all her life.[67] Similarly, among the Baganda, when a girl menstruated for the first time she was secluded and not allowed to handle food; and at the end of her seclusion the kinsman with whom she was staying (for among the Baganda young people did not reside with their parents) was obliged to jump over his wife, which with the Baganda is regarded as equivalent to having intercourse with her.  Should the girl happen to be living near her parents at the moment when she attained to puberty, she was expected on her recovery to inform them of the fact, whereupon her father jumped over her mother.  Were this custom omitted, the Baganda, like the A-Kamba, thought that the girl would never have children or that they would die in infancy.[68] Thus the pretence of sexual intercourse between the parents or other relatives of the girl was a magical ceremony to ensure her fertility.  It is significant that among the Baganda the first menstruation was often called a

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Balder the Beautiful, Volume I. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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