The Tarahumare’s Firm
Belief in a Future Life—Causes of
Death—The Dead are Mischievous and Want Their Families to Join
Them—Therefore the Dead Have to be Kept Away by Fair Means or
Foul—Three Feasts and a Chase—Burial Customs—A Funeral Sermon.
The idea of immortality is so strong with the Tarahumares that death means to them only a change of form. They certainly believe in a future life, but they are afraid of the dead, and think that they want to harm the survivors. This fear is caused by the supposition that the dead are lonely, and long for the company of their relatives. The dead also make people ill, that they too may die and join the departed. When a man dies in spite of all efforts of the shamans to save his life, the people say that those who have gone before have called him or carried him off. The deceased are also supposed to retain their love for the good things they left behind in this world, and to be trying every way to get at them. So strong is the feeling that the departed still owns whatever property he once possessed, that he is thought to be jealous of his heirs who now enjoy its possession. He may not let them sleep at night, but makes them sit up by the fire and talk. To soothe his discontent, tesvino and all kinds of food are given him, because he needs the same things he needed here. In the course of the year several ceremonies are performed, by which he is actually chased off, and the survivors constantly take precautions against his return to bother them.