Poison, Witches, bones and flesh

Richard Gendron herrge at GEOCITIES.COM
Sat Nov 6 23:21:49 EST 1999


Dear indologists,

In March 1999, Michael Witzel wrote,
in a response to Leonard Zwilling:

LZ:
> peacocks are said to thrive on poisonous plants
> which they prefer for their food

MW:
* The theme is a old as the Rgveda,
* see RV 1.191.14 (a late, Atharva-like hymn
* full of non-Indo-Aryan loan words),
* in the context of charms against poisons:
*1.191.14: "the three times seven pea-hens, the 3 x 7 unmarried sisters,
* these (females)  have taken away your poison... "

*Iam am sure there is much more, for example in Crooke's North Indian folklore.

* Most interesting for you perhaps the Himalayan occurence,
* in Nepalese Shaman texts:
* in the context of the battle of the First Shaman with the 9 Witches
* ("9 Little Sisters"). ---
* Note that, as always in (N. Asian) shamanism,
* '9' is preferred, other than Rgveda "7'.

I have found references to the 9 Witches in Tamang and Magar shamanism, and
to the seven sisters in Tharu rituals, but I would like to take a look at
other examples of this (9 or 7 sisters/witches) in the context of
myths/rituals of north Indian "scheduled tribes" (preferably in Uttar
Pradesh) or in Nepal.

I would also be grateful if anyone help me find references to bones being
transmitted to the offspring by the father, whereas flesh is coming from
the mother (again in Uttar Pradesh or in the Himalaya).  I am particularly
interested in any relationship of the idea of flesh with the idea of a
flower (like what Carrin noticed for the Santal - does this appear anywhere
in the Vedas?).

Thanks for your help,

Richard Gendron, graduate student
Université de Sherbrooke (Quebec)



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