Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": THE INITIATION

BINBINGA MEDICINE MAN- CENTRAL AUSTRALIA


The Binbinga hold that medicine men are consecrated by the spirits Mundaji and Munkaningi (father and son). The magician Kurkutji told how, entering a cave one day, he came upon the old Mutidaji, who caught him by the neck and killed him.

Mundadji cut him [kurkutji] open, right down the middle line, took out all of his insides and exchanged them for those of himself, which he placed in the body of Kurkutji. At the same time he put a number of sacred stones in his body. After it was all over the younger spirit, Munkaninji, came up and restored him to life, told him that he was, now a medicine man, and showed him how to extract bones and other forms of evil magic out of men. Then he took him away up into the sky and brought him down to earth dose to his own camp, where he heard the natives mourning for him, thinking that he was dead. For a long time he remained in a more or less dazed condition, but gradually he recovered and the natives knew that he had been made into a medicine man. When he operates the spirit Munkaninji is supposed to be near at hand watching him, unseen of course by ordinary people. When taking a bone out, an operation usually conducted under the cover of darkness, Kurkutji first of all sucks very hard at the stomach of the patient and removes a certain amount of blood. Then he makes passes over the body, punches, pounds And sucks, until at last the bone comes out and is then immediately, before it can be seen by the onlookers, thrown in the direction of the spot at which Munkaninji is sitting down quietly watching. Kurkutji then tells the natives that he must go and ask Munkaninji if he will be so kind as to allow him, Kurkutji, to show the bone to them, and permission having been granted, he goes to the spot at which he has, presumably, previously deposited one, and returns with it.


B. Spencer and F. I. Gillen, The Northern Tribes of Central Australia (London, 1904), pp. 487-8

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