198 THE MAGIC OP JEWELS AND CHARMS
equivalent to casting away every prospect of good-fortune. However,
only one who belongs to the three highest castes is entitled to become
an owner of the sacred stone, in which the very spirit of Vishnu is
supposed to dwell; neither a Sudra nor a Pariah enjoys this privilege,
which is also denied to women.
salagrâma is carefully wrapped in linen cloths, and must be often
washed and perfumed. The water with which it has been washed becomes a
consecrated drink. The master of the house must adore the stone once
each day, either in the morning or in the evening. As the salagrâma not
only brings happiness in this world but also insures felicity in the
future world, it is held over the dying Hindu while water is allowed to
trickle through the orifice. This ceremony appears to have a certain
analogy to thé rite of extreme unction administered in the Catholic
is stated by Finn Magnusen that in Iceland, toward the beginning of the
last century, he saw superstitious peasants carefully guard small
stones of peculiar appearance in pretty bags filled with fine flour.
They treated these stones with great reverence and either wore them on
their persons or placed them in their beds or other furniture.81
The fossils known as brontiœ, ombria and chelonites were
all believed to be antidotes for poison and also to make the wearer
victorious over his enemies. Hence they were sometimes set in the
pommels of swords. That these objects were equally potent in peace, is
shown by the fact that Danish peasant women placed them in their milk
pails to ward off the effects of any spell that might have been cast
over the cow's milk by a malevolent witch.82
a Magnusen, " Om en Steenring med Runenindskrift," Annaler for Nordisk Oldkyndighed, Copenhagen, 1838-1839, p. 133.
** Valentini, " Museum museorum, oder die vollständige Schau-Bühne," Frankfurt am Main, 1714, vol. ii, p. 12.