The Ledrone Islands
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
Before the arrival of the Spaniards, they acknowledged no deity, had no idea of any religion, and were without temples, altars, sacrifices, worship, or priests. They had, indeed, some cunning men, called macanas, among them, who, pretending to the gift of prophecy, and to an intimate familiarity with the dead, assumed the power of controlling the living, giving health to the sick, procuring a plentiful harvest and a successful fishing. Under the influence of these delusions, they entertained some crude notions of the immortality of the soul; for when anyone died, they put a basket over his head to receive his spirit, entreating at the same time that as soon as it quitted the body it might repose itself in that basket.
Indeed, the whole of their superstition turns upon the notions they entertain of the dead. They talk of a place replenished with delicacies, and abounding with groves. of trees, fountains of water, and fruits of exquisite flavour, and of infernal regions where darkness evermore prevails. But neither virtue nor vice, according to them, has any share in conducting men to mansions of bliss or to those of misery ; the whole depends upon the manner of leaving the world. If one has the misfortune to die a violent death, darkness is his portion ; but if he dies in the ordinary way, he has the pleasure of enjoying all the delights which the happy regions can bestow. They are persuaded that the spirits of the dead appear to the living, and often complain of their being ill-used by spectres, by whom they are some-times terribly frighted.