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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Saliva symbolism in African belief
Author:Nabofa, M.Y.
Periodical:Orita: Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:African religions
religious rituals
Abstract:In African belief, human life is bound up in saliva just as it is bound up in blood. Saliva is believed to be the lubricant of life, consequently its absence leads to the end of life. The connection between saliva and man's essence makes it a sacred fluid, hence it can be used in contracting sacred agreements, for blessing, ritual cleansing and other sacred purposes. The ascribed sanctity of saliva imparts it with both positive and negative powers, depending on the mood and intention of the person at the time that it is intentionally released from the mouth. While its positive uses usher in blessings, peace and harmony, ritual purity, healing, self and financial protection, its negative application gives power to curses, sorcery, and for correcting the evildoer. Though punitive and painful in nature, it is seen as a powerful element for conquering psychic attacks and for rejecting and warding off mental poisoning. Adherents of African traditional religion acknowledge the fact that the mana operating behind saliva is neutral; consequently it could produce negative results if it is abused. There are checks and balances on its use, especially for some seemingly negative purposes such as cursing, magic and sorcery, and coercion. Note, ref.