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OMENS AND SUB-RITES 165
will be familiar with the way in which the movements of sheep or birds betray to the expert the wiles of the hunted stag. When the Murring see an old man kangaroo hopping towards them, they believe that he is warning them of danger, and a cracking sound in the ground when they are asleep puts the Kurnai on their guard.1 Obviously the phenomena which really do accompany the enemy's advance have played a part in the significance of the omen, though the mental association may be unconscious and not the result of a rational process. As always, the significance of the omen is extended, and we get the derivative portent among the Kurnai, for whom to dream of old men kangaroos sitting round the camp is a certain sign of danger.2
The basis, however, of the observance of omens is the occurrence of the abnormal, and the impression which it makes. This may, of course, be some entirely new experience, such
1 Howitt, J.A.I, xvi. pp. 46-47. Similarly Bushmen say, "The approach of strangers causes us to become drowsy. The near approach of a commando is heralded by a mist" (A Short Account of Further Bushman Material, collected by L. C. Lloyd, 1889). It is a priori probable that strangers and enemies would approach if possible when they were asleep and commandoes take advantage of a mist. The Koita of British New Guinea take warning from the movements of parrots, etc., but do not attribute the sign to any non-human agency: " Bird he smell man and sing out," Seligmann, Melanesians of British New Guinea, p. 189. 2 Howitt, loc. cit.