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Literal meaning: ‘evil ghost’. The Murngin in northern Australia believe that death is rarely caused by old age: instead they ascribe a fatal disease or accident to a mokoi, or to ritual uncleanliness. Thus Yurlungur, the ancestral snake spirit, devoured two women and their offspring because they had broken an incest taboo. An evil ghost, however, is said to strike down a victim because of the black magic of a sorcerer. The Murngin have great fear of these men, and in time of need turn to good magicians for aid. The latter are distinguished by the small bag that hangs down from a head band. In a contest with a mokoi the magician would invoke his own familiars.

Subjects: Religion.

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