“Tabu and the sodden habitat of Bogofarlo”

‘Torres Straits’ Modern Anthropological Society Minutes (2052: UK Branch)
Diary of Sir Biddley Biddulph, anthropologist on the natives of Bogofarlo. (Bog: 1217b (iii) – incomplete)
“It is tabu to make reference to the wetlands they live in, and so the natives have developed a psychoanalytically recognisable cultural practice of referring to the continuous rainfall as The Drought.  However, before I provide my psychoanthropological analysis of the cultural habits of the native peoples of Bogofarlo, it’s important to set down some – albeit tabu – facts about the environment. It’s been raining now non stop for forty years – here in Bogofarlo, the natives push their wooden punts between sodden thickets of alder and birch, constructing simple homes out of reeds and hazel wands which they line with the skins of voles and rabbits, sewn together by their skilful menfolk using strips of bark. Despite an unfriendly climate, the natives manage to keep warm in their mallard-skin slippers and cloaks of Canada geese feathers, living mainly off raw pike and frogs, and the pounded roots of shrubs and flowers in addition to the few scrawny chickens and emaciated goats which provide them, in a good season, with eggs, milk and cheese. The remaining islets of mud on which they and their livestock live their precarious lives are steadily disappearing into the waterplains. On Firedays the entire community gather on Tahnsenta Mound, a modest hill of dried yellow clay where the mysterious and holy Cansillas live, and, one by one, are led by their priests to reverently kneel and warm their hands at the Sacred Flame, burning in the lap of a stone family. In a eerily hypnotic drone, they pray for absolution, lamenting the faults in them that brought upon them the First Rains. They intone: Oh Fire, fierce warmer of our hands, our hearts, our souls, we worship you and call upon you to come once again into our lives. Pierce, oh spear of burning fire, the dribbly wetness of our sinful thoughts, scorch out from us the impure dankness of our mouldy vices … “

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