John A. Dowell, instructor
Nacirema Body Ritual: Eeffoc
Horace Miner traveled across the world studying different tribes and different cultures. One such tribe is known as the Nacirema. These people participated in numerous body rituals that at times seemed almost self-sacrificing in the name of magic. One ritual, known as Eeffoc, occurs every morning within this society to rid the mind of demons. These people believe that demons cling to the brain after sleep, no matter how short or long this sleep may have been. These demons try to control the person’s mind and make the person unable to do anything for the rest of the day. They attempt to slow the mind down and close the person’s eyelids, luring the person into a coma-like deep sleep. The only way to disperse these demons is by making a special and magical potion. Each step of this process is slowed down by the accompaniment of the hardship of harboring this demon. This makes it extremely difficult on the person, for it has to be completed as soon as possible. Each passing moment after the person awakes; the demons have a greater chance of controlling the mind. Once the demons gain complete control of the mind, the person may drift back into sleep for hours upon hours, unable to get up and unable to get anything accomplished, even eating.
There are many steps to this potion-making ritual and each one has to be done precisely, for fear the potion will not work. First, the person must gather a magical powder. This powder can only be made in certain lands, so specialized men must gather the powder in its raw form and prepare it. This means that before making the potion, the person must go to these men. In order to receive the powder, the person must leave a gift with these men. Some powders are viewed to be more potent, and thus these powders can only be received when the men are presented with a more valuable gift. Once this magical powder is gathered, the person must collect water of the hottest temperatures. These hot temperatures scold the demons from the inside, making it easier to draw them out. When the water is gathered, the person must put the powder and water into a magic box. The magic box creates a mist that surrounds it and makes various incantations to fuse the magical substances together. Once fused, the black potion comes out an opening and is poured into a cup. Sometimes, in order to be completely sure the potion will work, other packets of magic is added to the potion before drinking.
When drank, this potion speeds up the mind, moving faster than the demons can handle and this causes them to lose their grip. Once unable to control the mind, the demons flee; sometimes they leave so fast that the person is left in shock. Throughout the day, although now they can fully focus, the person’s mind will ache from the quick detachment of the parasitic demons. Sometimes the pain can be unbearable. One might think that getting rid of these demons is not worth the immense pain the person must go through, but these people place their priorities on getting rid of any demons clogging their minds and bodies. No matter the pain or side effects of ridding these demons, even if they may just be a natural part of the being, they will stop at nothing just to draw them out and free their minds. Sometimes the body will even go into great convulsions. These convulsions also distract the person from doing their tasks at hand. Paired with the extreme migraines, one can only wonder if ridding these demons is truly worth it. These people are so convinced that the potion from Eeffoc is a necessity for their survival that their minds are clouded with the possibility that it could only be hurting them more. Their spiritual belief in the fact that the potion will work is enough for them to want to keep ingesting the potion. It is clear that spiritual beliefs take precedent in this society.
Miner, Horace "Body Ritual among the Nacerima" 3, June 1956 <https://www.msu.edu/~jdowell/miner.html>