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However absurd many of these practices appear to us to-day, it must be kept in mind that they were all part of a complicated system of religious beliefs and that there was never any question of witchcraft in the whole process. According to the animistic view of the Ashanti, in all animal and vegetable life there was a spiritual element that might conserve man's spirit after death just as the material part had been assimilated in the ordinary process of digestion during life. By an extension of this idea, it was thought that the departed spirit of man could draw sustenance from the food at the grave, as no substantial change, it was believed, had been effected in the process of cooking. Until the interference of the white man put a stop to it, the funeral rites of the Ashanti kings had been elaborate in the extreme. What has been commonly regarded as a "blood-lust" with its seemingly indiscriminate slaughter of victims, was in reality a natural consequence of the accepted doctrine concerning the hereafter. "It was incumbent on those left on earth to see that the king entered the spirit-world with a retinue befitting his high position. Such killings thus became a last pious homage and service to the dead," as we are told by Captain Rattray.
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