Billeder på siden

that his fortunes and his destiny were no longer at the mercy of capricious powers, but in the hands of a being who was friendly to him and was actuated by intelligible and reasonable motives. Magic, therefore the dealing with spiritual beings other than the gods of the community-is in two ways the negation of religion, and necessarily incurs its hostility. First, the desertion of a worshipper is offensive ingratitude to the clan-god, who accordingly may withdraw his protection from the community, which is collectively responsible (as in the blood-feud) for the acts of any of its members. Next, the fundamental principle of religion-belief in the wisdom and goodness of God—is violated by the belief in magic, by the idea that a good man can come to harm, or that a bad man is allowed to injure him.

But magic is more than a mere reversion, for in his relapse man carries with him in a perverted form something of his higher estate. In the beginning, if he could not influence the supernatural powers which surrounded him to his own good, neither could he to his fellow-man's harm. But in his relapse he takes with him the only idea which a mind so relapsing can entertain of worship, namely, that it is a sequence of external actions, particularly potent over supernatural beings. The armoury, therefore, on which he relies for working evil to his fellow-man consists in rites which are parodies or perversions of the worship of the community's gods; or “sympathetic magic,” which has already been explained in Chapter IV.; and charms, of which a word here. Charms or amulets are material objects, in which no spirit resides either permanently or occasionally, but which are associated with something, be it blood, or babe, or corpse, or good spirit or bad, which is taboo. They therefore catch the taboo-infection and become charged with the properties of the thing taboo. They may serve, therefore, to do injury to others, by communicating the taboo-contagion; or, by their dangerous character and the fear they inspire, they may protect the owner from both human and superhuman foes; or they may, from some association or other of ideas, be lucky.

To sum up: the difference between religion and magic is radical. Psychologically, it is impossible, from the malignity which is the motive of magic, to derive the tie of affection

which binds fellow-worshippers to one another, and to the being they worship. And as for the external acts which are common to the two, the sacrificial rite originates with the worship of the gods of the community: wherever else it occurs it is borrowed from their worship—and this brings us again to Family Gods and Guardian Spirits of individuals.



It is still a much disputed question what was the original form of human marriage, but in any case the family seems to be a later institution than the clan or community, whatever its structure, and family gods consequently are later than the gods of the community. If promiscuity, or if polyandry and the matriarchate, were the original state of things, then the family was admittedly a later development. And so also it was, if the patriarchate with monogamy or polygamy prevailed from the beginning. In the latter case, the gods of the patriarch were necessarily also the gods of his married children and his grandchildren; as long as the patriarch and his children and children's children dwelt together and formed the community, the married children and their respective families could have no separate gods of their own. When, however, circumstances made it possible for the families which formed such a patriarchal community to exist apart from one another, and this was only possible in relatively late times, then it became also possible for them to have gods of their own in addition to those that they worshipped along with their kinsmen. In Western Africa, as appears from the account cited at the beginning of last chapter from Colonel Ellis, families obtain their cults from the sanctuaries of the established gods, by the mediation of the priests. It is from the gods of the community also that individuals in some cases obtain their guardian spirits. Thus in Samoa, “at child-birth the help of several 'gods' was invoked in succession, and the one who happened to be addressed at the moment of the birth was the infant's totem ”1 (this individual totem is quite distinct in Samoa from the clan totem, and is the child's guardian spirit).

But though both guardian spirits and family gods may be obtained from the ranks of the community's gods, it is quite possible for the reverse process to take place. Thus in the Pelew Islands, where the gods are totem-gods, each tribe and each family has its own totem-god, and as a tribe develops into a state, the god of the family or tribe which is the most important politically becomes the highest god.? And as a guardian spirit in some cases becomes hereditary and so a family god, the circulation of gods becomes complete; but as the community is prior chronologically to the family, and the emancipation of the individual from the customs which subordinate him and his interests to the community is later even than the segregation of the family, the flow of gods has its source in the gods of the community originally. It is not, however, always that a tribe has sufficient cohesion amongst its members to develop into a state. More often, indeed usually, the clan is unstable and eventually dissolves. Then its members, formerly united in the worship of the god that protected them, scatter; and the god becomes a mere memory, a name. His worship ceases, for now nothing brings his worshippers together. He is remembered vaguely as a good god; and if a white man asks the savage why then he does not worship him, the savage, not knowing, invents, and says it is unnecessary, the god is good and is quite harmless. So the white man falls into one of two errors : either he concludes that fear is the source of the savage's religion, and that he only worships evil spirits, or he sees in it “a monotheistic tendency," or perhaps a trace of primeval monotheism. The first error is due to the fact that, though the savage's conscience reproaches him, when he falls ill, for neglecting his gods, and so far fear plays a part in his education, still he does receive benefits from his gods, assistance in war, etc., and looks on them with friendly eyes. The other error lies in taking a single fact and explaining it without reference to its context. When a clan does so dissolve, or when in consequence Frazer, Totemism, 55.

2 Bastian, Allerlei, i. 16.

of the clan's expansion the clan-altar becomes remote from the majority of the tribe, the need of a more immediate protector and of more intimate and constant relations with him makes itself felt, with the result that a guardian spirit or family god is chosen, not always and probably not originally from amongst the gods of the community (if there be more than one). But whether the guardian spirit of the individual be drawn from the gods or from other unattached, supernatural spirits, the ritual adopted by the individual is that used by the community in worshipping its own gods. In North America, where totemism is the form of the community's religion, the individual also selects an animal species (not an individual animal) which is to be to him what the clan totem is to the clan. We may call it an individual totem, or a manitoo (an Indian word for spirit, familiar to English readers in the phrase Great Manitoo, i.e. the Great Spirit), or a guardian spirit. The period at which such a manitoo is chosen is the time when the boy is to enter on the rights and duties of full manhood—a time of life often chosen by totem peoples for the initiation of the youth into the worship of the clan totem. The blood-offering which forms part of the latter ceremony is found in the former also. The Mosquito Indians in Central America “sealed their compact with it (the individual totem] by drawing blood from various parts of their body."1 The tattooing which is the outcome of the blood-letting rite accompanies and marks the choice of a guardian spirit. The Indians of Canada “ tattooed their individual totems on their bodies.” 2 The fasting which is the preparation for contact with things holy, and therefore for participation in the clan sacrifice, is an indispensable preliminary to the selection of a manitoo. The animal of which the youth dreams first during these rites becomes his individual totem. As the community seal their alliance with the totem species by the sacrifice of one of its members, so the individual kills one of the species which is to be his totem, and which henceforth will be sacred to him, and will be neither killed nor eaten by him. From the skin of the one member of the species which he

1 Frazer, Totemism, 55 (Bancroft, Native Races, i. 740). 2 Frazer, loc. cit. 3 Waitz, Anthropologie, iïi. 118, 191.

« ForrigeFortsæt »