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civilisation are the winter solstice (brumalia, Yule, Christmas), the vernal equinox (Easter, A.S. Eostra, a goddess), the summer solstice (the great festival of Olympian Zeus), and the autumn equinox. But the importance of the sun, as the cause of all growth, was to the cultivator even greater than its importance as a measurer of time. At the same time, the varying qualities of soil must have impressed man in the agricultural stage with the idea that the earth could yield or refuse increase to the crops at will. Thus the cultivator was compelled to feel his dependence on these two nature-powers, to seek their co-operation, and add two more to the list of deities inherited by him from the pastoral stage.
That this was the actual order of events, at any rate in the case of our own forefathers, seems to be indicated by the results of linguistic palæontology; the undivided IndoEuropeans were acquainted with the moon as the “measurer" of time, they worshipped a sky-spirit, and they had not yet passed out of the pastoral stage ; 3 they had not learnt to calculate the solar year 4—that was reserved for the agricultural stage, i.e. the period after the separation of the Indian from the European branch.
That man in the pastoral and agricultural periods would be impressed with the desirability of winning the permanent favour of the spirit of the river, or clouds, earth, moon, sun, or sky, will hardly be doubted; nor can it be doubted, if the argument of our previous chapters be admitted, that the ritual employed by the totemist to unite himself with the new supernatural powers whose favour he desired would be formed on the analogy of the rites with which he worshipped his plant or animal totem-he knew no other way of worship. Those rites were first the sacrificial meal, by which the substance of the god was incorporated in the worshipper; second, the offerings by which the worshipper was placed in contact with the god. In the case of streams and fountains, it is the second method which obviously commended itself, and, as we have seen in the last chapter, it has actually left abundant survivals all over the world.
1 Schrader, Prehistoric Antiquities, 306 ff. ? Op. cit. 417.
* Op. cit. 309.
Here we need only add that it is not merely offerings which the worshipper immerses, but on occasion his own body: " bathing is throughout India regarded as a means of religious advancement”; 1 and the world-wide use of water for purposes of (ceremonial) purification was in its origin, we may conjecture, simply a means of gaining for the worshipper the protection of the water-spirit against the consequences of pollution. From the practice of immersion, the stream or pool becomes a place of oracle and divination, the will of the deity being indicated according as the water swallows or rejects the offering cast into it the origin of the ordeal of water as applied to witches. The principle of the sacramental meal is not indeed inapplicable to the waterspirit, but instances are not common: traces of it may be found in the belief that drinking the sacred water proves fatal or injurious to the criminal or the perjurer, as in Mexico or on the Gold Coast “eating fetish," i.e. eating sacred soil, does. 3
In the case of non-totem deities which, like sun, moon, and sky, are beyond the reach of physical contact, it might be supposed that neither form of totem rites could be applied, that external, physical union was impossible, but this is not the case; there were various means of getting over the difficulty. In the first place, it is to be remembered that the basis of totemism is primitive man's discovery that, as men are united to one another in kindreds, so natural objects can be classed in natural kinds—hence the totem alliance between a human kin and a natural kind. Now, the waters on the earth and those in the sky obviously belong to the same kind, and communion with one member of the species is, according to the belief on which totemism is based, communion with all. Hence the worshipper who, wishing a river-god to grant a vow, unites himself with the god by throwing some “offering” into the water, follows exactly the same process when he wishes to commend himself to the waters above the earth. In Estland, when rain was wanted, something was cast into a certain sacred brook : “streams or lakes which, the moment wood or stones are thrown into them, cause rain and storm clouds to appear, occur all over Europe.”i On the same principle, in times of drought the agriculturist seeks to place his plants under the protection of the spirit of waters by immersing in a stream the representative (human or otherwise) of the vegetation spirit.
1 Crooke, Folk-Lore of Northern India, 20.
3 Supra, p. 64.
But if communication could thus be effected with the spirits of sky and cloud, then neither were sun and moon inaccessible to would-be worshippers, for they are of the genus fire, and whatever is cast into a fire on earth would establish communion with the greater and the lesser lights in the sky, as in the case of the waters on and over the earth. It is, at any rate, in this way that the Ainus make their offerings to the sun—all fire, including that of the sun, being divine to them. The parallel thus drawn between fire and water is confirmed by the purificatory powers of both; the person or thing that passes through or over a fire is brought in contact and in communion with the fire-god.
When totemism has become so far disintegrated that it is forgotten that the animal sacrificed is the god himself, then animal sacrifice can be and is extended by analogy from totem to non-totem deities; the sacrifice of an animal is then the traditional mode of approaching certain deities, and is inferred to be the proper mode of worshipping all deities. Hence we get a second means of establishing union between man and gods who are spatially remote from him: animals are sacrificed to them as to other gods, but whereas tradition determined what animals should be sacrificed to totem gods, analogies (more or less fanciful) had to be sought to determine the proper sacrifices to non-totem gods,—horses were sacrificed to the sun, perhaps because of his motion, and also to the sea, perhaps from the shape and movements of its waves; river-gods were supposed to appear, often as bulls, often as serpents. The blood of sacrifice, in the case of non-totem as well as of totem gods, is then dashed upon an altar or stone, and the gods of both kinds are supposed to visit or manifest themselves in the stone. Hence it is that the Peruvians“ in their temples adored certain stones, as representatives of the sun.”1 But though this would be the natural and obvious mode of sacrifice to the sun, there was a manifest propriety in combining this with the firstmentioned mode (viz. casting“ offerings” into fire), and casting not only offerings, but also sacrificial victims into the flames, for thus the essence of the victim's flesh was wafted into the air, and rose upwards to the divinity in the sky above. This mode was in harmony with the tendency which, from other causes, had arisen to burn those portions of the victim which were intended for the god; and when not only sun and sky gods, but all the gods, were supposed to reside aloft and at a distance, and when the spirits of the dead also were relegated to a distant other world, the practice of burnt offerings had even more to recommend it.
1 Mannhardt, W. F. K. 341, note 1, who, however, regards these as instances of sympathetic magic.
2 B. K. 356, note, for instances.
There remains yet a third way in which the worshipper could place himself in communication with distant and nontotem gods; and it is one of some importance both in the history of religion and for the right comprehension of that history. The origin of animal sacrifice is not the desire of the worshipper" to curry favour" with the deity by offering him a present of food, but is due to the fact that the animal was the god, of whose substance the worshipper partook. The god was himself the victim that was offered in the sacrificial rite. Ultimately that fact was indeed forgotten, but whilst the true comprehension of the fact remained it must have appeared essential to the act of worship that the god should be the sacrifice to the god; and we shall see hereafter, in the chapter on the Priesthood, that, as a matter of fact, this mystic principle has left many traces behind it. Here, however, we have only to suggest that this principle afforded in early times a solution of the problem, with what sacrifice should a god, like the sun, belonging to the genus fire, be approached? Obviously, with fire. And as the totem-animal was sacrificed annually to the totem-god, so fires would annually be kindled as an offering to the Sun. That the summer solstice should be chosen, when the sun's power was greatest, is natural enough. Hence, then, the fire
i Zarate, Conquest of Peru (in Kerr, Voyages, iv. 360). Supra, p. 160.
festivals on Midsummer Eve or Midsummer Day which survive so generally all over Europe, and the African custom of worshipping the moon by shooting flaming arrows towards her. Mr. Frazer, however, who apparently inclines to regard religion as developed out of magic, consistently enough says, “The best general explanation of these European fire-festivals seems to be the one given by Mannhardt, namely, that they are sun-charms or magical ceremonies intended to ensure a proper supply of sunshine for men, animals, and plants ;”3 and, following Mannhardt, he also explains the custom of burning the representative of the vegetation spirit as a piece of sympathetic magic, having the same object as the Midsummer bonfires. But sympathetic magic implies that an effect is produced in virtue of the similarity between that effect and its cause, and without the intervention of any supernatural being—there is nothing religious about it. Now, neither is there anything religious in the Midsummer rites as at present practised by European peasants; but then these rites are survivals, and in religion a survival consists in the continued performance of acts, originally having a religious significance, after all religious significance has departed from them. Thus no one doubts that streams and wells were once considered supernatural powers, or the abodes of supernatural spirits, having, amongst other powers, that of curing disease. Nor can it be doubted that originally the worshipper placed himself in contact with, and under the protection of, the spirit by bathing in the water. That the “sacred” wells, which are common enough now, were originally worshipped as gods is tolerably clear. But the practice of resorting to them is now a survival—it is, in the proper sense of the word, a superstition; that is to say, those who believe that water from a certain well will cure diseases of the eye, believe so, not because they suppose any spirit to dwell in the water, but simply because it is the tradition that that water does, as a matter of fact, cure eye-disease. But it would be erroneous to infer that, because now no spirit is supposed to effect the cure, therefore the belief never had a religious element in it; and in the same way it is not safe to
1 For instances, see Frazer, G. B. ii. 58 ff., and Mannhardt, W. F. K. 309. ? Réville, Peuples non-civilisés, i. 58.
3 G. B. ii. 267-8.