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uncertain contingency as the possibility of eventual injury to a future generation, is a supposition opposed to all we know of savages. There must have been some other motive, and that a strong one, appealing to personal fear. That motive was doubtless in part supplied by fear of punishment at the hands of the collective community. But such punishment was only meted out when the offence was against the god of the community; and what stimulated the community to its duty in this regard was the manifestation from time to time of the god's wrath, in the shape of pestilence, etc., betokening that an offence had been committed against him. Thus in Peru, in the time of the Incas, “when any general calamity occurred, the members of the community were rigorously examined, until the sinner was discovered and compelled to make reparation ";and the same interpretation was put upon private calamity, e.g. amongst the Abipones, “at his first coming the physician overwhelms the sick man with an hundred questions: 'Where were you yesterday?' says he. What roads did you tread ? Did you overturn the jug and spill the drink prepared from the maize ? What? have you imprudently given the flesh of a tortoise, stag, or boar [totem-gods] to be devoured by dogs ?' Should the sick man confess to having done any of these things, 'It is well,' replies the physician, 'we have discovered the cause of your disorder.'”? The same thing is reported from Mexico, Peru, Honduras, Yucatan, Salvador, and was common enough in other quarters of the globe. Nor must it be supposed that it was only offences against ritual that provoked the god to manifest his displeasure. “In Tahiti, sickness was the occasion for making reparation for past sins, e.g. by restoring stolen property.” But sickness and public calamities are not perpetual, and as “sanctions” they are external at the best: they are too intermittent and accidental to exert the uniform pressure necessary if any permanent moral advance is to be made, and they rather punish than prevent transgression. It is not only external and physical
· Payne, New World, i. 443.
punishment which enforces the restrictions essential to the tribe's existence, but also the internal consciousness of having disregarded the claim which the affection of the protecting clan-god for his people establishes on one and all of the community. In a word, from the beginning, offences against the community are felt not only as immoral but also as sins. To the external sequence of calamity consequent upon transgression there corresponds the internal sense of lesion in the bond of mutual goodwill which marks the alliance between the clansmen and their god.
We have now examined the way in which men and gods were affected respectively by the alliance formed between them. But what shall we say of the third member to the alliance, the totem species of plant or animal ? did it remain unaffected by the alliance ? Mr. Frazer concludes his Totemism with the following pregnant passage : “ Considering the far-reaching effects produced on the fauna and flora of a district by the preservation or extinction of a single species of animals or plants, it appears probable that the tendency of totemism to preserve certain species of plants and animals must have largely influenced the organic life of the countries where it has prevailed. But this question, with the kindred question of the bearing of totemism on the original domestication of animals and plants, is beyond the scope of the present article.”i Neither has a history of religion anything apparently to do with the domestication of plants and animals. Yet it is only by taking it as our starting-point that we can solve the difficult and important problem, why so few traces of totemism are to be found in the great civilisations of the world.
Frazer, Totemism, 95, 96.
SURVIVALS OF TOTEMISM
IMPORTANT as totemism is as a stage of religious development, it is almost more important in the history of material civilisa-, ; tion, for totemism was the prime motor of all material progress. Material progress means the accumulation of wealth. Of the various forms which wealth can take, the most important is food, for until food is provided it is impossible to proceed to the production of any other kind of wealth. If the whole time and energies of a community are exhausted in scraping together just enough food to carry on with, there is no leisure or strength left for the production of any other kind of wealth. Now, that is the case in which those nomad clans find themselves who depend for their food upon hunting, fishing, and the gathering of fruits and roots—the “natural basis of subsistence."i But with those wandering clans which succeed in domesticating the cow, sheep, goat, and other animals, the case is very different. The labour of obtaining food is greatly economised, and the labour thus set free can be employed in the production of those other kinds of wealth which constitute the riches of a pastoral people. When cereals and other food-plants come to be cultivated, and agriculture makes a wandering life no longer possible, food-production is still further quickened, and "the substitution of an artificial for a natural basis of subsistence "2 is completed. Until this substitution takes place, civilisation is impossible; and whatever started this substitution, i.e. led to the domestication of plants and animals, started the movement of material progress. Now, of the innumerable species of plants and animals Payne, New World, i. 276.
which exist or have existed on the face of the earth, only a relatively very small number are capable of domestication; and before they were brought under cultivation there was nothing whatever in their appearance or in man's scanty experience to indicate that they, and they alone, could be domesticated. How, then, did he light upon exactly those kinds which were capable of cultivation ? Simply by trying all. Those kinds which were incapable of domestication remained wild; the few that could be cultivated became our domestic animals and plants. But though man “ tried ” all kinds, he was not aware that he was making experiments, still less that the consequence of his attempts would be the “ domestication" of certain species. How could he be, when the very idea of “domestic animals ” had not yet dawned upon man's mind ? It could, then, have been no consideration of utility, no prospective personal benefit, no foresight of the consequences, that made man all over the globe attempt to domesticate every species of animal that he came across—indeed, he did not know that he was “ domesticating.” it. The suggestion that his motive was amusement? does not supply an adequate cause; granted that amusement might lead a man here and there to capture an animal and try to tame it, we cannot suppose the whole human race in every latitude and on every continent giving itself up to this kind of “amusement," as we must suppose, if we are thus to account for the domestication of animals—to say nothing of plants. And when we bear in mind that the savage is usually incapable of steady, continuous, persistent effort, we shall require a more potent cause than amusement as a motive for the long labour of domestication. But in totemism we have a cause persistent, world-wide, and adequate to account for the facts. The totem animal, not merely an individual but the whole species, is reverenced, protected, and allowed, or rather encouraged to increase and multiply over the whole area traversed by the tribe-and the area
The above argument is borrowed from Galton, Inquiries into Human Faculty, 243-270. He also recognises the sanctity of certain animals as one of the causes leading to the domestication of animals, but does not mention totemism, and thinks that the savage's habit of making pets is the chief cause.
? Lord Kames, Sketches, bk. i. sk. 1 (Payne, 282).
required for the support of a nomad family is considerable. This treatment is continued for generations, for it is the religion of the tribe. The appearance of the animal is welcomed with rejoicing as the manifestation of the tribal deity, offerings are made to it, and, being free from molestation, it discovers the fact, acquires confidence, and if it has the instinct of domestication, ceases to be wild. In a word, the animal becomes tame—which is a different thing from being tamed.
It may perhaps seem inconsistent with this theory of, the origin of an artificial food-supply, that the totem is never consumed as food. But it is not by eating their cattle that a pastoral people become rich, but by abstaining from eating them. The cattle are their capital; the interest thereof, on which they live, consists of the milk and its products. It is not until nomad life is given up and agriculture has provided another and even more abundant source of food, that the community becomes rich enough to afford to eat the flesh of their cattle; and by that time the clan, of which the totem was an honoured member, and to which its flesh was taboo, has itself dissolved and made way for those local organisations which hold a nation together. In the same way, it is not by consuming corn that wheat is grown, but by abstaining from its consumption. To make it an extinct species, all that is required is to consume every ear of corn existing. The savage required no teaching in the art of consumption; it is the lesson of abstinence which it is hard for him to learn. That lesson he was incapable of teaching himself, but totemism taught him. The fact that the agricultural is universally a later stage in the development of civilisation than the pastoral, is, we may conjecture, because animal preceded plant totems: animals have the blood which is necessary for the blood-covenant between the human kin and the totem kind; and it was only later that plants possessing a sap or juice which may act as blood, especially if it is reddish in colour, came to be adopted as totems.
The domestication of plants is a question to which we shall recur in a subsequent chapter, and the reader is requested, therefore, to suspend judgment on this point. But,