Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Stork clan in Thessaly. And though “the Myrmidons claimed descent from the ants and revered ants,” I even this is not quite enough to establish totemism as “a going concern ”; we should like to know a little more about the "reverence” paid them. Were they, when found dead, buried like clansmen? It is said that at Athens “ whosoever slays a wolf, collects what is needful for its burial.” 2 Elsewhere in Greece there was a Wolf clan, and in Athens itself a Wolf-hero, i.e. a totem which had cast off its animal form and emerged human. The wolf was also a sacred animal, but its worshippers were not a Wolf clan. Again, “the lobster was generally considered sacred by the Greeks, and not eaten ; if the people of Seriphos ... found a dead one, they buried it and mourned over it as over one of themselves." 3 But there is no Lobster clan on record. Thus, in Greece, though we have all the parts of the system, we do not find them combined in a living whole. Still, no fair-minded man will deny that for the Greeks totemism is "highly probable." 4 The wonder is not that there are so few, but that there are so many traces left. Even in the Mycenæan period there are indications, slight and conjectural of course, that animal-worship, which undoubtedly existed then, had passed beyond the purely totemistic stage. Agriculture, and with it those agricultural rites and myths which overlaid and undermined totemism, had been known not only to the Greeks before they entered Greece, but to all the European members of the Aryan race before they scattered and settled in their historic habitations. Pastoral life, which is itself the result of totemism, and in its turn reacts upon and modifies the totemistic system, was a stage of development which had been reached by the Aryan race even before the European branch had separated from the Hindo-Persian. How remote, then, must be the period when the undivided Aryans were hunters, living on the “natural basis of subsistence," and making those blind

* Lang, op. cit. 277.
? Schol. ad Apoll. Rhod. ii. 124 (Lang, loc. cit.).
3 Frazer, 15, and Aelian, N. A. xiii. 26.

* Frazer, 94. 5 Journal of Hellenic Studies, xiv. 81, 270.

6 Schrader, Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples, 284 ff (English translation).

.

attempts to domesticate their totem-animals without which there were no civilisation now.

We have seen it to be, as the late Professor Robertson Smith showed," a universal rule, that even the most primitive savages have not only enemies, but permanent allies (which at so early a stage in society necessarily means kinsfolk) among the non-human or superhuman animate kinds by which the universe is peopled," I and those allies are animals, plants, etc., conceived as having supernatural powers, that is to say, are totems. All peoples in a state of savagery, on a “natural basis of subsistence,” in the hunter stage, are totemists. Further, it is totemism alone which could have produced that transition from the natural to an artificial basis of subsistence, which is effected by the domestication of plants and animals, and which results in civilisation. In other words, the mere fact that a people possesses material civilisation requires us to believe that in a state of savagery it was totemist. Again, the association of an animal with a god in art and ritual has as yet found no other, even plausible, explanation than that the worship of the god contains in it, as one of its elements, a survival of totemism. Finallyand this is a new point—“unclean ” animals are animals which may neither be eaten nor be touched even, that is to say, they are totem animals (they are always species, not mere individuals), which have become detached both from the human clan by which originally they were revered, and from the god to whom in course of time they came to be sacred.

Amongst the Semites, as amongst the Aryans, we nowhere find totemism a living organism, though we find all the disjecte membra. Or, to change the metaphor, we may represent to ourselves totemism as a triangle, of which the three sides are, (1) a clan, (2) a species of animals, and (3) a god, varyingly conceived as animal or human; while the angles of the triangle are the relations in which the gods, men, and animals stand to each other. There are many relations in which animals and men may stand to each other, as there are many angles at which one straight line can stand to another; but as there is only one angle at which the

Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, 137.

two sides of a triangle can stand to each other, namely, that determined by the side which the angle subtends, so there is only one relation in which men can stand to animals in totemism, namely, that determined by the system. Now, amongst the Semites we never find the complete triangle of totemism : sometimes one side is missing, sometimes another, sometimes the third, but in every case the angle of the two remaining sides, i.e. the relation between men and god, god and animal, animal and men, shows what the missing side must have been. To begin with the first side of the triangle: we find deities in animal or semi-animal form, such as Dagon. Then we have deities associated—at the totemistic angle, so to speak

—with particular species of animals, e.g. Astarte with swine, the Syrian Atargatis with fish, the Sun-god with horses." The animal side of the triangle, again, is connected with the third side, men, at the totemistic angle, that is to say, we have a human clan treating a species of animal as they do their clansmen, e.g. when the B. Hārith, a tribe of South Arabia, find a dead gazelle, they wash it, wrap it in cerecloths, and bury it, and the whole tribe mourns for it seven days.” ? When, then, we find the animal side of the triangle by itself, and apart from the other two sides, we still can infer the triangle to which it belonged; or, to drop metaphor, when we find that vermin were “sacred ”3 and mice “unclean,” 4 we remember that mice were totem animals in Greece, and insects among the sacred beasts of Egypt. Finally, to complete our round of the totemist triangle, we find men in the totemist relation to the animal god in Baalbek, where the god-ancestor of the inhabitants was worshipped in the form of a lion.

Thus the à priori argument that the prehistoric Semites, while they were yet an undivided people, and before they had settled down in those territories in which history knows them, were (like all other peoples in a state of savagery) acquainted with totemism, is confirmed not only by the

12 Kings xxiii. 11 (Robertson Smith, Semites, 293). 2 Robertson Smith, Semites, 444. ? Ezek. viii. 10 (Semites, 293). * Isa. lxvi. 17 (ibid.).

Lang, op. cit. i. 277. 6 Robertson Smith, op. cit. 444.

reflection that but for totemism their material civilisation, their transition to pastoral and agricultural life, is not to be accounted for, but also by the survivals to be found amongst them even in historic times.

And yet the most remarkable argument in support of the theory remains to be set forth.

CHAPTER XI

ANIMAL SACRIFICE: THE ALTAR

In the last chapter we sawl that the practice of selecting one individual of the totem species, e.g. the calf in which Apis was supposed to manifest himself, and concentrating on it the reverence which was due to the whole species, was a relatively late development of totemism. It is also, in its ultimate consequences, inconsistent with the principle of totemism, according to which the owl totem god, for instance, was not incorporate in any one bird more than in any other, but was “incarnate in all the owls in existence.” 2 We have also seen that it is the belief of societies which are held together by the bond of blood-relationship, that it is the same blood which runs in the veins of all blood-relations—it is the blood of their common ancestor. Hence the bloodcovenant between two individuals is a covenant between their respective kins: it is not merely the blood of the two persons that has been mingled and made one, but the blood of the two clans. It follows, therefore, that the blood of any one animal of the totem species is not the blood of that individual merely, but of the whole species. In the same way, therefore, that the blood of the tribe as a whole is communicated in initiation ceremonies to the youth, by allowing the blood of older members to flow over him, so it is obvious the blood of the totem species as a whole might be communicated to the person or thing over which the blood of any individual of the species was allowed to flow. But the blood is the life: it is like breath, heart, etc.—one of the things identified by savages with the spirit or soul. The blood of any individual totem animal, therefore, is the spirit, not of that particular

1 Supra, p. 122. • Turner, Samoa, 21. s Supra, p. 103.

« ForrigeFortsæt »