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arbitrary and irrational association of ideas: blood, for instance, is inherently taboo and to be shunned ; anything, therefore, that reminds the savage of it, either by its fluid consistency or merely by its colour, awakens the same terror, and is equally to be avoided. Hence certain localities, whether because of their blood-red soil, or of their trees with trunks of ghastly white (for white also is a taboo colour, possibly from the pallor of the corpse-even negro corpses are said to be pallid), or from some other accidental association of ideas, arouse the taboo terror in the savage and are shunned by him. Of the law of the association of ideas he knows nothing: he only knows that on approaching certain places he is filled with the same sort of terror as he experiences on seeing blood or a corpse. If and when he reasons on the matter, the explanation he gives to himself and others is that the spot is the haunt of a supernatural power, and that is why he feels as he does feel. For the savage the world is full of such haunted spots. On the Gold Coast every spot where the earth is of a red colour is the abode of a Sasabonsum, a malignant spirit. When, however, the savage has gained an ally amongst the supernatural powers surrounding him, if in one of these haunted places he sees his totem, animal or plant, the character of the locality is thereby somewhat changed to his apprehension : it is still the haunt of a spirit, but of a friendly one; it still is to be avoided, but not from slavish fear, rather from a respectful desire not to intrude on the privacy of the god-so he now interprets his feeling, which is indeed really changed by the new association of ideas. Above all, it is now a place which, under due restrictions and with proper precautions, may be approached by him, when he wishes to seek the presence of his powerful protector for a legitimate end, e.g. to renew the blood-covenant with him. Again, everything in this holy place-earth, stones, trees, and, excepting animal life, there can hardly be anything else in it-everything in it partakes of its sanctity. As we have seen, both in West Africa and in ancient Mexico, the soil was holy. And according to the prescription in the ancient law of Exodus, already referred to, the altar must be made of earth or unhewn stone. It was the earth, stones, or wood of such a holy place which alone could have possessed the sanctity desirable in a structure which the god was to be invited to enter in order that his worshippers might have communion with him. The sentiment of the supernatural which filled the hearts and minds of the worshippers during the rite seems to be different, however, from the awe which prevents transgression on holy places. The latter is-except when mingled with the former-purely negative, restrictive, prohibitory. The former is a feeling psychologically as distinct from the feelings of awe or terror, as, say, the feeling of beauty from other pleasurable feelings ; its earliest manifestation appears to be on occasions when the natural order of things is suspended, and it is thereafter revived when man is conscious of the presence of the cause of that suspension.
1 Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples, 35. 2 Supra, p. 64; cf. also the chapter on Fetishism.
In the earliest times, then, there were holy places; it was out of the materials spontaneously offered by them that the primitive altar was made, the idol elaborated, and within their bounds that the temple eventually was built.
The theory, on the other hand, that the idol was an " elaborated fetish,” is one against which some arguments will be offered in a subsequent chapter on Fetishism. Here, however, we must make some remarks on a slightly different view, namely, that which would confound the primitive altar with rocks which form a conspicuous feature in many landscapes, and which are often believed by savages to possess supernatural powers, like waterfalls and other striking natural features. Now, in the first place, these rocks are natural features of the landscape, whereas the primitive altar is always an artificial structure; and, next, they possess their supernatural powers inherently, i.e. quite independently of anything man does, whereas the altar requires the application of the blood of sacrifice, if the deity is to enter it. In fine, these natural objects and the dread of them are survivals from the pre-totemistic stage, when everything which was supposed by the savage to possess activity, or was associated by him with events affecting his fortunes, was also supposed to possess a life and powers like his own. The primitive altar, on the other hand, is the creation and the outcome of the needs of totemism. Further, as long as it remains an altar pure and simple, it never becomes the embodiment of the god, nor, though highly sacred, does it acquire supernatural power. As long as totemism was a living force, it would be difficult or impossible to confuse the sacrificial pile, at which the deity manifested himself, with the god himself, or even to imagine that he was permanently present in the altar, for the totem animals were seen by the savage daily, and it was with their species that his clan made the bloodcovenant, and in each and every member of the species that the god dwelt. Mr. Williams has accurately observed and precisely stated the totemist's attitude towards his sacrificial piles, when, after noting that “idolatry—in the strict sense of the term—the Fijian seems never to have known; for he makes no attempt to fashion material representations of his gods,” ? he goes on to say, "stones are used to denote the locality of some gods and the occasional resting-places of others.”3 The same observation has been made with regard to savages generally by Mr. Howard : “My personal inquiries amongst almost every variety of heathen worshippers, including the most degraded types in India, in China, and also the devil-worshippers in Ceylon, have never yet secured from any of them the admission which would justify me in thinking that the red-bedaubed stone or tree, or any image in front of which they worshipped, was supposed to contain in esse the god to which that worship was addressed.” 4
* Supra, p. 21.
In the course of time, however, three changes do undoubtedly take place: the rite of sacrifice tends to become formal; the god comes to be conceived as the ancestor of the race; the clan expands into a tribe, of which the majority of members dwell remote from the original monolithic altar. Consequently, when, at stated intervals, the tribe does gather together at the old altar-stone of their forefathers to do sacrifice, the stone itself, in which the god is to manifest himself, easily becomes identified with the god—the majority of the tribe know it only in this aspect—and with the god as their common ancestor. Thus amongst the Red Indians, 1 Supra, p. 131.
Williams, Fiji and the Fijians, 216. 3 Ibid. 221.
* Howard, Trans-Siberian Sarages, 202.
totemists, the place of national worship for the Oneidas was the famous Oneida stone from which they claim descent. The Dacotahs also claimed descent from a stone, and offered sacrifices to it, calling it grandfather. “They thought the spirit of their ancestor was present in this stone, which is their altar for national sacrifices. The Ojibways had such stones, which they called grandfather.”] That, in such circumstances, a rough likeness to the human face should be given to the monolith or pole, and the transition from the altar to the idol made, is easily comprehensible. But this did not always take place: the idol of Astarte at Paphos was never anthropomorphised, but remained a mere conical stone to the last; and countless other monolithic altars, which never attained to such dignity as to have a temple erected behind them, have survived all over the world. It is the fortunes of these unhewn stones—the posts and the cairns would soon perish and be forgotten when not renewed -that we have now to follow.
It seems to be a law that a people must either advance in religion or recede. The choice is always before it; and evolution—which is not the same thing as progress—takes place, whichever course be chosen. Where no higher form of religion was evolved out of totemism, therefore, retrogression took place; and it is this retrogression, so far as it is exhibited in the fate of the monolithic altar, which now will be traced. The beginning of the process has been indicated in the last paragraph in the case of the Oneidas and other Red Indians : in the identification of the god with the father of the race was implicit the idea of the divine fatherhood of man; but this germ, which in the Old World bore its fruit, thanks to certain select minds who dwelt upon what was thus disclosed to them, amongst the Indians mentioned was sterilised by the further identification of the god with the monolith. This was in part, as we said in the last paragraph, directly due to the expansion of the community; the framework of totemism is a narrow circle of blood-relations, and when that circle expands the framework cracks, and the disintegration of the system begins. When the stone has in this way become, not the
· Dorman, Primitive Superstitions, 133.
occasional, but the permanent dwelling-place of the god, the rite of sacrifice is in danger of becoming a meaningless and superfluous ceremony, for its object is to procure the presence of the god, and the god now is already present, or rather the stone is the god. Hence the rite dwindles until the only trace left of it is that the stone is painted red, as amongst the Waralis of Konkan. By this time the totem-alliance is so completely dissolved that the totem animal, which has hitherto been required to provide the blood for smearing the stone, now is completely dissociated from the worship, and drops altogether out of view. But when the totem animal is no longer sacrificed, when the stone has itself become the god, and its history has been forgotten, there is little left by which to distinguish it from the other class of stones, notable natural features of the landscape, to which supernatural powers were ascribed in the pre-totemistic period. There are, however, still some distinguishing marks. The natural stones still are what all supernatural powers were until man learnt to make allies amongst them, hostile ; but the quondam altar stones are still, traditionally, friendly powers, who will, like the stone of the Monitarris, if a sacrifice is offered, cause an expedition to be successful, and not merely abstain from doing injury. The friendly relation of the primitive altar or rather god to its original circle of worshippers is clear in a case such as that mentioned by Caillie, of a stone which travelled of its own accord thrice round an African village whenever danger threatened the inhabitants. And the rock in Fougna, near Gouam, in the Marian Islands, which is regarded as the ancestor of men, ranks itself at once with the Oneida stone. In many cases, however, the quondam altar has lost even these traces of its once higher estate; natural stones have attracted to themselves, or have come to share in, the few remnants of the full rite of worship once accorded to the artificial structure; and all distinction between the two classes is obliterated. Thus the retrograde totemist
1 Bastian, Oest. Asien, v. 139.
? This and the other examples of stone-worship in this chapter are taken, unless other references are given, from Girard de Rialle, Mythologie Comparée, 12-32, who, however, draws no distinctions between the various kinds of stone-worship.