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buried. The Battas pour the blood of a fowl on the corpse.? The Tehuelche (Patagonians) sacrifice mares with all the rites previously described. It is not surprising, therefore, that the graves on which these sacrifices were offered should, like the sacrifices themselves, be affected by the tendency to assimilate the private cult of ancestors to the public worship of the gods. The cairns which are frequently erected to mark a grave, and on which the sacrifice was offered, would recall the primitive altar to mind. The single stone or wooden post erected on a grave was converted into a human shape, on the analogy of the idol to which the community's sacrifices were offered. Thus, in De Peyster's Island, “a stone was raised at the head of the grave, and a human head carved on it.” 4 Amongst many American tribes “a gravepost is roughly hewn into the image of the person over whose body it is placed.” 5 The practice is reported of the Indians of Quebec (“ anointing and greasing that man of wood as if living,” says Father Salamant), the Ottawas, Algonkins, Alaskans, the Indians of the North-West, the natives of Chili, of the West Indies, Nicaragua, the Isthmus, Peru, and the Mayas and the Aztecs. Where cremation prevailed, the ashes were placed in hollow wooden statues, hollow clay images, or urns having on the outside a representation of the deceased.
When the assimilation of the rites for the dead to the ritual of the gods-has proceeded thus far, it naturally happens that in many cases some superhuman powers are ascribed to the spirits of the dead. But it never happens that the spirits of the dead are conceived to be gods. For this there are several obvious reasons. Man is dependent on the gods ; but the spirits of his deceased ancestors are dependent on him. The house-father, when he dies, does not cease to be " the father whom they knew"; though dead, and sometimes differing in degree of power from his sons, who in their turn will be “worshipped,” he does not—like the gods—differ in kind from mortal men. Above all, the gods of the community, merely from the fact that they have the whole of the community for their worshippers and under their 1 Casalis, Les Bassoutos, 264.
· Bastian, Oest. Asien, v. 365. 3 Supra, p. 146.
4 Turner, Samoa, 286. 5 Dorman, Primitive Superstitions, 117. Ibid.
will ting in degree bey knew"; there
protection, must inevitably be regarded as greater powers than a spirit who is only worshipped by the narrow circle of a single family, and cannot do much even for them.
To speak of the gods as “ deified ancestors,” is to use an expression which covers some ambiguity of thought. If what is implied is that in a community possessing the conception of divine personality, certain ancestors are, by some unexplained process, raised to the rank of gods, the statement may be true, but it does not prove that the gods, to whose rank the spirit is promoted, were themselves originally ghosts—which is the very thing that it is intended to prove. What then of these gods ? Either they are believed to be the ancestors of some of their worshippers, or they are not. If they are believed to be the ancestors of their worshippers, then they are not believed to have been human : the worshipper's pride is that his ancestor was a god and no mere mortal. Thus certain Greek families believed that they were descended from Zeus, and they worshipped Zeus, not as ancestor but as god. The “deified ancestor” theory, however, would have us believe that there was once a man named Zeus, who had a family, and his descendants thought that he was a god. Which is simplicity itself. If, on the other hand, a god is not believed to be the ancestor of any of his worshippers, then to assert that he was really a “deified ancestor” is to make a statement for which there is no evidence—it is an inference from an assumption, namely, that the only spirits which the savage originally knew were ghosts. This assumption, however, is not true: the savage believes the forces and phenomena of nature to be personalities like himself, he does not believe that they are ghosts or worked by ghosts. In fine, the notion that gods were evolved out of ghosts is based on an unproved assumption and the simple fallacy of confusing ancestors human and ancestors divine. The fact is that ancestors known to be human were not worshipped as gods, and that ancestors worshipped as gods were not believed to have been human.
This last remark leads us to a generalisation which, though obvious, is important: it is that wherever ancestorworship exists, it exists side by side with the public worship of the gods of the community. The two systems develop on lines which are parallel, indeed, and therefore never meet; whereas, if they had moved on the same line of development, one would have absorbed the other. In other words, if ancestor-worship were the source of religion, if gods were originally ghosts, we may be reasonably sure that ancestorworship would have died in giving birth to the higher form of religion, or rather that it would have been transformed into it. In the newly-evolved organism we should have traced survivals here and there, rudimentary organs inherited from the previous state of things. We should also have found races who had never got beyond the earlier stage, or had relapsed into it. But we should not everywhere have found the two systems alive together: we might as well expect to find the chrysalis still living by the side of the butterfly which has emerged from it.
The clear demarcation between the two systems, their mutual exclusiveness to the last, is an indication that they start from different presuppositions and are addressed to different objects. At the same time, the parallelism between them shows that they have their respective sources in the same region of feeling. That feeling is piety, filial piety in the one case, piety towards the protecting god of the clan in the other. Here we have displayed the secret of the strength of ancestor-worship, and also of its weakness. Of its strength, because, as Confucius says, “ Filial piety and fraternal submission! are they not the root of all benevolent actions ?”? Of its weakness, because it is inadequate of itself to satisfy the demands of the religious instinct. In/ China, the people, excluded from participation in the stateworship of Heaven, decline upon the lowest forms of religion, in their desire for communion with a supernatural power. This desire, where it exists, cannot be satisfied by the substitution of a human object of adoration for the supernatural which it craves to feed on; and the present religious condition of China shows how unpractical Confucius was in recommending the average man to regard his human father as a god : “nor in [filial obedience] is there anything so essential as to reverence one's father, and as a mark of reverence there is nothing more important than to place him
Lun-yu, i. 2. 2 (Douglas, Confucianism, 119).
on an equality with IIeaven. Thus did the noble lord of Chow. Formerly he sacrificed on the round altar to the spirits of his remote ancestors, as equal with Heaven ; and in the open hall he sacrificed to Wăn Wang (his father) as equal with Shang-te [the Supreme Being].”1
The organised worship of ancestors is bound up with the patriarchate and the patria potestas. The service which it". rendered to civilisation consists in the aid it afforded to the development of the family, the nidus of morality. “Filial piety,” said Confucius, “is the beginning of virtue"; and before him E-yin had said, "the commencement is in the family and state; the consummation is in the Empire.” 2 But when ancestor-worship has rendered its service to ! civilisation, there is a reason for its being cast aside. As an institution, it works in support of the patria potestas: the worship can only be carried on by sons, sons therefore are ardently desired; marriage is a means simply to the worship which the man requires for himself after death, and is not a holy estate in and for itself. Woman is in the family but not of it; she is treated as an inferior, and is debarred from co-operating in the cause of civilisation and from rendering to the progress of morality the services which are peculiarly her own. Rooting out ancestor-worship in Europe gave the Christian Church much trouble for many centuries.
There remain certain topics connected with ancestorworship-human sacrifice and cannibalism-which are not attractive, but cannot be ignored, especially by a writer who argues for the origin of ancestor-worship in the filial piety of the patriarchal family of a comparatively late, i.e. the agricultural, period. We will begin with human sacrifice. The first thing to note is that it appears at a much earlier period in the rites for the dead than it does in the ritual of the gods. As regards the latter : in the totemistic period the only sacrifice known is that of animals; in the beginning of the agricultural period also human sacrifice is foreign to the cheerful feast in which the god and his worshippers meet together; it is not until the self-satisfaction of that time has given way to the "habitual sense of human guilt” of a still later period, that human life comes to be regarded as the
Douglas, op. cit. 121. ? Op. cit. 123 and 118.
necessary expiation of human sin. But whereas human sacrifice comes thus late in the history of religious ritual, the practice of immolating human beings at a tomb apparently comes fairly early in the development of the rites of the dead; such immolation certainly has a totally different origin and meaning from human sacrifice in religious ritual. The persons butchered at the grave of a savage chieftain are usually his wives and other attendants; and the object of the slaughter evidently is exactly the same as that of providing food for the dead—the deceased follows the same pursuits, enjoys the same rank, and requires the same food and attendance when dead as during life. It is this identity between the purpose of food-offerings and of the slaughter of attendants which shows the latter to be one of the primitive elements out of which systematic ancestor-worship was subsequently organised. Where such slaughter continued to be customary at the time when human sacrifice had come to be part of the ritual of the gods, it came to be interpreted on the analogy of human “sacrifice” in the proper (i.e. religious) sense of the word, just as the offerings of blood, hair, and food came to be similarly interpreted, or misinterpreted. But human sacrifice (again in the proper sense of the word) was only offered in seasons of fear and tribulation; and slaughter at the tomb now came to be ascribed to the same emotion of fear. The idea that slaughter at the tomb was from the beginning due to fear of the ghost, seems to me to overlook two important facts : the first is that the ghost is from the beginning dependent on the livingaccording to many peoples, he cannot even find his way to the place where he would be, without their assistance; the next is, that affection is quite as capable of extravagant excess as fear. Let the reader recall the well-known instance of the Red Indian son who coolly killed a white man, the close friend of his father, because he could not think how his father, just dead, would be able to get on without his old friend to talk to. The fact is that an utter disregard for human life may well exist, does frequently coexist, with devoted attachment to particular persons. So much for that unpleasant topic.
1 Supra, p. 161. ? Mr. James Dawson, who is well qualified to speak, says of the Australians