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at the altar appeared in different animal shapes, or had different animals offered to him.
Fusion of this kind-syncretism-would be materially facilitated at first by the fact that the gods had originally no proper names. As long as the clan had only one god, no name was required, the gods of hostile clans were sufficiently distinguished by the fact that they were the gods of other clans : “the deity” was the deity of our clan, just as “the river” is that near which I dwell, and whose geography-book name I may not know. But the possession of a proper name gives more individuality to a god; and fusion between two gods, each possessing this higher degree of personality, is more difficult than between two nameless spirits. On the other hand, fusion is not impeded, if of the two gods one possesses a name and the other does not, only the advantage is with the one having a personal name. He readily absorbs the nameless one: thus the cult of the Greek god of wine was a combination of the worship of a vegetation spirit and of the spirit of the vine, but the former was nameless, and therefore it was the latter, Dionysus, that gave its name to the god. So, too, when we find that in different places half a dozen different animals—wolf, roe, goat, ram, mouse, grasshopper, lizard, swan, hawk, eagle—to say nothing of plants (e.g. the laurel), were associated with or offered to Apollo, we are justified in inferring that as many different nameless totem gods, plant or animal, have been absorbed by the spirit which was fortunate enough to possess the personal name Apollo. Whether that spirit was or was not a sungod is a question to which no decisive answer is forthcoming. But it is clear that fusion between the cult of the sun-god and the worship of other gods would be considerably facilitated by the fact that burnt-offerings played a part in the ritual both of the sun-god and of other gods. The agriculturist, whose crops required sunshine, acknowledged his dependence on the sun and worshipped him. In many cases the sun-god might continue to be consciously distinguished from the plant totem or vegetation spirit, but in many, perhaps most, cases the agriculturist would worship both gods in a common festival, and combine their ritual: he had to make offerings to both, and to both it was possible to convey his offerings
by casting them into a fire. Thus the Druids, at their great
1 B. K. 526 ; Cæs. B. G. vi. 16; Strabo, iv. c. 198; Diod. v. 32.
would invalidate the whole. In a word, the proceedings, from the time of entering to the moment of leaving the sacred place, tended to present themselves to the worshipper's mind as one single act of worship. That the various constituent parts of that act had had different origins, was a fact which would inevitably tend to be obscured and eventually forgotten. That the various rites composing the one act of worship had been originally addressed to different spirits, would pari passu also tend to be forgotten; indeed, if the spirits were nameless, it would be difficult for several generations of worshippers to hold them clearly apart in their minds. What would be present to the consciousness of any given worshipper would be, that on certain occasions, e.g. when danger of any kind threatened, it was the customary thing to resort to the sacred place of the clan, and there to perform certain external acts, and that, if those acts were performed in the proper way, the danger would be averted by the supernatural power or powers friendly to the clan and haunting the grove. Whether one or more spirits were concerned in granting the prayers of the community might be matter for speculation; the unity of the act of worship, however, would be a presumption in favour of the unity of the power worshipped. Thus in Aricia there was a sacred grove or forest, the forest of the inhabitants, Nemus, which was thus resorted to; and the numen of the spot was known simply as “the forester," Nemorensis. Eventually, “ the forester" was identified with a goddess having a more individual name and a higher degree of personality-Diana. On the analogy, therefore, of Diana Nemorensis, we may conjecture that deities with double names, Phoebus Apollo, Pallas Athene, and so on, were originally distinct deities whose cults have been combined by syncretism.
But it is not here alleged that even spirits whose abodes were so closely associated together, as were those of treespirits and river-spirits necessarily or generally blended together, or were absorbed by a god with a more developed personality. Each of the gods might have such a marked personality that fusion was impossible. The Dryads, the Nereids, the Naids, the nymphs of trees and streams, continued to exist side by side with the greater gods of Greece. In a word, where syncretism did not take place, polytheism arose. And it is with polytheism that we have now to deal. The development of polytheism is in the main the outcome of early political progress, as was indicated at the beginning of this chapter; the political union of two or more communities involved religious union also. Thus, the southern tribes of the Gold Coast, Fantis, form one confederation ; the northern tribes, Ashantis, a rival and more powerful confederation. Each has its own federal god — Bobowissi the god of the southern, Tando the god of the northern federation, and whenever a tribe revolts from the Ashantis it renounces the Ashanti god Tando, and is admitted to the southern federation by joining in the worship of Bobowissi.1
But though the development of polytheism is in the main the outcome of political causes and of the synoikismos by which a State and a nation are made, still a tendency to polytheism manifests itself in even earlier times. The skygod, whose favour is essential to the herbage which supports the herdsman's cattle, as well as to the farmer's crops, may be worshipped concurrently with the totem plant or animal, and retain his independence, as the Dyaus, Zeus, Jupiter, of the Aryans, did. Again, as the worship of two spirits at one festival sometimes results in a combination of the two cults and in the syncretism of the two deities, so, conversely, the worship of one deity at two different festivals sometimes ends in the production of two deities : at the spring or Easter festival of the agricultural calendar, the rites appropriate to the green corn or maize are celebrated, and later in the year the worship of the ripe ear takes place, with the result that the Corn-Maiden, or Kern Baby, is differentiated from the Old Woman or Corn-Mother-Korê from Demeter, Xilonen from Chicomecoatl.
In this connection we may note that amongst savages there are sex-totems,” and amongst civilised peoples what we may call sex-mysteries: sex-totems are animals which are exclusively sacred to the women of the tribe, or exclusively to the men; sex-mysteries are those from participation in which one or other sex is excluded. Now, the mysteries 1 Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples, 33.
2 Frazer, Totemism, 51-3.
which are celebrated exclusively by women, and from which men are excluded, are generally connected with agriculture and agricultural deities, e.g. the Thesmophoria, the rites of the Bona Deanud sundry Hindu ceremonies. Further, it is a well-known fact that amongst savages agriculture is left to the women : amongst the Niam-Niam “the men most studiously devote themselves to their hunting, and leave the culture of the soil to be carried on exclusively by the women;"2 amongst the Kafirs “the women are the real labourers, the entire business of digging, planting, and weeding devolves on them ;”3 “whilst the Monbuttoo women attend to the tillage of the soil and the gathering of the harvest, the men, except they are absent, either for war or hunting, spend the entire day in idleness." 4 In fine, it may be said of Africa generally, that “the wife has the chief share of the hoeing and cultivation of the soil ; "5 as it was said of the ancient Peruvians, “ these women give great assistance to their husbands in all the labours belonging to husbandry and domestic affairs, or rather, these things fall entirely to their lot." 8 It is therefore an easy guess that the cultivation of plants was one of woman's contributions to the development of civilisation; and it is in harmony with this conjecture that the cereal deities are usually, both in the Old World and the New, female. The agricultural or semi-agricultural mysteries, therefore, from which even in civilised times women continued to exclude men, may be survivals of early times, when agriculture was a cult as well as a craft, a mystery as well as a ministerium, and when, further, the craft (and therefore the cult) was the exclusive prerogative of the wives of the tribe. That cultivated plants were originally totems we have already argued. If women were the first cultivators, it will follow that cereals were originally sex-totems. Agriculture, however, when its benefits became thoroughly understood, was not allowed, amongst civilised races, to continue to be the exclusive prerogative of
Crooke, Folk-Lore of Northern India, 41 and 43.
Schweinfurth, ii. 90.