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care of the drums. Each of these minor guardian gods has, as it were, a special duty.”ı To turn to the New World, in Mexico there were similar gods of black maize, roasted maize, banners, metal objects, bucklers, etc.2 In Asia, we find that " the sword was worshipped by the Rájputs ; . . . in Bengal, the carpenters worship their adze, chisel, and saw; and the barbers their razors, scissors, and mirror; ... the writer class worship their books, pens, and inkstands. . . . In Bombay, jewellers worship their pincers and blow-pipe; carriers worship an axe, and market gardeners a pair of scales,” 3 and so on. The corn-sieve is sacred in India, as was the mystica vannus Tacchi in Greece; and the worship of the plough, which is carried on still in India, and used to be practised by the ancient Teutons, survives in England in the customs of Plough Monday. This kind of worship, therefore, sometimes called fetishism, so far from being the origin of religion, is later than, and a degeneration from, the original state of things.
The last development of polytheism is anthropomorphism.. This was a stage which had not been reached in ancient Italyx in historic times: before the invasion of that country by the anthropomorphic gods of Greece, the Italians neither conceived their many gods to have human form, nor had human-shaped idols, nor imagined their gods to marry and give in marriage. To this stage of religious belief, to distinguish it from polytheisms such as those of Greece and Mexico, of which the deities are anthropomorphic, and have a correspondingly higher degree of personality, the name polydæmonism, as it has been suggested,4 might be given rather than polytheism. At any rate, it is well to bear in mind the fact that a people may have many gods, and none of them in human form.
With the effects which anthropomorphism produced on the general course of civilisation we have not here to deal : it produced and perfected the two forms of art which they nineteenth century has been able to appreciate but little, and to produce not at all-sculpture and architecture. In
2 Sahagun, 1. xxii.
1 Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples, 86, 87.
religion, anthropomorphism made it possible to bring polytheism into something like a system, to bring all the gods to dwell together in one Olympus, to organise them into a society framed on the model of human society, and to establish their relations to one another by means of mythology. It is therefore of mythology that our next chapter must treat.
As long as man is on the natural basis of subsistence, as long as he lives on roots, fruits, and the produce of the chase, so long it takes him the whole of his time to scrape together enough food to live on, and progress is impossible. It is the domestication of plants and animals which enables him to produce a greater food supply in a shorter time, which gives him leisure, sets free a large part of his energies, and gives him time to meditate the further appropriation of natural powers to his own purposes, and so makes material progress possible. The consequent increase of wealth brings in its train the institution of private property. This development of material civilisation—itself due to religion-reacts upon religion. In every cult there are two tendencies or impulses, the mystic and the practical, the need of the blessings which the supernatural power can bestow and the desire for communion with the author of those blessings. The latter manifests itself from the first, as we have seen, both in the sacrificial meal and in the sacramental offerings, by means of which the worshipper seeks to unite himself with the object of his worship. But it tended to be obscured, and material progress tended to emphasise the practical object of cult, in two ways. Polytheism disintegrated the totem-god and gave birth to functional deities, thus suggesting and fostering the idea that as these deities had only one function to performand that one of material benefit to man-- their only function was to perform it for man's benefit. At the same time, the conception of property was introduced into the relations between God and man in such a way that sacrifice tended to appear as a bargain in which the latter had so much the better
Perform it toerial benefit
that he got everything and practically gave nothing. Thus the practical impulse in worship was gradually exaggerated till its absurdity became gross; and the mystic impulse had been thrust into the background until it was almost entirely lost to view. How it came to reassert itself we shall have soon to inquire, but we can now no longer delay to recognise that in religion, besides the mystic and practical tendencies, there is also the speculative tendency, and whereas the former manifest themselves in cult, the latter finds expression in mythology. It is indeed true that in early religions, while it was absolutely incumbent on a man to perform exactly and punctiliously the external acts which constituted the ritual and cult of the clan or state to which he belonged, yet“ belief in a certain series of myths was neither obligatory as a part of true religion, nor was it supposed that, by believing, a man acquired religious merit and conciliated the favour of the gods.”i It is also true that there is a conspicuous absence of religious feeling from most myths. Still it is impossible for us to exclude the consideration of mythology.
Myths are not like psalms or hymns, lyrical expressions of religious emotion ; they are not like creeds or dogmas, statements of things which must be believed: they are narratives. They are not history, they are tales told about gods and heroes, and they all have two characteristics : on the one hand, they are to us obviously or demonstrably untrue and often irrational; on the other hand, they were to their first audience so reasonable as to appear truths which were self-evident. Many myths are (or in their original form were) designed to explain some name, ritual, or whatever seemed to require explanation : the name of Shotover Hill is explained to be due to the fact that Little John once shot over it. Other myths explain nothing and point no
i Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, 17.
? The view of mythology in this chapter is that of a disciple of Mr. Andrew Lang; and the student is referred to Mr. Lang's article on Mythology in the Encyclopædia Britannica, his Myth, Ritual, and Religion, and his Custom and Myth. The most comprehensive account of the various theories which have been held on the subject of mythology is to be found in Gruppe, Die griechischen Culle und Mythen (the English reader will find a briefer account by the present writer in the article on Mythology in Chambers's Encyclopædia).
moral : they are tales told for the sake of the telling and v repeated for the pleasure of hearing, like fairy-tales.
A fundamental article in the totem faith is that the human kin and the animal kind are one flesh, one blood, members of the same clan, bound by the sacred tie of blood to respect and assist each other. Then the question naturally arises, if the human and the animal members are brothers, how is it that they wear such different shapes ? and the answer obviously is that they were not always different : once upon a time they were the same, and then something occurred to make them different. Thus, “ the Cray-fish clan of the Choctaws were originally cray-fish and lived underground, coming up occasionally through the mud to the surface. Once a party of Choctaws smoked them out, and, treating them kindly, taught them the Choctaw language, taught them to walk on two legs, made them cut off their toe-nails and pluck the hair from their bodies, after which they adopted them into the tribe. But the rest of their kindred, the cray-fish, are still living underground.”1 In course of time, as we have seen, it comes to be believed that the totem-god is the father of his worshippers, and the question again arises, how can human beings be descended from an animal forefather ? and the answer is on the same principle as before. “Thus the Turtle clan of the Iroquois are descended from a fat turtle, which, burdened by the weight of its shell in walking, contrived by great exertions to throw it off, and thereafter gradually developed into a man."2 Later, again, in consequence of the development of anthropomorphism, it comes to be believed that the proper and original shape of the gods is human; and then the belief that the family is descended from a god in animal form requires explanation ; and the obvious inference is that as the god's real and normal shape is human, he must have transformed himself temporarily on this occasion and for some especial purpose : thus Zeus changes himself into a swan to win Leda, into a bull to win Europa.
· In art and ritual the gradual process by which the originally animal or vegetation god became eventually human in form can be clearly traced, with all the intermediate steps. / 1 Frazer, Totemism, 4.
? Tbid. 3.