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Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica, economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore automatico interattivo FGA Translate

  1. Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
  2. Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
  3. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
  4. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
  5. Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
  6. Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
  7. Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
  8. Anonimo - BEOWULF
  9. Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
  10. Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
  11. Austen, Jane - EMMA
  12. Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
  13. Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
  14. Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
  15. Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  16. Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
  18. Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
  21. Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
  22. Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
  23. Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
  24. Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
  25. Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
  26. Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
  28. Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
  30. Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
  31. Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
  32. Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
  33. Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
  34. Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
  35. Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
  37. Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
  38. Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
  39. Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
  40. Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
  41. Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
  42. Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
  43. Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  44. Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
  45. Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
  46. Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
  47. Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
  49. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
  50. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
  51. Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
  52. Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
  53. Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
  54. Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
  55. Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
  56. Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
  60. Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
  62. Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  65. Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
  66. Collodi - PINOCCHIO
  67. Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
  68. Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  69. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
  70. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  71. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
  72. Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
  73. Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
  74. Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
  75. Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
  76. Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
  77. Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
  78. Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
  79. Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
  80. Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
  85. Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
  87. Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
  88. Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
  89. Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
  90. Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
  93. Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
  94. Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
  95. Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
  96. Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
  97. Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
  98. Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
  99. Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
  100. Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
  101. Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
  102. Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
  103. Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
  104. Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
  105. Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
  106. Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
  107. Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
  108. Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
  109. Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
  110. Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
  111. Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
  112. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
  113. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
  114. Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
  115. Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
  116. Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
  117. Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
  118. Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
  119. Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
  120. Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
  121. Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
  123. Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  124. Esopo - FABLES
  125. Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
  126. Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
  127. France, Anatole - THAIS
  128. France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
  129. France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
  130. France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
  131. Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
  132. Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
  133. Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  134. Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
  135. Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
  136. Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
  137. Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
  138. Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
  139. Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
  140. Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
  141. Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
  142. Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
  143. Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
  144. Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
  145. Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
  146. Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
  147. Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
  148. Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
  149. Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
  150. Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
  151. Goethe - FAUST
  152. Gogol - DEAD SOULS
  153. Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
  154. Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
  155. Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
  156. Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
  158. Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
  159. Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
  160. Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
  161. Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
  162. Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
  164. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
  165. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
  167. Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
  168. Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
  169. Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
  170. Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
  171. Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
  172. Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
  173. Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
  174. Homer - THE ILIAD
  175. Homer - THE ODYSSEY
  180. Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
  181. Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
  182. Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
  183. Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
  184. Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
  185. Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
  186. Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
  187. Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
  188. Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
  189. Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
  190. James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
  191. James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
  192. James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
  193. James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
  194. James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
  195. James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
  196. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
  197. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
  198. Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
  199. Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
  200. Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
  201. Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
  203. Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
  204. Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
  205. Joyce, James - ULYSSES
  206. Keats, John - ENDYMION
  207. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
  208. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
  209. King James - THE BIBLE
  210. Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
  211. Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
  212. Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
  213. Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
  214. Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
  215. Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
  216. Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
  217. Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
  218. Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
  219. Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
  220. Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
  221. Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
  222. Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
  223. Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
  224. Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
  225. Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
  226. Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
  227. Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
  229. Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
  231. Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
  232. Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
  233. Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
  234. Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
  235. Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
  236. Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
  237. London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
  238. London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
  239. London, Jack - WHITE FANG
  240. Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
  241. Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
  242. Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
  243. Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
  244. Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
  245. Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
  246. Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
  247. Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
  249. Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
  251. Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
  252. Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
  253. More, Thomas - UTOPIA
  254. Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
  256. Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
  257. Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
  258. Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
  259. Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
  260. Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
  261. Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
  262. Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
  263. Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
  264. Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
  265. Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
  266. Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
  267. Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
  268. Plato - THE REPUBLIC
  269. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
  270. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
  271. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
  272. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
  273. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
  274. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
  275. Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
  276. Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
  277. Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
  279. Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
  280. Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
  281. Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
  284. Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
  285. Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
  286. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
  287. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
  288. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
  289. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
  290. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
  291. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
  292. Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
  293. Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
  294. Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
  295. Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
  296. Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
  297. Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
  298. Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
  299. Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
  300. Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
  301. Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
  302. Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
  303. Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
  304. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
  305. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  306. Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
  307. Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
  308. Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
  311. Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
  312. Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
  313. Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
  314. Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
  315. Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
  316. Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
  317. Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
  318. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
  319. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
  320. Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
  321. Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
  322. Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
  323. Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
  324. Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
  325. Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
  326. Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
  327. Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
  328. Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
  329. Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
  331. Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
  332. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
  333. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
  334. Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
  335. Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
  336. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
  337. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
  338. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
  339. Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
  340. Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
  341. Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
  342. Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
  343. Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  344. Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
  345. Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
  346. Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
  347. Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
  348. Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
  349. Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
  350. Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
  351. Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
  354. Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
  355. Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
  356. Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
  357. Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
  359. Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
  360. Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
  361. Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
  362. Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
  363. Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
  364. Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
  366. Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
  367. Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
  368. Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
  369. Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
  370. Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
  371. Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
  372. Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
  373. Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
  376. Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
  377. Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
  378. Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
  379. Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
  380. White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
  381. Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
  382. Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
  383. Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
  384. Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
  385. Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
  386. Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
  387. Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
  388. Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
  391. Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
  392. Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
  393. Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
  394. Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
  395. Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
  396. Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
  397. Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
  398. Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
  399. Wordsworth, William - POEMS
  400. Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
  401. Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN


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The Golden Bough - A Study in Comparative Religion

By James George Frazer, M.A.


For some time I have been preparing a general work on primitive superstition and religion. Among the problems which had attracted my attention was the hitherto unexplained rule of the Arician priesthood; and last spring it happened that in the course of my reading I came across some facts which, combined with others I had noted before, suggested an explanation of the rule in question. As the explanation, if correct, promised to throw light on some obscure features of primitive religion, I resolved to develop it fully, and, detaching it from my general work, to issue it as a separate study. This book is the result.

Now that the theory, which necessarily presented itself to me at first in outline, has been worked out in detail, I cannot but feel that in some places I may have pushed it too far. If this should prove to have been the case, I will readily acknowledge and retract my error as soon as it is brought home to me. Meantime my essay may serve its purpose as a first attempt to solve a difficult problem, and to bring a variety of scattered facts into some sort of order and system.

A justification is perhaps needed of the length at which I have dwelt upon the popular festivals observed by European peasants in spring, at midsummer, and at harvest. It can hardly be too often repeated, since it is not yet generally recognised, that in spite of their fragmentary character the popular superstitions and customs of the peasantry are by far the fullest and most trustworthy evidence we possess as to the primitive religion of the Aryans. Indeed the primitive Aryan, in all that regards his mental fibre and texture, is not extinct. He is amongst us to this day. The great intellectual and moral forces which have revolutionised the educated world have scarcely affected the peasant. In his inmost beliefs he is what his forefathers were in the days when forest trees still grew and squirrels played on the ground where Rome and London now stand.

Hence every inquiry into the primitive religion of the Aryans should either start from the superstitious beliefs and observances of the peasantry, or should at least be constantly checked and controlled by reference to them. Compared with the evidence afforded by living tradition, the testimony of ancient books on the subject of early religion is worth very little. For literature accelerates the advance of thought at a rate which leaves the slow progress of opinion by word of mouth at an immeasurable distance behind. Two or three generations of literature may do more to change thought than two or three thousand years of traditional life. But the mass of the people who do not read books remain unaffected by the mental revolution wrought by literature; and so it has come about that in Europe at the present day the superstitious beliefs and practices which have been handed down by word of mouth are generally of a far more archaic type than the religion depicted in the most ancient literature of the Aryan race.

It is on these grounds that, in discussing the meaning and origin of an ancient Italian priesthood, I have devoted so much attention to the popular customs and superstitions of modern Europe. In this part of my subject I have made great use of the works of the late W. Mannhardt, without which, indeed, my book could scarcely have been written. Fully recognising the truth of the principles which I have imperfectly stated, Mannhardt set himself systematically to collect, compare, and explain the living superstitions of the peasantry. Of this wide field the special department which he marked out for himself was the religion of the woodman and the farmer, in other words, the superstitious beliefs and rites connected with trees and cultivated plants. By oral inquiry, and by printed questions scattered broadcast over Europe, as well as by ransacking the literature of folk-lore, he collected a mass of evidence, part of which he published in a series of admirable works. But his health, always feeble, broke down before he could complete the comprehensive and really vast scheme which he had planned, and at his too early death much of his precious materials remained unpublished. His manuscripts are now deposited in the University Library at Berlin, and in the interest of the study to which he devoted his life it is greatly to be desired that they should be examined, and that such portions of them as he has not utilised in his books should be given to the world.

Of his published works the most important are, first, two tracts, "Roggenwolf und Roggenhund", Danzig 1865 (second edition, Danzig, 1866), and "Die Korndämonen", Berlin, 1868. These little works were put forward by him tentatively, in the hope of exciting interest in his inquiries and thereby securing the help of others in pursuing them. But, except from a few learned societies, they met with very little attention. Undeterred by the cold reception accorded to his efforts he worked steadily on, and in 1875 published his chief work, "Der Baumkultus der Germanen und ihrer Nachbarstämme". This was followed in 1877 by "Antike Wald- und Feldkulte". His "Mythologische Forschungen", a posthumous work, appeared in 1884.(1)

Much as I owe to Mannhardt, I owe still more to my friend Professor W. Robertson Smith. My interest in the early history of society was first excited by the works of Dr. E. B. Tylor, which opened up a mental vista undreamed of by me before. But it is a long step from a lively interest in a subject to a systematic study of it; and that I took this step is due to the influence of my friend W. Robertson Smith. The debt which I owe to the vast stores of his knowledge, the abundance and fertility of his ideas, and his unwearied kindness, can scarcely be overestimated. Those who know his writings may form some, though a very inadequate, conception of the extent to which I have been influenced by him. The views of sacrifice set forth in his article “Sacrifice” in the "Encyclopaedia "" Britannica", and further developed in his recent work, "The Religion of the Semites", mark a new departure in the historical study of religion, and ample traces of them will be found in this book. Indeed the central idea of my essay—the conception of the slain god—is derived directly, I believe, from my friend. But it is due to him to add that he is in no way responsible for the general explanation which I have offered of the custom of slaying the god. He has read the greater part of the proofs in circumstances which enhanced the kindness, and has made many valuable suggestions which I have usually adopted; but except where he is cited by name, or where the views expressed coincide with those of his published works, he is not to be regarded as necessarily assenting to any of the theories propounded in this book.

The works of Professor G. A. Wilken of Leyden have been of great service in directing me to the best original authorities on the Dutch East Indies, a very important field to the ethnologist. To the courtesy of the Rev. Walter Gregor, M.A., of Pitsligo, I am indebted for some interesting communications which will be found acknowledged in their proper places. Mr. Francis Darwin has kindly allowed me to consult him on some botanical questions. The manuscript authorities to which I occasionally refer are answers to a list of ethnological questions which I am circulating. Most of them will, I hope, be published in the "Journal of the Anthropological Institute".

The drawing of the Golden Bough which adorns the cover is from the pencil of my friend Professor J. H. Middleton. The constant interest and sympathy which he has shown in the progress of the book have been a great help and encouragement to me in writing it.

The Index has been compiled by Mr. A. Rogers, of the University Library, Cambridge.




“The still glassy lake that sleeps Beneath Aricia’s trees— Those trees in whose dim shadow The ghastly priest doth reign, The priest who slew the slayer, And shall himself be slain.”


§ 1.—The Arician Grove.

Who does not know Turner’s picture of the Golden Bough? The scene, suffused with the golden glow of imagination in which the divine mind of Turner steeped and transfigured even the fairest natural landscape, is a dream-like vision of the little woodland lake of Nemi, “Diana’s Mirror,” as it was called by the ancients. No one who has seen that calm water, lapped in a green hollow of the Alban hills, can ever forget it. The two characteristic Italian villages which slumber on its banks, and the equally Italian palazzo whose terraced gardens descend steeply to the lake, hardly break the stillness and even the solitariness of the scene. Dian herself might still linger by this lonely shore, still haunt these woodlands wild.

In antiquity this sylvan landscape was the scene of a strange and recurring tragedy. On the northern shore of the lake, right under the precipitous cliffs on which the modern village of Nemi is perched, stood the sacred grove and sanctuary of Diana Nemorensis, or Diana of the Wood.(2) The lake and the grove were sometimes known as the lake and grove of Aricia.(3) But the town of Aricia (the modern La Riccia) was situated about three miles off, at the foot of the Alban Mount, and separated by a steep descent from the lake, which lies in a small crater-like hollow on the mountain side. In this sacred grove there grew a certain tree round which at any time of the day and probably far into the night a strange figure might be seen to prowl. In his hand he carried a drawn sword, and he kept peering warily about him as if every instant he expected to be set upon by an enemy.(4) He was a priest and a murderer; and the man for whom he looked was sooner or later to murder him and hold the priesthood in his stead. Such was the rule of the sanctuary. A candidate for the priesthood could only succeed to office by slaying the priest, and having slain him he held office till he was himself slain by a stronger or a craftier.

This strange rule has no parallel in classical antiquity, and cannot be explained from it. To find an explanation we must go farther afield. No one will probably deny that such a custom savours of a barbarous age and, surviving into imperial times, stands out in striking isolation from the polished Italian society of the day, like a primeval rock rising from a smooth-shaven lawn. It is the very rudeness and barbarity of the custom which allow us a hope of explaining it. For recent researches into the early history of man have revealed the essential similarity with which, under many superficial differences, the human mind has elaborated its first crude philosophy of life. Accordingly if we can show that a barbarous custom, like that of the priesthood of Nemi, has existed elsewhere; if we can detect the motives which led to its institution; if we can prove that these motives have operated widely, perhaps universally, in human society, producing in varied circumstances a variety of institutions specifically different but generically alike; if we can show, lastly, that these very motives, with some of their derivative institutions, were actually at work in classical antiquity; then we may fairly infer that at a remoter age the same motives gave birth to the priesthood of Nemi. Such an inference, in default of direct evidence as to how the priesthood did actually arise, can never amount to demonstration. But it will be more or less probable according to the degree of completeness with which it fulfils the conditions indicated above. The object of this book is, by meeting these conditions, to offer a fairly probable explanation of the priesthood of Nemi.

I begin by setting forth the few facts and legends which have come down to us on the subject. According to one story the worship of Diana at Nemi was instituted by Orestes, who, after killing Thoas, King of the Tauric Chersonese (the Crimea), fled with his sister to Italy, bringing with him the image of the Tauric Diana. The bloody ritual which legend ascribed to that goddess is familiar to classical readers; it is said that every stranger who landed on the shore was sacrificed on her altar. But transported to Italy, the rite assumed a milder form. Within the sanctuary at Nemi grew a certain tree of which no branch might be broken. Only a runaway slave was allowed to break off, if he could, one of its boughs. Success in the attempt entitled him to fight the priest in single combat, and if he slew him he reigned in his stead with the title of King of the Wood ("Rex Nemorensis"). Tradition averred that the fateful branch was that Golden Bough which, at the Sibyl’s bidding, Aeneas plucked before he essayed the perilous journey to the world of the dead. The flight of the slave represented, it was said, the flight of Orestes; his combat with the priest was a reminiscence of the human sacrifices once offered to the Tauric Diana. This rule of succession by the sword was observed down to imperial times; for amongst his other freaks Caligula, thinking that the priest of Nemi had held office too long, hired a more stalwart ruffian to slay him.(5)

Of the worship of Diana at Nemi two leading features can still be made out. First, from the votive-offerings found in modern times on the site, it appears that she was especially worshipped by women desirous of children or of an easy delivery.(6) Second, fire seems to have played a foremost part in her ritual. For during her annual festival, celebrated at the hottest time of the year, her grove was lit up by a multitude of torches, whose ruddy glare was reflected by the waters of the lake; and throughout the length and breadth of Italy the day was kept with holy rites at every domestic hearth.(7) Moreover, women whose prayers had been heard by the goddess brought lighted torches to the grove in fulfilment of their vows.(8) Lastly, the title of Vesta borne by the Arician Diana(9) points almost certainly to the maintenance of a perpetual holy fire in her sanctuary.

At her annual festival all young people went through a purificatory ceremony in her honour; dogs were crowned; and the feast consisted of a young kid, wine, and cakes, served up piping hot on platters of leaves.(10)

But Diana did not reign alone in her grove at Nemi. Two lesser divinities shared her forest sanctuary. One was Egeria, the nymph of the clear water which, bubbling from the basaltic rocks, used to fall in graceful cascades into the lake at the place called Le Mole.(11) According to one story the grove was first consecrated to Diana by a Manius Egerius, who was the ancestor of a long and distinguished line. Hence the proverb “There are many Manii at Ariciae.” Others explained the proverb very differently. They said it meant that there were a great many ugly and deformed people, and they referred to the word "Mania" which meant a bogey or bugbear to frighten children.(12)

The other of these minor deities was Virbius. Legend had it that Virbius was the youthful Greek hero Hippolytus, who had been killed by his horses on the sea-shore of the Saronic Gulf. Him, to please Diana, the leech Aesculapius brought to life again by his simples. But Jupiter, indignant that a mortal man should return from the gates of death, thrust down the meddling leech himself to Hades; and Diana, for the love she bore Hippolytus, carried him away to Italy and hid him from the angry god in the dells of Nemi, where he reigned a forest king under the name of Virbius. Horses were excluded from the grove and sanctuary, because horses had killed Hippolytus.(13) Some thought that Virbius was the sun. It was unlawful to touch his image.(14) His worship was cared for by a special priest, the Flamen Virbialis.(15)

Such then are the facts and theories bequeathed to us by antiquity on the subject of the priesthood of Nemi. From materials so slight and scanty it is impossible to extract a solution of the problem. It remains to try whether the survey of a wider field may not yield us the clue we seek. The questions to be answered are two: first, why had the priest to slay his predecessor? and second, why, before he slew him, had he to pluck the Golden Bough? The rest of this book will be an attempt to answer these questions.

§ 2.—Primitive man and the supernatural.

The first point on which we fasten is the priest’s title. Why was he called the King of the Wood? why was his office spoken of as a Kingdom?(16)

The union of a royal title with priestly duties was common in ancient Italy and Greece. At Rome and in other Italian cities there was a priest called the Sacrificial King or King of the Sacred Rites ("Rex Sacrificulus" or "Rex Sacrorum"), and his wife bore the title of Queen of the Sacred Rites.(17) In republican Athens the second magistrate of the state was called the King, and his wife the Queen; the functions of both were religious.(18) Many other Greek democracies had titular kings, whose duties, so far as they are known, seem to have been priestly.(19) At Rome the tradition was that the Sacrificial King had been appointed after the expulsion of the kings in order to offer the sacrifices which had been previously offered by the kings.(20) In Greece a similar view appears to have prevailed as to the origin of the priestly kings.(21) In itself the view is not improbable, and it is borne out by the example of Sparta, the only purely Greek state which retained the kingly form of government in historical times. For in Sparta all state sacrifices were offered by the kings as descendants of the god.(22) This combination of priestly functions with royal authority is familiar to every one. Asia Minor, for example, was the seat of various great religious capitals peopled by thousands of “sacred slaves,” and ruled by pontiffs who wielded at once temporal and spiritual authority, like the popes of mediaeval Rome. Such priest-ridden cities were Zela and Pessinus.(23) Teutonic kings, again, in the old heathen days seem to have stood in the position, and exercised the powers of high priests.(24) The Emperors of China offer public sacrifices, the details of which are regulated by the ritual books.(25) It is needless, however, to multiply examples of what is the rule rather than the exception in the early history of the kingship.

But when we have said that the ancient kings were commonly priests also, we are far from having exhausted the religious aspect of their office. In those days the divinity that hedges a king was no empty form of speech but the expression of a sober belief. Kings were revered, in many cases not merely as priests, that is, as intercessors between man and god, but as themselves gods, able to bestow upon their subjects and worshippers those blessings which are commonly supposed to be beyond the reach of man, and are sought, if at all, only by prayer and sacrifice offered to superhuman and invisible beings. Thus kings are often expected to give rain and sunshine in due season, to make the crops grow, and so on. Strange as this expectation appears to us, it is quite of a piece with early modes of thought. A savage hardly conceives the distinction commonly drawn by more advanced peoples between the natural and the supernatural. To him the world is mostly worked by supernatural agents, that is, by personal beings acting on impulses and motives like his own, liable like him to be moved by appeals to their pity, their fears, and their hopes. In a world so conceived he sees no limit to his power of influencing the course of nature to his own advantage. Prayers, promises, or threats may secure him fine weather and an abundant crop from the gods; and if a god should happen, as he sometimes believes, to become incarnate in his own person, then he need appeal to no higher power; he, the savage, possesses in himself all the supernatural powers necessary to further his own well-being and that of his fellow men.

This is one way in which the idea of a man-god is reached. But there is another. Side by side with the view of the world as pervaded by spiritual forces, primitive man has another conception in which we may detect a germ of the modern notion of natural law or the view of nature as a series of events occurring in an invariable order without the intervention of personal agency. The germ of which I speak is involved in that sympathetic magic, as it may be called, which plays a large part in most systems of superstition. One of the principles of sympathetic magic is that any effect may be produced by imitating it. To take a few instances. If it is wished to kill a person an image of him is made and then destroyed; and it is believed that through a certain physical sympathy between the person and his image, the man feels the injuries done to the image as if they were done to his own body, and that when it is destroyed he must simultaneously perish. Again, in Morocco a fowl or a pigeon may sometimes be seen with a little red bundle tied to its foot. The bundle contains a charm, and it is believed that as the charm is kept in constant motion by the bird a corresponding restlessness is kept up in the mind of him or her against whom the charm is directed.(26) In Nias when a wild pig has fallen into the pit prepared for it, it is taken out and its back is rubbed with nine fallen leaves, in the belief that this will make nine more wild pigs fall into the pit just as the nine leaves fell from the tree.(27) When a Cambodian hunter has set his nets and taken nothing, he strips himself naked, goes some way off, then strolls up to the net as if he did not see it, lets himself be caught in it and cries, “Hillo! what’s this? I’m afraid I’m caught.” After that the net is sure to catch game.(28) In Thüringen the man who sows flax carries the seed in a long bag which reaches from his shoulders to his knees, and he walks with long strides, so that the bag sways to and fro on his back. It is believed that this will cause the flax crop to wave in the wind.(29) In the interior of Sumatra the rice is sown by women who, in sowing, let their hair hang loose down their back, in order that the rice may grow luxuriantly and have long stalks.(30) Again, magic sympathy is supposed to exist between a man and any severed portion of his person, as his hair or nails; so that whoever gets possession of hair or nails may work his will, at any distance, upon the person from whom they were cut. This superstition is world-wide. Further, the sympathy in question exists between friends and relations, especially at critical times. Hence, for example, the elaborate code of rules which regulates the conduct of persons left at home while a party of their friends is out fishing or hunting or on the war-path. It is thought that if the persons left at home broke these rules their absent friends would suffer an injury, corresponding in its nature to the breach of the rule. Thus when a Dyak is out head-hunting, his wife or, if he is unmarried, his sister, must wear a sword day and night in order that he may always be thinking of his weapons; and she may not sleep during the day nor go to bed before two in the morning, lest her husband or brother should thereby be surprised in his sleep by an enemy.(31) In Laos when an elephant hunter is setting out for the chase he warns his wife not to cut her hair or oil her body in his absence; for if she cut her hair the elephant would burst the toils, if she oiled herself it would slip through them.(32)

In all these cases (and similar instances might be multiplied indefinitely) an action is performed or avoided, because its performance is believed to entail good or bad consequences of a sort resembling the act itself. Sometimes the magic sympathy takes effect not so much through an act as through a supposed resemblance of qualities. Thus some Bechuanas wear a ferret as a charm because, being very tenacious of life, it will make them difficult to kill.(33) Others wear a certain insect, mutilated but living, for a similar purpose.(34) Other Bechuana warriors wear the hair of an ox among their own hair and the skin of a frog on their mantle, because a frog is slippery and the ox from which the hair has been taken has no horns and is therefore hard to catch; so the warrior who is provided with these charms believes that he will be as hard to hold as the ox and the frog.(35)

Thus we see that in sympathetic magic one event is supposed to be followed necessarily and invariably by another, without the intervention of any spiritual or personal agency. This is, in fact, the modern conception of physical causation; the conception, indeed, is misapplied, but it is there none the less. Here, then, we have another mode in which primitive man seeks to bend nature to his wishes. There is, perhaps, hardly a savage who does not fancy himself possessed of this power of influencing the course of nature by sympathetic magic; a man-god, on this view, is only an individual who is believed to enjoy this common power in an unusually high degree. Thus, whereas a man-god of the former or inspired type derives his divinity from a deity who has taken up his abode in a tabernacle of flesh, a man-god of the latter type draws his supernatural power from a certain physical sympathy with nature. He is not merely the receptacle of a divine spirit. His whole being, body and soul, is so delicately attuned to the harmony of the world that a touch of his hand or a turn of his head may send a thrill vibrating through the universal framework of things; and conversely his divine organism is acutely sensitive to such slight changes of environment as would leave ordinary mortals wholly unaffected. But the line between these two types of man-god, however sharply we may draw it in theory, is seldom to be traced with precision in practice, and in what follows I shall not insist on it.

To readers long familiarised with the conception of natural law, the belief of primitive man that he can rule the elements must be so foreign that it may be well to illustrate it by examples. When we have seen that in early society men who make no pretence at all of being gods do nevertheless commonly believe themselves to be invested with supernatural powers, we shall have the less difficulty in comprehending the extraordinary range of powers ascribed to individuals who are actually regarded as divine.

Of all natural phenomena there are perhaps none which civilised man feels himself more powerless to influence than the rain, the sun, and the wind. Yet all these are commonly supposed by savages to be in some degree under their control.

To begin with rain-making. In a village near Dorpat in Russia, when rain was much wanted, three men used to climb up the fir-trees of an old sacred grove. One of them drummed with a hammer on a kettle or small cask to imitate thunder; the second knocked two fire-brands together and made the sparks fly, to imitate lightning; and the third, who was called “the rain-maker,” had a bunch of twigs with which he sprinkled water from a vessel on all sides.(36) This is an example of sympathetic magic; the desired event is supposed to be produced by imitating it. Rain is often thus made by imitation. In Halmahera (Gilolo), a large island to the west of New Guinea, a wizard makes rain by dipping a branch of a particular kind of tree in water and sprinkling the ground with it.(37) In Ceram it is enough to dedicate the bark of a certain tree to the spirits and lay it in water.(38) In New Britain the rain-maker wraps some leaves of a red and green striped creeper in a banana-leaf, moistens the bundle with water and buries it in the ground; then he imitates with his mouth the plashing of rain.(39) Amongst the Omaha Indians of North America, when the corn is withering for want of rain, the members of the sacred Buffalo Society fill a large vessel with water and dance four times round it. One of them drinks some of the water and spirts it into the air, making a fine spray in imitation of a mist or drizzling rain. Then he upsets the vessel, spilling the water on the ground; whereupon the dancers fall down and drink up the water, getting mud all over their faces. Lastly they spirt the water into the air, making a fine mist. This saves the corn.(40) Amongst the Australian Wotjobaluk the rain-maker dipped a bunch of his own hair in water, sucked out the water and squirted it westward, or he twirled the ball round his head making a spray like rain.(41) Squirting water from the mouth is also a West African way of making rain.(42) Another mode is to dip a particular stone in water or sprinkle water on it. In a Samoan village a certain stone was carefully housed as the representative of the rain-making god; and in time of drought his priests carried the stone in procession, and dipped it in a stream.(43) In the Ta-ta-thi tribe of New South Wales the rain-maker breaks off a piece of quartz crystal and spits it towards the sky; the rest of the crystal he wraps in emu feathers, soaks both crystal and feathers in water, and carefully hides them.(44) In the Keramin tribe of New South Wales the wizard retires to the bed of a creek, drops water on a round flat stone, then covers up and conceals it.(45) The Fountain of Baranton, of romantic fame, in the forest of Brécilien, used to be resorted to by peasants when they needed rain; they caught some of the water in a tankard and threw it on a slab near the spring.(46) When some of the Apache Indians wish for rain, they take water from a certain spring and throw it on a particular point high up on a rock; the clouds then soon gather and rain begins to fall.(47) There is a lonely tarn on Snowdon called Dulyn or the Black Lake, lying “in a dismal dingle surrounded by high and dangerous rocks.” A row of stepping stones runs out into the lake; and if any one steps on the stones and throws water so as to wet the farthest stone, which is called the Red Altar, “it is but a chance that you do not get rain before night, even when it is hot weather.”(48) In these cases it is probable that, as in Samoa, the stone is regarded as in some sort divine. This appears from the custom sometimes observed of dipping the cross in the Fountain of Baranton, to procure rain; for this is plainly a substitute for the older way of throwing the water on the stone.(49) In Mingrelia, to get rain they dip a holy image in water daily till it rains.(50) In Navarre the image of St. Peter was taken to a river, where some prayed to him for rain, but others called out to duck him in the water.(51) Here the dipping in the water is used as a threat; but originally it was probably a sympathetic charm, as in the following instance. In New Caledonia the rain-makers blackened themselves all over, dug up a dead body, took the bones to a cave, jointed them, and hung the skeleton over some taro leaves. Water was poured over the skeleton to run down on the leaves. “They supposed that the soul of the departed took up the water, made rain of it, and showered it down again.”(52) The same motive comes clearly out in a mode of making rain which is practised by various peoples of South Eastern Europe. In time of drought the Servians strip a girl, clothe her from head to foot in grass, herbs, and flowers, even her face being hidden with them. Thus disguised she is called the Dodola, and goes through the village with a troop of girls. They stop before every house; the Dodola dances, while the other girls form a ring round her singing one of the Dodola songs, and the housewife pours a pail of water over her.

One of the songs they sing runs thus—

“We go through the village; The clouds go in the sky; We go faster, Faster go the clouds; They have overtaken us, And wetted the corn and the vine.”

A similar custom is observed by the Greeks, Bulgarians, and Roumanians.(53) In such customs the leaf-dressed girl represents the spirit of vegetation, and drenching her with water is an imitation of rain. In Russia, in the Government of Kursk, when rain is much wanted, the women seize a passing stranger and throw him into the river, or souse him from head to foot.(54) Later on we shall see that a passing stranger is often, as here, taken for a god or spirit. Amongst the Minahassa of North Celebes the priest bathes as a rain-charm.(55) In the Caucasian Province of Georgia, when a drought has lasted long, marriageable girls are yoked in couples with an ox-yoke on their shoulders, a priest holds the reins, and thus harnessed they wade through rivers, puddles, and marshes, praying, screaming, weeping, and laughing.(56) In a district of Transylvania, when the ground is parched with drought, some girls strip themselves naked, and, led by an older woman, who is also naked, they steal a harrow and carry it across the field to a brook, where they set it afloat. Next they sit on the harrow and keep a tiny flame burning on each corner of it for an hour. Then they leave the harrow in the water and go home.(57) A similar rain-charm is resorted to in India; naked women drag a plough across the field by night.(58) It is not said that they plunge the plough into a stream or sprinkle it with water. But the charm would hardly be complete without it.

Sometimes the charm works through an animal. To procure rain the Peruvians used to set a black sheep in a field, poured "chica" over it, and gave it nothing to eat till rain fell.(59) In a district of Sumatra all the women of the village, scantily clad, go to the river, wade into it, and splash each other with the water. A black cat is thrown into the water and made to swim about for a while, then allowed to escape to the bank, pursued by the splashing of the women.(60) In these cases the colour of the animal is part of the charm; being black it will darken the sky with rain-clouds. So the Bechuanas burn the stomach of an ox at evening, because they say, “the black smoke will gather the clouds, and cause the rain to come.”(61) The Timorese sacrifice a black pig for rain, a white or red one for sunshine.(62) The Garos offer a black goat on the top of a very high mountain in time of drought.(63)

Sometimes people try to coerce the rain-god into giving rain. In China a huge dragon made of paper or wood, representing the rain-god, is carried about in procession; but if no rain follows, it is cursed and torn in pieces.(64) In the like circumstances the Feloupes of Senegambia throw down their fetishes and drag them about the fields, cursing them till rain falls.(65) Some Indians of the Orinoco worshipped toads and kept them in vessels in order to obtain from them rain or sunshine as might be required; when their prayers were not answered they beat the toads.(66) Killing a frog is a European rain-charm.(67) When the spirits withhold rain or sunshine, the Comanches whip a slave; if the gods prove obstinate, the victim is almost flayed alive.(68) Here the human being may represent the god, like the leaf-clad Dodola. When the rice-crop is endangered by long drought, the governor of Battambang, a province of Siam, goes in great state to a certain pagoda and prays to Buddha for rain. Then accompanied by his suite and followed by an enormous crowd he adjourns to a plain behind the pagoda. Here a dummy figure has been made up, dressed in bright colours, and placed in the middle of the plain. A wild music begins to play; maddened by the din of drums and cymbals and crackers, and goaded on by their drivers, the elephants charge down on the dummy and trample it to pieces. After this, Buddha will soon give rain.(69)

Another way of constraining the rain-god is to disturb him in his haunts. This seems the reason why rain is supposed to be the consequence of troubling a sacred spring. The Dards believe that if a cowskin or anything impure is placed in certain springs, storms will follow.(70) Gervasius mentions a spring into which if a stone or a stick were thrown, rain would at once issue from it and drench the thrower.(71) There was a fountain in Munster such that if it were touched or even looked at by a human being, it would at once flood the whole province with rain.(72) Sometimes an appeal is made to the pity of the gods. When their corn is being burnt up by the sun, the Zulus look out for a “heaven-bird,” kill it, and throw it into a pool. Then the heaven melts with tenderness for the death of the bird; “it wails for it by raining, wailing a funeral wail.”(73) In times of drought the Guanches of Teneriffe led their sheep to sacred ground, and there they separated the lambs from their dams, that their plaintive bleating might touch the heart of the god.(74) A peculiar mode of making rain was adopted by the heathen Arabs. They tied two sorts of bushes to the tails and hind-legs of their cattle, and setting fire to the bushes drove the cattle to the top of a mountain, praying for rain.(75) This may be, as Wellhausen suggests,(76) an imitation of lightning on the horizon. But it may also be a way of threatening the sky; as some West African rain-makers put a pot of inflammable materials on the fire and blow up the flames, threatening that if heaven does not soon give rain they will send up a flame which will set the sky on fire.(77) The Dieyerie of South Australia have a way of their own of making rain. A hole is dug about twelve feet long and eight or ten broad, and over this hole a hut of logs and branches is made. Two men, supposed to have received a special inspiration from Mooramoora (the Good Spirit), are bled by an old and influential man with a sharp flint inside the arm; the blood is made to flow on the other men of the tribe who sit huddled together. At the same time the two bleeding men throw handfuls of down, some of which adheres to the blood, while the rest floats in the air. The blood is thought to represent the rain, and the down the clouds. During the ceremony two large stones are placed in the middle of the hut; they stand for gathering clouds and presage rain. Then the men who were bled carry away the stones for about fifteen miles and place them as high as they can in the tallest tree. Meanwhile, the other men gather gypsum, pound it fine, and throw it into a water-hole. This the Mooramoora is supposed to see, and at once he causes the clouds to appear in the sky. Lastly, the men surround the hut, butt at it with their heads, force their way in, and reappear on the other side, repeating this till the hut is wrecked. In doing this they are forbidden to use their hands or arms; but when the heavy logs alone remain, they are allowed to pull them out with their hands. “The piercing of the hut with their heads symbolises the piercing of the clouds; the fall of the hut, the fall of rain.”(78) Another Australian mode of rain-making is to burn human hair.(79)

Like other peoples the Greeks and Romans sought to procure rain by magic, when prayers and processions(80) had proved ineffectual. For example, in Arcadia, when the corn and trees were parched with drought, the priest of Zeus dipped an oak branch into a certain spring on Mount Lycaeus. Thus troubled, the water sent up a misty cloud, from which rain soon fell upon the land.(81) A similar mode of making rain is still practised, as we have seen, in Halmahera near New Guinea. The people of Crannon in Thessaly had a bronze chariot which they kept in a temple. When they desired a shower they shook the chariot and the shower fell.(82) Probably the rattling of the chariot was meant to imitate thunder; we have already seen that in Russia mock thunder and lightning form part of a rain-charm. The mythical Salmoneus of Thessaly made mock thunder by dragging bronze kettles behind his chariot or by driving over a bronze bridge, while he hurled blazing torches in imitation of lightning. It was his impious wish to mimic the thundering car of Zeus as it rolled across the vault of heaven.(83) Near a temple of Mars, outside the walls of Rome, there was kept a certain stone known as the "lapis manalis". In time of drought the stone was dragged into Rome and this was supposed to bring down rain immediately.(84) There were Etruscan wizards who made rain or discovered springs of water, it is not certain which. They were thought to bring the rain or the water out of their bellies.(85) The legendary Telchines in Rhodes are described as magicians who could change their shape and bring clouds, rain, and snow.(86)

Again, primitive man fancies he can make the sun to shine, and can hasten or stay its going down. At an eclipse the Ojebways used to think that the sun was being extinguished. So they shot fire-tipped arrows in the air, hoping thus to rekindle his expiring light.(87) Conversely during an eclipse of the moon some Indian tribes of the Orinoco used to bury lighted brands in the ground; because, said they, if the moon were to be extinguished, all fire on earth would be extinguished with her, except such as was hidden from her sight.(88) In New Caledonia when a wizard desires to make sunshine, he takes some plants and corals to the burial-ground, and makes them into a bundle, adding two locks of hair cut from a living child (his own child if possible), also two teeth or an entire jawbone from the skeleton of an ancestor. He then climbs a high mountain whose top catches the first rays of the morning sun. Here he deposits three sorts of plants on a flat stone, places a branch of dry coral beside them, and hangs the bundle of charms over the stone. Next morning he returns to this rude altar, and at the moment when the sun rises from the sea he kindles a fire on the altar. As the smoke rises, he rubs the stone with the dry coral, invokes his ancestors and says: “Sun! I do this that you may be burning hot, and eat up all the clouds in the sky.” The same ceremony is repeated at sunset.(89) When the sun rises behind clouds—a rare event in the bright sky of Southern Africa—the Sun clan of the Bechuanas say that he is grieving their heart. All work stands still, and all the food of the previous day is given to matrons or old women. They may eat it and may share it with the children they are nursing, but no one else may taste it. The people go down to the river and wash themselves all over. Each man throws into the river a stone taken from his domestic hearth, and replaces it with one picked up in the bed of the river. On their return to the village the chief kindles a fire in his hut, and all his subjects come and get a light from it. A general dance follows.(90) In these cases it seems that the lighting of the flame on earth is supposed to rekindle the solar fire. Such a belief comes naturally to people who, like the Sun clan of the Bechuanas, deem themselves the veritable kinsmen of the sun. The Melanesians make sunshine by means of a mock sun. A round stone is wound about with red braid and stuck with owl’s feathers to represent rays; it is then hung on a high tree. Or the stone is laid on the ground with white rods radiating from it to imitate sunbeams.(91) Sometimes the mode of making sunshine is the converse of that of making rain. Thus we have seen that a white or red pig is sacrificed for sunshine, as a black one is sacrificed for rain.(92) Some of the New Caledonians drench a skeleton to make rain, but burn it to make sunshine.(93)

In a pass of the Peruvian Andes stand two ruined towers on opposite hills. Iron hooks are clamped into their walls for the purpose of stretching a net from one tower to the other. The net is intended to catch the sun.(94)

On the top of a small hill in Fiji grew a patch of reeds, and travellers who feared to be belated used to tie the tops of a handful of reeds together to detain the sun from going down.(95) The intention perhaps was to entangle the sun in the reeds, just as the Peruvians try to catch him in the net. Stories of men who have caught the sun in a noose are widely spread.(96) Jerome of Prague, travelling among the heathen Lithuanians early in the fifteenth century, found a tribe who worshipped the sun and venerated a large iron hammer. The priests told him that once the sun had been invisible for several months, because a powerful king had shut it up in a strong tower; but the signs of the zodiac had broken open the tower with this very hammer and released the sun. Therefore they adored the hammer.(97) When an Australian blackfellow wishes to stay the sun from going down till he gets home, he places a sod in the fork of a tree, exactly facing the setting sun.(98) For the same purpose an Indian of Yucatan, journeying westward, places a stone in a tree or pulls out some of his eyelashes and blows them towards the sun.(99) South African natives, in travelling, will put a stone in a branch of a tree or place some grass on the path with a stone over it, believing that this will cause their friends to keep the meal waiting till their arrival.(100) In these, as in previous examples, the purpose apparently is to retard the sun. But why should the act of putting a stone or a sod in a tree be supposed to effect this? A partial explanation is suggested by another Australian custom. In their journeys the natives are accustomed to place stones in trees at different heights from the ground in order to indicate the height of the sun in the sky at the moment when they passed the particular tree. Those who follow are thus made aware of the time of day when their friends in advance passed the spot.(101) Possibly the natives, thus accustomed to mark the sun’s progress, may have slipped into the confusion of imagining that to mark the sun’s progress was to arrest it at the point marked. On the other hand, to make it go down faster, the Australians throw sand into the air and blow with their mouths towards the sun.(102)

Once more, the savage thinks he can make the wind to blow or to be still. When the day is hot and a Yakut has a long way to go, he takes a stone which he has chanced to find in an animal or fish, winds a horse-hair several times round it, and ties it to a stick. He then waves the stick about, uttering a spell. Soon a cool breeze begins to blow.(103) The Wind clan of the Omahas flap their blankets to start a breeze which will drive away the mosquitoes.(104) When a Haida Indian wishes to obtain a fair wind, he fasts, shoots a raven, singes it in the fire, and then going to the edge of the sea sweeps it over the surface of the water four times in the direction in which he wishes the wind to blow. He then throws the raven behind him, but afterwards picks it up and sets it in a sitting posture at the foot of a spruce-tree, facing towards the required wind. Propping its beak open with a stick, he requests a fair wind for a certain number of days; then going away he lies covered up in his mantle till another Indian asks him for how many days he has desired the wind, which question he answers.(105) When a sorcerer in New Britain wishes to make a wind blow in a certain direction, he throws burnt lime in the air, chanting a song all the time. Then he waves sprigs of ginger and other plants about, throws them up and catches them. Next he makes a small fire with these sprigs on the spot where the lime has fallen thickest, and walks round the fire chanting. Lastly, he takes the ashes and throws them on the water.(106) On the altar of Fladda’s chapel, in the island of Fladdahuan (one of the Hebrides), lay a round bluish stone which was always moist. Windbound fishermen walked sunwise round the chapel and then poured water on the stone, whereupon a favourable breeze was sure to spring up.(107) In Finnland wizards used to sell wind to storm-staid mariners. The wind was enclosed in three knots; if they undid the first knot, a moderate wind sprang up; if the second, it blew half a gale; if the third, a hurricane.(108) The same thing is said to have been done by wizards and witches in Lappland, in the island of Lewis, and in the Isle of Man.(109) A Norwegian witch has boasted of sinking a ship by opening a bag in which she had shut up a wind.(110) Ulysses received the winds in a leather bag from Aeolus, King of the Winds.(111) So Perdoytus, the Lithuanian wind-god, keeps the winds enclosed in a leather bag; when they escape from it he pursues them, beats them, and shuts them up again.(112) The Motumotu in New Guinea think that storms are sent by an Oiabu sorcerer; for each wind he has a bamboo which he opens at pleasure.(113) But here we have passed from custom (with which alone we are at present concerned) into mythology. Shetland seamen still buy winds from old women who claim to rule the storms. There are now in Lerwick old women who live by selling wind.(114) When the Hottentots wish to make the wind drop, they take one of their fattest skins and hang it on the end of a pole, believing that by blowing the skin down the wind will lose all its force and must itself fall.(115) In some parts of Austria, during a heavy storm, it is customary to open the window and throw out a handful of meal, chaff, or feathers, saying to the wind, “There, that’s for you, stop!”(116) Once when north-westerly winds had kept the ice long on the coast, and food was getting scarce, the Eskimos of Alaska performed a ceremony to make a calm. A fire was kindled on the shore and the men gathered round it and chanted. An old man then stepped up to the fire and in a coaxing voice invited the demon of the wind to come under the fire and warm himself. When he was supposed to have arrived, a vessel of water, to which each man present had contributed, was thrown on the fire by an old man, and immediately a flight of arrows sped towards the spot where the fire had been. They thought that the demon would not stay where he had been so badly treated. To complete the effect, guns were discharged in various directions, and the captain of a European vessel was asked to fire on the wind with cannon.(117) When the wind blows down their huts, the Payaguas in South America snatch up firebrands and run against the wind menacing it with the blazing brands, while others beat the air with their fists to frighten the storm.(118) When the Guaycurus are threatened by a severe storm the men go out armed, and the women and children scream their loudest to intimidate the demon.(119) During a tempest the inhabitants of a Batta village in Sumatra have been seen to rush from their houses armed with sword and lance. The Raja placed himself at their head, and with shouts and yells they hewed and hacked at the invisible foe. An old woman was observed to be especially active in defending her house, slashing the air right and left with a long sabre.(120)

In the light of these examples a story told by Herodotus, which his modern critics have treated as a fable, is perfectly credible. He says, without however vouching for the truth of the tale, that once in the land of the Psylli, the modern Tripoli, the wind blowing from the Sahara had dried up all the water-tanks. So the people took counsel and marched in a body to make war on the south wind. But when they entered the desert, the simoom swept down on them and buried them to a man.(121) The story may well have been told by one who watched them disappearing, in battle array, with drums and cymbals beating, into the red cloud of whirling sand. It is still said of the Bedouins of Eastern Africa that “no whirlwind ever sweeps across the path without being pursued by a dozen savages with drawn creeses, who stab into the centre of the dusty column in order to drive away the evil spirit that is believed to be riding on the blast.”(122) So in Australia the huge columns of red sand that move rapidly across a desert tract are thought by the blackfellows to be spirits passing along. Once an athletic young black ran after one of these moving columns to kill it with boomerangs. He was away two or three hours and came back very weary, saying he had killed Koochee (the demon), but that Koochee had growled at him and he must die.(123) Even where these dust columns are not attacked they are still regarded with awe. In some parts of India they are supposed to be "bhuts" going to bathe in the Ganges.(124) Californian Indians think that they are happy souls ascending to the heavenly land.(125)

When a gust lifts the hay in the meadow, the Breton peasant throws a knife or a fork at it to prevent the devil from carrying off the hay.(126) German peasants throw a knife or a hat at a whirlwind because there is a witch or a wizard in it.(127)

§ 3.—Incarnate gods.

These examples, drawn from the beliefs and practices of rude peoples all over the world, may suffice to prove that the savage, whether European or otherwise, fails to recognise those limitations to his power over nature which seem so obvious to us. In a society where every man is supposed to be endowed more or less with powers which we should call supernatural, it is plain that the distinction between gods and men is somewhat blurred, or rather has scarcely emerged. The conception of gods as supernatural beings entirely distinct from and superior to man, and wielding powers to which he possesses nothing comparable in degree and hardly even in kind, has been slowly evolved in the course of history. At first the supernatural agents are not regarded as greatly, if at all, superior to man; for they may be frightened and coerced by him into doing his will. At this stage of thought the world is viewed as a great democracy; all beings in it, whether natural or supernatural, are supposed to stand on a footing of tolerable equality. But with the growth of his knowledge man learns to realise more clearly the vastness of nature and his own littleness and feebleness in presence of it. The recognition of his own helplessness does not, however, carry with it a corresponding belief in the impotence of those supernatural beings with which his imagination peoples the universe. On the contrary it enhances his conception of their power. For the idea of the world as a system of impersonal forces acting in accordance with fixed and invariable laws has not yet fully dawned or darkened upon him. The germ of the idea he certainly has, and he acts upon it, not only in magic art, but in much of the business of daily life. But the idea remains undeveloped, and so far as he attempts consciously to explain the world he lives in, he pictures it as the manifestation of conscious will and personal agency. If then he feels himself to be so frail and slight, how vast and powerful must he deem the beings who control the gigantic machinery of nature! Thus as his old sense of equality with the gods slowly vanishes, he resigns at the same time the hope of directing the course of nature by his own unaided resources, that is, by magic, and looks more and more to the gods as the sole repositories of those supernatural powers which he once claimed to share with them. With the first advance of knowledge, therefore, prayer and sacrifice assume the leading place in religious ritual; and magic, which once ranked with them as a legitimate equal, is gradually relegated to the background and sinks to the level of a black art. It is now regarded as an encroachment, at once vain and impious, on the domain of the gods, and as such encounters the steady opposition of the priests, whose reputation and influence gain or lose with those of their gods. Hence, when at a late period the distinction between religion and superstition has emerged, we find that sacrifice and prayer are the resource of the pious and enlightened portion of the community, while magic is the refuge of the superstitious and ignorant. But when, still later, the conception of the elemental forces as personal agents is giving way to the recognition of natural law; then magic, based as it implicitly is on the idea of a necessary and invariable sequence of cause and effect, independent of personal will, reappears from the obscurity and discredit into which it had fallen, and by investigating the causal sequences in nature, directly prepares the way for science. Alchemy leads up to chemistry.

The notion of a man-god or of a human being endowed with divine or supernatural powers, belongs essentially to that earlier period of religious history in which gods and men are still viewed as beings of much the same order, and before they are divided by the impassable gulf which, to later thought, opens out between them. Strange, therefore, as may seem to us the idea of a god incarnate in human form, it has nothing very startling for early man, who sees in a man-god or a god-man only a higher degree of the same supernatural powers which he arrogates in perfect good faith to himself. Such incarnate gods are common in rude society. The incarnation may be temporary or permanent. In the former case, the incarnation—commonly known as inspiration or possession—reveals itself in supernatural knowledge rather than in supernatural power. In other words, its usual manifestations are divination and prophesy rather than miracles. On the other hand, when the incarnation is not merely temporary, when the divine spirit has permanently taken up its abode in a human body, the god-man is usually expected to vindicate his character by working miracles. Only we have to remember that by men at this stage of thought miracles are not considered as breaches of natural law. Not conceiving the existence of natural law, primitive man cannot conceive a breach of it. A miracle is to him merely an unusually striking manifestation of a common power.

The belief in temporary incarnation or inspiration is world-wide. Certain persons are supposed to be possessed from time to time by a spirit or deity; while the possession lasts, their own personality lies in abeyance, the presence of the spirit is revealed by convulsive shiverings and shakings of the man’s whole body, by wild gestures and excited looks, all of which are referred, not to the man himself, but to the spirit which has entered into him; and in this abnormal state all his utterances are accepted as the voice of the god or spirit dwelling in him and speaking through him. In Mangaia the priests in whom the gods took up their abode from time to time were called “god-boxes” or, for shortness, “gods.” Before giving oracles as gods, they drank an intoxicating liquor, and in the frenzy thus produced their wild words were received as the voice of the god.(128) But examples of such temporary inspiration are so common in every part of the world and are now so familiar through books on ethnology, that it is needless to cite illustrations of the general principle.(129) It may be well, however, to refer to two particular modes of producing temporary inspiration, because they are perhaps less known than some others, and because we shall have occasion to refer to them later on. One of these modes of producing inspiration is by sucking the fresh blood of a sacrificed victim. In the temple of Apollo Diradiotes at Argos, a lamb was sacrificed by night once a month; a woman, who had to observe a rule of chastity, tasted the blood of the lamb, and thus being inspired by the god she prophesied or divined.(130) At Aegira in Achaea the priestess of Earth drank the fresh blood of a bull before she descended into the cave to prophesy.(131) In Southern India a devil-dancer “drinks the blood of the sacrifice, putting the throat of the decapitated goat to his mouth. Then, as if he had acquired new life, he begins to brandish his staff of bells, and to dance with a quick but wild unsteady step. Suddenly the afflatus descends. There is no mistaking that glare, or those frantic leaps. He snorts, he stares, he gyrates. The demon has now taken bodily possession of him; and, though he retains the power of utterance and of motion, both are under the demon’s control, and his separate consciousness is in abeyance.... The devil-dancer is now worshipped as a present deity, and every bystander consults him respecting his disease, his wants, the welfare of his absent relatives, the offerings to be made for the accomplishment of his wishes, and, in short, respecting everything for which superhuman knowledge is supposed to be available.”(132) At a festival of the Minahassa in northern Celebes, after a pig has been killed, the priest rushes furiously at it, thrusts his head into the carcass and drinks of the blood. Then he is dragged away from it by force and set on a chair, whereupon he begins to prophesy how the rice crop will turn out that year. A second time he runs at the carcass and drinks of the blood; a second time he is forced into the chair and continues his predictions. It is thought there is a spirit in him which possesses the power of prophecy.(133) At Rhetra, a great religious capital of the Western Slavs, the priest tasted the blood of the sacrificed oxen and sheep in order the better to prophesy.(134) The true test of a Dainyal or diviner among some of the Hindoo Koosh tribes is to suck the blood from the neck of a decapitated goat.(135) The other mode of producing temporary inspiration, to which I shall here refer, is by means of a branch or leaves of a sacred tree. Thus in the Hindoo Koosh a fire is kindled with twigs of the sacred cedar; and the Dainyal or sibyl, with a cloth over her head, inhales the thick pungent smoke till she is seized with convulsions and falls senseless to the ground. Soon she rises and raises a shrill chant, which is caught up and loudly repeated by her audience.(136) So Apollo’s prophetess ate the sacred laurel before she prophesied.(137) It is worth observing that many peoples expect the victim as well as the priest or prophet to give signs of inspiration by convulsive movements of the body; and if the animal remains obstinately steady, they esteem it unfit for sacrifice. Thus when the Yakuts sacrifice to an evil spirit, the beast must bellow and roll about, which is considered a token that the evil spirit has entered into it.(138) Apollo’s prophetess could give no oracles unless the victim to be sacrificed trembled in every limb when the wine was poured on its head. But for ordinary Greek sacrifices it was enough that the victim should shake its head; to make it do so, water was poured on it.(139) Many other peoples (Tonquinese, Hindoos, Chuwash, etc.) have adopted the same test of a suitable victim; they pour water or wine on its head; if the animal shakes its head it is accepted for sacrifice; if it does not, it is rejected.(140)

The person temporarily inspired is believed to acquire, not merely divine knowledge, but also, at least occasionally, divine power. In Cambodia, when an epidemic breaks out, the inhabitants of several villages unite and go with a band of music at their head to look for the man whom the local god is believed to have chosen for his temporary incarnation. When found, the man is taken to the altar of the god, where the mystery of incarnation takes place. Then the man becomes an object of veneration to his fellows, who implore him to protect the village against the plague.(141) The image of Apollo at Hylæ in Phocis was believed to impart superhuman strength. Sacred men, inspired by it, leaped down precipices, tore up huge trees by the roots, and carried them on their backs along the narrowest defiles.(142) The feats performed by inspired dervishes belong to the same class.

Thus far we have seen that the savage, failing to discern the limits of his ability to control nature, ascribes to himself and to all men certain powers which we should now call supernatural. Further, we have seen that over and above this general supernaturalism, some persons are supposed to be inspired for short periods by a divine spirit, and thus temporarily to enjoy the knowledge and power of the indwelling deity. From beliefs like these it is an easy step to the conviction that certain men are permanently possessed by a deity, or in some other undefined way are endued with so high a degree of supernatural powers as to be ranked as gods and to receive the homage of prayer and sacrifice. Sometimes these human gods are restricted to purely supernatural or spiritual functions. Sometimes they exercise supreme political power in addition. In the latter case they are kings as well as gods, and the government is a theocracy. I shall give examples of both.

In the Marquesas Islands there was a class of men who were deified in their life-time. They were supposed to wield a supernatural power over the elements; they could give abundant harvests or smite the ground with barrenness; and they could inflict disease or death. Human sacrifices were offered to them to avert their wrath. There were not many of them, at the most one or two in each island. They lived in mystic seclusion. Their powers were sometimes, but not always, hereditary. A missionary has described one of these human gods from personal observation. The god was a very old man who lived in a large house within an enclosure. In the house was a kind of altar, and on the beams of the house and on the trees round it were hung human skeletons, head down. No one entered the enclosure, except the persons dedicated to the service of the god; only on days when human victims were sacrificed might ordinary people penetrate into the precinct. This human god received more sacrifices than all the other gods; often he would sit on a sort of scaffold in front of his house and call for two or three human victims at a time. They were always brought, for the terror he inspired was extreme. He was invoked all over the island, and offerings were sent to him from every side.(143) Again, of the South Sea Islands in general we are told that each island had a man who represented or personified the divinity. Such men were called gods, and their substance was confounded with that of the deity. The man-god was sometimes the king himself; oftener he was a priest or subordinate chief.(144) Tanatoa, King of Raiatea, was deified by a certain ceremony performed at the chief temple. “As one of the divinities of his subjects, therefore, the king was worshipped, consulted as an oracle and had sacrifices and prayers offered to him.”(145) This was not an exceptional case. The kings of the island regularly enjoyed divine honours, being deified at the time of their accession.(146) At his inauguration the king of Tahiti received a sacred girdle of red and yellow feathers, “which not only raised him to the highest earthly station, but identified him with their gods.”(147) The gods of Samoa generally appeared in animal form, but sometimes they were permanently incarnate in men, who gave oracles, received offerings (occasionally of human flesh), healed the sick, answered prayers, and so on.(148) In regard to the old religion of the Fijians, and especially of the inhabitants of Somo-somo, it is said that “there appears to be no certain line of demarcation between departed spirits and gods, nor between gods and living men, for many of the priests and old chiefs are considered as sacred persons, and not a few of them will also claim to themselves the right of divinity. ‘I am a god,’ Tuikilakila would say; and he believed it too.”(149) In the Pelew Islands it is believed that every god can take possession of a man and speak through him. The possession may be either temporary or permanent; in the latter case the chosen person is called a "korong". The god is free in his choice, so the position of "korong" is not hereditary. After the death of a "korong" the god is for some time unrepresented, until he suddenly makes his appearance in a new Avatar. The person thus chosen gives signs of the divine presence by behaving in a strange way; he gapes, runs about, and performs a number of senseless acts. At first people laugh at him, but his sacred mission is in time recognised, and he is invited to assume his proper position in the state. Generally this position is a distinguished one and confers on him a powerful influence over the whole community. In some of the islands the god is political sovereign of the land; and hence his new incarnation, however humble his origin, is raised to the same high rank, and rules, as god and king, over all the other chiefs.(150) In time of public calamity, as during war or pestilence, some of the Molucca Islanders used to celebrate a festival of heaven. If no good result followed, they bought a slave, took him at the next festival to the place of sacrifice, and set him on a raised place under a certain bamboo-tree. This tree represented heaven and had been honoured as its image at previous festivals. The portion of the sacrifice which had previously been offered to heaven was now given to the slave, who ate and drank it in the name and stead of heaven. Henceforth the slave was well treated, kept for the festivals of heaven, and employed to represent heaven and receive the offerings in its name.(151) In Tonquin every village chooses its guardian spirit, often in the form of an animal, as a dog, tiger, cat, or serpent. Sometimes a living person is selected as patron-divinity. Thus a beggar persuaded the people of a village that he was their guardian spirit; so they loaded him with honours and entertained him with their best.(152) In India “every king is regarded as little short of a present god.”(153) The Indian law-book of Manu goes farther and says that “even an infant king must not be despised from an idea that he is a mere mortal; for he is a great deity in human form.”(154) There is said to be a sect in Orissa who worship the Queen of England as their chief divinity. And to this day in India all living persons remarkable for great strength or valour or for supposed miraculous powers run the risk of being worshipped as gods. Thus, a sect in the Punjaub worshipped a deity whom they called Nikkal Sen. This Nikkal Sen was no other than the redoubted General Nicholson, and nothing that the general could do or say damped the enthusiasm of his adorers. The more he punished them, the greater grew the religious awe with which they worshipped him.(155) Amongst the Todas, a pastoral people of the Neilgherry Hills of Southern India, the dairy is a sanctuary, and the milkman ("pâlâl") who attends to it is a god. On being asked whether the Todas salute the sun, one of these divine milkmen replied, “Those poor fellows do so, but I,” tapping his chest, “I, a god! why should I salute the sun?” Every one, even his own father, prostrates himself before the milkman, and no one would dare to refuse him anything. No human being, except another milkman, may touch him; and he gives oracles to all who consult him, speaking with the voice of a god.(156)

The King of Iddah told the English officers of the Niger Expedition, “God made me after his own image; I am all the same as God; and He appointed me a king.”(157)

Sometimes, at the death of the human incarnation, the divine spirit transmigrates into another man. In the kingdom of Kaffa, in Eastern Africa, the heathen part of the people worship a spirit called "Deòce", to whom they offer prayer and sacrifice, and whom they invoke on all important occasions. This spirit is incarnate in the grand magician or pope, a person of great wealth and influence, ranking almost with the king, and wielding the spiritual, as the king wields the temporal, power. It happened that, shortly before the arrival of a Christian missionary in the kingdom, this African pope died, and the priests, fearing that the missionary would assume the position vacated by the deceased pope, declared that the "Deòce" had passed into the king, who henceforth, uniting the spiritual with the temporal power, reigned as god and king.(158) Before beginning to work at the salt-pans in a Laosian village, the workmen offer sacrifice to a local divinity. This divinity is incarnate in a woman and transmigrates at her death into another woman.(159) In Bhotan the spiritual head of the government is a person called the Dhurma Raja, who is supposed to be a perpetual incarnation of the deity. At his death the new incarnate god shows himself in an infant by the refusal of his mother’s milk and a preference for that of a cow.(160) The Buddhist Tartars believe in a great number of living Buddhas, who officiate as Grand Lamas at the head of the most important monasteries. When one of these Grand Lamas dies his disciples do not sorrow, for they know that he will soon reappear, being born in the form of an infant. Their only anxiety is to discover the place of his birth. If at this time they see a rainbow they take it as a sign sent them by the departed Lama to guide them to his cradle. Sometimes the divine infant himself reveals his identity. “I am the Grand Lama,” he says, “the living Buddha of such and such a temple. Take me to my old monastery. I am its immortal head.” In whatever way the birthplace of the Buddha is revealed, whether by the Buddha’s own avowal or by the sign in the sky, tents are struck, and the joyful pilgrims, often headed by the king or one of the most illustrious of the royal family, set forth to find and bring home the infant god. Generally he is born in Tibet, the holy land, and to reach him the caravan has often to traverse the most frightful deserts. When at last they find the child they fall down and worship him. Before, however, he is acknowledged as the Grand Lama whom they seek he must satisfy them of his identity. He is asked the name of the monastery of which he claims to be the head, how far off it is, and how many monks live in it; he must also describe the habits of the deceased Grand Lama and the manner of his death. Then various articles, as prayer-books, tea-pots, and cups, are placed before him, and he has to point out those used by himself in his previous life. If he does so without a mistake his claims are admitted, and he is conducted in triumph to the monastery.(161) At the head of all the Lamas is the Dalai Lama of Lhasa, the Rome of Tibet. He is regarded as a living god and at death his divine and immortal spirit is born again in a child. According to some accounts the mode of discovering the Dalai Lama is similar to the method, already described, of discovering an ordinary Grand Lama. Other accounts speak of an election by lot. Wherever he is born, the trees and plants, it is said, put forth green leaves; at his bidding flowers bloom and springs of water rise; and his presence diffuses heavenly blessings. His palace stands on a commanding height; its gilded cupolas are seen sparkling in the sunlight for miles.(162)

Issuing from the sultry valleys upon the lofty plateau of the Colombian Andes, the Spanish conquerors were astonished to find, in contrast to the savage hordes they had left in the sweltering jungles below, a people enjoying a fair degree of civilisation, practising agriculture, and living under a government which Humboldt has compared to the theocracies of Tibet and Japan. These were the Chibchas, Muyscas, or Mozcas, divided into two kingdoms, with capitals at Bogota and Tunja, but united apparently in spiritual allegiance to the high pontiff of Sogamozo or Iraca. By a long and ascetic novitiate, this ghostly ruler was reputed to have acquired such sanctity that the waters and the rain obeyed him, and the weather depended on his will.(163) Weather kings are common in Africa. Thus the Waganda of Central Africa believe in a god of Lake Nyanza, who sometimes takes up his abode in a man or woman. The incarnate god is much feared by all the people, including the king and the chiefs. He is consulted as an oracle; by his word he can inflict or heal sickness, withhold rain, and cause famine. Large presents are made him when his advice is sought.(164) Often the king himself is supposed to control the weather. The king of Loango is honoured by his people “as though he were a god; and he is called Sambee and Pango, which mean god. They believe that he can let them have rain when he likes; and once a year, in December, which is the time they want rain, the people come to beg of him to grant it to them.” On this occasion the king, standing on his throne, shoots an arrow into the air, which is supposed to bring on rain.(165) Much the same is said of the king of Mombaza.(166) The king of Quiteva, in Eastern Africa, ranks with the deity; “indeed, the Caffres acknowledge no other gods than their monarch, and to him they address those prayers which other nations are wont to prefer to heaven.... Hence these unfortunate beings, under the persuasion that their king is a deity, exhaust their utmost means and ruin themselves in gifts to obtain with more facility what they need. Thus, prostrate at his feet, they implore of him, when the weather long continues dry, to intercede with heaven that they may have rain; and when too much rain has fallen, that they may have fair weather; thus, also, in case of winds, storms, and everything, they would either deprecate or implore.”(167) Amongst the Barotse, a tribe on the upper Zambesi, “there is an old, but waning belief, that a chief is a demigod, and in heavy thunderstorms the Barotse flock to the chief’s yard for protection from the lightning. I have been greatly distressed at seeing them fall on their knees before the chief, entreating him to open the water-pots of heaven and send rain upon their gardens.... The king’s servants declare themselves to be invincible, because they are the servants of God (meaning "the king").”(168) The chief of Mowat, New Guinea, is believed to have the power of affecting the growth of crops for good or ill, and of coaxing the "dugong" and turtle to come from all parts and allow themselves to be taken.(169)

Amongst the Antaymours of Madagascar the king is responsible for the growth of the crops and for every misfortune that befalls the people.(170) In many places the king is punished if rain does not fall and the crops do not turn out well. Thus, in some parts of West Africa, when prayers and offerings presented to the king have failed to procure rain, his subjects bind him with ropes and take him by force to the grave of his forefathers, that he may obtain from them the needed rain.(171) It appears that the Scythians also, when food was scarce, put their king in bonds.(172) The Banjars in West Africa ascribe to their king the power of causing rain or fine weather. So long as the weather is fine they load him with presents of grain and cattle. But if long drought or rain threatens to spoil the crops, they insult and beat him till the weather changes.(173) When the harvest fails or the surf on the coast is too heavy to allow of fishing, the people of Loango accuse their king of a “bad heart” and depose him.(174) On the Pepper Coast the high priest or Bodio is responsible for the health of the community, the fertility of the earth, and the abundance of fish in the sea and rivers; and if the country suffers in any of these respects the Bodio is deposed from his office.(175) So the Burgundians of old deposed their king if the crops failed.(176) Some peoples have gone further and killed their kings in times of scarcity. Thus, in the time of the Swedish king Domalde a mighty famine broke out, which lasted several years, and could be stayed by the blood neither of beasts nor of men. So, in a great popular assembly held at Upsala, the chiefs decided that king Domalde himself was the cause of the scarcity and must be sacrificed for good seasons. So they slew him and smeared with his blood the altars of the gods. Again, we are told that the Swedes always attributed good or bad crops to their kings as the cause. Now, in the reign of King Olaf, there came dear times and famine, and the people thought that the fault was the king’s, because he was sparing in his sacrifices. So, mustering an army, they marched against him, surrounded his dwelling, and burned him in it, “giving him to Odin as a sacrifice for good crops.”(177) In 1814, a pestilence having broken out among the reindeer of the Chukch, the Shamans declared that the beloved chief Koch must be sacrificed to the angry gods; so the chief’s own son stabbed him with a dagger.(178) On the coral island of Niue, or Savage Island, in the South Pacific, there formerly reigned a line of kings. But as the kings were also high priests, and were supposed to make the food grow, the people became angry with them in times of scarcity and killed them; till at last, as one after another was killed, no one would be king, and the monarchy came to an end.(179) As in these cases the divine kings, so in ancient Egypt the divine beasts, were responsible for the course of nature. When pestilence and other calamities had fallen on the land, in consequence of a long and severe drought, the priests took the sacred animals secretly by night, and threatened them, but if the evil did not abate they slew the beasts.(180)

From this survey of the religious position occupied by the king in rude societies we may infer that the claim to divine and supernatural powers put forward by the monarchs of great historical empires like those of Egypt, Mexico, and Peru, was not the simple outcome of inflated vanity or the empty expression of a grovelling adulation; it was merely a survival and extension of the old savage apotheosis of living kings. Thus, for example, as children of the Sun the Incas of Peru were revered like gods; they could do no wrong, and no one dreamed of offending against the person, honour, or property of the monarch or of any of the royal race. Hence, too, the Incas did not, like most people, look on sickness as an evil. They considered it a messenger sent from their father the Sun to call his son to come and rest with him in heaven. Therefore the usual words in which an Inca announced his approaching end were these: “My father calls me to come and rest with him.” They would not oppose their father’s will by offering sacrifice for recovery, but openly declared that he had called them to his rest.(181) The Mexican kings at their accession took an oath that they would make the sun to shine, the clouds to give rain, the rivers to flow, and the earth to bring forth fruits in abundance.(182) By Chinese custom the emperor is deemed responsible if the drought be at all severe, and many are the self-condemnatory edicts on this subject published in the pages of the "Peking Gazette". However it is rather as a high priest than as a god that the Chinese emperor bears the blame; for in extreme cases he seeks to remedy the evil by personally offering prayers and sacrifices to heaven.(183) The Parthian monarchs of the Arsacid house styled themselves brothers of the sun and moon and were worshipped as deities. It was esteemed sacrilege to strike even a private member of the Arsacid family in a brawl.(184) The kings of Egypt were deified in their lifetime, and their worship was celebrated in special temples and by special priests. Indeed the worship of the kings sometimes cast that of the gods into the shade. Thus in the reign of Merenra a high official declared that he had built many holy places in order that the spirits of the king, the ever-living Merenra, might be invoked “more than all the gods.”(185) The King of Egypt seems to have shared with the sacred animals the blame of any failure of the crops.(186) He was addressed as “Lord of heaven, lord of earth, sun, life of the whole world, lord of time, measurer of the sun’s course, Tum for men, lord of well-being, creator of the harvest, maker and fashioner of mortals, bestower of breath upon all men, giver of life to all the host of gods, pillar of heaven, threshold of the earth, weigher of the equipoise of both worlds, lord of rich gifts, increaser of the corn” etc.(187) Yet, as we should expect, the exalted powers thus ascribed to the king differed in degree rather than in kind from those which every Egyptian claimed for himself. Tiele observes that “as every good man at his death became Osiris, as every one in danger or need could by the use of magic sentences assume the form of a deity, it is quite comprehensible how the king, not only after death, but already during his life, was placed on a level with the deity.”(188)

Thus it appears that the same union of sacred functions with a royal title which meets us in the King of the Wood at Nemi, the Sacrificial King at Rome and the King Archon at Athens, occurs frequently outside the limits of classical antiquity and is a common feature of societies at all stages from barbarism to civilisation. Further, it appears that the royal priest is often a king in fact as well as in name, swaying the sceptre as well as the crosier. All this confirms the tradition of the origin of the titular and priestly kings in the republics of ancient Greece and Italy. At least by showing that the combination of spiritual and temporal power, of which Graeco-Italian tradition preserved the memory, has actually existed in many places, we have obviated any suspicion of improbability that might have attached to the tradition. Therefore we may now fairly ask, May not the King of the Wood have had an origin like that which a probable tradition assigns to the Sacrificial King of Rome and the King Archon of Athens? In other words, may not his predecessors in office have been a line of kings whom a republican revolution stripped of their political power, leaving them only their religious functions and the shadow of a crown? There are at least two reasons for answering this question in the negative. One reason is drawn from the abode of the priest of Nemi; the other from his title, the King of the Wood. If his predecessors had been kings in the ordinary sense, he would surely have been found residing, like the fallen kings of Rome and Athens, in the city of which the sceptre had passed from him. This city must have been Aricia, for there was none nearer. But Aricia, as we have seen, was three miles off from his forest sanctuary by the lake shore. If he reigned, it was not in the city, but in the greenwood. Again his title, King of the Wood, hardly allows us to suppose that he had ever been a king in the common sense of the word. More likely he was a king of nature, and of a special side of nature, namely, the woods from which he took his title. If we could find instances of what we may call departmental kings of nature, that is of persons supposed to rule over particular elements or aspects of nature, they would probably present a closer analogy to the King of the Wood than the divine kings we have been hitherto considering, whose control of nature is general rather than special. Instances of such departmental kings are not wanting.

On a hill at Bomma (the mouth of the Congo) dwells Namvulu Vumu, King of the Rain and Storm.(189) Of some of the tribes on the Upper Nile we are told that they have no kings in the common sense; the only persons whom they acknowledge as such are the Kings of the Rain, "Mata Kodou", who are credited with the power of giving rain at the proper time, that is in the rainy season. Before the rains begin to fall at the end of March the country is a parched and arid desert; and the cattle, which form the people’s chief wealth, perish for lack of grass. So, when the end of March draws on, each householder betakes himself to the King of the Rain and offers him a cow that he may make the rain to fall soon. If no shower falls, the people assemble and demand that the king shall give them rain; and if the sky still continues cloudless, they rip up his belly in which he is believed to keep the storms. Amongst the Bari tribe one of these Rain Kings made rain by sprinkling water on the ground out of a hand-bell.(190)

Among tribes on the outskirts of Abyssinia a similar office exists and has been thus described by an observer. “The priesthood of the Alfai, as he is called by the Barea and Kunáma, is a remarkable one; he is believed to be able to make rain. This office formerly existed among the Algeds and appears to be still common to the Nuba negroes. The Alfai of the Bareas, who is also consulted by the northern Kunáma, lives near Tembádere on a mountain alone with his family. The people bring him tribute in the form of clothes and fruits, and cultivate for him a large field of his own. He is a kind of king, and his office passes by inheritance to his brother or sister’s son. He is supposed to conjure down rain and to drive away the locusts. But if he disappoints the people’s expectation and a great drought arises in the land, the Alfai is stoned to death, and his nearest relations are obliged to cast the first stone at him. When we passed through the country, the office of Alfai was still held by an old man; but I heard that rain-making had proved too dangerous for him and that he had renounced his office.”(191)

In the backwoods of Cambodia live two mysterious sovereigns known as the King of the Fire and the King of the Water. Their fame is spread all over the south of the great Indo-Chinese peninsula; but only a faint echo of it has reached the West. No European, so far as is known, has ever seen them; and their very existence might have passed for a fable, were it not that till a few years ago communications were regularly maintained between them and the King of Cambodia, who year by year exchanged presents with them. The Cambodian gifts were passed from tribe to tribe till they reached their destination; for no Cambodian would essay the long and perilous journey. The tribe amongst whom the Kings of Fire and Water reside is the Chréais or Jaray, a race with European features but a sallow complexion, inhabiting the forest-clad mountains and high plateaux which separate Cambodia from Annam. Their royal functions are of a purely mystic or spiritual order; they have no political authority; they are simple peasants, living by the sweat of their brow and the offerings of the faithful. According to one account they live in absolute solitude, never meeting each other and never seeing a human face. They inhabit successively seven towers perched upon seven mountains, and every year they pass from one tower to another. People come furtively and cast within their reach what is needful for their subsistence. The kingship lasts seven years, the time necessary to inhabit all the towers successively; but many die before their time is out. The offices are hereditary in one or (according to others) two royal families, who enjoy high consideration, have revenues assigned to them, and are exempt from the necessity of tilling the ground. But naturally the dignity is not coveted, and when a vacancy occurs, all eligible men (they must be strong and have children) flee and hide themselves. Another account, admitting the reluctance of the hereditary candidates to accept the crown, does not countenance the report of their hermit-like seclusion in the seven towers. For it represents the people as prostrating themselves before the mystic kings whenever they appear in public, it being thought that a terrible hurricane would burst over the country if this mark of homage were omitted.

The same report says that the Fire King, the more important of the two, and whose supernatural powers have never been questioned, officiates at marriages, festivals, and sacrifices in honour of the Yan. On these occasions a special place is set apart for him; and the path by which he approaches is spread with white cotton cloths. A reason for confining the royal dignity to the same family is that this family is in possession of certain famous talismans which would lose their virtue or disappear if they passed out of the family. These talismans are three: the fruit of a creeper called "Cui", gathered ages ago but still fresh and green; a rattan, also very old and still not dry; lastly a sword containing a Yan or spirit, who guards it constantly and works miracles with it. To this wondrous brand sacrifices of buffaloes, pigs, fowls, and ducks are offered for rain. It is kept swathed in cotton and silk; and amongst the annual presents sent by the King of Cambodia were rich stuffs to wrap the sacred sword.

In return the Kings of Fire and Water sent him a huge wax candle and two calabashes, one full of rice and the other of sesame. The candle bore the impress of the Fire King’s middle finger. Probably the candle was thought to contain the seed of fire, which the Cambodian monarch thus received once a year fresh from the Fire King himself. The holy candle was kept for sacred uses. On reaching the capital of Cambodia it was entrusted to the Brahmans, who laid it up beside the regalia, and with the wax made tapers which were burned on the altars on solemn days. As the candle was the special gift of the Fire King, we may conjecture that the rice and sesame were the special gift of the Water King. The latter was doubtless king of rain as well as of water, and the fruits of the earth were boons conferred by him on men. In times of calamity, as during plague, floods, and war, a little of this sacred rice and sesame was scattered on the ground “to appease the wrath of the maleficent spirits.”(192)

These, then, are examples of what I have called departmental kings of nature. But it is a far cry to Italy from the forests of Cambodia and the sources of the Nile. And though Kings of Rain, Water and Fire have been found, we have still to discover a King of the Wood to match the Arician priest who bore that title. Perhaps we shall find him nearer home.

§ 4.—Tree-worship.

In the religious history of the Aryan race in Europe the worship of trees has played an important part. Nothing could be more natural. For at the dawn of history Europe was covered with immense primeval forests, in which the scattered clearings must have appeared like islets in an ocean of green. Down to the first century before our era the Hercynian forest stretched eastward from the Rhine for a distance at once vast and unknown; Germans whom Caesar questioned had travelled for two months through it without reaching the end.(193) In our own country the wealds of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex are remnants of the great forest of Anderida, which once clothed the whole of the south eastern portion of the island. Westward it seems to have stretched till it joined another forest that extended from Hampshire to Devon. In the reign of Henry II the citizens of London still hunted the wild bull and the boar in the forest of Hampstead. Even under the later Plantagenets the royal forests were sixty-eight in number. In the forest of Arden it was said that down to modern times a squirrel might leap from tree to tree for nearly the whole length of Warwickshire.(194) The excavation of prehistoric pile-villages in the valley of the Po has shown that long before the rise and probably the foundation of Rome the north of Italy was covered with dense forests of elms, chestnuts, and especially of oaks.(195) Archaeology is here confirmed by history; for classical writers contain many references to Italian forests which have now disappeared.(196) In Greece the woods of the present day are a mere fraction of those which clothed great tracts in antiquity, and which at a more remote epoch may have spanned the Greek peninsula from sea to sea.(197)

From an examination of the Teutonic words for “temple” Grimm has made it probable that amongst the Germans the oldest sanctuaries were natural woods.(198) However this may be, tree-worship is well attested for all the great European families of the Aryan stock. Amongst the Celts the oak-worship of the Druids is familiar to every one.(199) Sacred groves were common among the ancient Germans, and tree-worship is hardly extinct amongst their descendants at the present day.(200) At Upsala, the old religious capital of Sweden, there was a sacred grove in which every tree was regarded as divine.(201) Amongst the ancient Prussians (a Slavonian people) the central feature of religion was the reverence for the sacred oaks, of which the chief stood at Romove, tended by a hierarchy of priests who kept up a perpetual fire of oak-wood in the holy grove.(202) The Lithuanians were not converted to Christianity till towards the close of the fourteenth century, and amongst them at the date of their conversion the worship of trees was prominent.(203) Proofs of the prevalence of tree-worship in ancient Greece and Italy are abundant.(204) Nowhere, perhaps, in the ancient world was this antique form of religion better preserved than in the heart of the great metropolis itself. In the Forum, the busy centre of Roman life, the sacred fig-tree of Romulus was worshipped down to the days of the empire, and the withering of its trunk was enough to spread consternation through the city.(205) Again, on the slope of the Palatine Hill grew a cornel-tree which was esteemed one of the most sacred objects in Rome. Whenever the tree appeared to a passer-by to be drooping, he set up a hue and cry which was echoed by the people in the street, and soon a crowd might be seen running from all sides with buckets of water, as if (says Plutarch) they were hastening to put out a fire.(206)

But it is necessary to examine in some detail the notions on which tree-worship is based. To the savage the world in general is animate, and trees are no exception to the rule. He thinks that they have souls like his own and he treats them accordingly. Thus the Wanika in Eastern Africa fancy that every tree and especially every cocoa-nut tree has its spirit: “the destruction of a cocoa-nut tree is regarded as equivalent to matricide, because that tree gives them life and nourishment, as a mother does her child.”(207) Siamese monks, believing that there are souls everywhere and that to destroy anything whatever is forcibly to dispossess a soul, will not break a branch of a tree “as they will not break the arm of an innocent person.”(208) These monks, of course, are Buddhists. But Buddhist animism is not a philosophical theory. It is simply a common savage dogma incorporated in the system of an historical religion. To suppose with Benfey and others that the theories of animism and transmigration current among rude peoples of Asia are derived from Buddhism is to reverse the facts. Buddhism in this respect borrowed from savagery, not savagery from Buddhism. Again, the Dyaks ascribe souls to trees and do not dare to cut down an old tree. In some places, when an old tree has been blown down, they set it up, smear it with blood, and deck it with flags “to appease the soul of the tree.”(209) People in Congo place calabashes of palm-wine at the foot of certain trees for the trees to drink when they are thirsty.(210) In India shrubs and trees are formally married to each other or to idols.(211) In the North West Provinces of India a marriage ceremony is performed in honour of a newly-planted orchard; a man holding the Salagram represents the bridegroom, and another holding the sacred Tulsi ("Ocymum sanctum") represents the bride.(212) On Christmas Eve German peasants used to tie fruit-trees together with straw ropes to make them bear fruit, saying that the trees were thus married.(213)

In the Moluccas when the clove-trees are in blossom they are treated like pregnant women. No noise must be made near them; no light or fire must be carried past them at night; no one must approach them with his hat on, but must uncover his head. These precautions are observed lest the tree should be frightened and bear no fruit, or should drop its fruit too soon, like the untimely delivery of a woman who has been frightened in her pregnancy.(214) So when the paddy (rice) is in bloom the Javanese say it is pregnant and make no noises (fire no guns, etc.) near the field, fearing that if they did so the crop would be all straw and no grain.(215) In Orissa, also, growing rice is “considered as a pregnant woman, and the same ceremonies are observed with regard to it as in the case of human females.”(216)

Conceived as animate, trees are necessarily supposed to feel injuries done to them. When an oak is being felled “it gives a kind of shriekes or groanes, that may be heard a mile off, as if it were the genius of the oake lamenting. E. Wyld, Esq., hath heard it severall times.”(217) The Ojebways “very seldom cut down green or living trees, from the idea that it puts them to pain, and some of their medicine-men profess to have heard the wailing of the trees under the axe.”(218) Old peasants in some parts of Austria still believe that forest-trees are animate, and will not allow an incision to be made in the bark without special cause; they have heard from their fathers that the tree feels the cut not less than a wounded man his hurt. In felling a tree they beg its pardon.(219) So in Jarkino the woodman craves pardon of the tree he cuts down.(220) Again, when a tree is cut it is thought to bleed. Some Indians dare not cut a certain plant, because there comes out a red juice which they take for the blood of the plant.(221) In Samoa there was a grove of trees which no one dared cut. Once some strangers tried to do so, but blood flowed from the tree, and the sacrilegious strangers fell ill and died.(222) Till 1855 there was a sacred larch-tree at Nauders, in the Tyrol, which was thought to bleed whenever it was cut; moreover the steel was supposed to penetrate the woodman’s body to the same depth that it penetrated the tree, and the wound on the tree and on the man’s body healed together.(223)

Sometimes it is the souls of the dead which are believed to animate the trees. The Dieyerie tribe of South Australia regard as very sacred certain trees, which are supposed to be their fathers transformed; hence they will not cut the trees down, and protest against the settlers doing so.(224) Some of the Philippine Islanders believe that the souls of their forefathers are in certain trees, which they therefore spare. If obliged to fell one of these trees they excuse themselves to it by saying that it was the priest who made them fell it.(225) In an Annamite story an old fisherman makes an incision in the trunk of a tree which has drifted ashore; but blood flows from the cut, and it appears that an empress with her three daughters, who had been cast into the sea, are embodied in the tree.(226) The story of Polydorus will occur to readers of Virgil.

In these cases the spirit is viewed as incorporate in the tree; it animates the tree and must suffer and die with it. But, according to another and no doubt later view, the tree is not the body, but merely the abode of the tree-spirit, which can quit the injured tree as men quit a dilapidated house. Thus when the Pelew Islanders are felling a tree, they conjure the spirit of the tree to leave it and settle on another.(227) The Pádams of Assam think that when a child is lost it has been stolen by the spirits of the wood. So they retaliate on the spirits by cutting down trees till they find the child. The spirits, fearing to be left without a tree in which to lodge, give up the child, and it is found in the fork of a tree.(228) Before the Katodis fell a forest-tree, they choose a tree of the same kind and worship it by presenting a cocoa-nut, burning incense, applying a red pigment, and begging it to bless the undertaking.(229) The intention, perhaps, is to induce the spirit of the former tree to shift its quarters to the latter. In clearing a wood, a Galeleze must not cut down the last tree till the spirit in it has been induced to go away.(230) The Mundaris have sacred groves which were left standing when the land was cleared, lest the sylvan gods, disquieted at the felling of the trees, should abandon the place.(231) The Miris in Assam are unwilling to break up new land for cultivation so long as there is fallow land available; for they fear to offend the spirits of the woods by cutting down trees unnecessarily.(232)

In Sumatra, so soon as a tree is felled, a young tree is planted on the stump; and some betel and a few small coins are also placed on it.(233) Here the purpose is unmistakable. The spirit of the tree is offered a new home in the young tree planted on the stump of the old one, and the offering of betel and money is meant to compensate him for the disturbance he has suffered. So in the island of Chedooba, on felling a large tree, one of the woodmen was always ready with a green sprig, which he ran and placed on the middle of the stump the instant the tree fell.(234) For the same purpose German woodmen make a cross upon the stump while the tree is falling, in the belief that this enables the spirit of the tree to live upon the stump.(235)

Thus the tree is regarded, sometimes as the body, sometimes as merely the house of the tree-spirit; and when we read of sacred trees which may not be cut down because they are the seat of spirits, it is not always possible to say with certainty in which way the presence of the spirit in the tree is conceived. In the following cases, perhaps, the trees are conceived as the dwelling-place of the spirits rather than as their bodies. The old Prussians, it is said, believed that gods inhabited high trees, such as oaks, from which they gave audible answers to inquirers; hence these trees were not felled, but worshipped as the homes of divinities.(236) The great oak at Romove was the especial dwelling-place of the god; it was veiled with a cloth, which was, however, removed to allow worshippers to see the sacred tree.(237) The Battas of Sumatra have been known to refuse to cut down certain trees because they were the abode of mighty spirits which would resent the injury.(238) The Curka Coles of India believe that the tops of trees are inhabited by spirits which are disturbed by the cutting down of the trees and will take vengeance.(239) The Samogitians thought that if any one ventured to injure certain groves, or the birds or beasts in them, the spirits would make his hands or feet crooked.(240)

Even where no mention is made of wood-spirits, we may generally assume that when a grove is sacred and inviolable, it is so because it is believed to be either inhabited or animated by sylvan deities. In Livonia there is a sacred grove in which, if any man fells a tree or breaks a branch, he will die within the year.(241) The Wotjaks have sacred groves. A Russian who ventured to hew a tree in one of them fell sick and died next day.(242) Sacrifices offered at cutting down trees are doubtless meant to appease the wood-spirits. In Gilgit it is usual to sprinkle goat’s blood on a tree of any kind before cutting it down.(243) Before thinning a grove a Roman farmer had to sacrifice a pig to the god or goddess of the grove.(244) The priestly college of the Arval Brothers at Rome had to make expiation when a rotten bough fell to the ground in the sacred grove, or when an old tree was blown down by a storm or dragged down by a weight of snow on its branches.(245)

When a tree comes to be viewed, no longer as the body of the tree-spirit, but simply as its dwelling-place which it can quit at pleasure, an important advance has been made in religious thought. Animism is passing into polytheism. In other words, instead of regarding each tree as a living and conscious being, man now sees in it merely a lifeless, inert mass, tenanted for a longer or shorter time by a supernatural being who, as he can pass freely from tree to tree, thereby enjoys a certain right of possession or lordship over the trees, and, ceasing to be a tree-soul, becomes a forest god. As soon as the tree-spirit is thus in a measure disengaged from each particular tree, he begins to change his shape and assume the body of a man, in virtue of a general tendency of early thought to clothe all abstract spiritual beings in concrete human form. Hence in classical art the sylvan deities are depicted in human shape, their woodland character being denoted by a branch or some equally obvious symbol.(246) But this change of shape does not affect the essential character of the tree-spirit. The powers which he exercised as a tree-soul incorporate in a tree, he still continues to wield as a god of trees. This I shall now prove in detail. I shall show, first, that trees considered as animate beings are credited with the power of making the rain to fall, the sun to shine, flocks and herds to multiply, and women to bring forth easily; and, second, that the very same powers are attributed to tree-gods conceived as anthropomorphic beings or as actually incarnate in living men.

First, then, trees or tree-spirits are believed to give rain and sunshine. When the missionary Jerome of Prague was persuading the heathen Lithuanians to fell their sacred groves, a multitude of women besought the Prince of Lithuania to stop him, saying that with the woods he was destroying the house of god from which they had been wont to get rain and sunshine.(247) The Mundaris in Assam think if a tree in the sacred grove is felled, the sylvan gods evince their displeasure by withholding rain.(248) In Cambodia each village or province has its sacred tree, the abode of a spirit. If the rains are late, the people sacrifice to the tree.(249) To extort rain from the tree-spirit a branch is sometimes dipped in water, as we have seen above.(250) In such cases the spirit is doubtless supposed to be immanent in the branch, and the water thus applied to the spirit produces rain by a sort of sympathetic magic, exactly as we saw that in New Caledonia the rain-makers pour water on a skeleton, believing that the soul of the deceased will convert the water into rain.(251) There is hardly room to doubt that Mannhardt is right in explaining as a rain-charm the European custom of drenching with water the trees which are cut at certain popular festivals, as midsummer, Whitsuntide, and harvest.(252)

Again, tree-spirits make the crops to grow. Amongst the Mundaris every village has its sacred grove, and “the grove deities are held responsible for the crops, and are especially honoured at all the great agricultural festivals.”(253) The negroes of the Gold Coast are in the habit of sacrificing at the foot of certain tall trees, and they think that if one of these trees were felled, all the fruits of the earth would perish.(254) Swedish peasants stick a leafy branch in each furrow of their corn-fields, believing that this will ensure an abundant crop.(255) The same idea comes out in the German and French custom of the Harvest-May. This is a large branch or a whole tree, which is decked with ears of corn, brought home on the last waggon from the harvest-field, and fastened on the roof of the farmhouse or of the barn, where it remains for a year. Mannhardt has proved that this branch or tree embodies the tree-spirit conceived as the spirit of vegetation in general, whose vivifying and fructifying influence is thus brought to bear upon the corn in particular. Hence in Swabia the Harvest-May is fastened amongst the last stalks of corn left standing on the field; in other places it is planted on the cornfield and the last sheaf cut is fastened to its trunk.(256) The Harvest-May of Germany has its counterpart in the "eiresione" of ancient Greece.(257) The "eiresione" was a branch of olive or laurel, bound about with ribbons and hung with a variety of fruits. This branch was carried in procession at a harvest festival and was fastened over the door of the house, where it remained for a year. The object of preserving the Harvest-May or the "eiresione" for a year is that the life-giving virtue of the bough may foster the growth of the crops throughout the year. By the end of the year the virtue of the bough is supposed to be exhausted and it is replaced by a new one. Following a similar train of thought some of the Dyaks of Sarawak are careful at the rice harvest to take up the roots of a certain bulbous plant, which bears a beautiful crown of white and fragrant flowers. These roots are preserved with the rice in the granary and are planted again with the seed-rice in the following season; for the Dyaks say that the rice will not grow unless a plant of this sort be in the field.(258)

Customs like that of the Harvest-May appear to exist in India and Africa. At a harvest festival of the Lhoosai of S. E. India the chief goes with his people into the forest and fells a large tree, which is then carried into the village and set up in the midst. Sacrifice is offered, and spirits and rice are poured over the tree. The ceremony closes with a feast and a dance, at which the unmarried men and girls are the only performers.(259) Among the Bechuanas the hack-thorn is very sacred, and it would be a serious offence to cut a bough from it and carry it into the village during the rainy season. But when the corn is ripe in the ear the people go with axes, and each man brings home a branch of the sacred hack-thorn, with which they repair the village cattle-yard.(260) Many tribes of S. E. Africa will not cut down timber while the corn is green, fearing that if they did so, the crops would be destroyed by blight, hail, or early frost.(261)

Again, the fructifying power of the tree is put forth at seed-time as well as at harvest. Among the Aryan tribes of Gilgit, on the north-western frontier of India, the sacred tree is the "Chili", a species of cedar ("Juniperus excelsa"). At the beginning of wheat-sowing the people receive from the Raja’s granary a quantity of wheat, which is placed in a skin mixed with sprigs of the sacred cedar. A large bonfire of the cedar wood is lighted, and the wheat which is to be sown is held over the smoke. The rest is ground and made into a large cake, which is baked on the same fire and given to the ploughman.(262) Here the intention of fertilising the seed by means of the sacred cedar is unmistakable. In all these cases the power of fostering the growth of crops, and, in general, of cultivated plants, is ascribed to trees. The ascription is not unnatural. For the tree is the largest and most powerful member of the vegetable kingdom, and man is familiar with it before he takes to cultivating corn. Hence he naturally places the feebler and, to him, newer plant under the dominion of the older and more powerful.

Again, the tree-spirit makes the herds to multiply and blesses women with offspring. The sacred "Chili" or cedar of Gilgit was supposed to possess this virtue in addition to that of fertilising the corn. At the commencement of wheat-sowing three chosen unmarried youths, after undergoing daily washing and purification for three days, used to start for the mountain where the cedars grew, taking with them wine, oil, bread, and fruit of every kind. Having found a suitable tree they sprinkled the wine and oil on it, while they ate the bread and fruit as a sacrificial feast. Then they cut off the branch and brought it to the village, where, amid general rejoicing, it was placed on a large stone beside running water. “A goat was then sacrificed, its blood poured over the cedar branch, and a wild dance took place, in which weapons were brandished about, and the head of the slaughtered goat was borne aloft, after which it was set up as a mark for arrows and bullet-practice. Every good shot was rewarded with a gourd full of wine and some of the flesh of the goat. When the flesh was finished the bones were thrown into the stream and a general ablution took place, after which every man went to his house taking with him a spray of the cedar. On arrival at his house he found the door shut in his face, and on his knocking for admission, his wife asked, ‘What have you brought?’ To which he answered, ‘If you want children, I have brought them to you; if you want food, I have brought it; if you want cattle, I have brought them; whatever you want, I have it.’ The door was then opened and he entered with his cedar spray. The wife then took some of the leaves and pouring wine and water on them placed them on the fire, and the rest were sprinkled with flour and suspended from the ceiling. She then sprinkled flour on her husband’s head and shoulders, and addressed him thus: ‘Ai Shiri Bagerthum, son of the fairies, you have come from far!’ "Shiri Bagerthum", ‘the dreadful king,’ being the form of address to the cedar when praying for wants to be fulfilled. The next day the wife baked a number of cakes, and taking them with her, drove the family goats to the Chili stone. When they were collected round the stone, she began to pelt them with pebbles, invoking the Chili at the same time. According to the direction in which the goats ran off, omens were drawn as to the number and sex of the kids expected during the ensuing year. Walnuts and pomegranates were then placed on the Chili stone, the cakes were distributed and eaten, and the goats followed to pasture in whatever direction they showed a disposition to go. For five days afterwards this song was sung in all the houses:—

‘Dread Fairy King, I sacrifice before you, How nobly do you stand! you have filled up my house, You have brought me a wife when I had not one, Instead of daughters you have given me sons. You have shown me the ways of right, You have given me many children.’ ”(263)

Here the driving of the goats to the stone on which the cedar had been placed is clearly meant to impart to them the fertilising influence of the cedar. In Europe the May-tree (May-pole) is supposed to possess similar powers over both women and cattle. In some parts of Germany on the 1st of May the peasants set up May-trees at the doors of stables and byres, one May-tree for each horse and cow; this is thought to make the cows yield much milk.(264) Camden says of the Irish, “They fancy a green bough of a tree, fastened on May-day against the house, will produce plenty of milk that summer.”(265)

On the 2d of July some of the Wends used to set up an oak-tree in the middle of the village with an iron cock fastened to its top; then they danced round it, and drove the cattle round it to make them thrive.(266)

Some of the Esthonians believe in a mischievous spirit called Metsik, who lives in the forest and has the weal of the cattle in his hands. Every year a new image of him is prepared. On an appointed day all the villagers assemble and make a straw man, dress him in clothes, and take him to the common pasture land of the village. Here the figure is fastened to a high tree, round which the people dance noisily. On almost every day of the year prayer and sacrifice are offered to him that he may protect the cattle. Sometimes the image of Metsik is made of a corn-sheaf and fastened to a tall tree in the wood. The people perform strange antics before it to induce Metsik to guard the corn and the cattle.(267)

The Circassians regard the pear-tree as the protector of cattle. So they cut down a young pear-tree in the forest, branch it, and carry it home, where it is adored as a divinity. Almost every house has one such pear-tree. In autumn, on the day of the festival, it is carried into the house with great ceremony to the sound of music and amid the joyous cries of all the inmates, who compliment it on its fortunate arrival. It is covered with candles, and a cheese is fastened to its top. Round about it they eat, drink, and sing. Then they bid it good-bye and take it back to the courtyard, where it remains for the rest of the year, set up against the wall, without receiving any mark of respect.(268)

The common European custom of placing a green bush on May Day before the house of a beloved maiden probably originated in the belief of the fertilising power of the tree-spirit.(269) Amongst the Kara-Kirgiz barren women roll themselves on the ground under a solitary apple-tree, in order to obtain offspring.(270) Lastly, the power of granting to women an easy delivery at child-birth is ascribed to trees both in Sweden and Africa. In some districts of Sweden there was formerly a "bårdträd" or guardian-tree (lime, ash, or elm) in the neighbourhood of every farm. No one would pluck a single leaf of the sacred tree, any injury to which was punished by ill-luck or sickness. Pregnant women used to clasp the tree in their arms in order to ensure an easy delivery.(271) In some negro tribes of the Congo region pregnant women make themselves garments out of the bark of a certain sacred tree, because they believe that this tree delivers them from the dangers that attend child-bearing.(272) The story that Leto clasped a palm-tree and an olive-tree or two laurel-trees when she was about to give birth to Apollo and Artemis perhaps points to a similar Greek belief in the efficacy of certain trees to facilitate delivery.(273)

From this review of the beneficent qualities commonly ascribed to tree-spirits, it is easy to understand why customs like the May-tree or May-pole have prevailed so widely and figured so prominently in the popular festivals of European peasants. In spring or early summer or even on Midsummer Day, it was and still is in many parts of Europe the custom to go out to the woods, cut down a tree and bring it into the village, where it is set up amid general rejoicings. Or the people cut branches in the woods, and fasten them on every house. The intention of these customs is to bring home to the village, and to each house, the blessings which the tree-spirit has in its power to bestow. Hence the custom in some places of planting a May-tree before every house, or of carrying the village May-tree from door to door, that every household may receive its share of the blessing. Out of the mass of evidence on this subject a few examples may be selected.

Sir Henry Piers, in his "Description of Westmeath", writing in 1682 says: “On May-eve, every family sets up before their door a green bush, strewed over with yellow flowers, which the meadows yield plentifully. In countries where timber is plentiful, they erect tall slender trees, which stand high, and they continue almost the whole year; so as a stranger would go nigh to imagine that they were all signs of ale-sellers, and that all houses were ale-houses.”(274) In Northamptonshire a young tree ten or twelve feet high used to be planted before each house on May Day so as to appear growing.(275) “An antient custom, still retained by the Cornish, is that of decking their doors and porches on the 1st of May with green boughs of sycamore and hawthorn, and of planting trees, or rather stumps of trees, before their houses.”(276) In the north of England it was formerly the custom for young people to rise very early on the morning of the 1st of May, and go out with music into the woods, where they broke branches and adorned them with nosegays and crowns of flowers. This done, they returned about sunrise and fastened the flower-decked branches over the doors and windows of their houses.(277) At Abingdon in Berkshire young people formerly went about in groups on May morning, singing a carol of which the following are some of the verses—

“We’ve been rambling all the night; And sometime of this day; And now returning back again, We bring a garland gay.

“A garland gay we bring you here; And at your door we stand; It is a sprout well budded out, The work of our Lord’s hand.”(278)

At the villages of Saffron Walden and Debden in Essex on the 1st of May little girls go about in parties from door to door singing a song almost identical with the above and carrying garlands; a doll dressed in white is usually placed in the middle of each garland.(279) At Seven Oaks on May Day the children carry boughs and garlands from house to house, begging for pence. The garlands consist of two hoops interlaced crosswise, and covered with blue and yellow flowers from the woods and hedges.(280) In some villages of the Vosges Mountains on the first Sunday of May young girls go in bands from house to house, singing a song in praise of May, in which mention is made of the “bread and meal that come in May.” If money is given them, they fasten a green bough to the door; if it is refused, they wish the family many children and no bread to feed them.(281) In Mayenne (France), boys who bore the name of "Maillotins" used to go about from farm to farm on the 1st of May singing carols, for which they received money or a drink; they planted a small tree or a branch of a tree.(282)

On the Thursday before Whitsunday the Russian villagers “go out into the woods, sing songs, weave garlands, and cut down a young birch-tree, which they dress up in woman’s clothes, or adorn with many-coloured shreds and ribbons. After that comes a feast, at the end of which they take the dressed-up birch-tree, carry it home to their village with joyful dance and song, and set it up in one of the houses, where it remains as an honoured guest till Whitsunday. On the two intervening days they pay visits to the house where their ‘guest’ is; but on the third day, Whitsunday, they take her to a stream and fling her into its waters,” throwing their garlands after her. “All over Russia every village and every town is turned, a little before Whitsunday, into a sort of garden. Everywhere along the streets the young birch-trees stand in rows, every house and every room is adorned with boughs, even the engines upon the railway are for the time decked with green leaves.”(283) In this Russian custom the dressing of the birch in woman’s clothes shows how clearly the tree is conceived as personal; and the throwing it into a stream is most probably a rain-charm. In some villages of Altmark it was formerly the custom for serving-men, grooms, and cowherds to go from farm to farm at Whitsuntide distributing crowns made of birch-branches and flowers to the farmers; these crowns were hung up in the houses and left till the following year.(284)

In the neighbourhood of Zabern in Alsace bands of people go about carrying May-trees. Amongst them is a man dressed in a white shirt, with his face blackened; in front of him is carried a large May-tree, but each member of the band also carries a smaller one. One of the company carries a huge basket in which he collects eggs, bacon, etc.(285) In some parts of Sweden on the eve of May Day lads go about carrying each a bunch of fresh-gathered birch twigs, wholly or partially in leaf. With the village fiddler at their head they go from house to house singing May songs; the purport of which is a prayer for fine weather, a plentiful harvest, and worldly and spiritual blessings. One of them carries a basket in which he collects gifts of eggs and the like. If they are well received they stick a leafy twig in the roof over the cottage door.(286)

But in Sweden midsummer is the season when these ceremonies are chiefly observed. On the Eve of St. John (23d June) the houses are thoroughly cleansed and garnished with green boughs and flowers. Young fir-trees are raised at the door-way and elsewhere about the homestead; and very often small umbrageous arbours are constructed in the garden. In Stockholm on this day a leaf-market is held at which thousands of May-poles ("Maj Stanger") six inches to twelve feet high, decorated with leaves, flowers, slips of coloured paper, gilt egg-shells, strung on reeds, etc. are exposed for sale. Bonfires are lit on the hills and the people dance round them and jump over them. But the chief event of the day is setting up the May-pole. This consists of a straight and tall spruce-pine tree, stripped of its branches. “At times hoops and at others pieces of wood, placed crosswise, are attached to it at intervals; whilst at others it is provided with bows, representing so to say, a man with his arms akimbo. From top to bottom not only the ‘Maj Stang’ (May-pole) itself, but the hoops, bows, etc. are ornamented with leaves, flowers, slips of various cloth, gilt egg-shells, etc.; and on the top of it is a large vane, or it may be a flag.” The raising of the May-pole, the decoration of which is done by the village maidens, is an affair of much ceremony; the people flock to it from all quarters and dance round it in a great ring.(287) In some parts of Bohemia also a May-pole or midsummer-tree is erected on St. John’s Eve. The lads fetch a tall fir or pine from the wood and set it up on a height, where the girls deck it with nosegays, garlands, and red ribbons. Then they pile brushwood, dry wood, and other combustible materials about the tree, and, when darkness has fallen, set the whole on fire. While the fire was burning the lads used to climb up the tree and fetch down the garlands and ribbons which the girls had fastened to it; but as this led to accidents, the custom has been forbidden. Sometimes the young people fling burning besoms into the air, or run shouting down hill with them. When the tree is consumed, the young men and their sweethearts stand on opposite sides of the fire, and look at each other through garlands and through the fire, to see whether they will be true lovers and will wed. Then they throw the garlands thrice across the smouldering fire to each other. When the blaze has died down, the couples join hands and leap thrice across the glowing embers. The singed garlands are taken home, and kept carefully in the house throughout the year. Whenever a thunder-storm bursts, part of the garlands are burned on the hearth; and when the cattle are sick or are calving, they get a portion of the garlands to eat. The charred embers of the bonfire are stuck in the cornfields and meadows and on the roof of the house, to keep house and field from bad weather and injury.(288)

It is hardly necessary to illustrate the custom of setting up a village May-tree or May-pole on May Day. One point only—the renewal of the village May-tree—requires to be noticed. In England the village May-pole seems as a rule, at least in later times, to have been permanent, not renewed from year to year.(289) Sometimes, however, it was renewed annually. Thus, Borlase says of the Cornish people: “From towns they make incursions, on May-eve, into the country, cut down a tall elm, bring it into the town with rejoicings, and having fitted a straight taper pole to the end of it, and painted it, erect it in the most public part, and upon holidays and festivals dress it with garlands of flowers or ensigns and streamers.”(290) An annual renewal seems also to be implied in the description by Stubbs, a Puritanical writer, of the custom of drawing home the May-pole by twenty or forty yoke of oxen.(291) In some parts of Germany and Austria the May-tree or Whitsuntide-tree is renewed annually, a fresh tree being felled and set up.(292)

We can hardly doubt that originally the practice everywhere was to set up a new May-tree every year. As the object of the custom was to bring in the fructifying spirit of vegetation, newly awakened in spring, the end would have been defeated if, instead of a living tree, green and sappy, an old withered one had been erected year after year or allowed to stand permanently. When, however, the meaning of the custom had been forgotten, and the May-tree was regarded simply as a centre for holiday merrymaking, people saw no reason for felling a fresh tree every year, and preferred to let the same tree stand permanently, only decking it with fresh flowers on May Day. But even when the May-pole had thus become a fixture, the need of giving it the appearance of being a green tree, not a dead pole, was sometimes felt. Thus at Weverham in Cheshire “are two May-poles, which are decorated on this day (May Day) with all due attention to the ancient solemnity; the sides are hung with garlands, and the top terminated by a birch or other tall slender tree with its leaves on; the bark being peeled, and the stem spliced to the pole, so as to give the appearance of one tree from the summit.”(293) Thus the renewal of the May-tree is like the renewal of the Harvest-May; each is intended to secure a fresh portion of the fertilising spirit of vegetation, and to preserve it throughout the year. But whereas the efficacy of the Harvest-May is restricted to promoting the growth of the crops, that of the May-tree or May-branch extends also, as we have seen, to women and cattle. Lastly, it is worth noting that the old May-tree is sometimes burned at the end of the year. Thus in the district of Prague young people break pieces off the public May-tree and place them behind the holy pictures in their rooms, where they remain till next May Day, and are then burned on the hearth.(294) In Würtemberg the bushes which are set up on the houses on Palm Sunday are sometimes left there for a year and then burnt.(295) The "eiresione" (the Harvest-May of Greece) was perhaps burned at the end of the year.(296)

So much for the tree-spirit conceived as incorporate or immanent in the tree. We have now to show that the tree-spirit is often conceived and represented as detached from the tree and clothed in human form, and even as embodied in living men or women. The evidence for this anthropomorphic representation of the tree-spirit is largely to be found in the popular customs of European peasantry.

There is an instructive class of cases in which the tree-spirit is represented simultaneously in vegetable form and in human form, which are set side by side as if for the express purpose of explaining each other. In these cases the human representative of the tree-spirit is sometimes a doll or puppet, sometimes a living person; but whether a puppet or a person, it is placed beside a tree or bough; so that together the person or puppet, and the tree or bough, form a sort of bilingual inscription, the one being, so to speak, a translation of the other. Here, therefore, there is no room left for doubt that the spirit of the tree is actually represented in human form. Thus in Bohemia, on the fourth Sunday in Lent, young people throw a puppet called Death into the water; then the girls go into the wood, cut down a young tree, and fasten to it a puppet dressed in white clothes to look like a woman; with this tree and puppet they go from house to house collecting gratuities and singing songs with the refrain—

“We carry Death out of the village, We bring Summer into the village.”(297)

Here, as we shall see later on, the “Summer” is the spirit of vegetation returning or reviving in spring. In some places in this country children go about asking for pence with some small imitations of May-poles, and with a finely dressed doll which they call the Lady of the May.(298) In these cases the tree and the puppet are obviously regarded as equivalent.

At Thann, in Alsace, a girl called the Little May Rose, dressed in white, carries a small May-tree, which is gay with garlands and ribbons. Her companions collect gifts from door to door, singing a song—

“Little May Rose turn round three times, Let us look at you round and round! Rose of the May, come to the greenwood away, We will be merry all. So we go from the May to the roses.”

In the course of the song a wish is expressed that those who give nothing may lose their fowls by the marten, that their vine may bear no clusters, their tree no nuts, their field no corn; the produce of the year is supposed to depend on the gifts offered to these May singers.(299) Here and in the cases mentioned above, where children go about with green boughs on May Day singing and collecting money, the meaning is that with the spirit of vegetation they bring plenty and good luck to the house, and they expect to be paid for the service. In Russian Lithuania, on the 1st of May, they used to set up a green tree before the village. Then the rustic swains chose the prettiest girl, crowned her, swathed her in birch branches and set her beside the May-tree, where they danced, sang, and shouted “O May! O May!”(300) In Brie (Isle de France) a May-tree is set up in the midst of the village; its top is crowned with flowers; lower down it is twined with leaves and twigs, still lower with huge green branches. The girls dance round it, and at the same time a lad wrapt in leaves and called Father May is led about.(301) In Bavaria, on the 2d of May, a "Walber" (?) tree is erected before a tavern, and a man dances round it, enveloped in straw from head to foot in such a way that the ears of corn unite above his head to form a crown. He is called the "Walber", and used to be led in solemn procession through the streets, which were adorned with sprigs of birch.(302) In Carinthia, on St. George’s Day (24th April), the young people deck with flowers and garlands a tree which has been felled on the eve of the festival. The tree is then carried in procession, accompanied with music and joyful acclamations, the chief figure in the procession being the Green George, a young fellow clad from head to foot in green birch branches. At the close of the ceremonies the Green George, that is an effigy of him, is thrown into the water. It is the aim of the lad who acts Green George to step out of his leafy envelope and substitute the effigy so adroitly that no one shall perceive the change. In many places, however, the lad himself who plays the part of Green George is ducked in a river or pond, with the express intention of thus ensuring rain to make the fields and meadows green in summer. In some places the cattle are crowned and driven from their stalls to the accompaniment of a song—

“Green George we bring, Green George we accompany, May he feed our herds well, If not, to the water with him.”(303)

Here we see that the same powers of making rain and fostering the cattle, which are ascribed to the tree-spirit regarded as incorporate in the tree, are also attributed to the tree-spirit represented by a living man.

An example of the double representation of the spirit of vegetation by a tree and a living man is reported from Bengal. The Oraons have a festival in spring while the sál trees are in blossom, because they think that at this time the marriage of earth is celebrated and the sál flowers are necessary for the ceremony. On an appointed day the villagers go with their priest to the Sarna, the sacred grove, a remnant of the old sál forest in which a goddess Sarna Burhi, or woman of the grove, is supposed to dwell. She is thought to have great influence on the rain; and the priest arriving with his party at the grove sacrifices to her five fowls, of which a morsel is given to each person present. Then they gather the sál flowers and return laden with them to the village. Next day the priest visits every house, carrying the flowers in a wide open basket. The women of each house bring out water to wash his feet as he approaches, and kneeling make him an obeisance. Then he dances with them and places some of the sál flowers over the door of the house and in the women’s hair. No sooner is this done than the women empty their water-jugs over him, drenching him to the skin. A feast follows, and the young people, with sál flowers in their hair, dance all night on the village green.(304) Here, the equivalence of the flower-bearing priest to the goddess of the flowering-tree comes out plainly. For she is supposed to influence the rain, and the drenching of the priest with water is, doubtless, like the ducking of the Green George in Bavaria, a rain-charm. Thus the priest, as if he were the tree goddess herself, goes from door to door dispensing rain and bestowing fruitfulness on each house, but especially on the women.

Without citing more examples to the same effect, we may sum up the result of the preceding paragraphs in the words of Mannhardt. “The customs quoted suffice to establish with certainty the conclusion that in these spring processions the spirit of vegetation is often represented both by the May-tree and in addition by a man dressed in green leaves or flowers or by a girl similarly adorned. It is the same spirit which animates the tree and is active in the inferior plants and which we have recognised in the May-tree and the Harvest-May. Quite consistently the spirit is also supposed to manifest his presence in the first flower of spring and reveals himself both in a girl representing a May-rose, and also, as giver of harvest, in the person of the "Walber". The procession with this representative of the divinity was supposed to produce the same beneficial effects on the fowls, the fruit-trees, and the crops as the presence of the deity himself. In other words, the mummer was regarded not as an image but as an actual representative of the spirit of vegetation; hence the wish expressed by the attendants on the May-rose and the May-tree that those who refuse them gifts of eggs, bacon, etc. may have no share in the blessings which it is in the power of the itinerant spirit to bestow. We may conclude that these begging processions with May-trees or May-boughs from door to door (‘bringing the May or the summer’) had everywhere originally a serious and, so to speak, sacramental significance; people really believed that the god of growth was present unseen in the bough; by the procession he was brought to each house to bestow his blessing. The names May, Father May, May Lady, Queen of the May, by which the anthropomorphic spirit of vegetation is often denoted, show that the conception of the spirit of vegetation is blent with a personification of the season at which his powers are most strikingly manifested.”(305)

Thus far we have seen that the tree-spirit or the spirit of vegetation in general is represented either in vegetable form alone, as by a tree, bough, or flower; or in vegetable and human form simultaneously, as by a tree, bough, or flower in combination with a puppet or a living person. It remains to show that the representation of him by a tree, bough, or flower is sometimes entirely dropped, while the representation of him by a living person remains. In this case the representative character of the person is generally marked by dressing him or her in leaves or flowers; sometimes too it is indicated by the name he or she bears.

We saw that in Russia at Whitsuntide a birch-tree is dressed in woman’s clothes and set up in the house. Clearly equivalent to this is the custom observed on Whit-Monday by Russian girls in the district of Pinsk. They choose the prettiest of their number, envelop her in a mass of foliage taken from the birch-trees and maples, and carry her about through the village. In a district of Little Russia they take round a “poplar,” represented by a girl wearing bright flowers in her hair.(306) In the Département de l’Ain (France) on the 1st of May eight or ten boys unite, clothe one of their number in leaves, and go from house to house begging.(307) At Whitsuntide in Holland poor women used to go about begging with a little girl called Whitsuntide Flower ("Pinxterbloem", perhaps a kind of iris); she was decked with flowers and sat in a waggon. In North Brabant she wears the flowers from which she takes her name and a song is sung—

“Whitsuntide Flower Turn yourself once round.”(308)

In Ruhla (Thüringen) as soon as the trees begin to grow green in spring, the children assemble on a Sunday and go out into the woods, where they choose one of their playmates to be the Little Leaf Man. They break branches from the trees and twine them about the child till only his shoes peep out from the leafy mantle. Holes are made in it for him to see through, and two of the children lead the Little Leaf Man that he may not stumble or fall. Singing and dancing they take him from house to house, asking for gifts of food (eggs, cream, sausage, cakes). Lastly they sprinkle the Leaf Man with water and feast on the food they have collected.(309) In England the best-known example of these leaf-clad mummers is the Jack-in-the-Green, a chimney-sweeper who walks encased in a pyramidal-shaped framework of wicker-work, which is covered with holly and ivy, and surmounted by a crown of flowers and ribbons. Thus arrayed he dances on May Day at the head of a troop of chimney-sweeps, who collect pence.(310) In some parts also of France a young fellow is encased in a wicker framework covered with leaves and is led about.(311) In Frickthal (Aargau) a similar frame of basketwork is called the Whitsuntide Basket. As soon as the trees begin to bud, a spot is chosen in the wood, and here the village lads make the frame with all secrecy, lest others should forestall them. Leafy branches are twined round two hoops, one of which rests on the shoulders of the wearer, the other encircles his calves; holes are made for his eyes and mouth; and a large nosegay crowns the whole. In this guise he appears suddenly in the village at the hour of vespers, preceded by three boys blowing on horns made of willow bark. The great object of his supporters is to set up the Whitsuntide Basket beside the village well, and to keep it and him there, despite the efforts of the lads from neighbouring villages, who seek to carry off the Whitsuntide Basket and set it up at their own well.(312) In the neighbourhood of Ertingen (Würtemberg) a masker of the same sort, known as the Lazy Man ("Latzmann"), goes about the village on Midsummer Day; he is hidden under a great pyramidal or conical frame of wicker-work, ten or twelve feet high, which is completely covered with sprigs of fir. He has a bell which he rings as he goes, and he is attended by a suite of persons dressed up in character—a footman, a colonel, a butcher, an angel, the devil, the doctor, etc. They march in Indian file and halt before every house, where each of them speaks in character, except the Lazy Man, who says nothing. With what they get by begging from door to door they hold a feast.(313)

In the class of cases of which the above are specimens it is obvious that the leaf-clad person who is led about is equivalent to the May-tree, May-bough, or May-doll, which is carried from house to house by children begging. Both are representatives of the beneficent spirit of vegetation, whose visit to the house is recompensed by a present of money or food.

Often the leaf-clad person who represents the spirit of vegetation is known as the king or the queen; thus, for example, he or she is called the May King, Whitsuntide King, Queen of May, and so on. These titles, as Mannhardt observes, imply that the spirit incorporate in vegetation is a ruler, whose creative power extends far and wide.(314)

In a village near Salzwedel a May-tree is set up at Whitsuntide and the boys race to it; he who reaches it first is king; a garland of flowers is put round his neck and in his hand he carries a May-bush, with which, as the procession moves along, he sweeps away the dew. At each house they sing a song, wishing the inmates good luck, referring to the “black cow in the stall milking white milk, black hen on the nest laying white eggs,” and begging a gift of eggs, bacon, etc.(315) In some villages of Brunswick at Whitsuntide a May King is completely enveloped in a May-bush. In some parts of Thüringen also they have a May King at Whitsuntide, but he is got up rather differently. A frame of wood is made in which a man can stand; it is completely covered with birch boughs and is surmounted by a crown of birch and flowers, in which a bell is fastened. This frame is placed in the wood and the May King gets into it. The rest go out and look for him, and when they have found him they lead him back into the village to the magistrate, the clergyman, and others, who have to guess who is in the verdurous frame. If they guess wrong, the May King rings his bell by shaking his head, and a forfeit of beer or the like must be paid by the unsuccessful guesser.(316) In some parts of Bohemia on Whit-Monday the young fellows disguise themselves in tall caps of birch bark adorned with flowers. One of them is dressed as a king and dragged on a sledge to the village green, and if on the way they pass a pool the sledge is always overturned into it. Arrived at the green they gather round the king; the crier jumps on a stone or climbs up a tree and recites lampoons about each house and its inmates. Afterwards the disguises of bark are stripped off and they go about the village in holiday attire, carrying a May-tree and begging. Cakes, eggs, and corn are sometimes given them.(317) At Grossvargula, near Langensalza, in last century a Grass King used to be led about in procession at Whitsuntide. He was encased in a pyramid of poplar branches, the top of which was adorned with a royal crown of branches and flowers. He rode on horseback with the leafy pyramid over him, so that its lower end touched the ground, and an opening was left in it only for his face. Surrounded by a cavalcade of young fellows, he rode in procession to the town hall, the parsonage, etc., where they all got a drink of beer. Then under the seven lindens of the neighbouring Sommerberg, the Grass King was stripped of his green casing; the crown was handed to the Mayor, and the branches were stuck in the flax fields in order to make the flax grow tall.(318) In this last trait the fertilising influence ascribed to the representative of the tree-spirit comes out clearly. In the neighbourhood of Pilsen (Bohemia) a conical hut of green branches, without any door, is erected at Whitsuntide in the midst of the village. To this hut rides a troop of village lads with a king at their head. He wears a sword at his side and a sugar-loaf hat of rushes on his head. In his train are a judge, a crier, and a personage called the Frog-flayer or Hangman. This last is a sort of ragged merryandrew, wearing a rusty old sword and bestriding a sorry hack. On reaching the hut the crier dismounts and goes round it looking for a door. Finding none, he says, “Ah, this is perhaps an enchanted castle; the witches creep through the leaves and need no door.” At last he draws his sword and hews his way into the hut, where there is a chair, on which he seats himself and proceeds to criticise in rhyme the girls, farmers, and farm-servants of the neighbourhood. When this is over, the Frog-flayer steps forward and, after exhibiting a cage with frogs in it, sets up a gallows on which he hangs the frogs in a row.(319) In the neighbourhood of Plas the ceremony differs in some points. The king and his soldiers are completely clad in bark, adorned with flowers and ribbons; they all carry swords and ride horses, which are gay with green branches and flowers. While the village dames and girls are being criticised at the arbour, a frog is secretly pinched and poked by the crier till it quacks. Sentence of death is passed on the frog by the king; the hangman beheads it and flings the bleeding body among the spectators. Lastly, the king is driven from the hut and pursued by the soldiers.(320) The pinching and beheading of the frog are doubtless, as Mannhardt observes,(321) a rain-charm. We have seen(322) that some Indians of the Orinoco beat frogs for the express purpose of producing rain, and that killing a frog is a German rain-charm.

Often the spirit of vegetation in spring is represented by a queen instead of a king. In the neighbourhood of Libchowic (Bohemia), on the fourth Sunday in Lent, girls dressed in white and wearing the first spring flowers, as violets and daisies, in their hair, lead about the village a girl who is called the Queen and is crowned with flowers. During the procession, which is conducted with great solemnity, none of the girls may stand still, but must keep whirling round continually and singing. In every house the Queen announces the arrival of spring and wishes the inmates good luck and blessings, for which she receives presents.(323) In German Hungary the girls choose the prettiest girl to be their Whitsuntide Queen, fasten a towering wreath on her brow, and carry her singing through the streets. At every house they stop, sing old ballads, and receive presents.(324) In the south-east of Ireland on May Day the prettiest girl used to be chosen Queen of the district for twelve months. She was crowned with wild flowers; feasting, dancing, and rustic sports followed, and were closed by a grand procession in the evening. During her year of office she presided over rural gatherings of young people at dances and merrymakings. If she married before next May Day her authority was at an end, but her successor was not elected till that day came round.(325) The May Queen is common in France(326) and familiar in England.

Again the spirit of vegetation is sometimes represented by a king and queen, a lord and lady, or a bridegroom and bride. Here again the parallelism holds between the anthropomorphic and the vegetable representation of the tree-spirit, for we have seen above that trees are sometimes married to each other.(327) In a village near Königgrätz (Bohemia) on Whit-Monday the children play the king’s game, at which a king and a queen march about under a canopy, the queen wearing a garland, and the youngest girl carrying two wreaths on a plate behind them. They are attended by boys and girls called groom’s men and bridesmaids, and they go from house to house collecting gifts.(328) Near Grenoble, in France, a king and queen are chosen on the 1st of May and are set on a throne for all to see.(329) At Headington, near Oxford, children used to carry garlands from door to door on May Day. Each garland was carried by two girls, and they were followed by a lord and lady—a boy and girl linked together by a white handkerchief, of which each held an end, and dressed with ribbons, sashes, and flowers. At each door they sang a verse—

“Gentlemen and ladies, We wish you happy May; We come to show you a garland, Because it is May-day.”

On receiving money the lord put his arm about his lady’s waist and kissed her.(330) In some Saxon villages at Whitsuntide a lad and a lass disguise themselves and hide in the bushes or high grass outside the village. Then the whole village goes out with music “to seek the bridal pair.” When they find the couple they all gather round them, the music strikes up, and the bridal pair is led merrily to the village. In the evening they dance. In some places the bridal pair is called the prince and the princess.(331)

In the neighbourhood of Briançon (Dauphiné) on May Day the lads wrap up in green leaves a young fellow whose sweetheart has deserted him or married another. He lies down on the ground and feigns to be asleep. Then a girl who likes him, and would marry him, comes and wakes him, and raising him up offers him her arm and a flag. So they go to the alehouse, where the pair lead off the dancing. But they must marry within the year, or they are treated as old bachelor and old maid, and are debarred the company of the young folk. The lad is called the bridegroom of the month of May ("le fiancé du mois de May"). In the alehouse he puts off his garment of leaves, out of which, mixed with flowers, his partner in the dance makes a nosegay, and wears it at her breast next day, when he leads her again to the alehouse.(332) Like this is a Russian custom observed in the district of Nerechta on the Thursday before Whitsunday. The girls go out into a birch-wood, wind a girdle or band round a stately birch, twist its lower branches into a wreath, and kiss each other in pairs through the wreath. The girls who kiss through the wreath call each other gossips. Then one of the girls steps forward, and mimicking a drunken man, flings herself on the ground, rolls on the grass, and feigns to go fast asleep. Another girl wakens the pretended sleeper and kisses him; then the whole bevy trips singing through the wood to twine garlands, which they throw into the water. In the fate of the garlands floating on the stream they read their own.(333) In this custom the rôle of the sleeper was probably at one time sustained by a lad. In these French and Russian customs we have a forsaken bridegroom, in the following a forsaken bride. On Shrove Tuesday the Slovenes of Oberkrain drag a straw puppet with joyous cries up and down the village; then they throw it into the water or burn it, and from the height of the flames they judge of the abundance of the next harvest. The noisy crew is followed by a female masker, who drags a great board by a string and gives out that she is a forsaken bride.(334)

Viewed in the light of what has gone before, the awakening of the forsaken sleeper in these ceremonies probably represents the revival of vegetation in spring. But it is not easy to assign their respective rôles to the forsaken bridegroom and to the girl who wakes him from his slumber. Is the sleeper the leafless forest or the bare earth of winter? Is the girl who wakens him the fresh verdure or the genial sunshine of spring? It is hardly possible, on the evidence before us, to answer these questions. The Oraons of Bengal, it may be remembered, celebrate the marriage of earth in the springtime, when the sál-tree is in blossom. But from this we can hardly argue that in the European ceremonies the sleeping bridegroom is “the dreaming earth” and the girl the spring blossoms.

In the Highlands of Scotland the revival of vegetation in spring used to be graphically represented as follows. On Candlemas day (2d February) in the Hebrides “the mistress and servants of each family take a sheaf of oats, and dress it up in women’s apparel, put it in a large basket, and lay a wooden club by it, and this they call Brüd’s bed; and then the mistress and servants cry three times, Brüd is come, Brüd is welcome. This they do just before going to bed, and when they rise in the morning they look among the ashes, expecting to see the impression of Brüd’s club there; which if they do they reckon it a true presage of a good crop and prosperous year, and the contrary they take as an ill omen.”(335) The same custom is described by another witness thus: “Upon the night before Candlemas it is usual to make a bed with corn and hay, over which some blankets are laid, in a part of the house near the door. When it is ready, a person goes out and repeats three times, ... ‘Bridget, Bridget, come in; thy bed is ready.’ One or more candles are left burning near it all night.”(336)

Often the marriage of the spirit of vegetation in spring, though not directly represented, is implied by naming the human representative of the spirit “the Bride,” and dressing her in wedding attire. Thus in some villages of Altmark at Whitsuntide, while the boys go about carrying a May-tree or leading a boy enveloped in leaves and flowers, the girls lead about the May Bride, a girl dressed as a bride with a great nosegay in her hair. They go from house to house, the May Bride singing a song in which she asks for a present, and tells the inmates of each house that if they give her something they will themselves have something the whole year through; but if they give her nothing they will themselves have nothing.(337) In some parts of Westphalia two girls lead a flower-crowned girl called “the Whitsuntide Bride” from door to door, singing a song in which they ask for eggs.(338) In Bresse in the month of May a girl called "la Mariée" is tricked out with ribbons and nosegays and is led about by a gallant. She is preceded by a lad carrying a green May-tree, and appropriate verses are sung.(339)

§ 5.—Tree-worship in antiquity.

Such then are some of the ways in which the tree-spirit or the spirit of vegetation is represented in the customs of our European peasantry. From the remarkable persistence and similarity of such customs all over Europe we are justified in concluding that tree-worship was once an important element in the religion of the Aryan race in Europe, and that the rites and ceremonies of the worship were marked by great uniformity everywhere, and did not substantially differ from those which are still or were till lately observed by our peasants at their spring and midsummer festivals. For these rites bear internal marks of great antiquity, and this internal evidence is confirmed by the resemblance which the rites bear to those of rude peoples elsewhere.(340) Therefore it is hardly rash to infer, from this consensus of popular customs, that the Greeks and Romans, like the other Aryan peoples of Europe, once practised forms of tree-worship similar to those which are still kept up by our peasantry. In the palmy days of ancient civilisation, no doubt, the worship had sunk to the level of vulgar superstition and rustic merrymaking, as it has done among ourselves. We need not therefore be surprised that the traces of such popular rites are few and slight in ancient literature. They are not less so in the polite literature of modern Europe; and the negative argument cannot be allowed to go for more in the one case than in the other. Enough, however, of positive evidence remains to confirm the presumption drawn from analogy. Much of this evidence has been collected and analysed with his usual learning and judgment by W. Mannhardt.(341) Here I shall content myself with citing certain Greek festivals which seem to be the classical equivalents of an English May Day in the olden time.

Every few years the Boeotians of Plataea held a festival which they called the Little Daedala. On the day of the festival they went out into an ancient oak forest, the trees of which were of gigantic girth. Here they set some boiled meat on the ground, and watched the birds that gathered round it. When a raven was observed to carry off a piece of the meat and settle on an oak, the people followed it and cut down the tree. With the wood of the tree they made an image, dressed it as a bride, and placed it on a bullock-cart with a bridesmaid beside it. It seems then to have been drawn to the banks of the river Asopus and back to the town, attended by a piping and dancing crowd. After the festival the image was put away and kept till the celebration of the Great Daedala, which fell only once in sixty years. On this great occasion all the images that had accumulated from the celebrations of the Little Daedala were dragged on carts in solemn procession to the river Asopus, and then to the top of Mount Cithaeron. Here an altar had been constructed of square blocks of wood fitted together and surmounted by a heap of brushwood. Animals were sacrificed by being burned on the altar, and the altar itself, together with the images, were consumed by the flames. The blaze, we are told, rose to a prodigious height and was seen for many miles. To explain the origin of the festival it was said that once upon a time Hera had quarrelled with Zeus and left him in high dudgeon. To lure her back Zeus gave out that he was about to marry the nymph Plataea, daughter of the river Asopus. He caused a wooden image to be made, dressed and veiled as a bride, and conveyed on a bullock-cart. Transported with rage and jealousy, Hera flew to the cart, and tearing off the veil of the pretended bride, discovered the deceit that had been practised on her. Her rage was now changed to laughter, and she became reconciled to her husband Zeus.(342)

The resemblance of this festival to some of the European spring and midsummer festivals is tolerably close. We have seen that in Russia at Whitsuntide the villagers go out into the wood, fell a birch-tree, dress it in woman’s clothes, and bring it back to the village with dance and song. On the third day it is thrown into the water.(343) Again, we have seen that in Bohemia on Midsummer Eve the village lads fell a tall fir or pine-tree in the wood and set it up on a height, where it is adorned with garlands, nosegays, and ribbons, and afterwards burnt.(344) The reason for burning the tree will appear afterwards; the custom itself is not uncommon in modern Europe. In some parts of the Pyrenees a tall and slender tree is cut down on May Day and kept till Midsummer Eve. It is then rolled to the top of a hill, set up, and burned.(345) In Angoulême on St. Peter’s Day, 29th June, a tall leafy poplar is set up in the market-place and burned.(346) In Cornwall “there was formerly a great bonfire on midsummer-eve; a large summer pole was fixed in the centre, round which the fuel was heaped up. It had a large bush on the top of it.”(347) In Dublin on May-morning boys used to go out and cut a May-bush, bring it back to town, and then burn it.(348)

Probably the Boeotian festival belonged to the same class of rites. It represented the marriage of the powers of vegetation in spring or midsummer, just as the same event is represented in modern Europe by a King and Queen or a Lord and Lady of the May. In the Boeotian, as in the Russian, ceremony the tree dressed as a woman represents the English May-pole and May-queen in one. All such ceremonies, it must be remembered, are not, or at least were not originally, mere spectacular or dramatic exhibitions. They are magical charms designed to produce the effect which they dramatically represent. If the revival of vegetation in spring is represented by the awakening of a sleeper, the representation is intended actually to quicken the growth of leaves and blossoms; if the marriage of the powers of vegetation is represented by a King and Queen of May, the idea is that the powers so represented will really be rendered more productive by the ceremony. In short, all these spring and midsummer festivals fall under the head of sympathetic magic. The event which it is desired to bring about is represented dramatically, and the very representation is believed to effect, or at least to contribute to, the production of the desired event. In the case of the Daedala the story of Hera’s quarrel with Zeus and her sullen retirement may perhaps without straining be interpreted as a mythical expression for a bad season and the failure of the crops. The same disastrous effects were attributed to the anger and seclusion of Demeter after the loss of her daughter Proserpine.(349) Now the institution of a festival is often explained by a mythical story of the occurrence upon a particular occasion of those very calamities which it is the real object of the festival to avert; so that if we know the myth told to account for the historical origin of the festival, we can often infer from it the real intention with which the festival was celebrated. If, therefore, the origin of the Daedala was explained by a story of a failure of crops and consequent famine, we may infer that the real object of the festival was to prevent the occurrence of such disasters; and, if I am right in my interpretation of the festival, the object was supposed to be effected by a dramatic representation of the marriage of the divinities most concerned with the production of vegetation.(350) The marriage of Zeus and Hera was dramatically represented at annual festivals in various parts of Greece,(351) and it is at least a fair conjecture that the nature and intention of these ceremonies were such as I have assigned to the Plataean festival of the Daedala; in other words, that Zeus and Hera at these festivals were the Greek equivalents of the Lord and Lady of the May. Homer’s glowing picture of Zeus and Hera couched on fresh hyacinths and crocuses,(352) like Milton’s description of the dalliance of Zephyr and Aurora, “as he met her once a-Maying,” was perhaps painted from the life.

Still more confidently may the same character be vindicated for the annual marriage at Athens of the Queen to Dionysus in the Flowery Month ("Anthesterion") of spring.(353) For Dionysus, as we shall see later on, was essentially a god of vegetation, and the Queen at Athens was a purely religious or priestly functionary.(354) Therefore at their annual marriage in spring he can hardly have been anything but a King, and she a Queen, of May. The women who attended the Queen at the marriage ceremony would correspond to the bridesmaids who wait on the May-queen.(355) Again, the story, dear to poets and artists, of the forsaken and sleeping Ariadne waked and wedded by Dionysus, resembles so closely the little drama acted by French peasants of the Alps on May Day(356) that, considering the character of Dionysus as a god of vegetation, we can hardly help regarding it as the description of a spring ceremony corresponding to the French one. In point of fact the marriage of Dionysus and Ariadne is believed by Preller to have been acted every spring in Crete.(357) His evidence, indeed, is inconclusive, but the view itself is probable. If I am right in instituting the comparison, the chief difference between the French and the Greek ceremonies must have been that in the former the sleeper was the forsaken bridegroom, in the latter the forsaken bride; and the group of stars in the sky, in which fancy saw Ariadne’s wedding-crown,(358) could only have been a translation to heaven of the garland worn by the Greek girl who played the Queen of May.

On the whole, alike from the analogy of modern folk-custom and from the facts of ancient ritual and mythology, we are justified in concluding that the archaic forms of tree-worship disclosed by the spring and midsummer festivals of our peasants were practised by the Greeks and Romans in prehistoric times. Do then these forms of tree-worship help to explain the priesthood of Aricia, the subject of our inquiry? I believe they do. In the first place the attributes of Diana, the goddess of the Arician grove, are those of a tree-spirit or sylvan deity. Her sanctuaries were in groves, indeed every grove was her sanctuary,(359) and she is often associated with the wood-god Silvanus in inscriptions.(360) Like a tree-spirit, she helped women in travail, and in this respect her reputation appears to have stood high at the Arician grove, if we may judge from the votive offerings found on the spot.(361) Again, she was the patroness of wild animals;(362) just as in Finland the wood-god Tapio was believed to care for the wild creatures that roamed the wood, they being considered his cattle.(363) So, too, the Samogitians deemed the birds and beasts of the woods sacred, doubtless because they were under the protection of the god of the wood.(364) Again, there are indications that domestic cattle were protected by Diana,(365) as they certainly were supposed to be by Silvanus.(366) But we have seen that special influence over cattle is ascribed to wood-spirits; in Finland the herds enjoyed the protection of the wood-gods both while they were in their stalls and while they strayed in the forest.(367) Lastly, in the sacred spring which bubbled, and the perpetual fire which seems to have burned in the Arician grove,(368) we may perhaps detect traces of other attributes of forest gods, the power, namely, to make the rain to fall and the sun to shine.(369) This last attribute perhaps explains why Virbius, the companion deity of Diana at Nemi, was by some believed to be the sun.(370)

Thus the cult of the Arician grove was essentially that of a tree-spirit or wood deity. But our examination of European folk-custom demonstrated that a tree-spirit is frequently represented by a living person, who is regarded as an embodiment of the tree-spirit and possessed of its fertilising powers; and our previous survey of primitive belief proved that this conception of a god incarnate in a living man is common among rude races. Further we have seen that the living person who is believed to embody in himself the tree-spirit is often called a king, in which respect, again, he strictly represents the tree-spirit. For the sacred cedar of the Gilgit tribes is called, as we have seen, “the Dreadful King”;(371) and the chief forest god of the Finns, by name Tapio, represented as an old man with a brown beard, a high hat of fir-cones and a coat of tree-moss, was styled the Wood King, Lord of the Woodland, Golden King of the Wood.(372) May not then the King of the Wood in the Arician grove have been, like the King of May, the Grass King, and the like, an incarnation of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation? His title, his sacred office, and his residence in the grove all point to this conclusion, which is confirmed by his relation to the Golden Bough. For since the King of the Wood could only be assailed by him who had plucked the Golden Bough, his life was safe from assault so long as the bough or the tree on which it grew remained uninjured. In a sense, therefore, his life was bound up with that of the tree; and thus to some extent he stood to the tree in the same relation in which the incorporate or immanent tree-spirit stands to it. The representation of the tree-spirit both by the King of the Wood and by the Golden Bough (for it will hardly be disputed that the Golden Bough was looked upon as a very special manifestation of the divine life of the grove) need not surprise us, since we have found that the tree-spirit is not unfrequently thus represented in double, first by a tree or a bough, and second by a living person.

On the whole then, if we consider his double character as king and priest, his relation to the Golden Bough, and the strictly woodland character of the divinity of the grove, we may provisionally assume that the King of the Wood, like the May King and his congeners of Northern Europe, was deemed a living incarnation of the tree-spirit. As such he would be credited with those miraculous powers of sending rain and sunshine, making the crops to grow, women to bring forth, and flocks and herds to multiply, which are popularly ascribed to the tree-spirit itself. The reputed possessor of powers so exalted must have been a very important personage, and in point of fact his influence appears to have extended far and wide. For(373) in the days when the champaign country around was still parcelled out among the petty tribes who composed the Latin League, the sacred grove on the Alban Mountain is known to have been an object of their common reverence and care. And just as the kings of Cambodia used to send offerings to the mystic Kings of Fire and Water far in the dim depths of the tropical forest, so, we may well believe, from all sides of the broad Latian plain the eyes and steps of Italian pilgrims turned to the quarter where, standing sharply out against the faint blue line of the Apennines or the deeper blue of the distant sea, the Alban Mountain rose before them, the home of the mysterious priest of Nemi, the King of the Wood.


“O liebe flüchtige Seele Dir ist so bang und weh!”


§ 1.—Royal and priestly taboos.

In the preceding chapter we saw that in early society the king or priest is often thought to be endowed with supernatural powers or to be an incarnation of a deity; in consequence of which the course of nature is supposed to be more or less under his control, and he is held responsible for bad weather, failure of the crops, and similar calamities. Thus far it appears to be assumed that the king’s power over nature, like that over his subjects and slaves, is exerted through definite acts of will; and therefore if drought, famine, pestilence, or storms arise, the people attribute the misfortune to the negligence or guilt of their king, and punish him accordingly with stripes and bonds, or, if he remains obdurate, with deposition and death. Sometimes, however, the course of nature, while regarded as dependent on the king, is supposed to be partly independent of his will. His person is considered, if we may express it so, as the dynamical centre of the universe, from which lines of force radiate to all quarters of the heaven; so that any motion of his—the turning of his head, the lifting of his hand—instantaneously affects and may seriously disturb some part of nature. He is the point of support on which hangs the balance of the world; and the slightest irregularity on his part may overthrow the delicate equipoise. The greatest care must, therefore, be taken both by and of him; and his whole life, down to its minutest details, must be so regulated that no act of his, voluntary or involuntary, may disarrange or upset the established order of nature. Of this class of monarchs the Mikado or Dairi, the spiritual emperor of Japan, is a typical example. He is an incarnation of the sun goddess, the deity who rules the universe, gods and men included; once a year all the gods wait upon him and spend a month at his court. During that month, the name of which means “without gods,” no one frequents the temples, for they are believed to be deserted.(374)

The following description of the Mikado’s mode of life was written about two hundred years ago:(375)—

“Even to this day the princes descended of this family, more particularly those who sit on the throne, are looked upon as persons most holy in themselves, and as Popes by birth. And, in order to preserve these advantageous notions in the minds of their subjects, they are obliged to take an uncommon care of their sacred persons, and to do such things, which, examined according to the customs of other nations, would be thought ridiculous and impertinent. It will not be improper to give a few instances of it. He thinks that it would be very prejudicial to his dignity and holiness to touch the ground with his feet; for this reason, when he intends to go anywhere, he must be carried thither on men’s shoulders. Much less will they suffer that he should expose his sacred person to the open air, and the sun is not thought worthy to shine on his head. There is such a holiness ascribed to all the parts of his body, that he dares to cut off neither his hair, nor his beard, nor his nails. However, lest he should grow too dirty, they may clean him in the night when he is asleep; because, they say, that which is taken from his body at that time hath been stolen from him, and that such a theft doth not prejudice his holiness or dignity. In ancient times, he was obliged to sit on the throne for some hours every morning, with the imperial crown on his head, but to sit altogether like a statue, without stirring either hands or feet, head or eyes, nor indeed any part of his body, because, by this means, it was thought that he could preserve peace and tranquillity in his empire; for if, unfortunately, he turned himself on one side or the other, or if he looked a good while towards any part of his dominions, it was apprehended that war, famine, fire, or some great misfortune was near at hand to desolate the country. But it having been afterwards discovered that the imperial crown was the palladium which by its mobility could preserve peace in the empire, it was thought expedient to deliver his imperial person, consecrated only to idleness and pleasures, from this burthensome duty, and therefore the crown is at present placed on the throne for some hours every morning. His victuals must be dressed every time in new pots, and served at table in new dishes: both are very clean and neat, but made only of common clay; that without any considerable expense they may be laid aside, or broken, after they have served once. They are generally broke, for fear they should come into the hands of laymen, for they believe religiously that if any layman should presume to eat his food out of these sacred dishes, it would swell and inflame his mouth and throat. The like ill effect is dreaded from the Dairi’s sacred habits; for they believe that if a layman should wear them, without the Emperor’s express leave or command, they would occasion swellings and pains in all parts of his body.” To the same effect an earlier account of the Mikado says: “It was considered as a shameful degradation for him even to touch the ground with his foot. The sun and moon were not even permitted to shine upon his head. None of the superfluities of the body were ever taken from him, neither his hair, his beard, nor his nails were cut. Whatever he eat was dressed in new vessels.”(376)

Similar priestly or rather divine kings are found, at a lower level of barbarism, on the west coast of Africa. At Shark Point near Cape Padron, in Lower Guinea, lives the priestly king Kukulu, alone in a wood. He may not touch a woman nor leave his house; indeed he may not even quit his chair, in which he is obliged to sleep sitting, for if he lay down no wind would arise and navigation would be stopped. He regulates storms, and in general maintains a wholesome and equable state of the atmosphere.(377) In the kingdom of Congo (West Africa) there was a supreme pontiff called Chitomé or Chitombé, whom the negroes regarded as a god on earth and all powerful in heaven. Hence before they would taste the new crops they offered him the first-fruits, fearing that manifold misfortunes would befall them if they broke this rule. When he left his residence to visit other places within his jurisdiction, all married people had to observe strict continence the whole time he was out; for it was supposed that any act of incontinence would prove fatal to him. And if he were to die a natural death, they thought that the world would perish, and the earth, which he alone sustained by his power and merit, would immediately be annihilated.(378) Amongst the semi-barbarous nations of the New World, at the date of the Spanish conquest, there were found hierarchies or theocracies like those of Japan. Some of these we have already noticed.(379) But the high pontiff of the Zapotecs in Southern Mexico appears to have presented a still closer parallel to the Mikado. A powerful rival to the king himself, this spiritual lord governed Yopaa, one of the chief cities of the kingdom, with absolute dominion. It is impossible, we are told, to over-rate the reverence in which he was held. He was looked on as a god whom the earth was not worthy to hold nor the sun to shine upon. He profaned his sanctity if he even touched the ground with his foot. The officers who bore his palanquin on their shoulders were members of the highest families; he hardly deigned to look on anything around him; and all who met him fell with their faces to the earth, fearing that death would overtake them if they saw even his shadow. A rule of continence was regularly imposed on the Zapotec priests, especially upon the high pontiff; but “on certain days in each year, which were generally celebrated with feasts and dances, it was customary for the high priest to become drunk. While in this state, seeming to belong neither to heaven nor to earth, one of the most beautiful of the virgins consecrated to the service of the gods was brought to him.” If the child she bore him was a son, he was brought up as a prince of the blood, and the eldest son succeeded his father on the pontifical throne.(380) The supernatural powers attributed to this pontiff are not specified, but probably they resembled those of the Mikado and Chitomé.

Wherever, as in Japan and West Africa, it is supposed that the order of nature, and even the existence of the world, is bound up with the life of the king or priest, it is clear that he must be regarded by his subjects as a source both of infinite blessing and of infinite danger. On the one hand, the people have to thank him for the rain and sunshine which foster the fruits of the earth, for the wind which brings ships to their coasts, and even for the existence of the earth beneath their feet. But what he gives he can refuse; and so close is the dependence of nature on his person, so delicate the balance of the system of forces whereof he is the centre, that the slightest irregularity on his part may set up a tremor which shall shake the earth to its foundations. And if nature may be disturbed by the slightest involuntary act of the king, it is easy to conceive the convulsion which his death might occasion. The death of the Chitomé, as we have seen, was thought to entail the destruction of the world. Clearly, therefore, out of a regard for their own safety, which might be imperilled by any rash act of the king, and still more by his death, the people will exact of their king or priest a strict conformity to those rules, the observance of which is necessary for his own preservation, and consequently for the preservation of his people and the world. The idea that early kingdoms are despotisms in which the people exist only for the sovereign, is wholly inapplicable to the monarchies we are considering. On the contrary, the sovereign in them exists only for his subjects; his life is only valuable so long as he discharges the duties of his position by ordering the course of nature for his people’s benefit. So soon as he fails to do so the care, the devotion, the religious homage which they had hitherto lavished on him, cease and are changed into hatred and contempt; he is dismissed ignominiously, and may be thankful if he escapes with his life. Worshipped as a god by them one day, he is killed by them as a criminal the next. But in this changed behaviour of the people there is nothing capricious or inconsistent. On the contrary, their conduct is entirely of a piece. If their king is their god, he is or should be also their preserver; and if he will not preserve them, he must make room for another who will. So long, however, as he answers their expectations, there is no limit to the care which they take of him, and which they compel him to take of himself. A king of this sort lives hedged in by a ceremonious etiquette, a network of prohibitions and observances, of which the intention is not to contribute to his dignity, much less to his comfort, but to restrain him from conduct which, by disturbing the harmony of nature, might involve himself, his people, and the universe in one common catastrophe. Far from adding to his comfort, these observances, by trammelling his every act, annihilate his freedom and often render the very life, which it is their object to preserve, a burden and sorrow to him.

Of the supernaturally endowed kings of Loango it is said that the more powerful a king is, the more taboos is he bound to observe; they regulate all his actions, his walking and his standing, his eating and drinking, his sleeping and waking.(381) To these restraints the heir to the throne is subject from infancy; but as he advances in life the number of abstinences and ceremonies which he must observe increases, “until at the moment that he ascends the throne he is lost in the ocean of rites and taboos.”(382) The kings of Egypt, as we have seen,(383) were worshipped as gods, and the routine of their daily life was regulated in every detail by precise and unvarying rules. “The life of the kings of Egypt,” says Diodorus,(384) “was not like that of other monarchs who are irresponsible and may do just what they choose; on the contrary, everything was fixed for them by law, not only their official duties, but even the details of their daily life.... The hours both of day and night were arranged at which the king had to do, not what he pleased, but what was prescribed for him.... For not only were the times appointed at which he should transact public business or sit in judgment; but the very hours for his walking and bathing and sleeping with his wife, and, in short, performing every act of life, were all settled. Custom enjoined a simple diet; the only flesh he might eat was veal and goose, and he might only drink a prescribed quantity of wine.” Of the taboos imposed on priests, the rules of life observed by the Flamen Dialis at Rome furnish a striking example. As the worship of Virbius at Nemi was conducted, as we have seen,(385) by a Flamen, who may possibly have been the King of the Wood himself, and whose mode of life may have resembled that of the Roman Flamen, these rules have a special interest for us. They were such as the following: The Flamen Dialis might not ride or even touch a horse, nor see an army under arms, nor wear a ring which was not broken, nor have a knot on any part of his garments; no fire except a sacred fire might be taken out of his house; he might not touch wheaten flour or leavened bread; he might not touch or even name a goat, a dog, raw meat, beans, and ivy; he might not walk under a vine; the feet of his bed had to be daubed with mud; his hair could be cut only by a free man and with a bronze knife, and his hair and nails when cut had to be buried under a lucky tree; he might not touch a dead body nor enter a place where one was burned; he might not see work being done on holy days; he might not be uncovered in the open air; if a man in bonds were taken into his house, he had to be unbound and the cords had to be drawn up through a hole in the roof and so let down into the street. His wife, the Flaminica, had to observe nearly the same rules, and others of her own besides. She might not ascend more than three steps of the kind of staircase called Greek; at a certain festival she might not comb her hair; the leather of her shoes might not be made from a beast that had died a natural death, but only from one that had been slain or sacrificed; if she heard thunder she was tabooed till she had offered an expiatory sacrifice.(386)

The burdensome observances attached to the royal or priestly office produced their natural effect. Either men refused to accept the office, which hence tended to fall into abeyance; or accepting it, they sank under its weight into spiritless creatures, cloistered recluses, from whose nerveless fingers the reigns of government slipped into the firmer grasp of men who were often content to wield the reality of sovereignty without its name. In some countries this rift in the supreme power deepened into a total and permanent separation of the spiritual and temporal powers, the old royal house retaining their purely religious functions, while the civil government passed into the hands of a younger and more vigorous race.

To take examples. We saw(387) that in Cambodia it is often necessary to force the kingships of Fire and Water upon the reluctant successors, and that in Savage Island the monarchy actually came to an end because at last no one could be induced to accept the dangerous distinction.(388) In some parts of West Africa, when the king dies, a family council is secretly held to determine his successor. He on whom the choice falls is suddenly seized, bound, and thrown into the fetish-house, where he is kept in durance till he consents to accept the crown. Sometimes the heir finds means of evading the honour which it is sought to thrust upon him; a ferocious chief has been known to go about constantly armed, resolute to resist by force any attempt to set him on the throne.(389) The Mikados of Japan seem early to have resorted to the expedient of transferring the honours and burdens of supreme power to their infant children; and the rise of the Tycoons, long the temporal sovereigns of the country, is traced to the abdication of a certain Mikado in favour of his three-year-old son. The sovereignty having been wrested by a usurper from the infant prince, the cause of the Mikado was championed by Yoritomo, a man of spirit and conduct, who overthrew the usurper and restored to the Mikado the shadow, while he retained for himself the substance, of power. He bequeathed to his descendants the dignity he had won, and thus became the founder of the line of Tycoons. Down to the latter half of the sixteenth century the Tycoons were active and efficient rulers; but the same fate overtook them which had befallen the Mikados; entangled in the same inextricable web of custom and law, they degenerated into mere puppets, hardly stirring from their palaces and occupied in a perpetual round of empty ceremonies, while the real business of government was managed by the council of state.(390) In Tonquin the monarchy ran a similar course. Living like his predecessors in effeminacy and sloth, the king was driven from the throne by an ambitious adventurer named Mack, who from a fisherman had risen to be Grand Mandarin. But the king’s brother Tring put down the usurper and restored the king, retaining, however, for himself and his descendants the dignity of general of all the forces. Thenceforward the kings or "dovas", though vested with the title and pomp of sovereignty, ceased to govern. While they lived secluded in their palaces, all real political power was wielded by the hereditary generals or "chovas".(391) The custom regularly observed by the Tahitian kings of abdicating on the birth of a son, who was immediately proclaimed sovereign and received his father’s homage, may perhaps have originated, like the similar custom occasionally practised by the Mikados, in a wish to shift to other shoulders the irksome burden of royalty; for in Tahiti as elsewhere the sovereign was subjected to a system of vexatious restrictions.(392) In Mangaia, another Polynesian island, religious and civil authority were lodged in separate hands, spiritual functions being discharged by a line of hereditary kings, while the temporal government was entrusted from time to time to a victorious war-chief, whose investiture, however, had to be completed by the king. To the latter were assigned the best lands, and he received daily offerings of the choicest food.(393) American examples of the partition of authority between an emperor and a pope have already been cited from the early history of Mexico and Colombia.(394)

§ 2.—The nature of the soul.

But if the object of the taboos observed by a divine king or priest is to preserve his life, the question arises, How is their observance supposed to effect this end? To understand this we must know the nature of the danger which threatens the king’s life, and which it is the intention of the taboos to guard against. We must, therefore, ask: What does early man understand by death? To what causes does he attribute it? And how does he think it may be guarded against?

As the savage commonly explains the processes of inanimate nature by supposing that they are produced by living beings working in or behind the phenomena, so he explains the phenomena of life itself. If an animal lives and moves, it can only be, he thinks, because there is a little animal inside which moves it. If a man lives and moves, it can only be because he has a little man inside who moves him. The animal inside the animal, the man inside the man, is the soul. And as the activity of an animal or man is explained by the presence of the soul, so the repose of sleep or death is explained by its absence; sleep or trance being the temporary, death being the permanent absence of the soul. Hence if death be the permanent absence of the soul, the way to guard against it is either to prevent the soul from leaving the body, or, if it does depart, to secure that it shall return. The precautions adopted by savages to secure one or other of these ends take the form of prohibitions or taboos, which are nothing but rules intended to ensure either the continued presence or the return of the soul. In short, they are life-preservers or life-guards. These general statements will now be illustrated by examples.

Addressing some Australian blacks, a European missionary said, “I am not one, as you think, but two.” Upon this they laughed. “You may laugh as much as you like,” continued the missionary, “I tell you that I am two in one; this great body that you see is one; within that there is another little one which is not visible. The great body dies, and is buried, but the little body flies away when the great one dies.” To this some of the blacks replied, “Yes, yes. We also are two, we also have a little body within the breast.” On being asked where the little body went after death, some said it went behind the bush, others said it went into the sea, and some said they did not know.(395) The Hurons thought that the soul had a head and body, arms and legs; in short, that it was a complete little model of the man himself.(396) The Eskimos believe that “the soul exhibits the same shape as the body it belongs to, but is of a more subtle and ethereal nature.”(397) So exact is the resemblance of the mannikin to the man, in other words, of the soul to the body, that, as there are fat bodies and thin bodies, so there are fat souls and thin souls;(398) as there are heavy bodies and light bodies, long bodies and short bodies, so there are heavy souls and light souls, long souls and short souls. The people of Nias (an island to the west of Sumatra) think that every man, before he is born, is asked how long or how heavy a soul he would like, and a soul of the desired weight or length is measured out to him. The heaviest soul ever given out weighs about ten grammes. The length of a man’s life is proportioned to the length of his soul; children who die young had short souls.(399) Sometimes, however, as we shall see, the human soul is conceived not in human but in animal form.

The soul is commonly supposed to escape by the natural openings of the body, especially the mouth and nostrils. Hence in Celebes they sometimes fasten fish-hooks to a sick man’s nose, navel, and feet, so that if his soul should try to escape it may be hooked and held fast.(400) One of the “properties” of a Haida medicine-man is a hollow bone, in which he bottles up departing souls, and so restores them to their owners.(401) The Marquesans used to hold the mouth and nose of a dying man, in order to keep him in life, by preventing his soul from escaping.(402) When any one yawns in their presence the Hindus always snap their thumbs, believing that this will hinder the soul from issuing through the open mouth.(403) The Itonamas in South America seal up the eyes, nose, and mouth of a dying person, in case his ghost should get out and carry off other people.(404) In Southern Celebes, to prevent the escape of a woman’s soul at childbirth, the nurse ties a band as tightly as possible round the body of the expectant mother.(405) And lest the soul of the babe should escape and be lost as soon as it is born, the Alfoers of Celebes, when a birth is about to take place, are careful to close every opening in the house, even the keyhole; and they stop up every chink and cranny in the walls. Also they tie up the mouths of all animals inside and outside the house, for fear one of them might swallow the child’s soul. For a similar reason all persons present in the house, even the mother herself, are obliged to keep their mouths shut the whole time the birth is taking place. When the question was put, Why they did not hold their noses also, lest the child’s soul should get into one of them? the answer was that breath being exhaled as well as inhaled through the nostrils, the soul would be expelled before it could have time to settle down.(406)

Often the soul is conceived as a bird ready to take flight. This conception has probably left traces in most languages,(407) and it lingers as a metaphor in poetry. But what is metaphor to a modern European poet was sober earnest to his savage ancestor, and is still so to many people. The Malays carry out the conception in question to its practical conclusion. If the soul is a bird on the wing, it may be attracted by rice, and so prevented from taking its perilous flight. Thus in Java when a child is placed on the ground for the first time (a moment which uncultured people seem to regard as especially dangerous), it is put in a hen-coop and the mother makes a clucking sound, as if she were calling hens.(408) Amongst the Battas of Sumatra, when a man returns from a dangerous enterprise, grains of rice are placed on his head, and these grains are called "padiruma tondi", that is, “means to make the soul ("tondi") stay at home.” In Java also rice is placed on the head of persons who have escaped a great danger or have returned home unexpectedly after it had been supposed that they were lost.(409) In Celebes they think that a bridegroom’s soul is apt to fly away at marriage, so coloured rice is scattered over him to induce it to stay. And, in general, at festivals in South Celebes rice is strewed on the head of the person in whose honour the festival is held, with the object of detaining his soul, which at such times is in especial danger of being lured away by envious demons.(410)

The soul of a sleeper is supposed to wander away from his body and actually to visit the very places of which he dreams. But this absence of the soul has its dangers, for if from any cause it should be permanently detained away from the body, the person, deprived of his soul, must die.(411) Many causes may detain the sleeper’s soul. Thus, his soul may meet the soul of another sleeper and the two souls may fight; if a Guinea negro wakens with sore bones in the morning, he thinks that his soul has been thrashed by another soul in sleep.(412) Or it may meet the soul of a person just deceased and be carried off by it; hence in the Aru Islands the inmates of a house will not sleep the night after a death has taken place in it, because the soul of the deceased is supposed to be still in the house and they fear to meet it in a dream.(413) Again, the soul may be prevented by physical force from returning. The Santals tell how a man fell asleep, and growing very thirsty, his soul, in the form of a lizard, left his body and entered a pitcher of water to drink. Just then the owner of the pitcher happened to cover it; so the soul could not return to the body and the man died. While his friends were preparing to burn the body some one uncovered the pitcher to get water. The lizard thus escaped and returned to the body, which immediately revived; so the man rose up and asked his friends why they were weeping. They told him they thought he was dead and were about to burn his body. He said he had been down a well to get water but had found it hard to get out and had just returned. So they saw it all.(414) A similar story is reported from Transylvania as follows. In the account of a witch’s trial at Mühlbach last century it is said that a woman had engaged two men to work in her vineyard. After noon they all lay down to rest as usual. An hour later the men got up and tried to waken the woman, but could not. She lay motionless with her mouth wide open. They came back at sunset and still she lay like a corpse. Just at that moment a big fly came buzzing past, which one of the men caught and shut up in his leathern pouch. Then they tried again to waken the woman but could not. Afterwards they let out the fly; it flew straight into the woman’s mouth and she awoke. On seeing this the men had no further doubt that she was a witch.(415)

It is a common rule with primitive people not to waken a sleeper, because his soul is away and might not have time to get back; so if the man wakened without his soul, he would fall sick. If it is absolutely necessary to waken a sleeper, it must be done very gradually, to allow the soul time to return.(416) In Bombay it is thought equivalent to murder to change the appearance of a sleeper, as by painting his face in fantastic colours or giving moustaches to a sleeping woman. For when the soul returns, it will not be able to recognise its body and the person will die.(417) The Servians believe that the soul of a sleeping witch often leaves her body in the form of a butterfly. If during its absence her body be turned round, so that her feet are placed where her head was before, the butterfly soul will not find its way back into her body through the mouth, and the witch will die.(418)

But in order that a man’s soul should quit his body, it is not necessary that he should be asleep. It may quit him in his waking hours, and then sickness or (if the absence is prolonged) death will be the result. Thus the Mongols sometimes explain sickness by supposing that the patient’s soul is absent, and either does not care to return to its body or cannot find the way back. To secure the return of the soul it is therefore necessary on the one hand to make its body as attractive as possible, and on the other hand to show it the way home. To make the body attractive all the sick man’s best clothes and most valued possessions are placed beside him; he is washed, incensed, and made as comfortable as possible; and all his friends march thrice round the hut calling out the sick man’s name and coaxing his soul to return. To help the soul to find its way back a coloured cord is stretched from the patient’s head to the door of the hut. The priest in his robes reads a list of the horrors of hell and the dangers incurred by souls which wilfully absent themselves from their bodies. Then turning to the assembled friends and the patient he asks, “Is it come?” All answer Yes, and bowing to the returning soul throw seed over the sick man. The cord which guided the soul back is then rolled up and placed round the patient’s neck, who must wear it for seven days without taking it off. No one may frighten or hurt him, lest his soul, not yet familiar with its body, should again take flight.(419) In an Indian story a king conveys his soul into the dead body of a Brahman, and a hunchback conveys his soul into the deserted body of the king. The hunchback is now king and the king is a Brahman. However, the hunchback is induced to show his skill by transferring his soul to the dead body of a parrot, and the king seizes the opportunity to regain possession of his own body.(420) In another Indian story a Brahman reanimates the dead body of a king by conveying his own soul into it. Meantime the Brahman’s body has been burnt, and his soul is obliged to remain in the body of the king.(421)

The departure of the soul is not always voluntary. It may be extracted from the body against its will by ghosts, demons, or sorcerers. Hence, when a funeral is passing the house, the Karens of Burma tie their children with a special kind of string to a particular part of the house, in case the souls of the children should leave their bodies and go into the corpse which is passing. The children are kept tied in this way until the corpse is out of sight.(422) And after the corpse has been laid in the grave, but before the earth has been filled in, the mourners and friends range themselves round the grave, each with a bamboo split lengthwise in one hand and a little stick in the other; each man thrusts his bamboo into the grave, and drawing the stick along the groove of the bamboo points out to his soul that in this way it may easily climb up out of the grave. While the earth is being filled in, the bamboos are kept out of the way, lest the souls should be in them, and so should be inadvertently buried with the earth as it is being thrown into the grave; and when the people leave the spot they carry away the bamboos, begging their souls to come with them.(423) Further, on returning from the grave each Karen provides himself with three little hooks made of branches of trees, and calling his spirit to follow him, at short intervals, as he returns, he makes a motion as if hooking it, and then thrusts the hook into the ground. This is done to prevent the soul of the living from staying behind with the soul of the dead.(424) When a mother dies leaving a young baby, the Burmese think that the “butterfly” or soul of the baby follows that of the mother, and that if it is not recovered the child must die. So a wise woman is called in to get back the baby’s soul. She places a mirror near the corpse, and on the mirror a piece of feathery cotton down. Holding a cloth in her open hands at the foot of the mirror, she with wild words entreats the mother not to take with her the “butterfly” or soul of her child, but to send it back. As the gossamer down slips from the face of the mirror she catches it in the cloth and tenderly places it on the baby’s breast. The same ceremony is sometimes observed when one of two children that have played together dies, and is thought to be luring away the soul of its playmate to the spirit-land. It is sometimes performed also for a bereaved husband or wife.(425) In the Island of Keisar (East Indies) it is thought imprudent to go near a grave at night, lest the ghosts should catch and keep the soul of the passer-by.(426) The Key Islanders believe that the souls of their forefathers, angry at not receiving food, make people sick by detaining their souls. So they lay offerings of food on the grave and beg their ancestors to allow the soul of the sick to return or to drive it home speedily if it should be lingering by the way.(427)

In Bolang Mongondo, a district in the west of Celebes, all sickness is ascribed to the ancestral spirits who have carried off the patient’s soul. The object therefore is to bring back the patient’s soul and restore it to the sufferer. An eye-witness has thus described the attempted cure of a sick boy. The priestesses, who acted as physicians, made a doll of cloth and fastened it to the point of a spear, which an old woman held upright. Round this doll the priestesses danced, uttering charms, and chirruping as when one calls a dog. Then the old woman lowered the point of the spear a little, so that the priestesses could reach the doll. By this time the soul of the sick boy was supposed to be in the doll, having been brought into it by the incantations. So the priestesses approached it cautiously on tiptoe and caught the soul in the many-coloured cloths which they had been waving in the air. Then they laid the soul on the boy’s head, that is, they wrapped his head in the cloth in which the soul was supposed to be, and stood still for some moments with great gravity, holding their hands on the patient’s head. Suddenly there was a jerk, the priestesses whispered and shook their heads, and the cloth was taken off—the soul had escaped. The priestesses gave chase to it, running round and round the house, clucking and gesticulating as if they were driving hens into a poultry-yard. At last they recaptured the soul at the foot of the stair and restored it to its owner as before.(428) Much in the same way an Australian medicine-man will sometimes bring the lost soul of a sick man into a puppet and restore it to the patient by pressing the puppet to his breast.(429) In Uea, one of the Loyalty Islands, the souls of the dead seem to have been credited with the power of stealing the souls of the living. For when a man was sick the soul-doctor would go with a large troop of men and women to the graveyard. Here the men played on flutes and the women whistled softly to lure the soul home. After this had gone on for some time they formed in procession and moved homewards, the flutes playing and the women whistling all the way, leading back the wandering soul and driving it gently along with open palms. On entering the patient’s dwelling they commanded the soul in a loud voice to enter his body.(430) In Madagascar, when a sick man had lost his soul, his friends went to the family tomb, and making a hole in it, begged the soul of the patient’s father to give them a soul for his son, who had none. So saying they clapped a bonnet on the hole, and folding up the soul in the bonnet, brought it to the patient, who put the bonnet on his head, and thus received a new soul or got back his old one.(431)

Often the abduction of a man’s soul is set down to demons. The Annamites believe that when a man meets a demon and speaks to him, the demon inhales the man’s breath and soul.(432) When a Dyak is about to leave a forest through which he has been walking alone, he never forgets to ask the demons to give him back his soul, for it may be that some forest-devil has carried it off. For the abduction of a soul may take place without its owner being aware of his loss, and it may happen either while he is awake or asleep.(433) In the Moluccas when a man is unwell it is thought that some devil has carried away his soul to the tree, mountain, or hill where he (the devil) dwells. A sorcerer having pointed out the devil’s abode, the friends of the patient carry thither cooked rice, fruit, fish, raw eggs, a hen, a chicken, a silken robe, gold, armlets, etc. Having set out the food in order they pray, saying: “We come to offer to you, O devil, this offering of food, clothes, gold, etc.; take it and release the soul of the patient for whom we pray. Let it return to his body and he who now is sick shall be made whole.” Then they eat a little and let the hen loose as a ransom for the soul of the patient; also they put down the raw eggs; but the silken robe, the gold, and the armlets they take home with them. As soon as they are come to the house they place a flat bowl containing the offerings which have been brought back at the sick man’s head, and say to him: “Now is your soul released, and you shall fare well and live to gray hairs on the earth.”(434) A more modern account from the same region describes how the friend of the patient, after depositing his offerings on the spot where the missing soul is supposed to be, calls out thrice the name of the sick person, adding, “Come with me, come with me.” Then he returns, making a motion with a cloth as if he had caught the soul in it. He must not look to right or left or speak a word to any one he meets, but must go straight to the patient’s house. At the door he stands, and calling out the sick person’s name, asks whether he is returned. Being answered from within that he is returned, he enters and lays the cloth in which he has caught the soul on the patient’s throat, saying, “Now you are returned to the house.” Sometimes a substitute is provided; a doll, dressed up in gay clothing and tinsel, is offered to the demon in exchange for the patient’s soul with these words, “Give us back the ugly one which you have taken away and receive this pretty one instead.”(435) Similarly the Mongols make up a horse of birch-bark and a doll, and invite the demon to take the doll instead of the patient and to ride away on the horse.(436)

Demons are especially feared by persons who have just entered on a new house. Hence at a house-warming among the Alfoers of Celebes the priest performs a ceremony for the purpose of restoring their souls to the inmates. He hangs up a bag at the place of sacrifice and then goes through a list of the gods. There are so many of them that this takes him the whole night through without stopping. In the morning he offers the gods an egg and some rice. By this time the souls of the household are supposed to be gathered in the bag. So the priest takes the bag, and holding it on the head of the master of the house says, “Here you have your soul—go (soul) to-morrow away again.” He then does the same, saying the same words, to the housewife and all the other members of the family.(437) Amongst the same Alfoers one way of recovering a sick man’s soul is to let down a bowl by a belt out of a window and fish for the soul till it is caught in the bowl and hauled up.(438) Among the same people, when a priest is bringing back a sick man’s soul which he has caught in a cloth, he is preceded by a girl holding the large leaf of a certain palm over his head as an umbrella to keep him and the soul from getting wet, in case it should rain; and he is followed by a man brandishing a sword to deter other souls from any attempt at rescuing the captured soul.(439)

The Samoans tell how two young wizards, passing a house where a chief lay very sick, saw a company of gods from the mountain sitting in the doorway. They were handing from one to another the soul of the dying chief. It was wrapped in a leaf, and had been passed from the gods inside the house to those sitting in the doorway. One of the gods handed the soul to one of the wizards, taking him for a god in the dark, for it was night. Then all the gods rose up and went away; but the wizard kept the chief’s soul. In the morning some women went with a present of fine mats to fetch a famous physician. The wizards were sitting on the shore as the women passed, and they said to the women, “Give us the mats and we will heal him.” So they went to the chief’s house. He was very ill, his jaw hung down, and his end seemed near. But the wizards undid the leaf and let the soul into him again, and forthwith he brightened up and lived.(440)

The Battas of Sumatra believe that the soul of a living man may transmigrate into the body of an animal. Hence, for example, the doctor is sometimes desired to extract the patient’s soul from the body of a fowl, in which it has been hidden away by an evil spirit.(441)

Sometimes the lost soul is brought back in a visible shape. In Melanesia a woman knowing that a neighbour was at the point of death heard a rustling in her house, as of a moth fluttering, just at the moment when a noise of weeping and lamentation told her that the soul was flown. She caught the fluttering thing between her hands and ran with it, crying out that she had caught the soul. But though she opened her hands above the mouth of the corpse, it did not revive.(442) The Salish or Flathead Indians of Oregon believe that a man’s soul may be separated for a time from his body without causing death and without the man being aware of his loss. It is necessary, however, that the lost soul should be soon found and restored to the man or he will die. The name of the man who has lost his soul is revealed in a dream to the medicine-man, who hastens to inform the sufferer of his loss. Generally a number of men have sustained a like loss at the same time; all their names are revealed to the medicine-man, and all employ him to recover their souls. The whole night long these soulless men go about the village from lodge to lodge, dancing and singing. Towards daybreak they go into a separate lodge, which is closed up so as to be totally dark. A small hole is then made in the roof, through which the medicine-man, with a bunch of feathers, brushes in the souls, in the shape of bits of bone and the like, which he receives on a piece of matting. A fire is next kindled, by the light of which the medicine-man sorts out the souls. First he puts aside the souls of dead people, of which there are usually several; for if he were to give the soul of a dead person to a living man, the man would die instantly. Next he picks out the souls of all the persons present, and making them all to sit down before him, he takes the soul of each, in the shape of a splinter of bone, wood, or shell, and placing it on the owner’s head, pats it with many prayers and contortions till it descends into the heart and so resumes its proper place.(443) In Amboina the sorcerer, to recover a soul detained by demons, plucks a branch from a tree, and waving it to and fro as if to catch something, calls out the sick man’s name. Returning he strikes the patient over the head and body with the branch, into which the lost soul is supposed to have passed, and from which it returns to the patient.(444) In the Babar Islands offerings for evil spirits are laid at the root of a great tree ("wokiorai"), from which a leaf is plucked and pressed on the patient’s forehead and breast; the lost soul, which is in the leaf, is thus restored to its owner.(445) In some other islands of the same seas, when a man returns ill and speechless from the forest, it is inferred that the evil spirits which dwell in the great trees have caught and kept his soul. Offerings of food are therefore left under a tree and the soul is brought home in a piece of wax.(446) Amongst the Dyaks of Sarawak the priest conjures the lost soul into a cup, where it is seen by the uninitiated as a lock of hair, but by the initiated as a miniature human being. This is supposed to be thrust by the priest into a hole in the top of the patient’s head.(447) In Nias the sick man’s soul is restored to him in the shape of a firefly, visible only to the sorcerer, who catches it in a cloth and places it on the forehead of the patient.(448)

Again, souls may be extracted from their bodies or detained on their wanderings not only by ghosts and demons but also by men, especially by sorcerers. In Fiji if a criminal refused to confess, the chief sent for a scarf with which “to catch away the soul of the rogue.” At the sight, or even at the mention of the scarf the culprit generally made a clean breast. For if he did not, the scarf would be waved over his head till his soul was caught in it, when it would be carefully folded up and nailed to the end of a chief’s canoe; and for want of his soul the criminal would pine and die.(449) The sorcerers of Danger Island used to set snares for souls. The snares were made of stout cinet, about fifteen to thirty feet long, with loops on either side of different sizes, to suit the different sizes of souls; for fat souls there were large loops, for thin souls there were small ones. When a man was sick against whom the sorcerers had a grudge, they set up these soul-snares near his house and watched for the flight of his soul. If in the shape of a bird or an insect it was caught in the snare the man would infallibly die.(450) Among the Sereres of Senegambia, when a man wishes to revenge himself on his enemy he goes to the "Fitaure" (chief and priest in one), and prevails on him by presents to conjure the soul of his enemy into a large jar of red earthenware, which is then deposited under a consecrated tree. The man whose soul is shut up in the jar soon dies.(451) Some of the Congo negroes think that enchanters can get possession of human souls, and enclosing them in tusks of ivory, sell them to the white man, who makes them work for him in his country under the sea. It is believed that very many of the coast labourers are men thus obtained; so when these people go to trade they often look anxiously about for their dead relations. The man whose soul is thus sold into slavery will die “in due course, if not at the time.”(452)

In Hawaii there were sorcerers who caught souls of living people, shut them up in calabashes, and gave them to people to eat. By squeezing a captured soul in their hands they discovered the place where people had been secretly buried.(453) Amongst the Canadian Indians, when a wizard wished to kill a man, he sent out his familiar spirits, who brought him the victim’s soul in the shape of a stone or the like. The wizard struck the soul with a sword or an axe till it bled profusely, and as it bled the man to whom it belonged languished and died.(454) In Amboina if a doctor is convinced that a patient’s soul has been carried away by a demon beyond recovery, he seeks to supply its place with a soul abstracted from another man. For this purpose he goes by night to a house and asks, “Who’s there?” If an inmate is incautious enough to answer, the doctor takes up from before the door a clod of earth, into which the soul of the person who replied is believed to have passed. This clod the doctor lays under the sick man’s pillow, and performs certain ceremonies by which the stolen soul is conveyed into the patient’s body. Then as he goes home the doctor fires two shots to frighten the soul from returning to its proper owner.(455) A Karen wizard will catch the wandering soul of a sleeper and transfer it to the body of a dead man. The latter, therefore, comes to life as the former dies. But the friends of the sleeper in turn engage a wizard to steal the soul of another sleeper, who dies as the first sleeper comes to life. In this way an indefinite succession of deaths and resurrections is supposed to take place.(456)

The Indians of the Nass River, British Columbia, think that a doctor may swallow his patient’s soul by mistake. A doctor who is believed to have done so is made by the other doctors to stand over the patient, while one of them thrusts his fingers down the doctor’s throat, another kneads him in the stomach with his knuckles, and a third slaps him on the back. If the soul is not in him after all, and if the same process has been repeated upon all the doctors without success, it is concluded that the soul must be in the head-doctor’s box. A party of doctors, therefore, waits upon him at his house and requests him to produce his box. When he has done so and arranged its contents on a new mat, they take him and hold him up by the heels with his head in a hole in the floor. In this position they wash his head, and “any water remaining from the ablution is taken and poured upon the sick man’s head.”(457)

Other examples of the recall and recovery of souls will be found referred to beneath.(458)

But the spiritual dangers I have enumerated are not the only ones which beset the savage. Often he regards his shadow or reflection as his soul, or at all events as a vital part of himself, and as such it is necessarily a source of danger to him. For if it is trampled upon, struck, or stabbed, he will feel the injury as if it were done to his person; and if it is detached from him entirely (as he believes that it may be) he will die. In the island of Wetar there are magicians who can make a man ill by stabbing his shadow with a pike or hacking it with a sword.(459) After Sankara had destroyed the Buddhists in India, it is said that he journeyed to Nepaul, where he had some difference of opinion with the Grand Lama. To prove his supernatural powers, he soared into the air. But as he mounted up, the Grand Lama, perceiving his shadow swaying and wavering on the ground, struck his knife into it and down fell Sankara and broke his neck.(460) In the Babar Islands the demons get power over a man’s soul by holding fast his shadow, or by striking and wounding it.(461) There are stones in Melanesia on which, if a man’s shadow falls, the demon of the stone can draw out his soul.(462) In Amboina and Uliase, two islands near the equator, and where, therefore, there is little or no shadow cast at noon, it is a rule not to go out of the house at mid-day, because it is supposed that by doing so a man may lose the shadow of his soul.(463) The Mangaians tell of a mighty warrior, Tukaitawa, whose strength waxed and waned with the length of his shadow. In the morning, when his shadow fell longest, his strength was greatest; but as the shadow shortened towards noon his strength ebbed with it, till exactly at noon it reached its lowest point; then, as the shadow stretched out in the afternoon, his strength returned. A certain hero discovered the secret of Tukaitawa’s strength and slew him at noon.(464) It is possible that even in lands outside the tropics the fact of the diminished shadow at noon may have contributed, even if it did not give rise, to the superstitious dread with which that hour has been viewed by various peoples, as by the Greeks, ancient and modern, and by the Roumanians of Transylvania.(465) In this fact, too, we may perhaps detect the reason why noon was chosen by the Greeks as the hour for sacrificing to the shadowless dead.(466) The ancients believed that in Arabia if a hyaena trod on a man’s shadow it deprived him of the power of speech and motion; and that if a dog, standing on a roof in the moonlight, cast a shadow on the ground and a hyaena trod on it, the dog would fall down as if dragged with a rope.(467) Clearly in these cases the shadow, if not equivalent to the soul, is at least regarded as a living part of the man or the animal, so that injury done to the shadow is felt by the person or animal as if it were done to his body. Whoever entered the sanctuary of Zeus on Mount Lycaeus in Arcadia was believed to lose his shadow and to die within the year.(468) Nowhere, perhaps, does the equivalence of the shadow to the life or soul come out more clearly than in some customs practised to this day in South-Eastern Europe. In modern Greece, when the foundation of a new building is being laid, it is the custom to kill a cock, a ram, or a lamb, and to let its blood flow on the foundation stone, under which the animal is afterwards buried. The object of the sacrifice is to give strength and stability to the building. But sometimes, instead of killing an animal, the builder entices a man to the foundation stone, secretly measures his body, or a part of it, or his shadow, and buries the measure under the foundation stone; or he lays the foundation stone upon the man’s shadow. It is believed that the man will die within the year.(469) The Bulgarians still observe a similar custom. If they cannot get a human shadow they measure the shadow of the first animal that comes that way.(470) The Roumanians of Transylvania think that he whose shadow is thus immured will die within forty days; so persons passing by a building which is in course of erection may hear a warning cry, “Beware lest they take thy shadow!” Not long ago there were still shadow-traders whose business it was to provide architects with the shadows necessary for securing their walls.(471) In these cases the measure of the shadow is looked on as equivalent to the shadow itself, and to bury it is to bury the life or soul of the man, who, deprived of it, must die. Thus the custom is a substitute for the old custom of immuring a living person in the walls, or crushing him under the foundation stone of a new building, in order to give strength and durability to the structure.

As some peoples believe a man’s soul to be in his shadow, so other (or the same) peoples believe it to be in his reflection in water or a mirror. Thus “the Andamanese do not regard their shadows but their reflections (in any mirror) as their souls.”(472) Some of the Fijians thought that man has two souls, a light one and a dark one; the dark one goes to Hades, the light one is his reflection in water or a mirror.(473) When the Motumotu of New Guinea first saw their likenesses in a looking-glass they thought that their reflections were their souls.(474) The reflection-soul, being external to the man, is exposed to much the same dangers as the shadow-soul. As the shadow may be stabbed, so may the reflection. Hence an Aztec mode of keeping sorcerers from the house was to leave a vessel of water with a knife in it behind the door. When a sorcerer entered he was so much alarmed at seeing his reflection in the water transfixed by a knife that he turned and fled.(475) The Zulus will not look into a dark pool because they think there is a beast in it which will take away their reflections, so that they die.(476) The Basutos say that crocodiles have the power of thus killing a man by dragging his reflection under water.(477) In Saddle Island (Melanesia) there is a pool “into which if any one looks he dies; the malignant spirit takes hold upon his life by means of his reflection on the water.”(478)

We can now understand why it was a maxim both in ancient India and ancient Greece not to look at one’s reflection in water, and why the Greeks regarded it as an omen of death if a man dreamed of seeing himself so reflected.(479) They feared that the water-spirits would drag the person’s reflection (soul) under water, leaving him soulless to die. This was probably the origin of the classical story of the beautiful Narcissus, who pined and died in consequence of seeing his reflection in the water. The explanation that he died for love of his own fair image was probably devised later, after the old meaning of the story was forgotten. The same ancient belief lingers, in a faded form, in the English superstition that whoever sees a water-fairy must pine and die.

“Alas, the moon should ever beam To show what man should never see!— I saw a maiden on a stream, And fair was she!

“I staid to watch, a little space, Her parted lips if she would sing; The waters closed above her face With many a ring.

“I know my life will fade away, I know that I must vainly pine, For I am made of mortal clay, But she’s divine!”

Further, we can now explain the widespread custom of covering up mirrors or turning them to the wall after a death has taken place in the house. It is feared that the soul, projected out of the person in the shape of his reflection in the mirror, may be carried off by the ghost of the departed, which is commonly supposed to linger about the house till the burial. The custom is thus exactly parallel to the Aru custom of not sleeping in a house after a death for fear that the soul, projected out of the body in a dream, may meet the ghost and be carried off by it.(480) In Oldenburg it is thought that if a person sees his image in a mirror after a death he will die himself. So all the mirrors in the house are covered up with white cloth.(481) In some parts of Germany after a death not only the mirrors but everything that shines or glitters (windows, clocks, etc.) is covered up,(482) doubtless because they might reflect a person’s image. The same custom of covering up mirrors or turning them to the wall after a death prevails in England, Scotland, and Madagascar.(483) The Suni Mohammedans of Bombay cover with a cloth the mirror in the room of a dying man and do not remove it until the corpse is carried out for burial. They also cover the looking-glasses in their bedrooms before retiring to rest at night.(484) The reason why sick people should not see themselves in a mirror, and why the mirror in a sick-room is therefore covered up,(485) is also plain; in time of sickness, when the soul might take flight so easily, it is particularly dangerous to project the soul out of the body by means of the reflection in a mirror. The rule is therefore precisely parallel to the rule observed by some peoples of not allowing sick people to sleep;(486) for in sleep the soul is projected out of the body, and there is always a risk that it may not return. “In the opinion of the Raskolniks a mirror is an accursed thing, invented by the devil,”(487) perhaps on account of the mirror’s supposed power of drawing out the soul in the reflection and so facilitating its capture.

As with shadows and reflections, so with portraits; they are often believed to contain the soul of the person portrayed. People who hold this belief are naturally loth to have their likenesses taken; for if the portrait is the soul, or at least a vital part of the person portrayed, whoever possesses the portrait will be able to exercise a fatal influence over the original of it. Thus the Canelos Indians of South America think that their soul is carried away in their picture. Two of them having been photographed were so alarmed that they came back next day on purpose to ask if it were really true that their souls had been taken away.(488) When Mr. Joseph Thomson tried to photograph some of the Wa-teita in Eastern Africa, they imagined that he was a magician trying to get possession of their souls, and that if he got their likenesses they themselves would be entirely at his mercy.(489) An Indian, whose portrait the Prince of Wied wished to get, refused to let himself be drawn, because he believed it would cause his death.(490) The Mandans also thought that they would soon die if their portrait was in the hands of another; they wished at least to have the artist’s picture as a kind of antidote or guarantee.(491) The same belief still lingers in various parts of Europe. Some old women in the Greek island of Carpathus were very angry a few years ago at having their likenesses drawn, thinking that in consequence they would pine and die.(492) Some people in Russia object to having their silhouettes taken, fearing that if this is done they will die before the year is out.(493) There are persons in the West of Scotland “who refuse to have their likeness taken lest it prove unlucky; and give as instances the cases of several of their friends who never had a day’s health after being photographed.”(494)

§ 3.—Royal and priestly taboos (continued).

So much for the primitive conceptions of the soul and the dangers to which it is exposed. These conceptions are not limited to one people or country; with variations of detail they are found all over the world, and survive, as we have seen, in modern Europe. Beliefs so deep-seated and so widespread must necessarily have contributed to shape the mould in which the early kingship was cast. For if every individual was at such pains to save his own soul from the perils which threatened it from so many sides, how much more carefully must "he" have been guarded upon whose life hung the welfare and even the existence of the whole people, and whom therefore it was the common interest of all to preserve? Therefore we should expect to find the king’s life protected by a system of precautions or safeguards still more numerous and minute than those which in primitive society every man adopts for the safety of his own soul. Now in point of fact the life of the early kings is regulated, as we have seen and shall see more fully presently, by a very exact code of rules. May we not then conjecture that these rules are the very safeguards which on "à priori" grounds we expect to find adopted for the protection of the king’s life? An examination of the rules themselves confirms this conjecture. For from this it appears that some of the rules observed by the kings are identical with those observed by private persons out of regard for the safety of their souls; and even of those which seem peculiar to the king, many, if not all, are most readily explained on the hypothesis that they are nothing but safeguards or lifeguards of the king. I will now enumerate some of these royal rules or taboos, offering on each of them such comments and explanations as may serve to set the original intention of the rule in its proper light.

As the object of the royal taboos is to isolate the king from all sources of danger, their general effect is to compel him to live in a state of seclusion, more or less complete, according to the number and stringency of the taboos he observes. Now of all sources of danger none are more dreaded by the savage than magic and witchcraft, and he suspects all strangers of practising these black arts. To guard against the baneful influence exerted voluntarily or involuntarily by strangers is therefore an elementary dictate of savage prudence. Hence before strangers are allowed to enter a district, or at least before they are permitted to mingle freely with the people of the district, certain ceremonies are often performed by the natives of the country for the purpose of disarming the strangers of their magical powers, of counteracting the baneful influence which is believed to emanate from them, or of disinfecting, so to speak, the tainted atmosphere by which they are supposed to be surrounded. Thus in the island of Nanumea (South Pacific) strangers from ships or from other islands were not allowed to communicate with the people until they all, or a few as representatives of the rest, had been taken to each of the four temples in the island, and prayers offered that the god would avert any disease or treachery which these strangers might have brought with them. Meat offerings were also laid upon the altars, accompanied by songs and dances in honour of the god. While these ceremonies were going on, all the people except the priests and their attendants kept out of sight.(495) On returning from an attempted ascent of the great African mountain Kilimanjaro, which is believed by the neighbouring tribes to be tenanted by dangerous demons, Mr. New and his party, as soon as they reached the border of the inhabited country, were disenchanted by the inhabitants, being sprinkled with “a professionally prepared liquor, supposed to possess the potency of neutralising evil influences, and removing the spell of wicked spirits.”(496) In the interior of Yoruba (West Africa) the sentinels at the gates of towns often oblige European travellers to wait till nightfall before they admit them, the fear being that if the strangers were admitted by day the devils would enter behind them.(497) Amongst the Ot Danoms of Borneo it is the custom that strangers entering the territory should pay to the natives a certain sum, which is spent in the sacrifice of animals (buffaloes or pigs) to the spirits of the land and water, in order to reconcile them to the presence of the strangers, and to induce them not to withdraw their favour from the people of the land, but to bless the rice-harvest, etc.(498) The men of a certain district in Borneo, fearing to look upon a European traveller lest he should make them ill, warned their wives and children not to go near him. These who could not restrain their curiosity killed fowls to appease the evil spirits and smeared themselves with the blood.(499) In Laos before a stranger can be accorded hospitality the master of the house must offer sacrifice to the ancestral spirits; otherwise the spirits would be offended and would send disease on the inmates.(500) In the Mentawej Islands when a stranger enters a house where there are children, the father or other member of the family takes the ornament which the children wear in their hair and hands it to the stranger, who holds it in his hands for a while and then gives it back to him. This is thought to protect the children from the evil effect which the sight of a stranger might have upon them.(501) At Shepherd’s Isle Captain Moresby had to be disenchanted before he was allowed to land his boat’s crew. When he leaped ashore a devil-man seized his right hand and waved a bunch of palm leaves over the captain’s head. Then “he placed the leaves in my left hand, putting a small green twig into his mouth, still holding me fast, and then, as if with great effort, drew the twig from his mouth—this was extracting the evil spirit—after which he blew violently, as if to speed it away. I now held a twig between my teeth, and he went through the same process.” Then the two raced round a couple of sticks fixed in the ground and bent to an angle at the top, which had leaves tied to it. After some more ceremonies the devil-man concluded by leaping to the level of Captain Moresby’s shoulders (his hands resting on the captain’s shoulders) several times, “as if to show that he had conquered the devil, and was now trampling him into the earth.”(502) North American Indians “have an idea that strangers, particularly white strangers, are ofttimes accompanied by evil spirits. Of these they have great dread, as creating and delighting in mischief. One of the duties of the medicine chief is to exorcise these spirits. I have sometimes ridden into or through a camp where I was unknown or unexpected, to be confronted by a tall, half-naked savage, standing in the middle of the circle of lodges, and yelling in a sing-song, nasal tone, a string of unintelligible words.”(503) When Crevaux was travelling in South America he entered a village of the Apalai Indians. A few moments after his arrival some of the Indians brought him a number of large black ants, of a species whose bite is painful, fastened on palm leaves. Then all the people of the village, without distinction of age or sex, presented themselves to him, and he had to sting them all with the ants on their faces, thighs, etc. Sometimes when he applied the ants too tenderly they called out “More! more!” and were not satisfied till their skin was thickly studded with tiny swellings like what might have been produced by whipping them with nettles.(504) The object of this ceremony is made plain by the custom observed in Amboina and Uliase of sprinkling sick people with pungent spices, such as ginger and cloves, chewed fine, in order by the prickling sensation to drive away the demon of disease which may be clinging to their persons.(505) With a similar intention some of the natives of Borneo and Celebes sprinkle rice upon the head or body of a person supposed to be infested by dangerous spirits; a fowl is then brought, which, by picking up the rice from the person’s head or body, removes along with it the spirit or ghost which is clinging like a burr to his skin. This is done, for example, to persons who have attended a funeral, and who may therefore be supposed to be infested by the ghost of the deceased.(506) Similarly Basutos, who have carried a corpse to the grave, have their hands scratched with a knife from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the forefinger, and magic stuff is rubbed into the wound,(507) for the purpose, no doubt, of removing the ghost which may be adhering to their skin. The people of Nias carefully scrub and scour the weapons and clothes which they buy, in order to efface all connection between the things and the persons from whom they bought them.(508) It is probable that the same dread of strangers, rather than any desire to do them honour, is the motive of certain ceremonies which are sometimes observed at their reception, but of which the intention is not directly stated. In Afghanistan and in some parts of Persia the traveller, before he enters a village, is frequently received with a sacrifice of animal life or food, or of fire and incense. The recent Afghan Boundary Mission, in passing by villages in Afghanistan, was often met with fire and incense.(509) Sometimes a tray of lighted embers is thrown under the hoofs of the traveller’s horse, with the words, “You are welcome.”(510) On entering a village in Central Africa Emin Pasha was received with the sacrifice of two goats; their blood was sprinkled on the path and the chief stepped over the blood to greet Emin.(511) Amongst the Eskimos of Cumberland Inlet, when a stranger arrives at an encampment, the sorcerer goes out to meet him. The stranger folds his arms and inclines his head to one side, so as to expose his cheek, upon which the sorcerer deals a terrible blow, sometimes felling him to the ground. Next the sorcerer in his turn presents his cheek and receives a buffet from the stranger. Then they kiss each other, the ceremony is over, and the stranger is hospitably received by all.(512) Sometimes the dread of strangers and their magic is too great to allow of their reception on any terms. Thus when Speke arrived at a certain village the natives shut their doors against him, “because they had never before seen a white man nor the tin boxes that the men were carrying: ‘Who knows,’ they said, ‘but that these very boxes are the plundering Watuta transformed and come to kill us? You cannot be admitted.’ No persuasion could avail with them, and the party had to proceed to the next village.”(513)

The fear thus entertained of alien visitors is often mutual. Entering a strange land, the savage feels that he is treading enchanted ground, and he takes steps to guard against the demons that haunt it and the magical arts of its inhabitants. Thus on going to a strange land the Maoris performed certain ceremonies to make it "noa" (common), lest it might have been previously "tapu" (sacred).(514) When Baron Miklucho-Maclay was approaching a village on the Maclay Coast of New Guinea, one of the natives who accompanied him broke a branch from a tree and going aside whispered to it for a while; then going up to each member of the party, one after another, he spat something upon his back and gave him some blows with the branch. Lastly, he went into the forest and buried the branch under withered leaves in the thickest part of the jungle. This ceremony was believed to protect the party against all treachery and danger in the village they were approaching.(515) The idea probably was that the malignant influences were drawn off from the persons into the branch and buried with it in the depths of the forest. In Australia, when a strange tribe has been invited into a district and is approaching the encampment of the tribe which owns the land, “the strangers carry lighted bark or burning sticks in their hands, for the purpose, they say, of clearing and purifying the air.”(516) So when two Greek armies were advancing to the onset, sacred men used to march in front of each, bearing lighted torches, which they flung into the space between the hosts and then retired unmolested.(517)

Again, it is thought that a man who has been on a journey may have contracted some magic evil from the strangers with whom he has been brought into contact. Hence on returning home, before he is readmitted to the society of his tribe and friends, he has to undergo certain purificatory ceremonies. Thus the Bechuanas “cleanse or purify themselves after journeys by shaving their heads, etc., lest they should have contracted from strangers some evil by witchcraft or sorcery.”(518) In some parts of Western Africa when a man returns home after a long absence, before he is allowed to visit his wife, he must wash his person with a particular fluid, and receive from the sorcerer a certain mark on his forehead, in order to counteract any magic spell which a stranger woman may have cast on him in his absence, and which might be communicated through him to the women of his village.(519) Two Hindoo ambassadors, who had been sent to England by a native prince and had returned to India, were considered to have so polluted themselves by contact with strangers that nothing but being born again could restore them to purity. “For the purpose of regeneration it is directed to make an image of pure gold of the female power of nature, in the shape either of a woman or of a cow. In this statue the person to be regenerated is enclosed, and dragged through the usual channel. As a statue of pure gold and of proper dimensions would be too expensive, it is sufficient to make an image of the sacred "Yoni", through which the person to be regenerated is to pass.” Such an image of pure gold was made at the prince’s command, and his ambassadors were born again by being dragged through it.(520) When Damaras return home after a long absence, they are given a small portion of the fat of particular animals which is supposed to possess certain virtues.(521) In some of the Moluccas, when a brother or young blood-relation returns from a long journey, a young girl awaits him at the door with a "caladi" leaf in her hand and water in the leaf. She throws the water over his face and bids him welcome.(522) The natives of Savage Island (South Pacific) invariably killed, not only all strangers in distress who were drifted to their shores, but also any of their own people who had gone away in a ship and returned home. This was done out of dread of disease. Long after they began to venture out to ships they would not immediately use the things they obtained from them, but hung them up in quarantine for weeks in the bush.(523)

When precautions like these are taken on behalf of the people in general against the malignant influence supposed to be exercised by strangers, we shall not be surprised to find that special measures are adopted to protect the king from the same insidious danger. In the middle ages the envoys who visited a Tartar Khan were obliged to pass between two fires before they were admitted to his presence, and the gifts they brought were also carried between the fires. The reason assigned for the custom was that the fire purged away any magic influence which the strangers might mean to exercise over the Khan.(524) When subject chiefs come with their retinues to visit Kalamba (the most powerful chief of the Bashilange in the Congo Basin) for the first time or after being rebellious, they have to bathe, men and women together, in two brooks on two successive days, passing the nights in the open air in the market-place. After the second bath they proceed, entirely naked, to the house of Kalamba, who makes a long white mark on the breast and forehead of each of them. Then they return to the market-place and dress, after which they undergo the pepper ordeal. Pepper is dropped into the eyes of each of them, and while this is being done the sufferer has to make a confession of all his sins, to answer all questions that may be put to him, and to take certain vows. This ends the ceremony, and the strangers are now free to take up their quarters in the town for as long as they choose to remain.(525) At Kilema, in Eastern Africa, when a stranger arrives, a medicine is made out of a certain plant or a tree fetched from a distance, mixed with the blood of a sheep or goat. With this mixture the stranger is besmeared or besprinkled before he is admitted to the presence of the king.(526) The King of Monomotapa (South-East Africa) might not wear any foreign stuffs for fear of their being poisoned.(527) The King of Kakongo (West Africa) might not possess or even touch European goods, except metals, arms, and articles made of wood and ivory. Persons wearing foreign stuffs were very careful to keep at a distance from his person, lest they should touch him.(528) The King of Loango might not look upon the house of a white man.(529)

In the opinion of savages the acts of eating and drinking are attended with special danger; for at these times the soul may escape from the mouth, or be extracted by the magic arts of an enemy present. Precautions are therefore taken to guard against these dangers. Thus of the Battas of Sumatra it is said that “since the soul can leave the body, they always take care to prevent their soul from straying on occasions when they have most need of it. But it is only possible to prevent the soul from straying when one is in the house. At feasts one may find the whole house shut up, in order that the soul ("tondi") may stay and enjoy the good things set before it.”(530) In Fiji persons who suspected others of plotting against them avoided eating in their presence, or were careful to leave no fragment of food behind.(531) The Zafimanelo in Madagascar lock their doors when they eat, and hardly any one ever sees them eating.(532) The Warua will not allow any one to see them eating and drinking, being doubly particular that no person of the opposite sex shall see them doing so. “I had to pay a man to let me see him drink; I could not make a man let a woman see him drink.” When offered a drink of "pombe" they often ask that a cloth may be held up to hide them whilst drinking. Further, each man and woman must cook for themselves; each person must have his own fire.(533) If these are the ordinary precautions taken by common people, the precautions taken by kings are extraordinary. The King of Loango may not be seen eating or drinking by man or beast under pain of death. A favourite dog having broken into the room where the king was dining, the king ordered it to be killed on the spot. Once the king’s own son, a boy of twelve years old, inadvertently saw the king drink. Immediately the king ordered him to be finely apparelled and feasted, after which he commanded him to be cut in quarters, and carried about the city with a proclamation that he had seen the king drink. “When the king has a mind to drink, he has a cup of wine brought; he that brings it has a bell in his hand, and as soon as he has delivered the cup to the king he turns his face from him and rings the bell, on which all present fall down with their faces to the ground, and continue so till the king has drank.... His eating is much in the same style, for which he has a house on purpose, where his victuals are set upon a bensa or table: which he goes to and shuts the door; when he has done, he knocks and comes out. So that none ever see the king eat or drink. For it is believed that if any one should, the king shall immediately die.”(534) The rules observed by the neighbouring King of Kakongo were similar; it was thought that the king would die if any of his subjects were to see him drink.(535) It is a capital offence to see the King of Dahomey at his meals. When he drinks in public, as he does on extraordinary occasions, he hides himself behind a curtain, or handkerchiefs are held up round his head, and all the people throw themselves with their faces to the earth.(536) Any one who saw the Muato Jamwo (a great potentate in the Congo Basin) eating or drinking would certainly be put to death.(537) When the King of Tonga ate all the people turned their backs to him.(538) In the palace of the Persian kings there were two dining-rooms opposite each other; in one of them the king dined, in the other his guests. He could see them through a curtain on the door, but they could not see him. Generally the king took his meals alone; but sometimes his wife or some of his sons dined with him.(539)

In these cases, however, the intention may perhaps be to hinder evil influences from entering the body rather than to prevent the escape of the soul. To the former rather than to the latter motive is to be ascribed the custom observed by some African sultans of veiling their faces. The Sultan of Darfur wraps up his face with a piece of white muslin, which goes round his head several times, covering his mouth and nose first, and then his forehead, so that only his eyes are visible. The same custom of veiling the face as a mark of sovereignty is said to be observed in other parts of Central Africa.(540) The Sultan of Wadai always speaks from behind a curtain; no one sees his face except his intimates and a few favoured persons.(541) Amongst the Touaregs of the Sahara all the men (but not the women) keep the lower part of their face, especially the mouth, veiled constantly; the veil is never put off, not even in eating or sleeping.(542) In Samoa a man whose family god was the turtle might not eat a turtle, and if he helped a neighbour to cut up and cook one he had to wear a bandage tied over his mouth, lest an embryo turtle should slip down his throat, grow up, and be his death.(543) In West Timor a speaker holds his right hand before his mouth in speaking lest a demon should enter his body, and lest the person with whom he converses should harm the speaker’s soul by magic.(544) In New South Wales for some time after his initiation into the tribal mysteries, a young blackfellow (whose soul at this time is in a critical state) must always cover his mouth with a rug when a woman is present.(545) Popular expressions in the language of civilised peoples, such as to have one’s heart in one’s mouth, show how natural is the idea that the life or soul may escape by the mouth or nostrils.(546)

By an extension of the like precaution kings are sometimes forbidden ever to leave their palaces; or, if they are allowed to do so, their subjects are forbidden to see them abroad. We have seen that the priestly king at Shark Point, West Africa, may never quit his house or even his chair, in which he is obliged to sleep sitting.(547) After his coronation the King of Loango is confined to his palace, which he may not leave.(548) The King of Ibo (West Africa) “does not step out of his house into the town unless a human sacrifice is made to propitiate the gods: on this account he never goes out beyond the precincts of his premises.”(549) The kings of Aethiopia were worshipped as gods, but were mostly kept shut up in their palaces.(550) The kings of Sabaea (Sheba), the spice country of Arabia, were not allowed to go out of their palaces; if they did so, the mob stoned them to death.(551) But at the top of the palace there was a window with a chain attached to it. If any man deemed he had suffered wrong, he pulled the chain, and the king perceived him and called him in and gave judgment.(552) So to this day the kings of Corea, whose persons are sacred and receive “honours almost divine,” are shut up in their palace from the age of twelve or fifteen; and if a suitor wishes to obtain justice of the king he sometimes lights a great bonfire on a mountain facing the palace; the king sees the fire and informs himself of the case.(553) The King of Tonquin was permitted to appear abroad twice or thrice a year for the performance of certain religious ceremonies; but the people were not allowed to look at him. The day before he came forth notice was given to all the inhabitants of the city and country to keep from the way the king was to go; the women were obliged to remain in their houses and durst not show themselves under pain of death, a penalty which was carried out on the spot if any one disobeyed the order, even through ignorance. Thus the king was invisible to all but his troops and the officers of his suite.(554) In Mandalay a stout lattice-paling, six feet high and carefully kept in repair, lined every street in the walled city and all those in the suburbs through which the king was likely at any time to pass. Behind this paling, which stood two feet or so from the houses, all the people had to stay when the king or any of the queens went out. Any one who was caught outside it by the beadles after the procession had started was severely handled, and might think himself lucky if he got off with a beating. No one was supposed to look through the holes in the lattice-work, which were besides partly stopped up with flowering shrubs.(555)

Again, magic mischief may be wrought upon a man through the remains of the food he has partaken of, or the dishes out of which he has eaten. Thus the Narrinyeri in South Australia think that if a man eats of the sacred animal (totem) of his tribe, and an enemy gets hold of a portion of the flesh, the latter can make it grow in the inside of the eater, and so cause his death. Therefore when a man eats of his totem he is careful to eat it all or else to conceal or destroy the remains.(556) In Tana, one of the New Hebrides, people bury or throw into the sea the leavings of their food, lest these should fall into the hands of the disease-makers. For if a disease-maker finds the remnants of a meal, say the skin of a banana, he picks it up and burns it slowly in the fire. As it burns the person who ate the banana falls ill and sends to the disease-maker, offering him presents if he will stop burning the banana skin.(557) Hence no one may touch the food which the King of Loango leaves upon his plate; it is buried in a hole in the ground. And no one may drink out of the king’s vessel.(558) Similarly no man may drink out of the same cup or glass with the King of Fida (in Guinea); “he hath always one kept particularly for himself; and that which hath but once touched another’s lips he never uses more, though it be made of metal that may be cleansed by fire.”(559) Amongst the Alfoers of Celebes there is a priest called the "Leleen", whose duty appears to be to make the rice grow. His functions begin about a month before the rice is sown, and end after the crop is housed. During this time he has to observe certain taboos; amongst others he may not eat or drink with any one else, and he may drink out of no vessel but his own.(560)

We have seen that the Mikado’s food was cooked every day in new pots and served up in new dishes; both pots and dishes were of common clay, in order that they might be broken or laid aside after they had been once used. They were generally broken, for it was believed that if any one else ate his food out of these sacred dishes his mouth and throat would become swollen and inflamed. The same ill effect was thought to be experienced by any one who should wear the Mikado’s clothes without his leave; he would have swellings and pains all over his body.(561) In the evil effects thus supposed to follow upon the use of the Mikado’s vessels or clothes we see that other side of the divine king’s or god-man’s character to which attention has been already called. The divine person is a source of danger as well as of blessing; he must not only be guarded, he must also be guarded against. His sacred organism, so delicate that a touch may disorder it, is also electrically charged with a powerful spiritual force which may discharge itself with fatal effect on whatever comes in contact with it. Hence the isolation of the man-god is quite as necessary for the safety of others as for his own. His divinity is a fire, which, under proper restraints, confers endless blessings, but, if rashly touched or allowed to break bounds, burns and destroys what it touches. Hence the disastrous effects supposed to attend a breach of taboo; the offender has thrust his hand into the divine fire, which shrivels up and consumes him on the spot. To take an example from the taboo we are considering. It happened that a New Zealand chief of high rank and great sanctity had left the remains of his dinner by the wayside. A slave, a stout, hungry fellow, coming up after the chief had gone, saw the unfinished dinner, and ate it up without asking questions. Hardly had he finished when he was informed by a horror-stricken spectator that the food of which he had eaten was the chief’s. “I knew the unfortunate delinquent well. He was remarkable for courage, and had signalised himself in the wars of the tribe.... No sooner did he hear the fatal news than he was seized by the most extraordinary convulsions and cramp in the stomach, which never ceased till he died, about sundown the same day. He was a strong man, in the prime of life, and if any pakeha [European] freethinker should have said he was not killed by the "tapu" [taboo] of the chief, which had been communicated to the food by contact, he would have been listened to with feelings of contempt for his ignorance and inability to understand plain and direct evidence.”(562) This is not a solitary case. A Maori woman having eaten of some fruit, and being afterwards told that the fruit had being taken from a tabooed place, exclaimed that the spirit of the chief whose sanctity had been thus profaned would kill her. This was in the afternoon, and next day by twelve o’clock she was dead.(563) An observer who knows the Maoris well, says, “Tapu [taboo] is an awful weapon. I have seen a strong young man die the same day he was tapued; the victims die under it as though their strength ran out as water.”(564) A Maori chief’s tinder-box was once the means of killing several persons; for having been lost by him, and found by some men who used it to light their pipes, they died of fright on learning to whom it had belonged. So too the garments of a high New Zealand chief will kill any one else who wears them. A chief was observed by a missionary to throw down a precipice a blanket which he found too heavy to carry. Being asked by the missionary why he did not leave it on a tree for the use of a future traveller, the chief replied that “it was the fear of its being taken by another which caused him to throw it where he did, for if it were worn, his tapu” ("i.e." his spiritual power communicated by contact to the blanket and through the blanket to the man) “would kill the person.”(565)

No wonder therefore that the savage should rank these human divinities amongst what he regards as the dangerous classes, and should impose exactly the same restraints upon the one as upon the other. For instance, those who have defiled themselves by touching a dead body are regarded by the Maoris as in a very dangerous state, and are sedulously shunned and isolated. But the taboos observed by and towards these defiled persons ("e.g." they may not touch food with their hands, and the vessels used by them may not be used by other people) are identical with those observed by and towards sacred chiefs.(566) And, in general, the prohibition to use the dress, vessels, etc., of certain persons and the effects supposed to follow an infraction of the rule are exactly the same whether the persons to whom the things belong are sacred or what we might call unclean and polluted. As the garments which have been touched by a sacred chief kill those who handle them, so do the things which have been touched by a menstruous woman. An Australian blackfellow, who discovered that his wife had lain on his blanket at her menstrual period, killed her and died of terror himself within a fortnight.(567) Hence Australian women at these times are forbidden under pain of death to touch anything that men use. They are also secluded at child-birth, and all vessels used by them during their seclusion are burned.(568) Amongst some of the Indians of North America also women at menstruation are forbidden to touch men’s utensils, which would be so defiled by their touch that their subsequent use would be attended by certain mischief or misfortune.(569) Amongst the Eskimo of Alaska no one will willingly drink out of the same cup or eat out of the same dish that has been used by a woman at her confinement until it has been purified by certain incantations.(570) Amongst some of the Tinneh Indians of North America the dishes out of which girls eat during their seclusion at puberty “are used by no other person, and wholly devoted to their own use.”(571) Again amongst some Indian tribes of North America men who have slain enemies are considered to be in a state of uncleanness, and will not eat or drink out of any dish or smoke out of any pipe but their own for a considerable time after the slaughter, and no one will willingly use their dishes or pipes. They live in a kind of seclusion during this time, at the end of which all the dishes and pipes used by them during their seclusion are burned.(572) Amongst the Kafirs, boys at circumcision live secluded in a special hut, and when they are healed all the vessels which they had used during their seclusion and the boyish mantles which they had hitherto worn are burned together with the hut.(573) When a young Indian brave is out on the war-path for the first time the vessels he eats and drinks out of must be touched by no one else.(574)

Thus the rules of ceremonial purity observed by divine kings, chiefs, and priests, by homicides, women at child-birth, and so on, are in some respects alike. To us these different classes of persons appear to differ totally in character and condition; some of them we should call holy, others we might pronounce unclean and polluted. But the savage makes no such moral distinction between them; the conceptions of holiness and pollution are not yet differentiated in his mind. To him the common feature of all these persons is that they are dangerous and in danger, and the danger in which they stand and to which they expose others is what we should call spiritual or supernatural, that is, imaginary. The danger, however, is not less real because it is imaginary; imagination acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid. To seclude these persons from the rest of the world so that the dreaded spiritual danger shall neither reach them, nor spread from them, is the object of the taboos which they have to observe. These taboos act, so to say, as electrical insulators to preserve the spiritual force with which these persons are charged from suffering or inflicting harm by contact with the outer world.(575)

No one was allowed to touch the body of the King or Queen of Tahiti;(576) and no one may touch the King of Cambodia, for any purpose whatever, without his express command. In July 1874 the king was thrown from his carriage and lay insensible on the ground, but not one of his suite dared to touch him; a European coming to the spot carried the injured monarch to his palace.(577) No one may touch the King of Corea; and if he deigns to touch a subject, the spot touched becomes sacred, and the person thus honoured must wear a visible mark (generally a cord of red silk) for the rest of his life. Above all, no iron may touch the king’s body. In 1800 King Tieng-tsong-tai-oang died of a tumour in the back, no one dreaming of employing the lancet, which would probably have saved his life. It is said that one king suffered terribly from an abscess in the lip, till his physician called in a jester, whose antics made the king laugh heartily, and so the abscess burst.(578) Roman and Sabine priests might not be shaved with iron but only with bronze razors or shears;(579) and whenever an iron graving-tool was brought into the sacred grove of the Arval Brothers at Rome for the purpose of cutting an inscription in stone, an expiatory sacrifice of a lamb and a pig was offered, which was repeated when the graving-tool was removed from the grove.(580) In Crete sacrifices were offered to Menedemus without the use of iron, because, it was said, Menedemus had been killed by an iron weapon in the Trojan war.(581) The Archon of Plataeae might not touch iron; but once a year, at the annual commemoration of the men who fell at the battle of Plataeae, he was allowed to carry a sword wherewith to sacrifice a bull.(582) To this day a Hottentot priest never uses an iron knife, but always a sharp splint of quartz in sacrificing an animal or circumcising a lad.(583) Amongst the Moquis of Arizona stone knives, hatchets, etc., have passed out of common use, but are retained in religious ceremonies.(584) Negroes of the Gold Coast remove all iron or steel from their person when they consult their fetish.(585) The men who made the need-fire in Scotland had to divest themselves of all metal.(586) In making the "clavie" (a kind of Yule-tide fire-wheel) at Burghead, no hammer may be used; the hammering must be done with a stone.(587) Amongst the Jews no iron tool was used in building the temple at Jerusalem or in making an altar.(588) The old wooden bridge ("Pons Sublicius") at Rome, which was considered sacred, was made and had to be kept in repair without the use of iron or bronze.(589) It was expressly provided by law that the temple of Jupiter Liber at Furfo might be repaired with iron tools.(590) The council chamber at Cyzicus was constructed of wood without any iron nails, the beams being so arranged that they could be taken out and replaced.(591) The late Raja Vijyanagram, a member of the Viceroy’s Council, and described as one of the most enlightened and estimable of Hindu princes, would not allow iron to be used in the construction of buildings within his territory, believing that its use would inevitably be followed by small-pox and other epidemics.(592)

This superstitious objection to iron perhaps dates from that early time in the history of society when iron was still a novelty, and as such was viewed by many with suspicion and dislike. For everything new is apt to excite the awe and dread of the savage. “It is a curious superstition,” says a recent pioneer in Borneo, “this of the Dusuns, to attribute anything—whether good or bad, lucky or unlucky—that happens to them to something novel which has arrived in their country. For instance, my living in Kindram has caused the intensely hot weather we have experienced of late.”(593) The first introduction of iron ploughshares into Poland having been followed by a succession of bad harvests, the farmers attributed the badness of the crops to the iron ploughshares, and discarded them for the old wooden ones.(594) The general dislike of innovation, which always makes itself strongly felt in the sphere of religion, is sufficient by itself to account for the superstitious aversion to iron entertained by kings and priests and attributed by them to the gods; possibly this aversion may have been intensified in places by some such accidental cause as the series of bad seasons which cast discredit on iron ploughshares in Poland. But the disfavour in which iron is held by the gods and their ministers has another side. The very fact that iron is deemed obnoxious to spirits furnishes men with a weapon which may be turned against the spirits when occasion serves. As their dislike of iron is supposed to be so great that they will not approach persons and things protected by the obnoxious metal, iron may obviously be employed as a charm for banning ghosts and other dangerous spirits. And it often is so used. Thus when Scotch fishermen were at sea, and one of them happened to take the name of God in vain, the first man who heard him called out “Cauld airn,” at which every man of the crew grasped the nearest bit of iron and held it between his hands for a while.(595) In Morocco iron is considered a great protection against demons; hence it is usual to place a knife or dagger under a sick man’s pillow.(596) In India “the mourner who performs the ceremony of putting fire into the dead person’s mouth carries with him a piece of iron: it may be a key or a knife, or a simple piece of iron, and during the whole time of his separation (for he is unclean for a certain time, and no one will either touch him or eat or drink with him, neither can he change his clothes(597)) he carries the piece of iron about with him to keep off the evil spirit. In Calcutta the Bengali clerks in the Government Offices used to wear a small key on one of their fingers when they had been chief mourners.”(598) In the north-east of Scotland immediately after a death had taken place, a piece of iron, such as a nail or a knitting-wire, used to be stuck into all the meal, butter, cheese, flesh, and whisky in the house, “to prevent death from entering them.” The neglect of this precaution is said to have been closely followed by the corruption of the food and drink; the whisky has been known to become as white as milk.(599) When iron is used as a protective charm after a death, as in these Hindu and Scotch customs, the spirit against which it is directed is the ghost of the deceased.(600)

There is a priestly king to the north of Zengwih in Burma, revered by the Sotih as the highest spiritual and temporal authority, into whose house no weapon or cutting instrument may be brought.(601) This rule may perhaps be explained by a custom observed by various peoples after a death; they refrain from the use of sharp instruments so long as the ghost of the deceased is supposed to be near, lest they should wound it. Thus after a death the Roumanians of Transylvania are careful not to leave a knife lying with the sharp edge uppermost as long as the corpse remains in the house, “or else the soul will be forced to ride on the blade.”(602) For seven days after a death, the corpse being still in the house, the Chinese abstain from the use of knives and needles, and even of chopsticks, eating their food with their fingers.(603) Amongst the Innuit (Eskimos) of Alaska for four days after a death the women in the village do no sewing, and for five days the men do not cut wood with an axe.(604) On the third, sixth, ninth, and fortieth days after the funeral the old Prussians and Lithuanians used to prepare a meal, to which, standing at the door, they invited the soul of the deceased. At these meals they sat silent round the table and used no knives, and the women who served up the food were also without knives. If any morsels fell from the table they were left lying there for the lonely souls that had no living relations or friends to feed them. When the meal was over the priest took a broom and swept the souls out of the house, saying, “Dear souls, ye have eaten and drunk. Go forth, go forth.”(605) In cutting the nails and combing the hair of a dead prince in South Celebes only the back of the knife and of the comb may be used.(606) The Germans say that a knife should not be left edge upwards, because God and the spirits dwell there, or because it will cut the face of God and the angels.(607) We can now understand why no cutting instrument may be taken into the house of the Burmese pontiff. Like so many priestly kings, he is probably regarded as divine, and it is therefore right that his sacred spirit should not be exposed to the risk of being cut or wounded whenever it quits his body to hover invisible in the air or to fly on some distant mission.

We have seen that the Flamen Dialis was forbidden to touch or even name raw flesh.(608) In the Pelew Islands when a raid has been made on a village and a head carried off, the relations of the slain man are tabooed and have to submit to certain observances in order to escape the wrath of his ghost. They are shut up in the house, touch no raw flesh, and chew beetel over which an incantation has been uttered by the exorcist. After this the ghost of the slaughtered man goes away to the enemy’s country in pursuit of his murderer.(609) The taboo is probably based on the common belief that the soul or spirit of the animal is in the blood. As tabooed persons are believed to be in a perilous state—for example, the relations of the slain man are liable to the attacks of his indignant ghost—it is especially necessary to isolate them from contact with spirits; hence the prohibition to touch raw meat. But as usual the taboo is only the special enforcement in particular circumstances of a general rule; in other words, its observance is particularly enjoined in circumstances which are supposed especially to call for its application, but apart from such special circumstances the prohibition is also observed, though less strictly, as an ordinary rule of life. Thus some of the Esthonians will not taste blood because they believe that it contains the animal’s soul, which would enter the body of the person who tasted the blood.(610) Some Indian tribes of North America, “through a strong principle of religion, abstain in the strictest manner from eating the blood of any animal, as it contains the life and spirit of the beast.” These Indians “commonly pull their new-killed venison (before they dress it) several times through the smoke and flame of the fire, both by the way of a sacrifice and to consume the blood, life, or animal spirits of the beast, which with them would be a most horrid abomination to eat.”(611) Many of the Slave, Hare, and Dogrib Indians scruple to taste the blood of game; hunters of the former tribes collect the blood in the animal’s paunch and bury it in the snow.(612) Jewish hunters poured out the blood of the game they had killed and covered it up with dust. They would not taste the blood, believing that the soul or life of the animal was in the blood, or actually was the blood.(613) The same belief was held by the Romans,(614) and is shared by the Arabs,(615) and by some of the Papuan tribes of New Guinea.(616)

It is a common rule that royal blood must not be shed upon the ground. Hence when a king or one of his family is to be put to death a mode of execution is devised by which the royal blood shall not be spilt upon the earth. About the year 1688 the generalissimo of the army rebelled against the King of Siam and put him to death “after the manner of royal criminals, or as princes of the blood are treated when convicted of capital crimes, which is by putting them into a large iron caldron, and pounding them to pieces with wooden pestles, because none of their royal blood must be spilt on the ground, it being, by their religion, thought great impiety to contaminate the divine blood by mixing it with earth.”(617) Other Siamese modes of executing a royal person are starvation, suffocation, stretching him on a scarlet cloth and thrusting a billet of odoriferous “saunders wood” into his stomach,(618) or lastly, sewing him up in a leather sack with a large stone and throwing him into the river; sometimes the sufferer’s neck is broken with sandal-wood clubs before he is thrown into the water.(619) When Kublai Khan defeated and took his uncle Nayan, who had rebelled against him, he caused Nayan to be put to death by being wrapt in a carpet and tossed to and fro till he died, “because he would not have the blood of his Line Imperial spilt upon the ground or exposed in the eye of Heaven and before the Sun.”(620) “Friar Ricold mentions the Tartar maxim: ‘One Khan will put another to death to get possession of the throne, but he takes great care that the blood be not spilt. For they say that it is highly improper that the blood of the Great Khan should be spilt upon the ground; so they cause the victim to be smothered somehow or other.’ The like feeling prevails at the court of Burma, where a peculiar mode of execution without bloodshed is reserved for princes of the blood.”(621) In Tonquin the ordinary mode of execution is beheading, but persons of the blood royal are strangled.(622) In Ashantee the blood of none of the royal family may be shed; if one of them is guilty of a great crime he is drowned in the river Dah.(623) In Madagascar the blood of nobles might not be shed; hence when four Christians of that class were to be executed they were burned alive.(624) When a young king of Uganda comes of age all his brothers are burnt except two or three, who are preserved to keep up the succession.(625) The reluctance to shed royal blood seems to be only a particular case of a general reluctance to shed blood or at least to allow it to fall on the ground. Marco Polo tells us that in his day persons found on the streets of Cambaluc (Pekin) at unseasonable hours were arrested, and if found guilty of a misdemeanour were beaten with a stick. “Under this punishment people sometimes die, but they adopt it in order to eschew bloodshed, for their "Bacsis" say that it is an evil thing to shed man’s blood.”(626) When Captain Christian was shot by the Manx Government at the Restoration in 1660, the spot on which he stood was covered with white blankets, that his blood might not fall on the ground.(627) Amongst some primitive peoples, when the blood of a tribesman has to be shed it is not suffered to fall upon the ground, but is received upon the bodies of his fellow tribesmen. Thus in some Australian tribes boys who are being circumcised are laid on a platform, formed by the living bodies of the tribesmen;(628) and when a boy’s tooth is knocked out as an initiatory ceremony, he is seated on the shoulders of a man, on whose breast the blood flows and may not be wiped away.(629) When Australian blacks bleed each other as a cure for headache, and so on, they are very careful not to spill any of the blood on the ground, but sprinkle it on each other.(630) We have already seen that in the Australian ceremony for making rain the blood which is supposed to imitate the rain is received upon the bodies of the tribesmen.(631) In South Celebes at child-birth a female slave stands under the house (the houses being raised on posts above the ground) and receives in a basin on her head the blood which trickles through the bamboo floor.(632) The unwillingness to shed blood is extended by some peoples to the blood of animals. When the Wanika in Eastern Africa kill their cattle for food, “they either stone or beat the animal to death, so as not to shed the blood.”(633) Amongst the Damaras cattle killed for food are suffocated, but when sacrificed they are speared to death.(634) But like most pastoral tribes in Africa, both the Wanika and Damaras very seldom kill their cattle, which are indeed commonly invested with a kind of sanctity.(635) In killing an animal for food the Easter Islanders do not shed its blood, but stun it or suffocate it in smoke.(636) The explanation of the reluctance to shed blood on the ground is probably to be found in the belief that the soul is in the blood, and that therefore any ground on which it may fall necessarily becomes taboo or sacred. In New Zealand anything upon which even a drop of a high chief’s blood chances to fall becomes taboo or sacred to him. For instance, a party of natives having come to visit a chief in a fine new canoe, the chief got into it, but in doing so a splinter entered his foot, and the blood trickled on the canoe, which at once became sacred to him. The owner jumped out, dragged the canoe ashore opposite the chief’s house, and left it there. Again, a chief in entering a missionary’s house knocked his head against a beam, and the blood flowed. The natives said that in former times the house would have belonged to the chief.(637) As usually happens with taboos of universal application, the prohibition to spill the blood of a tribesman on the ground applies with peculiar stringency to chiefs and kings, and is observed in their case long after it has ceased to be observed in the case of others.

We have seen that the Flamen Dialis was not allowed to walk under a trellised vine.(638) The reason for this prohibition was perhaps as follows. It has been shown that plants are considered as animate beings which bleed when cut, the red juice which exudes from some plants being regarded as the blood of the plant.(639) The juice of the grape is therefore naturally conceived as the blood of the vine.(640) And since, as we have just seen, the soul is often believed to be in the blood, the juice of the grape is regarded as the soul, or as containing the soul, of the vine. This belief is strengthened by the intoxicating effects of wine. For, according to primitive notions, all abnormal mental states, such as intoxication or madness, are caused by the entrance of a spirit into the person; such mental states, in other words, are regarded as forms of possession or inspiration. Wine, therefore, is considered on two distinct grounds as a spirit or containing a spirit; first because, as a red juice, it is identified with the blood of the plant, and second because it intoxicates or inspires. Therefore if the Flamen Dialis had walked under a trellised vine, the spirit of the vine, embodied in the clusters of grapes, would have been immediately over his head and might have touched it, which for a person like him in a state of permanent taboo(641) would have been highly dangerous. This interpretation of the prohibition will be made probable if we can show, first, that wine has been actually viewed by some peoples as blood and intoxication as inspiration produced by drinking the blood; and, second, that it is often considered dangerous, especially for tabooed persons, to have either blood or a living person over their heads.

With regard to the first point, we are informed by Plutarch that of old the Egyptian kings neither drank wine nor offered it in libations to the gods, because they held it to be the blood of beings who had once fought against the gods, the vine having sprung from their rotting bodies; and the frenzy of intoxication was explained by the supposition that the drunken man was filled with the blood of the enemies of the gods.(642) The Aztecs regarded "pulque" or the wine of the country as bad, on account of the wild deeds which men did under its influence. But these wild deeds were believed to be the acts, not of the drunken man, but of the wine-god by whom he was possessed and inspired; and so seriously was this theory of inspiration held that if any one spoke ill of or insulted a tipsy man, he was liable to be punished for disrespect to the wine-god incarnate in his votary. Hence, says Sahagun, it was believed, not without ground, that the Indians intoxicated themselves on purpose to commit with impunity crimes for which they would certainly have been punished if they had committed them sober.(643) Thus it appears that on the primitive view intoxication or the inspiration produced by wine is exactly parallel to the inspiration produced by drinking the blood of animals.(644) The soul or life is in the blood, and wine is the blood of the vine. Hence whoever drinks the blood of an animal is inspired with the soul of the animal or of the god, who, as we have seen,(645) is often supposed to enter into the animal before it is slain; and whoever drinks wine drinks the blood, and so receives into himself the soul or spirit, of the god of the vine.

With regard to the second point, the fear of passing under blood or under a living person, we are told that some of the Australian blacks have a dread of passing under a leaning tree or even under the rails of a fence. The reason they give is that a woman may have been upon the tree or fence, and some blood from her may have fallen on it and might fall from it on them.(646) In Ugi, one of the Solomon Islands, a man will never, if he can help it, pass under a tree which has fallen across the path, for the reason that a woman may have stepped over it before him.(647) Amongst the Karens of Burma “going under a house, especially if there are females within, is avoided; as is also the passing under trees of which the branches extend downwards in a particular direction, and the butt-end of fallen trees, etc.”(648) The Siamese think it unlucky to pass under a rope on which women’s clothes are hung, and to avert evil consequences the person who has done so must build a chapel to the earth-spirit.(649)

Probably in all such cases the rule is based on a fear of being brought into contact with blood, especially the blood of women. From a like fear a Maori will never lean his back against the wall of a native house.(650) For the blood of women is believed to have disastrous effects upon males. In the Encounter Bay tribe of South Australia boys are warned that if they see the blood of women they will early become gray-headed and their strength will fail prematurely.(651) Men of the Booandik tribe think that if they see the blood of their women they will not be able to fight against their enemies and will be killed; if the sun dazzles their eyes at a fight, the first woman they afterwards meet is sure to get a blow from their club.(652) In the island of Wetar it is thought that if a man or a lad comes upon a woman’s blood he will be unfortunate in war and other undertakings, and that any precautions he may take to avoid the misfortune will be vain.(653) The people of Ceram also believe that men who see women’s blood will be wounded in battle.(654) Similarly the Ovahereró (Damaras) of South Africa think that if they see a lying-in woman shortly after child-birth they will become weaklings and will be shot when they go to war.(655) It is an Esthonian belief that men who see women’s blood will suffer from an eruption on the skin.(656)

Again, the reason for not passing under dangerous objects, like a vine or women’s blood, is a fear that they may come in contact with the head; for among primitive people the head is peculiarly sacred. The special sanctity attributed to it is sometimes explained by a belief that it is the seat of a spirit which is very sensitive to injury or disrespect. Thus the Karens suppose that a being called the "tso" resides in the upper part of the head, and while it retains its seat no harm can befall the person from the efforts of the seven "Kelahs", or personified passions. “But if the "tso" becomes heedless or weak certain evil to the person is the result. Hence the head is carefully attended to, and all possible pains are taken to provide such dress and attire as will be pleasing to the "tso".”(657) The Siamese think that a spirit called "Khuan", or "Chom Kuan", dwells in the human head, of which it is the guardian spirit. The spirit must be carefully protected from injury of every kind; hence the act of shaving or cutting the hair is accompanied with many ceremonies. The "Khuan" is very sensitive on points of honour, and would feel mortally insulted if the head in which he resides were touched by the hand of a stranger. When Dr. Bastian, in conversation with a brother of the king of Siam, raised his hand to touch the prince’s skull in order to illustrate some medical remarks he was making, a sullen and threatening murmur bursting from the lips of the crouching courtiers warned him of the breach of etiquette he had committed, for in Siam there is no greater insult to a man of rank than to touch his head. If a Siamese touch the head of another with his foot, both of them must build chapels to the earth-spirit to avert the omen. Nor does the guardian spirit of the head like to have the hair washed too often; it might injure or incommode him. It was a grand solemnity when the king of Burmah’s head was washed with water taken from the middle of the river. Whenever the native professor, from whom Dr. Bastian took lessons in Burmese at Mandalay, had his head washed, which took place as a rule once a month, he was generally absent for three days together, that time being consumed in preparing for, and recovering from, the operation of head-washing. Dr. Bastian’s custom of washing his head daily gave rise to much remark.(658)

Again, the Burmese think it an indignity to have any one, especially a woman, over their heads, and for this reason Burmese houses have never more than one story. The houses are raised on posts above the ground, and whenever anything fell through the floor Dr. Bastian had always difficulty in persuading a servant to fetch it from under the house. In Rangoon a priest, summoned to the bedside of a sick man, climbed up a ladder and got in at the window rather than ascend the staircase, to reach which he must have passed under a gallery. A pious Burman of Rangoon, finding some images of Buddha in a ship’s cabin, offered a high price for them, that they might not be degraded by sailors walking over them on the deck.(659) Similarily the Cambodians esteem it a grave offence to touch a man’s head; some of them will not enter a place where anything whatever is suspended over their heads; and the meanest Cambodian would never consent to live under an inhabited room. Hence the houses are built of one story only; and even the Government respects the prejudice by never placing a prisoner in the stocks under the floor of a house, though the houses are raised high above the ground.(660) The same superstition exists amongst the Malays; for an early traveller reports that in Java people “wear nothing on their heads, and say that nothing must be on their heads ... and if any person were to put his hand upon their head they would kill him; and they do not build houses with storeys, in order that they may not walk over each other’s heads.”(661) It is also found in full force throughout Polynesia. Thus of Gattanewa, a Marquesan chief, it is said that “to touch the top of his head, or any thing which had been on his head was sacrilege. To pass over his head was an indignity never to be forgotten. Gattanewa, nay, all his family, scorned to pass a gateway which is ever closed, or a house with a door; all must be as open and free as their unrestrained manners. He would pass under nothing that had been raised by the hand of man, if there was a possibility of getting round or over it. Often have I seen him walk the whole length of our barrier, in preference to passing between our water-casks; and at the risk of his life scramble over the loose stones of a wall, rather than go through the gateway.”(662) Marquesan women have been known to refuse to go on the decks of ships for fear of passing over the heads of chiefs who might be below.(663) But it was not the Marquesan chiefs only whose heads were sacred; the head of every Marquesan was taboo, and might neither be touched nor stepped over by another; even a father might not step over the head of his sleeping child.(664) No one was allowed to be over the head of the king of Tonga.(665) In Hawaii (the Sandwich Islands) if a man climbed upon a chief’s house or upon the wall of his yard, he was put to death; if his shadow fell on a chief, he was put to death; if he walked in the shadow of a chief’s house with his head painted white or decked with a garland or wetted with water, he was put to death.(666) In Tahiti any one who stood over the king or queen, or passed his hand over their heads, might be put to death.(667) Until certain rites were performed over it, a Tahitian infant was especially taboo; whatever touched the child’s head, while it was in this state, became sacred and was deposited in a consecrated place railed in for the purpose at the child’s house. If a branch of a tree touched the child’s head, the tree was cut down; and if in its fall it injured another tree so as to penetrate the bark, that tree also was cut down as unclean and unfit for use. After the rites were performed, these special taboos ceased; but the head of a Tahitian was always sacred, he never carried anything on it, and to touch it was an offence.(668) The head of a Maori chief was so sacred that “if he only touched it with his fingers, he was obliged immediately to apply them to his nose, and snuff up the sanctity which they had acquired by the touch, and thus restore it to the part from whence it was taken.”(669) In some circumstances the tabooed person is forbidden to touch his head at all. Thus in North America, Tinneh girls at puberty, Creek lads during the year of their initiation into manhood, and young braves on their first war-path, are forbidden to scratch their heads with their fingers, and are provided with a stick for the purpose.(670) But to return to the Maoris. On account of the sacredness of his head “a chief could not blow the fire with his mouth, for the breath being sacred, communicated his sanctity to it, and a brand might be taken by a slave, or a man of another tribe, or the fire might be used for other purposes, such as cooking, and so cause his death.”(671) It is a crime for a sacred person in New Zealand to leave his comb, or anything else which has touched his head, in a place where food has been cooked, or to suffer another person to drink out of any vessel which has touched his lips. Hence when a chief wishes to drink he never puts his lips to the vessel, but holds his hands close to his mouth so as to form a hollow, into which water is poured by another person, and thence is allowed to flow into his mouth. If a light is needed for his pipe, the burning ember taken from the fire must be thrown away as soon as it is used; for the pipe becomes sacred because it has touched his mouth; the coal becomes sacred because it has touched the pipe; and if a particle of the sacred cinder were replaced on the common fire, the fire would also become sacred and could no longer be used for cooking.(672) Some Maori chiefs, like other Polynesians, object to go down into a ship’s cabin from fear of people passing over their heads.(673) Dire misfortune was thought by the Maoris to await those who entered a house where any article of animal food was suspended over their heads. “A dead pigeon, or a piece of pork hung from the roof was a better protection from molestation than a sentinel.”(674) If I am right, the reason for the special objection to having animal food over the head is the fear of bringing the sacred head into contact with the spirit of the animal; just as the reason why the Flamen Dialis might not walk under a vine was the fear of bringing his sacred head into contact with the spirit of the vine.

When the head was considered so sacred that it might not even be touched without grave offence, it is obvious that the cutting of the hair must have been a delicate and difficult operation. The difficulties and dangers which, on the primitive view, beset the operation are of two kinds. There is first the danger of disturbing the spirit of the head, which may be injured in the process and may revenge itself upon the person who molests him. Secondly, there is the difficulty of disposing of the shorn locks. For the savage believes that the sympathetic connection which exists between himself and every part of his body continues to exist even after the physical connection has been severed, and that therefore he will suffer from any harm that may befall the severed parts of his body, such as the clippings of his hair or the parings of his nails. Accordingly he takes care that these severed portions of himself shall not be left in place



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