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If you were to ask almost any intelli- Tbis, in its essence, is precisely what we gent and unsophisticated child, who hadn't call religion. Apart from the special reread Robert Elsmere, “What is relig- finements of the higher minds in particular ion ?he would answer offband, with cults or creeds, which strive to import into the clear vision of youth, "Oh, it's say- it all, according to their special tastes or ing your prayers, and reading your Bible, fancies, a larger or smaller dose of philosand singing hymns, and going to church, ophy, or of metaphysics, or of ethics, or don't you know, on Sundays.” If you of inysticism, this is just what religion were to ask any intelligent and unsophis- means and has always meant to the vast ticated Hindu peasant the same question, majority of the human species. What is he would answer in almost the self-same common to it throughont is Custom or spirit, “Oh, it's doing poojah regularly, Practice : a certain set of more or less and paying your dues every day to Maba- similar Observances : propitiation, prayer, deo. If you were to ask any simple- praise, offerings : the request for divine minded African savage, he would similarly favors, the deprecation of divine anger or reply, It's giving the gods flour, and other misfortunes : and as the outward oil, and native beer, and goat-mutton.” and visible adjuncts of all these, the altar, And finally, if you were to ask a devout the sacrifice, the temple, the church, priestItalian contadino, he would instantly say, hood, services, vestments, ceremonial. “ It's offering up candles and prayers to

What is not at all essential to religion in the Madonna, attending mass, and remem-. its wider aspect-taking the world round, bering the saints on every festa.”

both past and present, Pagan, BuddhAnd they would all be quite rights ist, Mohammadan, Christian, savage, , NEW SERDES. – VOL. LI., No. 2.


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and civilized—is the ethical element, prop- in the light of a contribution to an indeerly so-called. And what is very little pendent but allied branch of the same inessential indeed is the philosophical ele- quiry. ment, theology or mythology, the abstract In short, if the view here suggested be theory of spiritual existences. This the- correct, Spencer and Tylor bave paved the ory, to be sure, is in each country or race way to a true theory of the Origin of Reclosely related with religion under certain ligion : Max Müller, Lang, and the other aspects; and the stories told about the mythologists have thrown out hints of vagods or God are much mixed up with the rying value toward a true theory of the cult in the minds of worshippers ; but Origin of Mythology, or of its more modthey are no proper part of religion, strict- ern equivalent and successor, Theology. ly so called. In a single word, I contend A brief outline of facts will serve to that religion, as such, is essentially prac- bring into clearer relief this view of religion tical : theology or mythology, as such, is as essentially practical—a set of observ. essentially theoretical.

ances, rendered inevitable by the primitive Moreover, I also believe, and shall at- data of human psychology. It will then tempt to show, that the two have to a large be seen that what is fundamental and es. extent distinct origins and roots : that the sential in religion is the body of practices, union between them is in great part adventi- remaining throughout all stages of human tious : and that, therefore, to account for or development the same, or nearly the same, explain the one is by no means equivalent in spite of changes of mythological or theto accounting for and explaining the other, ological theory; and that what is acciden

Frank recognition of this difference of tal and variable is the particular verbal exorigin between religion and mythology planation or philosophical reason assigned would, I imagine, largely reconcile the for the diverse rites and ceremonies. two conflicting schools of thought which In its simplest surviving savage type, at present divide opinion between them on religion consists wholly and solely in certhis interesting problem in the evolution tain acts of deference paid by the living of human ideas. On the one side, we to the ghosts of the dead. I shall try to have the inythological school of interpre- show in the sequel that down to its most ters, whether narrowly linguistic, like Pro- highly evolved modern type in the most fessor Max Müller, or broadly anthropolog- cultivated societies, precisely similar acts ical, like Mr. Andrew Lang, attacking of deference, either directly to ghosts as the problem from the point of view of such, or indirectly to gods who were once myth or theory alone. On the other side, ghosts, or were developed from ghosts, we have the truly religious school of in- form its essence still. But to begin with terpreters, like Mr. Herbert Spencer, and I will try to bring a few simple instances to some extent Mr. Tylor, attacking the of the precise nature of religion in its lowproblem from the point of view of prac- est existing savage mode. iice or real religion. The former school, I might if I chose take my little collecit seems to me, have failed to perceive tion of illustrative facts from some theothat what it is accounting for is not the retical writer, like Mr. Herbert Spencer, origin of religion at all of worship, which who has collected enough instances in all is the central-root idea of all religious ob- conscience to prove this point ; but I preservance, or of the temple, the altar, the fer to go straight to an original observer priest, and the offering, which are its out- of savage life and habit, a Presbyterian er expression—but merely the origin of missionary in Central Africa—the Rev. myth or fable, the mass of story and le- Duff Macdonald, author of Africana-who gend about various beings, real or imagin- had abundant opportunities at the Blantyre ary, human or divine, which naturally Mission for learning the ideas and practice grows up in every primitive community of the natives, and who certainly had no The latter school, on the other hand, theoretic predisposition toward ultimately while correctly interpreting the origin of resolving all religious notions into the all that is essential and central in religion, primitive respect and reverence for the have perhaps underestimated the value of worship of ancestors. their opponents' work through regarding Here, in outline, but in Mr. Macdonit as really opposed to their own, instead ald's own words, are the ideas and obof accepting what part of it may be true servances which this careful and accurate investigator found current among the tribes and to send down the refreshing showers in of the heart of Africa. “ I do not think,”

answer to their prayers." he says,

“I have adınitted any point of Alinost as essential to religion as these importance without having heard at least prime factors in its evolution--the god, four natives on the subject. The state- worship, offerings, presents, holy places, ments are translations, as far as possible, temples—is the existence of a priesthood. from the ipsissima verba of the negroes. Here is how the Central Africans arrive

The tribes he lived among are unani. at that special function : mous in saying that there is something

A certain amount of etiquette is observed beyond the body which they call spirit. in approaching the gods. In no case can a Every human body at death is forsaken by little boy or girl approach these deities, neither this spirit.” That is the universal prim- can any one that has not been at the mysteitive belief, whose necessary genesis has ries. The common qualification is that a perbeen so well traced out by Mr. Herbert fourteen years, and has a house of his own.

son has attained a certain age, about twelve or Spencer, and more recently in America Slaves seldom pray, except when they have with great vigor and clearness by Mr. had a dream. Children that have had a dream Lester Ward.

tell their mother, who approaches the deity on

their behalf. (A present for the god is necesDo these spirits ever die ?" Mr. Macdon.

sary, and the slave or child may not have it.) ald asks. Some," he answers, “I have

Apart from the case of dreams and a few heard affirm that it is possible for a trouble

such private matters, it is not usual for any some spirit to be killed. Others give this a

one to approach the gods except the chief of direot denial. Many, like Kumpama, of Che.

the village. He is the recognized high priest rasulo, say "You ask me whether a man's

who prezents prayers and offerings on behalf spirit ever dies. I cannot tell. I have never

of all that live in his village. If the chief is been in the spirit world, but this I am certain from home his wife will act, and if both are of, that spirits live for a very long time.'

absent, his younger brother. The natives On the question, “ Who the gods are ?”'

worship not so much individually as in villages Mr. Macdonald says

or communities. Their religion is more &

public than a private matter." “ In all our translations of Scripture where we found the word God we used Mulungu, but

But there are also further reasons why this word is chiefly used by the natives as a priests are necessary. Relationship forms general name for spirit. The spirit of a de- always a good ground for intercession. A ceased man is called his Malungu, and all the mediator is needed. prayers and offerings of the living are pre. sented to such spirits of the dead. It is here

6. The chief of a village," says Mr. Macdon. that we find the great centre of the native re- ald," has another title to the priesthood. It ligion. The spirits of the dead are the gods is his relatives that are the village gods. Every of the living

one that lives in the village recognizes these Where are these gods found? At the gods ; but if any one remove to another vilgrave ? No. The villagers shrink from yon. lage he changes his gods. He recognizes now der gloomy place that lies far beyond their the gods of his new chief. One wishing to fields on the bleak mountain side. It is only pray to the god (or gods) of any village natuwhen they have to lay another sleeper beside rally desires to have his prayers presented his forefathers that they will go there. Their through the village chief, because the latter is god is not the body in the grave, but the spir- nearly related to the village god, and may be it, and they seek this spirit at the place where expected to be better listened to than a strantheir departed kingman last lived among them.

ger." It is the great tree at the veranda of the dead man's house that is their temple, and if no A little further on Mr. Macdonald tree grow here they erect a little shade, and

says, there perform their simple rites. If this spot become too public the offerings may be defiled, “On the subject of the village gods opinions and the sanctuary will be removed to a care- differ. Some say that every one in the village, fully-selected spot under some beautiful tree. whether a relative of the chief or not, must Very frequently a nan presents an offering at worship the forefathers of the chief. Others the top of his own bed beside his head. He

say that a person not related to the chief must wishes his god to come to him and whisper in worship his own forefathers, otherwise their his ear as he sleeps.”

spirits will bring trouble upon him. To recAnd here, again, we get the origin of nearly every one in the village is related to its nature-worship :

chief, or if not related is, in courtesy, con“ The spirit of an old chief may have a Bidered so. Any person not related to the whole mountain for his residence, but he village chief would be polite enough on all dwells chiefly on the cloudy summit. There public occasions to recognize the village god : he sits to receive the worship of his votaries, on occasions of private prayer (which are not

80 numerous as in Christendom) he would ap- mutable factors of religious practice. I proach the spirits of his own forefathers.

found in it none.

There is much learning, Besides, there might be a god of the land. The chief Kapeni prays to his own relatives,

many strange myths, great comparison of and also to the old gods of the place. His own

stories spread all the world over, a profurelatives be approaches himself, the other dei. sion of knowledge about the tales which ties he may also approach himself, but he often Greeks told of Halcyon or Deucalion, and finds people more closely related and conge.

which Maoris tell of Maui and Tani, but quently more acceptable to the old gods of the land.”

pot one word from beginning to end that The African pantheon is thus widely helps one to explain the origin of worship, peopled. Elimination and natural selec prayer, sacrifices, altars, temples, churches, tion next give one the transition from the praise, adoration. In short, in spite of its

name, that able work appears to me to ghost to the god, properly so called.

contain a great deal about myth, very little “The gods of the natives then are nearly as about ritual, and hårdly anything at all numerous as their dead. It is impossible to about true religion. * worship all ; a selection must be made, and, as we have indicated, each worshipper turns

Now, mythology is a very interesting most naturally to the spirits of his own de study in its own way, and Mr. Lang has parted relatives ; but his gods are too many done excellent work in rescuing it from still, and in farther selecting he turns to those the clutches of the solar faddists : but to that have lived nearest his own time. Thus the chief of a village will not trouble himself

treat as religion a mass of stories and leabout his great-great-grandfather ; he will gends about gods or saints, with hardly a present his offering to his own immediate pred. siugle living element of practice or sacriecessor, and say, 'O father, I do not know fice, seems to me simply to confuse two all your relatives, you know them all, invite totally distinct branches of human enquiry. them to feast with you. The offering is not The origin of tales has nothing at all to do simply for himself, but for himself and all his relatives."

with the origin of worship. Ordinary ghosts are soon forgotten with account of a native funeral, on the other

When we come to read Mr. Macdonald's the generation that knew them. Not so a few select spirits, the Cæsars and Napo- tack; we can understand, as by the aid of

hand, we are at once on a totally different leons, the Charlemagnes and Timurs of

an electric flash, the genesis of the primsavage empires.

itive acts of sacrifice and religion. A great chief that has been successful in his wars does not pass out of memory so

Along with the deceased is buried a con. soon, He may become the god of a mountain

siderable part of his property. We have al. or a lake, and may receive homage as a local ready seen that his bed is buried with him,

so also are all his clothes. If he possesses deity long after his own descendants have been driven from the spot. When there is a sup- ground to a powder between two stones and

several tasks of ivory one tusk or more is plication for rain the inhabitants of the country pray not so much to their own forefathers put beside him. Beads are also ground down as to the god of yonder mountain on whose

in the same way. These precautions are taken shoulders the great rain clouds repose.

to prevent the witch (who is supposed to be (Smaller hills are seldom honored with a

answerable for his death] from making any deity.)"

use of the ivory or beads.

“ If the deceased owned several slaves an Well, in all this we get, it seems to me, enormous bole is dug for a grave. The slaves the very essentials and universals of relig.

are now brought forward. They may be ion generally,- the things without which either cast into the pit alive, or the under

takers may cut all their throats. The body of no religion could exist—the vital part, with- their master or their mistress is then laid down out the ever-varying and changeable ad- to rest above theirs, and the grave is covered ditions of mere gossipping mythology. In in. the presents brought to the dead man's

After this the women come forward with grave to appease the ghost, we have the head of the grave. The dishes in which the

the offerings of food, and place them at the central element of all worship, the practical key of all cults, past or present. On

Exception may be made in favor of a few the other hand, I have just re-read care- scattered passages about the worship of un. fully, for the purpose of comparison, my

, my hewn stones (i. 274), and about human sacrifriend Mr. Andrew Lang's Myth, Ritual, fices and other really religious exercises. I and Religion, in order to see if I could should add in justice that Mr. Lang disclaims find in it anywhere any light thrown by (i. 327), which he considers to be" beyond the

all enquiry into the origin of the idea of a god mythology on these, the eternal and im- ken of history and of speculation."




food was brought are left behind. The pot the children of Kronos, helps us to get that held the drinking water of the deceased one inch nearer the origin of prayer, of and his drinking cup are also left with him. These, too, might be coveted by the witch, but worship, of religious ceremonial, of the a hole is pierced in the pot, and the drinking temple, the church, the sacrifice, the mass, calabash is broken.

or any other component part of what we “The man has now gone from the society of really know as religion in its essence. the living, and he is expected to share the These myths may be sometines philomeal thus left at his grave with those that have gone before him. The funeral party breaks sophic guesses, sometimes primitive folk, ap; they do not want to visit the grave of tales, but they certainly are not the truths their friend again without a very good reason, of religion. On the other hand, the livAny one found among the graves may be ing facts, here so simply detailed by a taken for a cannibal. Their friend has become a citizen of a different village. He is with all careful, accurate, and unassuming obhis relatives of the past. He is entitled to server, strengthened by the hundreds of offerings or presents which may come to him other similar facts collected by Tylor, individually or through his chief. These Spencer, and others, do help us at once to offerings in most cases he will share with understand the origin of the central core others, just as he used to do when alive."

and kernel of religion as universally pracSometimes the man may be buried in tised all the world over. his own hut.

For, omitting for the present the mythIn this case the house is not taken down, ological and cosmological factor, which so but is generally covered with cloth, and the often comes in to obscure the plain religveranda becomes the place for presenting ious facts in missionary narrative or highlyofferings. His old house thus becomes a kind of temple. The deceased is now in the colored European accounts of native re. spirit world, and receives offerings and adora. ligions, what do we really find as the tion. He is addressed as. Our great spirit underlying truths of religion? That all that has gone before. If any one dream of the world over practices essentially similar him, it is at once concluded that the spirit is 'ap to something.' Very likely he wants to

to those of these eavage Central Africans have some of the survivors for his companions. prevail anong mankind; practices whose The dreamer bastens to appease the spirit by affiliation upon the same primitive ideas an offering.

has been abundantly proved by Mr. Her. So real is this society of the dead that bert Spencer ; practices which have for Mr. Macdonald says,

their essence the propitiation or adulation “ The practice of sending messengers to the

of a spiritual being or beings, derived world beyond the grave is found on the West from ghosts, and conceived of as similar, Coast. A chief summons a slave, delivers to in all except the greatness of the connoted him a message, and then cuts off his head. If attributes, to the souls of men. Whenthe chief forget anything that he wanted to ever the (Indian] villagers are questioned say, he sends another slave as a postscript."

about their creed,” says Sir William I have quoted at such length from this Hunter, " the same answer is invariably recent and extremely able work because I given : ‘The common people have no idea want to bring into strong relief the fact of religion, but to do right (ceremonially] that we have here going on under our very and to worship the village god.' eyes, from day to day, de novo, the entire In short, I maintain that religion is not genesis of new gods and goddesses, and of mainly, as the mistaken analogy of Chrisall that is most central and essential to re- tian usage makes us erroneously call it, ligion-worship, the temple, the altar, Faith or Creed, but simply and solely sacrifice. Nothing that the mythologists Ceremony, Custom, or Practice. can tell us abont the Dawn, or the Storm- If one looks at the vast mass of the world, cloud, or Little Red Riding Hood, or Cin- ancient and modern, it is quite clear that rederella and the Glass Slipper, comes any- ligion consists, and has always consisted, of where near the Origin of Religion in these observances essentially similar to those just its central and universal elements. Those described among the Central African tribes. stories or guesses may be of immense in- Its core is worship. The religion of China terest and importance as contributions to is to this day almost entirely one of pure the history of ideas in our race; but noth- ancestor cult. The making of offerings ing we can learn about the savage survival and burning of joss-paper before the famin the myth of Cupid and Psyche, or about ily dead form its principal ceremonies. In the primitive cosmology in the myth of India, while the three great gods of the

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