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From this historical resume it is clear that Australia is the most favourable field for the study of totemism, and therefore we shall make it the principal area of our observations.

In his Totemism, Frazer sought especially to collect all the traces of totemism which could be found in history or ethno­graphy. He was thus led to include in his study societies the nature and degree of whose culture diners most widely : ancient Egypt,2 Arabia and Greece,3 and the southern Slavs4 are found there, side by side with the tribes of Australia and America. This manner of procedure is not at all surprising for a disciple of the anthropological school. For this school does not seek to. locate religions in the social environments of which they are a part,5 and to differentiate them according to the different environments to which they are thus connected. But rather, as is indicated by the name which it has taken to itself, its purpose is to go beyond the national and historical differences to the universal and really human bases of the religious life. It is sup­posed that man has a religious nature of himself, in virtue of his

to societies as slightly evolved as possible, for it is evidently there that we have the greatest chance of finding it and studying it well. Now there are no societies which present this charac­teristic to a higher degree than the Australian ones. Not only is their civilization most rudimentary—the house and even the hut are still unknown—but also their organization is the most primitive and simple which is actually known ; it is that which we have elsewhere called organization on a basis of clans.1 In the next chapter, we shall have occasion to restate its essential traits.

However, though making Australia the principal field of our research, we think it best not to leave completely aside the societies where totemism was first discovered, that is to say, the Indian tribes of North America.

This extension of the field of comparison has nothing about it which is not legitimate. Undoubtedly these people are more advanced than those of Australia. Their civilization has become much more advanced : men there live in houses or under tents, and there are even fortified villages. The size of the society is much greater, and centralization, which is completely lacking in Australia, is beginning to appear there ; we find vast con­federations, such as that of the Iroquois, under one central authority. Sometimes a complicated system of differentiated classes arranged in a hierarchy is found. However, the essential lines of the social structure remain the same as those in Australia ;it is always the organization on a basis of clans. Thus we are not in the presence of two different types, but of two varieties of a single type, which are still very close to each other. They repre­sent two successive moments of a single evolution, so their homo-geneousness is still great enough to permit comparisons.

Also, these comparisons may have their utility. Just because their civilization is more advanced than that of the Australians, certain phases of the social organization which is common to both can be studied more easily among the first than among the second. As long as men are still making their first steps in the art of expressing their thought, it is not easy for the observer to perceive that which moves them ; for there is nothing to translate clearly that which passes in these obscure minds which have only a confused and ephemeral knowledge of themselves. For example, religious symbols then consist only in formless combinations of lines and colours, whose sense it is not easy to divine, as we shall see. There are many gestures and move­ments by which interior states express themselves ; but being

essentially ephemeral, they readily elude observation. That is why totemism was discovered earlier in America than in Australia;it was much more visible there, though it held relatively less place in the totality of the religious life. Also, wherever beliefs and institutions do not take a somewhat definite material form, they are more liable to change under the influence of the slightest circumstances, or to become wholly effaced from the memory. Thus the Australian clans frequently have something floating and Protean about them, while the corresponding organization in America has a greater stability and more clearly defined contours. Thus, though American totemism is further removed from its origins than that of Australia, still there are important characteristics of which it has better kept the memory.

In the second place, in order to understand an institution, it is frequently well to follow it into the advanced stages of its evolution ;1 for sometimes it is only when it is fully developed that its real signification appears with the greatest clearness. In this way also, American totemism, since it has a long history behind it, could serve to clarify certain aspects of Australian totemism.2 At the same time, it will put us in a better condition to see how totemism is bound up with the forms which follow, and to mark its place in the general historical development of religion.

So in the discussions which follow, we shall not forbid ourselves the use of certain facts borrowed from the Indian societies of North America. But we are not going to study American totemism here ;3 such a study must be made directly and by itself, and cannot be mixed with the one which we are under­taking ; it raises other problems and implies a wholly different set of special investigations. We shall have recourse to American facts merely in a supplementary way, and only when they seem to be able to make us understand Australian facts to advantage. It is these latter which constitute the real and immediate object of our researches.4