BOOK III THE PRINCIPAL RITUAL ATTITUDES

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WE do not have the intention of attempting a complete description of the primitive cult in what is to follow. Being preoccupied especially with reaching that which is most elementary and most fundamental in the religious life, we shall not attempt to reconstruct in detail the frequently confused multiplicity of all the ritual forms. But out of the midst of this extreme diversity of practices we should like to touch upon the most characteristic attitudes which the primitive observes in the celebration of his cult, to classify the most general forms of his rites, and to determine their origins and significance, in order that we may control and, if there is occasion, make more definite the results to which the analysis of the beliefs has led us.1

Every cult presents a double aspect, one negative, the other positive. In reality, of course, the two sorts of rites which we denominate thus are closely associated ; we shall see that they suppose one another. But still, they are different and, if it is only to understand their connection, it is necessary to distinguish them.