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By definition, sacred beings are separated beings. That which characterizes them is that there is a break of continuity between them and the profane beings. Normally, the first are outside the others. A whole group of rites has the object of realizing this state of separation which is essential. Since their function is to prevent undue mixings and to keep one of these two domains from encroaching upon the other, they are only able to impose abstentions or negative acts. Therefore, we propose to give the name negative cult to the system formed by these special rites. They do not prescribe certain acts to the faithful, but confine themselves to forbidding certain ways of acting ; so they all

take the form of interdictions, or as is commonly said by ethno-graphers, of taboos. This latter word is the one used in the Polynesian languages to designate the institution in virtue of which certain things are withdrawn from common use1; it is also an adjective expressing the distinctive characteristic of these kinds of things. We have already had occasion to show how hard it is to translate a strictly local and dialectical expres­sion like this into a generic term. There is no religion where there are no interdictions and where they do not play a considerable part; so it is regrettable that the consecrated terminology should seem to make so universal an institution into a peculiarity of Polynesia.2 The expression interdicts or interdictions seems to us to be much more preferable. However, the word taboo, like the word totem, is so customary that it would show an excess of purism to prohibit it systematically; also, the inconveniences it may have are attenuated when its real meaning and importance have once been definitely stated.

But there are interdictions of different sorts which it is im­portant to distinguish; for we shall not have to treat all kinds of interdictions in this chapter.

First of all, beside those coming from religion, there are others which are due to magic. The two have this in common, that they declare certain things incompatible, and prescribe the separation of the things whose incompatibility is thus proclaimed. But there are also very grave differences between them. In the first place, the sanctions are not the same in the two cases. Of course the violation of the religious interdicts is frequently believed, as we shall presently see, to bring about material dis­orders mechanically, from which the guilty man will suffer, and which are regarded as a judgment on his act. But even if these really come about this spontaneous and automatic judgment is not the only one ; it is always completed by another one, sup­posing human intervention. A real punishment is added to this, if it does not anticipate it, and this one is deliberately inflicted by men ; or at least there is a blame and public repro­bation. Even when the sacrilege has been punished, as it were, by the sickness or natural death of its author, it is also defamed; it offends opinion, which reacts against it; it puts the man who did it in fault. On the contrary, the magic interdiction is judged only by the material consequences which the forbidden act is

believed to produce, with a sort of physical necessity. In dis­obeying, a man runs risks similar to those to which an invalid exposes himself in not following the advice of his physician; but in this case disobedience is not a fault; it creates no indig­nation. There is no sin in magic. Moreover, this difference in sanction is due to a profound difference in the nature of the interdictions. The religious interdiction necessarily implies the notion of sacredness; it comes from the respect inspired by the sacred object, and its purpose is to keep this respect from failing. On the other hand, the interdictions of magic suppose only a wholly lay notion of property. The things which the magician recommends to be kept separate are those which, by reason of their characteristic properties, cannot be brought together and confused without danger. Even if he happens to ask his clients to keep at a distance from certain sacred things, it is not through respect for them and fear that they may be profaned, for, as we know, magic lives on profanations;1 it is merely for reasons of temporal utility. In a word, religious interdictions are categorical imperatives; others are useful maxims, the first form of hygienic and medical interdictions. We cannot study two orders of facts as different as these simultaneously, or even under the same name, without confusion. We are only concerned with the religious interdictions here.2

But a new distinction is necessary between these latter. There are religious interdictions whose object is to separate two sacred things of different species from each other. For example, it will be remembered that among the Wakelbura the scaffold upon which the corpse is exposed must be made exclu­sively of materials belonging to the phratry of the dead man ;

this is as much as to say that all contact between the corpse, which is sacred, and the things of the other phratry, which are also sacred, but differently, is forbidden. Elsewhere, the arms which one uses to hunt an animal with cannot be made out of a kind of wood that is classed in the same social group as the animal itself.3 But the most important of these interdictions are the ones which we shall study in the next chapter ; they are intended to prevent all communication between the purely sacred and the impurely sacred, between the sacredly auspicious and the sacredly inauspicious. All these interdictions have one common

characteristic; they come, not from the fact that some things are sacred while others are not, but from the fact that there are inequalities and incompatibilities between sacred things. So they do not touch what is essential in the idea of sacredness. The observance of these prohibitions can give place only to isolated rites which are particular and almost exceptional ; but it could not make a real cult, for before all, a cult is made by regular relations between the profane and the sacred as such.

But there is another system of religious interdictions which is much more extended and important; this is the one which separates, not different species of sacred things, but all that is sacred from all that is profane. So it is derived immediately from the notion of sacredness itself, and it limits itself to express­ing and realizing this. Thus it furnishes the material for a verit­able cult, and even of a cult which is at the basis of all the others; for the attitude which it prescribes is one from which the wor­shipper must never depart in all his relations with the sacred. It is what we call the negative cult. We may say that its inter­dicts are the religious interdicts par excellence.1 It is only these that we shall discuss in the following pages.

But they take multiple forms. Here are the principal ones which we observe in Australia.

Before all are the interdictions of contact ; these are the original taboos, of which the others are scarcely more than particular varieties. They rest upon the principle that the profane should never touch the sacred. We have seen already that the unin­itiated may not touch the churinga or the bull-roarers under any circumstances. If adults are allowed the free use of them, it is because initiation has conferred a sacred character upon them. Blood, and especially that which flows during the initiation, has a religious virtue;2 it is under the same interdict.3 It is the same

with the hair.1 A dead man is sacred because the soul which animated the body stays with the corpse ; for this reason it is sometimes forbidden to carry the bones of a dead man about unless they are wrapped up in a piece of bark.2 Even the place where the death took place should be avoided, for they believe that the soul of the dead man continues to haunt the spot. That is why they break camp and move some distance away;3 in certain cases they destroy it along with everything it contains,4 and a certain time must elapse before they can come back to the same place.5 Thus it comes about that a dying man creates an empty space about him ; they abandon him after they have installed him as comfortably as possible.6

An exceptionally intimate contact is the one resulting from the absorption of food. Hence comes the interdiction against eating the sacred animals or vegetables, and especially those serving as totems.7 Such an act appears so very sacrilegeous that the prohibition covers even adults, or at least, the majority of them ; only the old men attain a sufficient religious dignity to escape this interdict sometimes. This prohibition has some­times been explained by the mythical kinship uniting the man to the animals whose name he bears ; they are protected by the sentiment of sympathy which they inspire by their position as kin.8 But the fact that the consumption of the forbidden flesh is believed to cause sickness or death automatically shows that this interdiction does not have its origin in the simple revolt of the feeling of domestic relationship. Forces of another sort are in action which are analogous to those in all religions and which are believed to react against sacrileges.

Moreover, if certain foods are forbidden to the profane because they are sacred, certain others, on the contrary, are forbidden to persons of a sacred character, because they are profane. Thus it frequently happens that certain animals are specially desig­nated as the food of women; for this reason, they believe that they partake of a feminine nature and that they are consequently

profane. On the other hand, the young initiate is submitted to a series of rites of particular severity ; to give him the virtues which will enable him to enter into the world of sacred things, from which he had up till then been excluded, they centre an exceptionally powerful group of religious forces upon him. Thus he enters into a state of sanctity which keeps all that is profane at a distance. Then he is not allowed to eat the game which is regarded as the special food of women.1

But contact may be established by other means than the touch. One comes into relations with a thing by merely regarding it : a look is a means of contact. This is why the sight of sacred things is forbidden to the profane in certain cases. A woman should never see the instruments of the cult ; the most that is permitted her is to catch a glimpse of them from afar.2 It is the same with the totemic paintings executed on the bodies of the officiants in the exceptionally important ceremonies.3 The exceptional solemnity of the rites of initiation prevents the women in certain tribes from seeing the place where they were celebrated4 or even the neophyte himself.5 The sacred character which is imminent in the ceremony as a whole is naturally found in the persons of those who directed it or took some part in it; the result of this is that the novice may not raise his eyes to them, and this interdiction continues even after the rite is accomplished.6 A dead man is also removed from view sometimes : his face is covered over in such a way that it cannot be seen.7

The word is another way of entering into relations with persons or things. The breath expired establishes a communication ; this is a part of us which spreads outwards. Thus it is forbidden to the profane to address the sacred beings or simply to speak in their presence. Just as the neophyte must not regard either the operators or the assistants, so it is forbidden to him to con­verse with them except by signs; and this interdiction keeps the place to which it has been raised, by means of a special rite.8

In a general way, there are, among the Arunta, moments in the course of the great ceremonies when silence is obligatory.1 As soon as the churinga are exposed, every one keeps still, or if someone talks, he does so in a low voice or with his lips only.2

Besides the sacred things, there are words and sounds which have the same character ; they should not pass the lips of the profane or enter their ears. There are ritual songs which women must not hear under pain of death.3 They may hear the noise of the bull-roarers, but only from a distance. Every proper name is considered an essential element of the person who bears it; being closely associated in the mind to the idea of this person, it partici­pates in the sentiments which this latter inspires. So if the one is sacred, the other is. Therefore, it may not be pronounced in the course of the profane life. Among the Warramunga there is one totem which is particularly venerated, this is the snake called Wollunqua ; its name is taboo.4 It is the same with Baiame, Daramulun and Bunjil ; the esoteric form of their name must not be revealed to the uninitiate.5 During mourning, the name of the dead man must not be mentioned, at least by his parents, except when there is an absolute necessity, and even in this case it must be whispered.6 This interdiction is frequently perpetual for the widow and certain relatives.7 Among certain peoples, this even extends beyond the family ; all the individuals whose name is the same as that of the dead man must change theirs temporarily.8 But there is more than this : the relatives and intimate friends sometimes abstain from certain words in the usual language, undoubtedly because they were employed by the dead man ; these gaps are filled in by means of periphrases or words taken from some foreign dialects.9 In addition to their public and everyday names all men have another which is kept a secret: the women and children do not know it; it is never used in the ordinary life. This is because it has a religious character.10 There are even ceremonies during which it is neces­sary to speak a special language which must not be used for profane purposes. It is the beginning of a sacred language.11

Not only are the sacred beings separated from the profane, but also nothing which either directly or indirectly concerns the

profane life should be confused with the religious life. Complete nudity is frequently demanded of the native as a prerequisite to being admitted to participation in the rites;1 he is required to strip himself of all his habitual ornaments, even those to which he is the most attached, and from which he separates himself the least willingly because of the protecting virtues he attributes to them.2 If he is obliged to decorate himself to play his part in the ritual, this decoration has to be made specially for the occasion; it is a ceremonial costume, a gala dress.3 As these ornaments are sacred, owing to the use made of them, he is forbidden to use them in profane affairs ; when the ceremony is finished, they are buried or burnt;4 the men must even wash themselves in such a way as to carry away with them no trace of the decorations with which they were adorned.5

In general, all acts characteristic of the ordinary life are for­bidden while those of the religious life are taking place. The act of eating is, of itself, profane; for it takes place every day, it satisfies essentially utilitarian and material needs and it is a part of our ordinary existence.6 This is why it is prohibited in religious times. When one totemic group has loaned its churinga to a foreign clan, it is an exceptionally solemn moment when they are brought back and put into the ertnatulunga ; all those who take part in the ceremony must fast as long as it lasts, and it lasts a long time.7 The same rule is observed during the rites,8 of which we shall speak in the next chapter, as well as at certain moments of the initiation.9

For this same reason, all temporal occupations are suspended while the great religious solemnities are taking place. According to a remark of Spencer and Gillen,10 which we have already had occasion to cite, the life of the Australian is divided into two very distinct parts : the one is devoted to hunting, fishing and warfare ; the other is consecrated to the cult, and these two forms

of activity mutually exclude and repel one another. It is on this principle that the universal institution of religious days of rest reposes. The distinctive character of the feast-days in all known religions is the cessation of work and the suspension of public and private life, in so far as it does not have a religious objective. This repose is not merely a sort of temporary relaxa­tion which men have given themselves in order to give themselves up more freely to the sentiments of joy ordinarily awakened by the feast-days; for they are sad feasts, consecrated to mourning and repentance, and during which this cessation is no less obliga­tory. This is because work is an eminent form of profane activity : it has no other apparent end than to provide for the temporal necessities of life ; it puts us in relations with ordinary things only. On feast days, on the contrary, the religious life attains an exceptional degree of intensity. So the contrast between the two forms of existence is especially marked at this moment; consequently, they cannot remain near to each other. A man cannot approach his god intimately while he still bears on him marks of his profane life; inversely, he cannot return to his usual occupations when a rite has just sanctified him. So the ritual day of rest is only one particular case of the general incompati­bility separating the sacred from th» profane ; it is the result of an interdiction.

It would be impossible to enumerate here all the different interdictions which have been observed, even in the Australian religions alone. Like the notion of sacredness upon which it rests, the system of interdicts extends into the most diverse relations; it is even used deliberately for utilitarian ends.1

But howsoever complex it may be, it finally rests upon two fundamental interdictions, which summarize it and dominate it.

In the first place, the religious life and the profane life cannot coexist in the same place. If the former is to develop, a special spot must be placed at its disposition, from which the second is excluded. Hence comes the founding of temples and sanctuaries :

these are the spots awarded to sacred beings and things and serve them as residences, for they cannot establish themselves in any place except on the condition of entirely appropriating to them­selves all within a certain distance. Such arrangements are so indispensable to all religious life that even the most inferior religions cannot do without them. The ertnatulunga, the spot where the churinga are deposited, is a veritable sanctuary. So the uninitiated are not allowed to approach it. It is even for­bidden to carry on any profane occupation whatsoever there. As we shall presently see, there are other holy places where important ceremonies are celebrated.1

Likewise, the religious life and the profane life cannot coexist in the same unit of time. It is necessary to assign determined days or periods to the first, from which all profane occupations are excluded. Thus feast days are born. There is no religion, and, consequently, no society which has not known and practised this division of time into two distinct parts, alternating with one another according to a law varying with the peoples and the civilizations ; as we have already pointed out, it was probably the necessity of this alternation which led men to introduce into the continuity and homogeneity of duration, certain distinctions and differentiations which it does not naturally have.2 Of course, it is almost impossible that the religious life should ever succeed in concentrating itself hermetically in the places and times which are thus attributed to it; it is inevitable that a little of it should filter out. There are always some sacred things outside the sanctuaries ; there are some rites that can be celebrated on work-days. But these are sacred things of the second rank and rites of a lesser importance. Concentration remains the dominating characteristic of this organization. Generally this concentration is complete for all that concerns the public cult, which cannot be celebrated except in common. The individual, private cult is the only one which comes very near to the temporal life. Thus the contrast between these two successive phases of human life attains its maximum of intensity in the inferior societies ; for it is there that the in­dividual cult is the most rudimentary.3