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The interest of the system of rites which has just been described lies in the fact that in them we find, in the most elementary form that is actually known, all the essential principles of a great religious institution which was destined to become one of the foundation stones of the positive cult in the superior religions: this is the institution of sacrifice.

We know what a revolution the work of Robertson Smith brought about in the traditional theory of sacrifice.2 Before him, sacrifice was regarded as a sort of tribute or homage, either obligatory or optional, analogous to that which subjects owe to their princes. Robertson Smith was the first to remark that this classic explanation did not account for two essential charac­teristics of the rite. In the first place, it is a repast : its substance is food. Secondly, it is a repast in which the worshippers, who offer it take part, along with the god to whom it is offered. Certain parts of the victim are reserved for the divinity; others are

attributed to the sacrificers, who consume them ; this is why the Bible often speaks of the sacrifice as a repast in the presence of Jahveh. Now in a multitude of societies, meals taken in common are believed to create a bond of artificial kinship between those who assist at them. In fact, relatives are people who are naturally made of the same flesh and blood. But food is constantly remaking the substance of the organism. So a common food may produce the same effects as a common origin. According to Smith, sacrificial banquets have the object of making the worshipper and his god communicate in the same flesh, in order to form a bond of kinship between them. From this point of view, sacrifice takes on a wholly new aspect. Its essential element is no longer the act of renouncement whJ :h tlie word sacrifice ordinarily expresses ; before all, it is an act of alimentary communion.

Of course there are some reservations to be made in the details of this way of explaining the efficacy of sacrificial banquets. This does not result exclusively from the act of eating together. A man does not sanctify himself merely by sitting down, in some way, at the same table with a god, but especially by eating food at this ritual repast which has a sacred character. It has been shown how a whole series of preliminary operations, lustra­tions, unctions, prayers, etc., transform the animal to be immo­lated into a sacred thing, whose sacredness is subsequently transferred to the worshipper who eats it.1 But it is true, none the less, that the alimentary communion is one of the essential elements of the sacrifice. Now when we turn to the rite which terminates the ceremonies of the Intichiuma, we find that it, too, consists in an act of this sort. After the totemic animal has been killed, the Alatunja and the old men solemnly eat it. So they communicate with the sacred principle residing in it and they assimilate it. The only difference we find here is that the animal is naturally sacred while it ordinarily acquires this character artificially in the course of the sacrifice.

Moreover, the object of this communion is manifest. Every member of a totemic clan contains a mystic substance within him which is the pre-eminent part of his being, for his soul is made out of it. From it come whatever powers he has and his social position, for it is this which makes him a person. So he has a vital interest in maintaining it intact and in keeping it, as far as is possible, in a state of perpetual youth. Unfortunately all forces, even the most spiritual, are used up in the course of time if nothing comes to return to them the energy they lose

through the normal working of things ; there is a necessity of the first importance here which, as we shall see, is the real reason for the positive cult. Therefore the men of a totem cannot retain their position unless they periodically revivify the totemic principle which is in them ; and as they represent this principle in the form of a vegetable or animal, it is to the corresponding animal or vegetable species that they go to demand the sup­plementary forces needed to renew this and to rejuvenate it. A man of the Kangaroo clan believes himself and feels himself a kangaroo ; it is by this quality that he defines himself ; it is this which marks his place in the society. In order to keep it, he takes a little of the flesh of this same animal into his own body from time to time. A small bit is enough, owing to the rule: the part is equal to the whole.1

If this operation is to produce all the desired effects, it may not take place at no matter what moment. The most opportune time is when the new generation has just reached its complete development, for this is also the moment when the forces animating the totemic species attain their maximum intensity. They have just been drawn with great difficulty from those rich reservoirs of life, the sacred trees and rocks. Moreover, all sorts of means have been employed to increase their intensity still more ; this is the use of the rites performed during the first part of the Intichiuma. Also, by their very aspect, the firstfruits of the harvest manifest the energy which they contain : here the totemic god acclaims himself in all the glory of his youth. This is why the firstfruits have always been regarded as a very sacred fruit, reserved for very holy beings. So it is natural that the Australian uses it to regenerate himself spiritually. Thus both the date and the circumstances of the ceremonies are explained.

Perhaps some will be surprised that so sacred a food may be eaten by ordinary profane persons. But in the first place, there is no positive cult which does not face this contradiction. Every sacred being is removed from profane touch by this very character with which it is endowed ; but, on the other hand, they would serve for nothing and have no reason whatsoever for their existence if they could not come in contact with these same worshippers who, on another ground, must remain respect­fully distant from them. At bottom, there is no positive rite which does not constitute a veritable sacrilege, for a man cannot hold commerce with the sacred beings without crossing the barrier which should ordinarily keep them separate. But the important thing is that the sacrilege should be accompanied

with precautions which attenuate it. Among those employed, the most usual one consists in arranging the transition so as to introduce the worshipper slowly and gradually into the circle of sacred things. When it has been broken and diluted in this fashion, the sacrilege does not offend the religious con­science so violently; it is not regarded as a sacrilege and so vanishes. This is what happens in the case now before us. The effect of the whole series of rites which has preceded the moment when the totem is solemnly eaten has been to sanctify those who took an active part in them. They constitute an essentially religious period, through which no one could go with­out a transformation of his religious state. The fasts, the contact with sacred rocks, the churinga,1 the totemic decorations, etc., have gradually conferred upon him a character which he did not have before and which enables him to approach, without a shock­ing and dangerous profanation, this desirable and redoubtable food which is forbidden him in ordinary times.2

If the act by which a sacred being is first immolated and then eaten by those who adore it may be called a sacrifice, the rite of which we have just been speaking has a right to this same name. Moreover, its significance is well shown by the striking analogies it presents with so many practices met with in a large number of agrarian cults. It is a very general rule that even among peoples who have attained a high degree of civilization, the firstfruits of the harvest are used in the ritual repasts, of which the pascal feast is the best known example.3 On the other hand, as the agrarian rites are at the very basis of the most advanced forms of the cult, we see that the Intichiuma of the Australian societies is closer to us than one might imagine from its apparent crudeness.

By an intuition of genius. Smith had an intuition of all this, though he was not acquainted with. the facts. By a series of ingenious deductions—which need not be reproduced here, for their interest is now only historical4—he thought that he could establish the fact that at the beginning the animal immolated in the sacrifice must have been regarded as quasi-divine and as a close relative of those who immolated it : now these charac­teristics are just the ones with which the totemic species is defined. Smith even went so far as to suppose that totemism must have known and practised a rite wholly similar to the one we have been studying ; he was even inclined to see the original source

of the whole sacrificial institution in a sacrifice of this sort.1 Sacrifice was not founded to create a bond of artificial kinship between a man and his gods, but to maintain and renew the natural kinship which primitively united them.   Here, as else­where, the artifice was born only to imitate nature.   But in the book of Smith this hypothesis was presented as scarcely more than a theory which the then known facts supported very imperfectly. The rare cases of totemic sacrifice which he cites in support of his theory do not have the significance he attributed to them ; the animals which figure in them are not real totems.2 But to-day we are able to state that on at least one point the demonstration is made : in fact, we have just seen that in an important number of societies the totemic sacrifice, such as Smith conceived it, is or has been practised. Of course, we have no proof that this practice is necessarily inherent to totemism or that it is the germ out of which all the other types of sacrifices have developed. But if the universality of the rite is hypothetical, its existence is no longer to be contested. Hereafter it is to be regarded as established that the most mystical form of the alimentary communion is found even in the most rudimentary cults known to-day.