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But we still have to explain the contradiction in which Robcrtson Smith saw an inadmissible logical scandal.

If the sacred beings always manifested their powers in a perfectly equal manner, it would appear inconceivable that men should dream of offering them services, for we cannot see what need they could have of them. But in the first place, in so far as they are confused with things, and in so far as they are regarded as principles of the cosmic life, they arc themselves submitted to the rhythm of this life. Now this goes in oscillations in contrary directions, which succeed one another according to a determined law. Sometimes it is affirmed in all its glory; sometimes it weakens to such an extent that one may ask himself whether it is not going to fade away. Vegetation dies every year ; will it be reborn ? Animal species tend to become extinguished, by the effect of natural and violent death ; will they be renewed at such a time and in such a way as is proper? Above all, the rain is capricious ; there are long periods during which it seems to have disappeared for ever. These periodical variations of nature bear witness to the fact that at the corresponding periods, the sacred beings upon whom the plants, animals, rain, etc., depend are themselves passing through grave crises ; so they, too, have their periods of giving way. But men could not regard these spectacles as indifferent spectators. If he is to live, the universal life must continue, and consequently the gods must not die. So he seeks to sustain and aid them ; for this, he puts at their service whatever forces he has at his disposition, and mobilizes them for this purpose. The blood flowing in his veins has fecundating virtues ; he pours it forth. From the sacred rocks

possessed by his clan he takes those germs of life which lie dormant there, and scatters them into space. In a word, he makes oblations.

The external and physical crises, moreover, duplicate internal and mental crises which tend toward the same result. Sacred beings exist only when they are represented as such in the mind. When we cease to believe in them, it is as though they did not exist. Even those which have a material form and are given by sensible experience, depend upon the thought of the worshippers who adore them ; for the sacred character which makes them objects of the cult is not given by their natural constitution; it is added to tliem by belief. The kangaroo is only an animal like all others ; yet, for the men of the Kangaroo, it contains within it a principle which puts it outside the company of others, and this principle exists only in the minds of those who believe in it.1 If these sacred beings, when once conceived, are to have no need of men to continue, it would be necessary that the representations expressing them always remain the same. But this stability is impossible. In fact, it is in the com­munal life that they arc formed, and this communal life is essentially intermittent. So they necessarily partake of this same intcrmittcncy. They attain their greatest intensity at the moment when the men are assembled together and are in immediate relations with one another, when they all partake of the same idea and the same sentiment. But when the assembly has broken up and each man has returned to his own peculiar life, they progressively lose their original energy. Being covered over little by little by the rising flood of daily experiences, they would soon fall into the unconscious, if we did not find some means of calling them back into consciousness and revivifying them. If we think of them less forcefully, they amount to less for us and we count less upon them ; they exist to a lesser degree. So here we have another point of view, from which the services of men arc necessary to them. This second reason for their existence is even more important than the first, for it exists all the time. The intermittency of the physical life can affect religious beliefs only when religions are not yet detached from their cosmic basis. The intermittency of the social life, on the other hand, is inevitable ; even the most idealistic religions cannot escape it.

Moreover, it is owing to this state of dependency upon the

thought of men, in which the gods find themselves, that the former are able to believe in the efficacy of their assistance. The only way of renewing the collective representations which relate to sacred beings is to retemper them in the very source of the religious life, that is to say, in the assembled groups. Now the emotions aroused by these periodical crises through which external things pass induce the men who witness them to assemble, to see what should be done about it. But by the very fact of uniting, they are mutually comforted ; they find a remedy because they seek it together. TIie common faith becomes reanimated quite naturally in the heart of this recon­stituted group ; it is born again because it again finds those very conditions in which it was born in the first place. After it has been restored, it easily triumphs over all the private doubts which may have arisen in individual minds. The image of the sacred things regains power enough to resist the internal or external causes which tended to weaken it. In spite of their apparent failure, men can no longer believe that the gods will die, because they feel them living in their own hearts. The means employed to succour them, howsoever crude these may be, cannot appear vain, for everything goes on as if they were really effective. Men are more confident because they feel themselves stronger; and they really are stronger, because forces which were languishing are now reawakened in the con­sciousness.

So we must be careful not to believe, along with Smith, that the cult was founded solely for the benefit of men and that the gods have nothing to do with it: they have no less need of it than their worshippers. Of course men would be unable to live without gods, but, on the other hand, the gods would die if their cult were not rendered. This does not have the sole object of making profane subjects communicate with sacred beings, but it also keeps these latter alive and is perpetually remaking and regenerating them. Of course it is not the material oblations which bring about this regeneration by their own virtues ; it is the mental states which these actions, though vain in themselves, accompany or reawaken. The real reason for the existence of the cults, even of those which are the most materialistic in appearance, is not to be sought in the acts which they prescribe, but in the internal and moral regeneration which these acts aid in bringing about. The things which the worshipper really gives his gods are not the foods which he places upon the altars, nor the blood which he lets flow from his veins : it is his thought. Nevertheless, it is true that there is an exchange of services, which are mutually demanded, between

the divinity and its worshippers. The rule do ut des, by which the principle of sacrifice has sometimes been defined, is not a late invention of utilitarian theorists : it only expresses in an explicit way the very mechanism of the sacrificial system and, more generally, of the whole positive cult. So the circle pointed out by Smith is very real; but it contains nothing humiliating for the reason. It comes from the fact that the sacred beings, though superior to men, can live only in the human consciousness.

But this circle will appear still more natural to us, and we shall understand its meaning and the reason for its existence still better if, carrying our analysis still farther and substituting for the religious symbols the realities which they represent, we investigate how these behave in the rite. If, as we have attempted to establish, the sacred principle is nothing more nor less than society transfigured and personified, it should be possible to interpret the ritual in lay and social terms. And, as a matter of fact, social life, just like the ritual, moves in a circle. On the one hand, the individual gets from society the best part of himself, all that gives him a distinct character and a special place among other beings, his intellectual and moral culture. If we should withdraw from men their language, sciences, arts and moral beliefs, they would drop to the rank of animals. So the characteristic attributes of human nature come from society. But, on the other hand, society exists and lives only in and through individuals. If the idea of society were extinguished in individual minds and the beliefs, traditions and aspirations of the group were no longer felt and shared by the individuals, society would die. We can say of it what we just said of the divinity: it is real only in so far as it has a place in human consciousnesses, and this place is whatever one we may give it. We now see the real reason why the gods cannot do without their worshippers any more than these can do without their gods; it is because society, of which the gods are only a symbolic expression, cannot do without individuals any more than these can do without society.

Here we touch the solid rock upon which all the cults are built and which has caused their persistence ever since human societies have existed. When we see what religious rites consist of and towards what they seem to tend, we demand with astonish­ment how men have been able to imagine them, and especially how they can remain so faithfully attached to them. Whence could the illusion have come that with a few grains of sand thrown to the wind, or a few drops of blood shed upon a rock or the stone of an altar, it is possible to maintain the life of an animal species or of a god? We have undoubtedly made a

step in advance towards the solution of this problem when we have discovered, behind these outward and apparently unreason­able movements, a mental mechanism which gives them a meaning and a moral significance. But we are in no way assured that this mechanism itself does not consist in a simple play of hallucinatory images. We have pointed out the psychological process which leads the believers to imagine that the rite causes the spiritual forces of which they have need to be reborn about them ; but it does not follow from the fact that this belief is psychologically explicable that it has any objective value. If we are to see in the efficacy attributed to the rites anything more than the product of a chronic delirium with which humanity has abused itself, we must show that the effect of the cult really is to recreate periodically a moral being upon which we depend as it depends upon us. Now this being does exist : it is society.

Howsoever little importance the religious ceremonies may have, they put the group into action ; the groups assemble to celebrate them. So their first effect is to bring individuals together, to multiply the relations between them and to make them more intimate with one another. By this very fact, the contents of their consciousnesses is changed.  On ordinary days, it is utilitarian and individual avocations which take the greater part of the attention. Every one attends to his own personal business; for most men, this primarily consists in satisfying the exigencies of material life, and the principal incentive to economic activity has always been private interest. Of course social sentiments could never be totally absent. We remain in relations with others ; the habits, ideas and tendencies which education has impressed upon us and which ordinarily preside over our relations with others, continue to make their action felt. But they are constantly combated and held in check by the antagonistic tendencies aroused and supported by the necessities of the daily struggle. They resist more or less successfully, according to their intrinsic energy : but this energy is not renewed. They live upon their past, and consequently they would be used up in the course of time, if nothing returned to them a little of the force that they lose through these incessant conflicts and frictions.  When the Australians, scattered in little groups, spend their time in hunting and fishing, they lose sight of what concerns their clan or tribe : their only thought is to catch as much game as possible. On feast days, on the contrary, these preoccupations are necessarily eclipsed; being essentially profane, they are excluded from these sacred periods. At this time, their thoughts are centred upon their common beliefs, their common traditions, the memory of their great

ancestors, the collective ideal of which they are the incarnation; in a word, upon social things. Even the material interests which these great religious ceremonies are designed to satisfy concern the public order and are therefore social. Society as a whole is interested that the harvest be abundant, that the rain fall at the right time and not excessively, that the animals reproduce regularly. So it is society that is in the foreground of every consciousness ; it dominates and directs all conduct ; this is equivalent to saying that it is more living and active, and con­sequently more real, than in profane times. So men do not deceive themselves when they feel at this time that there is some­thing outside of them which is born again, that there are forces which are reanimated and a life which reawakens. This renewal is in no way imaginary and the individuals themselves profit from it. For the spark of a social being which each bears within him necessarily participates in this collective renovation. The individual, soul is regenerated too, by being dipped again in the source from which its life comes ; consequently it feels itself stronger, more fully master of itself, less dependent upon physical necessities.

We know that the positive cult naturally tends to take periodic forms ; this is one of its distinctive features. Of course there are rites which men celebrate occasionally, in connection with passing situations. But these episodic practices are always merely accessory, and in the religions studied in this book, they are almost exceptional. The essential constituent of the cult is the cycle of feasts which return regularly at determined epochs. We are now able to understand whence this tendency towards periodicity comes ; the rhythm which the religious life follows only expresses the rhythm of the social life, and results from it. Society is able to revivify the sentiment it has of itself only by assembling. But it cannot be assembled all the time. The exigencies of life do not allow it to remain in congregation indefinitely ; so it scatters, to assemble anew when it again feels the need of this. It is to these necessary alternations that the regular alternations of sacred and profane times correspond. Since the apparent object, at least, of the cult was at first to regularize the course of natural phenomena, the rhythm of the cosmic life has put its mark on the rhythm of the ritual life. This is why the feasts have long been associated with the seasons;

we have seen this characteristic already in the Intichiuma of Australia.  But the seasons have only furnished the outer frame-work for this organization, and not the principle upon which it rests ; for even the cults which aim at exclusively spiritual ends have remained periodical. So this periodicity

must be due to other causes. Since the seasonal changes are critical periods for nature, they are a natural occasion for assembling, and consequently for religious ceremonies.  But other events can and have successfully fulfilled this function of occasional cause. However, it must be recognized that this frame-work, though purely external, has given proof of a singular resistive force, for traces of it are found even in the religions which are the most fully detached from all physical bases. Many Christian celebrations are founded, with no break of continuity, on the pastoral and agrarian feasts of the ancient Hebrews, although in themselves they are neither pastoral nor agrarian.

Moreover, this rhythm is capable of varying in different societies. Where the period of dispersion is long, and the dis­persion itself is extreme, the period of congregation, in its turn, is very prolonged, and produces veritable debauches of collective and religious life. Feasts succeed one another for weeks or even for months, while the ritual life sometimes attains to a sort of frenzy. This is what happens among the Australian tribes and many of the tribes of North-western America.1 Elsewhere, on the contrary, these two phases of the social life succeed one another after shorter intervals, and then the contrast between them is less marked. The more societies develop, the less they seem to allow of too great intermittences.