II.—Imitative Rites and the Principle of Causality

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BUT the processes which we have just been describing are not the only ones employed to assure the fecundity of the totemic species. There are others which serve for the same end, whether they accompany the preceding ones or replace them.

In the very ceremonies which we have been describing, in addition to the oblations, whether bloody or otherwise, there are other rites which are frequently celebrated, whose object is to complete the former ones and to consolidate their effects. They consist in movements and cries whose object is to imitate the different attitudes and aspects of the animal whose repro­duction is desired ; therefore, we shall call them imitative.

Thus the Intichiuma of the Witchetty grub among the Arunta includes more than the rites performed upon the sacred rocks, of which we have already spoken. When these are finished, the men set out to return to camp; but when they still are about a mile away, they halt and all decorate themselves ritually;

after this, the march is resumed. The decorations with which they thus adorn themselves announce that an important ceremony is going to take place. And, in fact, while the company was absent, one of the old men who had been left to guard the camp had built a shelter out of branches, called Umbana, which repre­sented the chrysalis out of which the insect comes. All of those who had taken part in the previous ceremonies assemble near the spot where this construction has been raised; then they advance slowly, stopping from time to time, until they reach the Umbana, which they enter. At once all the men who do not belong to the phratry of the Witchetty grub totem, and who assist at the scene, though from a distance, lie down on the ground, with their faces against the earth; they must remain in this position without moving until they are allowed to get up

again. Meanwhile, a chant arises from the interior of the Umbana, which describes the different phases through which the animal passes in the course of its development, and the myths of which the sacred rocks are the subject. When this hymn ceases, the Alatunja glides out of the Umbana, though remaining in a squatting position, and advances slowly over the ground before him; he is followed by all his companions who reproduce gestures whose evident object is to represent the insect as it leaves the chrysalis. Also, a hymn which is heard at just this moment and which is like an oral commentary on the rite, consists in a description of the movements made by the insect at this stage of its development.1

Another Intichiuma,2 celebrated in connection with another kind of grub, the unchalka3 grub, has this character still more clearly. The actors of this rite decorate themselves with designs representing the unchalka bush upon which this grub lives at the beginning of its existence. Then they cover a buckler with concentric circles of down, representing another kind of bush upon which the insect lays its eggs when it has become adult. When all these preparations are finished, they all sit down on the ground in a semicircle facing the principal officiant. He alternately bends his body double by leaning towards the ground and then rises on his knees ; at the same time, he shakes his stretched-out arms, which is a way of representing the wings of the insect. From time to time, he leans over the buckler, imitating the way in which the butterfly flies over the trees where it lays its eggs. When this ceremony is finished, another commences at a different spot, to which they go in silence. This time they use two bucklers. Upon one the tracks of the grub are represented by zigzag lines; upon the other, concentric circles of uneven dimensions represent the eggs of the insect and the seed of the Eremophile bush, upon which it is nourished. As in the former ceremony, they all sit down in silence while the officiant acts, representing the movements of the animal when leaving its chrysalis and taking its first flight.

Spencer and Gillen also point out certain analogous facts among the Arunta, though these are of a minor importance : in the Intichiuma of the Emu, for example, at a certain moment the actors try to reproduce by their attitude the air and aspect of this bird;4 in the Intichiuma of water, the men of the totem

utter the characteristic cry of the plover, a cry which is naturally associated in the mind with the rainy season.1 But in all, the examples of imitative rites which these two explorers have noted are rather few in number. However, it is certain that their relative silence on this point is due either to their not having observed the Intichiuma sufficiently or else to their having neglected this side of the ceremonies. Schuize, on the other hand, has been struck by the essentially imitative nature of the Arunta rites. " The sacred corrobbori," he says, " are generally ceremonies representing animals " : he calls them animal tjurunga2 and his testimony is now confirmed by the documents collected by Strehlow. The examples given by this latter author are so numerous that it is impossible to cite them all: there are scarcely any ceremonies in which some imitating gesture is not pointed out. According to the nature of the animals whose feast is celebrated, they jump after the manner of kangaroos, or imitate the movements they make in eating, the flight of winged ants, the characteristic noise of the bat, the cry of the wild turkey, the hissing of the snake, the croaking of the frog, etc.3 When the totem is a plant, they make the gesture of plucking it,4 or eating it,5 etc.

Among the Warramunga, the Intichiuma generally takes a special form, which we shall describe in the next chapter and which differs from those which we have studied up to the present. However, there is one typical case of a purely imitative Inti­chiuma among this people ; it is that of the black cockatoo. The ceremony described by Spencer and Gillen commenced at ten o'clock in the evening. All night long the chief of the clan imitated the cry of the bird with a disheartening monotony. He stopped only when he had come to the end of his force, and then his son replaced him ; then he commenced again as soon as he felt a little refreshed. These exhausting exercises continued until morning without interruption.6

Living beings are not the only ones which they try to imitate. In a large number of tribes, the Intichiuma of rain consists essentially in imitative rites. One of the most simple of these is that celebrated among the Arabunna. The chief of the clan is seated on the ground, all covered with white down and holding a lance in his hands. He shakes himself, undoubtedly in order to detach from his body the down which is fixed there and which represents clouds when scattered about in the air. Thus he imitates the men-clouds of the Alcheringa who, according to

the legend, had the habit of ascending to heaven and forming clouds there, from which the rain then fell. In a word, the object of the whole rite is to represent the formation and ascension of clouds, the bringers of rain.1

The ceremony is much more complicated among the Kaitish. We have already spoken of one of the means employed : the officiant pours water over the sacred stones and himself. But the action of this sort of oblation is reinforced by other rites. The rainbow is considered to have a close connection with rain : they say that it is its son and that it is always urged to appear to make the rain stop. To make the rain fall, it is therefore necessary that it should not appear ; they believe that this result can be obtained in the following manner. A design repre­senting a rainbow is made upon a buckler. They carry this buckler to camp, taking care to keep it hidden from all eyes. They are convinced that by making this image of the rainbow invisible, they keep the rainbow itself from appearing. Mean­while, the chief of the clan, having beside him a -pitchi full of water, throws in all directions flakes of down which represent clouds. Repeated imitations of the cry of the plover complete this ceremony, which seems to have an especial gravity; for as long as it lasts, all those who participate in it, either as actors or assistants, may have no relations whatsoever with their wives; they may not even speak to them.2

The processes of figuration are different among the Dieri. Rain is not represented by water, but by blood, which the men cause to flow from their veins on to the assistants.3 At the same time they throw handfuls of white down about, which represent clouds. A hut has been constructed previously, in which they now place two large stones representing piles of clouds, a sign of rain. After they have been left there for a little while, they are carried a little distance away and placed as high as possible in the loftiest tree to be found ; this is a way of making the clouds mount into the sky. Powdered gypsum is then thrown into a water-hole, for when he sees this, the rain spirit soon makes the clouds appear. Finally all the men, voung and old, assemble around the hut and with heads lowered, they charge upon it; they rush violently through it, repeating the operation several times, until nothing remains of the whole construction except

the supporting posts. Then they fall upon these and shake and pull at them until the whole thing has tumbled down. The operation consisting in running through the hut is supposed to represent clouds bursting ; the tumbling down of the construc­tion, the fall of rain.1

In the north-western tribes studied by Clement,2 which occupy the district included between the Fontescue and Fitzroy rivers, certain ceremonies are celebrated whose object is exactly the same as that of the Intichiuma of the Arunta, and which seem to be, for the most part, essentially imitative.

These peoples give the name tarlow to certain piles of stones which are evidently sacred, for, as we shall see, they are the object of important rites. Every animal, every plant, and in fact, every totem or sub-totem,3 is represented by a tarlow which a special clan4 guards. The analogy between these tarlow and the sacred rocks of the Arunta is easily seen.

When kangaroos, for example, become rare, the chief of the clan to which the tarlow of the kangaroo belongs goes to it with a certain number of companions. Here various rites are performed, the chief of which consist in jumping around the tarlow as kangaroos jump, in drinking as they drink and, in a word, in imitating all their most characteristic movements. The weapons used in hunting the animal have an important part in these rites. They brandish them, throw them against the stones, etc. When they are concerned for emus, they go to the tarlow of the emu, and walk and run as these birds do. The skill which the natives show in these imitations is, as it appears, really remarkable.

Other tarlow are consecrated to plants, such as the cereals. In this case, they imitate the actions of threshing and grinding the grain. Since in ordinary life it is the women who are normally charged with these tasks, it is also they who perform the rite, in the midst of songs and dances.