History of the Question.—Method of Treating it     

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Howsoever opposed their conclusions may seem to be, the two systems which we have just studied agree upon one essential point: they state the problem in identical terms. Both undertake to construct the idea of the divine out of the sensations aroused in us by certain natural phenomena, either physical or biological. For the animists it is dreams, for the naturists, certain cosmic phenomena, which served as the point of departure for religious evolution. But for both, it is in the nature, either of man or of the universe, that we must look for the germ of the grand opposition which separates the profane from the sacred.

But such an enterprise is impossible: it supposes a veritable creation ex nihilo. A fact of common experience cannot give us the idea of something whose characteristic is to be outside the world of common experience. A man, as he appears to himself in his dreams, is only a man. Natural forces, as our senses perceive them, are only natural forces, howsoever great their intensity may be. Чепсе comes the common criticism which we address to both doctrines. In order to explain how these pretended data of religious thought have been able to take a sacred character which has no objective foundation, it would be necessary to admit that a whole world of delusive representations has superimposed itself upon the other, de­natured it to the point of making it unrecognizable, and sub­stituted a pure hallucination for reality. Here, it is the illusions of the dream which brought about this transfiguration ; there, it is the brilliant and vain company of images evoked by the word. But in one case as in the other, it is necessary to regard religion as the product of a delirious imagination.

Thus one positive conclusion is arrived at as the result of this critical examination. Since neither man nor nature have of themselves a sacred character, they must get it from another

source. Aside from the human individual and the physical world, there should be some other reality, in relation to which this variety of delirium which all religion is in a sense, has a significance and an objective value. In other words, beyond those which we have called animistic and naturistic, there should be another sort of cult, more fundamental and more primitive, of which the first are only derived forms or particular aspects.

In fact, this cult does exist : it is the one to which ethnologists have given the name of totemism.

It was only at the end of the eighteenth century that the word totem appeared in ethnographical literature. It is found for the first time in the book of an Indian interpreter, J. Long, which was published in London in 1791.1 For nearly a half a century, totemism was known only as something exclusively American.2 It was only in 1841 that Grey, in a passage which has remained celebrated,3 pointed out the existence of wholly similar practices in Australia. From that time on, scholars began to realize that they were in the presence of a system of a certain generality.

But they saw there only an essentially archaic institiition, an ethnographical curiosity, having no great interest for the historian. MacLennan was the first who undertook to attach totemism to the general history of humanity. In a series of articles in the Fortnightly Review ,4 he set himself to show that toteraism was not only a religion, but one from which were derived a multitude of beliefs and practices which are found in much more advanced religious systems. He even went so far as to make it the source of all the animal-worshipping and plant-worshipping cults which are found among ancient peoples. Certainly this extension of totemism was abusive. The cults of animals and plants depend upon numerous causes which cannot be reduced to one, without the error of too great sim­plicity. But this error, by its very exaggerations, had at least the advantage, that it put into evidence the historical importance of totemism.

Students of American totemism had already known for aTotemism as an Elementary Religion      

long time that this form of religion was most intimately united to a determined social organization, that its basis is the division of the social group into clans.1 In 1877, in his Ancient Society,2 Lewis H. Morgan undertook to make a study of it, to determine its distinctive characteristics, and at the same time to point out its generality among the Indian tribes of North and Central America. At nearly the same moment, and even following the direct suggestion of Morgan, Fison and Howitt 3 established the existence of the same social system in Australia, as well as its relations with totemism.

Under the influence of these directing ideas, observations could be made with better method. The researches which the American Bureau of Ethnology undertook, played an important part in the advance of these studies.4 By 1887, the documents were sufficiently numerous and significant to make Frazer consider it time to unite them and present them to us in a systematic form. Such is the object of his little book Totemism,5 where the system is studied both as a religion and as a legal institution. But this study was purely descriptive ; no effort was made to explain totemism6 or to understand its funda­mental notions.

Robertson Smith is the first who undertook this work of elaboration. He realized more clearly than any of his prede­cessors how rich this crude and confused religion is in germs for the future. It is true that MacLennan had already connected it with the great religions of antiquity ; but that was merely because he thought he had found here and there the cult of animals or plants. Now if we reduce totemism to a sort of animal or plant worship, we have seen only its most superficial aspect: we have even misunderstood its real nature. Going

beyond the mere letter of the totemic beliefs, Smith set himself to find the fundamental principles upon which they depend. In his book upon Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia,1 he had already pointed out that totemism supposes a likeness in nature, either natural or acquired, of men and animals (or plants). In his The Religion of the Semites,2 he makes this same idea the first origin of the entire sacrificial system : it is to totemism that humanity owes the principle of the communion meal. It is true that the theory of Smith can now be shown one-sided ; it is no longer adequate for the facts actually known ; but for all that, it contains an ingenious theory and has exercised a most fertile influence upon the science of religions. The Golden Bough 3 of Frazer is inspired by these same ideas, for totemism, which MacLennan had attached to the religions of classical antiquity, and Smith to the religions of the Semitic peoples, is here con­nected to the European folk-lore. The schools of MacLennan and Morgan are thus united to that of Mannhardt.4

During this time, the American tradition continued to develop with an independence which it has kept up until very recent times. Three groups of societies were the special object of the researches which were concerned with totemism. These are, first, certain tribes of the North-west, the Tlinkit, the Haida, the Kwakiuti, the Salish and the Tsimshian ; then, the great nation of the Sioux ; and finally, the Pueblo Indians in the south­western part of the United States. The first were studied princi­pally by Dall, Krause, Boas, Swanton, Hill Tout; the second by Dorsey ; the last by Mindeleff, Mrs. Stevenson and Gushing.5 But however rich the harvest of facts thus gathered in all parts of the country may have been, the documents at our disposal were still fragmentary. Though the American religions contain numerous traces of totemism, they have passed the stage of real totemism. On the other hand, observations in Australia had brought little more than scattered beliefs and isolated rites, initiation rituals and interdictions relative to totemism. It was with facts taken from all these sources that Frazer attempted to draw a picture of totemism in its entirety. Whatever may be the incontestable merit of the reconstruction undertaken in

such circumstances, it could not help being incomplete and hypothetical. A totemic religion in complete action had not yet been observed.

It is only in very recent years that this serious deficiency has been repaired. Two observers of remarkable ability, Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen, discovered1 in the interior of the Australian continent a considerable number of tribes whose basis and unity was founded in totemic beliefs. The results of their observations have been published in two works, which have given a new life to the study of totemism. The first of these. The Native Tribes of Central Australia2 deals with the more central of these tribes, the Arunta, the Luritcha, and a little farther to the south, on the shores of Lake Eyre, the Urabunna. The second, which is entitled The Northern Tribes of Central Australia,3 deals with the societies north of the Urabunna, occupying the territory between MacDonnell's Range and Carpenter Gulf. Among the principal of these we may mention the Unmatjera, the Kaitish, the Warramunga, the Worgaia, the Tingilli, the Binbinga, the Walpari, the Gnanji and finally, on the very shores of the gulf, the Мага and the Anula.4

More recently, a German missionary, Carl Strehlow, who has also passed long years in these same Central Australian societies,5 has commenced to publish his own observations on two of these tribes, the Aranda and the Loritja (the Arunta and Luritcha of

Spencer and Gillen).1  Having well mastered the language spoken by these peoples,2 Strehlow has been able to bring us a large number of totemic myths and religious songs, which are given us, for the most part, in the original text. In spite of some differences of detail which are easily explained and whose importance has been greatly exaggerated,3 we shall see that the observations of Strehlow, though completing, making more precise and sometimes even rectifying those of Spencer and Gillen, confirm them in all that is essential.

These discoveries have given rise to an abundant literature to which we shall have occasion to return. The works of Spencer and Gillen especially have exercised a considerable influence, not only because they were the oldest, but also because the facts were there presented in a systematic form, which was of a nature to give a direction to later studies,4 and to stimulate speculation. Their results were commented upon, discussed and interpreted in all possible manners. At this same time, Howitt, whose fragmentary studies were scattered in a number of different publications,5 undertook to do for the southern tribes what Spencer and Gillen had done for those of the centre. In his Native Tribes of South-East Australia,6 he gives us a view of the social organization of the peoples who occupy Southern Australia, New South Wales, and a good part of Queensland. The progress thus realized suggested to Frazer the idea of completing his Totemism by a sort of compendium 7 where would be brought

together all the important documents which are concerned either with the totemic religion or the family and matrimonial organiza­tion which, rightly or wrongly, is believed to be connected with this religion. The purpose of this book is not to give us a general and systematic view of totemism, but rather to put the materials necessary for a construction of this sort at the disposition of scholars.1 The facts are here arranged in a strictly ethno-graphical and geographical order : each continent, and within the continent, each tribe or ethnic group is studied separately. Though so extended a study, where so many diverse peoples are successively passed in review, could hardly be equally thorough in all its parts, still it is a useful hand-book to consult, and one which can aid greatly in facilitating researches.