III

К оглавлению
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 
68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 
85 86 87 88 89 90 91 

We now arrive at that which constitutes the very heart of the doctrine.

Wherever this idea of a double may come from, it is not sufficient, according to the avowal of the animists themselves, to explain the formation of the cult of the ancestors which they would make the initial type of all religions. If this double is to become the object of a cult, it must cease to be a simple repro­duction of the individual, and must acquire the characteristics necessary to put it in the rank of sacred beings. It is death, they say, which performs this transformation. But whence comes the virtue which they attribute to this ? Even were the analogy of sleep and death sufficient to make one believe that the soul survives the body (and there are reservations to be made on this point), why does this soul, by the mere fact that it is now detached from the organism, so completely change its nature ? If it was only a profane thing, a wandering vital principle, during life, how does it become a sacred thing all at once, and

the object of religious sentiments ? Death adds nothing essential to it, except a greater liberty of movement. Being no longer attached to a special residence, from now on, it can do at any time what it formerly did only by night; but the action of which it is capable is always of the same sort. Then why have the living considered this uprooted and vagabond double of their former companion as anything more than an equal ? It was a fellow-creature, whose approach might be inconvenient; it was not a divinity.1

It seems as though death ought to have the effect of weakening vital energies,, instead of strengthening them. It is, in fact, a very common belief in the inferior societies that the soul participates actively in the life of the body. If the body is wounded, it is wounded itself and in a corresponding place. Then it should grow old along with the body. In fact, there are peoples who do not render funeral honours to men arrived at senility; they are treated as if their souls also had become senile.2 It even happens that they regularly put to death, before they arrive at old age, certain privileged persons, such as kings or priests, who are supposed to be the possessors of powerful spirits whose protection the community wishes to keep. They thus seek to keep the spirit from being affected by the physical decadence of its momentary keepers ; with this end in view, they take it from the organism where it resides before age can have weakened it, and they transport it, while it has as yet lost nothing of its vigour, into a younger body where it will be able to keep its vitality intact.3 So when death results from sickness or old age, it seems as though the soul could retain only a diminished power ; and if it is only its double, it is difficult to see how it could survive at all, after the body is once definitely dissolved. From this point of view, the idea of survival is intelligible only with great difficulty. There is a logical and psychological gap between the idea of a double at liberty and that of a spirit to which a cult is addressed.

This interval appears still more considerable when we realize what an abyss separates the sacred world from the profane ;

it becomes evident that a simple change of degree could not be enough to make something pass from one category into the other. Sacred beings are not distinguished from profane ones merely by the strange or disconcerting forms which they take or by the greater powers which they enjoy ; between the two there is no common measure. Now there is nothing in the notion of a double which could account for so radical a hetero­geneity. It is said that when once freed from the body, the spirit can work all sorts of good or evil for the living, according to the way in which it regards them. But it is not enough that a being should disturb his neighbourhood to seem to be of a wholly different nature from those whose tranquillity it menaces. To be sure, in the sentiment which the believer feels for the things he adores, there always enters in some element of reserve and fear ; but this is a fear sui generis, derived from respect more than from fright, and where the dominating emotion is that which la majeste inspires in men. The idea of majesty is essen­tially religious. Then we have explained nothing of religion until we have found whence this idea comes, to what it corre­sponds and what can have aroused it in the mind. Simple souls of men cannot become invested with this character by the simple fact of being no longer incarnate.

This is clearly shown by an example from Melanesia. The Melanesians believe that men have souls which leave the body at death ; it then changes its name and becomes what they call a tindalo, a natmat, etc. Also, they have a cult of the souls of the dead : they pray to them, invoke them and make offerings and sacrifices to them. But every tindalo is not the object of these ritual practices ; only those have this honour which come from men to whom public opinion attributed, during life, the very special virtue which the Melanesians call the man a. Later on, we shall have occasion to fix precisely the meaning which this word expresses ; for the time being, it will suffice to say that it is the distinctive character of every sacred being. As Codrington says, "it is what works to effect anything which is beyond the ordinary power of men, outside the common processes of nature."1 A priest, a sorcerer or a ritual formula have mana as well as a sacred stone or spirit. Thus the only tindalo to which religious services are rendered are those which were already sacred of themselves, when their proprietor was still alive.  In regard to the other souls, which come from ordinary men, from the crowd of the profane, the same author says that they are " nobodies alike before and after death."2 By itself, death has no deifying virtue.  Since it

brings about in a more or less complete and final fashion the separation of the soul from profane things, it can well reinforce the sacred character of the soul, if this already exists, but it cannot create it.

Moreover, if, as the hypothesis of the animists supposes, the first sacred beings were really the souls of the dead and the first cult that of the ancestors, it should be found that the lower the societies examined are, the more the place given to this cult in the religious life. But it is rather the contrary which is true. The ancestral cult is not greatly developed, or even presented under a characteristic form, except in advanced societies like those of China, Egypt or the Greek and Latin cities; on the other hand, it is completely lacking in the Australian societies which, as we shall see, represent the lowest and simplest form of social organization which we know. It is true that funeral rites and rites of mourning are found there ; but these practices do not constitute a cult, though this name has sometimes wrong­fully been given them. In reality, a cult is not a simple group of ritual precautions which a man is held to take in certain circumstances ; it is a system of diverse rites, festivals and ceremonies which all have this characteristic, that they reappear periodically. They fulfil the need which the believer feels of strengthening and reaffirming, at regular intervals of time, the bond which unites him to the sacred beings upon which he depends. That is why one speaks of marriage rites but not of a marriage cult, of rites of birth but not of a cult of the new-bom child ; it. is because the events on the occasion of which these rites take place imply no periodicity. In the same way, there is no cult of the ancestors except when sacrifices are made on the tombs from time to time, when libations are poured there on certain more or less specific dates, or when festivals are regularly celebrated in honour of the dead. But the Australian has no relations of this sort with his dead. It is true that he must bury their remains according to a ritual, mourn for them during a prescribed length of time and in a prescribed manner, and revenge them if there is occasion to.1 But when he has once accomplished these pious tasks, when the bones are once dry and the period of mourning is once accomplished, then all is said and done, and the survivors have no more duties towards their relatives who exist no longer. It is true that there is a way in which the dead continue to hold a place in the lives of

their kindred, even after the mourning is finished. It is some­times the case that their hair or certain of their bones are kept, because of special virtues which are attached to them.1 But by that time they have ceased to exist as persons, and have fallen to the rank of anonymous and impersonal charms. In this condition they are the object of no cult ; they serve only for magical purposes.

However, there are certain Australian tribes which periodically celebrate rites in honour of fabulous ancestors whom tradition places at the beginning of time. These ceremonies generally consist in a sort of dramatic representation in which are rehearsed the deeds which the myths ascribe to these legendary heroes.2 But the personages thus represented are not men who, after living the life of men, have been transformed into a sort of god by the fact of their death. They are considered to have exercised superhuman powers while alive. To them is attributed all that is grand in the history of the tribe, or even of the whole world. It is they who in a large measure made the earth such as it is, and men such as they are. The haloes with which they are still decorated do not come to them merely from the fact that they are ancestors, that is to say, in fine, that they are dead, but rather from the fact that a divine character is and always has been attributed to them ; to use the Melanesian expression, it is because they are constitutionally endowed with mana. Consequently, there is nothing in these rites which shows that death has the slightest power of deification. It cannot even be correctly said of certain rites that they form an ancestor-cult, since they are not addressed to ancestors as such. In order to have a real cult of the dead, it is necessary that after death real ancestors, the relations whom men really lose every day, become the object of the cult; let us repeat it once more, there are no traces of any such cult in Australia.

Thus the cult which, according to this hypothesis, ought to be the predominating one in inferior societies, is really non­existent there. In reality, the Australian is not concerned with his dead, except at the moment of. their decease and during the time which immediately follows. Yet these same peoples, as we shall see, have a very complex cult for sacred beings of a wholly different nature, which is made up of numerous cere­monies and frequently occupying weeks or even entire months. It cannot be admitted that the few rites which the Australian performs when he happens to lose one of bis relatives were the origin of these permanent cults which return regularly every

year and which take up a considerable part of his existence. The contrast between the two is so great that we may even ask whether the first were not rather derived from the second, and if the souls of men, far from having been the model upon which the gods were originally imagined, have not rather been con­ceived from the very first as emanations from the divinity.