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 

But there are ceremonies in which this representative and idealistic character is still more accentuated.

In those of which we have been speaking, the dramatic repre­sentation did not exist for itself; it was only a means having a very material end in view", namely, the reproduction of the totemic species. But there are others which do not differ materially from the preceding ones, but from which, nevertheless, all preoccupations of this sort are absent. The past is here represented for the mere sake of representing it and fixing it more firmly in the mind, while no determined action over nature is expected of the rite. At least, the physical effects sometimes imputed to it are wholly secondary and have no relation with the liturgical importance attributed to it.

This is the case notably with the ceremonies which the Warra­munga celebrate in honour of the snake Wollunqua.1

As we have already said, the Wollunqua is a totem of a very especial sort. It is not an animal or vegetable species, but a unique being : there is only one Wollunqua. Moreover, this being is purely mythical. The natives represent it as a colossal snake whose length is such that when it rises on its tail its head is lost in the clouds. It resides, they believe, in a water-hole called Thapauerlu, which is hidden in the bottom of a solitary valley. But if it differs in certain ways from the ordinary totems, it has all their distinctive characteristics nevertheless. It serves as the collective name and emblem of a whole group of individuals who regard it as their common ancestor, while the relations which they sustain with this mythical beast are identical with those which the members of other totems believe that they sustain with the founders of their respective clans.  In the Alcheringa2 times, the Wollunqua traversed the country in every direction. In the different localities where it stopped, it scattered " spirit-children," the spiritual principles which

still serve as the souls of the living of to-day. The Wollunqua is even considered as a sort of pre-eminent totem. The Warra­munga are divided into two phratries, called Uluuru and Kingilli. Nearly all the totems of the former are snakes of different kinds. Now they are all believed to be descended from the Wollunqua ;

they say that it was their grandfather.1 From this, we can catch a glimpse of how the myth of the Wollunqua probably arose. In order to explain the presence of so many similar totems in the same phratry, they imagined that all were derived from one and the same totem ; it was necessary to give it a gigantic form so that in its very appearance it might conform to the considerable role assigned to it in the history of the tribe.

Now the Wollunqua is the object of ceremonies not differing in nature from those which we have already studied : they are representations in which are portrayed the principal events of its fabulous life. They show it coming out of the ground and passing from one locality to another ; they represent different episodes in its voyages, etc. Spencer and Gillen assisted at fifteen ceremonies of this sort which took place between the 27th of July and the 23rd of August, all being linked together in a determined order, in such a way as to form a veritable cycle.2 In the details of tlic rites constituting it, this long cele­bration is therefore indistinct from the ordinary Intichiuma of the Warramunga, as is recognized by tlie authors who have described it to us.3 But, on the other hand, it is an Intichiuma which could not have the object of assuring the fecundity of an animal or vegetable species, for the Wollunqua is a species all by itself and does not reproduce. It exists, and the natives do not seem to feel that it has need of a cult to preserve it in its existence. These ceremonies not only seem to lack the efficacy of the classic Intichiuma, but it even seems as though they have no material efficacy of any sort. The Wollunqua is not a divinity set over a special order of natural phenomena, so they expect no definite service from him in exchange for the cult. Of course they say that if the ritual prescriptions are badly observed, the Wollunqua becomes angry, leaves his retreat and comes to punish his worshippers for their negligence ; and inversely, when everything passes regularly, they are led to

believe that they will be fortunate and that some happy event will take place ; but it is quite evident that these possible sanctions are an after-thought to explain the rite. After the ceremony had been established, it seemed natural that it should serve for something, and that the omission of the prescribed observances should therefore expose one to grave dangers. But it was not established to forestall these mythical dangers or to assure particular advantages. The natives, moreover, have only the very haziest ideas of them. When the whole ceremony is completed, the old men announce that if the Wollun-qua is pleased, he will send rain. But it is not to have rain that they go through with the celebration.1 They celebrate it because their ancestors did, because they are attached to it as to a highly respected tradition and because they leave it with a feeling of moral well-being. Other considerations have only a compli­mentary part; they may serve to strengthen the worshippers in the attitude prescribed by the rite, but they are not the reason for the existence of this attitude.

So we have here a whole group of ceremonies whose sole purpose is to awaken certain ideas and sentiments, to attach the present to the past or the individual to the group. Not only are they unable to serve useful ends, but the worshippers themselves demand none. This is still another proof that the psychical

state in which the assembled group happens to be constitutes the only solid and stable basis of what we may call the ritual mentality. The beliefs which attribute such or such a physical efficaciousness to the rites are wholly accessory and contingent, for they may be lacking without causing any alteration in the essentials of the rite. Thus the ceremonies of the Wollunqua show even better than the preceding ones the fundamental function of the positive cult.

If we have insisted especially upon these solemnities, it is because of their exceptional importance. But there are others with exactly the same character. Thus, the Warramunga have a totem " of the laughing boy." Spencer and Gillen say that the clan bearing this name has the same organization as the other totemic groups. Like them, it has its sacred places (mungai) where the founder-ancestor celebrated ceremonies in the fabulous times, and where he left behind him spirit-children who became the men of the clan ; the rites connected with this totem are indistinguishable from those relating to the animal or vegetable totems.1 Yet it is evident that they could not have any physical efficaciousness. They consist in a series of four ceremonies which repeat one another more or less, but which are intended only to amuse and to provoke laughter by laughter, in fine, to maintain the gaiety and good-humour which the group has as its speciality.2

We find more than one totem among the Arunta themselves which has no other Intichiuma. We have seen that among this people, the irregularities and depressions of the land, which mark the places where some ancestor sojourned, sometimes serve as totems.3 Ceremonies are attached to these totems which are manifestly incapable of physical effects of any sort. They can consist only in representations whose object is to commemorate the past, and they can aim at no end beyond this commemoration.4

While they enable us to understand the nature of the cult better, these ritual representations also put into evidence an important element of religion : this is the recreative and esthetic element.

We have already had occasion to show that they are closely akin to dramatic representations.5 This kinship appears with still greater clarity in the latter ceremonies of which we have

spoken. Not only do they employ the same processes as the real drama, but they also pursue an end of the same sort : being foreign to all utilitarian ends, they make men forget the real world and transport them into another where their imagination is more at ease ; they distract. They sometimes even go so far as to have the outward appearance of a recreation : the assistants may be seen laughing and amusing themselves openly.1

Representative rites and collective recreations are even so close to one another that men pass from one sort to the other without any break of continuity. The characteristic feature of the properly religious ceremonies is that they must be cele­brated on a consecrated ground, from which women and non-initiated persons are excluded.2 But there are others in which this religious character is somewhat effaced, though it has not disappeared completely. They take place outside the ceremonial ground, which proves that they are already laicized to a certain degree; but profane persons, women and children, are not yet admitted to them. So they are on the boundary between the two domains. They generally deal with legendary personages, but ones having no regular place in the frame-work of the totemic religion.  They are spirits, more generally malevolent ones, having relations with the magicians rather than the ordinary believers, and sorts of bugbears, in whom men do not believe with the same degree of seriousness and firmness of conviction as in the proper totemic beings and things.3 As the bonds by which the events and personages represented are attached to the history of the tribe relax, these take on a proportionately more unreal appearance, while the corresponding ceremonies change in nature. Thus men enter into the domain of pure fancy, and pass from the commemorative rite to the ordinary corrobbori, a simple public merry-making, which has nothing religious about it and in which all may take part indifferently. Perhaps some of these representations, whose sole object now is to distract, are ancient rites, whose character has been changed. In fact, the distinction between these two sorts of ceremonies is so variable that it is impossible to state with precision to which of the two kinds they belong.4

It is a well-known fact that games and the principal forms of art seem to have been born of religion and that for a long time they retained a religious character.1 We now see what tlie reasons for this are : it is because the cult, though aimed primarily at other ends, has also been a sort of recreation for men. Religion has not played this role by hazard or owing to a happy chance, but through a necessity of its nature. Though, as we have established, religious thought is something very different from a system of fictions, still the realities to which it corresponds express themselves religiously only when religion transfigures them. Between society as it is objectively and the sacred  things which express it symbolically, the distance is considerable. It has been necessary that the impressions really felt by men, which served as the original matter of this construction, should ч be interpreted, elaborated and transformed until they became unrecognizable. So the world of religious things is a partially imaginary world, though only in its outward form, and one  which therefore lends itself more readily to the free creations of the mind. Also, since the intellectual forces which serve to  make it are intense and tumultuous, the unique task of expressing the real with the aid of appropriate symbols is not enough to. occupy them. A surplus generally remains available which seeks to employ itself in supplementary and superfluous works of luxury, that is to say, in works of art. There are practices as well as beliefs of this sort. The state of effervescence in which the assembled worshippers find themselves must be translated outwardly by exuberant movements which are not easily sub­jected to too carefully defined ends. In part, they escape aim­lessly, they spread themselves for the mere pleasure of so doing, and they take delight in all sorts of games. Besides, in so far as the beings to whom the cult is addressed are imaginary, they are not able to contain and regulate this exuberance ; the pressure of tangible and resisting realities is required to confine activities to exact and economical forms. Therefore one exposes oneself to grave misunderstandings if, in explaining rites, he believes that each gesture has a precise object and a definite reason for its existence. There are some which serve nothing; they merely answer the need felt by worshippers for action, motion, gesticulation. They are to be seen jumping, whirling, dancing, crying and singing, though it may not always be possible  i to give a meaning to all this agitation.

Therefore religion would not be itself if it did not give some place to the free combinations of thought and activity, to play,

to art, to all that recreates the spirit that has been fatigued by the too great slavishness of daily work : the very same causes which called it into existence make it a necessity. Art is not merely an external ornament with which the cult has adorned itself in order to dissimulate certain of its features which may be too austere and too rude ; but rather, in itself, the cult is something aesthetic.   Owing to the well-known connection which mythology has with poetry, some have wished to exclude the former from religion;1 the truth is that there is a poetry inherent in all religion. The representative rites which have just been studied make this aspect of the religious life manifest; but there are scarcely any rites which do not present it to some degree.

One would certainly commit the gravest error if he saw only this one aspect of religion, or if he even exaggerated its im­portance. When a rite serves only to distract, it is no longer a rite. The moral forces expressed by religious symbols are real forces with which we must reckon and with which we cannot do what we will. Even when the cult aims at producing no physical effects, but limits itself to acting on the mind, its action is in quite a different way from that of a pure work of art. The representations which it seeks to awaken and maintain in our minds are not vain images which correspond to nothing in reality, and which we call up aimlessly for the mere satisfaction of seeing them appear and combine before our eyes. They are as necessary for the well working of our moral life as our food is for the maintenance of our physical life, -for it is through them that the group affirms and maintains itself, and we know the point to which this is indispensable for the individual. So a rite is something different from a game; it is a part of the serious life. But if its unreal and imaginary element is not essential, nevertheless it plays a part which is by no means negligible. It has its share in the feeling of comfort which the worshipper draws from the rite performed ; for recreation is one of the forms of the moral remaking which is the principal object of the positive rite. After we have acquitted ourselves of our ritual duties, we enter into the profane life with increased courage and ardour, not only because we come into relations with a superior source of energy, but also because our forces have been reinvigorated by living, for a few moments, in a life that is less-strained, and freer and easier. Hence religion acquires a charm which is not among the slightest of its attractions.

This is why the very idea of a religious ceremony of some importance awakens the idea of a feast. Inversely, every feast,

even when it has purely lay origins, has certain characteristics of the religious ceremony, for in every case its effect is to bring men together, to put the masses into movement and thus to excite a state of effervescence, and sometimes even of delirium, which is not without a certain kinship with the religious state. A man is carried outside himself and diverted from his ordinary occupation and preoccupations. Thus the same manifestations are to be observed in each case : cries, songs, music, violent movements, dances, the search for exciteants which raise the vital level, etc. It has frequently been remarked that popular feasts lead to excesses, and cause men to lose sight of the dis­tinction separating the licit from the illicit;1 there are also religious ceremonies which make it almost necessary to violate the rules which are ordinarily the most respected.2 Of course this does not mean that there is no way to distinguish these two forms of public activity.  The simple merry-making, the profane corrobbori, has no serious object, while, as a whole, a ritual ceremony always has an important end. Still it is to be remem­bered that there is perhaps no merry-making in which the serious life does not have some echo. The difference consists rather in the unequal proportions in which the two elements are combined.