TABOO is the dread tyrant of savage life. Among civilised peoples, under the guise of customs whose force is stronger than law, it rules in larger degree than most persons care to admit. But among barbaric communities it puts a ring. fence round the simplest acts, regulates all intercourse by the minutest codes, and secures obedience to its manifold prohibitions by threats of punishment to be inflicted by magic and other apparatus of the invisible. It is the Inquisition of the lower culture, only more terrible and effective than the infamous 'Holy Office.' Nowhere, perhaps, does it exert more constant sway than in the series of customs which prohibit (a) persons related in certain degrees by blood or marriage from addressing one another by name, or from even looking at one another, and which further prohibit (b) the utterance of the names of individuals of high rank, as priests and kings, as also (c) of the dead, and (d) of gods and spiritual beings generally.
TABOO BETWEEN RELATIVES
Among the Central Australians a man may not marry or speak to his mother-in-law. He may speak to his mother at all times, but not to his sister if she be younger than himself. A father may not speak to his daughter after she becomes a woman.[a] The name of his father-in-law is taboo to the Dyak of Borneo, and among the Omahas of North America the father- and mother-in-law do not speak to their son-in-law or mention his name. [b] The names of mothers-in-law are never uttered by the Apache, and it would be very improper to ask for them by name. [c] In the Bougainville Straits the men would only utter the names of their wives in a low tone, as though it was not the proper thing to speak of women by name to others.[d] In East Africa, among the Barea, the wife never utters the name of her husband, or eats in his presence; and even among the Beni Amer, where the women have extensive privileges and great social power, the wife is still not allowed to eat in the husband's presence, and mentions his name only before strangers. [e] In the Banks Islands the rules as to avoidance are very minute. 'A man who sits and talks with his wife's father will not mention his name, much less the name of his mother-in-law; and the like applies to the wife, who, further, will on no account name her daughter's husband.' [f] But these prohibitions are not found in all the Melanesian islands. Among the Sioux or Dacotas the father- or mother-in-law must not call their sons-in-law by name, and vice versa; while the Indians east of the Rockies regard it as indecent for either fathers- or mothers-in-law to look at, or speak- to, their sons- or daughters-in-law. It was considered a gross breach of propriety among the Blackfoot tribe for a man to meet his mother-in-law; and if by any mischance he did so, or, what was worse, if he spoke to her, she demanded a heavy payment, which he was compelled to make. [g] In New Britain a man must under no circumstances speak to his mother-in-law; he must go miles out of his way not to meet her, and the penalty for breaking an oath is to be forced to shake hands With her. [h] In some parts of Australia the mother-in-law does not allow the son-in-law to see her, but hides herself at his approach, or covers herself with her clothes if she has to pass him. Even Pund-jel, the Australian Creator of all things, has a wife whose face he has never seen. [i] Sometimes circumlocutory phrases are used, although, as will be seen presently, these are more usually applied to supernatural beings. For example, among the Amazulu the woman must not call her husband by name; therefore, when speaking of him, she will say, 'Father of So-andso,' meaning one of her children. As the Hindu wife is never, under any circumstances, to mention her husband's name, she calls him 'He,' 'The Master,' 'Swamy,' etc. An old-fashioned Midland cottager's wife rarely speaks of her husband by name, the pronoun 'he,' supplemented by 'my man,' or 'my master,' is sufficient distinction. G-regor says that 'in Buckie there are certain family names that fishermen will not pronounce,' the folk in the village of Coull speaking of 'spitting out the bad name.' If such a name be mentioned in their hearing, they spit, or, in- the vernacular, 'chiff,' and the man who bears the dreaded name is called a 'chifferoot.' When occasion to speak of him arises, a circumlocutory phrase is used, as. 'The man it diz so in so,' or 'The laad it lives at such and such a place.' As further showing how barbaric ideas persist in the heart of civilisation, there is an overwhelming feeling against hiring men bearing the reprobated names as hands for the boats in the herring fishing season; and when they have been hired before their names were known, their wages have been refused if the season has been a failure. 'Ye hinna hid sic a fishin' this year is ye hid the last,' said a woman to the daughter of a famous fisher. 'Na, na! faht wye cud we? We wiz in a chifferoot's 'oose, we cudnae hae a fushin'.' In some of the villages on the east coast of Aberdeenshire it was accounted unlucky to meet any one of the name of Whyte when going to sea. Lives would be lost, or the catch of fish would be poor. [j] In the Story of Tangalimbibo '[k] the heroine speaks of things done 'knowingly by people whose names may not be mentioned'; upon which Mr. Theal remarks, 'no Kaffir woman may pronounce the names of any of her husband's male relatives in the ascending line; she may not even pronounce any word in which the principal syllable of his name occurs.' [l] Some further examples of this extension of the general superstition to parts of the name will be given further on when dealing with higher principalities and powers. Meanwhile, the curious set of avoidance-customs just illustrated naturally prompt inquiry as to their origin. Upon this little, if any, light can be thrown. The relation of these customs to the general system of taboo is obvious, but what motive prompted this particular, and to us whimsical, code of etiquette, remains a problem not the less difficult of solution in the face of the wide distribution of the custom. Long before any systematic inquiry into social usages was set afoot, and before any importance was attached to the folk-tale as holding primitive ideas in solution, the taboo-incident was familiar in stories of which 'Cupid and Psyche,' and the more popular 'Beauty and the Beast,' are types. The man and woman must not see each other, or call each other by name; or, as in the Welsh and other forms of the story, the bride must not be touched with iron. But the prohibition is broken; curiosity, in revolt, from Eden onwards, against restraint, disobeys, and the unlucky wax drops on the cheek of the fair one, who thenceforth disappears. From Timbuctoo and North America, from Australia and Polynesia, and from places much nearer home than these, travellers have collected evidence of the existence of the custom on which the fate of many a wedded pair in fact and fiction hashinged. Herodotus gives us a gossipy story on this matter, which is of some value. He says that some of the old lonian colonists brought no women with them, but took wives of the women of the Carians, whose fathers they had slain. Therefore the women made a law to themselves, and handed it down to their daughters, that they should never sit at meat with their husbands, and that none should call her husband by name. [m] Disregarding the explanation of the formulating of social codes by women bereaved of husbands and lovers, which Herodotus, assuming this to be an isolated case, appears to suggest, we find in the reference to the abducting of the Carians an illustration of the ancient practice of obtaining wives by forcible capture, and the consequent involuntary mingling of people of alien race and speech. That, however, carries us but a little, if any, way towards explaining the avoidance-customs, the origin of which remains a perplexing problem. In an important paper on the 'Development of Institutions applied to Marriage and Descent, [n]
Professor Tylor formulated an ingenious method, the pursuit of which may help us toward a solution. He shows that the custom cannot arise from local idiosyncrasies, because in cataloguing some three hundred and fifty peoples he finds it in vogue among sixty-six peoples widely distributed over the globe; that is, he finds forty-five examples of avoidance between the husband and his wife's relations; thirteen examples between the wife and her husband's relations; and eight examples of mutual avoidance. The schedules also show a relation between the avoidance-customs and 'the customs of the world as to residence after marriage.' Among the three hundred and fifty peoples the husband goes to live with his wife's family in sixty-five instances, while there are one hundred and forty-one cases in which the wife takes up her abode with her husband's family. Thus there is a well-marked preponderance indicating that ceremonial avoidance by the husband is in some way connected with his living with his wife's family, and vice versa as to the wife and the husband's family. The reason of this connection 'readily presents itself, inasmuch as the ceremony of not speaking to and pretending not to see some well-known person close by, is familiar enough to ourselves in the social rite which we call "cutting." This indeed with us implies aversion, and the implication comes out even more strongly in objection to utter the name ("we never mention her," as the song has it).' It is different, however, in the barbaric custom, for here the husband is none the less on friendly terms with his wife's people because they may not take any notice of one another. As the husband has intruded himself among a family which is not his own, and into a house where he has no right, it seems not difficult to understand their marking the difference between him and themselves by treating him formally as a stranger. John Tanner, the adopted Ojibwa, describes his being taken by a friendly Assineboin into his lodge, and seeing how at his companion's entry the old father- and mother-in-law covered up their heads in their blankets till their son-inlaw got into the compartment reserved for him, where his wife brought him his food. So like is
The working of the human mind in all stages of civilisation that our own language conveys in a familiar idiom the train of thought which governed the behaviour of the parents of the Assineboin's wife. We have only to say that they do not recognise their son-in-law, and we shall have condensed the whole proceeding into a single word. A seemingly allied custom is that of naming the father after the child, this being found among peoples practising avoidance-customs, where a status is given to the husband only on the birth of the first child. The naming of him as father of 'So-and-so' is a recognition of paternity, and also a recognition of him by the wife's kinsfolk.
To refer to these strange and unexplained customs is to bring home the salutary fact that perchance we may never get at the back of many a seeming vagary of social life. Human institutions, like man himself, are of vast antiquity, and to project ourselves into the conditions under which some of them arose is not possible. But at least we can avoid darkening the obscure by:
'multiplying words without knowledge.'
Euphemisms and Name-Changes
Persons and things cannot remain nameless, and avoidance of one set of names compels the use of others. Hence ingenuity comes into play to devise substitutes, roundabout phrases, euphemisms, and the like. Many motives are at work in the selection. (i) Both dead and living things are often given complimentary names in 'good omen words,' as the Cantonese call them, in place of names that it is believed will grate or annoy, such mode of flattery being employed to ward off possible mischief, and also through fear of arousing jealousy or spite in maleficent spirits.(ii) Names are also changed with the object of confusing or deceiving the agents of disease, and even death itself. (iii) Certain rites, notably that of blood-brotherhood, are accompanied by exchange of names or adoption of new names; while in near connection with this is the substitution of new names for birth-names at the initiation ceremonies to which reference has been made.
i) The flattering and cajoling words in which barbaric man addresses the animals he desires to propitiate, or designs to kill, are due to belief in their kinship with him, and in the transmigration of souls which makes the beat a possible embodiment of some ancestor or another animal. Hence the homage paid to it while the man stands ready to spear or shoot it. Throughout the northern part of Eurasia, the bear has been a chief object of worship, an apologetic and propitiatory ceremonies accompany the slaying of him for food. The Amos Yezo and the Gilyaks of Eastern Siberia beg his pardon and worship his dead body, hanging up his skull on a tree as a charm against evil spirits. Swedes, Lapps, Finns, and Esthonians apply the tenderest and most coaxing terms to him. The Swedes and Lapps avert his wrath by calling him the 'old man' and 'grandfather'; the Esthon speak of him as the 'broad footed,' but it is among the Finns that we find the most euphemistic names applied to him The forty sixth rune of the Kalevala has for its theme the capture and killing of the 'sacred Otso,' who is also addressed as the 'honey eater,' the 'fur-robed,' the 'forest apple,' who gives his life 'a sacrifice to Northland.' When he is slain, Wäinämöinen, the old magician-hero of the story, sings the birth and fate of Otso, and artfully strives to make the dead grizzly believe that no cruel hand killed him, but that he fell
'From the fir-tree where he slumbered,
Tore his breast upon the branches,
Freely gave his life to others.'
Thorpe says that in Swedish popular belief there are certain animals which should not at any time be spoken of by their proper names, but always with kind allusions. 'If any one speaks slightingly to a cat, or beats her, her name must not be uttered, for she belongs to the hellish crew, and is intimate with the Berg-troll in the mountains, where she often goes. In speaking of the cuckoo, the owl, and the magpie, great caution is necessary, lest one should be ensnared, as they are birds of sorcery. Such birds, also snakes, one ought not to kill without cause, lest their death be avenged; [o] and, in like manner, Mohammedan women dare not call a snake by its name lest it bite them.' The Swedes fear to tread on a toad, because it may be an enchanted princess. The fox is called 'blue-foot,' or 'he that goes in the forest'; among the Esthonians he is 'grey-coat'; and in Mecklenburg, for twelve days after Christmas, he goes by the name 'long-tail.' In1 Sweden the seal is 'brother Lars,' and throughout Scandinavia the superstitions about wolves are numerous. In some districts during a portion of the spring the peasants dare not call that animal by his usual name, Varg, lest he carry off the cattle, so they substitute the names Ulf, Grahans, or 'gold-foot,' because in olden days, when dumb creatures spoke, the wolf said
'If thou callest me Varg, I will be wroth with thee,
But if thou callest me of gold, I will be kind to thee.'
The Claddagh folk of Gaiway would not go out to fish if they saw a fox, [p] and the name is as unlucky as the thing. Hence Livonian fishermen (and the same superstition is prevalent from Ireland to Italy) fear to endanger the success of their nets by calling certain animals, as the hare, pig, dog, and so forth, by their common names; while the Esthonians fear to mention the hare lest their crops of flax should fail. In Annam the tiger is called 'grandfather' or 'lord'; and both in Northern Asia and Sumatra the same device of using some bamboozling name is adopted. 'Among the Jews the taboo had great force, for they were forbidden to have leaven in their houses during the Passover, and they abstained from even using the word. Being forbidden swine's flesh, they avoid the word pig altogether, and call that animal dabchar acheer, "the other thing." In Canton the porpoise or river-pig is looked upon as a creature of ill-omen, and on that account its name is tabooed.' [q]
The desire not to offend, to 'let sleeping dogs lie,' as we say, explains why the Hindus call Siva, their god of destruction, the 'gracious one,' and why a like euphemism was used by the Greeks when speaking of the Furies as the Euménides. Similarly, both Greek and Gaiway peasants call the fairies 'the others,' while the natives of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Mr. Louis Becke tells me, speak of the spirits as 'they,' 'those,' or 'the thing.' With sly humour, not unmixed with respect for the 'quality,' the Irish speak of the tribes of the goddess Danu as 'the gentry'; in Sligo we hear of the 'royal gentry'; in Glamorganshire the fairies are called the 'mother's blessing.' If the fays are the 'good people,' the witches are 'good dames,' and their gatherings 'the sport of the good company.' It is a Swedish belief that if one speaks of the troll-pack or witch-crew, and names fire and water, or the church to which one goes (this last condition is probably post-Christian), no harm can arise.[r] 'Even inanimate things,' Thorpe adds, 'are not at all times to be called by their usual names'; fire, for example, is on some occasions not to be called eld or ell, but hetta (heat); water used for brewing, not vatu, but lag or lou, otherwise the beer would not be so good.
The dread that praises or soft phrases may call the attention of the ever-watchful maleficent spirits to the person thus favoured, causing the evil eye to cast its baleful spell, or black magic to do its fell work, has given rise to manifold precautions. In modern Greece any allusion to the beauty or strength of the child is avoided; and if such words slip out, they are at once atoned for by one of the traditional expiatory formulas. [s] The world-wide belief in the invisible powers as, in the main, keen to pounce on mortals, explains the Chinese custom of giving their boys a girl's name to deceive the gods; sometimes tabooing names altogether, and calling the child 'little pig' or 'little dog.' In India, especially when several male children have died in the family, boys are dressed as girls to avert further misfortune: sometimes a nose-ring is added as further device. Pausanias tells the story of the young Achilles wearing female attire and living among maidens, [t] and to this day the peasants of Achill Island (on the north-west coast of Ireland) dress their boys as girls till they are about fourteen years old to deceive the boy seeking devil. In the west of Ireland some phrase invocative of blessing should be used on entering a cottage, or meeting a peasant, or saluting a child, because this shows that one has no connection with the fairies, and will not bring bad luck. 'Any one who did not give the usual expressions, as Màmdeud, "God save you"; Slaunter, "your good health"; and Boluary, "God bless the work," was looked on with suspicion.' [t] A well-mannered Turk will not pay a compliment without uttering 'Mashallah'; an Italian will not receive one without saying the protective 'Grazia a Deó'; and the English peasant-woman has her 'Lord be wi' us' ready when flattering words are said about her babe. In each case the good power is invoked as protector against the dangers of fascination and other forms of the black art. [u]
A survival of this feeling exists in the modern housewife's notion, that if she comments on the luck attaching to some household god, 'pride goes before a fall.' She may have exulted over the years in which a favourite china service has remained intact, and the next day, as she reaches down some of the pieces, the memory of her vaunting causes the hand to tremble, and the precious ware is smashed to atoms on the floor. It has been often remarked that if any mishaps attend a ship on her first voyage, they follow her ever after. The probable explanation is that the knowledge of the accident befalling her induces an anxious feeling on the part of those responsible for her safety, which often unnerves them in a crisis, and brings about the very calamity which they fear, and which under ordinary conditions could be averted.
Among the Hindus, when a parent has lost a child by disease, which, as is usually the case, can be attributed to fascination or other demoniacal influence, it is a common practice to call the next baby by some opprobrious name, with the intention of so depreciating it that it may be regarded as worthless, and so protected from the evil eye of the envious. Thus a male child is called Kuriya, or 'dunghill'; Khadheran or Ghasita, 'He that has been dragged along the ground'; Dukhi or Dukhita, 'The afflicted one'; Phatingua, 'grasshopper'; Jhingura, 'cricket'; BhIkra or BhIkhu, 'beggar'; Gharib, 'poor'; and so on. So a girl is called Andhri, 'blind'; Tinkouriyâ or Chhahkauriyâ, 'She that was sold for three or six cowry shells'; Dhuriyâ, 'dusty'; Machhiyâ, 'fly,' and so on. All this is connected with what the Scots call 'fore-speaking,' when praise beyond measure, praise accompanied with a sort of amazement or envy, is considered likely to be followed by disease or accident. [v] In keeping with this is the story of the pessimist invalid who, admitting himself better to-day, added that he would not be so well to-morrow!
(ii) In barbaric belief both disease and death are due to maleficent agents, any theory of natural causes being foreign to the savage mind; hence euphemisms to avert tile evil. The Dyaks of Borneo call the smallpox 'chief' or 'jungle leaves,' or say, 'Has he left you? ' [w] while the Cantonese speak of this 'Attila of the host of diseases' as 'heavenly flower' or 'good intention,' and deify it as a goddess. The Greeks call it Εύλογία, or 'she that must be named with respect.' 'Similarly, the Chinese deem ague to be produced by a ghost or spirit, and for fear of offending him they will not speak of that disease under its proper name.' [x] De Quincey has remarked on the avoidance of all mention of death as a common euphemism; and of this China is full of examples. In the Book of' Rites it is called 'the great sickness,' and when a man dies, he is said to have 'entered the measure,' certain terms being also applied in the case of certain persons. For example, the Emperor's death is called pang, 'the mountain has fallen'; when a scholar dies he is pat luk, 'without salary or emolument.' 'Collins' are tabooed under the term 'longevity boards.' [y] Mr. Giles says that 'boards of old age,' and 'clothes of old age sold here,' are common shop-signs in every Chinese city; death and burial being always, if possible, spoken of euphemistically in some such terms as these. [z]
The belief that spirits know folks by their names further explains the barbaric attitude towards disease and death. In Borneo the name of a sick child is changed so as to confuse or deceive the spirit of the disease; the Lapps change a child's baptismal name if it falls ill, and rebaptize it at every illness, as if they thought to bamboozle the spirit by this simple stratagem of an alias. [aa] When the life of a Kwapa Indian is supposed to be in danger from illness, he at once seeks to get rid of his name, and sends to another member of the tribe, who goes to the chief and buys a new name, which is given to the patient. With the abandonment of the old name it is believed that the sickness is thrown off. 'On the reception of the new name the patient becomes related to the Kwapa who purchased it. Any Kwapa can change or abandon his personal name four times, but it is considered bad luck to attempt such a thing for the fifth time.' [ab] The Rabbis recommended the giving secretly of a new name, as a means of new life, to him who is in danger of dying.[ac] The Rev. Hilderic Friend vouches for the genuineness of the following story, the bearing of which on the continuity of barbaric and quasi-civilised ideas is significant:--'In the village of S--, near Hastings, there lived a couple who had named their first-born girl Helen. The child sickened and died, and when another daughter was born, she was named after her dead sister. But she also died, and on the birth of a third daughter the cherished name was repeated. This third Helen died, "and no wonder," the neighbours said; "it was because the parents had used the first child's name for the others." About the same time a neighbour had a daughter, who was named Marian because of her likeness toa dead sister. She showed signs of weakness soon after birth, and all said that she would die as the three Helens had died, because the name Marian ought not to have been used. It was therefore tabooed, and the girl was called Maude. She grew to womanhood, and was married; but so completely had her baptismal name of Marian been shunned, that she was married under the name of Maude, and by it continues to be known to this day.' [ad]
The Chinooks changed their names when a near relative died, in the belief that the spirits would be attracted back to earth if they heard familiar names. The Lenguas of Brazil changed their names on the death of any one, for they believed that the dead knew the names of all whom they had left behind, and might return to look for them: hence they changed their names, hoping that if the dead came back they could not find them. [ae] Although the belief, that if the dead be named their ghosts will appear, is found in this crude form only among barbaric folk, there is, in this attitude towards the unseen, no qualitative difference between savage and civilised man. Wherever there prevail anthropomorphic ideas about the Deity, i.e. conception of Him as a 'non-natural, magnified man,' to use Matthew Arnold's phrase, there necessarily follows the assumption that the relations between God and man are, essentially, like in character to those subsisting between human beings. The majority of civilised mankind have no doubt that God knows each one of them and all their belongings by name, as He is recorded to have known men of olden time, addressing them direct or through angels by their names, and sometimes altering these. Take for example: 'Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham, for a father of many nations have I made thee' (Genesis xvii. 5). 'And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel, for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed' (ibid. xxxii. ~28). 'And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken; for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name' (Exodus xxxiii. 17).
Miscellaneous as are the contents of the Old and New Testaments, the relations between the several parts of which have arisen, in many instances, through the arbitrary decisions of successive framers of the canon, the belief in the efficacy of names, and in their integral connection with things, runs through the Bible, because that belief is involved in the unscientific theories of phenomena which are present in all ancient literatures. Man may soar into the abstract, but he has to live in the concrete. When h descends from hazy altitudes to confront th forms in which he envisages his ideas, he finth what slight advance he has made upon primitiv conceptions. The God of the current theolog) is no nameless Being, and one of the prominent members of the spiritual hierarchy is that Record. ing Angel who writes the names of redeemed mortals in the Book of Life. Amidst all the vagueness which attaches itself to conceptions ot another world, there is the feeling that the names of the departed are essential to their identification when they enter the unseen, and to their recog. nition by those who will follow them. Civilised and savage are here on the same intellectual plane.
To name the invisible is to invoke its presence or the manifestation of its power. The Norse witches tied up wind and foul matter in a bag, and then, undoing the knot, shouted 'Wind, in the devil's name,' when the hurricane swept over land and sea; the witch's dance could be stopped, and the dancers dispersed, by uttering the name of God or Christ; and the like idea is expressed in the phrase, 'Talk of the devil, and you 'll see his horns.'
(iii) In Grimms story of the 'Goose Girl,' when the old queen's daughter starts for the kingdom of her betrothed, her mother gives her costly trinkets, Cups and jewels of gold, and, taking a handkerchief, cuts her own finger till it bleeds, letting three drops of blood fall on the handkerchief. This she gives to the princess, bidding her preserve it, because she will need it on the way. After she and her waiting-maid had ridden some miles, a great thirst fell upon her, and she bade the girl dismount to fill the golden cup with water from a stream hard by. But the girl refused, whereupon the princess alighted to slake her thirst, using only her hands, because the girl would not let her have the cup. As she drank she sighed, and the three drops of blood said, 'If thy mother knew this, her heart would break.' The princess mounted her horse, but had not gone far before her thirst returned; again the maid refused to serve her, and again she alighted to drink. But this time, as she stooped to the stream, her handkerchief fell out of her bosom, and was carried away by the current. Thenceforth her strength left her, and the maid had her wholly in her power. She made the princess exchange clothes and horses, and then, when the palace was reached, forbade her entrance, while she, pretending to be the expected bride, went in, and was embraced by the prince. Of course, as usual in fiction, all came right in the end; but we are not further concerned with the fortunes of the 'persons, the story, one of a group of kindred folk-tales, being cited only to show how the main incident revolves on the barbaric belief in the efficacy of blood.
In the early stages of society, blood-relationship is the sole tie that unites men into tribal communities. As Sir Henry Maine has observed, 'there was no brotherhood recognised by our savage forefathers except actual consanguinity regarded as a fact. If a man was not of kin to another, there was nothing between them. He was an enemy to be slain or spoiled or hated, as much as the wild beasts upon which the tribes made war, as belonging indeed to the craftiest and the cruelest order of white animals. It would scarcely be too strong an assertion that the dogs which followed the camp had more in common with it than the tribesmen of an alien and unrelated tribe.' [af] And although enlarged knowledge, in unison with growing recognition of mutual rights and obligations, has extended the feeling of community, an unprejudiced outlook on the world does not warrant the hope that the old tribal feeling has passed the limits of race. Human nature being what it is, charged with the manifold forces of self-assertion and aggression bequeathed by a stormy and struggling past, the various nationalities, basing their claims and their unity on the theory of blood-relationship, do their best to dispel the dream of the unity of all mankind.
As already observed, the importance and sanctity attached to blood explain the existence of a large number of rites connected with covenants between man and his fellows, and between man and his gods; covenants sealed by the drinking, or interfusing, or offering of blood. Any full account of these rites, notably on their sacrificial side, would need a volume, but here reference is again made to them in connection with the exchange of names, or with the bestowal of new names, which sometimes accompanies them.
Mr. Herbert Spencer remarks, that 'by absorbing each other's blood, men are supposed to establish actual community of nature'; and as it is a widely diffused belief that the name is vitally connected with its owner, 'to exchange names is to establish some participation in one another's being.' [ag] Hence the blending is regarded as more complete when exchange of name goes with the mingling of blood, making even more obligatory the rendering of services between those who are no longer aliens to each other. When Tolo, a Shastikan chief, made a treaty with Colonel M'Kee, an American officer, as to certain concessions, he desired some ceremony of brotherhood to make the covenant binding, and, after some parleying, proposed an exchange of names, which was agreed to. Thenceforth he became M'Kee, and M'Kee became Tolo. But after a while the Indian found that the American was shuffling over the bargain, whereupon 'M'Kee angrily cast off that name, and refused to resume that of Tolo.' He would not answer to either, and to the day of his death insisted that his name, and, therefore, his identity, was lost. [ah] There is no small pathos in this revolt of the rude moral sense of the Indian against the white man's trickery, and in the utter muddle of his mind as to who and what he had become.
The custom of name-exchanging existed in the West Indies at the time of Columbus; and in the South Seas, Captain Cook and a native, named Oree, made the exchange, whereby Cook became Oree and the native became Cookee. 'But Cadwallader Colden's account of his new name is admirable evidence of what there is in a name to the mind of the savage. "The first time I was among the Mohawks I had this compliment from one of their old Sachems, which he did by giving me his own name, Cayenderongue. He had been a notable warrior, and he told me that now I had a right to assume all the acts of valour he had performed, and that now my name would echo from hill to hill over all the Five Nations." When Colden went back into the same part ten or twelve years later, he found that he was still known by the name he had thus received, and that the old chief had taken another.' [ai]
In the manhood-initiation rites of the native Australians a long series of ceremonies is followed by the conferring of a new name on the youth, and the sponsor, who may be said to correspond to a godfather among ourselves, opens a vein in his own arm, and the lad then drinks the warm blood. A curious addition to the New South Wales ritual consists in the giving of a white stone or quartz crystal, called mundie, to the novitiate in manhood when he receives his new name. 'This stone is counted a gift from deity, and is held peculiarly sacred. A test of the young man's moral stamina is made by the old men trying, by all sorts of persuasion, to induce him to surrender this possession when first he has received it. This accompaniment of a new name is worn concealed in the hair, tied up in a packet, and is never shown to the women, who are forbidden to look at it under pain of death.' [aj]
TABOO ON NAMES OF KINGS AND PRIESTS
Avoidance and veneration superstitions gather force with the ascending rank of individuals. The divinity that 'doth hedge' both king and priest, which two offices were originally blended in one man, increases the power of the taboo. Until Mr. Frazer published his Golden Bough, the significance of this taboo, as applied to royal and sacerdotal persons, was somewhat obscure. But the large, indeed overcrowding, array of examples which his industry has collected and his ingenuity interpreted, make it clear that the priest-king was regarded as the incarnation of supernatural powers on whose unhindered and effective working the welfare of men depended. That being the belief, obviously the utmost care was used to protect in every possible way the individual in whom those powers were incarnated. As the Golden Bough does not come under the head of popular books in the sense of being widely read, although, within a limited circle, often quoted, it may be well to explain this barbaric theory of the spirit indwelling in man by citing the typical example which Mr. Frazer has chosen, and which gives its title to his book.
Three miles from Aricia, an old town on the Alban Hills, a few miles from Rome, there was a famous grove and temple dedicated to Diana. The temple was on the northern shore of the lake under the cliffs on which the modern village of Nemi stands. The priest of that temple, which was held in high repute throughout Italy, was called Rex Nemorensis, or 'King of the Grove,' and, at least in later times, he was always a runaway slave. The strangest feature of the business was that he must be a murderer, because he could obtain the priestly office only by killing the man who held it, and, therefore, when he had secured it, he had to be always on the alert against being attacked. Lord Macaulay, in his poem of the 'Battle of Lake Regillus' (Lays of Ancient Rome), refers to this curious custom
'From the still, glassy lake that sleeps
Beneath Aricia's trees--
Those trees in whose dim shadow
The ghostly priest doth reign,
The priest who slew the slayer,
And shall himself be slain.'
This priest-king kept special guard over a sacred tree, and if any runaway slave could succeed in breaking-off a branch from it, the priest was compelled to fight him in single combat. The existence of this custom within historical times is proved by the circumstance that the Emperor Caligula gave orders that the Rex Nemorensis, who during his reign had long been left unassailed, should be attacked and killed. But its origin and reason had then become forgotten, and it is only in our time that its connection with the groups of rites and ceremonies gathering round certain phases of nature-worship, notably tree-worship, has been established. In the general application of the barbaric conception of life indwelling in all things, and especially active where motion was apparent, and where growth, maturity, and decline marked the object, the tree was believed to be the abode of a spirit, while the priest was regarded as an incarnation of the tree-spirit on which the fruitfulness of the soil depended. We have seen how universal is the barbaric belief in real and vital connection between one living thing and another, and also between one non-living thing and another; and it is therein that the key is found to the belief that if the Rex Nemorensis was suffered to live on until he became decrepit by age, then the earth would become old and feeble also, the trees yielding no fruit and the fields no harvest. Therefore, to prevent this, the priest-king, as an incarnated god, was not allowed to reach old age; and when his waning strength was proved by his inability to hold his own against the aggressor, he was killed, and the divine spirit, with its power and vigour unimpaired, was believed to pass into his slayer and successor. The sacred tree, it may be added, from which the runaway slave sought to break off the 'Golden Bough '--the parasitic mistletoe, Mr. Frazer suggests--was probably an oak, the worship of which was general among the Aryan-speaking peoples of Europe. Tradition averred that the fateful branch which Aeneas plucked at the sibyl's bidding, before he essayed the perilous journey to the underworld, was the Golden Bough.
Incarnate gods are common enough in rude society, the incarnation being sometimes temporary, and sometimes permanent. The Cantonese apply the expressive term 'god boxes' to priests in whom the gods are believed to dwell from time to time; but in seeking for correspondences to the Rex Nemorensis, we find corroborative examples in old-world traditions, and among savage races of to-day. Among the former, we have those relating to the Mikado, who, although now somewhat shorn of his ancient glory, and stripped of the mystery that invested him, was regarded as an incarnation of the sun, all the gods repairing once every year to spend a month at his court. He was required to take rigorous care of his person, and 'to do such things as, examined according to the custom of other nations, would be thought ridiculous and impertinent.' Like the high pontiff of the Zapotecs in South Mexico, his feet must never touch the ground; the sun must never shine on his naked head; he was required to sit motionless all the day so that tranquillity might be assured to his empire; and such holiness was ascribed to all the parts of his body, that 'he dare not cut off' neither his hair, nor his beard, nor his nails.' But 'that he might not grow too dirty, he was washed in his sleep, because a theft at such time did not prejudice his holiness or dignity.' [ak] The pots in which his food was cooked and served were destroyed lest they should fall into lay hands; his clothes were fatal to those who touched them--for taboo is extended from the tabooed person to the things he wears, or tastes, or handles, even to the objects on which he looks, as illustrated by the Samoan high priest and prophet Tupai. 'His very glance was poison. If he looked at a coco-nut tree it died, and if he glanced at a bread-fruit tree it also withered away [al]. In Tahiti, if a chief's foot touches the earth, the spot which it touches becomes taboo thenceforth, and none may approach it; chiefs are therefore carried in Tahiti when they go out. If he enters a house it becomes taboo; and in ancient Greece the priest and priestess of Artemis Hymnia amongst the Orchomenians, [am] and the Rechabites among the Jews, might not enter a private house, 'for the same reason as the Polynesian chief,' as Dr. Jevons correctly suggests. [an] As with the Caesars, the Pharaohs were deified in their lifetime, and their daily routine was regulated after the fashion of the Mikado, while they too were held blamable if the crops failed.
Returning to Rome, we find the Flamen Dialis, who was consecrated to the service of Jupiter, and who, therefore, was probably the incarnated sky-spirit, tied and bound by rules governing the minutest details of his life. He might not ride or even touch ~a horse, nor see an army under arms, nor wear a ring which was not broken, nor have a knot in any part of his garments; no fire except a sacred fire might be taken out of his house; he might not touch wheaten flour or leavened bread; he might not touch or even name a goat, a dog, raw meat, beans, and ivy; he might not walk under a vine; the feet of his bed had to be daubed with mud, and iron was put at the head of it as a charm against evil spirits; his hair could be cut only by a free man and with a bronze knife, and his hair and nails, when cut, had to be buried under a lucky tree; he might not touch a dead body, nor enter a place where one was burned; he might not see work being done on holy days; he might not be uncovered 'or annoint himselfe' [ao] in the open air; if a man in bonds were taken into his house he had to be unbound, and the cords had to be drawn up through a hole in the roof, and so let down into the street. His wife, the Flaminica, had to observe nearly the same rules, and others of her own besides, [ap] and when she died the 'Flamen or Priest of Jupiter had to give up his Priesthood or Sacerdotall dignitie.' [aq] Plutarch was greatly puzzled in his search after a rational explanation of these and kindred matters, and he has many a fanciful comment upon them, erroneous as well as fanciful, because it did not occur to him that the explanation must be sought in the persistence of the barbaric ideas of remote ancestors. This perception of continuity, illuminated by numerous examples at home and abroad, is wholly modern, and therefore, after tracking the vitality of a belief or custom among the illiterate in civilised communities, we cross the seas in search of parallels among barbaric folk. In Lower Guinea, the priest-king, who was a wind-god, was not allowed to quit his chair to sleep, because if he lay down no wind could arise; while in Congo it was held that if the incarnated priest-king died a natural death, the world would perish. Therefore, like the Rex Nemorensis, he had to be kept in vigour at the risk of his life, 'worshipped as a god one day, and killed as a criminal the next.' As these wind and weather gods are held responsible for droughts and bad harvests, it is not surprising that there is no rush of candidates for vacant thrones with their miserable restraints and isolation, and that the tactics of the press-gang have sometimes to be resorted to in order that the succession of the incarnated may not be broken.
In this group of customs hedging in the royal person and his belongings there lie the materials out of which has been evolved the well-nigh obsolete and long mischievous theory of the right divine of kings, with its resulting belief in their possession of powers bordering on the supernatural, as in the curing of scrofula by their touch. When Charles I. visited Scotland in 1633S, he is said to have 'heallit one hundred persons of the cruelles or Kings eivell, young and olde,' in Holyrood Chapel on St. John's day; [ar] and, although William III. had the good sense to pooh-pooh it, it was not until the reign of George I. that the custom was abolished.
The intangible, even more than the tangible, would be the subject of taboo, as coming near the confines of that spiritual realm where man had no control. Hence the secrecy which hedged the royal name; a feature which Mr. Frazer omits from his otherwise comprehensive survey.
In China the ming or proper name of the reigning Emperor (sight of whom is tabooed when he appears in public, even his guards having to turn their back to the line when the Son of Heaven approaches [as]) is sacred, and must be spelt differently during his lifetime. Although given in the prayer offered at the imperial worship of ancestors, it is not permitted to be written or pronounced by any subject. 'The first month of the Chinese year is called Ching-ut. The word ching in this particular case is pronounced in the first tone or "upper monotone," though it really belongs to the third or "upper falling tone." A Chinese work explains this as follows:
There lived in the third century n.e. a noted Emperor who assumed the title of She Hwang-Ti. He succeeded to the throne of China (T'sin) at the age of thirteen, and, following up the career of conquest initiated by his tutor, he was able to found a new empire on the ruins of the Chinese feudal system, and in the twenty-sixth year of his reign declared himself sole master of the Chinese Empire. He was superstitious, and his desire to be considered great shows itself in the manner in which he destroyed the classics of his land, that his name might be handed down to posterity as the first Emperor of China. His name was Ching, and, that it might be ever held sacred, he commanded that the syllable ching be tabooed. Hence the change in pronunciation referred to.' [at] No Korean dare utter his king's name. When the king dies he is given another name, by which his royal personality may be kept clear in the mass of names that fill history. But his real name, the name he bears in life, is never spoken save in the secrecy of the palace harem. And even there it is spoken only by the privileged lips of his favourite wife and his most spoiled children. [au] Polack says that from a New Zealand chief being called 'Wai,' which means 'water,' a new name had to be given to water. A chief was called 'Maripi,' or 'knife,' and knives were therefore called by another name, 'nekra.' [av] In Tahiti, when a chief took highest rank, any words resembling his name were changed: 'even to call a horse or dog "prince" or "princess" was disgusting to the native mind.' [aw]
The custom is known as te pi, and, in the case of a king whose name was Tu, all words in which that syllable occurred were changed: for example, fetu, star, becoming fetia; or tui, to strike, being changed to tiai. Vancouver observes that at the accession of that ruler, which took place between his own visit and that of Captain Cook, no less than forty or fifty of the names most in daily use had been entirely changed. As Professor Max Muller ingeniously remarks, 'It is as if with the accession of Queen Victoria, either the word Victory had been tabooed altogether, or only part of it, as tori, so as to make it high treason to speak of Tories during her reign.' On his accession to royalty, the name of the king of the Society Islands was changed, and any one uttering the old name was put to death with all his relatives. Death was the penalty for uttering the name of the king of Dahomey in his presence; his name was, indeed, kept secret lest the knowledge of it should enable any enemy to harm him; hence the names by which the different kings have been known to Europeans are aliases--in native term, 'strong names.' [ax] The London newspapers of June 1890 reprinted extracts from a letter in the Vossische Zeitung relating the adventures of Dr. Bayol, Governor of Kotenon, who had been imprisoned by the King of Dahomey. The king was too suspicious to sign the letter written in his name to the President of the French Republic, probably through fear that M. Carnot might bewitch him through it. [ay] An interesting comment on the foregoing examples is supplied by a painting on the temple of Rameses II. at Gurnah, whereon Trim, Safekht, and Thoth are depicted as inscribing that monarch's name on the sacred tree of Heliopolis, by which act he was endowed with eternal life. [az]
The separation of the priestly and kingly offices, which followed the gradual subdivision of functions in society, tended to increase the power of the priest in the degree that he represented the kingdom of the invisible and the dreaded, and held the keys of admission therein. The king, who reigned by the grace of God, as the term goes in civilised communities, was consecrated to his office by the minister of God, and, hence, there could not fail to arise the conflicts between the temporal and the spiritual dignities of which history tells, a modern example of these being the relations between the Quirinal and the Vatican. The prerogatives which the Church claimed could only be granted by the State consenting to accept a position of vassalage illustrated by the submission of Henry iv. in the courtyard of Gregory vii. at Canossa. Whatever appertained to the sacerdotal office reflected the supreme importance of its functions; the priest, as incarnation of the god, transferred into his own person that which had secured sanctity and supremacy to the priest-king, and the king was so much the poorer. The supernatural power which the priest claimed tended to isolate him more and more from his fellows, and place him in the highest caste, whose resulting conservatism and opposition to all challenge of its claims have been among the chief arresting forces in human progress. For to admit that these claims were open to question would have been fatal to the existence of the priestly order. The taboos guarding and regulating the life of the priest-king therefore increase in rigidity when applied to priest and shrine; and how persistent they are is seen in the feeling amongst the highest races that the maltreating or killing of a priest is a greater crime than the maltreating or killing of a layman, and that the robbery of a church is a greater offence than the devouring of widows' houses.
These remarks are designed to show that the examples of royal and sacerdotal taboos cited above have increased force when applied to priests in their ascending degrees from medicine-men to popes; and perhaps one of the most striking illustrations of this is supplied by the record of customs attaching to the holy and hidden name of the priests of Eleusis. A brief account of this may close the references to name-avoidance and name-substitution so far as the living are concerned.
Some years ago a statue of one of these hierophants was found in that ancient seat of 'the Venerable Mysteries of Demeter, the most solemn rites of the Pagan world.' The inscription on its base ran thus: 'Ask not my name, the mystic rule (or packet) has carried it away into the blue sea. But when I reach the fated day, and go to the abode of the blest, then all who care for me will pronounce it.' When the priest was dead, his sons added some words, of which only a few are decipherable, the rest being mutilated. 'Now we, his children, reveal the name of the best of fathers, which, when alive, he hid in the depths of the sea. This is the famous Apollonius. . .' [ba]
The name which the priest thus desired should be kept secret until his death was the holy name--usually that of some god--which he adopted on taking his sacred office. Directly he assumed that name, it was probably written on a tablet, so that, as symbol of its secrecy, it might be buried in the depths of the sea; but when he went 'to the abode of the blest,' it was 'pronounced,' and became the name by which he was known to posterity. Some interesting questions arise out of the ceremonies attaching to the name-concealment. Among these, the chief one is the committal to the sea, which is probably connected with lustration rites; a connection further evidenced by the choice of salt instead of fresh water. The custom of sending diseases and demons out to sea in canoes or in toy-ships, is not unknown in Malaysia and other parts; but discussion on modes of transfer and expulsion of evils would lead us too far afield, and it suffices to say that, in this custom of the Greek priesthood, there was a survival of the barbaric taboo which conceals an individual's name for the same reason that it burns or buries his material belongings.
(c) TABOO ON NAMES OF THE DEAD
Passing from the living to the dead, and to spiritual beings generally, we find the power of taboo increased in the degree that it invests things more mysterious. The conflicting behaviour of the barbaric mind towards ghosts and all their kin should be a warning to the framers of cut-and-dried theories of the origin of religion, since no one key fits the complex wards of the lock opening the door of the unseen. Sometimes the spirits of the dead are tempted by offerings at the graves; holes are cut in the rude stone tombs to let them out, or to pass-in food to them; at other times, all sorts of devices are adopted to prevent them from finding their way back to their old haunts, the one object being to 'lay the ghost.' While memory of them abides, a large number receive a vague sort of worship in which fear is the chief element, only a few securing such renown as obtains their promotion to the rank of godlings, and, by another step or two, of gods. Others there are for whom no hope of deification removes the terrors of the underworld; while the remainder, in their choice of evils, would accept the cheerless Hades so that they might not wander as unburied shades. All which is bewildering enough and fatal to any uniformity of principle ruling conceptions of another life, but not less bewildering than the result of any attempt to extract from intelligent people who believe in a future state some coherent idea of what happens to the soul between death and the day of judgment. Vague and contradictory as both savage and civilised notions on these matters may be, there is, nevertheless, at the base a common feeling that prompts to awe and hushed tone when speaking of the dead. To quote from Mrs. Barrett Browning's 'Cowper's Grave,' he is
'Named softly as the household name of one whom God hath taken.'
Among a large number of barbaric races he is never named, because to do so is to disturb him or to summon him, and that is the last thing desired. When any member of a tribe died, the Tasmanians abstained ever after from mentioning his name, believing that to do so would bring dire calamities upon them. In referring to such an one, they would use great circumlocution; for example, 'if William and Mary, husband and wife, were both dead, and Lucy, the deceased sister of William, had been married to Isaac, also dead, whose son Jemmy still survived, and they wished to speak of Mary,' they would say, 'the wife of the brother of Jemmy's father's wife.' So great was their fear of offending the shade of tlee dead by naming him, that they took every precaution to avoid being drawn into talk about him with white men. And that reluctance was extended to the absent, Backhouse recording that one of the women threw sticks at J. Thornton on his mentioning her son, who was at school at Newtown.[bb] The Tasmanian circumlocution is equalled by that of the Australian native from which Dr. Lang tried to learn the name of a slain relative. 'He told me who the lad's father was, who was his brother, what he was like, how he walked, how he held his tomahawk in his left hand instead of his right, and who were his companions; but the dreaded name never escaped his lips, and, I believe, no promises or threats could have induced him to utter it.' [bc] Lumholtz [bd] remarks that none of the Australian aborigines 'utter the names of the dead, lest their spirits should hear the voices of the living, and thus discover their whereabouts'; and Sir George/ Grey says that the only modification of the taboo which he found among them was a lessened reluctance to utter the name of any one who had been dead for some time. [be] In this they differ from some folk nearer home, for the Shetland Island widow cannot be got to mention the name of her husband, although she will talk of him by the hour. No dead person must be mentioned, 'for his ghost wiil come to him who speaks his name.' [bf] Dorman gives a touching illustration of this superstition in the Shawnee myth of Yellow Sky. She was a daughter of the tribe, and had dreams which told her that she was created for an unheard-of mission. There was a mystery about her being, and none could comprehend the meaning of her evening songs. The paths leading to her father's lodge were more beaten than those to any other. On one condition alone at last she consented to become a wife, namely, that he who wedded her should never mention her name. If he did, she warned him, a sad calamity would befall him, and he would for ever thereafter regret his thoughtlessness. After a time Yellow Sky sickened and died, and her last words were that her husband might never breathe her name. For five summers he lived in solitude, but one day, as he was by the grave of his dead wife, an Indian asked him whose it was, and in forgetfulness he uttered the forbidden name. He fell to the earth in great pain, and as darkness settled round about him a change came over him. Next morning, near the grave of Yellow Sky, a large buck was quietly feeding. It was the unhappy husband. Conversely, in Swedish folk-lore, the story is told of a bridegroom and his friends who were riding through a wood, when they were all transformed into wolves by evil spirits. After the lapse of years, the forlorn bride was walking one day in the same forest, and in anguish of heart, as she thought of her lost lover, she shrieked out his
name. Immediately he appeared in human form and rushed into her arms. The sound of his Christian name had dissolved the devilish spell that bound him. Among both the Chinook Indians and the Lenguas of Brazil, the near relatives of the deceased changed their names, lest the spirit should be drawn back to earth by hearing the old name used; while in another tribe, 'if one calls the dead by name, he must answer to the dead man's relatives. He must surrender his own blood, or pay blood-money in restitution of the life of the dead taken by him.' [bg] The Abipones invented new words for anything whose name recalled the dead person's memory, while to utter his name was a nefarious proceeding; and among certain northern tribes, when a death occurred, if a relative of the deceased was absent, his friends would hang along the road by which he would return to apprise him of the fact, so that he might not mention the dreaded name on his arrival. Among the Connecticut tribes, if the offence of naming the dead was twice repeated, death was not regarded as a punishment too severe. In 1655, Philip, having heard that another Indian had spoken the name of his deceased relative, came to the island of Nantucket to kill him, and the English had to interfere to prevent it. [bh] If among the Californian tribes the name of the dead was accidentally mentioned, a shudder passed over those present. An aged Indian of Lake Michigan explained why tales of the spirits were told only in winter, by saying that when the deep snow is on the ground the voices of those who repeat their names are muffled, but that in summer the slightest mention of them must be avoided, lest in the clear air they hear their own names and are offended. [bi] Among the Fuegians, when a child asks for its dead father or mother, it will be reproved and told not to 'speak bad words'; and the Abipones, to whom reference has just been made, will use some periphrasis for the dead, as 'the man who does not now exist.' My friend Louis Becke tells me that 'in the olden days in the Ellice Islands, it was customary to always speak of a dead man by some other name than that which he had borne when au For instance, if Kino, who in life was a builder of canoes, died, he would perhaps be spoken of "teaura moli," i.e. "perfectly fitting outrigger" to denote that he had been especially skilled building and fitting an outrigger to a canoe. He would never be spoken of as Kino, though his son or grandson might bear his name hereditarily.' As bearing on this last remark, among the Iroquois, the name of a dead man could not used again in the lifetime of his oldest surviving son without the consent of the latter. [bj]
To this list might be added examples like name-avoidance of the dead among Ostiaks, Ainos, Samoyeds, Papuans, Masai, and numerous other peoples at corresponding low levels culture, but that addition would only lend superfluous strength to world-wide evidence of a practice whose motive is clear, and whose interest for us chiefly lies in its witness to the like attitude of the human mind before the mystery of the hereafter.
(d) TABOO ON THE NAMES OF GODS
As with names of the lesser hierarchy of spirits, so with the name of a god; but with the added significance which deity imports. To know it, is to enable the utterer to invoke him. Moreover, it enables the human to enter into close communion with the divine, even to obtain power over the god himself. Hence the refusal of the god to tell his name, and of the devices employed to discover it. On the other hand, the feeling that the god is jealous of his name, and full of threatenings against those who take it in vain, gives rise to the employment of some other name. But, whatever may be the attitude of the worshipper, there is belief in the power of the name, and in virtues inhering therein. The gods whom man worships with bloody rites are made in his own image, and the names given them which he dreads to pronounce are his own coinage. But the lapse of time, ever investing with mystery that which is withdrawn or receding, and the stupendous force of tradition, which transmutes the ordinary into the exceptional, explain the paradox. And an of the confusion between persons and things supplies such illustration of the vagaries human mind at the barbaric stage that to look for logical sequence in its behaviour. Even where we might feel warranted in expecting a certain consistency, or a certain perception of fundamental differences, we insight lacking. Here, too, tradition power; we see how superficial are the changes in human nature as a whole, and in what small degree the 'old Adam' has been cast striking illustration of the belief in the power over the god which mortals may secure by knowledge of his name is supplied by the concealment of the name of the tutelary deity Plutarch asks, 'How commeth it to passé, that it is expressly forbidden at Rome, either or name or to demaund ought as touching the god, who hath in particular recommendation and patronage the safetie and preservation of the citie; nor so much as to enquire whether the said deitie be male or female? And versely this prohibition proceedeth from a superstitious
feare that they have, for that they say, that Valerius Soranus died an ill death because he presumed to utter and publish so much.' [bk] Plutarch's answer shows more approach to the true explanation than is his wont. He continues the interrogative strain: 'Is it in regard of a certame reason that some Latin historians do allege; namely, that there be certaine evocations and enchantings of the gods by spels and charmes, through the power whereof they are of opinion that they might be able to call forth and draw away the Tutelar gods of their enemies, and to cause them to come and dwell with them; and therefore the Romans be afraid lest they may do as much for them? For, like as in times past the Tyrians, as we find upon record, when their citie was besieged, enchained the images of their gods to their shrines, [bl] for feare they would abandon their citie and be gone, and as others demanded pledges and sureties that they should come againe to their place, whensoever they sent them to any bath to be washed, or let them go to any expiation to be cleansed; even so the Romans thought, that to be altogether unknowen and not once named, was the best meanes, and surest way to keepe with their Tutelar god.' Pliny says that Verrius Flaccus quotes authors, whom he thinks trustworthy, to the effect that when the Romans laid siege to a town, the first step was for the priests to summon the guardian god of the place, and to offer him the same or a greater place in the Roman pantheon. This practice, Pliny adds, still remains in the pontifical discipline, and it is certainly for this reason that it has been kept secret under the protection of what god Rome itself has been, lest its enemies should use like tactics. [bm]
The greater gods of the Roman pantheon were of foreign origin; the religion of the Romans was wholly designed for use in practical life, and the gods who ruled human affairs in minutest detail from the hour of birth to that of death and burial were shapeless abstractions. Cunina was the guardian spirit of the cradle; Rumina, the spirit of suckling. Educa and Potina, the spirits of eating and drinking, watched over the child at home; Abeona and Iterduca, the spirits of departing and travelling, attended him on his journey; Adeona and Domiduca, the spirits of approaching and arrival, brought him home again. The threshold, the door, and the hinges each had its attendant spirit, Limertinus, Forculus, and Cardea; while Janus presided over door-openings, guarding the household from evil spirits. Agriculture being the main occupation, there were spirits of harrowing, ploughing, sowing, harvesting, and threshing; while Pecunia, the spirit of money, attended the trader, and Portunus, the harbour-spirit, guided the merchant vessel safe to port. These vague numina are known as 'Di Indigetes,' and it was part of the duty of the pontiffs to keep a complete register of them on lists called indigitamenta. Our interest here lies in the fact that they show how little, if at all, the Roman was above the savage, because he believed that it was sufficient to utter the names of any one of the 'Di Indigetes' to secure its presence and protection. Hence the importance of omitting the name of no spirit from the pontifical lists.[bn] Among the Penitential Psalms of the Babylonian scriptures, which, in the opinion of Professor Sayce, date from Accadian times, and which, in their depth of feeling and dignity, bear comparison with the Psalms of the Hebrews, we find the worshipper pleading--
'How long, O god, whom I know, and know not, shall
the fierceness of thy heart continue?
How long, O goddess, whom I know, and know not,
shall thy heart in its hostility be (not) appeased?
Mankind is made to wander, and there is none that knoweth;
Mankind, as many as pronounce a name, what do they know?'
Upon which Professor Sayce remarks: 'The belief in the mysterious power of names is still strong upon him. In fear lest the deity he has offended should not be named at all, or else be named incorrectly, he does not venture to enumerate the gods, but classes them under the comprehensive titles of the divinities with whose names he is acquainted, and of those of whose names he is ignorant. It is the same when he refers to the human race. Here, again, the ancient superstition about words shows itself plainly. If he alludes to mankind, it is to "mankind as many as pronounce a name," as many, that is, as have names which may be pronounced.' [bo]
The modern worshipper is nearer to the ancient Roman and Chaldean, and to the barbarian of past and present time, than he suspects. Every religious assembly--.for even sects who, like the Quakers, eschew all ritual, break the silence of their gatherings when the 'spirit moveth '--invokes the Deity in the feeling that thereby His nearer presence is the more assured. So that the line between the lower and the higher civilisation is hard to draw in this matter. And although undue stress might be laid on certain passages in the Bible which convey the idea of the integral relation between the Deity and His name, it is not to be questioned that the efficacy of certain rites, notably that of baptism and of exorcism, or the casting-out of demons, would be doubted if the name of the Deity was omitted.
That the gods of the higher religions, or their representatives, are described as reluctant to tell their names, and as yielding only through strategy or cunning, is in keeping with barbaric conceptions. In the Book of Judges [bp] we read that 'Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour? And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?' (or wonderful, as in the margin of the Authorised Version). A Turin papyrus, dating from the twentieth dynasty, preserves a remarkable legend of the great Râ, oldest of the gods, and one who, ruling over men as the first king- of Egypt, is depicted as in familiar converse with them. The dignity of the stor, Englished by Dr. Wallis Budge, demands that it be given with only the slightest abridgement.
Now Isis was a woman who possessed words of power; her heart was wearied with the millions of men, and she chose the millions of the gods, but she esteemed more highly the millions of the khus. And she meditated in her heart, saying, 'Cannot I by means of the sacred name of God make myself mistress of the earth and become a goddess like unto Rd in heaven and upon earth?' Now, behold, each day Râ entered at the head of his holy mariners and established himself upon the throne of the two horizons. The holy one had grown old, he dribbled at the mouth, his spittle fell upon the earth, and his slobbering dropped upon the ground. And Isis kneaded it with earth in her hand, and formed thereof a sacred serpent in the form of a spear; she set it not upright before her face, but let it lie upon the ground in the path whereby the great god went forth, according to his heart's desire, into his double kingdom. Now the holy god arose, and the gods who followed him as though he were Pharaoh went with him; and he came forth according to his daily wont; and the sacred serpent bit him. The flame of life departed from him, and he who dwelt among the Cedars (?) was overcome. The holy god opened his mouth, and the cry of his majesty reached unto heaven. His company of gods said, 'What hath happened?' and his gods exclaimed, 'What is it?' But Râ could not answer, for his jaws trembled and all his members quaked; the poison spread swiftly through his flesh just as the Nile invadeth all his land. When the great god had stablished his heart, he cried unto those who were in his train, saying, 'Come unto me, O ye who have come into being from my body, ye gods who have come forth from me, make ye known unto Khepera that a dire calamity hath fallen upon me. My heart perceiveth it, but my eyes see it not; my hand hath not caused it, nor do I know who hath done this unto me. Never have I felt such pain, neither can sickness cause more woe than this. I am a prince, the son of a prince, a sacred essence which hath proceeded from God. I am a great one, the son of a great one, and my father planned my name; I have multitudes of names and multitudes of forms, and my existence is in every god. I have been proclaimed by the heralds Imu and Horus, and my father and my mother uttered my name; but it hath been hidden within me by him that begat me, who would not that the words of power of any seer should have dominion over me. I came forth to look upon that which I had made, I was passing through the world which I had created, when lo! something stung me, but what I know not. Is it fire? Is it water? My heart is on fire, my flesh quaketh, and trembling hath seized all my limbs. Let there be brought unto me the children of the gods with healing words and with lips that know, and with power which reacheth unto heaven.'
The children of every god came unto him in tears, Isis came with her healing words, and her mouth full of the breath of life, with her enchantments which destroy sickness, and with her words of power which make the dead to live. And she spake, saying, 'What hath come to pass, O holy father? What hath happened? A serpent hath bitten thee, and a thing which thou hast created bath lifted up his head against thee. Verily it shall be cast forth by my healing words of power, and I will drive it away from before the sight of thy sunbeams.' The holy god opened his mouth and said, 'I was passing along my path, and I was going through tthe two regions of my lands according to my heart's desire, to see that which I had created, when lo! I was bitten by a serpent which I saw not. Is it fIre? Is it water? I am colder than water, I am hotter than fire. All my flesh sweateth, I quake, my eye hath no strength, I cannot see the sky, and the sweat rusheth to my face even as in the time of summer.' Then said Isis unto Râ, 'O tell me thy name, holy father, for whosoever shall be delivered by thy name shall live.' [And Râ said], 'I have made the heavens and the earth, I have ordered the mountains, I have created all that is above them, I have made the water, I have made to come into being the great and wide sea, I have made the "Bull of his mother," from whom spring the delights of love. I have made the heavens, I have stretched out the two horizons like a curtain, and I have placed the soul of the gods within them. I am he who, if he openeth his eyes, doth make the light, and, if he closeth them, darkness cometh into being. At his command the Nile riseth, and the gods know not his name. I have made the hours, I have created the days, I bring forward the festivals of the year, I create the Nile-flood. I make the fire of life, and I provide food in the houses. I am Khepera in the morning, I am Râ at noon, and I am Imu at even.' Meanwhile the poison was not taken away from his body, but it pierced deeper, and the great god could no longer walk.
Then said Isis unto Râ, 'What thou hast said is not thy name. O tell it unto me, and the poison shall depart; for he shall live whose name shall be revealed.' Now the poison burned like fire, and it was fiercer than the flame and the furnace, and the majesty of the god said, 'I consent that Isis shall search into me, and that my name shall pass from me into her.' Then the god hid himself from the gods, and his place in the boat of millions of years was empty. And when the time arrived for the heart of Râ to come forth, Isis spake unto her son Horuss, saying, 'The god hath bound himself by an oath to deliver up his two eyes' (i.e. the sun and moon). Thus was the name of the great god taken from him, and Isis, the lady of enchantments, said, 'Depart poison, go forth from Râ. O eye of Horus, go forth from the god, and shine outside his mouth. It is I who work, it is I who make to fall down upon the earth the vanquished poison; for the name of the great god hath been taken away from him. May Rd live, and may the poison die, may the prison die, and may Râ live!' These are the words of Isis, the great goddess, the queen of the gods, who knew Râ by his own name.
But after he was healed, the strong rule of the old sun-god had lost its vigour, and even mankind became hostile against him: they became angry and began a rebellion. [bq]
The power of the divine Name is shown in many another old tradition. Effective as were the qualities ascribed to magic knots, amulets, drugs, and the great body of mystic rites connected with their use, as also to conjuring by numbers, incantations, and so forth, in that great home of magic, Chaldea, all these yielded to the power of the god's name. Before that everything in heaven, earth, and the underworld bowed, while it enthralled the gods themselves. In the legend of the descent of Ishtflr to the underworld, when the infernal goddess Allat takes her captive, the gods make vain effort to deliver her, and in their despair beg Hea to break the spell that holds her fast. Then Héa forms the figure of a man, who presents himself at the door of Hades, and awing Allat with the names of the mighty gods, still keeping the great name secret, Ishtfir is delivered. [br]
Lane says that it is a Moslem belief that the prophets and apostles to whom alone is committed the secret of the Most Great Name of God (El-Izm-el-Aazam) can by pronouncing it transport themselves (as on Solomon's magic carpet, spun for him by the jinn) from place to place at will, can kill the living, raise the dead, and work other miracles. [bs] By virtue of this name, which was engraved on his seal-ring, Solomon, or Suleyman, subjected the birds and the winds, and, with one exception, all the jinn, whom he compelled to help in the building of the Temple at Jerusalem. By pronouncing it, his minister Asaf was transported in a moment to the royal presence. [bt] Sakhr was the genie who remained unsubdued, and one day when the Wise King, taking a bath, intrusted the wonderful ring to one of his paramours, the demon assumed Solomon's form, and, securing possession of the magic jewel, usurped the throne, while the king, whose appearance was forthwith changed to that of a beggar, became a wanderer in his own realm. After long years the ring was found in the stomach of a fish, Sakhr having thrown it away on his detection, and so Solomon 'came to his own again. [bu] In the Toldoth Jeshu, a pseudo-life of Jesus of Jewish compilation, there are two legends concerning the Unutterable Name. One relates that this name was engraved on the corner-stone of the Temple. 'For when King David dug the foundations he found there a stone on which the Name of God was graven, and he took it and placed it in the Holy of Holies. But as the wise men feared lest some ignorant youth should learn the name and be able to destroy the world--which God avert!--they made by magic two brazen lions, which they set before the entrance of the Holy of Holies, one on the right, the other on the left. Now, if any one were to go within and learn the holy Name, then the lions would begin to roar as he came out, so that from alarm and bewilderment he would lose his presence of mind and forget the Name.
'Now Jeshu left Upper Galilee and came secretly to Jerusalem, and he went into the Temple, and learned there the holy writing; and after he had written the incommunicable Name on parchment he uttered it, with intent that he might feel no pain, and then he cut into his flesh and hid the parchment with its inscription thereon. Then he uttered the Name once more, and made so that his flesh healed up again. And when he went out at the door the lions roared, and he forgot the Name. Therefore he hasted outside the town, cut into his flesh, took the writing out, and when he had studied the signs he retained the Name in his memory.' [bv]
The second legend, which tells of an aerial conflict between Jeshu and Judas before Queen Helena (!), says that 'when Jeshu had spoken the incommunicable Name, there came a wind and raised him between heaven and earth. Thereupon Judas spake the same Name, and the wind raised him also between heaven and earth. And they flew, both of them, around in the regions of the air, and all who saw it marvelled. Judas then spake again the Name, and seized Jeshu and sought to cast him to the earth. But Jeshu also spake the Name, and sought to cast Judas down, and they strove one with the other.' Ultimately Judas prevails, and casts Jeshu to the ground, and the elders seize him; his power leaves him; and he is subjected to the tauntings of his captors. Being rescued by his disciples, he hastened to the Jordan; and when he had washed therein his power returned, and with the Name he again wrought his former miracles. [bw]
As has been remarked already, belief in the power of the Name would lead to hesitation in the use of it, lest evil fall on him who uttered it, and, since some term would be necessary, to coinage of substitutionary names. To the Mohammedans, Allah is but an epithet in place of the Most Great Name to whose wonder-working power reference has been made. The three great gods of the limitless Hindu pantheon, Brahmâ, Vishnu, and Siva, have as their symbol the mystic OM or Aims, the repetition of which is believed to be all-efficacious in giving knowledge of the Supreme. Leviticus xxiv. 16, 'He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when Ii blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be pu to death,' [bx] is sometimes cited as the warrar for the avoidance of the 'holy and reverend name Yahweh, or Jehovah; but perhaps it influence of Oriental metaphysics on the Jew coupled with the persistence of barbaric ides about names, may have led to a substitution which appears to have been post-exilian. 'Adona and 'Elohim' are sometimes used in the place Yahweh, but more often the god is anonymou 'the name' being the phrase adopted. A doubtful tradition says that 'Jehovah' was uttered but once a year by the high priest on the Da of Atonement when he entered the Holy of Holies, and, according to Maimonides, it was spoken for the last time by Simon the Just. The real name of Confucius is so sacred that is a statutable offence to pronounce it. Commissioner Yeh, in a conversation with M: Wingrove Cooke, said, 'Tien means properly only the "material heaven," but it also means Shang-te, "supreme ruler," "God"; for as it is not lawful to use His name lightly, we name Him by His dwelling-place, which is in Tien.' [by] In his references to Osiris, Herodotus remarks in one place, where he speaks of the exposure of the sacred cow, 'At the season when the Egyptians beat themselves in honour of one of their gods whose name I am unwilling to mention in connection with such a matter'; [bz] and in another, 'On this lake it is that the Egyptians represent by night his sufferings whose name I refrain from mentioning.' [ca]
The Father of History here gives expression to a feeling dominant throughout every stage of culture. He differs no whit from that typical savage, the Australian black-fellow, into whose ear, on his initiation, the elders of the tribe whisper the secret name of the sky-god--Tharamulün, or Daramulun,--a name which he dare not utter lest the wrath of the deity descend upon him. [cb]
[a] Horn's Expedition to Central Australia. Report on Anththropology, p. 166.
[b] Long, Expedition, vol. i. p. 253;
[c] Bourke, p. 461.
[d] Guppy, The Solomon Islands, p. 47.
[e] Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 143.
[f] Codrington, The Melanesians and their Anthropology, p. 44.
[g] Grinnell, p. 195.
[h] Romilly, Western Pacific and New Guinea.
[i] Brough Smyth, vol. i. p. 423.
[j] Folk-lore of the North-East of Scotland, pp. 200, 201.
[k] Kaffir Folk-Lore, p. 58.
[l] Ibid. p. 202.
[m] I. 146.
[n] Journal of Anthrop. Institute, vol. xviii. pp. 245-269.
[o] Northern Mythology, vol. ii. pp.83, 84; Lloyd, Scandinavian Adventures vol. i. p. 476.
[p] Folk-Lore Record, vol. iv. p. 98.
[q] Rev. Hilderic Friend, Folk-Lore Record, vol. iv. p. 77.
[r] Thorpe, vol. ii. p. 84,
[s] Rennell Rodd, Customs and Lore of Modern Greece, p. 111.
[u] Folk-Lore Record, vol. iv. p. 112.
[v] Elworthy, The Evil Eye, p. 32.
[w] Crooke, vol. ii. p. 4.
[x] Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 145.
[y] Folk-Lore Record, vol. iv. p. 78.
[z] Ibid. p. 80.
[z] Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, vol. i. p. 102.
[aa] Farrer, p. 120.
[ab] American Folk-Lore Journal, vol. viii. p. 133.
[ac] Trumbull, The Blood Covenant, p. 337.
[ad] Folk-Lore Record, vol. iv. p. 79.
[ae] Dorman, p. 154.
[af] Early History of Institutions, p. 65.
ag] Principles of Sociology, part ii. p. 21.
[ah] Quoted by Dr. Trumbull from Powers' 'Tribes of California, in Contributions to North American Ethnology, vol. iii. p. 247.
[ai] Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 128, quoting from Colden's History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada, part i. p.10 (1747).
[aj] Trumbull, pp. 336, 337.
[ak] Golden Bough, vol. i. p. 110.
[al] Rev. G. Turner, Samoa, p. 23.
[am] 'Neither their washings nor their ways of life in general are like those of common folk, nor do they enter the house of a private man,' Pausanjas, viii. 13; of. Jeremiah, xxxv. 9.
[an] Introduction to History of Religion, p. 62.
[ao] Plutazch, Romane Questions, 40.
[ap] Golden Bough, vol. i. p. 117.
[aq] Romane Questions, 50.
[ar] Dalyall, Darker Superstitions of Scotland, p. 62 (1834).
[as] William Simpson, Meeting the Sun, p. 153.
[at] Folk-Lore Record, vol. iv. p. 73.
[au] Times, 30th August 1894.
[av] Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 147.
[aw] Captain Cook, Third Voyage, vol. ii. p. 170.
[ax] Ellis, Ewe-Speaking Peoples, p. 98.
[ay] 'E. S. Hartland, Science of Fairy Tales, p. 310.
[az] Wiedemann, Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 156.
[ba] W. R. Paton, 'The Holy Names of the Eleusinian Priests,' International Folk.Lore Congress, 1891, Papers and Transactions, pp. 202 ff.
[bb] H. Ling Roth, The Tasmanians, p. 74.
[bc] Queensland, p. 367.
[bd] Among Cannibals, p. 278.
[be] Travels in N. W. Australia, vol ii. p. 232.
[bf] Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 144.
[bg] First American Report of Bureau of Ethnnology, p. 204.
[bh] Dorman, p. 154.
[bi] Schoolcraft, part iii. p. 314.
[bj] L. H. Morgan, Ancient Society, p. 79.
[bk] Romane Questions, 61.
[bl] On the custom of binding of gods, see paper by Wm. Crooke, Folk-Lore, 1897, pp. 325-355.
[bm] Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 127.
[bn] Thne, History of Rome, vol. i. p. 120; Mommsen, History of Rome, vol. i. pp. 34, 111; Jevons, Introd. .Romane Questions, p. lvii; Grainger, Worship of the Romans, p. 134.
[bo] Hibbert Lectures, 1887, pp. 350, 353.
[bp] Chap. xiii. 17, 18.
[bq] Budge, The Book of the Dead: The papyrus of Ani in the British Museum, pp. lxxxix-xci. Of. Wiedemann, Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, pp. 54-56.
[br] Lenormant, Chaldean Magic, p. 42.
[bs] Modern Egyptians, vol. i. p. 361.
[bt] Arabian Society in the Middle Ages, pp. 40, 81.
[bu] Clouston, Group of Eastern Romances, p. 163.
[bv] S. Baring-Gould, The Lost and Hostile Gospels, pp. 77, 78.
[bw] S. Baring-Gould, The Lost and Hostile Gospels, pp. 83
[bx] Of. the third commandment in the Ten Words, 'Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. '--Exod. xx. 7.
[by] Folk-Lore Record, vol. iv. p. 76.
[bz] II, 132.
[ca] II. 171.
[cb] A. W. Howitt, 'Some Australian Beliefs,' Journal Anthropological Institute, xiii. p. 192 (1883).