Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/128

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io6 Reviews.

based on locality, and the most cruel and outrageous practices at initiation are unknown. If it be contended that, save in the last particular, the Arunta fairly answer to this description, I hasten to add that the Arunta present striking evidence in sup- port of Dr. Howitt's case. While they and their neighbours do know of the existence of certain shadowy beings called Twan- yirika, Atnatu, and so forth, they have evolved the belief to a very slight extent; and in spite of very careful search Messrs. Spencer and Gillen were quite unable to find anything like even the rudimentary moral character of Baiame or Daramulun attri- buted to them. It would seem as though (if I may make the sug- gestion) the tribes outside the south-eastern area relied on the terrific character of the ordeal and their own authority as therein manifested, rather than on any ethical precepts of a supernatural being, to enforce conformity to the tribal code on the part of initiated youths.

Moreover, when the beliefs and practice relating to these mythical beings come to be analyzed, they resolve themselves at last into the conception of what I ventured to call some years ago in these pages a " sublimated head-man." He can "go anywhere and do anything;" and so can the wizard. He was before death, and he still lives. But that is only because he is a wizard more powerful than the rest. His possession of the magical crystals is conclusive as to his real character. He is the tribal Father ; but the elders of the tribe are commonly addressed as Father. He dwells in the sky, often as a star, and usually with ancestral ghosts who, like himself, lived formerly on earth. Whether worship is actually paid to him depends on the definition of worship. Ancestor-worship is as yet unknown to the Australians ; but we find them at a stage out of which it might and probably would in time have grown, had it not been for the irruption of the white race. Possibly with it there would have evolved, as among the Bantu, the rudiments of a belief in a Supreme Being. This, however, is no more than conjecture.

Among other subjects treated of by Dr. Howitt, the most interesting in the present anthropological controversies is that of the alleged institution of group-marriage. It is a subject far too large to be discussed here. Dr. Howitt believes that certain