Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/137

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Reviews. 1 2 5

L'Origine des Pouvotrs Magiques dans les Soci^t^s AusTRALiENNES. Par M. Mauss. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1884.

This valuable monograph is published by the ficole Pratique des Hautes Etudes as a specimen of the critical work to which the author, a professor at the school, devotes himself in his lectures. To say that it is worthy of M. Mauss* already high reputation is to say all that is necessary to commend it to serious students of the problems of savage thought and institutions. It may be considered as in some measure supplementary to the Me/noire on the subject of magic by Messieurs Hubert and Mauss, which appeared in the seventh volume of HAfinee Sociologique, and of which an account was rendered to the readers of Folk-Lore two years ago (vol. xv., p. 359). It carries the researches, the results of which were there embodied, a step further, by means of a critical examination of the modes of initiation of the Australian wizards. These are divided into three classes, in their ultimate analysis not entirely distinct from one another — namely, initiation by birth (heredity), initiation by revelation, and initiation by other wizards. The relations between the two last are then discussed, and finally the preservation and loss of magical powers.

The conclusion is that the simple, sympathetic magic of the Australian wizard is something very different from a mere mechanism of erroneous technical ideas. The method of his initiation sets him apart from other men. The possession of his magical stones, in which his supernatural qualities are symbolized and in a sense contained, makes him resemble spirits more closely than mortals. His whole personality is often renewed in the course of the rites, or at least he feels himself renewed in the course of his traditional ecstasies. He is sometimes even con- founded with the spirit which initiates him. He has become and remains, and is obliged to remain, something other than his former self. He is at once the exploiter and the slave of the public opinion which confers on him his supernatural powers. His fasts and ecstasies at the time of his initiation, his subsequent medita- tions, the perfect credulity of his clients, his traditional beliefs, all play their part in compelling at least a half-belief in himself and in