Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/252

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238 Reviews.

obvious, therefore, as Mr. Lang points out, that this Arunta belief could only originate when and where a district had its local totem, and "a district can only have a local totem if the majority of the living people are of one totem only," and only where male descent prevails can the majority of the inhabitants of a given district be of the same totem. The Arunta belief there- fore postulates the pre-existence of the custom of inheriting one's father's totem : it is a consequence and not the cause of that custom. It is a departure from that custom, not the origin of it. The opposite view, entertained by Mr. Spencer and Mr. Frazer, is self-contradictory; for it postulates that the Arunta believe in ancestral spirits but do not believe in ancestors.

It seems, however, now open to doubt whether all the Arunta do beheve in the re-incarnation of ancestral spirits, or in re-incarnation at all : the spirits of the dead go ofif and are finally annihilated, according to Mr. Strehlow (vol. xvi., pp. 430-1), and therefore cannot be re-incarnated. On the other hand, Messrs. Spencer and Gillen state definitely and beyond the possibility of doubt that the doctrine of re-incarnation is found amongst the Arunta, e.g. Northern Tribes., p. 273. Until, therefore, our authorities have cleared up this point, the wise thing seems to be to accept the statements of both authorities and to hold, for the present, that amongst those Arunta studied by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen the belief in re-incarnation does, and amongst those Arunta studied by Mr. Strehlow the belief in re-incarnation does not, exist. That view will enable us to understand not only the points of difference between Messrs. Spencer and Gillen on the one hand and Mr. Strehlow on the other, but also the points of agreement. For there are more points of agreement than of difference. There is agreement on the point that a churinga is somehow connected with a deceased person : Mr. Strehlow asserts this, and Messrs. Spencer and Gillen say a churinga " is regarded as something much more than a piece of wood or stone. It is intimately associated with the ancestor and has ' feelings ' " {N. T. 265, n. i), "with them {churingas) the spiritual part of their former possessors is associated" {N.T. 159, cf. 138). We may, therefore, take it that the association of the deceased with his churinga is found amongst all the Arunta ; and that the behef