Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/274

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26o The Scape-Goat in European Folklore.

ceremony has it.^ However this may be, it is abundantly clear that a scapegoat must, for purposes of folklore, be defined as a living being to whom are transferred evils of any sort in order to get rid of them ; it is in no way essential that the animal or man should be set at liberty. As a matter of nomenclature it may be convenient to restrict the use of the term " scapegoat " to such cathartic ceremonies as are characterised by the setting free of a living creature ; but then we must recognise that these ceremonies form only a part of a much larger whole and can only be interpreted with reference to that whole. This is particularly essential in dealing with the subject from the point of view of European folklore ; for the original intention of many of the customs with which I deal has been obscured, and would not be discoverable, were I to restrict my researches to the scapegoat proper. It is clear that cathartic ceremonies, as I have defined them, include not only rites intended for the purification of whole communities, but also the magical rites for the benefit of individuals to which we more commonly apply the term " transference of evils " ; and it is perhaps an open question how far the term " scapegoat " should be used of such individual cases. But no logical distinction can be drawn between individual and col- lective cases ; if therefore in what follows I restrict myself in the main to collective rites, it is in the interests of brevity and not because I discern any line of demarcation between the two classes.

If we cannot with accuracy assert that fear is the origin of religion, it is at any rate true that this motive lies at the root of a large number of ceremonies practised in nearly all stages of culture. If we look at the Australian natives, who are certainly as primitive, so far as we can see, as any people now on the face of the globe, we find

^ Two animals were provided, of which one was sacrificed : cj. the purification for leprosy, Lev. xiv. 48.