Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/28

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1 8 Presidential Address,

ing a priori. The assumption also which lies behind the argument, namely, that the culture of a tribe must be all on one level, that if part of it be primitive so is the rest, is demonstrably false. To Mr. Lang the practice looks like a freak ; to others, it looks like something primitive ; and if it be a freak, one is per- mitted to ask where it came from.

But it is time to ask what this freak is.^ In the Arunta and Kaitish tribes, in the very heart of the Australian continent, the totem is not derived either from the mother (as often in other parts of the world) or from the father (as amongst the coastal tribes of Aus- tralia). All over the country are scattered what the discoverers call totem centres, haunted by the spirits of the dead that await reincarnation. Each centre is haunted by the spirits of one totem only. When a woman first feels herself to be quickened with child, she thinks that a spirit from the nearest totem centre has entered into her ; and this becomes the totem of the child, whatever may be the totems of father and mother. The totems are associated with certain oddly marked stones, which need not concern us further now, because they have no bearing on the essence of the belief. The belief, as Mr. Frazer points out, implies ignorance of the means by which the human race is propagated ; it ignores the tie of blood, not only on the father's side but the mother's also, thus taking us to a mental condition which precedes the recognition of female kinship. A freak it may be ; but this belief seems to imply that those who held it originally had no idea of paternity or maternity at all. Moreover, this form of totemism could not have been derived from hereditary totemism. On the other hand, hereditary totemism can be derived from this ; and in fact we see one of the intermediate stages in certain other Australian tribes, the Umbaia and Gnanji. "These

'^Fortnightly Review, Sep., 1905, p. 453.