Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/290

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276 The Scape-Goat in European Folklore.

was given to the poor ; but they are said to have refused it because it was laden with iniquities, and from that time onwards only the money value of the bird was given.^

It is therefore clear that the cathartic intention ex- plains not only scapegoat ceremonies proper but also sacrifices. I will cite further examples where the intention is less clear.

There was a custom prevalent in Wales at the end of the 1 8th century, of throwing a victim over a precipice when a murrain broke out among the cattle.^ In the case of the Jewish scapegoat, precipitation from a height seems to have been the important point in the rite. We may, therefore, perhaps regard that Welsh custom as a ceremony intended for the expulsion of evil ; so too, the sacrifice of a cat at Ypern in Belgium and at Attendorf in the Mark, where a cat was thrown from a church tower or other edifice; in the same way a goat was sacrificed at Liepa and among the Wends.^

The intention of these ceremonies is, it is true, nowhere explicitly stated, but in similar customs elsewhere the object of the rite is not yet forgotten. In the Oberpfalz a goat is thrown from the church tower on September ist, i.e. about the time of harvest ; and at Ji^in in Bohemia a goat or ram is decorated with ribbons and wreaths during the Kirmess and thrown froni the church tower in order to secure a good harvest the following year. This custom is widely practised in Hungary, Bohemia and Moravia.

Ceremonies of this kind, practised from time immemorial by the uncultured classes, are not and never were intended as sacrifices to this or that deity, any more than the customs of the harvest-field and sowing-tide, which formed

^ G.B. iii. 109 n.

-Owen, Heroic Elegies of Llywarch Hen, p. xxxi.

^Coremans, V Annie, p. 53. Zeits. f. D. M. ii. 93. Mitt, des Nordbohm. £xcursionsclubs, xxiii., 108. Sommer, Sagen aus Thuringeti, p. 179.