Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/358

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348 The Religio7is Basis of Social Union.

bodies! It is because sun and moon are 'taken for granted,' are too familiar to excite attention. But the droll or uncanny insect and animal (like the praying-mantis or the tortoise) stir up unstinted wonder and homage. In these objects, places, creatures there inhered a spiritual force — I do not shrink from using the term — which might be controlled and utilized. It was neither good nor bad, kindly nor malevolent; it was just latent energy like an electric battery which might be ' set going ' by one who knew. ' About the path and about the bed ' of primal man was the Sacred World, with its strange and sudden inroads and its uncovenanted inrushes into normal use and wont. Hence the inseparable correlates viana, tabu — with all the various ideas which these simple terms to-day stir in the brain of the student of anthropology.

This unaccountable ' force ' is from the first entirely unrelated to intention or conscious purpose. The pious Catholic knelt to get the blessing of Pius IX., but he made horns if he was unlucky enough to meet his eye. It is not the expression of a personal power behind things ; it is always the mark of a later age, of a humanistic and reflective theology, of the musings of leisured priests when a Will like our own is to be approached or appeased as the author of these happenings. When this force or electrical current takes hold of man it makes him in the last degree odd and abnormal; the 'holy man' in every land has to live a life directly contrasted in every respect with routine and convention. The lunatic or the cataleptic is respected because, not in spite of, his weaknesses. He is an inlet, not into Emerson's ' Oversoul,' but into the Sacred World, where everything is lawless and topsy-turvy. The medinin with an exceptional clairvoyant faculty, the self-hypnotized trance-producer, the hysterical prophet or witch, are com- mon enough among savage tribes ; shamanism is actually the religion of a greater part of Asia, and underlies many creeds nearer home that are called by more respectable