Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/162

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answering questions till the sun rises, and its rays, falling on him, turn him to stone.[1]

In the "Wafthrudnis-mal," Woden, disguised as a mortal under the name of Ganger, visits the giant Wafthrudni (Web-strong) to find out what he knows of sacred lore. The disputants agreed that the one who failed to answer any question put to him by the other should forfeit his life. After a time, the pretended Ganger asks the giant, "What did Woden whisper into Balder's ear ere he was borne on the pyre?" when Wafthrudni has to confess himself vanquished.[2] One is reminded of the song-duel between the defeated Joukahainen and the storm-begotten Wäinämöinen in the third rune of the Kalevala.

We may leave such references, for whatever they may be worth, as clues to the origin of Rumpelstiltskin; and, reluctantly avoiding digressions on topics suggested by subordinate incidents of the story, as, e.g., the origin of spinning, often ascribed to denizens of the forest and the under- world, deal with its philosophy as indicated by the central idea of all its variants, the nucleus round which the incidents have gathered. This, put into fewest words, is the notion that the name of any being, whether human or superhuman, is an integral part of that being; and that, to know it, puts its owner, whether he be deity, ghost, or man, in the power of another, often involving destruction to the named. It is a part of that general confusion between names and things which is a universal feature of barbaric modes of thought, an ever-present note of uncultured intelligence; a confusion which attributes the qualities of living things to things not living, and which lies at the root of all fetishism, and idolatry; of all witchcraft, shamanism, and other instruments, which were as keys to the invisible kingdom of the feared and dreaded. Such enlarged reference would, however, occupy a volume,[3] and it must suffice for our present purpose to deal, and even that very

  1. C. P. B i. 81; Thorpe's Northern Mythol. i. 8, note. Ib. i. 96, note.
  2. C. P. B. i. 69, and cf . "King Heidrek's Riddles," p. 92.
  3. An admirable summary is given by Dr. Tylor in the chapter on "Images and Names," in his Early History of Mankind.