combination of “holy dread” would often express the meaning of taboo.
The taboo restrictions are different from religious or moral prohibitions. They are not traced to a commandment of a god but really they themselves impose their own prohibitions; they are differentiated from moral prohibitions by failing to be included in a system which declares abstinences in general to be necessary and gives reasons for this necessity. The taboo prohibitions lack all justification and are of unknown origin. Though incomprehensible to us they are taken as a matter of course by those who are under their dominance.
Wundt calls taboo the oldest unwritten code of law of humanity. It is generally assumed that taboo is older than the gods and goes back to the pre-religious age.
As we are in need of an impartial presentation of the subject of taboo before subjecting it to psychoanalytic consideration I shall now cite an excerpt from the article “Taboo” in the Encyclopedia Britannica written by the anthropologist Northcote W. Thomas,
“Properly speaking taboo includes only a) the sacred (or unclean) character of persons or
- Volkerpsychologie, II Band, “Mythus und Religion,” 1906, II p. 308.
- Eleventh Edition, this article also gives the most important references.