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I just saw it happen. nek jumed the river. the susqua, near the arrow
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on the 9th he was on the east side, next morning he was on the west side......? I will still examine it, in future games, not to mention all rivers
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i like fords, i once owned a merc, also a Lincoln
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The Golden Bough, A Study in Magic and Religion



The Golden Bough

A Study in Magic and Religion

By

Sir James George Frazer, D.C.L., LL.D., Litt.D.

Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge

Professor of Social Anthropology in the University of Liverpool.

Third Edition.

Vol. II.

Part I

The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings

Vol. II

Macmillan and Co., Limited

St. Martin’s Street, London

1917



Third Edition March 1911

Reprinted July 1911, 1913, 1917


CONTENTS

Chapter VIII.—Departmental Kings of Nature Pp. 1-6

The King of the Wood at Nemi probably a departmental king of nature; Kings of Rain in Africa; Kings of Fire and Water in Cambodia.

Chapter IX.—The Worship of Trees Pp. 7-58

§ 1. Tree-spirits—Great forests of ancient Europe; tree-worship practised by all Aryan races in Europe; trees regarded as animate; tree-spirits, sacrifices to trees; trees sensitive to wounds; apologies for cutting down trees; bleeding trees; trees threatened to make them bear fruit; attempts to deceive spirits of trees and plants; trees married to each other; trees in blossom and rice in bloom treated like pregnant women; trees tenanted by the souls of the dead; trees as the abode, not the body, of spirits; ceremonies at felling trees; propitiating tree-spirits in house-timber; sacred trees the abode of spirits; sacred groves.

§ 2. Beneficent Powers of Tree-spirits—Tree-spirit develops into anthropomorphic deity of the woods; tree-spirits give rain and sunshine; tree-spirits make crops to grow; the Harvest May and kindred customs; tree-spirits make herds and women fruitful; green boughs protect against witchcraft; influence of tree-spirits on cattle among the Wends, Esthonians, and Circassians; tree-spirits grant offspring or easy delivery to women.

Chapter X.—Relics of Tree-worship in Modern Europe Pp. 59-96

May-trees in Europe, especially England; May-garlands in England; May customs in France, Germany, and Greece; Whitsuntide customs in Russia; May-trees in Germany and Sweden; Midsummer trees and poles in Sweden; village May-poles in England and Germany; tree-spirit detached from tree and represented in human form, Esthonian tale; tree-spirit represented simultaneously in vegetable and human form; the Little May Rose; the Walber; Green George; double representation of tree-spirit by tree and man among the Oraons; double representation of harvest-goddess Gauri; W. Mannhardt’s conclusions; tree-spirit or vegetation-spirit represented by a person alone; leaf-clad mummers (Green George, Little Leaf Man, Jack-in-the-Green, etc.); leaf-clad mummers called Kings or Queens (King and Queen of May, Whitsuntide King, etc.); Whitsuntide Bridegroom and Bride; Midsummer Bridegroom and Bride; the Forsaken Bridegroom or Bride; St. Bride in Scotland and the Isle of Man; May Bride or Whitsuntide Bride.

Chapter XI.—The Influence of the Sexes on Vegetation Pp. 97-119

The marriage of the King and Queen of May intended to promote the growth of vegetation by homoeopathic magic; intercourse of the sexes practised to make the crops grow and fruit-trees to bear fruit; parents of twins supposed to fertilise the bananas in Uganda; relics of similar customs in Europe; continence practised in order to make the crops grow; incest and illicit love supposed to blight the fruits of the earth by causing drought or excessive rain; traces of similar beliefs as to the blighting effect of adultery and incest among the ancient Jews, Greeks, Romans, and Irish; possible influence of such beliefs on the institution of the forbidden degrees of kinship; explanation of the seeming contradiction of the foregoing customs; indirect benefit to humanity of some of these superstitions.

Chapter XII.—The Sacred Marriage Pp. 120-170

§ 1. Diana as a Goddess of Fertility—Dramatic marriages of gods and goddesses as a charm to promote vegetation; Diana as a goddess of the woodlands; sanctity of holy groves in antiquity; the breaking of the Golden Bough a solemn rite, not a mere piece of bravado; Diana a goddess of the teeming life of nature, both animal and vegetable; deities of woodlands naturally the patrons of the beasts of the woods; the crowning of hunting dogs on Diana’s day a purification for their slaughter of the beasts of the wood; as goddess of the moon, especially the yellow harvest moon, Diana a goddess of crops and of childbirth; as a goddess of fertility Diana needed a male partner.

§ 2. The Marriage of the Gods—Marriages of the gods in Babylonia and Assyria; marriage of the god Ammon to the Queen of Egypt; Apollo and his prophetess at Patara; Artemis and the Essenes at Ephesus; marriage of Dionysus and the Queen at Athens; marriage of Zeus and Demeter at Eleusis; marriage of Zeus and Hera at Plataea; marriage of Zeus and Hera in other parts of Greece; the god Frey and his human wife in Sweden; similar rites in ancient Gaul; marriages of gods to images or living women among uncivilised peoples; custom of the Wotyaks; custom of the Peruvian Indians; marriage of a woman to the Sun among the Blackfoot Indians; marriage of girls to fishing-nets among the Hurons and Algonquins; marriage of the Sun-god and Earth-goddess among the Oraons; marriage of women to gods in India and Africa; marriage of women to water-gods and crocodiles; virgin sacrificed as a bride to the jinnee of the sea in the Maldive Islands.

§ 3. Sacrifices to Water-spirits—Stories of the Perseus and Andromeda type; water-spirits conceived as serpents or dragons; sacrifices of human beings to water-spirits; water-spirits as dispensers of fertility; water-spirits bestow offspring on women; love of river-spirits for women in Greek mythology; the Slaying of the Dragon at Furth in Bavaria; St. Romain and the Dragon at Rouen.
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Chapter XIII.—The Kings of Rome and Alba Pp. 171-194

§ 1. Numa and Egeria—Egeria a nymph of water and the oak, perhaps a form of Diana; marriage of Numa and Egeria a reminiscence of the marriage of the King of Rome to a goddess of water and vegetation.

§ 2. The King as Jupiter—The Roman king personated Jupiter and wore his costume; the oak crown as a symbol of divinity; personation of the dead by masked men among the Romans; the kings of Alba as personifications of Jupiter; legends of the deaths of Roman kings point to their connexion with the thunder-god; local Jupiters in Latium; the oak-groves of ancient Rome; Latian Jupiter on the Alban Mount; woods of Latium in antiquity; Latin worship of Jupiter like the Druidical worship of the oak; sacred marriage of Jupiter and Juno; Janus and Carnathe Flamen Dialis and Flaminica as representatives of Jupiter and Juno; marriage of the Roman king to the oak-goddess.

Chapter XIV.—The King’s Fire Pp. 195-206

Sacred marriage of the Fire-god with a woman; legends of the birth of Latin kings from Vestal Virgins impregnated by the fire; Vestal Virgins as wives of the Fire-god; the Vestal fire originally the fire on the king’s hearth; the round temple of Vesta a copy of the old round hut of the early Latins; rude pottery used in Roman ritual; superstitions as to the making of pottery; sanctity of the storeroom at Rome; the temple of Vesta with its sacred fire a copy of the king’s house.

Chapter XV.—The Fire-drill Pp. 207-226

Vestal fire at Rome rekindled by the fire-drill; use of the fire-drill by savages; the fire-sticks regarded by savages as male and female; fire-customs of the Herero; sacred fire among the Herero maintained in the chief’s hut by his unmarried daughter; the Herero chief as priest of the hearth; sacred Herero fire rekindled by fire-sticks, which are regarded as male and female, and are made from the sacred ancestral tree; the sacred Herero hearth a special seat of the ancestral spirits; sacred fire-sticks of the Herero represent deceased ancestors; sacred fire-boards as family deities among the Koryaks and Chuckchees.

Chapter XVI.—Father Jove and Mother Vesta Pp. 227-252

Similarity between the fire-customs of the Herero and the ancient Latins; rites performed by the Vestals for the fertility of the earth and the fecundity of cattle; the Vestals as embodiments of Vesta, a mother-goddess of fertility; the domestic fire as a fecundating agent in marriage ritual; newborn children and the domestic fire; reasons for ascribing a procreative virtue to fire; fire kindled by friction by human representatives of the Fire-father and Fire-mother; fire kindled by friction by boy and girl or by man and woman; human fire-makers sometimes married, sometimes unmarried; holy fire and virgins of St. Brigit in Ireland; the oaks of Erin; virgin priestesses of fire in ancient Peru and Mexico; the Agnihotris or fire-priests of the Brahmans; kinds of wood employed for fire-sticks in India and ancient Greece.

Chapter XVII.—The Origin of Perpetual Fires Pp. 253-265

Custom of perpetual fires probably originated in motives of convenience; races reported to be ignorant of the means of making fire; fire probably used by men before they knew how to kindle it; savages carry fire with them as a matter of convenience; Prometheus the fire-bringer; perpetual fires maintained by chiefs and kings; fire extinguished at king’s death.

Chapter XVIII.—The Succession to the Kingdom in Ancient Latium Pp. 266-323

The sacred functions of Latin kings in general probably the same as those of the Roman kings; question of the rule of succession to the Latin kingship; list of Alban kings; list of Roman kings; Latin kingship apparently transmitted in female line to foreign husbands of princesses; miraculous births of kings explained on this hypothesis; marriage of princesses to men of inferior rank in Africa; traces of female descent of kingship in Greece; and in Scandinavia; reminiscence of such descent in popular tales; female descent of kingship among the Picts, the Lydians, the Danes, and the Saxons; traces of female kinship or mother-kin among the Aryans, the Picts, and the Etruscans; mother-kin may survive in royal families after it has been superseded by father-kin among commoners; the Roman kings plebeians, not patricians; the first consuls at Rome heirs to the throne according to mother-kin; attempt of Tarquin to change the line of succession from the female to the male line; the hereditary principle compatible with the elective principle in succession to the throne; combination of the hereditary with the elective principle in succession to the kingship in Africa and Assam; similar combination perhaps in force at Rome; personal qualities required in kings and chiefs; succession to the throne determined by a race; custom of racing for a bride; contests for a bride other than a race; the Flight of the King (Regifugium) at Rome perhaps a relic of a contest for the kingdom and the hand of a princess; confirmation of this theory from the practice of killing a human representative of Saturn at the Saturnalia; violent ends of Roman kings; death of Romulus on the Nonae Caprotinae (7th July), an old licentious festival like the Saturnalia for the fertilisation of the fig; violent deaths of other Roman kings; succession to Latin kingship perhaps decided by single combat; African parallels; Greek and Italian kings may have personated Cronus and Saturn before they personated Zeus and Jupiter.

Chapter XIX.—St. George and the Parilia Pp. 324-348

The early Italians a pastoral as well as agricultural people; the shepherds’ festival of the Parilia on 21st April; intention of the festival to ensure the welfare of the flocks and herds and to guard them against witches and wolves; festival of the same kind still held in Eastern Europe on 23rd April, St. George’s Day; precautions taken by the Esthonians against witches and wolves on St. George’s Day, when they drive out the cattle to pasture for the first time; St. George’s Day a pastoral festival in Russia; among the Ruthenians, among the Huzuls of the Carpathians; St. George as the patron of horses in Silesia and Bavaria; St. George’s Day among the Saxons and Roumanians of Transylvania; St. George’s Day a herdsman’s festival among the Walachians, Bulgarians, and South Slavs; precautions taken against witches and wolves whenever the cattle are driven out to pasture for the first time, as in Prussia and Sweden; these parallels illustrate some features of the Parilia; St. George as a personification of trees or vegetation in general; St. George as patron of childbirth and love; St. George seems to have displaced an old Aryan god of the spring, such as the Lithuanian Pergrubiusk.
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Chapter XX.—The Worship of the Oak Pp. 349-375

§ 1. The Diffusion of the Oak in Europe—Jupiter the god of the oak, the sky, and thunder; of these attributes the oak is probably primary and the sky and thunder secondary; Europe covered with oak forests in prehistoric times; remains of oaks found in peat-bogs; ancient lake dwellings built on oaken piles; evidence of classical writers as to oak forests in antiquity; oak-woods in modern Europe.

§ 2. The Aryan God of the Oak and the Thunder—Aryan worship of the oak and of the god of the oak; Zeus as the god of the oak, the thunder, and the rain in ancient Greece; Jupiter as the god of the oak, the thunder, and the rain in ancient Italy; Celtic worship of the oak; Donar and Thor the Teutonic gods of the oak and thunder; Perun the god of the oak and thunder among the Slavs; Perkunas the god of the oak and thunder among the Lithuanians; Taara the god of the oak and thunder among the Esthonians; Parjanya, the old Indian god of thunder, rain, and fertility; gods of thunder and rain in America, Africa, and the Caucasus; traces of the worship of the oak in modern Europe; in the great European god of the oak, the thunder, and the rain, the original element seems to have been the oak.

Chapter XXI.—Dianus and Diana Pp. 376-387

Recapitulation: rise of sacred kings endowed with magical or divine powers; the King of the Wood at Nemi seems to have personified Jupiter the god of the oak and to have mated with Diana the goddess of the oak; Dianus (Janus) and Diana originally dialectically different forms of Jupiter and Juno; Janus (Dianus) not originally a god of doors; double-headed figure of Janus (Dianus) derived from a custom of placing him as sentinel at doorways; parallel custom among the negroes of Surinam; originally the King of the Wood at Nemi represented Dianus (Janus), a duplicate form of Jupiter, the god of the oak, the thunder, and the sky.

INDEX Pp. 389-417

1
CHAPTER VIII
DEPARTMENTAL KINGS OF NATURE

The preceding investigation has proved that the same Departmental kings of nature. union of sacred functions with a royal title which meets us in the King of the Wood at Nemi, the Sacrificial King at Rome, and the magistrate called the King at Athens, occurs frequently outside the limits of classical antiquity and is a common feature of societies at all stages from barbarism to civilisation. Further, it appears that the royal priest is often a king, not only in name but in fact, swaying the sceptre as well as the crosier. All this confirms the traditional view of the origin of the titular and priestly kings in the republics of ancient Greece and Italy. At least by shewing that the combination of spiritual and temporal power, of which Graeco-Italian tradition preserved the memory, has actually existed in many places, we have obviated any suspicion of improbability that might have attached to the tradition. Therefore we may now fairly ask, May not the King of the Wood have had an origin like that which a probable tradition assigns to the Sacrificial King of Rome and the titular King of Athens? In other words, may not his predecessors in office have been a line of kings whom a republican revolution stripped of their political power, leaving them only their religious functions and the shadow of a crown? There are at least two reasons for answering this question in the negative. One reason is drawn from the abode of the priest of Nemi; the other from his title, the King of the Wood. If his predecessors had been kings in the ordinary sense, he would surely have been found residing, like the fallen kings of Rome and Athens, in 2the city of which the sceptre had passed from him. This city must have been Aricia, for there was none nearer. But Aricia was three miles off from his forest sanctuary by the lake shore. If he reigned, it was not in the city, but in the greenwood. Again his title, King of the Wood, hardly allows us to suppose that he had ever been a king in the common sense of the word. More likely he was a king of nature, and of a special side of nature, namely, the woods from which he took his title. If we could find instances of what we may call departmental kings of nature, that is of persons supposed to rule over particular elements or aspects of nature, they would probably present a closer analogy to the King of the Wood than the divine kings we have been hitherto considering, whose control of nature is general rather than special. Instances of such departmental kings are not wanting.

Kings of rain in Africa. On a hill at Bomma near the mouth of the Congo dwells Namvulu Vumu, King of the Rain and Storm.[1] Of some of the tribes on the Upper Nile we are told that they have no kings in the common sense; the only persons whom they acknowledge as such are the Kings of the Rain, Mata Kodou, who are credited with the power of giving rain at the proper time, that is in the rainy season. Before the rains begin to fall at the end of March the country is a parched and arid desert; and the cattle, which form the people’s chief wealth, perish for lack of grass. So, when the end of March draws on, each householder betakes himself to the King of the Rain and offers him a cow that he may make the blessed waters of heaven to drip on the brown and withered pastures. If no shower falls, the people assemble and demand that the king shall give them rain; and if the sky still continues cloudless, they rip up his belly, in which he is believed to keep the storms. Amongst the Bari tribe one of these Rain Kings made rain by sprinkling water on the ground out of a handbell.[2]
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Alfai. Among tribes on the outskirts of Abyssinia a similar office exists and has been thus described by an observer. 3“The priesthood of the Alfai, as he is called by the Barea and Kunama, is a remarkable one; he is believed to be able to make rain. This office formerly existed among the Algeds and appears to be still common to the Nuba negroes. The Alfai of the Barea, who is also consulted by the northern Kunama, lives near Tembadere on a mountain alone with his family. The people bring him tribute in the form of clothes and fruits, and cultivate for him a large field of his own. He is a kind of king, and his office passes by inheritance to his brother or sister’s son. He is supposed to conjure down rain and to drive away the locusts. But if he disappoints the people’s expectation and a great drought arises in the land, the Alfai is stoned to death, and his nearest relations are obliged to cast the first stone at him. When we passed through the country, the office of Alfai was still held by an old man; but I heard that rain-making had proved too dangerous for him and that he had renounced his office.”[3]

Kings of Fire and Water in Cambodia. In the backwoods of Cambodia live two mysterious sovereigns known as the King of the Fire and the King of the Water. Their fame is spread all over the south of the great Indo-Chinese peninsula; but only a faint echo of it has reached the West. Down to a few years ago no European, so far as is known, had ever seen either of them; and their very existence might have passed for a fable, were it not that till lately communications were regularly maintained between them and the King of Cambodia, who year by year exchanged presents with them. The Cambodian gifts were passed from tribe to tribe till they reached their destination; for no Cambodian would essay the long and perilous journey. The tribe amongst whom the Kings of Fire and Water reside is the Chréais or Jaray, a race with European features but a sallow complexion, inhabiting the forest-clad mountains and high tablelands which separate Cambodia from Annam. Their royal functions are of a purely mystic or spiritual order; they have no political authority; they are simple peasants, living by the sweat of 4their brow and the offerings of the faithful. According to one account they live in absolute solitude, never meeting each other and never seeing a human face. They inhabit successively seven towers perched upon seven mountains, and every year they pass from one tower to another. People come furtively and cast within their reach what is needful for their subsistence. The kingship lasts seven years, the time necessary to inhabit all the towers successively; but many die before their time is out. The offices are hereditary in one or (according to others) two royal families, who enjoy high consideration, have revenues assigned to them, and are exempt from the necessity of tilling the ground. But naturally the dignity is not coveted, and when a vacancy occurs, all eligible men (they must be strong and have children) flee and hide themselves. Another account, admitting the reluctance of the hereditary candidates to accept the crown, does not countenance the report of their hermit-like seclusion in the seven towers. For it represents the people as prostrating themselves before the mystic kings whenever they appear in public, it being thought that a terrible hurricane would burst over the country if this mark of homage were omitted. Probably, however, these are mere fables such as commonly shed a glamour of romance over the distant and unknown. A French officer, who had an interview with the redoubtable Fire King in February 1891, found him stretched on a bamboo couch, diligently smoking a long copper pipe, and surrounded by people who paid him no great deference. In spite of his mystic vocation the sorcerer had no charm or talisman about him, and was in no way distinguishable from his fellows except by his tall stature. Another writer reports that the two kings are much feared, because they are supposed to possess the evil eye; hence every one avoids them, and the potentates considerately cough to announce their approach and to allow people to get out of their way. They enjoy extraordinary privileges and immunities, but their authority does not extend beyond the few villages of their neighbourhood. Like many other sacred kings, of whom we shall read in the sequel, the Kings of Fire and Water are not allowed to die a natural death, for that would lower their 5reputation. Accordingly when one of them is seriously ill, the elders hold a consultation and if they think he cannot recover they stab him to death. His body is burned and the ashes are piously collected and publicly honoured for five years. Part of them is given to the widow, and she keeps them in an urn, which she must carry on her back when she goes to weep on her husband’s grave.

Supernatural powers of the Kings of Fire and Water. We are told that the Fire King, the more important of the two, whose supernatural powers have never been questioned, officiates at marriages, festivals, and sacrifices in honour of the Yan or spirit. On these occasions a special place is set apart for him; and the path by which he approaches is spread with white cotton cloths. A reason for confining the royal dignity to the same family is that this family is in possession of certain famous talismans which would lose their virtue or disappear if they passed out of the family. These talismans are three: the fruit of a creeper called Cui, gathered ages ago at the time of the last deluge, but still fresh and green; a rattan, also very old but bearing flowers that never fade; and lastly, a sword containing a Yan or spirit, who guards it constantly and works miracles with it. The spirit is said to be that of a slave, whose blood chanced to fall upon the blade while it was being forged, and who died a voluntary death to expiate his involuntary offence. By means of the two former talismans the Water King can raise a flood that would drown the whole earth. If the Fire King draws the magic sword a few inches from its sheath, the sun is hidden and men and beasts fall into a profound sleep; were he to draw it quite out of the scabbard, the world would come to an end. To this wondrous brand sacrifices of buffaloes, pigs, fowls, and ducks are offered for rain. It is kept swathed in cotton and silk; and amongst the annual presents sent by the King of Cambodia were rich stuffs to wrap the sacred sword.
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Kings of Fire and Water to the King of Cambodia. In return the Kings of Fire and Water sent him a huge wax candle and two calabashes, one full of rice and the other of sesame. The candle bore the impress of the Fire King’s middle finger, and was probably thought to contain the seed of fire, which the Cambodian monarch thus received once a year fresh from the Fire King himself 6This holy candle was kept for sacred uses. On reaching the capital of Cambodia it was entrusted to the Brahmans, who laid it up beside the regalia, and with the wax made tapers which were burned on the altars on solemn days. As the candle was the special gift of the Fire King, we may conjecture that the rice and sesame were the special gift of the Water King. The latter was doubtless king of rain as well as of water, and the fruits of the earth were boons conferred by him on men. In times of calamity, as during plague, floods, and war, a little of this sacred rice and sesame was scattered on the ground “to appease the wrath of the maleficent spirits.” Contrary to the common usage of the country, which is to bury the dead, the bodies of both these mystic monarchs are burnt, but their nails and some of their teeth and bones are religiously preserved as amulets. It is while the corpse is being consumed on the pyre that the kinsmen of the deceased magician flee to the forest and hide themselves for fear of being elevated to the invidious dignity which he has just vacated. The people go and search for them, and the first whose lurking place they discover is made King of Fire or Water.[4]

These, then, are examples of what I have called departmental kings of nature. But it is a far cry to Italy from the forests of Cambodia and the sources of the Nile. And though Kings of Rain, Water, and Fire have been found, we have still to discover a King of the Wood to match the Arician priest who bore that title. Perhaps we shall find him nearer home.

7
CHAPTER IX
THE WORSHIP OF TREES

§ 1. Tree-spirits

Great forests of ancient Europe. In the religious history of the Aryan race in Europe the worship of trees has played an important part. Nothing could be more natural. For at the dawn of history Europe was covered with immense primaeval forests, in which the scattered clearings must have appeared like islets in an ocean of green. Down to the first century before our era the Hercynian forest stretched eastward from the Rhine for a distance at once vast and unknown; Germans whom Caesar questioned had travelled for two months through it without reaching the end.[5] Four centuries later it was visited by the Emperor Julian, and the solitude, the gloom, the silence of the forest appear to have made a deep impression on his sensitive nature. He declared that he knew nothing like it in the Roman empire.[6] In our own country the wealds of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex are remnants of the great forest of Anderida, which once clothed the whole of the south-eastern portion of the island. Westward it seems to have stretched till it joined another forest that extended from Hampshire to Devon. In the reign of Henry II. the citizens of London still hunted the wild bull and the boar in the woods of Hampstead. Even under the later Plantagenets the royal forests were sixty-eight in number. In the forest of Arden it was said that down to modern times a squirrel might leap from tree to tree for nearly the whole length of 8Warwickshire.[7] The excavation of ancient pile-villages in the valley of the Po has shewn that long before the rise and probably the foundation of Rome the north of Italy was covered with dense woods of elms, chestnuts, and especially of oaks.[8] Archaeology is here confirmed by history; for classical writers contain many references to Italian forests which have now disappeared.[9] As late as the fourth century before our era Rome was divided from central Etruria by the dreaded Ciminian forest, which Livy compares to the woods of Germany. No merchant, if we may trust the Roman historian, had ever penetrated its pathless solitudes: and it was deemed a most daring feat when a Roman general, after sending two scouts to explore its intricacies, led his army into the forest and, making his way to a ridge of the wooded mountains, looked down on the rich Etrurian fields spread out below.[10] In Greece beautiful woods of pine, oak, and other trees still linger on the slopes of the high Arcadian mountains, still adorn with their verdure the deep gorge through which the Ladon hurries to join the sacred Alpheus; and were still, down to a few years ago, mirrored in the dark blue waters of the lonely lake of Pheneus; but they are mere fragments of the forests which clothed great tracts in antiquity, and which at a more remote epoch may have spanned the Greek peninsula from sea to sea.[11]

Tree-worship practised by all the Aryan races in Europe. From an examination of the Teutonic words for “temple” Grimm has made it probable that amongst the Germans the 9oldest sanctuaries were natural woods.[12] However this may be, tree-worship is well attested for all the great European families of the Aryan stock. Amongst the Celts the oak-worship of the Druids is familiar to every one,[13] and their old word for a sanctuary seems to be identical in origin and meaning with the Latin némus, a grove or woodland glade, which still survives in the name of Nemi.[14] Sacred groves were common among the ancient Germans, and tree-worship is hardly extinct amongst their descendants at the present day.[15] How serious that worship was in former times may be gathered from the ferocious penalty appointed by the old German laws for such as dared to peel the bark of a standing tree. The culprit’s navel was to be cut out and nailed to the part of the tree which he had peeled, and he was to be driven round and round the tree till all his guts were wound about its trunk.[16] The intention of the punishment clearly was to replace the dead bark by a living substitute taken from the culprit; it was a life for a life, the life of a man for the life of a tree. At Upsala, the old religious capital of Sweden, there was a sacred grove in which every tree was regarded as divine.[17] The heathen Slavs worshipped trees and groves.[18] The Lithuanians were not converted to Christianity till towards the close of the fourteenth century, and amongst them at the date of their conversion the worship of trees was prominent. Some of them revered remarkable oaks and other great shady trees, from which they received oracular responses. Some maintained holy groves about their villages or houses, where even to break a twig would have been a sin. They thought that he who cut a bough in such a grove either died suddenly or was crippled in one of his limbs.[19] Proofs of the prevalence 10of tree-worship in ancient Greece and Italy are abundant.[20] In the sanctuary of Aesculapius at Cos, for example, it was forbidden to cut down the cypress-trees under a penalty of a thousand drachms.[21] But nowhere, perhaps, in the ancient world was this antique form of religion better preserved than in the heart of the great metropolis itself. In the Forum, the busy centre of Roman life, the sacred fig-tree of Romulus was worshipped down to the days of the empire, and the withering of its trunk was enough to spread consternation through the city.[22] Again, on the slope of the Palatine Hill grew a cornel-tree which was esteemed one of the most sacred objects in Rome. Whenever the tree appeared to a passer-by to be drooping, he set up a hue and cry which was echoed by the people in the street, and soon a crowd might be seen running helter-skelter from all sides with buckets of water, as if (says Plutarch) they were hastening to put out a fire.[23]
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the Finnish-Ugrian peoples. Among the tribes of the Finnish-Ugrian stock in Europe the heathen worship was performed for the most part in sacred groves, which were always enclosed with a fence. Such a grove often consisted merely of a glade or clearing with a few trees dotted about, upon which in former times the skins of the sacrificial victims were hung. The central point of the grove, at least among the tribes of the Volga, was the sacred tree, beside which everything else sank into insignificance. Before it the worshippers assembled and the priest offered his prayers, at its roots the victim was sacrificed, and its boughs sometimes served as a pulpit. No wood might be hewn and no branch broken in the grove, and women were generally forbidden to enter it. The 11Ostyaks and Woguls, two peoples of the Finnish-Ugrian stock in Siberia, had also sacred groves in which nothing might be touched, and where the skins of the sacrificed animals were suspended; but these groves were not enclosed with fences.[24] Near Kuopio, in Finland, there was a famous grove of ancient moss-grown firs, where the people offered sacrifices and practised superstitious customs down to about 1650, when a sturdy veteran of the Thirty Years’ War dared to cut it down at the bidding of the pastor. Sacred groves now hardly exist in Finland, but sacred trees to which offerings are brought are still not very uncommon. On some firs the skulls of bears are nailed, apparently that the hunter may have good luck in the chase.[25] The Ostyaks are said never to have passed a sacred tree without shooting an arrow at it as a mark of respect. In many places they hung furs and skins on the holy trees in the forest; but having observed that these furs were often appropriated and carried off by unscrupulous travellers, they adopted the practice of hewing the trunks into great blocks, which they decked with their offerings and preserved in safe places. The custom marks a transition from the worship of trees to the worship of idols carved out of the sacred wood. Within their sacred groves no grass or wood might be cut, no game hunted, no fish caught, not even a draught of water drunk. When they passed them in their canoes, they were careful not to touch the land with the oar, and if the journey through the hallowed ground was long, they laid in a store of water before entering on it, for they would rather suffer extreme thirst than slake it by drinking of the sacred stream. The Ostyaks also regarded as holy any tree on which an eagle had built its nest for several years, and they spared the bird as well as the tree. No greater injury could be done them than to shoot such an eagle or destroy its nest.[26]

Trees are regarded by the savage as animate. But it is necessary to examine in some detail the notions 12on which the worship of trees and plants is based. To the savage the world in general is animate, and trees and plants are no exception to the rule. He thinks that they have souls like his own, and he treats them accordingly. “They say,” writes the ancient vegetarian Porphyry, “that primitive men led an unhappy life, for their superstition did not stop at animals but extended even to plants. For why should the slaughter of an ox or a sheep be a greater wrong than the felling of a fir or an oak, seeing that a soul is implanted in these trees also?”[27] Similarly, the Hidatsa Indians of North America believe that every natural object has its spirit, or to speak more properly, its shade. To these shades some consideration or respect is due, but not equally to all. For example, the shade of the cottonwood, the greatest tree in the valley of the Upper Missouri, is supposed to possess an intelligence which, if properly approached, may help the Indians in certain undertakings; but the shades of shrubs and grasses are of little account. When the Missouri, swollen by a freshet in spring, carries away part of its banks and sweeps some tall tree into its current, it is said that the spirit of the tree cries while the roots still cling to the land and until the trunk falls with a splash into the stream. Formerly the Indians considered it wrong to fell one of these giants, and when large logs were needed they made use only of trees which had fallen of themselves. Till lately some of the more credulous old men declared that many of the misfortunes of their people were caused by this modern disregard for the rights of the living cottonwood.[28] The Iroquois believed that each species of tree, shrub, plant, and herb had its own spirit, and to these spirits it was their custom to return thanks.[29] The Wanika of Eastern Africa fancy that every tree, and especially every coco-nut tree, has its spirit; “the destruction of a cocoa-nut tree is regarded as equivalent to matricide, because that tree gives them life and nourishment, as a mother does her child.”[30] In the Yasawu islands 13of Fiji a man will never eat a coco-nut without first asking its leave—“May I eat you, my chief?”[31] Among the Thompson Indians of British Columbia young people addressed the following prayer to the sunflower root before they ate the first roots of the season: “I inform thee that I intend to eat thee. Mayest thou always help me to ascend, so that I may always be able to reach the tops of mountains, and may I never be clumsy! I ask this from thee, Sunflower-Root. Thou art the greatest of all in mystery.” To omit this prayer would have made the eater of the root lazy, and caused him to sleep long in the morning. We are not told, but may conjecture, that these Indians ascribed to the sunflower the sun’s power of climbing above the mountain-tops and of rising betimes in the morning; hence whoever ate of the plant, with all the due formalities, would naturally acquire the same useful properties. It is not so easy to say why women had to observe continence in cooking and digging the root, and why, when they were cooking it, no man might come near the oven.[32] The Dyaks ascribe souls to trees, and do not dare to cut down an old tree. In some places, when an old tree has been blown down, they set it up, smear it with blood, and deck it with flags “to appease the soul of the tree.”[33] Siamese monks, believing that there are souls everywhere, and that to destroy anything whatever is forcibly to dispossess a soul, will not break a branch of a tree, “as they will not break the arm of an innocent person.”[34] These monks, of course, are Buddhists. But Buddhist animism is not a philosophical theory. It is simply a common savage dogma incorporated in the system of an historical religion. To suppose with Benfey and others that the theories of animism and transmigration current among rude peoples of Asia are derived from Buddhism, is to reverse the facts. 14Buddhism in this respect borrowed from savagery, not savagery from Buddhism.[35] According to Chinese belief, the spirits of plants are never shaped like plants but have commonly the form either of human beings or of animals, for example bulls and serpents. Occasionally at the felling of a tree the tree-spirit has been seen to rush out in the shape of a blue bull.[36] In China “to this day the belief in tree-spirits dangerous to man is obviously strong. In southern Fuhkien it deters people from felling any large trees or chopping off heavy branches, for fear the indwelling spirit may become irritated and visit the aggressor or his neighbours with disease and calamity. Especially respected are the green banyan or ch’îng, the biggest trees to be found in that part of China. In Amoy some people even show a strong aversion from planting trees, the planters, as soon as the stems have become as thick as their necks, being sure to be throttled by the indwelling spirits. No explanation of this curious superstition was ever given us. It may account to some extent for the almost total neglect of forestry in that part of China, so that hardly any except spontaneous trees grow there.”[37]
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trees tenanted by spirits; sacrifices to tree-spirits. Sometimes it is only particular sorts of trees that are supposed to be tenanted by spirits. At Grbalj in Dalmatia it is said that among great beeches, oaks, and other trees there are some that are endowed with shades or souls, and whoever fells one of them must die on the spot, or at least live an invalid for the rest of his days. If a woodman fears that a tree which he has felled is one of this sort, he must cut off the head of a live hen on the stump of the tree with the very same axe with which he cut down the tree. This will protect him from all harm, even if the tree be one of the animated kind.[38] The silk-cotton trees, which rear their Silk-cotton trees in West Africa. enormous trunks to a stupendous height, far out-topping all the other trees of the forest, are regarded with reverence 15throughout West Africa, from the Senegal to the Niger, and are believed to be the abode of a god or spirit. Among the Ewe-speaking peoples of the Slave Coast the indwelling god of this giant of the forest goes by the name of Huntin. Trees in which he specially dwells—for it is not every silk-cotton tree that he thus honours—are surrounded by a girdle of palm-leaves; and sacrifices of fowls, and occasionally of human beings, are fastened to the trunk or laid against the foot of the tree. A tree distinguished by a girdle of palm-leaves may not be cut down or injured in any way; and even silk-cotton trees which are not supposed to be animated by Huntin may not be felled unless the woodman first offers a sacrifice of fowls and palm-oil to purge himself of the proposed sacrilege. To omit the sacrifice is an offence which may be punished with death.[39] Sycamores in ancient Egypt. Everywhere in Egypt on the borders of the cultivated land, and even at some distance from the valley of the Nile, you meet with fine sycamores standing solitary and thriving as by a miracle in the sandy soil; their living green contrasts strongly with the tawny hue of the surrounding landscape, and their thick impenetrable foliage bids defiance even in summer to the noonday sun. The secret of their verdure is that their roots strike down into rills of water that trickle by unseen sluices from the great river. Of old the Egyptians of every rank esteemed these trees divine, and paid them regular homage. They gave them figs, raisins, cucumbers, vegetables, and water in earthenware pitchers, which charitable folk filled afresh every day. Passers-by slaked their thirst at these pitchers in the sultry hours, and paid for the welcome draught by a short prayer. The spirit that animated these beautiful trees generally lurked unseen, but sometimes he would shew his head or even his whole body outside the trunk, but only to retire into it again.[40] People in Congo set calabashes of palm-wine at the foot of certain trees for the trees to drink when they are thirsty.[41] The 16Sacred trees in Africa, Syria, and Patagonia. Wanika of Eastern Africa pay special honour to the spirits of coco-nut palms in return for the many benefits conferred on them by the trees. To cut down a coco-nut palm is an inexpiable offence, equivalent to matricide. They sacrifice to the tree on many occasions. When a man in gathering the coco-nuts has fallen from the palm, they attribute it to the wrath of the tree-spirit, and resort to the oddest means of appeasing him.[42] The Masai particularly reverence the subugo tree, the bark of which has medical properties, and a species of parasitic fig which they call retete. The green figs are eaten by boys and girls, and older people propitiate the tree by pouring the blood of a goat at the foot of the trunk and strewing grass on the branches.[43] The natives of the Bissagos Islands, off the west coast of Africa, sacrifice dogs, cocks, and oxen to their sacred trees, but they eat the flesh of the victims and leave only the horns, fastened to the trees, for the spirits.[44] In a Turkish village of Northern Syria there is a very old oak-tree which the people worship, burning incense to it and bringing offerings as they would to a shrine.[45] In Patagonia, between the Rio Negro and the Rio Colorado, there stands solitary an ancient acacia-tree with a gnarled and hollow trunk. The Indians revere it as the abode of a spirit, and hang offerings of blankets, ponchos, ribbons, and coloured threads on it, so that the tree presents the aspect of an old clothes’ shop, the tattered, weather-worn garments drooping sadly from the boughs. No Indian passes it without leaving something, if it be only a little horse-hair which he ties to a branch. The hollow trunk contains offerings of tobacco, beads, and sometimes coins. But the best evidence of the sanctity of the tree are the bleached skeletons of many horses which have been killed in honour of the spirit; for the horse is the most precious sacrifice that these Indians can offer. They slaughter the animal also to propitiate the spirits of the deep and rapid 17Sacrifices to trees. rivers which they have often to ford or swim.[46] The Kayans of Central Borneo ascribe souls to the trees which yield the poison they use to envenom their arrows. They think that the spirit of the tasem tree (Antiaris toxicaria) is particularly hard to please; but if the wood has a strong and agreeable scent, they know that the man who felled the tree must have contrived by his offerings to mollify the peevish spirit.[47] In some of the Louisiade Islands there are certain large trees under which the natives hold their feasts. These trees seem to be regarded as endowed with souls; for a portion of the feast is set aside for them, and the bones of pigs and of human beings are everywhere deeply imbedded in their branches.[48] Among the Kangra mountains of the Punjaub a girl used to be annually sacrificed to an old cedar-tree, the families of the village taking it in turn to supply the victim. The tree was cut down not very many years ago.[49] On Christmas Eve it is still customary in some parts of Germany to gird fruit-trees with ropes of straw on which the sausages prepared for the festival have lain. This is supposed to make the trees bear fruit. In the Mark of Brandenburg the person who ties the straw round the trees says, “Little tree, I make you a present, and you will make me one.” The people say that if the trees receive gifts, they will bestow gifts in return. The custom, which is clearly a relic of tree-worship, is often observed on New Year’s night or at any time between Christmas and Twelfth Night.[50]
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