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literature, while the Hindu in private life plants the banyan and other trees and worships them with divine honours.? Greek and Roman mythology give perfect types not only of the beings attached to individual trees, but of the dryads, fauns, and satyrs living and roaming in the forest-creatures whose analogues are our own elves and fairies of the woods. Above these graceful fantastic beings are the higher deities who have trees for shrines and groves for temples. Witness the description in Ovid's story of Erisichthon:
“ And Ceres' grove he ravaged with the axe,
They say, and shamed with iron the ancient glades.
In more prosaic fashion, Cato instructs the woodman how to gain indemnity for thinning a holy grove; he must offer a hog in sacrifice with this prayer, “Be thou god or goddess to whom this grove is sacred, permit me, by the expiation of this pig, and in order to restrain the overgrowth of this wood, etc., etc." 3 Slavonic lands had their groves where burned the everlasting fire of Piorun the Heaven-god; the old Prussians venerated the holy oak of Romowe, with its drapery and images of the gods, standing in the midst of the sacred inviolate forest where no twig might be broken nor beast slain ; and so on down to the elder-tree beneath which Pushkait was worshipped with offerings of bread and beer. The Keltic Heaven-god, whose image was a mighty oak, the white-robed Druids
· Boehtlingk & Roth, s. v. 'chaityataru.' Ward, “Hindoos,' vol. ii. p. 204.
2 Ovid. Metamm. viii. 741.
* Hannsch, ‘Slaw. Myth.' pp. 98, 229. Hartknoch, part i. ch. v. vii.; Grimm, D. M.' p. 67.
climbing the sacred tree to cut the mistletoe, and sacrificing the two white bulls beneath, are types from another national group. Teutonic descriptions begin with Tacitus, “ Lucos
nemora consecrant, deorumque nominibus adpellant secretum illud, quod sola reverentia vident," and the curious passage which describes the Semnones entering the sacred grove in bonds, a homage to the deity that dwelt there; many a century after, the Swedes were still holding solemn sacrifice and hanging the carcases of the slaughtered beasts in the grove hard by the temple of Upsal. With Christianity comes a crusade against the holy trees and groves. Boniface hews down in the presence of the priests the huge oak of the Hessian Heaven-god, and builds of the timber a chapel to St. Peter. Amator expostulated with the hunters who hung the heads of wild beasts to the boughs of the sacred pear-tree of Auxerre, “Hoc opus idololatriæ culturæ est, non christiana elegantissime disciplinæ ;” but this mild persuasion not availing, he chopped it down and burned it. In spite of all such efforts, the old religion of the tree and grove survived in Europe often in most pristine form. Within the last two hundred years, there were old men in Gothland who would “go to pray under a great tree, as their forefathers had done in their time”; and to this day the sacrificial rite of pouring milk and beer over the roots of trees is said to be kept up on out-of-the-way Swedish farms. In Russia, the Lyeshy or wood-demon still protects the birds and beasts in his domain, and drives his flocks of field-mice and squirrels from forest to forest, when we should say they are migrating. The hunter's luck depends on his treatment of the forestspirit, wherefore he will leave him as a sacrifice the first game he kills, or some smaller offering of bread or salted pancake on a stump. Or if one falls ill on returning from the forest, it is known that this is the Lyeshy's doing, so
Maxim. Tyr. viii. ; Plin. xvi. 95.
the patient carries to the wood some bread and salt in a clean rag, and leaving it with a prayer, comes home cured.' Names like Holyoake and Holywood record our own old memories of the holy trees and groves, memories long lingering in the tenacious peasant mind; and it was a great and sacred linden-tree with three stems, standing in the parish of Hvitaryd in South Sweden, which with curious fitness gave a name to the family of Linnæus. Lastly, Jacob Grimm even ventures to connect historically the ancient sacred in violate wood with the later royal forest, an ethnological argument which would begin with the savage adoring the Spirit of the Forest, and end with the modern landowner preserving his pheasants.
To the modern educated world, few phenomena of the lower civilization seem more pitiable than the spectacle of a man worshipping a beast. We have learnt the lessons of Natural History at last thoroughly enough to recognize our superiority to our “younger brothers," as the Red Indians call them, the creatures whom it is our place not to adore but to understand and use. By men at lower levels of culture, however, the inferior animals are viewed with a very different eye. For various motives, they have become objects of veneration ranking among the most important in the lower ranges of religion. Yet I must here speak shortly and slightly of Animal-worship, not as wanting in interest, but as over-abounding in difficulty. Wishing rather to bring general principles into view than to mass uninterpreted facts, all I can satisfactorily do is to give some select examples from the various groups of evidence, so as at once to display the more striking features of the subject, and to trace the ancient ideas upward from the savage level far into the higher civilization.
First and foremost, uncultured man seems capable of simply worshipping a beast as beast, looking on it as possessed of power, courage, cunning, beyond his own, and
1 Ralston, “Songs of Russian People,' p. 153, see 238.
animated like a man by a soul which continues to exist after bodily death, powerful as ever for good and harm. Then this idea blends with the thought of the creature as being an incarnate deity, seeing, hearing, and acting even at a distance, and continuing its power after the death of the animal body to which the divine spirit was attached. Thus the Kamchadals, in their simple veneration of all things that could do them harm or good, worshipped the whales that could overturn their boats; and the bears and wolves of whom they stood in fear. The beasts, they thought, could understand their language, and therefore they abstained from calling them by their names when they met them, but propitiated them with certain appointed formulas. Tribes of Peru, says Garcilaso de la Vega, worshipped the fish and vicuñas that provided them food, the monkeys for their cunning, the sparrowhawks for their keen sight. The tiger and the bear were to them ferocious deities, and mankind, mere strangers and intruders in the land, might well adore these beings, its old inhabitants, and lords. How, indeed, can we wonder that in direct and simple awe, the Philippine islanders, when they saw an alligator, should have prayed him with great tenderness to do them no harm, and to this end offered him of whatever they had in their boats, casting it into the water.3 Such rites display at least a partial truth in the famous apophthegm which attributes to fear the origin of religion : “Primos in orbe deos fecit timor." 4 In discussing the question of the souls of animals in a previous chapter, instances were adduced of men seeking to appease by apologetic phrase and rite the animals they killed. It is instructive to observe how naturally such personal intercourse between man and animal may pass into full worship, when the creature is powerful
Steller, ‘Kamtschatka,' p. 276.
or dangerous enough to claim it. When the Stiêns of Kambodia asked pardon of the beast they killed, and offered sacrifice in expiation, they expressly did so through fear lest the creature's disembodied soul should come and torment them. Yet, strange to say, even the worship of the animal as divine does not prevent the propitiatory ceremony from passing into utter mockery. Thus Charlevoix describes North American Indians who, when they had killed a bear, would set up its head painted with many colours, and offer it homage and praise while they performed the painful duty of feasting on its body. So among the Ainos, the indigenes of Yesso, the bear is a great divinity. It is true they slay him when they can, but while they are cutting him up they salute him with obeisances and fair speeches, and set up his head outside the house to preserve them from misfortune. In Siberia, the Yakuts worship the bear in common with the spirits of the forest, bowing toward his favourite haunts with appropriate phrases of prose and verse, in praise of the bravery and generosity of their “ beloved uncle.” Their kindred the Ostyaks swear in the Russian courts of låw on a bear's head, for the bear, they say, is all-knowing, and will slay them if they lie. This idea actually serves the people as a philosophical, though one would say rather superfluous, explanation of a whole class of accidents: when a hunter is killed by a bear, it is considered that he must at some time have forsworn himself, and now has met his doom. Yet these Ostyaks, when they have overcome and slain their deity, will stuff its skin with hay, kick it, spit on it, insult and mock it till they have satiated their hatred and revenge, and are ready to set it up in a yurt as an object of worship.*
Whether an animal be worshipped as the receptacle or
Mouhot, 'Indo-China,' rol. i. p. 252. 2 Charlevoix, ‘Nouvelle France,' vol. v. p. 443. 3 W. M. Wood in “Tr. Eth. Soc.' vol. iv. p. 36.
4 Simpson, ‘Journey,' vol. ii. p. 269 ; Erman, 'Siberia,' vol. i. p. 492 ; Latham, “Descr. Eth.' vol. i. p. 456 ; "Journ. Ind. Archip.' vol. iv. p. 590.