Myth, ritual, and religion-Andrew Lang

Myth, ritual, and religion-Andrew Lang

Myth, ritual, and religion-Andrew Lang

When this book first appeared (1886), the philological school of interpretation of religion and myth, being then still

powerful in England, was criticised and opposed by the author. In Science, as on the Turkish throne of old, "Amurath to

Amurath succeeds"; the philological theories of religion and myth have now yielded to anthropological methods. The

centre of the anthropological position was the "ghost theory" of Mr. Herbert Spencer, the "Animistic" theory of Mr. E. R.

Tylor, according to whom the propitiation of ancestral and other spirits leads to polytheism, and thence to monotheism. In

the second edition (1901) of this work the author argued that the belief in a "relatively supreme being," anthropomorphic

was as old as, and might be even older, than animistic religion. This theory he exhibited at greater length, and with a

larger collection of evidence, in his Making of Religion.

Since 1901, a great deal of fresh testimony as to what Mr. Howitt styles the "All Father" in savage and barbaric religions

has accrued. As regards this being in Africa, the reader may consult the volumes of the New Series of the Journal of the

Anthropological Institute, which are full of African evidence, not, as yet, discussed, to my knowledge, by any writer on the

History of Religion. As late as Man, for July, 1906, No. 66, Mr. Parkinson published interesting Yoruba legends about

Oleron, the maker and father of men, and Oro, the Master of the Bull Roarer.

From Australia, we have Mr. Howitt's account of the All Father in his Native Tribes of South-East Australia, with the

account of the All Father of the Central Australian tribe, the Kaitish, in North Central Tribes of Australia, by Messrs.

Spencer and Gillen (1904), also The Euahlayi Tribe, by Mrs. Langley Parker (1906). These masterly books are

indispensable to all students of the subject, while, in Messrs. Spencer and Gillen's work cited, and in their earlier Native

Tribes of Central Australia, we are introduced to savages who offer an elaborate animistic theory, and are said to show

no traces of the All Father belief.

The books of Messrs. Spencer and Gillen also present much evidence as to a previously unknown form of totemism, in

which the totem is not hereditary, and does not regulate marriage. This prevails among the Arunta "nation," and the

Kaitish tribe. In the opinion of Mr. Spencer (Report Australian Association for Advancement of Science, 1904) and of Mr.

J. G. Frazer (Fortnightly Review, September, 1905), this is the earliest surviving form of totemism, and Mr. Frazer

suggests an animistic origin for the institution. I have criticised these views in The Secret of the Totem (1905), and

proposed a different solution of the problem. (See also "Primitive and Advanced Totemism" in Journal of the

Anthropological Institute, July, 1906.) In the works mentioned will be found references to other sources of information as

to these questions, which are still sub judice. Mrs. Bates, who has been studying the hitherto almost unknown tribes of

Western Australia, promises a book on their beliefs and institutions, and Mr. N. W. Thomas is engaged on a volume on

Australian institutions. In this place the author can only direct attention to these novel sources, and to the promised third

edition of Mr. Frazer's The Golden Bough.


ISBN:978-625-6699-01-4

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Aralık-2023



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Etiketler: Myth, ritual, and religion, Andrew Lang