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LIBRARY

OF





RELIGIONS ANCIENT AND MODERN



ANIMISM



RELIGIONS : ANCIENT AND MODERN .

Foolscap 8vo. is. net per volume.

IT is intended in this series to present to a large public the SAL-
IENT FEATURES, first of the GREAT RELIGIONS, secondly of the
GREAT PHILOSOPHIES, and thirdly of the GREAT LITERARY
and ARTISTIC REPUTATIONS of the Human Race.

PANTHEISM : ITS STORY AND SIGNIFICANCE.
By J. ALLANSON PICTON, M.A. Author of The Religion
of the Universe, etc.

THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT GREECE.

By Miss JANE HARRISON, LL.D., D.Litt., Staff Lecturer
of Newnham College, Author of Prolegomena to the Study
of Greek Religion, etc.

ANIMISM.

By EDWARD CLODD, Author of Pioneers of Evolution.

RELIGIONS OF ANCIENT CHINA.

By H. A. GILES, M.A.. LL.D. (Aberd.), Professor of
Chinese at Cambridge University.



The following Volumes are in preparation :
ISLAM. Mr. T. W. ARNOLD, Assistant Librarian, India

Office.

BUDDHISM. 2 vols. Prof. RHYS DAVIDS, LL.D.
HINDUISM. Dr. L. D. BARNETT, of the British Museum.

FETISHISM AND MAGIC. Prof. ALFRED C. HADDON,
F.R.S.

THE MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN. Mr.
CHARLES SQUIRE.

CELTIC RELIGION. Prof. ANWYL.
SCANDINAVIAN RELIGION. Mr. W. A. CRAIGIE.

THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT EGYPT. Prof. FLIN-
DERS PETRIE, F.R.S.

THE RELIGION OF BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA
Dr. THEOPHILUS G. PINCHES.



ANIMISM

THE SEED OF RELIGION



By

EDWARD CLODD



AUTHOR OF
"THE STORY OF CREATION," "PIONEERS OF EVOLUTION," ITC., ETC



LONDON
ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE fcf CO LTD

16 JAMES STREET HAYMARK2T
1905



BUTLER & TANNER,

THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS.

FROME. AND LONDON.



PREFATORY NOTE

THIS little book contains more fact than comment,
because the departure from the ordinary handling
of the subject of Primitive Religion which it makes
demands that the presentment of evidence shall
precede theories of Origins.

The interconnection between subordinate parts
and the main theme has rendered it impossible to
avoid here and there crossing the margins of areas
which will come under survey in other volumes
of this series.

E. C.



CONTENTS

SECTION PAG

1. PREHUMAN ELEMENTS IN RELIGION . . 9

2. BRAIN IN ANIMAL AND MAN . . .11

3. MAN IN THE MAKING .... 19

4. ANIMAL AND HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY . . 22

5. NATURALISM ; OR, CONCEPTION OF POWER

EVERYWHERE ..... 24

6. ANIMISM ; OR, CONCEPTION or SPIRIT

EVERYWHERE . . . . .26

7. THEORIES OF THE NATURE OF SPIRIT . 35

8. SPIRITS IN INANIMATE THINGS ... 42

9. FEAR A CONSTANT ELEMENT IN ANIMISM . 44

10. ABSENCE OF SEQUENCE IN THE OBJECTS OF

WORSHIP ...... 51

11. ABSENTEE GODS ..... 54

12. MALEFICENT SPIRITS .... 59

13. EVOLUTION OF IDEA OF BENEVOLENT GODS :

EARTH-MOTHER .... 63

7



CONTENTS

SECTION PAGE

14. TREE AND ANIMAL WORSHIP ... 71

15. STONE WORSHIP ..... 78

16. WATER WORSHIP 82

17. DEIFICATION AND WORSHIP OF ANCESTORS . 85

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . 100



ANIMISM



IN an article on " Democracy and Ke-

human action," in the Nineteenth Century of
Elements

in April, 1905, Mr. John Morley remarks

Religion. that if we want & p i atitu( j ej there
is nothing like a definition. Perhaps most
definitions hang between platitude and para-
dox. There are said to be ten thousand
definitions of Religion." One of these is sup-
plied by Parson Thwackum in Tom Jones.
" When I mention religion, I mean the Chris-
tian religion, and not only the Christian religion,
but the Protestant religion, and not only the
Protestant religion, but the Church of Eng-
land." That easy-going cleric expressed what is
in the minds of the majority of people when the
word " religion " is used. He lived before the
birth of the science of comparative theology ;
those who have applied its methods and profited

9



ANIMISM

by its results can pass in larger sympathy from
specific creeds to partake of the universal spirit
which every creed strives to embody.

To have done this is to have grasped the dis-
tinction between Religion and Theology, between
what is fundamental and what is accidental,
between that which is one in essence and abiding,
and that which is manifold and fleeting. For
religion was before all theologies, which are but
concrete and partial aspects of it. It is before
them all, being born of the emotions ; and un-
affected by them all, being independent of re-
adjustments of creeds and dogmas. In that
storehouse of fact and suggestion, Primitive
Culture, Dr. Tylor remarks that " no religion lies
in utter isolation from the rest, and the thoughts
and principles of modern Christianity are attached
to intellectual clues which run back through far
pre-Christian ages to the very origin of human
civilization, perhaps even of human existence." 1
One object of the present brief treatise is to pur-
sue those clues still farther back, even beyond
the human to the pre-human in the life-history
of our globe. For nearly every book on the
Origin of Religion assumes a non-religious stage
1 Vol. i. p. 421.

10



BRAIN IN ANIMAL AND MAN

as preceding a religious stage in man's develop-
ment, while many of them assume what are now
known to be secondary stages as sole and primary.
All in vain, so far as approach to solution of the
problem goes, because the writers have not trav-
elled beyond the historic period, and have looked
for consistency of ideas where only confusion was
possible. " I believe," says Mr. Hopkins in his
Religions of India, " that all interpretations of
religion which start from the assumption that
fetishism, animal- worship, nature- worship, or
ancestor- worship was a primitive form from which
all other forms were derived, are destined to be
overthrown. The earliest beliefs were a jumble of
ideas, and it was long before the elements of the
different kinds of religions were discriminated."

2. Brain The inquiry will take us along the

Animal ^ mes ^ continuous organic develop-

and Man. ment, bringing into view the unbroken

connection between animal and human psychology

The descent of man and his fellow-mammals, as

of all living things below these, from a common

ancestry, is demonstrated to the satisfaction of

every competent authority. But in many minds

there lingers the old Adam of bias which would

II



ANIMISM

limit that descent to man's bodily structure, and
which refuses to admit that the mental differ-
ences between him and other animals are differ-
ences only of degree, and not of kind. This re-
luctance will vanish only when preconceived
notions of the soul or spirit as a special human
endowment are dispelled. And this will follow
when knowledge of the fundamentally identical
nature of the apparatus of the mind in man and
brute is acquired. Let us summarize the facts
about that apparatus, with which alone we are
here concerned. For we know nothing of mind
apart from matter, or of matter apart from mind ;
and how the passage is effected from the nerve-
cells to consciousness in animals and in man re-
mains a mystery. But we know that advance in
intelligence proceeds pari passu with increasing
complexity of brain-structure. This is traceable
along the whole series of animals. In the Inver-
tebrates the brain is a mass of nerve ganglia near
the head end of the body (" the brain of an ant
is one of the most marvellous atoms of matter in
the world, perhaps more so than the brain of a
man " 2 ) ; in the lowest Vertebrate, the fish, it is

2 Darwin's Descent of Man, p. 64.
12



BRAIN IN ANIMAL AND MAN

very small compared with the spinal cord ; in
reptiles its mass increases, and in birds it is still
more marked. In all the lower and smaller forms
the surface of the brain is either smooth or evenly
rounded, or exhibits a few grooves known as
" sulci," which separate the ridges or convolu-
tions of the substance of the brain. " But in the
larger mammals these grooves become extremely
numerous, and the intermediate convolutions pro-
portionately more complicated, until in the ele-
phant, the porpoise, the higher apes, and man,
the cerebral surface appears a perfect labyrinth of
tortuous foldings. . . . The surface of the brain
of a monkey exhibits a sort of skeleton map of
man's, and in the man-like apes the details
become more and more filled in until it is only in
minor characters that the chimpanzee's or the
orang's brain can be structurally distinguished
from man's." 3 It follows from this that if any
part of the mental apparatus is injured or thrown
out of gear, the result is the same in each case
functional upset or suspense. The dog and the
horse behave as we behave, nor can this be other-
wise, because their sense-organs report, of course

3 Huxley's Man's Place in Nature, p. 90.
13



ANIMISM

with vast differences in result, to their central
nervous systems, the messages which are trans-
mitted by the vibrations of the ethereal medium
and the air, and, within the limits of their con-
sciousness, they are affected as we are affected,
and their actions ruled accordingly. " If there
is no ground for believing that a dog thinks,
neither is there any for believing that he feels."

Therefore the doctrine of Evolution has no
" favoured-nation clause " for man. It admits
no break in the psychical chain which links him
to the lowest life forms, be these plant or animal.
It finds no arrest of continuity between the bark
of the dog and the orations of Demosthenes, or
between the pulsations of an amoeba and the
ecstasies of a saint. " Great is the mystery of
heredity " ; of the origin and transmission,
through numberless generations, of tendencies
traceable to remote prehuman ancestors, ten-
dencies which, potent against fundamental
changes, are a key to constant elements in human
nature. Before such mystery, one among many,
the stories of miracles wrought by gods and holy
men, of which sacred books and traditions tell,
are but travesties of hidden wonders. The ver-
dict of modern psychology is that " the mind of



BRAIN IN ANIMAL AND MAN

the animal exhibits substantially the same pheno-
mena which the human mind exhibits in its early
stages in the child. This means that the animal
has as good a right to recognition as a mind-
bearing creature, so to speak, as the child ; and
if we exclude him we should also exclude the
child. Further, this also means that the develop-
ment of the mind in its early stages, and in cer-
tain of its directions of progress, is revealed most
adequately in the animals ." 4 Therefore, to study
man apart is to misconceive him ; it is to refuse
to apply the only key to interpretation of the
story of his intellectual and spiritual history.
There should be, nowadays, little need to labour
this point. The artificial lines drawn between
instinct in the animal and reason, as the prero-
gative of man, have vanished. As Darwin puts
it in the Descent of Man : " It is a significant
fact that the more the habits of any particular
animal are studied by a naturalist, the more he
attributes to reason, and the less to unlearned
instincts." 5 And the various stages of the
reasoning faculty pass into one another by im-
perceptible gradations. It is only within recent

* Prof. Baldwin's Story of the Mind, p. 35. 8 p. 75.



ANIMISM

years that we have realized how complex are our
mental faculites ; what a vast number of sense-
conveyed impressions pass unnoted by us to
storage in our brains ; impressions which ex-
plain abnormal workings attributed by spiritual-
ists to external, even supernatural, agencies. We
have yet to learn that mind is far wider than
consciousness.

What is explicit in man is implicit in the
animal. Putting the matter in his usual in-
cisive way, Hobbes says that " the thoughts of
man are every one a representation or appear-
ance of some quality or other accident of a body
without us which is commonly called an object.
The original of them all is that which we call
Sense, for there is no conception in a man's
mind which hath not at first totally or by part
been begotten upon the organs of sense." 6 And
the like applies to the animal. Every one who
has kept a dog will agree with Hume that " beasts
are endowed with thought and reason as well as
man." We have the same warrant for this as
in the case of our fellows ; we cannot get inside
the mind of either ; but we infer from their
actions that like mental processes go on within
8 Leviathan, chap. 1, part 1.
[6



BRAIN IN ANIMAL AND MAN

them. The animal remembers, storing-up sensa-
tions in definite areas of the brain ; it learns
from experience that certain results follow certain
events ; in a rough sort of way, it puts two and
two together, and adapts means to ends. It dis-
tinguishes differences in things, seeking the one
and avoiding the other, a faculty which is the
product of experience, as shown in the stupidity
of colts and puppies compared with the sagacity
of horses and dogs. If, as there seems no reason
to doubt, animals dream, then, as Huxley says :
" It must be admitted that ideation goes on in
them while they are asleep, and, in that case,
there is no reason to doubt that they are con-
scious of trains of ideas in their waking state." 7
They make approach to the highest mental opera-
tions in forming generic ideas of things. " One
of the most curious peculiarities of the dog mind
is its inherent snobbishness, shown by the regard
paid to external respectability. The dog who
barks furiously at a beggar will let a well-dressed
man pass him without opposition. Has he not
then a ' generic idea ' of rags and dirt associated
with the idea of aversion, and that of sleek broad-
cloth associated with the idea of liking ? " In
7 G ollected Essays, vol. vi. p. 124.

17 B



ANIMISM

this matter, so feeble is his conceptual faculty,
the lowest savage of to-day is not on a much
higher plane than the most intelligent animals.
Upon the slow development of this faculty,
Pfleiderer remarks in his Philosophy of Religion :
" If we require whole years to develop abstract
ideas in the minds of our children, though they
have the benefit of all their inheritance from the
past, which thought for them, it must have
needed centuries, and even millenniums, for pri-
mitive man to arrive at the same results." 8
Skirting, and never penetrating, the deep mys-
teries of consciousness, all that may be said is
that " the animals probably do not have a highly
organized sense of Self as man does, and the
reason doubtless is that such a Self-consciousness
is the outcome of life and experience in the very
complex social relations in which the human
child is brought up, and which he alone is fitted
by his inherited gifts to sustain." 9 And these
relations could never have become what they are
but for those structural changes in man which
made articulate speech possible, and, with this,
the transmission of ideas and experiences to
which the art of writing secured permanence.
3 Vol. iii. p. 4. 9 Baldwin, p. 55.
18



MAN IN THE MAKING

Unbroken mental development along
3. Man
in the the whole organic line being admitted,

a ng ' let us inquire whether there be any
point in the series where it can be said : " Here
the higher mammals and man show faculties in
common wherein the primal elements of religion
are present." The word " man " can here have
only a vague significance, since the stage of his
evolution, which is assumed, lies far behind that
which yields the earliest known traces of his pre-
sence. At the back of the comparatively recent
Neolithic or polished stone-using age there are
the prehistoric Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age,
with its relics of rudely-fashioned tools and
weapons, and of primitive art in scratchings of
mammoth and reindeer on bone and slate ; and
the vastly older Eolithic age, whose artificially-
chipped flints have been found in large numbers
in the plateau gravel of South-East England.
More remote, in a dateless past, must be
placed the proto-human, perhaps represented by
the calvaria or portion of skull, two molar teeth
and thigh-bone, found in an Upper Pliocene de-
posit in Java in 1892 by Dr. Dubois, to which
the name Pithecanthropus erectus, or " upright
ape-man," has been given. In these fragments

19



ANIMISM

experts in anthropology see " the nearest likeness
yet found of the human ancestor at a stage im-
mediately antecedent to the definitely human
stage, and yet at the same time in advance of
the simian or ape-like stage." 10 We are, there-
fore, yet an immeasurable distance from Homo
sapiens, and in near touch with Homo alalus, semi-
erect, big-brained, deft-handed, because of his op-
posable thumb, communicating with other homines
alali by various grunts and groans, supplemented
by grimaces, gestures and postures. This is no
fancy sketch ; there are to this day tribes extant,
like the Veddahs of Ceylon, who depend on signs,
grimaces and guttural sounds which bear little
or no resemblance to articulate speech. Darwin,
in citing Captain Cook's comparison of the lan-
guage of the Fuegians to a man clearing his
throat, says that " certainly no Englishman ever
cleared his throat with so many hoarse, guttural
and clicking sounds," while he adds that the
difference between such races and civilized man
is " greater than that between a wild and domes-
ticated animal." Between creatures not fully
human and their nearest congeners, the mental

10 Duckworth's Anthropology and Morphology, p. 520.
2O



MAN IN THE MAKING

resemblances must have been greater than the
differences, and, therefore, the impressions made
upon them by the outer world similar in character.
That outer world, full of movements and sights
and sounds, was the sole exciting cause of sensa-
tions among which affright had largest play.
Hobbes, whose shrewd insight anticipated much
that has been written on this matter, says that
" the feare of things invisible is the naturall Seed
of Religion." u If in " invisible " we include the
sense of mystery investing the nature of things,
the old philosopher's theory holds the field. For
in the degree that anything is unknown, it re-
mains a source of dread, and, therefore, of evil,
since from " feare of the invisible " spring the
feelings of inferiority, helplessness and depend-
ence which man's surroundings quicken, and which
are the raw material of theologies and rituals.
It is a far cry from the quasi-human stage even
to the remote civilization of Mesopotamia, yet it
is not inopportune to remark that among the
early Chaldeans, " the spiritual, the Zi, was that
which manifested life, and the test of the mani-
festation of life was movement." 12

11 Leviathan, chap. 11, p. 1.

18 Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, p. 328.

21



ANIMISM

4. Animal Man and brute alike tremble before
Human * ne unusual ; they fear, but know not
Psychology. w hy, O r what, they fear. As yet man
has no conception of body as home of an in-
dwelling spirit, and no conception of surround-
ings as natural and supernatural ; therefore, no
ideas of an after life, no hope of heaven, and no
dread of hell. Things are not regarded as living
because they are the abode of spirits, " but as
living because of their own proper powers, or
because they are self -power." This, to all intents
and purposes, is NATURALISM ; or, as Professor
Flint calls it, Naturism : a stage antecedent to
ANIMISM, or the belief in spirits everywhere, in
the non-living as well as in the living. In
Naturalism man and animal meet together.
Among his many experiments, the late Mr.
Romanes tells of one upon a Skye terrier, which
" used to play with dry bones by tossing them in
the air, throwing them to a distance, and generally
giving them the appearance of animation, in order
to give himself the ideal pleasure of worrying
them. On one occasion I tied a long and fine
thread to a dry bone and gave him the latter to
play with. After he had tossed it about for a
short time, I took the opportunity, when it had

22



ANIMAL AND HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY

fallen at a distance from him and while he was
following it up, of gently drawing it away from
him by means of the long, invisible thread. In-
stantly his whole demeanour changed. The bone,
which he had previously pretended to be alive,
began to look as if it were really alive, and his
astonishment knew no bounds. He first ap-
proached it with nervous caution, but, as the slow
receding movement continued and he became
quite certain that the movement could not be
accounted for by any residuum of force which he
had himself communicated, his astonishment de-
veloped into dread, and he ran to conceal himself
under some articles of furniture, there to behold
at a distance the ' uncanny ' spectacle of a dry
bone coming to life." Here, as Mr. E. P. Evans
remarks by way of comment, " we have the ex-
ercise of close observation, judgment, reason, and
imagination culminating in the exhibition of
superstitious fear all the elements, in short,
which constitute religious sentiment in its crudest
form." 13

13 Evolutional Ethics and Animal Psychology, p. 355.



ANIMISM

Turning to man himself, we have the
5. Natural-
ism ; or evidence of Mr. Risley, an expert in

of Power anthropology, gathered from extant
Everywhere. p eO pj eg on a verv j ow plane, and there-
fore of supreme value in any attempt to assume
what was the attitude of man at his lowest. In
trying to find out what " the jungle dwellers in
Chota Nagpur really believe," Mr. Risley tells 14
us that he was led " to the negative conclusion
that in most cases the indefinite something which
they fear and attempt to propitiate is not a per-
son at all in any sense of the word. If one must
state the case in positive terms, I should say that
the idea which lies at the root of their religion is
that of power, or rather of many powers. What
the Animist worships and seeks by all means to
influence and conciliate is the shifting and
shadowy company of unknown powers or in-
fluences making for evil rather than for good,
which resides in the primeval forest, in the
crumbling hills, in the rushing river, in the
spreading tree ; which gives its spring to the
tiger, its venom to the snake, which generates

14 Census of India (1901), vol. i. part 1, pp. 352#
(Calcutta, 1903).

24



NATURALISM

jungle fever, and walks abroad in the terrible
guise of cholera, smallpox, or murrain. Closer
than this he does not seek to define the object to
which he offers his victim, or whose symbol he
daubs with vermilion at the appointed season.
Some sort of power is there, and that is enough
for him. . . . All over Chota Nagpur we find
sacred groves, the abode of equally indeterminate
things, who are represented by no symbols and
of whose form and function no one can give an
intelligible account. They have not yet been
clothed with individual attributes ; they linger
on as survivals of the impersonal stage of re-
ligion."

If we assume for the moment the possibility
that some such conception, essentially impersonal
in its character, or less definite than the idea of a
spirit, may have formed the germ of primitive
religion, we can see how easily it may have
escaped observation. The languages of wild
people are usually ill-equipped with abstract
terms, and even if they had a name for so vague
and inchoate a notion, it would certainly have to
be translated into the religious vocabulary of
their anthropomorphic neighbours. " Melanesian
' plenty devil ' is the standard formula for de-
25



ANIMISM

scribing a sacred place, and when we find these
people putting off the inquisitive foreigner with
the comprehensive word ' devil,' still retaining
the belief in incorporeal beings with neither
name nor shape, round whom no myths have
gathered, who are not and never have been human,
who control rain and sunshine, and are kindly
disposed towards men, one is tempted to conjec-
ture that the same sort of belief would be found
in India by any one who could adequately probe
the inner consciousness of the Animistic races."
This extract from statements buried in the
details of a Census Report is of the highest value
as helping us to realize a stage when man had not
reached to conceptions, more or less vague, of
his own personality, and to transfer of these con-
ceptions to his surroundings, investing these with
a life and will kindred to his own. In this re-
flection of himself there were the implicit ele-
ments of anthropomorphism which have survived
in every religion.



It is at this point that the advance
b. Animism ;

or was made from NATURALISM to ANI-

Conception

of Spirit MiSM. How slow was the process none
Everywhere.



26



ANIMISM

were hazy, intermediate stages during which man


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