The Secret of the Totem

Front Cover
Longmans, Green, 1905 - Aboriginal Australians - 215 pages
0 Reviews

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 116 - We must first seek for a cause of this belief in the connection of human groups with animals, the idea of which connection must necessarily be prior to the various customs and rules founded on the idea. Mr. Baldwin Spencer remarks, "What gave rise in the first instance to the association of particular men with particular plants and animals it does not seem possible to say.
Page 112 - Therefore, looking far enough back in the Stream of Time, and judging from the Social habits of Man as he now exists, the most probable view is that he aboriginally lived in small communities, each with a single wife, or, if powerful, with several, whom he jealously guarded against all other Men.
Page 38 - Nuthie, of the latter, in whose hands the matter lies, will give one man a preferential right, but at the same time they will give other men of the same group a secondary right to her. Individual marriage does not exist, either in name or in practice, in the Urabunna tribe.
Page 191 - Je n'en vois pas la necessity. Secondly, savage tribes 'allow unrestricted licence of intercourse between the sexes under puberty', and thus familiarize him (the savage) 'with sexual unions that are necessarily sterile; from which he may not unnaturally conclude that the intercourse of the sexes has nothing to do with the birth of offspring'.
Page 24 - ... existence of other tribes of the same Siboko as themselves. Things being in this condition, an ancestor-worshipping people has to explain the circumstances by a myth. Being an ancestor-worshipping people, the Bantu explain the circumstance, as they were certain to do, by a myth of ancestral spirits. "Each tribe regarded some particular animal as the one selected by the ghosts of its kindred, and therefore looked upon it as sacred.
Page 116 - Manifestly, if each group woke to the consciousness that it bore the name of a plant or animal, and did not know how it came to bear that name, no more was needed to establish, in the savage mind, the belief in an essential and valuable connection between the human group Emu, and the Emu species of birds, and so on. As Mr. Howitt says, totemism begins in the bearing by human groups of the name of objects.
Page 193 - ... not happen until long after the real moment of conception. Naturally enough, when she is first aware of the mysterious movement within her, the mother fancies that something has that very moment passed into her body, and it is equally natural that in her attempt to ascertain what the thing is she should fix upon some object that happened to be near her and to engage her attention at the critical moment. Thus if she chanced at the time to be watching a kangaroo, or collecting grass-seed for food,...
Page 34 - McLennan concluded, be older than exogamy in all cases ; indeed it is easy to see that exogamy necessarily presupposes the existence of a system of kinship which took no account of degrees but only of participation in a common stock. Such an idea as this could not be conceived by savages in an abstract form ; it must necessarily have had a concrete expression, or rather must have been thought under a concrete and tangible form, and that form seems to have been always supplied by totemism.
Page 113 - ... agree that but one adult male is seen in a band ; when the young male grows up, a contest takes place for mastery, and the strongest, by killing and driving out the others, establishes himself as the head of the community.
Page 132 - America, who apparently have passed out of totemism, have " gentes, a gens being a body of consanguineal kinsmen in the male line," writes Mr. GB Grinnell.1 These clans, no longer totemic, needed names, and some of their names, at least, are most insulting nicknames. Thus we have Naked Dogs, Skunks, They Don't Laugh, Buffalo Dung, All Crazy Dogs, Fat Roasters, and — Liars ! No men ever gave such names to their own community. In a diagram of the arrangement of these clans in camp, made about 1850,...

About the author (1905)

Andrew Lang's activities extended far beyond folklore. He was a historian, poet, journalist, translator, and anthropologist, in connection with his work on literary texts. Lang was born at Selkirk in Scotland and was educated at Edinburgh Academy, St. Andrews University, and Balliol College, Oxford University, becoming a fellow at Merton College. His poetry includes Ballads and Lyrics of Old France (1872), Ballades in Blue China (1880--81), and Grass of Parnassus (1888--92). His anthropology and his defense of the value of folklore as the basis of religion---his most influential work---is expressed in Custom and Myth (1884), Myth, Ritual and Religion (1887), and The Making of Religion (1898). He also translated Homer and critiqued James G. Frazer's views of mythology as expressed in The Golden Bough. He was considered a good historian, with a readable narrative style and knowledge of the original sources (e.g., History of Scotland [1900--7], James VI and the Gowrie Mystery [1902], and Sir George Mackenzie [1909]). In addition, he wrote some novels, not well thought of today; however, his critiques of contemporary novels are still highly regarded. Lang's popularity was established with his collections of "Fairy" books, which were always titled with a color, such as The Blue Fairy Book. These books preserved and handed down many of the better-known folk tales from the time; however, his use of the term "fairy" to cover all kinds of folk tales continues to plague scholars, who generally distinguish between the terms "fairy" and "folk," judging fairy tales to be more of a fanciful creation and less grounded in cultural experiences, customs, and beliefs.

Bibliographic information