Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/416

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came less savage the horrors of the ritual were modified by the substitution of animals.

Among totem-worshipers the substitute for the life of a member of the tribe was naturally an animal of the kind which the devotees and god claim as kindred. Among our Indian worshipers of totems the sacred animal is eaten, body and blood, once a year, in a solemn sacrifice of itself unto itself in a mystical ceremony. These gross rites are thought to have an atoning efficacy, as they claim that the sacred animal shares the nature of their god, who in this manner dies for his people, while at the same time the life of the sacred beast passes into the lives of the communicants and unites them to their deity and each other in lasting bonds. These savages believe, however, that the sacrificed deity is made alive again; just as in Athens, when the sacred bull was slaughtered, the mystic ritual asserts that "the dead was raised in the same sacrifice."

We find strict attention to form and ritual among all primitive peoples, and the more cruel and mysterious the rites the lower the mental plane of the devotees.

That the religious forms called mysteries, of Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and other ancient nations, evolved from the crude mysteries of their savage ancestors, is the firm conviction of our most profound scholars. In the celebration of these mysteries, which were enacted all over the ancient world, it is found that "the doctrine of a future life, connected with the legend of some hero or deity, who had died and descended into the under world, and again risen to life, dramatically represented in the personal experience of the initiate, was the heart of every one of the secret religious societies of antiquity.[1]

The Egyptian mysteries were devoted to the worship of their supreme god Osiris, whose name we find very near the beginning of what is known of the religion of Egypt. The early form of the legend shows its savage origin. In the constant warfare between Osiris and Typhon, the evil overcomes the good, and Osiris is killed, but afterward returns to life in the form of an animal, and urges his son to avenge him. Horus and Typhon fight in animal form, and the evil one's power is destroyed, but Typhon is not annihilated. As the Egyptian religion lasted for at least five thousand years, it was subjected to innumerable influences, which modified somewhat this crude legend. In time the worship of Osiris spread from Abydos, the oldest royal seat, all over Egypt, until all the religious mysteries and the whole doctrine of life after death attached themselves to the Osirian worship, where every year was enacted with many sad rites the

  1. Alger, History and Doctrine of a Future Life.