Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/521

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GHOST WORSHIP AND TREE WORSHIP.

and we know with certainty that most at least of the Christian saints were originally ordinary men and women.

To put it briefly, though there are individual gods who need not necessarily once have been individual men, there could be no such thing as the idea of a god except as the reflex of the ghost of man in general.

So, too, with temples. While it is almost certainly true that temples as a whole originate, as Mr. William Simpson has so abundantly proved, from the tomb of the deified chief or hero, it is also undoubtedly true that certain temples exist in later stages of culture which are, to use once more the phrase I employed above, cenotaph shrines. But these cenotaph shrines could never have come into existence at all unless men's minds had already long been habituated to the idea of worship at the actual tomb-shrine.

It is the same, again, with sacred stones. These, as I have endeavored to show elsewhere, owe their sanctity at first to the standing stones erected over the remains and tumuli of the dead. But in course of time prayer offered at the grave comes readily to be regarded as prayer offered to the visible and tangible object then and there present—the stone that crowns and tops the barrow. Ghee or oil poured out for the ghost comes readily to be regarded as offered rather to the stone itself than to the person whose grave it marks and commemorates. Especially will this confusion exist in the mind of the worshiper when the worship is of old date, and the personality of the deceased has been long forgotten. It is very early ancestors who become the great gods of later generations. Still no one could ever have dreamed of offering up food or preferring requests to a lifeless stone, unless he and his predecessors had long been accustomed to look upon similar stones as the dwelling places of his ancestors. But nowadays, when the sanctity of certain stones is already a well-established article of belief, the people of southern India—to take a particular instance—artificially manufacture sacred stones by setting them up in their fields, painting them red (a substitute for blood libations), and pouring offerings of oil or ghee on top of them. That is to say, they treat certain casual stones, which have no rational connection at all with their ancestral spirits, in exactly the same way in which they or their predecessors have been in the habit of treating the graves of their forefathers.

A like evolution has taken place, I believe, in the case of sacred trees and sacred groves. I do not mean for a moment to assert, or even to suggest, that every individual sacred tree grows or ever grew on the grave of a dead person. But I do mean to say that, so far as I can see, the notion of the sanctity of trees or plants could only have arisen in the first place from the reverence paid