Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/677

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GHOST WORSHIP AND TREE WORSHIP.

children. But this is a natural function of the ancestral ghosts, who, as the fathers of the tribe, are often—nay, one may even say habitually—envisaged under phallic guises. It is also a well-known function of the sacred stones, which originate in standing stones or grave slabs (as I have endeavored to show elsewhere), and which are universally regarded as of phallic potency. Indeed, to this day barren women in Brittany go to pray at ancient monoliths (thinly Christianized by having a small cross stuck on top) for the birth of children, which, says the Hebrew poet appositely, "are the gift of Jahveh."[1] Thus every one of the attributes claimed for the tree-spirits turns out on examination to be also an attribute of the ancestral ghost.

There are, I think, three main objects of human worship all the world over. The first is the ghost, or actual soul of the dead man, which gets sublimated or magnified in course of time into the spirit or shade, and then into the god. The second is the sacred stone. The third is the sacred tree. And these three are one. The ghost is the core and central reality of the whole vast superstructure of faith and practice. The sacred stone derives its sanctity from standing at the head of the dead man's grave. The sacred tree owes its position equally to its identification with the spirit of the chief or father who lies buried beneath it. In the striking and almost prophetic words of a great poet, God is indeed "the shade cast by the soul of man."[2]

How easily these three forms of primitive godhead run into one another has already been abundantly pointed out in many departments. The whole of The Golden Bough is from one point of view one long exposition of the interchangeability of the man-god and the tree-spirit or corn-spirit—an interchangeability which may surprise us the less when we remember that to this day one half of Christendom confidently identifies its own man-god with a piece of consecrated wheaten wafer. Mr. Frazer shows us how the slain god and the corn or the tree absolutely merge in the minds of their worshipers, so that at last it becomes almost impossible to separate them in thought one from the other. I believe the same thing to be true of sacred stones. Men worshiped stones, identified stones with their fathers, talked of themselves as descended from stones, looked upon the stones with affection and reverence, prayed to them, made gifts to them of wine and ghee, of milk and honey, till they almost forgot there was ever any difference at all to speak of between stones and humanity. The Laches,


  1. Priapus, the garden god, is a phallic deity: the ark of Khem represents a garden, and Khem himself is always phallic. Fertility, I take it, is the common note of all these conceptions.
  2. Swinburne, Songs before Sunrise.