WHILE according to the facts adduced in the last chapter it is clear that a belief has existed that man might, were it not for accident or the like, continue to live on as a duality in this present life, the fact of death stared men in the face, and with equal intensity the belief was held that in death man did not cease to exist, but that the soul lived on. That the appearance of the deceased in dreams had no small part in the foundation of this belief seems almost certain. We have already seen I that dreams were regarded not as phantasies but as realities, and so the dead who were seen in the dream state were regarded as souls of the deceased appearing to the living. And other lines of evidence no doubt seemed to open to primitive man. At any rate, the fact of this belief, at least as far back as neolithic times, is evinced by the
[1. Above, pp. 23 ff.]
burial with the dead of utensils evidently meant for the service of the deceased in the land where he found himself after death. This faith is shown also by the acts of devotion or worship to the departed spirit, and by material provision of food and other comforts for the soul either at the grave or elsewhere. Similarly evidential are the means taken to facilitate the soul's exit by door, window, or roof, even through holes made in the wall of house or tent; and the same value attaches to the evident effort to prevent the soul's return by carrying the corpse, to which it is supposed fondly to cling, by devious ways to its last resting place. Like conclusions are forced by the feasts and celebrations on anniversaries of death or burial, which attest not only affectionate remembrance, but first and principally belief in the soul's continuance. This belief in the soul's continuance is perhaps
[1. Graves of Greeks and Romans have been found where permanent conduits in the grave mounds permitted the passage of liquids and viands to the corpse--cf. Frazer's Pausanias, X. 4:7, and the editor's comment on the passage; and the same is true of graves in Mongolia, though in this case the evident purpose was not the entry of food but the exit of the ghost, as the openings are at the side of the tomb--cf. Geographical Magazine, May, 1913, p. 651.]
the most momentous and the choicest, as well as the oldest, that animistic races have left to us. The clear beginning of the doctrine so prized in all religions save Gautama's, viz., that concerning the immortality of the soul, is here in its embryonic stage. We have already noted that one means, perhaps the chief one, to the acquisition of this idea was the appearance of the dead in dreams. The deceased, so the conclusion ran, was not dead, he still existed, and in his own form. It may be remarked, en passant, that if religion inheres at all in this belief, then religion is everywhere existent; for no race has yet been discovered which bad not faith in the continuance of life beyond the grave. Once more, if religion inheres not in belief but in the practices to which belief gives rise, then in the care for the well-being of the soul of one that has passed, so widely prevalent, religion is no less shown to be universal.
To suppose, however, that the content of the primitive idea is that of full-fledged immortality or unending existence would be a serious misunderstanding. The conception of deathlessness in its absolute sense is probably never present among savages. Primitive philosophy does not sound so profound depths. Hence, because "immortality" says more than is contained in the savage's concepts of future life, the word "continuance" has been employed to express the notion found among the uncivilized. On the other hand, one must be on his guard when it is affirmed that savages have no idea of immortality. In the strict sense this is true, but only in so far as uncultured peoples have not reached any conception which at all approaches that of endlessness. They have no enduring records. Oral tradition, which may easily become confused and dim, carries them back only a few generations--four or five, say. So the notion of the soul life may be either indefinite--or rather, undefined--or may be regarded as limited to a certain number, greater or less, of lives like that already passed. Indeed, the life may have degrees, so to speak. Thus the African Etoi and Bakongo believe that "though ghosts have died once, they can die a second time, and so become more dead than before."' Among the Haida a war party is always accompanied by a shaman, among
[1. Talbot, In the Shadow of the Bush, pp. 8, 24, etc.; Weeks, Primitive Bakongo, pp. 223-224, 243-244.]
whose duties is to kill the souls of the enemy. In Fiji the natives believe that there is a certain Samu Yalo ("killer of souls") who haunts the path to the realm of the dead, and when a ghost comes along rushes out to kill it with an ax unless it succeeds in escaping. Another Fijian monster lies in wait and kills the souls of bachelors, so that they never reach heaven. In the same islands a ghost that is troublesome to the living may have his case settled by his unconditional demise. That mortals may die again seems reasonable if only it be remembered that even gods grow old and die, according to "the cultured Egyptians." "Very aged was Ra, and the saliva ran down from his mouth and fell upon the earth"--a perfect picture of senility. Heiti-eibib, a Hottentot hero-god, had the habit of dying. In Polynesia Maui's wife used also to kill the gods.
[4. Swanton, Jesup North Pacific Expedition, i. 40-51, cited by Halliday, Greek Divination, p. 95.
5. Williams, Fiji, i. 244 ff.; Wilkes, U.S. Exploring Expedition, 85.
6. Murray, Ancient Egyptian Legends, p. 81; cf. Wiedemann, Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, pp. 54 ff.
7. Hahn, Tsuni-Goam, pp. 56 ff.
8 Westervelt, Legends of Maui, p. 127.]