to the British Museum — to Lady Meux of Theobalds Park,

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The worship of ancestors seems to have been every where the oldest systematized form of fetichistic religion. The reverence paid to the chieftain of the tribe while living was continued and exaggerated after his death The uncivilized man is everywhere incapable of grasping the idea of death as it is apprehended by civilized people. He cannot understand that a man should pass away so as to be no longer capable of communicating with his fellows. The image of his dead chief or comrade remains in his mind, and the savage's philosophic realism far surpasses that of the most extravagant mediaeval schoolmen; to him the persistence of the idea implies the persistence of the reality. The dead man, accordingly, is not really dead; he has thrown off his body like a husk, yet still retains his old appearance, and often shows himself to his old friends, especially after nightfall. He is no doubt possessed of more extensive powers than before his transformation,[72] and may very likely have a share in regulating the weather, granting or withholding rain. Therefore, argues the uncivilized mind, he is to be cajoled and propitiated more sedulously now than before his strange transformation.

to the British Museum — to Lady Meux of Theobalds Park,

[72] Thus is explained. the singular conduct of the Hindu, who slays himself before his enemy's door, in order to acquire greater power of injuring him. "A certain Brahman, on whose lands a Kshatriya raja had built a house, ripped himself up in revenge, and became a demon of the kind called Brahmadasyu, who has been ever since the terror of the whole country, and is the most common village-deity in Kharakpur. Toward the close of the last century there were two Brahmans, out of whose house a man had wrongfully, as they thought, taken forty rupees; whereupon one of the Brahmans proceeded to cut off his own mother's head, with the professed view, entertained by both mother and son, that her spirit, excited by the beating of a large drum during forty days might haunt, torment, and pursue to death the taker of their money and those concerned with him." Tylor, Primitive Culture, Vol. II. p. 103.

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This kind of worship still maintains a languid existence as the state religion of China, and it still exists as a portion of Brahmanism; but in the Vedic religion it is to be seen in all its vigour and in all its naive simplicity. According to the ancient Aryan, the pitris, or "Fathers" (Lat. patres), live in the sky along with Yama, the great original Pitri of mankind. This first man came down from heaven in the lightning, and back to heaven both himself and all his offspring must have gone. There they distribute light unto men below, and they shine themselves as stars; and hence the Christianized German peasant, fifty centuries later, tells his children that the stars are angels' eyes, and the English cottager impresses it on the youthful mind that it is wicked to point at the stars, though why he cannot tell. But the Pitris are not stars only, nor do they content themselves with idly looking down on the affairs of men, after the fashion of the laissez-faire divinities of Lucretius. They are, on the contrary, very busy with the weather; they send rain, thunder, and lightning; and they especially delight in rushing over the housetops in a great gale of wind, led on by their chief, the mysterious huntsman, Hermes or Odin.

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It has been elsewhere shown that the howling dog, or wish-hound of Hermes, whose appearance under the windows of a sick person is such an alarming portent, is merely the tempest personified. Throughout all Aryan mythology the souls of the dead are supposed to ride on the night-wind, with their howling dogs, gathering into their throng the souls of those just dying as they pass by their houses.[73] Sometimes the whole complex conception is wrapped up in the notion of a single dog, the messenger of the god of shades, who comes to summon the departing soul. Sometimes, instead of a dog, we have a great ravening wolf who comes to devour its victim and extinguish the sunlight of life, as that old wolf of the tribe of Fenrir devoured little Red Riding-Hood with her robe of scarlet twilight.[74] Thus we arrive at a true werewolf myth. The storm-wind, or howling Rakshasa of Hindu folk-lore, is "a great misshapen giant with red beard and red hair, with pointed protruding teeth, ready to lacerate and devour human flesh; his body is covered with coarse, bristling hair, his huge mouth is open, he looks from side to side as he walks, lusting after the flesh and blood of men, to satisfy his raging hunger and quench his consuming thirst. Towards nightfall his strength increases manifold; he can change his shape at will; he haunts the woods, and roams howling through the jungle."[75]

[73] Hence, in many parts of Europe, it is still customary to open the windows when a person dies, in order that the soul may not be hindered in joining the mystic cavalcade.

[74] The story of little Red Riding-Hood is "mutilated in the English version, but known more perfectly by old wives in Germany, who can tell that the lovely little maid in her shining red satin cloak was swallowed with her grandmother by the wolf, till they both came out safe and sound when the hunter cut open the sleeping beast." Tylor, Primitive Culture, I. 307, where also see the kindred Russian story of Vasilissa the Beautiful. Compare the case of Tom Thumb, who "was swallowed by the cow and came out unhurt"; the story of Saktideva swallowed by the fish and cut out again, in Somadeva Bhatta, II. 118-184; and the story of Jonah swallowed by the whale, in the Old Testament. All these are different versions of the same myth, and refer to the alternate swallowing up and casting forth of Day by Night, which is commonly personified as a wolf, and now and then as a great fish. Compare Grimm's story of the Wolf and Seven Kids, Tylor, loc. cit., and see Early History of Mankind, p. 337; Hardy, Manual of Budhism, p. 501.

[75] Baring-Gould, Book of Werewolves, p. 178; Muir, Sanskrit Texts, II. 435.

Now if the storm-wind is a host of Pitris, or one great Pitri who appears as a fearful giant, and is also a pack of wolves or wish-hounds, or a single savage dog or wolf, the inference is obvious to the mythopoeic mind that men may become wolves, at least after death. And to the uncivilized thinker this inference is strengthened, as Mr. Spencer has shown, by evidence registered on his own tribal totem or heraldic emblem. The bears and lions and leopards of heraldry are the degenerate descendants of the totem of savagery which designated the tribe by a beast-symbol. To the untutored mind there is everything in a name; and the descendant of Brown Bear or Yellow Tiger or Silver Hyaena cannot be pronounced unfaithful to his own style of philosophizing, if he regards his ancestors, who career about his hut in the darkness of night, as belonging to whatever order of beasts his totem associations may suggest.

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