The author of this monograph has been incited to its publication by the commendations of three of the most eminent critics and editors of magazines in the United States, to whom it was submitted in manuscript. In this essay, he discusses his subject from a physio-psychical standpoint, and believes that he has kept intact the canons of scientific investigation, observation, and discussion.
“Waveland,” June 8, 1897.
In preparing The Psychical Correlation of Religious Emotion and Sexual Desire for its second edition, the author has incorporated in it a considerable amount of additional evidence in support of his theory. He has carefully verified all references; he has endeavored to eliminate all unnecessary material; and, finally, he has changed the style of the work by dividing it into three parts, thus greatly simplifying the text. He feels under many obligations to his critics, both to those who thought his little book worthy of commendation, and to those who deemed his premises and conclusions erroneous. He feels grateful to the former, because they have caused him to believe that he has added somewhat to the literature of science; he thanks the latter, because in pointing out that which they considered untrue, they have forced him to a new and more searching study of the questions involved, thereby strengthening his belief in the truthfulness of his conclusions.
To the second edition of The Psychical Correlation of Religious Emotion and Sexual Desire, the author has seen fit to add certain other essays. In preparing these essays for publication, he has borrowed freely from his published papers, therefore, he desires to thank the publishers of the New York Medical Record, Century Magazine, Denver Medical Times, Charlotte Monthly and American Naturalist for granting him permission to use such of his published material (belonging to them) as he saw fit.
The author asks the indulgence of the reader for certain repetitions in the text. These have not been occasioned by any lack of data, but occur simply because he believes that an argument is rendered stronger and more convincing by the frequent use of the same data whenever and wherever it is possible to use them. When this plan is followed, the reader, so the author believes, becomes familiar with the author‘s line of thought, and is, consequently, better able to comprehend and appreciate his meaning.
Finally, the author has been led to the publication of these essays by a firm belief in the truthfulness of the propositions advanced therein. He may not live to see these propositions accepted, yet he believes that, in the future, perhaps, in worthier and more able hands, they will be so weightily and forcibly elaborated and advanced that their verity will be universally acknowledged.
“Waveland,” September 17, 1897.
The author, after mature consideration, has thought it advisable to confine the subject matter of the Third Edition of Religion and Lust almost wholly to the psychical correlation of religious emotion and sexual desire. He has eliminated certain of the psychical problems embraced in the First and Second Editions and has added instead a bibliography. The student, he thinks, will find these changes of value, especially in the matter of reference. The author has also added certain data to the thesis of the work, as well as foot-notes; which, he thinks, will strengthen the deductions and conclusions therein enunciated. He has carefully and conscientiously edited and verified all notes and quotations to be found in the book and rests satisfied in the conviction that, whatever may be lacking in his little volume, it will not be “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
“Waveland,” Owensboro, Ky., Feb. 25, 1905.
I believe that man originated his first ideas of the supernatural from the external phenomena of nature which were perceptible to one or more of his five senses; his first theogony was a natural one and one taken directly from nature. In ideation the primal bases of thought must have been founded, ab initio, upon sensual perceptions; hence, must have been materialistic and natural. Spencer, on the contrary, maintains that in man, “the first traceable conception of a supernatural being is the conception of a ghost.”1
Primitive man’s struggle for existence was so very severe that his limited sagacity was fully occupied in obtaining food and shelter; many thousands of years must have passed away before he evolved any idea of weapons other than stones and clubs. When he arrived at a psychical acuteness that originated traps, spears, bows and arrows, his struggle for existence became easier and he had leisure to notice the various natural phenomena by which he was surrounded. Man evolved a belief in a god long before he arrived at a conception of a ghost, double, or soul. He soon discovered that his welfare was mainly dependent on nature, consequently he began to propitiate nature, and finally ended by creating a system of theogony founded on nature alone.2
“It is an evident historical fact that man first personified natural phenomena, and then made use of these personifications to personify his own inward acts, his psychical ideas and conceptions. This was the necessary process, and external idols were formed before those which were internal and peculiar to himself.”3 Sun, moon, and star; mountain, hill, and dale; torrent, waterfall, and rill, all became to him distinct personalities, powerful beings, that might do him great harm or much good. He therefore endeavored to propitiate them, just as a dog endeavors to get the good will of man by abjectly crawling toward him on his belly and licking his feet. There was no element of true worship in the propitiatory offerings of primitive man; in the beginning he was essentially a materialist—he became a spiritualist later on. Man’s first religion must have been, necessarily, a material one; he worshiped (propitiated) only that which he could see, or feel, or hear, or touch; his undeveloped psychical being could grasp nothing higher; his limited understanding could not frame an idea involving a spiritual element such as animism undoubtedly presents. Apropos of the dream birth of the soul, all terrestrial mammals dream, and in some of them, notably the dog and monkey, an observer can almost predicate the subject of their dreams by watching their actions while they are under dream influence; yet no animal save man, as far as we know, has ever evolved any idea of ghost or soul.4 It may be said, on the other hand, that since animals show, unmistakably, that they are, in a measure, fully conscious of certain phenomena in the economy of nature, and while I am not prepared to state that any element of worship enters into their regard, I yet believe that an infinitesimal increase in the development of their psychical beings would, undoubtedly, lead some of them to a natural religion such as our pithecoid ancestors practiced.
The Egyptians noticed, over four thousand years ago, that cynocephali, the dog-headed apes of the Nile Valley, were in the habit of welcoming the rising sun with dancing and with howls of joy! “The habit of certain monkeys (cynocephali) assembling, as it were, in full court, and chattering noisily at sunrise and sunset, would almost justify the, as yet, uncivilized Egyptians in intrusting them with the charge of hailing the god morning and evening as he appeared in the east or passed away in the west.”5 An English fox-terrier of my acquaintance is very much afraid of thunder or any noise simulating thunder. A load of coal rushing through a chute into the coal cellar will send him, trembling and alarmed, to his hiding-place beneath a bed. This dog has never been shot over, nor has he, as far as I know, ever heard the sound of a gun. I am confident that he considers the thunder as being supernatural, and that he would propitiate it, if he only knew how.
It is not probable that, at the present time, there exists a race of people which has not formulated an idea of ghost or soul; yet in ancient times, and up to a century or so ago, there existed many peoples who had not conceived any idea of ghosts or doubles.
According to Maspero, Sayce, Champollion, and other Egyptologists, the ancient Egyptians probably had a natural theogony long before they arrived at any idea of a double. In the beginning they treated the double or ghost with scant ceremony; it was only after many years that an element of worship entered into their treatment of the ghosts of their dead ancestors. They believed, at first, that the double dwelt forever in the tomb along with the dead body; afterward, they evolved the idea that the double of the dead man journeyed to the “Islands of the Blessed,” where it was judged by Osiris according to its merits.6 We have no reason for believing that the ancient Hebrews at the time of the Exodus had any knowledge of, or belief in, the existence of the soul or double, yet, that they did believe in the supernatural can not be questioned.7 When Cook touched at Tierra del Fuego, he found a people in whom there existed mental habitudes but little above those to be found in the anthropoid apes. They had no knowledge whatever of the soul or double and but a dim concept of the powers of nature; they had not yet advanced far enough in psychical development to evolve any consistent form of natural theogony. They had only a shadowy concept of evil beings, powers of the air that inhabited the dense brakes of the forest, whom it would be dangerous to molest. Father Junipero Serra declares that when he first established the Mission Dolores, the Ahwashtees, Ohlones, Romanos, Altahmos, Tuolomos, and other Californian tribes had no word in their language for god, ghost, or devil.8 The Inca Yupangui informed Balboa that there were many tribes in the interior which had no idea of ghost or soul.9 Another writer says, that the Chirihuanas did not worship anything either in heaven or on earth, and that they had no belief whatever in a future state.10 Modern travelers have, however, found distinct evidences of phallic worship in certain observances and customs of this tribe.11
Certain autochthons of India, when first discovered, were exceedingly immature in religious beliefs; they had neither god nor devil; they wandered through the woods subsisting on berries and fruits, and such small animals as their undeveloped and feeble sagacity allowed them to capture and slay. They did not even provide themselves with shelter, but, in pristine nakedness, roamed the forests of the Ghauts, animals but slightly above the anthropoid apes in point of intelligence. “In Central California we find,” says Bancroft, “whole tribes subsisting on roots, herbs, and insects; having no boats, no clothing, no laws, no God.”12
In the northwestern corner of the American continent there dwells a primitive race, which, for the sake of unification, I will style the Aleutians. When these people were first discovered they were in that state of social economics which they had reached after thousands of years of psychical and social evolution; a primitive people, such as our own ancestors were in the very beginning of civilization. The word civilization is used advisedly; civilization is comparative, and its degrees begin with the inception of man himself.
In their theogony, the Aleutians had arrived at an idea of the double or soul, thus showing that their religion had progressed several steps toward abstraction, that triumph of civilized religiosity; yet there remained enough veneration of natural objects to show that the origin of the religious feeling began, with them, in nature-propitiation. The bladder of the bear, which viscus, in the estimation of the Aleutians, is the seat of life, is at once suspended above the entrance of the kachim or communal dwelling and worshiped by the hunter who has slain the beast from which it was taken. Moreover, when the bear falls beneath the weapons of an Aleutian, the man begs pardon of the beast and prays the latter to forgive him and to do him no harm. “A hunter who has struck a mortal blow generally remains within his hut for one or several days, according to the importance of the slain animal.”13 The first herring that is caught is showered with compliments and blessings; pompous titles are lavished upon it, and it is handled with the greatest respect and reverence; it is the herring-god!14
Sidné, chief god of the Aleutian theogony, on final analysis, is found to be the Earth, mother of all things. The angakouts, or priests, of this people individualize and deify, however, all the phenomena of nature; there are cloud-gods, sea-gods, river-gods, fire-gods, rain-gods, storm-gods, etc., etc., etc. Everywhere, throughout all nature, the Inoit, or Aleutian system of theology, penetrates, stripped, it is true, of much of its original materialism, yet retaining enough to show its undoubted origin in the sensual percepts, recepts, and concepts of its primal founders.
As I have observed above, the religion of these people has gained a certain degree of abstraction, and this abstraction is further shown by the presence of certain phallic rites and ceremonies in their religious observances; but of this, more anon.15
In most of the tribes of Equatorial Africa, nature-worship has been superseded by ghost-worship, devil-worship, or witch-worship, or, rather, by ghost, devil, or witch propitiation; yet, in the sanctity of the fetich, which is everywhere present, we see a relic of nature-worship. Moreover, many of these tribes deify natural phenomena, such as the sun, the moon, the stars, thunder, lightning, etc., etc., etc., showing that here, too, in all probability, religious feeling had its origin in nature propitiation.
Abstraction also enters, to a certain extent, into the religious beliefs of most of these negroes, in whom primal materialism has given place to the unbridled superstition of crude spiritism. The curious habit these people have of scraping a little bone dust from the skull of a dead ancestor and then eating it with their food, thus, as they think, transmitting from the dead to the living the qualities of the former, is close kin to, and, in my opinion, is probably derived from, a worship of the generative principle. When we take into consideration the fact that circumcision, extensio clitoridis, and other phallic rites are exceedingly common and prevalent among these negroes, this opinion has strong evidence in its support.16
The Wa-kamba may have some idea of immortality, though observers have never been able to determine this definitely. “The dead bodies of chiefs are not thrown to the hyenas, as with the Masai, but are carefully buried instead… The bodies of less important members of the tribe are simply thrown to the hyenas.”17
In this people, religious ideas are exceedingly primitive and indefinite. They seem to propitiate nature, however, when they wish rain, for they offer up to the rain-spirit votive offerings of bananas, grain, and beer, which they place beneath the trees. This seems to be their only religious rite according to Gregory, who, in all probability is in error. For, in the next sentence, he informs us that these negroes practice circumcision. He thinks that they perform this operation for sanitary reasons, “as the natives have continually to ford streams and wade through swamps abounding in the larvæ of Bilharzia haematuria, the rite no doubt lessens the danger of incurring hæmaturia.”18 This is bestowing upon ignorant and savage negroes a psychical acuteness which far transcends that of the laity of civilized races! What do the Wa-kamba know of sanitation, hæmaturia, and the larva of Bilharzia!19 Circumcision among these people always occurs at puberty, and is, unquestionably, a phallic rite. Parenthetically, it may be stated here that a few of the primitive peoples still in existence appear to have grasped the idea of the life-giving principle, and to have established worship of the functio generationis without having experienced certain preliminary psychical stages necessary for its evolution from nature-worship. I believe, however, that this is apparent and not real; nature-worship, very probably, at one time existed among all these people.
The Kikuyu have a very elaborate system of theogony, in which all of the phenomena of nature with which they are acquainted are deified. A goat is invariably sacrificed to the sun when they set out on a journey, and its blood is carried along and sprinkled on the paths and bridges in order to appease the spirits of the forest and the river.
Stuhlmann places this tribe among the Bantu; from the evidence of other observers, however, they seem to be Nilotic Hamites, and belong properly to the Masai.20 This would account for the similarity of method in circumcision, which, among both Kikuyu and Masai, is incomplete. Johnston calls attention to this very peculiar method and describes it minutely in a Latin foot-note.21
The Masai are mixed devil, nature, and phallic worshipers; the last mentioned cult being evolved, beyond question, from nature-worship. It may be set down as an established fact that, where nature-worship does not exist in some form or other among primitive peoples, phallic worship is likewise absent. Indeed, such peoples generally have no religious feeling whatever. They may have some shadowy idea of an evil spirit like the “Aurimwantya dsongo ngombe auri kinemu,” the Old Man of the Woods22 of the Wa-pokomo, but that is all.
Carl Lumholtz, writing of the Australians, says: “The Australian blacks do not, like many other savage tribes, attach any ideas of divinity to the sun or moon. On one of our expeditions the full moon rose large and red over the palm forest. Struck by the splendor of the scene, I pointed at the moon and asked my companions, ‘Who made it?’ They answered, ‘Other blacks.’ Thereupon I asked, ‘Who made the sun?’ and got the same answer. The natives also believe that they themselves can produce rain, particularly with the help of wizards. To produce rain they call milka. When on our expeditions we were overtaken by violent tropical storms, my blacks always became enraged at the strangers who had caused the rain.”23 In regard to their belief in the existence of a double or soul, the same author sums up as follows: “Upon the whole, it may be said that these children of nature are unable to conceive a human soul independent of the body, and the future life of the individual lasts no longer than his physical remains.”24 Mr. Mann, of New South Wales, who, according to Lumholtz, has made a thirty years’ study of the Australians, says that the natives have no religion whatever, except fear of the “devil-devil.”25 Another writer, and one abundantly qualified to judge, says that they acknowledge no supreme being, have no idols, and believe only in an evil spirit whom they do not worship. They say that this spirit is afraid of fire, so they never venture abroad after dusk without a fire-stick.26
“I verily believe we have arrived at the sum total of their religion, if a superstitious dread of the unknown can be so designated. Their mental capacity does not admit of their grasping the higher truths of pure religion,” says Eden.27 It is simply an inherent fear of the unknown; the natural, inborn caution of thousands of years of inherited experiences.
In these savages we see a race whose psychical status is so low in the intellectual scale that they have not evolved any idea of the double or soul. The mental capacity of the Australians, I take it, is no lower than was that of any race (no matter how intellectual it may be at the present time) at one period of its history. All races have a tendency toward psychical development under favorable surroundings; it has been a progress instead of a decadence, a rise instead of a fall! Evolution has not ceased; nor will it end until Finis is written at the bottom of Time’s last page.
There are yet other people who believe in the supernatural, yet who have no idea of immortality. When Gregory ascended the glacier of Mount Kenya, the water froze in the cooking-pots which had been filled over night. His carriers were terribly alarmed by the phenomenon, and swore that the water was bewitched! The explorer scolded them for their silliness and bade them set the pots on the fire, which, having been done, “the men sat round and anxiously watched; when it melted they joyfully told me that the demon was expelled, and I told them they could now use the water; but as soon as my back was turned they poured it away, and refilled their pots from the adjoining brook.”28
Stanley declares that no traces of religious feeling can be found in the Wahuma. “They believe most thoroughly in the existence of an evil influence in the form of a man, who exists in uninhabited places, as a wooded, darksome gorge, or large extent of reedy brake, but that he can be propitiated by gifts; therefore the lucky hunter leaves a portion of the meat, which he tosses, however, as he would to a dog, or he places an egg, or a small banana, or a kid-skin, at the door of the miniature dwelling, which is always at the entrance to the zeriba.”29
This observer shows that he does not know the true meaning of the word religion; the example that he gives demonstrates the fact that these negroes do have religious feeling. The simple act of offering propitiatory gifts to the “evil influence” is, from the very nature of the deed, a religious observance. Furthermore, these savages have charms and fetiches innumerable, which, in my opinion, are relics of nature-worship. The miniature house mentioned by Stanley is common to the majority of the equatorial tribes, and seems to be a kind of common fetich; i. e., one that is enjoyed by the entire tribe. It is mentioned by Du Chaillu, Chaillé Long, Stanley, and many others.30
Du Chaillu tells of one tribe, the Bakalai, in which the women worship a particular divinity named Njambai.31 This writer is even more inexact than Stanley, hence, we get very little scientific data from his voluminous works. From what he says of Njambai,32 I am inclined to believe that he is a negro Priapus; this, however, is a conjectural belief and has no scientific warrant.
The Tucuña Indians of the Amazon Valley, who resemble the Passés, Jurís, and Muahés in physical appearance and customs, social and otherwise, are devil-worshipers. They are very much afraid of the Jupari, or devil, who seems to be “simply a mischievous imp, who is at the bottom of all those mishaps of their daily life, the causes of which are not very immediate or obvious to their dull understandings. The idea of a Creator or a beneficent God has not entered the minds of these Indians.”33
The Peruvians, at the time of the Spanish conquest, worshiped nature; that is, the sun was deified under the name of Pachacamac, the Giver of Life, and was worshiped as such. The Inca, who was his earthly representative, was likewise his chief priest, though there was a great High Priest, or Villac Vmu, who stood at the head of the hierarchy, but who was second in dignity to the Inca.34 The moon, wife of the sun, the stars, thunder, lightning, and other natural phenomena were also deified. But, as it invariably happens, where nature-worship is allowed to undergo its natural evolution, certain elements of phallic worship had made their appearance. These I will discuss later on.
The great temple of the sun was at Cuzco, “where, under the munificence of successive sovereigns, it had become so rich that it received the name of Coricancha, or ‘the Place of Gold.’”35 According to the relacion of Sarmiento, and the commentaries of Garcilasso and other Spanish writers, this building, which was surrounded by chapels and smaller edifices, and which stood in the heart of the city, must have been truly magnificent with its lavish adornments of virgin gold!
Unlike the Aztecs, a kindred race of people, the Peruvians rarely sacrificed human beings to their divinities, but, like the religion of the former, the religion of the latter had become greatly developed along ceremonial lines, as we will see later on in this essay.
It is a far cry from Peru to Japan, from the Incas to the Ainus, yet these widely separated races practiced religions that were almost identical in point of fundamental principles. Both worshiped nature, but the Peruvians were far ahead of the Ainus in civilization, and their religion, as far as ritual and ceremony are concerned, far surpassed that of the “Hairy Men” when viewed from an æsthetic standpoint. Ethically, I am inclined to believe the religion of the Ainus is just as high as was that of the Incas.
Literature is indebted to the Rev. John Batchelor for that which is, probably, the most readable book that has ever been published about these interesting people; from a scientific standpoint, however, this work is greatly lacking. Many ethnologists and anthropologists considered the Ainu autochthonic to Japan; I am forced to conclude from the evidence, however, that he is an emigrant, and that he came originally from North China or East Siberia. Be he emigrant or indigene, one thing is certain, namely, that he has been an inhabitant of the Japanese Archipelago for thousands of years. The oldest book in the Japanese language has this in it anent the Ainus: “When our august ancestors descended from heaven in a boat, they found upon this island several barbarous races, the most fierce of whom were the Ainu.”36
The Ainu is probably the purest type of primitive man in existence. I had been led to believe by the work of Miss Bird37 that these people were on a par with the Australians, and that they had no religious ideas whatever. (Vogt seems to advance this conclusion also,38 while De Quatrefages39 40 appears to have omitted this people from his tabulation. Peschel places them among the Giliaks on the Lower Amoor, and the inhabitants of the Kurile Islands.41 These tribes are mixed nature, devil, and phallic worshipers.) Batchelor, however, shows very clearly that these people do have a religion, and that this religion is highly developed.
Their chief god, or rather goddess (for the Ainus regard the female as being higher than the male as far as gods are concerned), is the sun.42 Like the Peruvians, they regard the sun as the Creator, but they are unlike them in the fact that they think that they cannot reach the goddess by direct appeal. She must be addressed through intermediaries or messengers. These messengers, the goddess of the fire, the goddess of the water, etc., are in turn addressed through the agency of inao, or prayer-sticks. This intermediary idea is curiously like some practices of the Roman Catholic church, or, rather, of communicants, who get the saints to carry their petitions to God.
The inao are peculiar, inasmuch as nothing exactly like them is known. The feather prayer-plumes of some of the Western Indians are used for like purposes, but these are offered directly to the Great Spirit, and not to intermediaries. “Inao, briefly described, are pieces of whittled willow wood, having the shavings attached to the top.”43 Like the Aleutians, when these people kill a bear or other wild animal, they propitiate its spirit by bestowing upon it the most fulsome compliments, and, like the religion of these Indians, the religion of the Ainus has developed along natural lines, and shows certain phallic elements.
We see from the examples here given, that religious feeling had its origin in the idea of propitiation; in fact, that it was born in fear, and by fear was it fostered. We see, furthermore, that man was not created with religious feeling as a psychical trait, but that he acquired it later on. We see, finally, that religious feeling is based, primarily and fundamentally, on one of the chief laws of nature—self-protection. The evolution and growth of Ethics demonstrate this beyond peradventure.
It is not at all probable that man in the beginning, just after his evolution from his ape-like ancestor, had, at first, any belief whatever in supernatural agencies. In his struggle for existence, all of his powers were directed toward the procurement of his food and the preservation of life; the pithecoid man was only a degree higher than the beasts in the scale of animal life. His psychic being, as yet, remained, as it were, in ovo, and a long period of time must have elapsed before he began to formulate and to recognize a system of theogony. After years of experience, during which the laws of heredity and progressive evolution played prominent parts, he took precedence over other animals, and his struggle for existence became easier. He then had time to study the wonderful and, to him, mysterious phenomena of nature. His limited knowledge could not explain the various natural operations by which he was surrounded, therefore he looked upon them as being mysterious and supernatural. His psychical being became active and inquiring, to satisfy which he created a system of gods which was founded on natural phenomena. At first, the gods of primitive man were, probably, few in number, and the chief god of all was the sun. Man early recognized the sun’s importance in the economy of nature; this beautiful star, rising in the east in the morning, marching through the heavens during the day, and sinking behind the western horizon in the evening, must have been, to the awakening soul of man, a source of endless conjecture and debate. What was more natural than his making the sun the greatest god in his system of theogony? Man recognized in him the source of all life, and, when he arrived at an age when he could use abstract ideation in formulating his religion, he deified the life-giving function as he noticed it in himself; he began to worship the generative principle. Solar worship and its direct descendant, phallic worship, at one time or another were the religions of almost every race on the face of the globe. Solar worship, owing to its material quality, has long since been abandoned by civilized man; but phallic worship, the first abstract religion evolved by man, has taken deeper root; its fundamental principles are still present, though they have their seat in our subliminal consciousness, and we are, therefore, not actively conscious of their existence. But before entering on the discussion of this last point, let us turn for a time to a study of phallic worship.