The Totemic Cycle of Birth and Death.

[Thomson.  Prehistoric Aegean].  Totemism affects the life history of the individual. In the beginning all labour was collective. Individuals only survived as members of the group. The link is between the group and the production of the means of subsistence. Child-getting is as important as food getting. The magic attached to child birth and rearing has a feminine stamp.

Age grades plus the transition from one to another are characterised by initiation rites. Important is that of puberty. Thus adolescent to full member of the group, ready for production and reproduction.

Idea of ceremony = individual dies and born again – resurrection. Resurrection = basic concept underlying all religion. New born = reincarnation of clan totem (ancestor). Child often named after progenitor. [See Frazer; Karsten; Krige; Hollis, others p46]. Also rule – often progenitor must be deceased. [See Morgan, Hutton, Playfair].

The name = totemic symbol (magical) = totemic secrets {See Frazer]. A common basis underlies the original words for – name plus mark (oral) plus know (visual). Latin = nomen, nota, gens, gnosco. Thus kinsman bears a name, and wears a sign (totem).

Thus – ancestor born again as infant. Child “dies” at puberty and then reborn and given a new name as a man or woman. Hence birth is death and death is birth. [See Howitt, Van Gennep, Webster]. This = unity of opposites = complementary parts of process.

Rebirth of initiate = dramatization – mimetic ritual. Being born from womb – or – eaten and disgorged by spirit [See Howitt, Wbster]. Higher cultures – magic sleep, dream. [Frazer; Webster]. Mourned as dead when taken from village. Another ritual feature = ritual separation or amputation is sub-incision of prepuce, finger amputation, knocking out of teeth. Other ceremonies are ordeals and purifications. Motive of rituals is mortification or purification and fertilisation or regeneration. The final initiation is the instruction in social and sexual behaviour = homilies, catechisms, dances, symbols etc = all secret.

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