Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quotes: Primitive Beliefs (22)

Scapegoats, bonfires, "birth trees," and adding to the sun's fire.

Primitive practice 622 "Whenever Marseilles, one of the busiest and most brilliant of Greek colonies, was ravaged by a plague, a man of the poorer classes used to offer himself as a scapegoat…whole year he was maintained at the public expense, being fed on choice and pure food…expiry of the year he was dressed in sacred garments, decked with holy branches, and led through the whole city, while prayers were uttered that all the evils of the people might fall on his head…then cast out of the city or stoned to death by the people outside of the halls." Frazer, The New Golden Bough.

Primitive practice 623 "As practiced by the Greeks of Asia Minor in the sixth century before our era, the custom of the scapegoat was as follows: When a city suffered from plague, famine, or other public calamity an ugly or deformed person was chosen to take upon himself all the evils which afflicted the community." Frazer, The New Golden Bough.

Primitive practice 677 "But the other main incident of the myth, the burning of Balder’s body on a pyre, has also its counterpart in the bonfires which still blaze…till lately, in Denmark." [Encarta Balder, in Norse mythology, the god of light and joy, son of Odin and Frigga, king and queen of the gods. Having dreamed that Balder's life was threatened, Frigga extracted an oath from the forces and objects in nature, animate and inanimate, that they would not harm Balder, but she forgot the mistletoe. The gods, thinking Balder safe, cast darts and stones at him. The malicious giant Loki put a twig of mistletoe in the hands of Balder's twin, the blind Hoder, god of darkness, and directed his aim against Balder, who fell pierced to the heart. After the death of Balder, Odin sent another son, the messenger Hermod, to the underworld to plead for Balder's return. The god would be released only if everything in the world would weep for him. Everything wept except one old woman in a cave, and Balder could not return to life.] Frazer, The New Golden Bough.

Primitive practice 685 "It is said that there are still families in Russia, Germany, England, France and Italy who are accustomed to plant a tree at the birth of a child…tree, it is hoped, will grow with the child…an apple tree is planted for a boy and pear tree for a girl…." Frazer, The New Golden Bough.

Primitive practice 692 " The old Aryans perhaps kindled…ceremonial fires in part as sun-charms, that is, with the intention of supplying the sun with fresh fire." Frazer, The New Golden Bough.

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