Animism - The Seed of Religion


the weak and ignorant, so it has been, and so it is, in the East." 34 Equally persistent, all the world over, is the survival, not only "among the weak and ignorant," of animism in this gross form.

Everywhere the "seed of Religion" has found receptive soil in "feare of the invisible," hence its successful transplanting from zone to zone.

The demonology of the New Testament may certainly be traced through Jewish to Chaldean sources, themselves lost in savage origins. Cuneiform texts show the ancient Chaldean beliefs falling into two divisions, one in which the old
nature-gods of storm and thunder survive, and the other in which armies of demons and ghosts of the unburied dead harass mankind.

To the seven devas or arch-demons of the old Persian faith and the seven chief evil spirits of Babylonian mythology, there may correspond the "seven spirits more wicked than himself" with which the unclean spirit re-entered the heart of
man, spoken of by Jesus, "who shared the belief of his time in such agents. 35 The Exile gave great impetus to that belief, and it took the wildest flights in Rabbinical teaching. Accord-

34 Frazer, Golden Bottgh, vol. iii. p. 49.
35 Luke xi. 26.


ing to the Talmud, demons had their home in the middle air, and were invisible, because "the Holy One, blessed is He, had created their souls, and was about to create their bodies, when the Sabbath set in."Everyone has ten thousand at his right hand, and one thousand at his left hand, and since they rule chiefly at night, no man should greet another lest he salute a demon. They haunt lonely spots, often assume the shape of beasts, and it is their presence in the bodies of
men and women which is the cause of madness and other diseases. In Moslem belief the Jinn, whose chief is made of smokeless fire, consist of forty companies, each numbering six hundred thousand.

In Christendom such beliefs, based on the authority of the Bible, and therefore upheld by divines, who found support in legal enactments, remained unchallenged until relatively modem times.

The seventy-second canon (1603) of the Church of England forbids any minister attempting to expel a devil or devils without first obtaining the licence of his bishop, and in the Roman Catholic Church exorcism is a function of one of the
"lesser orders." The belief supplied an easy explanation of disasters and diseases, especially diseases of the mental sort, and of the

Animism - The Seed of Religion

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