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personages may neither touch the ground nor see the sun, the reason is, on the one hand, a fear lest their divinity might, at contact with earth or heaven, discharge itself with fatal violence on either; and, on the other hand, an apprehension that the divine being, thus drained of his ethereal virtue, might thereby be incapacitated for the future performance of those magical functions, upon the proper discharge of which the safety of the people and even of the world is believed to hang. Thus the rules in question fall under the head of the taboos which we examined in the second chapter ; they are intended to preserve the life of the divine person and with it the life of his subjects and worshippers. Nowhere, it is thought, can his precious yet dangerous life be at once so safe and so harmless as when it is neither in heaven nor in earth, but, as far as possible, suspended between the two.

In legends and folk-tales, which reflect the ideas of earlier ages, we find this suspension between heaven and earth attributed to beings who have been endowed with the coveted yet burdensome gift of immortality. The wizened remains of the deathless Sibyl are said to have been preserved in a jar or urn which hung in a temple of Apollo at Cumae ; and when a group of merry children, tired, perhaps, of playing in the sunny streets, sought the shade of the temple and amused themselves by gathering underneath the familiar jar and calling out, “Sibyl, what do you wish ?” a hollow voice, like an echo, used to answer from the urn, “I wish to die." 1 A story, taken down from the lips of a

man by a pubescent girl are a specific against premature weakness of these limbs. See A. G. Morice, “ Notes, archaeological, industrial, and sociologi. cal, on the Western Dénés,” Transailions of the Canadian Institute, iv. (1892. 93), p. 182. The Thompson River Indians of British Columbia thought that the Dawn of Day could and would cure hernia is only an adolescent girl prayed to it to do so. Just before day. break the girl would put some charcoal in her mouth, chew it fine, and spit it out four times on the diseased place. Then she prayed : “O Day-dawn ! thy child relies on me to obtain healing

from thee, who art mystery.

Remove thou the swelling of thy child. Pity thou him, Day-dlawn !” See James Teit, “ The Thompson Indians of British Columbia," Memoirs of the American N/useum of Natural History, vol. ii. part iv. (April 1900), p. 345 sy. These are examples of the beneficent application of the menstruous energy.

| Petronius, Sat. 48; Pausanias, X. 12. 8; Justin Martyr, Cohort. ad Graecos, 37, p. 34 c, ed. 1742. According to another account, the remains of the Sibyl were enclosed in an iron cage which hung from a pillar in

German peasant at Thomsdorf, relates that once upon a time there was a girl in London who wished to live for ever, so they say:

“ London, London is a fine town.

A maiden prayed to live for ever."

And still she lives and hangs in a basket in a church, and every St. John's Day, about the hour of noon, she eats a roll of bread.' Another German story tells of a lady who resided at Danzig and was so rich and so blest with all that life can give that she wished to live always. So when she came to her latter end, she did not really die but only looked like dead, and very soon they found her in a hollow of a pillar in the church, half standing and half sitting, motionless. She stirred never a limb, but they saw quite plainly that she was alive, and she sits there down to this blessed day. Every New Year's Day the sacristan comes and puts a morsel of the holy bread in her mouth, and that is all she has to live on. Long, long has she rued her fatal wish who set this transient life above the eternal joys of heaven. A third German story tells of a noble damsel who cherished the same foolish wish for immortality. So they put her in a basket and hung her up in a church, and there she hangs and never dies, though many a year has come and gone since they put her there. But every year on a certain day they give her a roll, and she eats it and cries out, “For over ! for ever! for ever!” And when she has so cried she falls silent again till the same time next year, and so it will go on for ever and for ever.3 A fourth story, taken down near Oldenburg in Holstein, tells of a jolly dame that ate and drank and lived right merrily and had all that heart could desire, and she wished to live always. For the first hundred years all went well, but after that she began to shrink and shrivel up, till at last

ancient temple of Hercules at M. K. James (Classical Rezicii', vi. Argyrus (Ampelius, Liber Memorialis, (1892), p. 74). I have already given viii. 16).

the stories at length in a note on l'au. i Kuhn und Schwartz, Norddeutsche sanias, x. 12. 8. Sagen, Märchen und Gebräuche, p. 70, : Kuhn und Schwartı, op. cit. p. No. 72. 1. This and the following 70 sq., No. 72. 2. German parallels to the story of the 3 Kuhn und Schwarız, op. cit. p. Sibyl's wish were first indicated by Dr. 71, No. 72. 3.


she could neither walk nor stand nor eat nor drink. But die she could not. At first they fed her as if she were a little child, but when she grew smaller and smaller they put her in a glass bottle and hung her up in the church. And there she still hangs, in the church of St. Mary, at Lübeck. She is as small as a mouse, but once a year she stirs.

§ 2. Balder A god whose life might in a sense be said to bc neither in heaven nor on earth but between the two, was the Norse Balder, the good and beautiful god. The story of his death is as follows: Once on a time Balder dreamed heavy drcams which seemed to forebode his death. Thereupon the gods held a council and resolved to make him secure against cvery danger. So the goddess Frigg took an oath from fire and water, iron and all metals, stones and earth, from trees, sicknesses and poisons, and from all four-footed beasts, birds, and creeping things, that they would not hurt Balder. When this was done Balder was deemed invulnerable ; so the gods amused themselves by setting him in their midst, while some shot at him, others hewed at him, and others threw stones at him. But whatever they did, nothing could hurt him ; and at this they were all glad. Only Loki, the inischief-maker, was displeased, and he went in the guise of an old woman to Frigg, who told him that the weapons of the gods could not wound Balder, since she had made them all swear not to hurt him. Then Loki asked, “Have all things sworn to spare Balder ?” She answered,

She answered, “East of Walhalla grows a plant called mistletoe ; it seemed to me too young to swear." So Loki went and pulled the mistletoc and took it to the assembly of the gods. There he found the blind god Hödur standing at the outside of the circle. Loki asked him, “Why do you not shoot at Balder?" Hödur answered, “Because I do not see where he stands ; besides I have no weapon." Then said Loki, · Do like thc rest and show Balder honour, as they all do. I will show you where he stands, and do you shoot at him

IK. Millenhoff, Sagen, Märchen On this subject see further Note A at und Linder, p. 158 sq., No. 217. the end of the volume.

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with this twig." Hödur took the mistletoe and threw it at Balder, as Loki directed him. The mistletoe struck Balder and pierced him through and through, and he fell down dead.

And that was the greatest misfortune that ever befell gods and men. For a while the gods stood specchless, then they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. They took Balder's body and brought it to the sea-shore. There stood Balder's ship; it was called Ringhorn, and was the hugest of all ships. The gods wished to launch the ship and to burn Balder's body on it, but the ship would not stir. So they sent for a giantess called Hyrrockin. She came riding on a wolf and gave the ship such a push that fire flashed from the rollers and all the earth shook. Then Balder's body was taken and placed on the funeral pile upon his ship. When his wife Nanna saw that, her heart burst for sorrow and she died.

So she was laid on the funeral pile with her husband, and fire was put to it. Balder's horse, too, with all its trappings, was burned on the pile.

The minute details with which this story is told suggest that it belongs to that class of myths which have been dramatised in ritual, or, to put it otherwise, which have been performed as magical ceremonies for the sake of producing those natural effects which they describe in figurative language. A myth is never so graphic and precise in its details as when it is, so to speak, the book of the words which are spoken and acted by the performers of the sacred rite. That the Norse story of Balder was a myth of this sort will become probable if we can prove that ceremonies resembling the incidents in the tale have been performed by Norsemen and other European peoples. Now the main incidents in the tale are two-first, the pulling of the mistletoe, and second, the death and burning of the god; and both of them can be shown to have had their counterparts in yearly rites observed, whether separately or conjointly, by people in various parts of Europe.

All over Europe the peasants have been accustomcd from time immemorial to kindle bonfires on certain

| Die Edda, übersetzt von K. Simrock,8 pp. 286-288, cp. pp. 8, 34, 264. In English the Balder story is told at

length by Prof. Rhys, Cillic leathers dom, p. 529 549.

days of the year, and to dance round or leap over them. Customs of this kind can be traced back on historical evidence to the Middle Ages, and their analogy to similar customs observed in antiquity goes with strong internal evidence to prove that their origin must be sought in a period long prior to the spread of Christianity. Indeed the earliest proof of their observance in Northern Europe is furnished by the attempts made by Christian synods in the eighth century to put them down as heathenish rites.?

Not uncommonly effigies are burned in these fires, or a pretence is made of burning a living person in them; and there are grounds for believing that anciently human beings were actually burned on these occasions. A general survey of the customs in question will bring out the traces of human sacrifice, and will serve at the same time to throw light on their meaning

The seasons of the year at which these bonfires are most commonly lit are spring and midsummer, but in some places they are kindled at Hallow E'en (the thirty-first of October) and Christmas. In spring the first Sunday in Lent (Quadragesima), Easter Eve, and the first of May are the days on which the ceremony has been oftenest observed.

The custom of kindling bonfires on the first Sunday in Lent has prevailed in Belgium, the north of France, and in many parts of Germany. Thus in the Belgian Ardennes for a week or a fortnight before the “day of the great fire,” as it is called, children go about from farm to farm collecting fuel. At Grand Halleux any one who refuses their request is pursued next day by the children, who try to blacken his face with the ashes of the extinct fire. When the day has come, thcy cut down bushes, cspecially juniper and broom, and in the cvening great bonfires blaze on all the heights. It is a common saying that seven bonfires should be seen in the village is to be safe from conflagrations. If the Meuse

1 See Grimm, Deutsche Alythologie, 599. Compare also Grimm, Deutsche i. 502, 510, 516.

N/ythologic,t i.

500 599.; Kelly, 2 Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 518

Curiosities of Indo-European Pradi.

tion and Folk-lore, p. 46 599.; F. sq.

Vogt, “Scheibentreiben und Frühlings3 In the following survey of these seuer," Zeitschrift des Vereins für fire-customs I follow chiefly W. Mann Volkskunde, iii. (1893), pp. 349-369 ; hardt, Baumkultus, kap. vi. p. 497 ibid. iv. (1894), pp. 195-197.

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