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Corea, a few days before the New Year festival, the eunuchs of the palace swing burning torches, chanting invocations the while, and this is supposed to ensure bountiful crops for the next season. The custom of trundling a burning wheel over the fields, which used to be practised in Poitou for the express purpose of fertilising them, embodies the same idea in a still more graphic form; since in this way the mock-sun itself, not merely its light and heat represented by torches, is made actually to pass over the ground which is to receive its quickening and kindly influence. Again, the custom of carrying lighted brands round the cattle is plainly equivalent to driving the animals through the fire. It is quite possible that in these customs the idea of the quickening power of fire may be combined with the conception of it as a purgative agent for the expulsion or destruction of evil beings, such as witches and the vermin that destroy the fruits of the earth. Certainly the fires are often interpreted in the latter way by the persons who light them; and this purgative use of the element comes out very prominently, as we have seen, in the general expulsion of demons from towns and villages. But in the present class of cases this aspect of fire may be secondary, if indeed it is more than a later misinterpretation of the custom.

It remains to ask, What is the meaning of burning an cffigy in these bonfires ? The effigies so burned, as I have already remarked, can hardly be separated from the effigies of Death which are burned or otherwise destroyed in spring ; and grounds have been already given for regarding the socalled effigies of Death as really representatives of the treespirit or spirit of vegetation. Are the other effigies, which are burned in the spring and midsummer bonfires, susceptible of the same cxplanation ? It would seem so.

For just as the fragments of the so-called Death are stuck in the fields to make the crops grow, so the charred embers of the figure burned in the spring bonfires are sometimes laid on the fields in the belief that they will keep vermin from the crop. Again, the rule that the last married bride must leap over

mens," Vittheilungin dir anthropolog. Gesellschaf! in Wien, xxi. (1891), p. 13

1 Mrs. Bishop, Korca and her Neighbours, ii. 56 sy.


the fire in which the straw-man is burned on Shrove Tuesday, is probably intended to make her fruitful. But, as we have seen, the power of blessing women with offspring is a special attribute of tree-spirits ;? it is therefore a fair presumption that the burning effigy over which the bride must leap is a representative of the fertilising tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation. This character of the effigy, as representative of the spirit of vegetation, is almost unmistakable when the figure is composed of an unthreshed sheaf of corn or is covered from head to foot with flowers. Again, it is to be noted that, instead of a puppet, trees, either living or felled, are sometimes burned both in the spring and midsummer bonfires.* Now, considering the frequency with which the tree-spirit is represented in human shape, it is hardly rash to suppose that when sometimes a tree and sometimes an effigy is burned in these fires, the effigy and the tree are regarded as equivalent to each other, each being a representative of the trec-spirit. This, again, is confirmed by obscrving, first, that sometimes the effigy which is to be burned is carried about simultancously with a May-tree, the former being carried by the boys, the latter by the girls ;; and, second, that the effigy is sometimes tied to a living trec and burned with it.“ In these cases, we can scarcely doubt, the tree-spirit is represented, as we have found it represented before, in duplicate, both by the tree and by the effigy. That the true character of the effigy as a representative of the beneficent spirit of vegetation should sometimes be forgotten, is natural. The custom of burning a beneficent god is too foreign to later modes of thought to escape misinterpretation. Naturally enough the people who continued to burn his image came in time to identify it as the effigy of persons, whom, on various grounds, they regarded with aversion, such as Judas Iscariot, Luther, and a witch.

The general reasons for killing a god or his representative have been cxamined in the preceding chapter. But when the god happens to be a deity of vegetation, there are special reasons why he should dic by fire. For

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light and heat are necessary to vegetable growth ; and, on the principle of sympathetic magic, by subjecting the personal representative of vegetation to their influence, you secure a supply of these necessaries for trees and crops. In other words, by burning the spirit of vegetation in a fire which represents the sun, you make sure that, for a time at least, vegetation shall have plenty of sun. objected that, if the intention is simply to secure enough sunshine for vegetation, this end would be better attained, on the principles of sympathetic magic, by merely passing the representative of vegetation through the fire instead of burning him. In point of fact this is sometimes done. In Russia, as we have seen, the straw figure of Kupalo is not burned in the midsummer fire, but merely carried backwards and forwards across it.1 But, for the reasons already given, it is necessary that the god should die; so next day Kupalo is stripped of her ornaments and thrown into a stream. In this Russian custom, therefore, the passage of the image through the fire is a sun-charm pure and simple; the killing of the god is a separate act, and the mode of killing himby drowning—is probably a rain-charm. But usually people have not thought it necessary to draw this fine distinction ; for the various reasons already assigned, it is advantageous, they think, to expose the god of vegetation to a considerable degree of heat, and it is also advantageous to kill him, and they combine these advantages in a rough-and-ready way by burning him.

may be

Finally, we have to ask, Werc human beings formerly burned as representatives of the tree-spirit or deity of vegetation ? We have scen reasons for believing that living persons have often acted as representatives of the tree-spirit, and have suffered death as such. There is no reason, thercfore, why they should not have been burned, if any special advantages were likely to be attained by putting them to death in that way. The consideration of human suffering is not one which enters into the calculations of primitive man. It would have been surprising if it did, when we remember the record of Christian Europc. Now, in the fire-festivals which we are discussing, the pretence of burning people is

i Vol. ii. p. 105.

sometimes carried so far that it seems reasonable to regard it as a mitigated survival of an older custom of actually burning them. Thus in Aachen, as we saw, the man clad in peasstraw acts so cleverly that the children really believe he is being burned. At Jumièges in Normandy the man clad all in green, who bore the title of the Green Wolf, was pursued by his comrades, and when they caught him they feigned to fling him upon the midsummer bonfire. Similarly at the Beltane fires the pretended victim was seized, and a show made of throwing him into the flames, and for some time afterwards people affected to speak of him as dead. The titular king at Aix, who reigned for a year and danced the first dance round the midsummer bonfire, may perhaps in days of old have discharged the less agreeable duty of serving as fuel for that fire which in later times he only kindled. In the following customs Mannhardt is probably right in recognising traces of an old custom of burning a leaf-clad representative of the spirit of vegetation. At Wolfeck, in Austria, on Midsummer Day, a boy completely clad in green fir branches goes from house to house, accompanied by a noisy crew, collecting wood for the bonfire. As he gets the wood he sings

“ Forest trees I want,

No sour milk for me,
But beer and wine,
So can the wood-man be jolly and gay."

In some parts of Bavaria, also, the boys who go from house to house collecting fuel for the midsummer bonfire envelop one of their number from head to foot in green branches of firs, and lead him by a rope through the whole village. At Moosheim, in Wurtemberg, the festival of St. John's Fire usually lasted for fourteen days, ending on the second Sunday after Midsummer Day. On this last day the bonfire was left in charge of the children, while the older people retired to a wood. Here they encased a young fellow in leaves and twigs, who, thus disguised, went to the fire,

1 B.K. p. 524.

Breitenbrunn the lad who collects fuel at this season has his face blackened and is called “the Charcoal Man" (Bavaria, etc., ii. 261).

2 Bavaria, Landes- und Volkskunde des Königreichs Bayern, iii. 956; 6.2. p. 524. In the neighbourhood of


scattered it, and trod it out. All the people present fled at the sight of him."

In this connection it is worth while to note that in pagan Europe the water as well as the fire seems to have claimed its human victim on Midsummer Day. Some German rivers, such as the Saale and the Spree, are believed still to require their victim on that day; hence people are careful not to bathe at this perilous season. Where the beautiful Neckar flows, between vine-clad and wooded hills, under the castled steep of Heidelberg, the spirit of the river seeks to drown three persons, one on Midsummer Eve, one on Midsummer Day, and one on the day after. On these nights, if you hear a shriek as of a drowning man or woman from the water, beware of running to the rescue ; for it is only the waterfairy shrieking to lure you to your doom. Many a fisherman of the Elbe knows better than to launch his boat and trust himself to the treacherous river on Midsummer Day. And Samland fishermen will not go to sca at this season, because they know that the sea is then hollow and demands a victim. In the neighbourhood of the Lake of Constance the Swabian peasants say that on St. John's Day the Angel or St. John must have a swimmer and a climber ; hence no one will climb a tree or bathe even in a brook on that day." According to others, St. John will have three dead men on his day; one of them must die by water, one by a fall, and one by lightning : therefore old-fashioned people warn their children not to climb or bathe, and are very careful themselves not to run into any kind of danger on Midsummer Day. Accordingly when we find that, in one of the districts where a belief of this sort prevails, it used to be customary to throw a person into the water on Midsummer Day, we can hardly help concluding that this was only a modification of an older custom of actually drowning a human being in the river at that time. In Voigtland it was formerly the practice


i Birlinger, Volksthümliches Tettau und Temme, Di Volkssagin Schwaben, ii. 121 59., § 146; Biki Ostpreussens, Litthauns und IVestP. 524 sq.

priussens, p. 277 sq.; K. Haupt, 2 E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, Sitten Sagenbuch der Lausits, i. 48. und Gebräuche aus Schwaben, p. 428 3 Montanus, Die deutschen l'olks. 59., $S 120, 122; J. A. E. Köhler, feste, Volksbräuche und deutscher Volks. Volksbrauch, etc., im Voigtlandi, p. 176; glaube, p. 34.

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