The human past in its remoter range might be divided into two portions for the purpose, and described as pre-Totemic and Totemic. The first was naturally a state of promiscuity more or less like that of the animals, when there were neither Totems, nor Law of Tabu, nor covenant of blood, nor verbal means of distinguishing one person from another. The only known representatives of this condition now living are the Pygmies of the Central African Forests. By Totemism we mean the earliest formation of society in which the human group was first discreted from the gregarious horde that grovelled together previously in animal promiscuity. The subject, however, has various aspects. The term has many meanings which have to be determined by their types. Many years ago the present writer sought to show that Totemism, Mythology, Fetishism, and the hieroglyphic system did not originate in separate systems of thought and expression, as
any modern “ism” sets up for itself, but that these had a common rootage in Sign-language, of which they are various modes or forms. Totemism originated in Sign-language rather than in Sociology, the Signs being afterwards applied for use in Sociology as they were in Mythology and Fetishism. The name “Totem” is supposed to have originated in the language of the North American Indians. The word Totem exists in the Ojibway language for a sign, a symbol, mark, or device of the group, Gens, or Tribe. The Rev. Peter Jones, an Ojibway, spells the word “Toodaim.” Francis Assikinack, an Ottawa Indian, renders it by Ododam. The Abbé Thavenet, quoting from the Algonkin language, gives nind Otem for “my tribe,” and kit Otem for “thy tribe.” The root of the word as here rendered is Tem or Dem. The name and things thus denoted are found to be universal for a group, a gathering, a collection, a total of persons, animals, huts or houses. The Magar Thum is the Phratry or Clan, of which there were twelve altogether. The Attic township was called a Dem. The Sanskrit Dama is the home; Greek Domos, Latin Domus, Sclavonic Domu, English Dome. Itembe=the dome is the roof in Niamwezi. In Zulu the Tumu is an assemblage. In Maori, the Tamene is a collection of people. Also the Toma is a cemetery like the Scottish Tom, and the Tumuli where the dead were gathered together. Tomo, in archaic Japanese, denotes a gathering of persons who are companions. In Assyrian, likewise, the Timi are the companions. As is usual in the present work, we turn to Egypt to see what the great Mother of Civilisation has to say concerning the Tem and the Totem.
Twm (Tom) in Coptic signified joining together as in the Tem. The word “Tem” has various applications in Egyptian. It signifies Man, Mankind, Mortals, also to unite, be entire or perfect. Moreover, it is a name for those who are created persons, as in making young men and young women in the Totemic ceremonies, of which more hereafter. If ever the word “created” could be properly applied to the Making of Men and to those who were grouped together, it is in Totemism. In Egyptian, Tem, or Tem-t, is not only a Total and to be totalled. The sign of Tem-t in the Hieroglyphics is the figure of a total composed of two halves ; thus the Tem is one with the Total, and the Total comprised two halves at the very point of bifurcation and dividing of the whole into two; also of totalling a number into a whole which commences with a twofold unity. And when the youths of the Aborigines on the River Darling are made men of in the ceremonies of puberty–that is, when they are created Men–they are called Tumba. (F. Bonney.) It would seem as if the word “Tem” for the total in two halves had been carried by name as well as by nature to the other side of the world, for two classes in St. George’s Sound are universally called Erinung and Tem. The whole body of natives are divided into these two moieties. The distinctions, says Nind, are general, not tribal. They agree, however, with the Arunta division into two classes of the Churinga at the head of the Totems which represent the sub-divisional distinctions. (Scott Nind, Journal of Royal Geographical Society, vol. I, 1832.) The Egyptian Tem is also a place-name as well as a personal name for the social unit, or division of persons. The Temai was a District, a Village, a Fortress,
a Town or a City, on the way to becoming the Dom, as we have it in the heirdom and the kingdom, for the whole or total that is governed by a King. But the group-name for people preceded the group-name for a collection of dwellings, whether for the living or the dead. Here the “Tem” is a total, as we have it in English for a “team” of horses, a brood of ducks, a litter of pigs. Egypt itself had passed out of the Totemic stage of Sociology in monumental times, but the evidences for its prehistoric existence are visibly extant in the place-names and in the mirror of Mythology which reflects aloft a pre-monumental past of illimitable length. In Egypt the Zootypes of the Motherhoods and Companionships had become the Totems of the Nomes. Thus we find the Nome of the Cow; the Nome of the Tree; the Nome of the Hare; the Nome of the Gazelle; the Nome of the Serpent; the Nome of the Ibis; Nome of the Crocodile; Nome of the Jackal; Nome of the Siluris; Nome of the Calf; and others. These show the continuity of Totemic Signs. Also the status of Totemic Sociology survived in Egypt when the Artizans and Labourers worked together as the Companions in Companies; the Workmen in the Temple and the Necropolis were the Companions; the Rowers of a Ship were a Company like the Seven Ari or “Companions” on board the bark in the Mythical representation. These companions are the Ari by name, and the Totemic Ari can be traced by name to Upper Egypt, where Ariu, the land of the Ari, is a name of the seventeenth Nome. (Brugsch.) At a remote period Egypt was divided into communities the members of which claimed to be of one family, and of the same seed—which, under the Matriarchate, signifies the same Mother-blood, and denotes the same mode of derivation on a more extended scale.
So ancient was Totemism in Egypt that the Totems of the human Mothers had become the signs of Goddesses, in whom the head of the beast was blended with the figure of the human female. The Totems of the human Mothers had attained the highest status as Totems of a Motherhood that was held to be divine, the Motherhood in Nature which was elemental in its origin. So ancient was Totemism in Egypt that the Tems were no longer mere groups, clans, or brotherhoods of people, or a collection of huts like the Tembs of the Ugogo. The human groups had grown and expanded until the primitive dwelling-places had become great cities, and the burial-mounds of still earlier cities; the zootype of the Motherhood and the Brotherhood had become the blazon of the kingdom. If we take the City to be the Egyptian Temai, the Lion was the Totem of the Temai in Leontopolis; the Hare was the Totem of the Temai in Unnut; the Crocodile was a Totem of the Temai in Crocodilopolis; the Cat in the Temai of Pi-Bast (Bubastes); the Wolf was the Totem of Lycopolis; the Water-Cow of Teb; the Oxyrhynchus of Pi-Maza; the Apis of Ni-ent-Hapi; the Ibis of Hermopolis; the Bull of Mendes; the Eel of Latopolis; the dog-headed Ape of Cynopolis.
When Egypt comes into sight, the Tems have grown into the Temais and the Totems into the signs of Nomes, and she has left us the means of explaining all that proceeded in the course of her long development from the state of primitive Totemism in Africa: the state which more or less survives amongst the least cultured or most
decadent races that have scattered themselves and sown the Kamite Wisdom which they carried as they crawled about the world; and, as the evidence shows, when this identifiable Wisdom of the Ancient Motherhood was first carried forth from Egypt, she was in the most ancient Totemic stage of Sociology. The “Tem,” then, in the last analysis, as Egyptian, is a Totality in two halves, also a total of “Created Persons,” that is, of those who were constituted Persons or companions in the Tem or Group by means of the Totemic Rite. In other languages the Tem, Deme, or Timi are the Group, or Brotherhood. And in the languages of the Red Men, the Dodam, Otem, or Ododem is the symbol of the group of Brotherhood or Motherhood, who were known by their Totem. Totemism really originated in the Sign-language of Inner Africa. Some thirty different Totems have been enumerated as still extant amongst the natives of Uganda and Unyoro, and each Totem is connected with a birthplace or place of origin for the family in relation to the Elemental Ancestry (Johnstone), which is the same as with the Arunta in Australia. But a great mistake has hitherto been made in supposing that a sign called the Totem had its origin in Sociology. The primitive type now generalized under the name of “the Totem” was employed for various purposes as a factor in Sign-language. It might be personal, sexual, sociological or religious. It might be the sign of legal sanction, or a type of Tabu. It might identify the human Mother or the superhuman power that was invoked for water, for food and shelter as the Mother-earth.
Since the brief jottings on “Totemism” were made in the “Natural Genesis” (section 2) much water has passed beneath the bridge. A flood of light has been poured out on the subject by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen in their invaluable work on the Native Tribes of Central Australia. The Wisdom of the Egyptians is supplemented most helpfully by the traditions of the Arunta. The Gods and Goddesses may have been relegated to the “Alcheringa,” but much of the primitive matter has been preserved at a standstill which had been transfigured by continual growth in Egypt. It is shown by the Arunta and other Australian tribes that certain Totemic districts were identified by or with the food they produce, as the district of the Kangaroos, the district of the Emus, or the district of the Witchetty-Grubs. The Arunta tribes are distributed in a large number of small local groups, each of which is supposed to possess a given area of country, and therefore of the food grown in it. Generally the group describe themselves by the name of some animal, bird, or plant. One area belongs to the group who call themselves Kangaroo-Men; another belongs to the Emu-Men; another to the Hakea-flower-Men; another to the people of the Plum-tree. (N.T., pp. 8-9.) The tribal area of the Australian Euahlayi is likewise divided into hunting-grounds in relation to food. According to Sir George Grey, the natives say that the Ballaroke family derived their name from the Ballaroke, a small opossum, on account of their having subsisted on this little animal; and of the Nag-Karm Totem he tells us the Nagarnook family obtained their name from living principally in former times upon this fish. These, then, were food-totems. So likewise are the Witchetty-Grub, the Kangaroo, and the
Emu of the Arunta groups. Scott Nind also tells us that the tribes of the Torndirrup and Moncalon classes are in a measure named from the kind of game or food found most abundant in the district (Journal of Royal Geographical Society, 1832), which is the same as saying that the members of the Emu-totem were named from the Emu-bird, or the Kangaroos from the Kangaroo-animal, naming from food being sub-divisional and later than the descent from the Tree and Rock or the Churinga of the two primary classes. The most important ceremonies of the Arunta are performed for the sake of food, that is for increasing the supply of the plant, animal, bird, or insect which is the Totem of the particular group that enacts the rite and makes the magical appeal. The Emus perform, propitiate, and plead for abundance of Emus. The Witchetty-Grub people ask for plenty of Beetles. These not only eat their Totem, they are also its protectors. The Totem was eaten ceremonially as a type of the food that was asked for, with its likeness drawn upon the ground in the blood of the brotherhood.
It is obvious that both in Australia and Inner Africa the primitive Totemic mapping-out includes that of food-districts, and that the special food of certain districts was represented by the Totem of the family or tribe. At the time of the 6th Egyptian Dynasty one family branch of the Hermopolitan princes owned or possessed the Nome of the Hare whilst another governed the Nome of the Gazelle. (Maspero, “Dawn of Civilisation,” Eng. tr., p. 523.) These in the primitive stage would be the food-districts of the totemic Hares and Gazelles, and this status has been preserved in Australian Totemism with the ownership retained by the group. The totemic origin of the zootypes assigned to the Egyptian Nomes is shown when the animals were not to be eaten as common food. As Plutarch says, the inhabitants of the Oxyrhynchus Nome did not eat a kind of Sturgeon known as the Oxyrhynchus. (Of Isis and Osiris, p. 7.) Also, the people of Crocodilopolis would not eat the flesh of the Crocodile.
The notions of Totemism previously entertained have been upset by the new evidence from Australia, which tends to prove that the Totem was first of all eaten by the members of the group as their own especial food. Hence they were appointed its preservers and cultivators, and were named after it. According to the present interpretation, the Totem primarily represented the maternal ancestor, the mother who gave herself for food and was eaten, and who as the mythical Great Mother in Egypt was the Goddess Hathor in the Tree; the suckler as Rerit the Sow, the Nurse as Rannut the Serpent, the enceinte Mother as Apt, who was fleshified for eating as the totemic Cow. The object of certain sacred ceremonies associated with the Totems is to secure the increase of the animal or plant which gives its name to the Totem. Each totemic group has its own ceremony and no two of them are alike, but however they may differ in detail the most important point is that one and all have for their main object the purpose of increasing the supply of food; not food in general, but the particular food that is figured by their Totem. For example, the men of the Emu-totem perform their special ceremony and pour out the oblation of blood in soliciting plenty of Emu. There can be no mistake in the kind of food that is piously besought, as a likeness of the Emu-bird is portrayed on the ground in the blood
of the tribe to indicate the Power that is appealed to. Thus, in the very dawn of ownership by the group, when property was common and not several, the Totem would be a sign of that which came to be called property as the special food of the totemic family or clan. A group of totemic Kangaroos would be the owners and eaters of the Kangaroo in their locality. A group of totemic Emus would be the owners and eaters of the Emu. Those whose Totem was the Tree would eat the fruit of the Tree, a Totem being the veritable image of the food. The women of the Grass-seed Totem fed upon the Grass-seed in the Alcheringa. The women of the Hakea-totem always fed upon the Hakea-flower in the Alcheringa. After the men of the Witchetty-Grub have performed the Intichiuma ceremony for increase of food, the Grub becomes Tabu to the members of the Totem, and must on no account be eaten by them until the animal is abundant and the young are fully grown. If this rule should be broken it would nullify the effect of the ceremony. (N.T., p. 203.) If the Witchetty-Grub men were to eat too much of their Totem, the power of performing the ceremony for plenty would depart. At the same time, if they were not to eat a little of the totemic animal it would have the same effect as eating too much. Hence the sacred duty of tasting it at certain times. The people of the Emu-totem very rarely eat the eggs. If an Emu-man who was very hungry found a nest of eggs he would eat but one. The flesh of the bird may be eaten sparingly, and only a very little of the fat, eggs and fat being more tabu than the meat. “The same principle holds good through all the totems. A carpet-snake man will eat sparingly of a poor snake, but he will scarcely touch the reptile if it be fat.” (N.T., p. 202.) That was left, like the finest grain, for seed. So the members of the Irriakura-totem do not eat their Totem for some time after the ceremony of Intichiuma. The man of the Idnimita-totem, a large long-horned beetle, may not eat the grub after Intichiuma until it becomes abundant. It is the same with the men of the Bandicoot Totem. But when the animal becomes plentiful, those who do not belong to the Totem go out in search of one, which when caught is killed and some of the fat put into the mouth of the Bandicoot-men, who may then eat a little of the animal. (Pp. 204-7.) Again, the Arunta have a custom or ceremony in which the members of any local group bring in stores of the totemic plant or animal to their men’s camp and place them before the members of the totem. Thus, as Messrs. Spencer and Gillen remark, “clearly recognizing that it is these men who have the first right of eating it” (p. 210), because it was their Totem. In this social aspect, then, Totemism was a means of regulating the distribution of food, and in all likelihood it must have included a system of exchange and barter that came to be practised by the family groups. In this phase the Totem was a figure of the especial kind of food that was cultivated and sought to be increased by the magical ceremonies of the group. If we were to generalize, we should say that in the beginning the “food” represented by the Totem, whether animal or vegetable, was both cultivated or cared for, and eaten by the members of that Totem. In scarcity, it was eaten less and less, and was more and more prohibited to the brotherhood, for social, religious or ceremonial reasons, and that this was certainly one of the origins in Totemism. The Totem as food may
partly explain the totemic life-tie when the human brother is taught to take care of the animal and told to protect it because his life is bound up with the animal’s so closely that if it dies he too must die.
Totemism, however, does not imply any worship of animals on the part of primitive men. It is the sheerest fallacy to suppose that the most undeveloped aborigines began to worship, say, fifty beasts, reptiles, insects, birds, or shrubs, because each in some way or measure fulfilled one of fifty different conceptions of a divinity that was recognized beneath its half-hundred masks. Moreover, if primitive men had begun by worshipping beasts and holding their deadliest foes religiously sacred as their dearest friends; if they had not fought with them for very existence inch by inch, every foot of the way, to conquer them at last, they never could have attained supremacy over their natural enemies of the animal world. It would be going against all known natural tendency for us to imagine that human nature in the early stage of Totemic sociology was confused with that of the lower animals. The very earliest operation of the consciousness which discreted the creature with a thumb from those who were falling behind him on four feet was by distinguishing himself from his predecessors: and the degree of difference once drawn, the mental landmark once laid down, must have broadened with every step of his advance. His recognition of himself depended on his perceiving his unlikeness to them, and it can be shown how the beasts, birds, reptiles, and fishes were first adopted as zootypes on account of their superhuman and superior power in relation to the various elements, and therefore because of their unlikeness to the nature of the human being. The ancestral animal then is neither an ideal nor imaginary being as a primitive parent supposed to have been a beast, or a bird, a plant, or a star, any more than the first female as head of the Gaelic Clan Chattan was a great cat, or was believed to be a Great Cat, by the brothers in the Clan Sutherland.
However ancient the mythical mode of representing external nature, some sort of sociology must have preceded mythology and been expressed in Sign-language. Actuality was earlier than typology. Thus amongst the American Indians we find that Earth, Water, Wind, Sun, and Rain are Totems, without being, as it were, put into type by mythology. This, which can be paralleled in Africa and Australia, points to a beginning with the elements of life themselves as the objects of recognition which preceded the zootypes; the elements of water, earth, air, and vegetation. It need scarcely be re-asserted that Totemism was a primitive means of distinguishing the offspring of one Mother from the offspring of the other; the children of the Tree from the children of the Rock, the hippopotami from the crocodiles, the serpents from the swine. The earliest sociology touches on promiscuity at the point of departure from the human horde when the Mother was the only parent known. The Mother comes first, and from that point of departure the Egyptian representation reflects the sociology in the Mirror of the Mythos. In the pre-Totemic stage, there was one Mother as head of the family. This is repeated in Egyptian Mythology. In Totemism the Motherhood is divided between two sisters, or a Mother and an elder sister. This
is repeated in Egyptian mythology. In Totemism the dual Motherhood is followed by the brotherhoods. This is repeated in Egyptian Mythology, beginning with the Twin-Brothers Sut and Horus, or the Black Vulture and the Golden Hawk, which are equated by, or continued as, the Crow and Eagle-Hawk of Karween and Pundjel in Australia. In Totemism the two Brothers are followed by four or six in a group, and these are consorts of the sisters in group-marriage. So is it in the Egyptian Mythos. In this way Mythology will lend its search-light to show the backward path of prehistoric Totemism.
At a very early stage the boys became the Consorts of the Mother. When of age they would enter into connubium with her, the eldest being first. Incest at the time was naturally unknown, it being the same with them as with the animals. This status is reflected in the Mirror of Mythology. For example, there is evidence that the eldest Son was the earliest representative or outline of a Father and that he cohabited with his own Mother on purpose to keep pure the Mother-blood. This is an African institution. The queens of Cape Gonzalves and Gaboon are accustomed to marry their eldest Sons as a means of preserving pure the royal blood. It was a very stringent law and custom with the Yncas of Peru that the heir to the kingdom should marry his eldest sister. (Bastian, Der Mensch in der Geschichte, vol. III, p. 293; Wearne, S., Journey to the Northern Ocean, p. 136.) This custom also is reflected in Egyptian Mythology. Indeed, so perfectly have the prehistoric sociological conditions been preserved by the Egyptians in their Mythical rendering of the natural fact that the very beginning in heaven is with the first departure from utter promiscuity as it was on earth. The Genetrix as typical Woman is both Mother and Consort to her own Children. Hence Apt, the old first Mother of Gods and Men, was called the “Great Mother of him who is married to his Mother.” That is, of Horus as the Crocodile-headed Sebek. Sut, the male Hippopotamus, was also both Son and Consort of the same first Mother. As Hor-Apollo says, “when the male Hippopotamus arrives at its prime of life it consorts with its own Mother.” This was the status of Sebek-Horus, who was termed the husband of his Mother. The earliest powers born of the Earth-mother were thought of as fecundating her in utero; Sut as the Hippopotamus, Sebek as the Crocodile, Shu as the Lion, Elder Horus as the Child. The tradition of the sons who consorted with the Mother is to be detected in the story told of Mars by Herodotus (B. II, 64). He describes an Egyptian festival which the priests informed him was instituted to celebrate or commemorate the ravishing of his Mother by the God Mars. Now Mars, in Egypt, is the warrior Shu, who was one of the sons that cohabited with the Mother. Thus Sut, Horus, and Shu are all three described in this pre-Totemic character. There were seven altogether of these Sons who were Consorts of the Mother in Mythology, and who reappear with the Old Harlot and partake of her cup of fornication in the Book of Revelation. At a later time both Sut and Horus were denounced as “Violators of their Mother.” When Isis uttered the cry of “No Crocodile,” Horus had violated his Mother, and it was the Mother who effected the “Act of Salvation” by refusing the incestuous intercourse of Son and Mother, whether of the uterine Son or only of