Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Folklore of the Irish Fetch by Lewis Spence 1920

The Superstition of the Irish Fetch by Lewis Spence 1920

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 According to Irish belief, this is an apparition of a living person; the Irish form of the wraith. It resembles in every particular the individual whose death it is supposed to foretell, but it is generally of a shadowy or ghostly appearance. The fetch may be seen by more than one person at the same time and, like the wraith of England and Scotland, may appear to the person it represents. There is a belief, too, that if the fetch be seen in the morning, it indicates long life for the original: but if it be seen at night, his speedy demise may be expected. The Fetch enters largely into the folk-tales of Ireland; and it is hardly surprising that so many tales have been woven around it, for there is something gruesome in the idea of being haunted by one's own "double" which has frequently been turned to account by more sophisticated writers than the inventors of folk-tales.

Patrick Kennedy, in his Legendary Fiction of the Irish Celt, speaking of the Irish fetch, gives the following tale of The Doctor's Fetch, based, it is stated, on the most authentic sources: "In one of our Irish cities, and in a room where the mild moonbeams were resting on the carpet and on a table near the window, Mrs. B., wife of a doctor in good practice and general esteem, looking towards the window from her pillow, was startled by the appearance of her husband standing near the table just mentioned, and seeming to look with attention on the book which was lying open on it. Now, the living and breathing man was by her side apparently asleep, and, greatly as she was surprised and affected, she had sufficient command of herself to remain without moving, lest she should expose him to the terror which she herself at the moment experienced. After gazing on the apparition for a few seconds, she bent her eyes upon her husband to ascertain if his looks were turned in the direction of the window, but his eyes were closed. She turned round again, although now dreading the sight of what she believed to be her husband's fetch, but it was no longer there. She remained sleepless throughout the remainder of the night, but still bravely refrained from disturbing her partner.

"Next morning, Mr. B., seeing signs of disquiet on his wife's countenance while at breakfast, made some affectionate inquiries, but she concealed her trouble, and at his ordinary hour he sallied forth to make his calls. Meeting Dr. C, in the street, and falling into conversation with him, he asked his opinion on the subject of fetches. 'I think,' was the answer, 'and so I am sure do you, that they are mere illusions produced by a disturbed stomach acting upon the excited brain of a highly imaginative or superstitious person.' 'Then,' said Mr. B., 'I am highly imaginative or superstitious, for I distinctly saw my own outward man last night standing at the table in the bedroom, and clearly distinguishable in the moonlight. I am afraid my wife saw it too, but I have been afraid to speak to her on the subject.'

"About the same hour on the ensuing night the poor lady was again roused, but by a more painful circumstance. She felt her husband moving convulsively, and immediately afterwards he cried to her in low, interrupted accents, 'Elleo, my dear, I am suffocating; send for Dr. C.' She sprang up, huddled on some clothes, and ran to his house. He came with all speed, but his efforts for his friend were useless. He had burst a large blood-vessel in the lungs, and was soon beyond human aid. In her lamentations the bereaved wife frequently cried out, 'Oh! the fetch, the fetch!' and at a later period told the doctor of the appearance the night before her husband's death.

From Irish Folklore by Lageniensis

The Fetch—a well-known Irish superstition—claims some affinity with the Highlanders' belief in "second sight." The Fetch is supposed to be a mere shadow, resembling in stature, features, and dress, a living person, and often mysteriously or suddenly seen by a very particular friend. If it appear in the morning, a happy longevity for the living original is confidently predicted; but if it be seen in the evening, immediate dissolution of the prototype is anticipated. Spirit-like, it flits before the sight, seeming to walk leisurely through the fields, and often disappearing through a gap or lane. The person it resembles is usually known to be labouring under some mortal illness at the time, and quite unable to leave his or her bed. When the Fetch appears agitated or eccentric in its motions, a violent or painful death is indicated for the doomed prototype. This phantom is also said to make its appearance, at the same time, and in the same place, to more than one person,—as we have heard related in a particular instance. What the Irish call Fetches, the English designate Doubles. It is supposed, likewise, that individuals may behold their own Fetches.

The renowned Irish novelist and poet, John Banim, has written both a novel and a ballad on this subject. Somewhat analogous to the Highland seer's gift Of second-sight, especially in reference to approaching doom — Aubrey tells us, that a well-known poet, the Earl of Roscommon, who was born in Ireland, 1633, had some preternatural knowledge of his father's death, whilst residing at Caen, in Normandy. Such forebodings were recognized by the early Northmen; and it is probable their origin amongst the people of these islands had been derived from a Scandinavian source. Oftentimes they were invested with circumstances of peculiar horror,— according to northern traditions, which were also transferred to the Hebride islanders. These latter adopted a strange admixture of superstition, from their former independent ancestors, and the invading pirate hordes, that colonized their exposed and defenceless homes.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Wolf, By Guy de Maupassant 1910

The Wolf, By Guy de Maupassant 1910

This is what the old Marquis d’Arville told us after St. Hubert’s dinner at the house of the Baron des Ravels.

We had killed a stag that day. The marquis was the only one of the guests who had not taken part in this chase. He never hunted.

During that long repast we had talked about hardly anything but the slaughter of animals. The ladies themselves were interested in bloody and exaggerated tales, and the orators imitated the attacks and the combats of men against beasts, raised their arms, romanced in a thundering voice.

M. d’Arville talked well, in a certain flowery, high-sounding, but effective style. He must have told this story frequently, for he told it fluently, never hesitating for words, choosing them with skill to make his description vivid.

Gentlemen, I have never hunted, neither did my father, nor my grandfather, nor my great-grandfather. This last was the son of a man who hunted more than all of you put together. He died in 1764. I will tell you the story of his death.

His name was Jean. He was married, father of that child who became my great-grandfather, and he lived with his younger brother, Francois d’Arville, in our castle in Lorraine, in the midst of the forest.

Francois d’Arville had remained a bachelor for love of the chase.

They both hunted from one end of the year to the other, without stopping and seemingly without fatigue. They loved only hunting, understood nothing else, talked only of that, lived only for that.

They had at heart that one passion, which was terrible and inexorable. It consumed them, had completely absorbed them, leaving room for no other thought.

They had given orders that they should not be interrupted in the chase for any reason whatever. My great-grandfather was born while his father was following a fox, and Jean d’Arville did not stop the chase, but exclaimed: “The deuce! The rascal might have waited till after the view —halloo!”

His brother Franqois was still more infatuated. On rising he went to see the dogs, then the horses, then he shot little birds about the castle until the time came to hunt some large game.

In the countryside they were called M. le Marquis and M. le Cadet, the nobles then not being at all like the chance nobility of our time, which wishes to establish an hereditary hierarchy in titles; for the son of a marquis is no more a count, nor the son of a viscount a baron, than a son of a general is a colonel by birth. But the contemptible vanity of today finds profit in that arrangement.

My ancestors were unusually tall, bony, hairy, violent and vigorous. The younger, still taller than the older, had a voice so strong that, according to a legend of which he was proud, all the leaves of the forest shook when he shouted.

When they were both mounted to set out hunting, it must have been a superb sight to see those two giants straddling their huge horses.

Now, toward the midwinter of that year, 1764, the frosts were excessive, and the wolves became ferocious.

They even attacked belated peasants, roamed at night outside the houses, howled from sunset to sunrise, and robbed the stables.

And soon a rumor began to circulate. People talked of a colossal wolf with gray fur, almost white, who had eaten two children, gnawed off a woman’s arm, strangled all the watch dogs in the district, and even come without fear into the farmyards. The people in the houses affirmed that they had felt his breath, and that it made the flame of the lights flicker. And soon a panic ran through all the province. No one dared go out any more after nightfall. The darkness seemed haunted by the image of the beast.

The brothers d’Arville determined to find and kill him, and several times they brought together all the gentlemen of the country to a great hunt.

They beat the forests and searched the coverts in vain; they never met him. They killed wolves, but not that one. And every night after a battue the beast, as if to avenge himself, attacked some traveller or killed some one’s cattle, always far from the place where they had looked for him.

Finally, one night he stole into the pigpen of the Chateau d’Arville and ate the two fattest pigs.

The brothers were roused to anger, considering this attack as a direct insult and a defiance. They took their strong bloodhounds, used to pursue dangerous animals, and they set off to hunt, their hearts filled with rage.

From dawn until the hour when the empurpled sun descended behind the great naked trees, they beat the woods without finding anything.

At last, furious and disgusted, both were returning, walking their horses along a lane bordered with hedges, and they marvelled that their skill as huntsmen should be baffled by this wolf, and they were suddenly seized with a mysterious fear.

The elder said:

“That beast is not an ordinary one. You would say it had a mind like a man.”

The younger answered:

“Perhaps we should have a bullet blessed by our cousin, the bishop, or pray some priest to pronounce the words which are needed.”

Then they were silent.

Jean continued:

“Look how red the sun is. The great wolf will do some harm to-night.”

He had hardly finished speaking when his horse reared; that of Franqois began to kick. A large thicket covered with dead leaves opened before them, and a mammoth beast, entirely gray, jumped up and ran off through the wood.

Both uttered a kind of grunt of joy, and bending over the necks of their heavy horses, they threw them forward with an impulse from all their body, hurling them on at such a pace, urging them, hurrying them away, exciting them so with voice and with gesture and with spur that the experienced riders seemed to be carrying the heavy beasts between their thighs and to bear them off as if they were flying.

Thus they went, plunging through the thickets, dashing across the beds of streams, climbing the hillsides, descending the gorges, and blowing the horn as loud as they could to attract their people and the dogs.

And now, suddenly, in that mad race, my ancestor struck his forehead against an enormous branch which split his skull; and he fell dead on the ground, while his frightened horse took himself off, disappearing in the gloom which enveloped the woods.

The younger d’Arville stopped quick, leaped to the earth, seized his brother in his arms, and saw that the brains were escaping from the wound with the blood.

Then he sat down beside the body, rested the head, disfigured and red, on his knees, and waited, regarding the immobile face of his elder brother. Little by little a fear possessed him, a strange fear which he had never felt before, the fear of the dark, the fear of loneliness, the fear of the deserted wood, and the fear also of the weird wolf who had just killed his brother to avenge himself upon them both.

The gloom thickened; the acute cold made the trees crack. Francois got up, shivering, unable to remain there longer, feeling himself growing faint. Nothing was to be heard, neither the voice of the dogs nor the sound of the horns-all was silent along the invisible horizon; and this mournful silence of the frozen night had something about it terrific and strange.

He seized in his immense hands the great body of Jean, straightened it, and laid it across the saddle to carry it back to the chateau; then he went on his way softly, his mind troubled as if he were in a stupor, pursued by horrible and fear-giving images.

And all at once, in the growing darkness a great shape crossed his path. It was the beast. A shock of terror shook the hunter; something cold, like a drop of water, seemed to glide down his back, and, like a monk haunted of the devil, he made a great sign of the cross, dismayed at this abrupt return of the horrible prowler. But his eyes fell again on the inert body before him, and passing abruptly from fear to anger, he shook with an indescribable rage.

Then he spurred his horse and rushed after the wolf.

He followed it through the copses, the ravines, and the tall trees, traversing woods which he no longer recognized, his eyes fixed on the white speck which fled before him through the night.

His horse also seemed animated by a force and strength hitherto unknown. It galloped straight ahead with outstretched neck, striking against trees, and rocks, the head and the feet of the dead man thrown across the saddle. The limbs tore out his hair; the brow, beating the huge trunks, spattered them with blood; the spurs tore their ragged coats of bark. Suddenly the beast and the horseman issued from the forest and rushed into a valley, just as the moon appeared above the mountains. The valley here was stony, inclosed by enormous rocks.

Francois then uttered a yell of joy which the echoes repeated like a peal of thunder, and he leaped from his horse, his cutlass in his hand.

The beast, with bristling hair, the back arched, awaited him, its eyes gleaming like two stars. But, before beginning battle, the strong hunter, seizing his brother, seated him on a rock, and, placing stones under his head, which was no more than a mass of blood, he shouted in the ears as if he was talking to a deaf man: “Look, Jean; look at this!”

Then he attacked the monster. He felt himself strong enough to overturn a mountain, to bruise stones in his hands. The beast tried to bite him, aiming for his stomach; but he had seized the fierce animal by the neck, without even using his weapon, and he strangled it gently, listening to the cessation of breathing in its throat and the beatings of its heart. He laughed, wild with joy, pressing closer and closer his formidable embrace, crying in a delirium of joy, “Look, Jean, look!” All resistance ceased; the body of the wolf became limp. He was dead.

Franqois took him up in his arms and carried him to the feet of the elder brother, where he laid him, repeating, in a tender voice: “There, there, there, my little Jean, see him!”

Then he replaced on the saddle the two bodies, one upon the other, and rode away.

He returned to the chateau, laughing and crying, like Gargantua at the birth of Pantagruel, uttering shouts of triumph, and boisterous with joy as he related the death of the beast, and grieving and tearing his beard in telling of that of his brother.

And often, later, when he talked again of that day, he would say, with tears in his eyes: “If only poor Jean could have seen me strangle the beast, he would have died content, that I am sure!”

The widow of my ancestor inspired her orphan son with that horror of the chase which has transmitted itself from father to son as far down as myself.

The Marquis d’Arville was silent. Some one asked:

“That story is a legend, isn’t it?”

And the story teller answered:

“I swear to you that it is true from beginning to end.”

Then a lady declared, in a little, soft voice

“All the same, it is fine to have passions like that.” 

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The Turkish and Greek Vampire by Lucy Garnett 1902


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Perhaps the most ghastly of Greek and Turkish superstitions is that of the vampire, generally known in the Balkan peninsula by the Slavonic name of Vrykolakas. It is customary among the Greeks and other peoples of the peninsula to exhume the body of a deceased relative at the end of three years in order to ascertain if it is properly decomposed. Should this not be the case, the Vrykolakas (the restless one) is supposed to be possessed of the power of rising from the grave and roaming abroad, reveling in the blood of his or her victims.

According to those who believe in this superstition, the causes of vampirism are various, and among them are the following: The fact either of having perpetrated or of having been the victim of a crime; having wronged some person, who has died resenting the wrong, or of a curse, pronounced either in excommunicatory form by the priest or by a person to whom an injury has been done. "May the earth not eat you," is a common expression in the mouth of an angry Greek; for a vampire is not, as some authorities have contended, a disembodied soul, but an undissolved body. Vampirism is believed to be hereditary in certain families, the members of which are regarded with aversion by their neighbors and shunned as much as possible.

One of the most thrilling modern vampire stories I have met with is the following, which was related to me by a Cretan peasant, who had been an eye-witness of the occurrence:

"Once on a time the village of Kalikrati was haunted by a vampire (called 'Katakhnas' by the Cretans), which destroyed both children and many full-grown men, and desolated both that village and many others. They had buried him in the church of St. George at Kalikrati, and in those times he was a man of note, and they had built an arch over his grave. Now, a certain shepherd, his mutual synteknos, was tending his sheep and goats near the church, and on being caught in a shower, he went to the sepulchre for shelter. Afterward he determined to pass the night there, and after taking off his weapons he placed them crosswise by the stone, which served him for a pillow, and, because of the sacred symbol they formed, the vampire was unable to leave the tomb.

"During the night, as he wished to go out again that he might destroy men, the vampire said to the shepherd, 'Gossip [friend], get up hence, for I have some business to attend to.' The shepherd answered him not, either the first, the second, or the third time, for he concluded that the man had become a vampire, and that it was he who had done all these evil deeds. But when he spoke for a fourth time the shepherd replied, 'I shall not get up hence, gossip, for I fear that you are no better than you should be, and may do me mischief; but swear to me by your winding-sheet that you will not hurt me and then I will get up.'

"He did not, however, pronounce that oath, but said other things; but finally, when the shepherd, did not suffer him to get up, the vampire swore to him as he wished. On this he rose, and on his taking up his arms, the vampire came forth and, after greeting the shepherd, said to him, 'Gossip, you must not go away, but sit down here, for I have some business which I must go after. But I shall return within the hour, for I have something to say to you.' So the shepherd waited for him.

"And the vampire went a distance of about ten miles where there was a couple recently married and he destroyed them. On his return the shepherd saw that he was carrying some liver, his hands being wet with blood, and as he carried it he blew into it, just as the butcher does, to increase the size of the liver. And he showed his gossip that it was cooked, as if it had been done on the fire. 'Let us sit down, gossip, and eat,' said he. And the shepherd pretended to eat it, but only swallowed dry bread, and kept dropping the liver into his bosom. Therefore, when the hour of their separation arrived, the vampire said to the shepherd:

"'Gossip, this which you have seen you must not mention, for, if you do, my twenty nails will be fixed in your children and yourself.' Yet the shepherd lost no time, but gave information to the priests and others, who went to the tomb and found the vampire just as he had been buried, and all were satisfied that it was he who had done all the evil deeds. So they collected a great deal of wood, and they cast him on it and burnt him. When the body was half consumed, the shepherd, too, came forward, in order that he might enjoy the ceremony. And the vampire spat, as it were, a single drop of blood, which fell on his foot, and it wasted away as if it had been burnt with fire. On this account they sifted even the ashes, and found the little finger nail of the vampire, and burnt that, too."

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Communism and the Plymouth Pilgrims By Joseph Dillaway Sawyer 1922

Communism and the Plymouth Pilgrims By Joseph Dillaway Sawyer 1922

Communism for two years had a fair trial at Plymouth. The lazy shared equally with the industrious. Jamestown, Virginia, tried the scheme for two years. In 1623 the inevitable consequences caused Pilgrims to vote the substitution of personal responsibility for that method of raising revenue and drawing from a common stock. Quite naturally, all had proved swift drawers, and just as naturally an appreciable number slow providers. In the new plan each member of a family was assigned lands for planting instead of pursuing a community plan of cultivation. Communism — the argument against human nature — failed on the continent of America, as it had failed repeatedly in Asia, notably the China of the eleventh century, and even, so far as permanence was concerned, within the Christian church in its birth era.

The following account of improved conditions shows that the seventeenth century mind philosophized and bargained and bargained and philosophized on much the same plan as the twentieth.

"The women now wente willingly into the field and took their little ones with them to set corn, when before they would aledge weakness and inabilitie and whom to have compelled would have been thought a great tirinie and oppression."

"Those who had some to spare began to trade one with another for small things by ye quaret, potle, and peck, etc., for money they had none."

Self-interest increased cultivation, prudence in husbanding harvests, and insured well-filled granaries ever after. Character asserted itself even in figures and measures. After the famine year good living evidently aided high thinking. Lord Chatham's judgment, pronounced on the brain power of the Continental Congress, in which unity took the place of division and attractions overcame repulsions, in the interest of a higher evolution, was not far astray, even to the present hour.

In the Days of the Pilgrim Fathers By Mary Caroline Crawford 1920
As much land was thereupon allotted to each man and his family as he could profitably use. From this he was to retain the entire proceeds, but on the other hand he was to be entirely responsible for his own support. From the spring of 1623 an immediate improvement in economic conditions was noted. Everybody who had worked hard before worked harder now, and those who had not worked at all before began to do their share. It is interesting in a day when the idea of communism is making a strong appeal to many people in America that an experiment in communism should have been tried three hundred years ago in this country and abandoned as impracticable.

The return of the third spring found the colony prepared to operate on a new system. Hitherto the organization of their industry had been on a communistic basis. It was each for all and all for each by constraint. The plan was tried in some measure by the early disciples. It was tried

very thoroughly by the Pilgrims. If there were ever sets of men and women in the world who might have been expected to work the scheme successfully, it was these — these early disciples and these later disciples who had in them so much of the spirit of the Master, and whose sense of brotherhood was so vital and controlling, and whose motives for coming out ahead were so imperative. But even under these conditions the policy failed. It failed because it could not help failing. It failed because it cuts across the grain of human nature and is at war with human instincts.

"So, ... on the approach of seeding-time, . . . they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done before." "After much debate," it was decided that, while "in all other things" they were "to go on in the general way as before," the growing of corn was to be turned over to individuals. With this end in view parcels of land were assigned to each family, according to the number of each; and all were allowed and encouraged to plant and raise what they could. The new plan succeeded. It appealed to self-respect. It stirred ambition and provoked industry. It allayed discontent and made it an object to do the best one might. It stimulated a healthy rivalry in toil. The more prudent and thrifty could not help feeling a fresh satisfaction and pride in their work. It supplied an adequate motive to the strong to put forth their strength and show what they could do. 

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Dogs Committing Suicide (from the British Quarterly Review) 1872

Dogs Committing Suicide (from the British Quarterly Review) 1872

Strangest and most suggestive of all the anecdotes recorded of dogs are the numerous histories of their drowning themselves, under conditions which almost compel us to class the act as voluntary and conscious suicide. Not long ago many newspapers copied a mournful story of a poor dog who was cruelly discarded in his old age by his master, and after ineffectual efforts to find shelter in another house, was seen deliberately to stand gazing at the rushing waters of the Loire, then painfully lift himself on his crippled limbs and leap into the stream. The spectator held out a stick to save him, but the beast gave him a look of despair, turned away his head, and floated down without an effort to save himself. Similar incidents are to be found in Jesse's "Anecdotes of Dogs" (p. 145), where we are told of the suicide of a handsome and valuable Newfoundland dog, belonging to Mr. Floyd, a solicitor at Holmfirth. The animal showed low spirits for some days, and then was seen to throw himself into the water, where he endeavoured to sink by keeping his legs perfectly still. Being dragged out, he returned time after time to the river, till at last he succeeded in keeping his head under water long enough to extinguish life. Mr. Nicol, of Pall Mall, told Mr. Jesse that he had likewise seen an old foxhound deliberately drown himself, and that he was ready to make oath of the fact. In the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" is another tale of canine suicide; and Mr. George Jesse (Researches, vol. i. p. 157) gives from an "original source" the account of a little Havana dog who drowned himself at Honfleur. It is hard to resist the conclusion that, if these tales be true, the creatures who thus acted both knew what death is, and also were able deliberately to decide that the short pain of death was better than the prolonged one of a miserable life. Even supposing the dog, however, to possess the very high mental faculties needed for such an argument, the further manifestation of deliberate will, powerful enough to conquer the natural clinging to life of all creatures, and to make the animal resolutely keep his head under water when a few strokes of his paws would save him, is most amazing. It is much to be wished that an anecdote of this class could be thoroughly sifted and verified.

Old Christmas Customs by J. M. Wheeler 1890

Old Christmas Customs by J. M. Wheeler 1890

As Christmas comes round, bringing delight, let us hope, to at least the younger portion of the community, some few may be curious to know the origin and meaning of our annual customs. Fashion is the most fluctuating, but custom is the most conservative of things. Students of comparative religion, that is, comparative mythology, are beginning to see that ritual is more enduring than legend, and that ancient customs gave rise to the stories rather than the stories to the customs. The Passover, for instance, did not arise from God having determined to kill all the firstborn of Egypt and pass over the Jews who sprinkled their doorposts with blood; but this legend was told because the old sacrifice of lambs at the spring season was called Passover, whether from the passing over of the sun or from the substitution, as a sacrifice, of first-born lambs instead of first-born children, or from whatever reason. So Christmas was not instituted to celebrate the birth of Jesus in Palestine at a time when shepherds could not watch their flocks by night; but Christ was said to have been born at this time ot the year because this was the old Pagan season for celebrating the rebirth of the sun.

There is little apparent connection between Jesus Christ and kissing under the mistletoe, or between indulging in goose and plum-pudding and partaking of the sacrament. The Puritans may be excused for denouncing Christmas as a Pagan custom opposed to the Christian conception of life, and more worthy of the worship of Bacchus than of Jesus. But Christmas endures as a Christian festival despite the Puritans, just because it goes back to the elements which Christianity has in common with paganism; because indeed, the religion that made its way under the name of Christianity was but a modified paganism.

To illustrate this fully is impossible in our limited space. One or two points may suffice. The custom of decorating houses with evergreens, evident symbols of life continued through the dead of winter, prevailed long anterior to Christianity. The Christian Father Tertullian, early in the third century affirmed it be "rank idolatry" to deck their doors "with garlands or flowers on festival days according to the custom of the heathen." Polydore-Virgil says, "the decorating of temples with hangings of flowers, boughs, and garlands, was adopted from the pagan nations, who decked their houses and temples in a similar manner." The Christmas tree, derived from our Scandinavian forefathers, with its fruit of good things for the little ones, is another sign of faith in returning spring and harvest. The mistletoe — I have recently given my opinion (Freethinker, Nov. 2)— was regarded by the Druids as the seed which carried over vegetable life from the old year to the new. Hence, to kiss and pluck a seed was a sign of union and fertility.

Mr. Foote points out that Christmas occurs at the period of the Roman Saturnalia. The Emperor Julian says in his fourth oration, "When the last month, which is sacred to Saturn, is nearly out, just before the beginning of the new year, we celebrate the most magnificent sports dedicated to Sol Invictus." The Saturnalia was a period of universal license and merrymaking. Temporary freedom was given to slaves. Everyone feasted, and presents were interchanged by friends. In the now extinct Lord of Misrule and schoolboys "barring out" may be traced a remnant of the Saturnalia.

But where does Jesus Christ come in? Just here. The infant Christ is as much a symbol of the returning year as the holly or the Christmas tree. The birthday of Christ is the birthday of the new year. Just as they now sing carols to the new-born king, so, in ancient times, they sang carols to the vegetation itself, of which Shakespeare's "Heigh-ho the holly" is a remnant. In the North they carry round the Christmas tree, so the southern Catholics carry round the infant Christ with his mother. In English villages this used to be the custom. In Yorkshire, girls carried a wax-doll in a box surrounded with evergreen and fruits. Whoever gave them money took a leaf which, carefully preserved, brought luck. This was good tidings of great joy, so that there was a proverb, "As unhappy as the man who has seen no advent images." So bakers would bake Yule-doughs or little images, with currants for eyes, which were presented to their customers. And this brings us to the great sacrament or feast, the central feature of Christmas, the dinner.

Man early learnt that a good feast was a capital thing to tide over tho wintry weather. In early religions we find feasting was as much a part of the religion as fasting—indeed more so, for the gods could also partake of the sacrifice and thus enter into the true communion of food with their worshippers. The word "holyday" had a real meaning. It was consecrated to the deities.

Formerly in England the Christmas dinner was opened with a boar's head, a sacred Scandinavian dish. The boar, with the lemon in his mouth, probably represented the spirit of vegetation. Mr. J. G. Frazer says:

"In Sweden and Denmark at Yule (Christmas) it is the custom to bake a loaf in the form of a boar-pig. This is called the Yule Boar. The corn of the last sheaf is often used to make it. All through Yule the Yule Boar stands on the table. Often it is kept till the sowing time in spring, when part of it is mixed with the seed-corn and part given to the ploughmen and plough-horses or plough-oxen to eat in expectation of a good harvest."

The plum-pudding, like the earlier Christmas pie, is a compound of all good things originally taken sacramentally — that is, it was supposed to contain the spirit of the past year's products, partaking which would ensure prosperity for the ensuing year. Hence the saying, as many pieces of pudding or mince-pie are partaken, so many happy months. As the communion was originally taken by all the clan, to this may be traced the family re-unions at the present day.

Christmas, then, symbolising the re-birth of the sun, the entrance of a new year, the return of light and vegetation, is one of the old-world customs the new world will not willingly let die. Each fresh generation will delight in cheering the depth of winter with festivity, in twining the holly and kissing under the pearl-eyed mistletoe. Let, then, the older ones join the youngsters in celebrating the old pagan festival in its true spirit of sociality, hope and delight.

The Hermaphrodism of Adam by James G. Kiernan M.D. 1921

The Hermaphrodism of Adam by James G. Kiernan M.D. 1921

Read before the Chicago Academy of Medicine, April 28, 1921.
A tailor once sued a man for calling him an hermaphrodite. The evidence produced was very comical, the idea of the commonality regarding hermaphrodism being duly exploited. Even a common medical opinion is that hermaphrodism is a freak rather than a phase of embryogeny. The conception of Adam as an hermaphrodite will strike many as humourous and others as irreverent, and yet pious rabbis and equally pious Christian fathers wasted much ink over the discussion of this question. The term hermaphrodite, as is well known, was derived from a Greek myth credited to Ovid: Hermaphrodite, the son of Aphrodite and Hermes, was wooed when fifteen by a fountain nymph, Salamacis. Despite his repulse of her love she succeeded in embracing him. Thereupon she prayed the gods to unite him and her forever. This resulted in a being half male and half female.

Among many races the belief exists that the first human being was an hermaphrodite. Aristophanes details a Greek myth to the effect that in the beginning the human race was double, having two heads, four arms, four legs and each person of both sexes. Filled with pride, the race attempted to scale heaven. The gods wished to reduce their might and punish their temerity but not to destroy them. On advice of Zeus each androgyne was so hewn asunder as to leave to each half a head, two arms, two legs and one sexual organ. The separation was keenly felt and reunion ardently desired by the two halves.

Races other than the Greeks had similar myths. According to a Hindu myth, when Brahma was creating beings he saw Kaya (body) divide itself into two parts, each of which was of a different sex. Thence sprang the whole human race. Another version states that Virach, the first man, fell into deep sorrow and, yearning for a companion, his nature developed into two sexes united in one. Then he separated the two individuals but found in the separation unhappiness, for he was conscious of his imperfection. Then he reunited the two portions and was happy. From that reunion the world was peopled. According to a Persian legend, the first man and first woman originally formed but one body. They were separated, and from their reunion sprang the whole race.

“The idea so prevalent that man without woman and woman without man is an imperfect being, was,” remarks Baring-Gould, “the cause of the great repugnance with which the Jews and other Eastern nations regarded celibacy. Thus Rabbi Eliezer commenting on the text, “He called their name Adam' (Genesis V, 21.) laid down that 'he who has not a wife is not a man for man is the recomposition of male and female into one.’”

The separation of the hermaphrodite being Adam, into first two (Adam and Lillith), and then three (Adam, Lillith and Eve), is utilized by Rider Haggard in “She" and “Ayesha;” and by Andrew Lang and Rider Haggard in “The World's Desire.” One of the female beings separated is always capriciously evil. The intense desire for reunion of the separate beings pictured alike by the Greek, Indian, Persian and other myths, appears in these tales.

“That man was created double (that is male and female) is, and has been,” remarks Baring-Gould, “a common opinion. One rabbinical interpretation of the text, “And God created man in his own image, male and female created he them,' is that Adam and Eve were formed back to back, united at the shoulders, and were hewn asunder with a hatchet.

“The notion of the first man having been of both sexes till the separation was very common. Eugubinus among Christian commentators, Rabbis Samuel, Manasseh ben Israel and Maimonides among the Jews, have supported this interpretation. Rabbi Jeremiah ben Eleazer by authority of the text (Psalms CXXXIX, 4): “Thou hast fashioned me behind and before,’ argued that Adam had two faces, one male and the other female and that he was of both sexes. Rabbi Samuel ben Nahamann held that the first man was created double with a woman at his back and that God cut them apart. ‘Adam.' said other rabbis, had two faces and one tail. From the beginning he was both male and female; male on one side, female on the other; afterwards the parts were separated.’ The Talmudists assert that God cut off Adam's tail and thereof formed Eve.” “This myth,” continues Baring-Gould, “agrees with the similar ludicrous myth of the Kickapoo Indians.” The rabbis adopted this view as an explanation of the double account of the creation of woman in Genesis (first in Genesis I, 27 and second in Genesis II, 18). These two accounts, as Laing” points out, are Jahvehistic and Elohistic, respectively.

The two wives of Adam play a part in the separation. Adam's first wife, Lillith, was expelled from Eden. After her expulsion Eve was created. “Certain rabbis,” according to Abraham Echellensis, “gave to Adam a wife called Lillith, formed, like Adam, of clay, resting on the scripture male and female created He them." Lillith, proud of her simultaneous creation with Adam, became vexatious to her husband. God expelled her from Paradise. He said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a help-meet for him.’ Adam, when he saw the woman fashioned from his rib, said: “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.’

“The rabbis say that when Eve had to be drawn out of the side of Adam she was not extracted by the head, lest she be vain; nor by the mouth, lest she be given to gossiping; nor by the ears, lest she should be an eavesdropper; nor by the hands, lest she should be meddlesome; nor by the feet, lest she should be a gadabout; nor by the heart, lest she should be jealous, but that she should be drawn forth by the side. Yet notwithstanding all the precautions she has every fault specially guarded against.”

The Manicheses hold that Adam was like a beast, coarse, rude and inanimate. From Eve he derived his upright position, his polish, his spirituality. The Manicheses were a heretical Christian sect who derived many doctrines from Zoroaster, whose system has traces of the Persian matriarchate. Lillith became hostile to Eve's children (whence the charm Lullaby, from the Arabic, Lilith Abi, or Lilith, go away). She also became a vampire preying on young men. From the serpent metamorphosis involved in this seduction she was identified with the Greek queen Lamia whose children, by Zeus, Hera destroyed. Thenceforward Lamia slew children whenever possible. She also enticed young men and then turning into a serpent slew them. Keats’ “Lamia” deals with this serpent phase which Lamia had in common with Lilith. To the latter Rossetti has devoted two poems, “Lilith" and “Eden Bower.” The Babylonian incantation ritual has a demon Litu and a consort Lilitu who plagued young men at night. From Babylon's traditions came the Hebrew.

Myth and biology agree that man had an hermaphrodic ancestor. A study by me of the psychological aspects of the sexual appetite published thirty-seven years ago took the stand that man had passed through a bisexual evolution. An amplification of it, which was read before the Chicago Academy of Medicine in 1891 and later published, was approvingly cited by G. Frank Lydston, Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis and others. As Shattuck and Seligman remark, “Hermaphrodism, far from being regarded as phenomenal amongst the vertebrates, should be viewed as a reversion to the primitive ancestral phase in which bisexuality was the normal disposition.”

Sex is not an entity but an evolution, it must be remembered. The reproductive appetite, as Rolph pointed out about half a century ago, is a derivation of the nutritive. The impelling force to conjugation is cell hunger. The evolution of reproduction from hunger, in which evolution hermaphrodism arose, is vividly pictured by E. Carpenter: “Love seems to be primarily (perhaps ultimately) an exchange of essences. The protozoa (those earliest cells, the progenitors of the whole animal and vegetable kingdom) grow by feeding on the minute particles which they find in the fluid surrounding them. The growth continues until ultimately, reaching the limits of convenient size, a cell devides into two or more portions, and so reproduces itself. The descendant cells or portions so thrown off are simply continuations by division of the life of the original or parent cell, so that it has not infrequently been said that in a sense, these protozoa are immortal, since their life continues indefinitely (with branching but without break) from generation to generation. This form of reproduction by simple budding or division extends even into the higher types of life where it is sometimes found side by side with the later sexual form of reproduction, as in so-called parthenogenesis among insects. It is indeed a kind of virgin birth, and is well illustrated in the vegetable world by the budding of bulbs, or by the fact that a twig torn from a shrub and placed in the ground will commonly grow and continue the life of the parent plant, or in the lower stages of the animal world where, among many of the worms, insects, sponges, etc., life may similarly be continued by division, or by the extrusion of a bud or egg without any sex contact or sex action whatever. This seems in fact to be the original and primitive form of generation, and it obviously depends upon growth. Generation is the superfluity of growth and connects itself in the first place with the satisfaction of hunger. First hunger, then growth, then reproduction by division or budding. And this process may go on apparently for many generations without change—in the case of certain protozoa even to hundreds of generations. But a time comes when the growth, power and energy decay and vitality diminishes — at any rate as a rule. But a variation occurs. Two cells unite, exchange fluids and part. It is a new form of nourishment, it is the earliest form of love. It is a very intimate form of nourishment, for it appears that in general the nuclei themselves of the two cells are shared; in part exchanged. So far there seems to be but little difference between hunger and love. Love is only a special hunger which leads cells to obtain nourishment from other cells of the same species; and generation or reproduction in these early stages being an inevitable accompaniment of growth, follows on the satisfaction of love. Just as it follows upon the satisfaction of hunger. And so far there is no distinction of sex. It is true there may be sex in the sense of union or fusion between two individuals, but there is no distinction of sex, in the sense of male and female.

“At a later period sex comes in. For growth (and reproduction) two things are necessary. The two sets of qualities are clearly useful only in combination with each other and yet they are in some degree contrary to each other. Therefore it is quite natural that the two corresponding groups of individuals should form two great branches in each race, diverse yet united. These two branches are the male and female — the active, energy—spending, hungry, food-obtaining, branch, and the sessile, non-active, assimilative and reproductive branch. It is by the fusion that development and reproduction are secured. (Animal life is divisible into the protozoa [one-celled animals], polyzoa [colony animals where certain members of the colony perform certain functions] and metazoa [many-celled animals]). It is in the metazoa generally and those forms which consist of co-operative colonies of cells (polyzoa) that sex differentiation into male and female, begins decisively to assert itself. Here, since it is obviously impossible for all the cells of one individual to fuse with all the cells of another, certain special cells are set apart in each organism for the purpose of union or conjugation. It seems quite natural that in the course of time the differentiation into male and female should set in — each individual tending to become either masculine or feminine — both in sex cells or sex apparatus and (though in a less marked degree) in the general body and structure. In the lower forms of life generally, as among some amphibia, fish, mollusks, etc., the male and female sex cells — the sperm and germ — do not conjugate within either of the parent bodies but are expelled from each in order to meet and fuse in some surrounding medium like water. Thus the double cell, so formed, develops into the new individual. But in the higher forms the meeting takes place and the first stage of development ensues within one of the bodies. As we might expect, this occurs within the body of the female. For the female represents quiescence, growth, assimilation. The ovum is large compared with the spermatozoon; it is also sessile in habit. The spermatozoon is exceedingly active. Just as, in general, the female remains impassive and quiescent and is sought by the male, so the female germ remains at home within the female body and receives its visitor or visitors there.”

From the phases of evolution outlined by Carpenter arose the view of G. de Letamendi that there is a principle of panhermapyhrodism — a hermaphroditic bipolarity — which involves the existence of latent male germs in the female and latent female germs in the male. These latent germs may strive for and sometimes obtain the mastery. This view was supported by Kurella and D. Berry Hart, who regard the normal male and female as embodying a maximum of the potent organs of his or her sex with a minimum of non-potent organs of the other sex, with secondary sex traits congruent Any increase in the minimum gives a diminished maximum and no congruence of the sexual characters. This leads to the partial or unilateral hermaphrodism which is relatively not infrequent. True hermaphrodism, really a phase of the double monster, is exceedingly rare.

The social relations of hermaphrodites (the pseudo-partial, unilateral and true hermaphrodites) especially in their medico-legal aspects, were exhaustively studied by Neugebauer, whose work is a treasury of startling facts. His statistics of divorce for hermaphroditic reasons are impressive.

Hermaphrodism has held an important place in the minds and religions of primitive and even civilized races. Their gods and carved fetiches were often hermaphroditic. Thus in India the Ardanari Ishwara symbolized by a carving the following quotation from the Puranas: “The supreme spirit in the act of creation became by Yoga twofold. The right side was male, the left was Prakiti. She is of one form with Brahma.” Another androgynous deity is Addha Nasi. In many of the primitive tales the female element either is of fiendish origin or becomes evil when separated. Of this Adam seems to have had a delectable experience.
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