Totemism – a primitive system of beliefs that emerged at the dawn of human civilization. Today, the totem is a symbol of the past: the testimony of the great imagination of uneducated people who knew nothing about the world. But in the old days of that illusion did not seem to be something fantastic and unreal. Then the totem was direct evidence that the ancient spirits and deities constantly monitor their two-legged neighbors.
Meaning of the word totem
For the first time the concept of "totemism" has entered the English scientist John long in 1791. Being an Explorer-naturalist, he often traveled to different countries, collecting the crumbs of old stories and myths. Eventually, he came to the conclusion that the religion of many primitive peoples are very similar.
Long decided to systematize their knowledge, combining them in new theories on the ancient religion in totemism. The word "totem" were borrowed from the North American Indian of the ojibwa people. They are called sacred emblem of the clan, who represented the spirit of an ancestor.
Totemism is a religion that praises the gods is an object or a creature. Most often the totem is an animal or a tree. Although there are many cases when people were endowed with sacred properties, wind, fire, rock, river, flower and so on. It should be understood that the totem pole was elected not a single object or animal, but their entire species as a whole. I mean, if the tribe honors the bear, his respect extends to all bear in the area.
If you understand the essence of totemism, the religion serves as a kind of connecting link between nature and man. So, most of the primitive communities believed that their race descended from an ancestor: animal or plant. Therefore, the totem is a symbol of their birthright, to explain their own origin.
For example, once lived in Russia a tribe of the lutici. They believed that their ancestors – the ferocious wolves, one turned into people. Their whole culture was built around this belief: during the holidays, they wore wolf skins and danced around the fire like back in the distant past, when they themselves were wild beasts.
The main features of totemism
As a totem the tribe may choose any animal or plant. Most importantly, that their decision was backed up by some history – the stories that can explain their relationship. Most often the choice falls on the noble beasts who have the skills or strength differed from the rest. This is a primitive desire to show themselves in the best light: other with more respect would refer to the descendants of the bear, rather than to the children of a worm.
Besides, often the choice of a guardian spirit was influenced by geographical and social factors. For example, those tribes that survived by hunting, are more likely to identify themselves as predatory beasts, while the gatherers, on the contrary, sought the protection of the peaceful and hardworking creatures. Simply put, the totem is a kind of map of the nation's soul, its essence and affirmation. But there have been rare exceptions when the tribe was chosen as the idol weak or ugly patron.
Attitude to totem
Totem is a sacred symbol. So many cultures have deified it, which led to the emergence of certain rites and customs. The most common was the belief that the totemic animals or plants are banned: you can't kill them, maim, and sometimes even talking about them in a bad manner.
With the development of social relationships and changed the ideas about the idols. If at first they served only as a reminder of the distant past, in more recent times has given them mystical powers. Now the spirit is the patron Saint could protect from disease, drought, enemies, fire etc. This had at times led to war between tribes, as some believed that all their troubles because someone else's totem luring to himself the whole heaven luck.
Forgotten faith in the modern world
For many of these philosophies seem childish and primitive. After all, as human ancestor may be a wolf or a bear? Or as a simple animal is able to affect the weather? Similar questions are quite logical for modern people.
However, even in the era of world progress and technological boom, there are those who remains faithful to the ancient system of values. For example, totemism is quite a common phenomenon for most South African tribes and Australian aborigines. Even with satellite TV, and cellular communication, they still believe in their past relationship with wild animals and plants. Therefore, it is too early to talk about totemism as a belief, fell into Oblivion.