Zoolatry and dendrolatry, like the worship of inanimate objects, or fetichism, were familiar enough to the classical civilisations, but only as survivals pure and simple. It was among the North American peoples of the eighteenth century that they were first observed in general and active operation, entailing the most serious consequences for the constitution of the family itself. Hence via the missionaries—has come the name totern, which the red man applied to the animal, the plant, or (more rarely) the mineral or celestial body, which his clan recognised as an ancestor, a protector, and a rallying symbol. The primitive form of zoolatry and dendrolatry, antedating any kind of anthropomorphism, is totemism. It may not be so widespread as animism, but the fact remains that it exists, or has existed, among numerous tribal groups, both living and dead, in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Oceania. A study of the psychology of children tends to confirm the observations of historians and ethnologists, by enabling them to watch the actual workings of this.

 

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Cults, Myths and Religions - Salomon Reinach

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