CHAPTER V.—THE INTERPRETATION OF THE FIRE-FESTIVALS, Pp. 328-346
Sec. 1. On the Fire-festivals in general pp. 328-331.—General resemblance of the fire-festivals to each other, 328 sq.; two explanations of the festivals suggested, one by W. Mannhardt that they are sun-charms, the other by Dr. E. Westermarck that they are purificatory, 329 sq.; the two explanations perhaps not mutually exclusive, 330 sq.
Sec. 2. The Solar Theory of the Fire-festivals, pp. 331-341.—Theory that the fire-festivals are charms to ensure a supply of sunshine, 331; coincidence of two of the festivals with the solstices, 331 sq.; attempt of the Bushmen to warm up the fire of Sirius in midwinter by kindling sticks, 332 sq.; the burning wheels and discs of the fire-festivals may be direct imitations of the sun, 334; the wheel which is sometimes used to kindle the fire by friction may also be an imitation of the sun, 334-336; the influence which the bonfires are supposed to exert on the weather and vegetation may be thought to be due to an increase of solar heat produced by the fires, 336-338; the effect which the bonfires are supposed to have in fertilizing cattle and women may also be attributed to an increase of solar heat produced by the fires, 338 sq.; the carrying of lighted torches about the country at the festivals may be explained as an attempt to diffuse the sun’s heat, 339-341.
Sec. 3. The Purificatory Theory of the Fire-festivals, pp. 341-346.—Theory that the fires at the festivals are purificatory, being intended to burn up all harmful things, 341; the purificatory or destructive effect of the fires is often alleged by the people who light them, and there is no reason to reject this explanation, 341 sq.; the great evil against which the fire at the festivals appears to be directed is witchcraft, 342; among the evils for which the fire-festivals are deemed remedies the foremost is cattle-disease, and cattle-disease is often supposed to be an effect of witchcraft, 343 sq.; again, the bonfires are thought to avert hail, thunder, lightning, and various maladies, all of which are attributed to the maleficent arts of witches, 344 sq.; the burning wheels rolled down hill and the burning discs thrown into the air may be intended to burn the invisible witches, 345 sq.; on this view the fertility supposed to follow the use of fire results indirectly from breaking the spells of witches, 346; on the whole the theory of the purificatory or destructive intention of the fire-festivals seems the more probable, 346.
[Transcriber’s Note: The brief descriptions often found enclosed in square brackets are “sidenotes”, which appeared in the original book in the margins of the paragraph following the “sidenote.” Footnotes were originally at the bottoms of the printed pages.]