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Indeed, it would seem that the common custom of drinking healths," or of persons "pledging" each other in a glass of wine, is but a degenerate modification, or a latest vestige, of the primitive rite of covenanting in a sacred friendship, by means of commingled bloods shared in a wine-cup. Certainly this custom prevailed among the old Norsemen, and among the ancient Romans and Greeks. That it originally included an idea of a possible covenant with Deity, and of a spiritual fellowship, is indicated in the fact that "the old Northmen drank the ' minni' [the loving friendship] of Thor, Odin, and Freya; and of kings, likewise, at their funerals." So again there were "such formulas as 'God's minnie!' [and] 'A bowl to God in heaven!'" 1
The earlier method of this ceremony of pledging each other in wine, was by all the participants drinking, in turn, out of a common bowl; as Catiline and his fellow-conspirators drank their blood and wine in mutual covenant; and as the Romans drank at a wedding service. In the Norseland, to-day, this custom is continued by the use of a drinking-bowl, marked by pegs for the individual potation; each man as he receives it, on its round, being expected to "drink his peg." And even among the English and the Americans, as well as among the Germans, the touching of
1 Tylor's Prim. Cult., I., 85-97.
two glasses together, in this health-pledging, is a common custom; as if in symbolism of a community in the contents of the two cups. As often, then, as we drink each other's healths, or as we respond to any call for a common toast-drinking, we do show a vestige of the primeval and the ever sacred mutual covenanting in blood.
8. BLOOD-COVENANT INVOLVINGS.
And now that we have before us this extended array of related facts concerning the sacred uses and the popular estimates of blood in all the ages, it will be well for us to consider what we have learned, in the line of blood-rites and of blood-customs, and in the direction of their religious involvings. Especially is it important for us to see where and how all this bears on the primitive and the still extant ceremony of covenanting by blood, with which we started in this investigation.
From the beginning, and everywhere, blood seems to have been looked upon as pre-eminently the representative of life; as, indeed, in a peculiar sense, life itself. The transference of blood from one organism to another has been counted the transference of life, with all that life includes. The inter-commingling of blood by its inter-transference has been understood as equivalent to an inter-commingling of natures. Two natures thus
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inter-commingled, by the inter-commingling of blood, have been considered as forming, thenceforward, one blood, one life, one nature, one soul-in two organisms. The inter-commingling of natures by the inter-commingling of blood has been deemed possible between man and a lower organism; and between man and a higher organism,-even between man and Deity, actually or by symbol;-as well as between man and his immediate fellow.
The mode of inter-transference of blood, with all that this carries, has been deemed practicable, alike by way of the lips and by way of the opened and interflowing veins. It has been also represented by bloodbathing, by blood-anointing, and by blood-sprinkling; or, again, by the inter-drinking of wine-which was formerly commingled with blood itself in the drinking. And the yielding of one's life by the yielding of one's blood has often been represented by the yielding of the blood of a chosen and a suitable substitute. Similarly the blood, or the nature, of divinities, has been represented, vicariously, in divine covenanting, by the blood of a devoted and an accepted substitute. Inter-communion between the parties in a blood-covenant, has been a recognized privilege, in conjunction with any and every observance of the rite of bloodcovenanting. And the body of the divinely accepted offering, the blood of which is a means of divine-hu
man inter-union, has been counted a very part of the divinity; and to partake of that body as food has been deemed equivalent to being nourished by the very divinity himself.
Blood, as life, has been looked upon as belonging, in the highest sense, to the Author of all life. The taking of life has been seen to be the prerogative of its Author; and only he who is duly empowered, for a season and for a reason, by that Author, for bloodtaking in any case, has been supposed to have the right to the temporary exercise of that prerogative. Even then, the blood, as the life, must be employed under the immediate direction and oversight of its Author. The heart of any living organism, as the bloodsource and the blood-fountain, has been recognized as the representative of its owner's highest personality, and as the diffuser of the issues of his life and nature.
A covenant of blood, a covenant made by the intercommingling of blood, has been recognized as the closest, the holiest, and the most indissoluble, compact conceivable. Such a covenant clearly involves an absolute surrender of one's separate self, and an irrevocable merging of one's individual nature into the dual, or the multiplied, personality included in the compact. Man's highest and noblest outreachings of soul have, therefore, been for such a union with the divine nature as is typified in this human covenant of blood.
ORIGIN OF RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS.
How it came to pass that men everywhere were so generally agreed on the main symbols of their religious yearnings and their religious hopes, in this realm of their aspirations, is a question which obviously admits of two possible answers. A common revelation from God may have been given to primitive man; and all these varying yet related indications of religious strivings and aim may be but the perverted remains of the lessons of that misused, or slighted, revelation. On the other hand, God may originally have implanted the germs of a common religious thought in the mind of man, and then have adapted his successive revelations to the outworking of those germs. Whichever view of the probable origin of these common symbolisms, all the world over, be adopted by any Christian student, the importance of the symbolisms themselves, in their relation to the truths of revelation, is manifestly the same.
On this point, Kurtz has said, forcefully: "A comparison of the religious symbols of the Old Testament with those of ancient heathendom shows that the ground and the starting point of those forms of religion which found their appropriate expressions in symbols, was the same in all cases; while the history of civilization proves that, on this point, priority cannot be claimed by the Israelites. But when instituting such an inquiry, we shall also find that the symbols