« PrécédentContinuer »
THE AGREEMENT BOTTLE.
and the other to the bridegroom.' Among European Jews in olden time, the officiating rabbi, having blessed a glass of wine, tasted it himself, and then gave it first to the one and then to the other of the parties covenanting in marriage.2
This custom of covenanting in the wine-cup, at a wedding, is said to have come into England from the ancient Goths.3 Its symbolical significance and its exceptional importance seem to have been generally recognized. Ben Jonson calls the wedding-wine a "knitting cup "—an inter-binding cup. And a later poet asks, forcefully:
"What priest can join two lovers' hands,
But wine must seal the marriage bands?" 5
In Ireland, as in Lapland and in India, it was at the betrothal, instead of at the wedding, that the covenanting-cup-or the "agreement bottle" as it was calledwas shared; and not unnaturally strong usquebaugh, water of life," was there substituted for wine-as the representative of life-blood."
In Scotland, as in Arabia and in Borneo, the use of blood in conjunction with the use of a wedding-cup has continued down to recent times. The agreement bottle," or "the bottling," as it was sometimes called, preceded the wedding ceremony proper. At 2 Ibid., pp. 22, 23.
1 Wood's Wedding Day, p. 151. 3 Ibid., p. 247.
Ibid., p. 247. 5 Ibid., p. 248.
6 Ibid., p. 173.
the wedding, the blood of a cock was shed at the covenanting feast. A reference to this is found in "The Wowing [the Wooing or the Vowing?] of Jok and Jynny," among the most ancient remains of Scottish minstrelsy:
"Jok tuk Jynny be the hand,
And cryd ane feist, and slew ane cok,
And maid a brydell up alland;
Now haif I gottin your Jynny, quoth Jok."1
Among the ancient Romans, as also among the Greeks, the outpouring of sacrificial blood, and the mutual drinking of wine, were closely linked, in the marriage ceremony. When the substitute victim was ready for slaying, "the soothsayer drank wine out of an earthen, or wooden, chalice, called in Latin, simpulum, or simpuvium. It was in fashion much like our ewers, when we pour water into the basin. This chalice was afterward carried about to all the people, that they also might libare, that is, lightly taste thereof; which rite hath been called libation." The remainder of the wine from the chalice was poured on to the victim, which was then slain; its blood being carefully preserved. And these ceremonies preceded the marriage feast. The wedding wine-drinking is now, however, all that remains of them.
1 Ross's The Book of Scottish Poems, I., 218.
2 Godwyn's Rom. Historiae, p. 66 f.
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!'
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
THE TEACHINGS OF THIS RITE. 203
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