« PrécédentContinuer »
LEGENDS OF THE NORSELAND.
the administering of stimulants, tonics, nutriments, nervines, or anæsthetics, hypodermically, may be equally potent, in certain cases, with the more common and normal method of seeking assimilation by the process of digestion. That the blood of the living has a peculiar vivifying force, in its transference from one organism to another, is one of the clearly proven re-disclosures of modern medical science; and this transference of blood has been made to advantage by way of the veins, of the stomach, of the intestines, of the tissue, and even of the lungs-through dry-spraying.1
4. TRACES OF THE RITE IN EUROPE.2
Different methods of observing this primitive rite of blood-covenanting are indicated in the legendary lore of the Norseland peoples; and these methods, in all their variety, give added proof of the ever underlying idea of an inter-commingling of lives through an inter-commingling of blood. Odin was the beneficent god of light and knowledge, the promoter of heroism, and the protector of sacred covenants, in the mythology of the North. Lôké, or Lok, on the other hand, was the discordant and corrupting divinity;
1 See Nouveau Dictionnaire de Médecine et de Chirurgie Pratiques, (ed. 1884) s. v. "Transfusion." 2 See Appendix, infra.
symbolizing, in his personality, "sin, shrewdness, deceitfulness, treachery, malice," and other phases of evil. In the poetic myths of the Norseland, it is claimed that at the beginning Odin and Lôké were in close union instead of being at variance;2 just as the Egyptian cosmogony made Osiris and Set in original accord, although in subsequent hostility; and as the Zoroastrians claimed that Ormuzd and Ahriman were at one, before they were in conflict. Odin and Lôké are, indeed, said to have been, at one time, in the close and sacred union of blood-friendship; having covenanted in that union by mingling their blood in a bowl, and drinking therefrom together.
The Elder Edda," or the earliest collection of Scandinavian songs, makes reference to this confraternity of Odin and Lôké. At a banquet of the gods, Lôké, who had not been invited, found an entrance, and there reproached his fellow divinities for their hostility to him. Recalling the indissoluble tie of blood-friendship, he said:
1 See Carlyle's Heroes and Hero-Worship, Lect. I.; also Anderson's Norse Mythology, pp. 215-220; 371-374.
2 See Anderson's Norse Mythol., pp. 372, 408 f.
See Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, III., 142; Renouf's The Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 118 f.; Ebers's Picturesque Egypt, I., 100 f. 4 See De Wette's Biblische Dogmatik, & 79.
5 See Carlyle's Hero Worship, Lect. I.
"Father of Slaughter,1 Odin, say,
Rememberest not the former day,
For mutual drink, our blended blood?
The festive banquet ne'er to share,
Unless thy brother Lok was there?"
In citing this illustration of the ancient rite, a modern historian of chivalry has said: "Among barbarous people [the barbarians of Europe] the fraternity of arms [the sacred brotherhood of heroes] was established by the horrid custom of the new brothers drinking each other's blood; but if this practice was barbarous, nothing was farther from barbarism than the sentiment which inspired it."2
Another of the methods by which the rite of bloodfriendship was observed in the Norseland, was by causing the blood of the two covenanting persons to inter-flow from their pierced hands, while they lay together underneath a lifted sod. The idea involved seems to have been, the burial of the two individuals, in their separate personal lives, and the intermingling of those lives-by the intermingling of their blood— while in their temporary grave; in order to their
1 Odin "is the author of war." He is called "Valfather (Father of the slain), because he chooses for his sons all who fall in combat." Anderson's Norse Mythol., p. 215 f.
2 Mills's History of Chivalry, chap. IV.
rising again with a common life1-one life, one soul, in two bodies. Thus it is told, in one of the Icelandic Sagas, of Thorstein, the heroic son of Viking, proffering "foster-brotherhood," or blood-friendship, to the valiant Angantyr, Jarl of the Orkneys. "Then this was resolved upon, and secured by firm pledges on both sides. They opened a vein in the hollow of their hands, crept beneath the sod, and there [with clasped hands inter-blood-flowing] they solemnly swore that each of them should avenge the other if any one of them should be slain by weapons." This was, in fact, a three-fold covenant of blood; for King Bele, who had just been in combat with Angantyr, was already in blood-friendship with Thorstein.2
The rite of blood-friendship, in one form and another, finds frequent mention in the Norseland Sagas. Thus, in the Saga of Fridthjof the Bold, the son of Thorstein:
"Champions twelve, too, had he—gray-haired, and princes in exploits,— Comrades his father had loved, steel-breasted and scarred o'er the forehead.
Last on the champions' bench, equal-aged with Fridthjof, a stripling Sat, like a rose among withered leaves; Bjorn called they the heroGlad as a child, but firm like a man, and yet wise as a graybeard; Up with Fridthjof he'd grown; they had mingled blood with each other, Foster-brothers in Northman wise; and they swore to continue Steadfast in weal and woe, each other revenging in battle."
1 Rom. 6:4-6; Col. 2: 12
2 Anderson's Viking Tales of the North, p. 59.
3 Ibid., p. 191 f.
THE RITE IN CHINA.
A vestige of this primitive rite, coming down to us through European channels, is found, as are so many other traces of primitive rites, in the inherited folk-lore of English-speaking children on both sides of the Atlantic. An American clergyman's wife said recently, on this point: "I remember, that while I was a schoolgirl, it was the custom, when one of our companions pricked her finger, so that the blood came, for one or another of us to say 'Oh, let me suck the blood; then we shall be friends."" And that is but an illustration of the outreaching after this indissoluble bond, on the part of thirty generations of children of Norseland and Anglo-Saxon stock, since the days of Fridthjof and Bjorn; as that same yearning had been felt by those of a hundred generations before that time.
5. WORLD-WIDE SWEEP OF the rite.
Concerning traces of the rite of blood-covenanting in China, where there are to be found fewest resemblances to the primitive customs of the Asiatic Semites, Dr. Yung Wing, the eminent Chinese educationalist and diplomat, gives me the following illustration: "In the year 1674, when Kanhi was Emperor, of the present dynasty, we find that the Buddhist priests of Shanlin Monastery in Fuhkin Province had rebelled against the authorities on account of persecution. In their encounters with the troops, they fought against great