The Foundation of Religion
PRIMARILY the drive of all life is to attain significance. Attached to each life form
through psychokinesis is a soul moving through its Cycle of Necessity. To attain
significance it must express its potentialities. To express its potentialities through a
physical form it must secure nutrition and protection for that form. And to provide
opportunity for other souls to express their potentialities through a physical form, it
must exercise the drive for reproduction.
Every step in evolution on this earth has been in response to one or more of these
drives: the drive for nutrition, the drive for reproduction, or the drive for significance.
And every step in evolution has been in the direction of attaining greater success in
the fulfillment of one or more of these three drives.
In response to these drives the protozoa developed from some simpler form of life,
then the sponges developed, then the jelly-fishes, then the flat-worms, then the
round-worms, then the wheel-worms, then the bryozoa, then the star-fishes, then the
worms, then the crayfish, then the oysters, then the vertebrate animals, and finally
man. It took over 1,700 million years of struggle to move thus upward and develop
the form of man, but every step on the way was in the direction of significance
through greater freedom of expression.
Furthermore, every step of progress made by man also has been in response to these
three drives, and has found more ample expression for one or more of them. The
adaptations made by man, instead of being modifications of his body, have been
through the use of intelligence. Since he developed from an early type of
Propliopithecus, the ancestor he had in common with the anthropoids some 30
million years ago, he has directed his intelligence to solving the problem of survival
and providing for his offspring and of more ample expression. And he has moved
forward extraordinarily in the successful expression of all three drives in so far as the
physical span of life is concerned.
But even as now university scientists have demonstrated that man possesses
extrasensory perception by which he can gain information of the past, present and
future not accessible to the physical senses and reason, so by this faculty primitive
man sensed Deity. And by this faculty he also sensed the inner-plane environment
and recognized that it, as well as the outer-plane environment, exercised a profound
influence over his life.
And even as now university scientists have demonstrated that man possesses the
faculty of psychokinesis, by which physical objects can be moved by the nonphysical
power of the mind, so primitive man also recognized this faculty, and tried to employ
it for his own benefit. The use of what is now recognized as psychokinesis in the past
has been called magic.
Scientists experimenting with psychic phenomena, and collecting data on their
spontaneous occurrence, have during the past 67 years produced ample evidence that
the personality of man lives beyond the tomb, and that those who have died
sometimes appear to those yet in physical bodies, and on other occasions
communicate with those still in the flesh. And primitive man, clairvoyantly seeing a
relative or a friend who had died, or telepathically getting some warning or other
message from someone long dead, quite logically concluded that some part of man
lived after the dissolution of his physical body.
Anyone today who will learn to erect a birth-chart and work progressed aspects can
demonstrate to himself that the inner-plane weather mapped by astrology profoundly
influences his life. And, while he did not possess the ability to erect a birth-chart,
primitive man sensed, and quite correctly, that the positions of the heavenly bodies
have an influence over humanity and its affairs.
As all life is struggling for survival so that it can continue to express, and for the
means of more ample expression, and primitive man was convinced through his
deceased relatives visiting him that there was some kind of survival beyond the
physical, it was quite natural that he should try to find the way to live on earth which
would assure him continued life after he had left the physical. And that he should
seek means by which in that after-life he could realize the drive for nutrition, the
drive for reproduction and the drive for significance which have been the moving
power behind all progress of life on earth. The effort more adequately to adapt
himself to life on earth through understanding and employing inner-plane energies,
and to continue to find satisfaction for the three irrepressible drives after physical
dissolution, came in later times to be called his religion.
Instead of some foggy notion as to what religion is, all should recognize that today
and at all times in the past it consists of the effort to employ nonphysical means to
find on earth more ample satisfaction for the drive for nutrition, the drive for
reproduction and the drive for significance, and to continue to find satisfaction for
these three drives for as long a period as possible on the inner plane. In their expanded
form, the drive for nutrition embraces all means of survival, the drive for
reproduction embraces mental creation as well as physical progeny, and the drive for
significance embraces the various means of expression.
Primitive man had little understanding of either the physical world or the inner-plane
world. Knowledge is derived from experience. And to be of much value experience
must be correctly interpreted. Primitive man gradually acquired information about
both the outer-plane environment and the inner-plane environment, and this
information was handed down from one generation to another by word of mouth. But
not only was the interpretation often erroneous, but the amount of information that
could be handed down from generation to generation orally was limited. It was
limited by the experiences and interpretations of individuals who sought to make it
the property of the tribe; and it was limited by the ability of members of the tribe to
remember what they had been told.
When through the accumulation and application of knowledge gradually gained over
millenniums ancient civilizations finally came into existence, the crude pictographs
by which more primitive people had sought to convey ideas and refresh their
memories gradually were developed into writing by which records could be
This tremendously aided man in the acquisition of knowledge; for he was no longer
dependent upon anyone’s memory to give him access to information based upon the
experiences of generations upon generations of the past. To the extent these were
recorded, those having access to the records could greatly expand what they knew.
But what was thus recorded often was sadly limited and frequently distorted, even
when the experiences and the opinions were highly valuable and quite sound. Often it
has been the case that if the people were given the facts, these facts would cause them
to interfere with the plans and ambitions of certain powerful persons. These
individuals then, as now, therefore, did all in their power either to suppress the facts,
or to distort them in a way favorable to themselves, and thus information that
otherwise would have been recorded and made available to others was never at their
This has been true relative to information about the physical plane; and
scientists–as explained in Course XII-1, Chapter 01–often have been unable to get
discoveries before the public because it would deprive some powerful individual or
group of means of gaining additional power or wealth. In our own day, for example,
there are many known instances in which great monopolies have purchased some
invention and withheld it from the public because if it were used it would outmode
and make unsaleable their products, for the production and promotion of which they
had spent vast sums of money, and on which they depended to gain great wealth.
And throughout the past new and valuable information about the inner plane often
has been suppressed or distorted because it would discredit the medicine man, or
priest, or other religious authority, and deprive him either of his livelihood or his
significance as the mouthpiece of God.
Yet, as man must depend not upon new mutations of his body, but upon additional
knowledge for all further progress toward greater nutrition, greater benefits for
offspring, and greater significance through more ample expression, both relative to
the physical plane and the inner plane his only hope of bettering his condition either
here or hereafter is through increasing and using knowledge of these two
environments and the laws operating in each.
Thus to increase his knowledge, not only must the experiences of people be collected
and analyzed and given sound interpretation, but there at all times must be additional
research. And this applies with equal force to both planes; for man desires to find
expression for the three irrepressible drives not merely during his physical life, but
also after life on earth is done.
But in addition to acquiring new information relative to both planes, and giving it
sound interpretation, if mankind is to benefit by this knowledge it must have ready
access to it, and the facilities for using the knowledge thus acquired. This means that
ways must be devised by which those with whose special privileges it would
interfere to have people know the facts of both planes, whatever they may be, cannot
suppress or distort the facts.
All should be made to recognize that neither science nor religion should remain
static. Each should continue to develop and progress indefinitely. The aim of
religion, whether so recognized by those who embrace it or not, is to afford optimum
living for those who adhere to it. And to attain optimum living, effort must be made
energetically and persistently to acquire as many new and significant facts as
possible about the physical world and about the inner-plane world. As fast as such
new and significant facts are discovered they should be included in religion in their
proper relation to all facts about both planes already known.
It is not because it possesses all knowledge now, but because it strives energetically
thus to gain new and important facts relative to both planes, and to incorporate them
properly into its teachings as soon as they are adequately verified, and thus moves
progressively ever in the direction of more perfectly teaching mankind optimum
living, that The Religion of the Stars is the world religion of the future.
The Truth Alone Can Make Men Free
–While experience and extrasensory perception taught types of life lower in the
scale of evolution than man methods of solving the problems with which they were
faced, frequently the only avenue for the survival of their progeny lay in some quite
drastic change of form. Scales had to be changed into fur or feather when the climate
became icy; and herbivorous animals had to change the structure of their teeth when
forced to graze on the tough grass of the plains instead of the tender browse of
succulent shrubs and trees to which they had become accustomed before increasing
aridity eliminated such food. But with the advent of man, whatever adaptation is
necessary, not only to realize the drive for nutrition and reproduction, but also to
realize the drive for significance, can far better be accomplished through the use of
knowledge. Whatever man seeks to accomplish, in this life or the next, can be done to
better advantage if he guides his efforts by adequate information.
Creatures lower in the scale of life than man, not having had the experience of their
ancestors, or of other living members of the species, accessible to them through oral
or written language, have had to rely largely upon instinct to guide their behavior.
Instinct derives from the information perceived by the unconscious mind. In the case
of animals lower than man, as reason has not been developed, the exercise of instinct
is largely confined to such conditions as have habitually confronted the race. Under
usual conditions instinct is quite efficient; but as the unconscious of animals has had
little experience meeting other than certain kinds of problems, when unusual
problems are presented instinct often leads the animal astray. In spite of extrasensory
perception which may prompt different behavior, the habitual method of meeting
conditions is so strong that other promptings are overruled.
The instinctive method of meeting a particular situation is brought about through the
habitual emotional reaction to the situation. In regions inhabited by man, deer have
learned that the sound of a breaking stick often indicates the presence of a hunter. In
such regions, whether a man is or is not present, the sound of a breaking stick arouses
the emotion of fear in deer, and as a result the habitual reaction is to run from the
sound of a breaking stick without investigating its cause.
The ancestors of the best known European lemming (Lemmus lemmus), a rodent
about six inches long which inhabits the mountainous regions of Sweden and
Norway, had found it advantageous at certain periods at the approach of winter to
migrate in great number. At some ancient date the persistence and determination
with which such migration was carried out probably prevented their extinction by
taking them to a region where new food and other conditions were highly favorable.
And thus also the religious instinct which impels people today to follow with equal
persistence and determination the way to salvation believed in by their forefathers
may have benefitted their ancestors.
But conditions in the world have now changed, and that which served the ancestors
of the lemmings so well, and that which served the ancestors of man the best that
religion could then afford, now lead both to disaster. The lemmings still migrate in
vast multitudes, and people still follow the doctrine of vicarious atonement in great
hoards. Both move in a straight line. The lemmings move in parallel columns, and
nothing will induce them to deviate from the direct course they are taking. As a
consequence of their stubborn resistance to new conditions that have arisen since
their ancestors developed the emotional reaction to which they continue to respond,
the vast migration when it reaches the last of the land–and it is inevitable that
moving far enough in a straight line it must reach the last of the land–moves into the
sea and all are drowned.
There is no intention here to disparage the usefulness of emotions. It is the way men
feel, as well as the way the lemmings feel, that determines their behavior. Emotions
are merely the release of tensions created by desires that are strong enough to develop
a profound and widespread disturbance of the nerve currents. Desire is energy in a
potential state, straining to be released and given activity. And both desire and
emotion are due to the conditioning of certain thought-cell groups within the soul, or
unconscious mind. Every activity of the mind and body, great or small, is due to the
discharge of the energy which while stored and straining is called desire. Therefore,
whatever the behavior of a man or an animal may be, it is due to desire; and as
emotion is the release of a desire so powerful that it liberates hormones from the
endocrine glands into the blood stream and thus affects the nervous system,
including the brain, and often various physical functions, emotion is one of the most
useful tools any man can employ.
It is the tool which he must use to get what he wants; for it directs his actions. And it
must be employed in gaining spirituality, as spirituality depends upon the dominant
vibratory rate, and this is chiefly determined by the individual’s habitual emotional
states. But if he is to use it to get what he wants, instead of permitting it to impel him
to march across the mountains and into the sea to be drowned, he must guide it by that
which makes man superior to other animals. Instead of permitting it to drive him
blindly into unreasonable courses of conduct, or into unreasonable beliefs, he must
condition his emotions to conform to knowledge.
Within us all are stored the desires of our animal ancestors. Civilization, in great
extent, may be measured by the degree in which certain of these bestial desires have
been sublimated, have been channeled to express in behavior beneficial to society
And within us all are stored other desires which we acquired from our parents and
associates during the highly impressionable years of our childhood. But if the desires
thus acquired, which express as emotional reaction, tend to prejudice us toward facts
and make us unwilling, or unable, to give a fair and logical appraisal of the
significance of facts which are brought to our attention, we are reacting to emotion in
the manner the lemmings do. And if we continue such unreasonable reaction our
ultimate fate will parallel theirs.
The success of every undertaking in which man engages depends upon two things;
the extent of his knowledge and the extent to which he follows the actions indicated
by knowledge instead of those dictated by blind belief or prompted by irrational
emotion. This applies to his health, his business career, his family life, his social
success, his happiness, his spirituality, and to all other departments of his physical
life. And it applies with equal validity to gaining what he wants in the life beyond the
tomb. It is no more sensible for him to think that blind belief in some ancient or
modern propaganda will give him happiness in the next life than it is for him to
believe that blind belief in some present-day non-factual propaganda will get him
what he wants here. And most have had experience enough to have learned that if
they put their trust in non-factual sales talks here, they will lose their shirts. Those
who rely on such propaganda in business are known in the vernacular as suckers.
Those in politics and those in religion, however, who want to make converts to some
belief not based on logic and facts, commonly use one or all of three methods. As
explained in Course XII-1, Chapter 01, they employ fear–fear of persecution in this life or of
torture or misery in the life to come, whether that life is on another plane or
reincarnated on earth–and other means to prevent the prospective convert from
gaining the facts. Or they give an inversive twist to the facts and disseminate lies. Or
they use the habitual emotional reactions of the prospective convert to override his
reason and cause him to believe and act as the propagandist desires. Just how this is
accomplished is explained in detail in Course XVIII, Chapter 06.
Here it is enough to point out that early in life most people have been so conditioned
that they respond emotionally in a specific manner to certain phrases, certain words,
and certain ideas. And the clever propagandist associates the ideas which he wants
his prospective convert to believe with phrases, words and ideas which commonly
bring a strong and favorable emotional reaction; and he associates the ideas he
wishes to disparage with phrases, words and ideas which commonly bring a strong
We must realize in our effort to establish a sound religion and a higher civilization
that the vast majority of people have not as yet evolved sufficiently above other
animals not to be more powerfully influenced by their habitual emotional
reactions–which have been thus conditioned early in life before reasoning powers
were much developed–than by facts and logic. Therefore it is a major part of the task
of all Stellarians to educate those they contact to consider facts, whatever they may
be, unemotionally, and to weigh all facts without emotional prejudice, and to arrive
at conclusions through logical consideration of all available facts. When the
evidence is all in and a just and reasonable verdict reached is when emotion should be
released to insure actions based upon that verdict.
Truth is the conformity of cognition to reality. Only if we are aware of reality can we
act in the proper manner. And this applies to politics, to religion, to business and to
every department of life. But we cannot learn the truth if facts are suppressed, if facts
are distorted, if we believe in falsehoods, or if through early conditioning our
emotions will not permit us to consider facts which are presented to us, or if these
emotions censor or distort logical conclusions arrived at from a consideration of all
the available facts.
It is a sad commentary on the evolutionary level of our civilization when public
opinion condemns certain people for presenting facts that seem favorable to any
political or religious movement. Anything conceivable warrants having all the facts
about it known and given thorough discussion. If it is something inimical, the facts
logically handled will prove it inimical. If it is something beneficial, the facts
logically handled will prove it beneficial. But if, as most things have, it has some
good points and some bad points, when all the facts are brought out and given full
public discussion, each will be revealed, and thus people will be able to reject the
detrimental factors and adopt those beneficial.
There is only one logical reason why those in political authority or those in religious
authority should try to prevent all the facts being made available and given thorough
public discussion. That reason is that they fear the facts and the logical conclusions
drawn from them will interfere with their own special privileges.
People can only be free from want when they have the truth and act upon it; they can
only be free from fear when they have the truth and act upon it; and they can only
have freedom of expression when they have the truth and act upon it. It is the truth
alone which can make men free. And people can learn the truth, and thus be able to
act upon it, only when there is freedom of information, and freedom to discuss before
the public the logical conclusions to be derived from such information.
Such freedom of information, and freedom publicly to discuss the logical
implications derived from all available facts, is even more important where religion
is concerned; for religion should consider freedom from want, freedom from fear and
freedom of expression not merely on the physical plane, but how best they can be
acquired also when life on earth is done.
To this end religion should acquire as many significant facts as possible about both
planes, and advocate the type of life that in greatest measure will insure these
freedoms both here and hereafter. It is because this is what The Religion of the Stars
does that it is the world religion of the future.
–Now that we have discussed just what religion is, and exactly what an adequate
religion should do, let us consider the various steps by which religion has reached the
stage of its development common in the world today. To do this we should start with
the belief called Naturism, which as man developed from his non-human ancestors it
is assumed was his first religion. It is the belief that various things usually considered
by us as having no life are alive and act much as living creatures do. As man
developed self consciousness and moved to a state slightly higher than the more
intelligent nonhuman animals, it is assumed he came gradually, and at first dimly, to
distinguish the difference between himself and other objects.
At this stage it is assumed that if a tree moved in the wind, or a rock rolled down a
mountain, or a log floated down a stream, he had the vague notion that it moved by its
own self-power even as he moved by his. At this time, which is considered as that of
transition to the human stage, he is supposed to have had no conception that his body
and mind were different, no ideas about an after life, or that things were either natural
or supernatural, and no thoughts concerning spirits. Like other animals he was
supposed to be conscious of forces which he did not understand, and regarded these
forces as other entities not wholly unlike himself. And because he did not
understand, he feared them.
The classical example of the process by which Naturism, a religion so primitive that
no people in the world today have not advanced above it, is an experiment by Mr.
Romanes with one of his Skye Terriers (Evolutional Ethics and Animal Psychology,
“He used to play with dry bones by tossing them in the air, throwing them to a
distance, and generally giving them an appearance of animation, in order to give
himself the ideal pleasure of worrying them. On one occasion I tied a long and fine
thread to a dry bone and gave him the latter to play with. After he had tossed it about
for a short time, I took the opportunity, when it had fallen at a distance from him and
while he was following it up, of gently drawing it away from him by means of the
long, invisible thread. Instantly his whole demeanor changed. The bone, which he
had previously pretended to be alive, began to look as if it were really alive, and his
astonishment knew no bounds. He first approached it with nervous caution, but, as
the slow receding motion continued and he became quite certain that the movement
could not be accounted for by any residuum of forces which he had himself
communicated, his astonishment developed into dread, and he ran to conceal himself
under some articles of furniture, there to behold at a distance the `uncanny’ spectacle
of a dry bone coming to life.”
While Naturism is a hypothetical stage which is assumed to bridge the gap between
the intelligence of higher non-human animals and the religion termed Animism, we
are not compelled to observe the savages to find behavior which in many respects
parallels that of the Skye Terrier. Many people today in the presence of extrasensory
perception or witnessing psychokinetic phenomena, or called upon to examine
either, or to test out astrology for themselves, like the Skye Terrier, retreat to what
they believe to be a place of safety. Instead of boldly investigating the inner-plane
faculties and conditions, including astrology, and trying to find out how they occur
and how they can be made to operate for human benefit, they fearfully state that all
such things should be left alone, or if they are religiously inclined they piously state
that all such things are the work of the devil.
Yet even in the hypothetical religion of Naturism there is, as in all religions, an
element of truth. Professor Chunder Bose, D.Sc., a native of India educated in
England, some years ago conducted a long line of experiments which he published in
a book, Response in the Living and the Non-Living, that prove conclusively that any
form of matter may be alive, intelligent and sensitive, and that the difference between
a man and a metal, or a man and a vegetable is more one of degree than of kind. He
demonstrated the results of his investigations before the leading scientists of
London, and they were accepted as correct. The startling fact derived from these
experiments is that all metals, and to an extent all substances, exhibit in some degree,
the same kind of sensitiveness observed in the human nervous system.
The Skye Terrier overestimated the power of life in the bone, and no doubt the savage
overestimates the power of life in various other things. For such exaggerated views
we are warranted in calling either the Skye Terrier or the savage superstitious. But
what are we to call the citizens of civilized society who equally underestimate the life
and sensitivity of minerals, plants and animals, and who ignorantly refuse to
recognize phenomena which are manifestations of inner-plane forces?
–From Naturism to Animism is but a step. In Naturism there is no notion of spirit.
But in animism man has arrived at the conception that he is a spirit occupying a body.
Having arrived at the belief that man has a spirit he takes another step and concludes
that birds and beasts and plants and insects and even stones also have invisible
doubles. And the fact that they actually do is being verified by scientific psychical
researchers today. If the ghosts of dogs and horses manifest to civilized people,
instances of which are given in Course XII-1, Chapter 07, why should not the
ghosts of other animals be seen by uncivilized people?
Animism is the religion that behind the various material and visible objects are
invisible and perhaps intelligent forces that use these objects for expression.
Furthermore, as usually believed in, it peoples the world with spirits of various kinds
that, though unseen, nevertheless, under certain circumstances, may exert an
influence upon human life.
It is ranked as the lowest religion of known savages today. And Mr. Risley in 1901
reported his belief that Animism existed in its lowest form as the religion of the
jungle dwellers in Chota Nagpur, India. He reported that the various spirits which are
there believed in and propitiated are indeterminate in nature and represented by no
symbol. All over Chota Nagpur, he reported, there were sacred groves where these
spirits, which have not yet been given individual attributes, are supposed to dwell. He
concludes that this hazy belief represents a transition from an impersonal religion
toward well defined Animism.
Undoubtedly savages draw wrong inferences from what they see, as does more
civilized man. But there is a vast amount of carefully collected documentary
evidence proving that the spirits of the dead return and are seen and communicate
with those yet living. There is also a large amount of carefully collected documentary
evidence that there are spirits other than human beings that cause material objects to
move and various other violent phenomena to take place. Instances of both human
and non-human hauntings are given in detail in Haunted Houses, by Camile
Flammarion, and the whole subject is thoroughly discussed in Course I,
Non-human spirits (astral entities) are at the present day called “poltergeists.” They
are also called “elementals.” There is no reason to believe that materializations,
etherealizations, table-tipping, and such phenomena are confined to present-day
civilization. On the contrary, the evidence indicates that all manner of supernormal
phenomena take place more frequently among primitive peoples than among those
who have been educated to believe such things are impossible. Nevertheless,
thousands of people, many of whom are educated and highly cultured, are at the
present day willing to swear that they have talked to loved ones who have passed
from the physical body. Among these are some of the world’s greatest scientists who
have taken every precaution not to be deluded.
Primitive man believed not only in the existence of the spirits of his ancestors, but
also in elemental spirits. If, as related in Haunted Houses, Chapter XI, noises like a
thunderclap are produced on the roof of the house, stones are dropped through the
roof without there being an opening in it, stones are thrown from a distance through
windowpanes with unbelievable marksmanship, chairs and tables overthrown, and
other manifestations take place without any discoverable human agency, why should
not the savage believe in elemental spirits?
Among his people there would be some, just as there are clairvoyants at the present
time, who would be able to see these elemental spirits. No doubt the savage would at
times overestimate the importance of the part played in natural phenomena by these
elementals. But as to this we cannot be certain, because modern man has not
investigated how little or how great a part is played by elementals in wind and
lightning and such physical forces.
But as to the efficacy of prayer to invoke psychokinetic power that influences such
forces of nature considerable evidence has been collected. Mr. Rawson, a man of
considerable attainment in commercial and scientific lines, wrote a booklet,
“Protection for Garden and Farm,” through prayer. And I have been told by three
witnesses of the event–two witnesses being encountered a dozen years later than the
other and in widely separated districts, and one at least having no incentive for
prevarication as he was antagonistic to the Mormon faith–of a time of great drought
that was broken by a venerable Mormon Bishop through prayer. The Bishop, who
was a very old and holy man, went with the people of the town to a nearby hill and
commenced to pray in an earnest and quavering voice. In a little while a cloud no
bigger in appearance than one’s hand formed overhead and began to grow in size.
Before long it began to sprinkle and then the people disbanded and went home in the
rain, the drought completely broken.
The American Hopi Indian snake dance (pictured above) described in the reference
book, Astrological Lore of All Ages, is to enable the Indians to contact their friends on
the inner plane, and procure help, among other things, in warding off drought.
Frequently the spectators of this impressive ceremony of an arid region are drenched
with rain before they reach home.
Just how psychokinesis operates to produce or protect from natural phenomena, or to
what extent it has power over them, awaits further investigation. But it explains why
those believing in Animism propitiate elemental powers which some of their
members see, and which they witness bring events of consequence to pass.
The conditions governing poltergeist phenomena are so little understood today that it
is probable savages also fail to grasp fully the means by which elementals are able to
produce physical results. No doubt their prayers and oblations to the elemental
spirits, which they conceive to be behind natural happenings, often fail to bring about
results. But also it is quite possible, especially when persons are involved who have
considerable natural psychokinetic ability, that occasionally actual results follow the
propitiation of elemental spirits. There are plenty of people today who believe that
through earnest prayer they can be protected from injury by storm or flood. Some of
these people cite very convincing instances to support their belief. Therefore, until
evidence is collected about the power of psychokinesis to render such protection, we
must not accuse the savage of having an altogether vicious superstition.
To give a list of the peoples of the world whose religion is largely that of Animism
would be to name most of the uncivilized tribes, and many of the people who possess
a civilized culture. Let us then take the next step, which is to consider fetishism.
–Fetishism is the belief that certain material objects, either in their natural state, or
when prepared according to a special ritual by a priest, have the power of bringing the
fulfillment of a hope.
In World War II innumerable soldiers wore St. Christopher medals in the belief the
medal would protect them from danger and deliver them from death. The person who
hangs a horseshoe over his door to bring luck is practicing fetishism. To pick up a pin,
as some people do, instigated by the adage, “See a pin and pick it up, all the day you
will have good luck,” is fetishism. Wearing a rabbit’s foot to keep evil influences at a
distance is fetishism. The belief that good luck will follow looking at the New Moon
over the right shoulder is fetishism.
Professor E. Washburn Hopkins, of Yale, in his History of Religion, states in regard
to the word fetish that: “Many writers use the word loosely to indicate any material
object from which, like a mascot, the savage expects good luck; but properly a fetish
is portable and is unlike a mascot in that it possesses power and will to bless. Hence it
is coddled, abused, prayed to and stormed at, exactly as one would treat a recalcitrant
spirit who may or may not aid.” He also says that a fetish is a spiritual power; and
does not contain a spirit.
In those places where fetishism is most prevalent, it seems to me very difficult to
draw the line between true fetishism, as Professor Hopkins defines it, and allied
beliefs. Thus it is a common belief, not merely among savages, but among some
civilized peoples, that a curse, placed by a person dying a violent death, upon some
coveted object, has an evil spirit thus attached to it that will bring bad luck to all
possessors of the object afterwards. At the present day we would not call it an evil
spirit, but a thought-force of evil psychokinetic power thus attached to the object.
One who will look carefully into the history of famous jewels, such as the Hope
Diamond, will find a strange verification of the belief that evil befalls the owner of
certain gems. Certain mummies taken from Egyptian tombs, and now in the British
Museum, also have had an uncanny history of tragedy overtaking anyone possessing
or handling them. These influences, by those who believe in them, are thought to be
caused by elemental spirits that were attached to the objects by curses.
In The Jungle Folk of Africa, Robert H. Milligan, who lived among them as a
missionary says of the Fang tribe of West Africa: “Ancestor worship is the highest
form of African fetishism, and it is only called fetishism because the ancestor’s skull
or other part of the body is the medium of communication.”… “The usual fetish of
ancestor worship is the skull of the father, which the son keeps in a box. The father
occasionally speaks to the son in dreams and frequently communicates with him by
omens. He helps him in all his enterprises, good and evil, and secures his success in
hunting and in war.”
–Side by side with fetishism, though not dependent upon it, is to be found another
belief called totemism. Totemism is a widespread belief among the dark-skinned
races of the world, throughout aboriginal America, Polynesia, Australia, India, and
Africa except the northern part. A totem is a class of material objects which a savage
regards with superstitious respect, believing there exists between him and every
member of the class an intimate and altogether special relationship. It differs from a
fetish in that it embraces a whole class of objects. Thus to the Alaskan Indian of the
Raven clan, all ravens are subject to the same veneration and esteem.
Believers in totemism claim that there is a bond of friendship and kinship between
the clan or the individual (totems may be clan totems, or they may be individual
totems) and the totem, that mutual advantages result from this relationship, and that
the totem is actually in some sense the ancestor of the clan or individual to whom it
It is found that a clan or individual expresses the characteristics of its totem. The
human group, or individual, vibrates to the same key that its totem does. The decave
is different, but the key is the same; for the totem may be an animal, a plant, or other
object. To state it in astrological terms, the totem is of the same astrological rulership
as the person or clan claiming it as a totem.
This natural sympathetic relation is taken advantage of by the savage. He enters into
rapport with the astral double of the totem. He does his utmost to protect and
otherwise benefit the totem, and in return expects the astral double of the totem to
warn him in time of danger, to afford him premonitions of important approaching
events, and otherwise recompense him for his devotion to its welfare.
Through his friendship he attempts to use its double to attain certain advantages for
himself. Although he does not hypnotize his totem, he talks to it, giving it
suggestions, much as a hypnotist may suggest to his subject that the latter’s astral
shall go to a distant place and obtain certain information, or that it shall direct him to a
lost article. Through the natural vibratory similarity between them, the savage is in
rapport with his totem in a manner not widely dissimilar to the rapport between the
hypnotist and his subject, or the rapport between the controlling entity at a seance and
its medium. The totem is a medium somewhat controlled by its human friend.
This all seems to the average individual pure nonsense and deep-dyed superstition.
But before final judgment is pronounced, an investigation should be made as to how
often a clan is actually warned–probably through the extrasensory perception of the
totem or the clan–of danger by the uncommon actions of some member of its totem.
It might be well to know, for instance, how often a clan in search of game following
the direction taken by the first of its totem met actually found abundant game in that
direction. And bearing the power of psychokinesis in mind, and how little is known
about how it works, it might be well to investigate the fortune in warfare of a clan
holding a dance in honor of its totem before entering battle, and what effect it had
upon their endurance, their keenness of faculties, and the sudden impressions by
which they took advantage of an opponent or escaped danger.
–Next above totemism on the religions genealogical tree is the worship of heroes.
We need not go back to olden times to witness how certain individuals with superior
talents in some direction are endowed by their followers with perfections they in no
wise possess. Multitudes of young people adore certain movie heroes. A statesman
who has accomplished some outstanding service to his nation is raised on a pedestal
which permits him never to be wrong. It has been proved that the George Washington
cherry tree incident is a hero-worship fantasy.
Had Hitler won World War II he would have been acclaimed a god, as were certain
Roman emperors. After they have been dead a hundred years or more certain
individuals are proclaimed to be saints, and to them are directed the prayers of the
–Because of the taboos of our society we cannot give this subject the discussion it
warrants. While in its grosser aspect it is something quite repugnant, nevertheless it
seems to be founded upon something that in its finer aspects is both constructive and
beneficial; the use of the higher emotions of love between husband and wife.
Actual results need to be checked to give us anything conclusive, but the ancients
made great claims for the finer relations between married couples, claims that in the
light of modern psychological knowledge, and knowledge of the action of the
endocrine glands, may be founded on fact. To what extent husband and wife may
contribute, through the stimulation in each other of high ideals and emotions,
through exchange of magnetism, and through the psychokinetic influence of their
minds upon each other, should be investigated by competent scientists; for many
have claimed to have been rejuvenated and given health, as well as the inspiration for
high accomplishment, through marital love.