Rumpelstiltskin by George Halkett

Tom Tit Tot: An Essay on Savage Philosophy in Folk-Tale by Edward Clodd

Rumpelstiltskin by Helen Stratton

Tom Tit Tot:
An Essay on Savage Philosophy in Folk-Tale
by Edward Clodd

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

The Story of Tom Tit Tot

Variations of Tom Tit Tot

On the Diffusion of Stories

Incidental Features of Stories

Barbaric Ideas About Names

Magic Through Tangible Things

Magic Through Intangible Things

Taboo

Words of Power

The Name and the Soul


Rumpelstiltskin

The Annotated Rumpelstiltskin

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The Name and the Soul

AT the close of this survey of evidence that, in barbaric psychology, the name is believed to be an integral part of a man, the question which suggests itself is, What part?

The importance attached by the ancient Egyptians to the name in connection with its owner's personality has been already referred to. They had no doubt whatever that if the name was blotted out, the man ceased to exist. In their composite and conglomerate theories of the individual we have refinements of distinction which surpass anything known in cognate barbaric ideas. The Hidatsa Indians believe that every human being has four souls which at death depart one after the other. But this is simplicity itself compared to Egyptian ontology. In this we find (1) the sahn, or spiritual body; then (2) the ka, or double (other-self), which, although its normal dwelling-place was the tomb, could wander at will, and even take up its abode in the statue of a man. It could eat and drink, and, if the sweet savour of incense and other ethereal offerings failed, could content itself with feeding on the viands painted on the walls of the tomb. Then there was (3) the ba, or soul, about which the texts reveal opposing views, but which is usually depicted as a bird with human heads and hands. To this follow (4) the ab, or heart, held to be the source both of life and of good and evil in the life, and, as the seat of vital power, without which there could be no resurrection of the body, jealously guarded against abstraction by the placing of heart-shaped amulets on the mummy. [a] Next in order is (5) the khaibit or shadow; then (6) the khu or shining covering of the spiritual body which dwelt in heaven with the gods; and (7) the sekhem or personified power of the man.

Last, but not least, was (8) the ren or name that 'part of the immortal Ego, without which no being could exist.' Extraordinary precautions were. taken to prevent the extinction of the ren and in the pyramid texts we find the deceased making supplication that it may flourish 'germinate' along with the names of the gods. [b] The basal connection between this practice arethat of the importance attached to the record the name in the 'Lamb's Book of Life' as ensuing admission to heaven, [c] which is a canon popular modern belief, is too obvious for comment. Among the Pacific races, Bancroft tells us, 'the name assumes a personality, it is the shadow spirit or other-self of the flesh-and-blood person. Civilised and savage are at one in their identification of the soul with something intangible, breath, shadow, reflection, flame, and so fort But it is the cessation of breathing which, the long-run, came to be noted as the never failing accompaniment of death; and where the condensation of the exhaled breath is visible, there would be support lent to the theory of souls as gaseous or ethereal. In every language, from that of the barbaric Aino to classic Greek and modern English, the word for 'spirit' and for 'breath' is the same. Hence, the unsubstantial 'name' falls into line with the general nebulous conception of spirit, and, were barbaric languages less mutable, it might be possible to find some help to an equation between 'name' and 'soul' in them. But as even seemingly stable things like numerals and personal pronouns undergo rapid change among the lower races, 'two or three generations sufficing to alter the whole aspect of their dialects among the wild and unintelligent tribes of Siberia, Africa, and Siam,' the search is hopeless. Some light, however, is thrown upon the matter by languages in which favourable circumstances have preserved traces of family likeness and of mutations. In asking the question, whether there be any evidence from philology to show what part of a man his name is supposed to be, Professor Rhys has been first in the field to supply materials for an answer. He says that 'as regards the Aryan nations, [d] we seem to have a clue in an interesting group of words from which I select the following: Irish ainm, "a name," plural anmann; Old Welsh anu, now enw, also a name; Old Bulgarian ime; Old Russian emnes, emmens, accusative emnan, and Armenian anwan--all meaning "a name." To these some scholars would add, and rightly, I think, the English word name itself, the Latin nomen, Sanskrit naman, and the Greek [???µa]; but, as some others find a difficulty in thus grouping these last-mentioned words, I abstain from laying any stress on them. In fact, I have every reason to be satisfied with the wide extent of the Aryan world covered by the other instances which I have enumerated as Celtic, Prussian, Bulgarian, and Armenian. Now, such is the similarity between Welsh enw, "name," and enaid, "soul," that I cannot help referring the two words to one and the same origin, especially when I see the same or rather greater similarity illustrated by the Irish words ainm, "name," and anim, "soul."

This similarity between the Irish words so pervades the declension of them, that a beginner frequently falls into the error of confounding them as medieval texts. Take, for instance the genitive singular anma, which may mean either "animae" or "nominis"; the nominative plural anmanna, which may be either "animae or "nomina"; and anmann, either "animarum or "nominum," as the dative anmannaib may like-wise be either "animabus" or "nominibus." In fact, one is tempted to suppose that the partis differentiation of the Irish forms was only brought about under the influence of Latin with its distinct forms of anima and nomen. Be that as it may, the direct teaching of the Celtic vocables is that they are all to be referred to the same origin in the Aryan word for breath or breathing, which is represented by such words as Latin anima, Welsih anadl, "breath," and Gothic anan, "blow" or "breathe," whence the compound preterite uz-on twice used in the fifteenth chapter of St. Mark's Gospel to render, "gave up the ghost." Lastly, the lesson which the words in question contain for the student of man is that the Celts, and certain other widely separated Aryans, unless we should rather say the whole Aryan family, believed at one time not only that the name was a part of the man, but that it was that part of him which is termed the soul, the breath of life, or whatever you may choose to define it as being.[e]

The important bearing of this evidence from language on all that has preceded is too clear to need enlarged comment. It adds another item to the teeming mass of facts witnessing to the psychical as well as the physical unity of man. It has become a truism that at the same intellectual level, however wide the zones that separate him, he explains the same phenomena in much the same way; any set of facts gathered in one quarter being complementary to any set of facts gathered in another quarter.

One by one the theories armed with assumption of the presence of caprice and elements of disorder in the universe have been defeated until they reached their last stand in the citadel of Mansoul. From that final retreat they are being ousted, because man's extension of the methods of inquiry into his surroundings to his inner nature makes clear that he is no exception amongst animated beings, but has his place in the universal order.

Notes

[a] See above
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[b] Cf. Budge, pp. lxxxvi-xe; Wiedemann, pp. 240-243, 294.
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[c] Revelation iii, 5; xiii. 8; xx. 15; xxi. 27.
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[d] As the old theory of a homogeneous 'Aryan' race is abandoned, the term connotes peoples speaking allied languages.
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[e] Nineteenth Century, October 1891, 'Welsh Fairies,' pp. 566, 567.
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Clodd, Edward. Tom Tit Tot: An Essay on Savage Philosophy in Folk-Tale. London: Duckworth and Co. 1898.


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