Comments On The Legend Of Master Manole

excerpts1. Participation and RepetitionPerhaps the most significant difference between modern man and archaic man consists in this: for archaic man, a thing or an act acquires significance only in as much as it participates in a prototype, or in as much as it reiterates a primordial act (for example Creation). The jewelry is efficient because it participates in certain cosmic principles, namely in an ultimate, metaphysical reality. Every precious stone, every noble metal carries in its own substance a cosmic principle. Gold is precious because it is a solar metal; the pearls belong to the moon and are hence closely connected to the aquatic symbolism and to the fertility elements. The man of the traditional cultures carries close to his body – and is accompanied by them in the grave – pieces of gold, jade and pearls so as to enhance his own reality during his lifetime and to ensure a happy post-mortem fate. The pearls promote the feminine virtues: birth, fecundity. Their value is due to the cosmic archetype they descend from and to which they belong: the moon. They are not some simple "objects," but, in a certain sense, a microcosm. For the pearl is an image of the "moon," but is at the same time – through the symbolism of the shell – also an emblem of the "woman." Such an "object" acquires significance to the extent to which, while still remaining itself, it expresses or represents a cosmic principle. The "object" is enhanced by countless valences: it is a symbol-ideogram, an emblem, a centre of cosmic energy, consubstantiality – all these, simultaneously or successively. However, at least by one of these valences, it participates incessantly to the principle to which it claims to belong. A direct contact is enough for the man to be integrated, through it, into a cosmic rhythm or unity. The pearl influences the woman who wears it with lunar energy, but at the same time does much more: it reintegrates her into a huge circuit which takes place between numberless cosmic universes. As the "moon," for the archaic cultures, means something else besides the physical heavenly body; it means a centre that subsumes, represents, or controls water, rain, fecundity, night, death, latencies, pre-formal life, resurrection, etc. The contact with one of the most prominent lunar emblems (in our case, the pearl) is enough for the woman to be joined to these cosmic energy centres and to integrate into their rhythm; for her to enhance her femininity, to ensure the fecundity; in a word, to accomplish in optimum conditions her destiny here on earth and to build her post-mortem fate. For these virtues were the pearls worn; their aesthetic and economic value was revealed much later, when the primordial metaphysical sense started to be forgotten, due to certain revolutions that took place in the mental life of European societies.Let's remind now the second example: this time, not the example of an "object," but that of an "act." It's about picking the herbs which are good for healing. It is known that no officinal herb keeps its medicinal virtues if it is not picked with a certain ritual; for instance, at midnight, with or without moon, performing certain gestures, uttering certain words, offering gifts to the earth of which the plant was pulled up, etc. In fact, this ritual is nothing but the repetition of an initial act performed by Hecate. Under the influence of Christianity, women pick the herbs good for healing saying that they take them from under the Saviour's Cross, or for bringing them to Him, in order to heal His wounds. "We go… to pick herbs and put them on the Saviour's wounds," is written in a manuscript of the 14th century. Thus is, therefore, repeated an initial act – the one carried out by the sacred women around the cross. The picked plants themselves, in order to be suitable as cure, must correspond to a certain prototype. By the selection ritual, they regain the meaning and the function they had "at that time," ab origo, that is at the moment they became what they are, healing herbs. In our opinion – as we tried to show in the book At Mandragora – the very rituals of picking certain witchery plants, such as deadly nightshade, are nothing but the degraded copy of another initial act: the hero's fight for getting the life plant, fight that implies facing many dangers (the guardian monster, etc.). The dangers that await the one who dares to pull up the deadly nightshade are nothing but the degraded image (fallen, thus, from a metaphysical level to a magical and medicinal one) of the danger the hero (Gilgamesh, Heracles, etc.) is facing in search of the life plant, of the miraculous tree, etc. It is known that any search for an absolute value involves the encounter of an endless number of obstacles, irregardless if this "absolute value," as we called it, is shaped in the form of the life herb or tree, the Holy Grail chalice, etc. However, suffice to record for now, that the ritual of picking the healing herbs reiterates the initial act of Medea-Hecate or the act that took place ab initio, "at that time," near the Saviour's cross. We could remind, as a third example, the generating act which is assimilated, in many archaic cultures, to the act of cosmic creation. Or fallowing the plough-land, also assimilated with the generating act, hence with the primordial model: Creation. Or the journey – assimilated with the initiation ceremonies, which, in their turn, are nothing but prefigurations of death. All these make up models, archetypes, reiterated as many times as life circumstances require. Their reiteration is not an unnatural or useless act; on the contrary, by them, the reality of life is enhanced and man as such acquires a metaphysical substance. A primordial gesture is imitated or an object that participates in a prototype is appropriated, because, through such gestures and objects, man remains in the real and creates in reality. The continuous return to the original act, to what was ab origo guarantees not only the efficiency of the act that man repeats for the billionth time, but also validates its "normality"; man stays within "the law," acts according to the cosmic norms (for, what he performs now, had "once" performed the Hero, or the Sun or the Night, etc.) and at the same time he authenticates his own reality. Man is man, in as much as he keeps in direct communion with the principles that support the entire Nature. Another example will help us better understand the issues that will follow. When the Scandinavian colonists took possession of Iceland, land-náma, and turned it from a deserted country into a cultivated region, they didn't consider this action either as an original deed, or as profane, human work. For them, the effort they made was only repeating a primordial act: turning chaos into cosmos by the divine act of creation. Working the desert land, they repeated actually the work of gods who organised chaos, giving it form and norms. Even more: a territorial conquest becomes real only after (more precisely: through) the ritual of taking possession, which is only a copy of the same primordial act: the creation of the World. In Vedic India, a territory was legally taken possession of by erecting a shrine dedicated to Agni. "One says one is settled (avasyati) when one builds a garhaptya, and all who build fire shrines are settled (avasitah)," says Satapatha Brahmana, VII, 1, 1, 1-4. Building a shrine to Agni, however, is nothing else than the microcosmic imitation of Creation. And any sacrifice is, in its turn, the reiteration of the creation act, as the Indian texts clearly state. (e.g. Sat. Brah., XVI, 1, 2, 26, etc.).Hence, a worldly undertaking has meaning and validity only to the extent to which it reiterates the divine act that took place "once," "in those times," ad infinitum, agre (as it is written in the Sanskrit texts). There is nothing real except what divinity performed (irregardless if this divinity is expressed symbolically, ritually or orally, through gods or cosmologic principles, etc.). Therefore, for living in a real manner, all man must do is to imitate, as many times as circumstances require, the gestures of divinity. Worth noticing is the fact that time is almost always suspended in the ritual, just as it acquires a totally different quality in the myth. The ritual reiterates an initial act, but this action happens in "that" original time. The ritual time is always the same: the time when the ritual was first carried out. The Brahmans claim that it is through their sacrifices that the Cosmos exists and that, if those sacrifices were interrupted, the entire world would go back to the primordial chaos. The Brahmans thus, do not support the world through the ritual of sacrifices, but make it; or rather: they coincide ritually with the creation of the world by the Gods, for the time when a ritual is carried out is qualitatively different from the profane time, it doesn't flow, but is always the same, each sacrificial act happening at the same "moment" of the beginning. In other words, and without betraying the meaning of these things, one might say that all rituals, from the beginning of the world and up to the present moment, coincide, all of them being nothing but the same ritual, happening at the same sacred time; their repetition is an illusion due to the incongruence between the sacred time and the profane time.The same axiom lies at the basis of the cosmic and historic cycles theory as it was elaborated by the Orientals: the events that lead to setting up a new world are the repetition, on a different scale, of the events that took place "once," that is in the Creation moment. This mystical theory of the cosmic cycle is to be found in Aristotle's physics, in "The Great Summer" and "The Great Winter." As usual, behind an archaic physical theory, one deciphers an entire mythology, which, in its turn, is nothing but the dramatisation of a cosmologic axiom. "The Great Winter" is met in Iranian popular beliefs and in the "Fimbul Winter" of Nordic mythologies; it represents the final phase of closing a cosmic-historic cycle similar to the Indian great cosmic dissolution (mahapralaya). Any catastrophic event is therefore linked to the cosmic apocalypse, that, by a "great dissolution," will reduce the fragmented plurality of the worlds to the primordial unity, to the Chaos before the Creation. Any "new world" which is created in history implies unmistakably a "chaotic" phase, similar to the chaos that preceded the Creation, and a "cosmic" phase, identical to the events that led to creating and organising of the world. 2. Folklore and metaphysicsCompendious as they might be, the above considerations make up an appropriate introduction to the comments on Master Manole's legend. Obviously, to the commentary we intend to write and not to the genetic or artistic study of the ballad. This study was done by many Romanian folklorists and linguists, from Şăineanu to professor Caracostea, and by other scholars from neighbouring countries like Arnaudov and Skok, and we don't think that many novelties could be said starting from the same preoccupations and using the same methods. Some more versions will be registered, the genetic centre of the ballad will be specified, the present hypothetical itineraries of the legend will be rectified, new theories upon the historical dates that might be connected to the Romanian and Balkan versions of the legend will be put forward. We will presently revise the results one reached in this respect. They will be improved, undoubtedly, when all the Romanian versions will be recorded and published, according to Anti Aarne and Karle Krohn, who has, among others, the merit of exhausting the matter of the circulation and genesis of a folkloric motive. Here, we are interested in something totally different. Not in the history proper of the ballad, but in the study of the world it illustrates. Each folkloric product – legend, witchcraft, saying etc. – bears with it the mental universe that created it, in the exact same way as a piece of mirror encapsulates the same world as the whole which it comes from. It is not about "interpreting" a legend or a custom according to some preconceived theories, about giving it, so to speak, a "personal interpretation." Such a personal interpretation can only be creative in a work of art and, even there, only within certain boundaries and respecting certain norms. In the comments that we intend to make, the "interpretations" have no room. We study, as we have said, the world that the ballad illustrates and our entire concern is to explain and comment on this world as it is, without questioning now its validity and the historical, psychological and religious causes that gave birth to it. Still, from whichever category of deeds we should choose to document ourselves, these will present a striking similarity in structure. The ballad of Master Manole, the legend of the Wales castle falling down, the building ritual from the Vedic times, the cosmogony myth – these so diverse deeds, belonging to so distant ages, are all reducible to a single archetype: nothing can last until a soul it given to it. And they are reducible not in a successive way – the ballad involving the ritual, and so on; each of them carries in it, transparently, the same archetype. Could this archetype, this cosmologic principle be present through transmission in each document of the above mentioned categories? Could it, for instance, be present in the act of poetic creation of the Romanian or Serbian ballad? Perhaps it can. Anyway, the question, as it is, is not very important. What is important for us is the realisation that the folkloric mentality always creates in compliance with certain laws and that these laws are "archetypal." Whether a certain metaphysical principle was transmitted to it or not, is irrelevant because any folkloric creation is realised exclusively in structures in which these metaphysical principles are involved. In our case, thus, it is immaterial if the creator or the creators of the ballad received, through transmission, the theory that erodes their creative product – because, if they hadn't received it, they would have discovered it without realising, through the mere act of artistic creation. 4. Legends and building rituals The fundamental elements of the Master Manole ballad are met in other folkloric areas as well. In an Estonian legend it is said that when the first church was being built in Polde, a young girl dreamt that the work would not progress until a virgin would be walled in, and she offered herself to be sacrificed. A Ukrainian legend mentioned by Mr. Ciobanu (p.10-11), starts also from the destruction of the construction work on a church, being however contaminated with other motifs (the fight between God and devil, the appearance of tobacco from the devil's blood, etc.). The pieces of wood gathered during the day for erecting the church are scattered during night by the devil. Only after the monk, with the help of God, charms away the devil and forces him to carry the pieces of wood, can he erect the church; and only after, still with the help of God, he squeezes the devil in an oak tree till his blood gushes out, can the building last. The motif of the church that collapses before a human being is sacrificed to it is met in Scotland as well. Saint Columban was striving day by day to erect a cathedral at Iona, but the walls collapsed on and on. The sky tells him that the work cannot not be completed until a human being will be buried alive in it, and so the saint's companion is walled in the foundation of the Oran cathedral.The legends about the human sacrifices necessary to building bridges, fortresses, castles, cities are more numerous. Sébillot, after reproducing the Balkan documentation (the Arta Bridge, the one over Mostar, in Herzegovina, etc.), reminds several Western legends connected to the sacrifices brought to some famous bridges. Under the bridge in Rosporden (Finistère) a child was buried; Pont-Callec, situated between Caudan and Le Faonét, was built at the cost of sacrificing a 4-year-old child, who was bought; in Scotland, the Alyth district, there is a fortress with a defence bridge, under which tradition says that three Danish people were buried and that is why no Danish enemy soldier can cross it; according to a legend from Loire-Inférieure, the foundation of Pont d'Os had been laid on the bones of invaders defeated in a great battle. Countless fortresses were also built over the living bodies of human sacrifices. Nennius tells in his Historia Britonum (ch.18) how king Gourthigirnus, who wanted to build Dinas Emris fortress in Wales, couldn't succeed because the materials were gone the next day. When this repeats for the third time, he asks the druids how he could complete the construction. He gets the answer: by sacrificing a child with no parents (orphan? miraculous birth?). Inquired by the druids to clarify the cause that destroyed the construction, the child asks them to dig in a certain place, and they find there two bowls with water, two snakes, one white and the other red, etc. We will go back presently to the "child" motif regarding the construction rites. Other beliefs specify the sacrifices that were walled in at the foundation of public monuments, towers or cities. When a part of the walls in fortress Brême fell, the skeleton of a child was found. At the entrance of Maulbronn monastery, the skeleton of a walled in man was dug up, and similar discoveries are known as well.The new wall of Novgorod, according to a legend summarised by Mr. Ciobanu (p.15 sq.), was erected by burying a pregnant woman in its foundation. Two Spanish legends – one of the foot bridge in Toledo and another of the palace in Madrid – summarised by Mr. Popescu Telega, maintain the memory of the construction sacrifice. The foot bridge in Toledo was built the second time, this time to last, by walling in the foundation the architect's effigy. In the Orient, innumerable such traditions were recorded. There is no significant monument that lacks, in reality or in the legend, its living sacrifice, buried in its foundation. When the stone bridge at the Oriental gate of Shanghai was being erected, the architect, seeing that he couldn't begin the construction, promised to the goddess of the Sky the heads of 200 children if the stones could be set as they had to. The goddess answered that she didn't want the children's lives, but that they would be plagued with smallpox. This actually happened and half of them died. In Siam, people are buried under a newly built bridge. In Mandalay, the victims are buried at the foundation of the royal palace, under the throne and under the tower. In Japan, in a large building, a slave lies at the basis, killed with big stones. In Punjab, at Sialkot Bridge, there was a stronghold that continuously collapsed and couldn't be erected until after, following a fortune teller's advice, a widow's child was sacrificed.We encounter the same beliefs in America as well. Chibchas's temple in Sagamozo resists only because at its foundation living people were buried. In the building of the great Mexican temple of Huitzilopochtli prisoners were sacrificed. In fact, according to Clavigero, the wars of ancient Mexicans had as main purpose capturing prisoners destined for the sacrifices. The same human sacrifices for constructions are to be found in Polynesia and in Africa. The antiquity was familiar with the sacrifices for constructions. Phoenician cities, as well as the temples or houses in Canaan or Palestine are founded on victims buried alive. The same customs in Rome. After Malas, Alexander was said to have build Alexandria by sacrificing a girl whom he called Macedonia; Augustus, at Ankipa, was said to have sacrificed the virgin Gregoria; Tiberius, at the great theatre in Antiochia, sacrificed Antigone, etc. In Egypt, slaves were buried in the buildings. Modern India kept the tradition of the human sacrifice crucial for the building, that belongs to an entire geometric and cosmologic system on which we will return several times in the present essay. 5. The Death of the First…The dramatic element of Master Manole's legend – walling in his own wife – is to be found, sporadically, it's true, and with less intensity (not to mention poetic value) in other regions as well. The master of Winneburg walls in his own daughter. Sartori mentions a Chinese legend as well. Most of the legends, as it is known, are to be found in the South-East of Europe. Regarding the other detail of the Romanian ballad – the punishing of the master by the ruler, because he boasted that he could erect a much more beautiful monastery – we meet it in the legend of the Uchtenhagen knight who, from the beginning, threatens to wall in the master if he didn't make the most beautiful castle he was able to make. After the master completed the Neuenhagen castle, the knight asks him if he could have made it more beautiful. Half jokingly, the master answers positively and then, keeping his word, the knight walls him in, alive. Mr. Popescu-Telega mentions the legend of the palace in Madrid, which also includes a tragic ending of the master; for fear the latter might build something similar, the king orders that he should be blinded, that his arms and tongue should be cut, but he keeps him near him, at the palace, and brings him to the table, where the servants feed him, because he cannot grip anything. In the Spanish document though, the tragedy of the master doesn't result from his vanity, but from the king's fear. (In our opinion, the motif of the "evil ruler" should be left out of the professional discussions. The sovereign had to act sternly, as he was the only one responsible for the establishment of the unique Centre, and the master failed in this cosmogonic undertaking. The historical-social argument, present in the entire bibliography so far, must be replaced with another, a mythological one.)However, the motif of sacrificing the one who erects is kept in other traditions, as well, under an altered form. The belief that the master dies as soon as he finished the work is quite widespread. In Poland, the one who builds something is afraid to finish, and that is why he leaves a small chink, so as not to say that the work is completed. For, after a construction is ready, the master doesn't live more than a year. As any modern folkloric belief, this one can have several meanings and several explanations as well. The most common is that the master dies, being the first one who enters (by the mere fact that he is there) in a newly completed building. But we always find here man's fear of the work coming from his own hands, work that oughtn't to be perfect, for only God can make perfect things. Romanian popular art objects, for instance, are never finished; a new ornament can be added, they can be appended, modified, made perfect. An art object is made perfect by circulation, the same as the popular versions increase and become more beautiful when being transmitted by word of mouth; anyone who has talent can make them perfect.This meaning of the habit of not finishing the construction for fear of death within a year doesn't exclude, however, the first one, mentioned above. The fear of completeness can be a form of the death fear. For the notion of creation is connected, in the popular spiritual universe, to that of sacrifice and death. Man can create nothing perfect except at the cost of his own life. Only God can create without rendering himself dry or belittling his being. Man, being himself created, is sterile as long as he doesn't en-liven his creation with the sacrifice of himself or his fellow men. That's why a newly created thing is dangerous; it is a form of death, it is something that doesn't live yet and will not be able to live unless it absorbs a soul – that of the first being it comes in touch with. Only after it was "known," that is, made alive by somebody, does it become harmless; it belongs then to the living work, or anyway, it stops being a form of death.That's why we encounter the belief that he who owns the place where a house is being built dies; this way died, says the tradition, the owner of the land Moscow was built on. Similarly, the one who enters first a new house, or crosses first a newly built bridge, dies soon. Some beliefs, more advanced, say that if the man doesn't die soon, at least a series of misfortunes will fall upon him. That's why in Russia, when a family moves into a new house, the oldest member comes in first. In certain regions in the Pacific, before entering a new house, offerings are thrown in or the priest enters and says prayers. In Borneo, when a king or an important leader took possession of a new house, a man was killed and with his blood, the pillars and the foundation were strewn. 6. The First Brought by Fate is Destined to DieAccording to the legend of Teshang town in Bosnia, or of the bridge over Struma in Bulgaria, the one over Mostar in Herzegovina, that of the tower in Cettinge in Montenegro, of the Arta bridge in Epirus, etc. In the South-Eastern European versions mentioned in paragraph 3, the master's wife herself comes. This dramatic element rediscovers the metaphysical sense of the creation myth, in which self-sacrifice is present. The South-Danubian ballad, especially the Romanian one, deepens the meaning of the legend, rediscovering or returning to the source that gave birth to it. For, in master Manole's case, the wife is not doomed to be sacrificed. Anyone who would have approached the construction that morning had to be sacrificed. That was the custom in many places. But there was a custom and behind it a very long history, for, probably, there were strangers who were rather sacrificed or anyway, people from outside the builders' corporation. In the myth though, in that myth that precedes and yet constantly remains contemporaneous to history, the creation sacrifice was not accidental. In creation, it was the divinity that sacrificed itself – and in other creational episodes from humanity's myths, the dearest, the closest being was sacrificed as well; another way of formulating self-sacrifice. Master Manole's legend rediscovered this ancient, metaphysical meaning, hence its pathos and its infinite polyvalence that allows the most diverse artistic interpretations. This rediscovery, naturally, was neither dialectical, nor voluntary. The detail, however, is far from being important. The only important thing is that the Romanian dramatic experience was achieved on certain levels or on certain depths, in which the revelation of the ancient myth was self-evident. Let's not forget for instance that very many symbols and traditional myths were "rediscovered" through the mere act of artistic creation, by countless writers and artists. (The theme of rediscovering the symbols existing in a latent state in the collective, millenary unconscious was brilliantly applied in the issue of C. Brancusi's originality.). As these things disappear only for the superficial part of our being, it is enough for someone to live profoundly, or to contemplate according to norms, for the former to reveal themselves in their primordial purity. 7. The Child and the OrphanThe child is an ecumenical symbol of the beginnings, of the new, of complete life, of exceptional events, of durability, of eternity. The mission of guardian and protector of the building, if it is by any chance met in certain circumstances, is nothing but the deterioration of an archaic belief: en-livening the building is done under the mythical sign of "the child" in order to ensure not only the length in time, but also the immortality of the work. Let's remind here that in Balkan legends, as well as in the Russian ones, the child is present in the sacrifice of the construction, whether he is walled in together with the mother or not. Children are sacrificed in connection with the metallurgical techniques as well, and with the same purpose: to ensure the success of the work, to "en-liven" the cauldron in which the ores are melted. Naturally, in a folkloric product that acquired autonomy and circulates firstly because of its poetic qualities (as, for instance, the Serbian ballad and the Romanian ballad), the presence of the child is especially exploited through the touching element incorporated. But this touching element, apparently "profane," acting, that is, directly upon emotiveness, doesn't exclude the myth; on the contrary, it reactivates it. The pathos, in any event it might be released, projects this event into the mythical world. Here is, for instance, how the fate of Master Manole's child detaches itself from the "profane" and steps into myth: "Your little child,My little baby,God see it!You left itIn bed,UncladShould the fairies comeThey will all feed itShould it snow,It will be oiled;Should it rain,It will be bathed;Should the wind blowIt will be swung,Sweet swing,Till it grows big." The master's child, by the mere fact that he becomes an orphan following his mother's sacrifice, is homologated to the gods and the "orphan-child" heroes (Dionysus, Hermes, Kullervo, etc.) and his fate belongs no more to the humankind, being integrated into the mythical category. The pathos of the tragic event doesn't release only a human emotion (compassion, mercy, etc.), but turns this human substance into myth, assimilating the Master's orphan to the other divine "orphans," that were raised by fairies, swung by the wind and bathed by the rain. We know nothing else of the fate of the master's child, but his possible "biography" is no longer of any interest, as it can only be the repetition of the initial drama of the hero of any place and of all times. What is important in the world of the myth is his being invested with the attributes and the destiny of the orphan, of the child par excellence, that is, of the primordial child, in his absolute and invulnerable cosmic solitude, in his perfect uniqueness. The appearance of such a "child" coincides with a primordial moment: the creation of the Cosmos, the creation of a new world, a new historical age (Virgil), a "new life" at any level of the real. The appearance of "the child" happens "in that time," "in the old days," "once upon a time…," "then"; ab origo, in principio, agre. Mythical time is always the same, just as the sacred, ritual time is, as we have seen. "The orphan" lives in the moment (always the same) of the beginnings. He is alone, he is unique; through him, or contemporaneously to him, the worlds are born. He grows directly in the centre of elements; water, rain, wind. He is, we might say, a repetition of the initial mythical moment, when the whole humankind grows in the middle of cosmic elements. That's why the appearance of such an "orphan" is, in a certain way, a regression into cosmogony and anthropogeny. 8. "Substitutes" and "Objects"In time, the human sacrifice for constructions and artifacts was replaced by animal sacrifices. It is the famous movement of translation towards "substitution" which marks a phase in the mental evolution of humankind and a step towards its cosmic autonomy. An intermediary step is to be found in the shadow taking, a common custom nowadays as well, especially in the Balkans. The one whose shadow was measured and the measure was immured in the foundation will soon die. It is not so much a substitute of a human sacrifice here, but a euphemism. In some places, bones or human skulls are buried; this is what happened in India and in the Indian archipelago and many monasteries in Siam and Cambodia have at their basis human bones. In the North of Bessarabia, it is still the custom to immure "in the new construction a bone of domestic animal, preferably however, a human bone." The real substitute begins though with animal sacrifices. In Denmark it is believed that under every church a horse must be buried alive. In ancient India, they sacrificed, when building the altar, a black ox or a white he-goat. Sheep were sacrificed especially in the Orient. Dogs, cats, birds and even snakes were also sacrificed. Even since 1860, the young couples didn't want to get married in the new town hall in Neuville Chant d'Oisel, unless a rooster was cut. In Romania, it is customary to cut a rooster for a new house. In the Near East, they sacrifice animals when the foundation is laid or they repeat the sacrifice on the threshold of the new house itself. In Herzegovina, in 1872, when Dedaga Tchengitch laid the foundation of a bridge, he sacrificed on every slab a black sheep, and under every cornerstone he laid a ducat. The custom of strewing with blood a new house is still very widespread. A Scottish saying says: "If you want the bridge to stand the flood,Lay the foundation 'meng water and blood." All these converge towards the same explanation: the construction cannot last if it isn't "en-livened," if a soul is not given to it – be it of human or of animal. "Life" can be conferred to it not only by someone who has it in an overt way (that is, we would say, by someone who, in our judgment, is "alive"), but this "life" can be transmitted directly from the centres that received it in their turn through participation: for example the human or animal bones, as we have seen it happens in India, Cambodia, Romania, etc. These bones are loaded with power, so they can "en-liven" in their turn a construction and can give it life and length in time. Gold can do the same thing, through everything it brings with it from the solar level it belongs to: strength, length in time, eternity. In Mexico, they lay at the foundation gold, silver and pearls, all of these – substances filled with cosmic energies. In Poland and Belgium, they lay at the four corners of the foundation green herbs. In other places, they place eggs, bread, wine, salt, milk, oil, etc. Of course, many of those who bring these offerings don't remember why they do it. Or, at the time when they remembered, they did it as a tribute brought to the local spirit, to "the novelty," etc. But the primordial meaning of the vegetal offerings, as well as of the animal ones, was the same: promoting the construction among the "beings," among the existences that last, that must therefore be "en-livened," either by the soul or the blood of the sacrifice, or by the "power" bestowed by certain substances (gold, pearls, food) or effigies.We have talked several times so far about "en-livening" a construction by sacrificing a living being. We have to say that this is not the hypothesis that the ethnographers and the folklorists embraced when they wanted to explain the origin and the meaning of such rituals. Several explanations were formulated and they circulated for a long time (some circulate even today) due to the scientific prestige of the authors, although, in our opinion, they are either inconsistent or insufficient. For instance Tylor, and after him Gaïdoz, and partly Sartori as well, believe that the purpose of the construction sacrifices is the transformation of the victim's soul into a protective demon. It is with good cause that Westermarck refuses to accept this explanation; for, says the Finnish scholar, the "ghost" of the one sacrificed could hardly turn into a tutorial genie of its own assassins.The second hypothesis which was and still is very popular, is that of Sartori, partly accepted by Westermarck also, namely that a construction upsets the spirit of the place and that it has to be conciliated by a sacrifice. This hypothesis could be taken into account if it could explain the total amount of construction sacrifices. And, as we will see immediately, there are construction sacrifices in which it cannot be about a genie of the place (for instance when a ship is being launched or when the fire is being lit under the metallurgic cauldrons).Crawley and partially Westermarck believe that the sacrifice is owed to the primitive man's fear of something "new." But we have seen (ch. 5) that the "novelty" can have very many meanings for the man of archaic cultures. A new thing can be a form of death, due, however, to other reasons than those taken into consideration by the English anthropologist. Finally, Westermarck, after adhering to a certain extent to Sartori's and Crawley's hypotheses, reaches the conclusion that most of these rituals converge towards a substitution sacrifice: a man is killed in order to save the others. Obviously, this assertion, taken separately, is true; in any sacrifice, somebody is offered in order to save the others. But such an assertion doesn't explain the structure of the construction sacrifices. It hardly explains anything actually, for under such a general formula a lot of religious acts and heterogeneous beliefs can be grouped. If things were as simple as the Finnish scholar thinks, then the presence of the children (ch. 6) would have no meaning; choosing the place (see above, ch. 8) would be useless and the cosmogonic structure of all the construction sacrifices would be rendered meaningless. In fact, if everything came down to "sacrificing a person in order to save the others," this sacrifice could be done in any way; we would witness, in other words, a certain "freedom" of the sacrificial scheme. Things happen yet quite the opposite: all these sacrifices present a similar structure, a structure slightly similar to the primordial sacrifice that took place at the creation of the world…How unsatisfactory the explanations of the above mentioned scholars are will be understood as we will advance in our present analysis. The construction sacrifices have as a purpose "en-livening" the building or the object being built, but this "en-livening" isn't done at random (that is, by simply sacrificing a living being), it is done in compliance with a divine model, by repeating the initial creation act. In other words, the original meaning of these sacrifices was not this: it is sacrificed in order for a thing to become "en-livened" – but: it is sacrificed because so was done "in the beginning," when the worlds were created and because only this way can a thing become alive and acquire reality and length in time. Naturally, this original meaning was in most of the cases forgotten. But its presence is everywhere identified; in "the search for the place," in the occurrence of "the child," in homologating the construction of the house with the creation of the World, etc. We will see presently that the "en-livening" itself is not a simplistic belief, explainable by a general human animism (animism that, in this general sense, never existed in reality), but it belongs to a wider theory. For making this frame more intelligible, let's examine a new series of facts. We have so far mentioned rituals, superstitions and legends regarding the buildings (churches, cities, bridges, houses, streets, etc.). We meet identical sacrifices (sacrificing a human being), for example when fallowing a virgin land, sacrifices in which we identify not only the fear of "something new," but firstly an act of creation and of organisation, similar to the act by which the chaos was transformed by the gods into Cosmos (cf. the rituals of "taking possession," ch. 1). In the Fiji islands, the same sacrifices performed for a new house are performed for launching a new boat. Sacrifices are made for the new boats in the Solomon Islands, in New Georgia, etc. The Vikings would tie a slave by the feet, so that the main beam reinforcing the bottom of the new ship would be blood reddened. When in 1784 the bey of Tripoli launched a new man-of-war, a black slave was tied to the ship's bow. Nevertheless, the most significant examples in this respect are found in the category of human and animal sacrifices, performed so that water might run in a pond. Professor Przyluski collected numerous documents from the folklore of a primitive Indian pre-Aryan population, Santali. They can be explained only if the human sacrifice is performed with a creational purpose: on the one hand the imitation of the primordial gesture, that of Creation, which makes all things be, as they should be, hence, it makes the pond have much water and good water; on the other hand (still a creational gesture), en-livening the pond, transforming it from a dead or agonising thing into a living thing. As nothing can last unless it has a life and a soul, that is, unless it is made as the Cosmos was made, the pond cannot regain its natural function, its life and its soul, unless all these are offered to it through a sacrifice, through a conversion ritual of the life and soul of the sacrifice. That's how one can explain why the boats have a human eye drawn at their bow (e.g. in Egypt). It is not just a substitute – if any – of the human sacrifice. It's the "en-livening" of the boat, its integration into the living, organic things status. A boat equipped with an eye is transformed into a human body; it has "life," it has a "soul"; it has, thus, power, just as living things have, and this power makes it exist and last.Human sacrifice is present at the beginning of any initial action, therefore, each and every time the Creation act is reiterated. 9. Choosing the Place and Consecrating the "Centre"Choosing the place on which the church, the town or the house will be erected is done with distinctive care. A series of geometric laws and protocols must be fulfilled. Thus, the beginning of our ballad reminds that: Down Arges riverOn a charming shore,Negru Voda passesWith ten companions… They all walk aheadTo choose down the valleyPlace for monasteryAnd for remembrance… The places are not chosen at random, nor are they chosen for profane reasons –splendour, sanitary or strategic reasons, etc. Everywhere they follow a geomantic or magic canon (the "theory" involved in that canon is either coherently preserved or degraded by the infantilisms so frequent with the "primitive" peoples). All sorts of creatures have the role of validating the choice of the place destined for a certain construction. Thus, the Estonians lay herbs and rags on the area where they want to build a stable; if black ants gather, it's a good sign; if, on the contrary, red ants come, it's bad, and if in three days they find worms under them, it's a good sign. Sartori gathered an immense bibliography connected to validating the place destined for a human construction or settlement by various animals. In Ukraine they put bread and water; if they remain intact until the next day, the place is well chosen. The same belief is to be found with the Volhynians: they put bread, salt, etc. and wait not for a day, but for 2-3 days. In Africa, things happen exactly the opposite. The Maravi tribe for instance (east of Nyasa Lake) asks the spirit of the place, which is, as usual, near a tree; some flour is laid at the root of the tree, and if for 24 hours the flour remains untouched it's a sign that the spirit rejected the choice, and then they search for another place. In India, it is believed that many times the local, chthonic deities take the shape of the architect's body while planning or building the house and then disappear; that's why sacrifices are needed. But this belief is either perverted or parallel to the general conception that lies at th