The Ancient Library
 

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CONCLUSION 273

has a remote and august ancestry in the fear which attaches to things or beings of power, before holy and accursed have become cate­gories clearly separate or distinguished. Even possession is older than anthropomorphic gods. The so-called divinatory arts have no less a long pedigree behind them. They are not arbitrary inventions of learned folly suddenly imposed on a credulous people; they have deep roots; that is why they take so long to wither away. The anxiety engendered by solemn occasions, by the crises of existence, by abnormal occurrences, and, not least important, by the continuous consciousness of man, who cannot ignore the prospect of the future and live unheeding in the momentary sensations of a secure present, is the ultimate cause of the practice of kleromantic methods and divinatory sub-rites. The very elaboration of their art is testimony to the force and insistence of this anxiety. Man endeavours to wrest at any cost the maximum of information to guide him through the darkness that lies before him and is inevitably to be traversed. He tries to burst through the shackles of time and space by means of magic or divination. The impulse is vital and inevitable. Were its claims justified by reason or experience, the art of divination

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