2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
You probably recognised the title from Apocalypse Now...,
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This review is from: The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Seller was pro - no complaints. The only real question is, is this the book you think it is.
A surprising sly read, it can quickly become bewildering for the absolute overkill in structure - so many examples to back up each point, you forget what the point was. The jist of the argument is this: Primitive societies did (and still do have) witches/sorcerers. They claim to control nature/gods. You want it to rain, then you must perform the rain dance to bend the spirits to your will. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn't (and that's your fault because you have doubts because you're the first to complain that it isn't raining!) If they're honest the doctor realises it's got nothing to do with them. So they evolve from controlling the spirit world by demand, to begging for favour. That is, praying. The witch doctor becomes a priest.
But given enough time, they notice the same thing: praying for rain doesn't mean it will. This gives way to the next transformation: the scientist. You want it to rain? Seed the clouds.
However, the evolution of spiritual civilisation remains the same: the desire to create a thing by demand. This is the human aspiration and it says a great deal about our psyche: God is a template for our own desires.
This book is an overwhelmingly expansive exploration of this cultural development. Not of what be described as an academic text by any means, but it is a gold standard of populist writing.
I only wish someone published a version with pictures!