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The Thread of Life1

Geza Roheim

ANTIQUITY BELIEVED that man's fate was determined at birth by a goddess or goddesses. These goddesses, the Parcae of the Romans, the Moirai of the Greeks, the Hathors of the Egyptians all have something to do with spinning or weaving a thread.1

The goddesses of Egypt who correspond to the Moirai of the Greeks are the Hathors. The Hathors appear as seven or more beautiful young girls foretelling the future of the newborn infant. They are represented attending the infant as midwives. Whenever a child is born the seven Hathors appear and proclaim the fate that has been allotted to the infant by its god. Death is called 'that which has been fated' (das Verhdngte) in an official document.2 Some of them attend the young mother to protect her with their incantations; others receive the newborn baby and pass it from one to the other.3 The sun god Ra sends the goddesses Isis, Nephtys, Mashkonouit and Hiqit to act as midwives to Rounditdit, a mother pregnant with triplets. The first two goddesses are well known; the latter two may require introduction.

Maspero says Mashkonouit is the goddess Mashkonou, 'c'est à dire du berceau et en cette qualité elle assiste d 1'accouchement: elle reunit en elle Shait et Raninit, c'est d dire la déesse qui règle la destinée et celle qui allaite l'enfant et lui donne son nom par suite sa personalité'.

Hiqit is the frog-headed goddess called 'l'un des premiers berceaux d'Abydos'. The goddesses arrive and Isis gives the child its name of Ousirhaf (the one whose double is powerful). The goddesses wash the infant, cut its umbilical cord and put it on a bed. Similar proceedings follow with the other two infants of the triplets.4

All Egyptian goddesses are in a sense mothers, midwives and fates (Hathors). Hathor, or House of Horus, is the divine representative of women, the goddess of love and pleasure. She is both the goddess of sunrise and sunset and, therefore, also of the hereafter.5 In the late Egyptian period all dead women were called Hathors6. 'The goddess Hathor is one of the oldest known deities of Egypt and it is certain that in the form of a cow she was worshipped in the early part of the archaic period.7 She was also regarded as the great mother of the world, as the personification of the great power of nature which was perpetually conceiving, creating, rearing and maintaining all things great and small. She was the 'mother of her father' and 'the daughter of her son'.8 'It was Hathor, in the form of a cow, who received the dead when they entered the underworld; she gave them new life and celestial food wherewith to maintain it.'9 In the person of Hathor we thus have the complete circle from the cradle to the grave; but she also represents an annually recurring periodicity for she is the star Sothis and is thereby connected with the rise of the Nile before the inundation. Sothis rose helically on the first day of the Egyptian New Year, and when the sun god Ra entered his boat, Hathor, the goddess of the star Sothis, went with him.10

Various peoples have held the belief that human life is determined (sometimes at birth) by maternal goddesses or supernatural beings, and that life ends when a cord, or thread, is severed. The Assyrian mother goddess Ishtar spins the thread of life and cuts it.11 Alkinous promises Odysseus that he will take care of him till he touches 'the soil of his beloved home' and he will have to face then 'whatever hard fate has in store for him and what the Moirai have spun on his thread of life when he was born'.12 A thread has been spun at birth for each mortal by Moira or Aisa and the texture of this thread determines whatever will happen to him, both good and bad.13 Moiragenes was anyone who might be regarded as favored by these goddesses; they would care for him like good mothers and spin all the luck they could into his thread. The Moirai are closely related to the Erinyes (Furies); their altar in Sikyon was in the forest devoted to the cult of these avenging representatives of the mother-imago. Clotho wound the flax round the distaff, ready for her sister Lachesis who span out the thread of life which Atropos with her scissors relentlessly snapped asunder.14

According to Plato the Moirai were the daughters of Ananke (necessity): they were Lachesis (who presides over destiny), Clotho (the spinner) and Atropos (the inflexible). As they spin they sing with the Sirens the music of the spheres; Lachesis, the past; Clotho, the present; Atropos, the future.15 In modern Greek folklore the Moirai are old women who appear three days after the child is born and spin the thread. They carry a spindle and yarn wherewith is spun the infant's destiny. Of a lucky person it is said: 'The Fate who fated thee carried a silver spindle, and threads of gold wherewith she fated thee'.16

The Moirai in modern Greek folklore are the tutelary divinities of female sex life. Greek girls used to sacrifice honey cakes to them in their cave to induce Fate to bring them husbands. In Athens, young girls sacrificed honey, salt and bread to the Moirai on a plate, so that the Moirai should give them young and nice husbands. Women who desired to be pregnant, or pregnant women, would rub against a rock and invoke the Moirai. This rock near the Kallirhoe is situated near the erstwhile temple of Aphrodite who was here invoked as the eldest of the Moirai. Widows prayed to the goddess asking for a new husband.17 At Arachoba the expressions 'his yarn has been torn' or 'the yarn has been wound up'18 denote that the person has died.

At Zagori in Epirus the three Fates appear when a child is born. One determines the duration of the child's life by spinning the yarn; another, called Kaloumoira, gives happiness. The Moirai write their decisions on the child's nose in the form of pimples, or on the forehead in the form of mysterious spots.19

The often repeated folk tale is the scene of the three weird sisters who appear at midnight, the third night after the child's birth. The mother, awake in her bed, hears them. They sit at the table, eat the food and taste the wine that has been prepared for them. Then they talk and endow the child with all their gifts.20

In a modern folk story of Steiri, the Moirai appear as usual and the first one says: 'He will fall into the fire at the age of three and burn to death'. The second one says: 'No, when he is seven years old he will jump off a rock but at the age of twenty-two, when he is lying in bed beside his wife on the bridal night, a snake will bite him'.21 The listener in this instance is a sister. The Moirai are a dream of her evil wishes which are the expression of sibling rivalry. In the typical folk tale of the mother who hears the Fates express their good and bad wishes, we may surmise that the mother's ambivalence is similarly expressed.

This mother and daughter situation as the explanation of the good and bad Moirai becomes quite obvious in a Greek version of Snow-white. The governess induces Marigo to kill her mother and then when the king marries her she persuades the king to kill his daughter. Marigo escapes and at this moment the Moirai appear. 'What shall her fate be', they ask, 'good or evil?'22

The Bulgarians have their Orissnitzi (a word derived from rissuwam-to tear, to draw, to write) who appear at the birth of the infant and with an invisible pen write whatever is going to happen to the child on the child's forehead; but it is written in invisible letters. They live at the end of the world, near the sun, in a deep valley.23

In Aigina the eldest of the three sisters wields the scissors, one of the younger ones operates the spindle, the third holds the yarn. While they are spinning they discuss the child's future. Each turn of the yarn on the spindle means a year of life. When they have finished spinning, the chief or oldest Moira cuts the yarn. If the yarn should break before the Moirai have said what they were about to say, life will endure only as many years as the yarn had turned around the spindle. If everything goes well the chief of the three unwinds one coil at each birthday. When she has come to the end of the yarn, life is finished. In other versions, the yarn is cut at the moment when life ends, not at the beginning.24 Germanic equivalents of these beliefs are not so well defined.25

Ostiaks and Voguls pray for children to Puges, daughter of the sky god, who lives in a golden house. Seven cradles hang from the roof. When she rocks one of these seven times a 'soul' is created but if the cradle overturns during this movement it will not live long. The road to this dwelling goes over seven seas to a mountain consisting of seven stories. Around Surgut this deity is also Vagneg imi (imi, old woman), 'the mother of the seven sons of the heaven god'. In her hand she holds a wooden staff from which hang threads for each person born. When a child is born the goddess makes a knot in one of the threads, the distance between this and the staff indicating the length of the child's life.26 The Koryak have a similar belief but it is displaced to a male, One on High, particularly concerned with birth, who sends the souls of the newly born into the wombs of their mothers. The souls are hung up in the house of this deity on posts and beams, and the duration of their earthly existence is measured by thongs tied to them, a long one indicating longevity, a short one, early death of the child to be born. After death the human soul returns to the One on High who, after some time, sends it to a relative of its former owner, to be reborn.27 According to the Toradja in central Celebes, Ngai mantande sonka is the supreme ruler of life and death. The souls hang in his house on cords; whenever he cuts one somebody dies.28 The Batak have similar myths but without the concept of the cord.29 The Chinese have their ‘old man in the moon’ who links the fate of future consorts to each other with a red ribbon; no force can tear this ribbon.30 According to another version the legs of children who are destined to marry are tied to each other with this ribbon.31

We suspect that in all these fantasies the end of life is modeled on the beginning: the thread of life is the umbilical cord.

The Tena of Alaska tie around the wrist or waist of a young child a thread called 'by-which-he-is-tied', i.e., to life. These threads tie the child's life to the mother's so that the child cannot die unless the mother dies first.32 Among the Jicarilla Apache when a couple know that the woman is pregnant they cease tying their moccasin laces, tucking them instead inside. Were they to tie them, the umbilical cord would be wound around the child's neck with the risk of choking it during delivery. As Opler observes, the moccasin string is the symbolic equivalent of the umbilical cord.33

In numerous instances the placenta or the cord is regarded as magically identical with the child. At Torda Aranyosszek the placenta is called the child's double.34 In Bavaria they keep the placenta for three days in a parcel under the mother's bed and then they throw it into running water to prevent witches from getting hold of it and substituting a changeling for the child.35 In eastern England the stump of the umbilical cord must not fall on the ground when it separates.36 All over Europe the stump is preserved as an amulet and frequently buried with its original owner. In Saxonia, eating the placenta was regarded as a safeguard against epilepsy. In Russia (Orenburg) the placenta is buried with great reverence. If it is wished to prevent the mother from having more children, the placenta is dug out and reburied upside down. In the area of Obolensk the placenta is put on the head of the newborn infant who is then washed in its mother's urine. This is to prevent it from being afflicted with chorea.37

In Hungary the umbilical cord is kept to fumigate the child when it gets sick. If witches get hold of the cord they can use it to suck milk out of cows from a great distance. In southern Hungary as soon as the child can walk a powder is made of the umbilical cord and mixed with the child's food to make it strong. The same remedy is used for stomach ache or sleeplessness.38

The Aranda 'cut the umbilical cord with a stone knife at a distance of some inches from the child's body. It is never bitten off, as is the custom in many primitive tribes. After a few days the remaining part of the cord is cut off by the mother who, by swathing it in strips of fur, makes it into a string which is kept by the father's mother for a few days and then wound around the child's neck. This necklace facilitates the growth of the child and keeps it quiet and contented. It averts illness and prevents the child from hearing the noise made by dogs in the camp.'39

From my own field notes I quote the following observations. The Mularatara cut a long umbilical cord and then let it break when it is dry. They tie it with a string and put it on the boy's neck to make him grow big and fat. It also prevents the child from crying. Among the tribes of the Nullarbor plains the string made from the umbilical cord and worn around the infant's neck is supposed to contain part of the child's spirit. When it withers and falls off, the baby has finally completed absorption of the spirit.40 At Cape Bedford the cord is tied in a coil and hung around the child's neck. The child wears it for some time and it is finally presented to the father's father if the child is a boy and to the mother's father if a girl. On the Pennyfather River the placenta is buried at birth. It contains the vital principle. When the portion of cord falls off the infant, it is carried in the mother's dilly bag. The mother does not bury it before the little one begins to walk, because if she were to do so, the baby would die.41

It is quite clear from these and many other data42 that the umbilical cord and the placenta are magical doubles of the child and that they symbolize the dual union of infant and mother, the tie that unites mother and child.43

Siberian customs are especially interesting. Among the Tungus and Jakut the father and his friends eat the placenta.44 According to Pallas, the Ostiaks put the placenta in a little box, and after adding a piece of meat or fish to it they hang it on the tree.45 The midwife is called 'navel mother' and the child 'navel son' or 'navel daughter'. In the Tremjugan district they pretend to see human features in the expelled placenta. They personify it and call it 'the child nourishing woman'; it is also the object of a cult. They make a little shirt, a belt and a shawl for it and put all this in the 'navel basket'. Before carrying the 'navel basket' into the forest they arrange a little festival called 'navel meal' and they place whatever food they have, and tea, on a plate for 'the child nourishing woman', the placenta. The 'navel mother', the midwife, tells the women to bow to this spirit and say: 'Child nourishing woman eat! Mother of the fire eat and drink Then we shall have luck and blessing.'46

Here we certainly have an incipient supernatural being and we should not forget that the same Ostiaks and Voguls also have a mother goddess in heaven who has allotted the life span of human beings on the threads that hang from her distaff. Moreover the expression for 'mortal' in the songs is frequently 'man whose navel has been cut'.47

In Europe the umbilical cord appears frequently in the life of a child. In Czechoslovakia the mother keeps the umbilical cord in a knot. Before the child begins going to school they give it to him; if he can untie the knot all will be well.48 It is the Graeco-Walach custom to show the child the cord to bring him luck.49 The Székelys in Transylvania make the child look through the umbilical cord to see his future.50 Usually a boy gets the knotted umbilical cord at the age of seven; if he can untie it he will be a real man.51

At Szatmar thoughtful mothers keep the umbilical cord and tie on it a hundred knots. At the age of thirteen it is given to the child to undo; if it succeeds, it will be fortunate in life.52 In Baden and Franconia the cord is kept six years, then it is chopped into scrambled eggs fed to the child. It is believed this will make him smart; or the cord is sewn into his clothes to prevent him from losing his mind (Hesse). In Bavaria it is burnt after seven years. In Oldenburg they form a circle out of the umbilical cord; if the child looks through it and sees the alphabet it will learn to read quickly.53 The Graeco-Walachs keep the cord (called asalos, the equivalent of the Greek omphalos) dry because if it gets wet the child feels pain in its body. When the child has grown a little they show him the umbilical cord to make him successful in everything. 'He has seen his asalos' means 'He is very successful'. The mother must never show a child's umbilical cord to other children.54 Among the Masurs the cord is dried and put into the child's bosom when it first goes to school.55 The Ona of Tierra del Fuego dry the umbilical cord and put it in a small pouch. When the child is able to walk alone the father catches a small bird and the child ties the pouch around the bird's neck. The father then puts the bird in the hands of the child who lets the bird loose to fly away. Every bird of this species will thereafter protect the child.56

The child who can undo the 'Gordian knot' is capable of loosening the tie to its mother and to the past. Progress in life then becomes possible. In many cases, however, as when the child keeps or eats the cord, this transition rite, instead of representing the trend 'away from the mother', denies it. The mother, represented by the umbilical cord, will still be with the child.

The thesis is by now sufficiently obvious: the thread of life is the umbilical cord and the final separation from the world is but a repetition of the first separation when the physical unity of mother and child is disrupted. That the 'thread' is the umbilical cord symbolism is unmistakable.

Hungarian witches put the cord of a stillborn infant into the cow's fodder. It remains intact in the cow's belly until midnight when it starts growing. It grows right out of the animal, right into the witch's hand, and through it she drains all the milk out of the cow.57 In southern Hungary a fowl is killed when a child is born. Great caution is exercised to remove the intestines of the fowl intact in the form of a single long cord. If breaks occur through which excrement escapes, each break indicates a misfortune that will befall the child. If the intestines are completely severed before removal, the length of the part that remains attached to the fowl indicates the length of the child's life. A tree is planted for the newly born and the entrails are buried under the tree. 'Hosszu belet hútztak neki' – 'They have drawn him long guts'–means 'He is very old'.58

As the unconscious closely associates the womb and the stomach, the cord may represent the intestines. There is a German incantation used to cure pains in the uterus.

Three women sat in the sand
A mortal's intestines in their hand.
The first one moves it,
The second one closes it,
The third puts it back in its place.59

Although Mansikka has shown the Christian origin of these incantations, a psychological interpretation is not excluded. In the Caucasus, folklore that includes intestinal (anal) references reveals an ambivalent attitude toward the mother imago: 'A mother and a daughter sat on a river's bank, before them was a chest. In the chest were the son's intestines; the mother tied them into a knot, the daughter undid the knot; the undoer was stronger than the tier.'60

According to the Saxons in Transylvania, a pregnant woman must be careful not to get her neck entwined in anything or wear a string of pearls on her neck because the umbilical cord might get twisted around the child's neck when it is born.61 The Wends say if a pregnant woman passes under a rope the cord will get twisted around the child's neck and kill it.62 In Wales if a pregnant woman ties a cord around her waist the child will be unlucky. She must not spin because the flax or hemp will become a rope that will hang her child.63

Gypsies in Hungary resort to the following rite to exorcise the spirits of sickness from the child. The oldest man present, the sorceress and the child's mother throw the cord (which has been concealed up to that moment) into a brazier. When the smoke ascends all three say the following prayer:

Dear God give us luck
And protect us all the time.
Rescue us everywhere.
We give you the heavy chain
To chain the spirit of evil
And make it flee this place.

The chain is the umbilical cord, an amulet against all evil. They call it devleskero lancos-god's chain- or devleshero shelo-god's rope.64

Children's rhymes frequently include references to a thread or cord of gold.

O you golden thread
Take us through the whole land.
Take us from Dobsina to Kassa
And then again to Löcse.
Three women live there;
They punish and reward us.
One of them has a round apple in her mouth,
Another waves a long switch
To beat you if you don't obey,
And the third one weaves of silk
A nice new suit for you.
Boys ride and ride, Hop, hop, hop, ride!65

These rhymes are evidently sung to children who are 'riding' on the knee of an adult. They frequently contain references to the three women, or three Marys, and the golden yarn or thread.66

Another of these songs is a Rumanian song from Transylvania.

Hello you darlings,
We ride along,
We have a thread of gold in our hand.
Two women have made it,
All night they have spun it,
From the tiny navel cord
They have made this golden thread.
The third one will cut it,
Therefore we must ride and always ride.
For the third one from her thick foot
Must be delivered of many toads and snakes,
Thirty at every step.
Therefore we must ride and ride
Lest the toads and snakes
Come and catch the little boys.67

The Moirai represent the past, the present and the future. They represent a past that is always with us. They are the future formed out of the past. They are time,68 experience the inevitable (Ananke), both transformed by wishful thinking into the all giving mother.69 The first and the second metamorphoses are successful; the third fails. Death cannot be completely ignored.70

According to the Samojeds the delta of the Ob is the entrance to the netherworld. It is ruled by 'the old woman of seven lands who cuts the umbilical cords'. She determines the moment when a human being should be born and when he or she should die.71 But the last separation is modeled on what preceded; therefore, implicitly, it is not final; it will be followed by another life.

What is the meaning of the third woman with the swollen foot? Wlislocki thinks it is the reine pédauque, the third one with the goose foot.72 It might therefore be the phallic woman; but the lines suggest another interpretation. The swollen foot is the pregnant body, the toads and snakes are the siblings who threaten the child with severance, with separation from the mother.

Among the Somali when a male child is born they take pains to cut the umbilical cord in such a way as to leave as much as possible and then they try to stretch it, for the longer it is, the longer will be the penis. They tie the part that has been cut off into a knot which the mother keeps in her bag. If a delivery is not going smoothly this piece of the cord is held over a fire and a woman sniffs the steam.73 In France the umbilical cord is cut short for girls, but for boys 'selon la longeur au moment de la naissance, du petit membre viril'; also it is almost exclusively for the male sex that the cord is preserved.74

The cord of life is cut; castration looms at the end. Object loss and the loss of the genital organ merge into each other.

We revive the past and remember because we want to relive, to retrace our steps to the mothers.

Ye Mothers, in your name, who set your throne
In boundless space, eternally alone,
And yet companioned! All the forms of Being,
In movement, lifeless, ye are round you seeing.

Whate'er once was, there burns and brightens free
In splendor-for 't would fain eternal be,
And ye allot it, with all potent might,
To Day's pavilions and the vaults of Night.75

It is the fond hope of man that the universe itself is subject to his own memory and to the omnipotent mothers of his childhood.

This attempt to reanimate the past is undeniable, indeed, too obvious. The Polish custom of calling out to the man who cuts the last handful of corn, 'You have cut the umbilical cord'76 is a conscious or allegorical representation of separation. The data presented in this paper show the relationship between the severed thread and the umbilical cord; but is this really the latent, repressed meaning of the myth? In other words, does the myth go back to the trauma of the severed umbilical cord? This is hardly likely. The symbolism is either conscious (allegory) or preconscious. The severance of the umbilical cord is a 'trauma' we have all mastered. In the rites and myths discussed, it is but a preconscious substitute for the sword of Damocles, the ever threatening castration anxiety. The wish is the Oedipal desire charged with anxiety. But the myth represents this as merely the cutting of the umbilical cord, it transforms the end into a beginning.


1A revised and expanded version of one of the author's first psychoanalytic studies, this was originally published in Hungarian: Az filet fonala (The Thread of Life). Ethnographia, 1916.
2Erman, A.: Die ãgyptishe Religion. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1909, pp. 95-96.
3Maspero, G.: Les contes populaires de I'Égypte ancienne. Third Edition. Paris: Guilmoto, pp. LI-LII.
4Ibid. pp. 36-39. Cf. also p,12 and p. 169.
5Erman, A.: op. cit. p. 15.
6Ibid. p. 252
7Budge, E. A. Wallis: The Gods of the Egyptians. London: Methuen & Co., 1904, I, p. 428.
8Ibid. II, p. 431.
9Ibid. I, p. 437.
10Ibid. I, p. 435
11Langdon, S.: The Semitic Goddess of Fate. J. Royal Asiatic Society, 1929-1930, p. 28. On Hebrew survivals of this idea cf. Scheftelowitz, J.: Das Schlingen and Netzmotiv im Glauben an Brauch der Viflker. Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche and Vorarbeiten, XII, 1912, pp. 57-58.
12Odyssey, VII, 196-198.
13Iliad, XX, 127-128; XXXV, 209-210.
14Peter, R.: Moiren. Roscher's Lexikon, II, pp. 3084-3105.
15Greene, W. Charles: Moira. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1944, p. 315 fn.
16Abbott, G. F.: Macedonian Folklore. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1903, p. 126.
17Schmidt, B.: Das Volksleben der Neugriechen. Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1871, pp. 216-218.
18Ibid. p. 220.
19Ibid., p. 212.
20Ibid., p. 313.
21Schmidt, B.: Griechische Mārchen, Sagen und Volkslieder. Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1877, p. 69.
22von Hahn, J. G.: Griechische und albanesische Mārchen. Leipzig: Engelmann, 1864, II, pp. 134-137. Cf. also Sainénu, L.: Basmele Române. (Roumanian Folk Tales). Bucharest: Gobl, 1895, pp. 144, 783.
23Lübeck, K. L: Die Krankheitsdämonen der Balkanvölker. Ztschr. des Vereins für Volkskunde, VIII, 1898, pp. 243-244.
24Thumb, R.: Zur neugriechischen Volkskunde. Ztschr. des Vereins fur Volkskunde, II, 1892, pp. 123-134.
25Grimm, J.: Deutsche Mythologie. Gutersloh: Verlag von C. Bertelsmann, 1875, I, p. 338 and III, p. 118, fn.
26Karjalainen, F.: lugrilaisen ustonko. (Beliefs of the Ugrians.) Suomen Suvun Uskonnot, 1918, III, pp. 38, 249; quoted by Holmberg, U. in Finno Ugric Mythology, The Mythology of All Races. Boston: Marshall Jones Company, 1927, p. 260.
27Jochelson, W.: The Koryak. Jesup North Pacific Expedition, 1905, VI, p. 26.
28Juynboll: Indonesien. Arch. fur Religionswissenschaft, 1904, VII, p. 509, quotes A. C. Kruyt: Het Wezen van het Heidendom te Posso. (The Essence of Posso Paganism.) Medizinische Nederlander Zend. Gen., 1903, XLVIII, pp. 21-35.
29Warneck, John: Die Religion der Batak. Leipzig: Dieterichs, 1909, pp. 49-50.
30de Groot, J. J. M.: Les Fêtes-annuellement celébrées à Emoui. Annales du Musée Gamete, 1886, II, p. 476.
31Grube, W.: Religion und Kultus der Chinesen. Leipzig: Verlag von Rudolf Haupt, 1910, p. 168.
32Jette, J.: On the Superstitions of the Tena Indians. Antropos, VI, 1911, p. 257
33Opler, M. E.: Childhood and Youth in Jicarilla Apache Society. Los Angeles: Publications of the Frederick Webb Hodge Anniversary Publication Fund, 1945, p. 5.
34Janko, J.: Torda, Aranyosszek Toroczkó magyar népe. (Hungarians of Torda Aranyosszek Toroczkó.) Budapest: 1893, p. 249.
35Hovorka, 0., and Kronfeld, A.: Vergleichende Volksmedizin. Stuttgart: Strecher & Schroeder, 1909, II, p. 635, quoting G. Lammert: Volksmedizin und medizinischer Aberglaube in Bayern. Wurtsberg: F. R. Julien, 1869.
36Newman: Some Birth Customs in East Anglia. Folklore, L., 1939, p. 185.
37Ploss, H. and Bartels, M.: Das Weib in der Natur und Völkerkunde. Leipzig: Th. Grieben, 1908, II, p. 265.
38Wlislocki, F. Doerfler: A gyermek a magyar nephitben. (The Child in Hungarian Folk Beliefs.) Ethnographia, IV, 1893, p. 112.
39Spencer, B. and Gillen, F. T.: The Arunta. London: Macmillan Co., 1927, II, pp. 487-488.
40Bates, Daisy: The Passing of the Aborigines. London: John Murray, 1939, p. 235.
41Roth, W. E.: Postures and Abnormalities. North Queensland Ethnography Bulletin, XIV, p. 76.
42Cf. Frazer, J. G.: The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings. London: Macmillan Co., 1911, I, pp. 182-203. Ploss, H. and Renz, B.: Das Kind, in Brauch und sitte der Völker. Leipzig: Th. Grieben, 1911, pp. 56-61. Ploss, H. and Bartels, M.: op. cit., pp. 253-278.
43To be discussed in detail in my Psychology of Magic.
44Georgi, J. G.: Beschreibung aller Nationen der russischen Reiches. 1776, p. 79.
45Pallas, P. S.: Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des russischen Reichs. 1776, III, pp. 53-54.
46Karjalainen, K. F.: Die Religion der Iugra-Völker. Helsinki: F. F. Communications, No. 41, 1921, pp. 58-60.
47Cf. Munkácsi, B., in the volumes of the Thesaurus of Vogul Folk Lore. (Hungarian Academy of Sciences.)
48John, A.: Sitte, Brauch und Volksglaube im deutschen Westbohmen. 1905, p. 104.
49Sajaktzis, G.: Gräco-walachische Sitten und Gebrauche. Ztschr. des Vereins fur Volkskunde, 1894, p. 135.
50Róheim, Géza: Az élet fonalà. (The Thread of Life.) In Adalékok a magyar nephithez. (Contributions to Hungarian Folkbelief.) Budapest: Hornyánsky, 1920, p. 287.
51Temesváry, R.: Volksbrauche und Aberglauben bei der Geburtshilfe und Pflege der Neugeborenen in Ungarn. Leipzig: 1900, p. 127.
52Luby, M.: Treatment of Hungarian Peasant Children. Folk Lore, LII, 1941, p. 105.
53Wuttke, A.: Der deutsche Volksaberglaube. Berlin: Wiegandt und Grieben, 1900, 380.
54Sajaktzis, G.: op. cit., p. 135.
55Toeppen, M.: Aberglauben aus Masuren. Danzig: Verlag von Th. Berling, 1867, p. 80.
56Gusinde, M.: Die feurland Indianer. Mödling bei Wien: Anthropos Verlag, 1931, pp. 377-378.
57von Wlislocki, H.: Volksglaube und religiöser Brauch der Magyaren. Munster bei Wien: Aschendorff, 1893, pp. 155-156.
58Ibid., pp. 68-69.
59Heim, R.: Incantamenta magica Graeca Latina. Jahrbucher für klassische Philologie, Suppl. XIX, 1892, p. 497.
60Mansikka, V. J.: Uber russische Zauberformeln. Helsinki: Suomalais Tiedeakatemian Kustantama (Publications of the Finnish Scientific Academy), 1909, p. 195.
61von Wlislocki, H.: Volksglaube und Volksbrauch der siebenbiirger Sachsen. Münster bei Wien: Aschendorff, 1893, p. 140.
62Schulenburg, W.: Wendisches Volkstum. Berlin: Stricker, 1882, p. 108.
63Trevelyan, M.: Folk-Lore and Folk Stories of Wales. London: Elliot Stock, 1909, p. 266.
64von Wlislocki, H.: Volksglaube und religioser Brauch der Zigeuner. Munster bei Wien: Aschendorff, 1891, p. 72.
65Ibid., p. 135.
66Cf. Rochholtz, E. L.: Alemannisches Kinderlied und Kinderspiel aus der Schweiz. 1857, pp. 139-149; and Mansikka, V. J.: op. cit., pp. 193-202.
67von Wlislocki, H.: op. cit. (footnote 61), pp. 132-133
68The thirty in the Rumanian song may perhaps be the thirty days of the month.
69Cf. Bergler, Edmund and Röheim, Géza: "Psychology of Time Perception". Psychoanalytic Quarterly, XV, 1946, pp. 190-206.
70Cf. Freud: Das Motiv der Kästchenwahl In Ges. Schr., X, p. 243. (Imago, II, 1913.)
71Trócsányi, Z.: Sziberia szamojédjei koezoett. (Among the Samoyeds of Siberia.) Ethnographia, 1916, p. 71.
72von Wlislocki, H.: op. cit. (footnote 64), p. 133.
73Róheim, Géza: National Character of the Somali, Int. J. of Psa., XIII, 1932, 219.
74van Gennep, Arnold: Manuel de folklore franfais contemporain. Paris: A. Picard,1943, 1, p. 143.
75Goethe: Faust. Trans. by B. Taylor. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1912, Part II, p.76
76Mannhardt, W.: Die Korndämonen. Berlin: Dummler, 1868, p. 28: quoted by Frazer, J. G.: Spirits of the Corn and the Wild. London: Macmillan & Co., 1912, I, p. 150.

"The Thread of Life" by Geza Róheim
Fire in the Dragon and Other Psychoanalytic
Essays on Folklore

Alan Dundes, Editor
Princeton University Press, 1992

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