ANCIENT EGYPT THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
SIGN-LANGUAGE AND MYTHOLOGY AS PRIMITIVE MODES
The other day a lad from London who had been taken to the seaside for the first time in his life was standing with his mother looking at the rolling breakers tossing and tumbling in upon the sands, when he was heard to exclaim, 'Oh, mother, who is it chucking them heaps o' water about?' This expression showed the boy's ability to think of the power that was 'doing it' in the human likeness. But, then, ignorant as he might be, he was more or less the heir to human faculty as it is manifested in all its triumphs over external nature at the present time. Now, it has been and still is a prevalent and practically universal assumption that the same mental standpoint might have been occupied by primitive man, and a like question asked in presence of the same or similar phenomena of physical nature. Nothing is more common or more unquestioned than the inference that primitive man would or could have asked, 'Who is doing it?' and that the who could have been personified in the human likeness. Indeed, it has become an axiom with modern metaphysicians and a postulate of the anthropologists that, from the beginning, man imposed his own human image upon external nature; that he personified its elemental energies and fierce physical forces after his own likeness; also that this was in accordance with the fundamental character and constitution of the human mind. To adduce a few examples taken almost at random:—David Hume declares that 'there is a universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves.' In support of which he instances the seeing of human faces in the moon. Reid says our first thoughts are that 'the objects in which we perceive motion have understanding and power as we have.' Francis Bacon had long before remarked that we human beings 'set stamps and seals of our own images upon God's creatures and works.' Herbert Spencer argued that human personality applied to the powers of nature was the primary mode of representation, and that the identification of this with some natural force or object is due to identity of name. 'In early philosophy throughout the world,' says Mr. Tylor, 'the [p.2] sun and moon are alive and as it were human in their nature.' Professor Max Muller, who taught that mythology was a disease of language, and that the myths have been made out of words which had lost their senses, asserts that 'the whole animal world has been conceived as a copy of our own. And not only the animal world, but the whole of nature was liable to be conceived and named by an assimilation to human nature.' And 'such was the propensity in the earliest men of whom we have any authentic record to see personal agency in everything,' that it could not be otherwise, for 'there was really no way of conceiving or naming anything objective except after the similitude of the subjective, or of ourselves.' Illustrations of this modern position might be indefinitely multiplied. The assumption has been supported by a consensus of assertion, and here, as elsewhere, the present writer is compelled to doubt, deny, and disprove the popular postulate of the accepted orthodox authorities.
That, said the lion, is your version of the story: let us be the sculptor's, and for one lion under the feet of a man you shall see a dozen men beneath the pad of one lion.
'Myth-making man' did not create the gods in his own image. The primary divinities of Egypt, such as Sut, Sebek. and Shu, three of the earliest, were represented in the likeness of the hippopotamus, the crocodile, and the lion; whilst Hapi was imaged as an ape, Anup as a jackal, Ptah as a beetle, Taht as an ibis, Seb as a goose. So was it with the goddesses. They are the likenesses of powers that were superhuman, not human. Hence Apt was imaged as a water-cow, Hekat as a frog, Tefnut as a lioness, Serkh as a scorpion, Rannut as a serpent, Hathor as a fruit-tree. A huge mistake has hitherto been made in assuming that the myth-makers began by fashioning the nature-powers in their own human likeness. Totemism was formulated by myth-making man with types that were the very opposite of human, and in mythology the anthropomorphic representation was preceded by the whole menagerie of totemic zootypes.
The idea of force, for instance, was not derived from the thews and muscles of a man. As the Kamite sign-language shows, the force that was 'chucking them heaps of water about' was perceived to be the wind; the spirit that moved upon the face of the waters from the beginning. This power was divinised in Shu, the god of breathing force, whose zootype is the lion as a fitting figure of this panting power of the air. The element audible in the howling wind, but dimly apprehended otherwise, was given shape and substance as the roaring lion in this substitution of similars. The force of the element was equated by the power of the animal; and no human thews and sinews could compare with those of the lion as a figure of force. Thus the lion speaks for itself, in the language of ideographic signs. And in this way the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt were at first portrayed as superhuman powers by means of living superhuman types.
If primitive man had projected the shadow of himself upon external nature, to shape its elemental forces in his own image, or if the unfeatured vast had unveiled to him any likeness of the human face, [p.3] then the primary representation of the nature-powers (which became the later divinities) ought to have been anthropomorphic, and the likeness reflected in the mirror of the most ancient mythologies should have been human. Whereas the powers and divinities were first represented by animals, birds, and reptiles, or, to employ a word that includes all classes, they were portrayed by means of zootypes. The sun and moon were not considered 'human in their nature' when the one was imaged as a crocodile, a lion, a bull, a beetle, or a hawk, and the other as a hare, a frog, an ape, or an ibis, as they are represented in the Egyptian hieroglyphics by means of the zootypes. Until Har-Ur, the Elder Horus, had been depicted as the child in place of the calf or lamb, the fish, or shoot of the papyrus-plant (which was comparatively late), there was no human figure personalised in the mythology of Egypt.
Primitive or Palaeolithic man was too beggarly poor in possessions to dream of shaping the superhuman powers of nature in the human likeness. There is one all-sufficient reason why he did not; he simply could not. And it is precisely because the makers of the myths had not the power to animate the universe in their own likeness that we have the zoomorphic mode of representation as the sign-language of totemism and mythology. On every line of research we discover that the representation of nature was preanthropomorphic at first, as we see on going back far enough, and on every line of descent the zoomorphic passes ultimately into the human representation. Modern metaphysicians have so developed the faculty of abstraction and the disease of Subjectivity that their own mental operations offer no true guidance for generalisations concerning primitive or early man, who thought in things and almost apprehended with the physical sense alone.
They overlook the fact that imaging by means of object-pictures preceded the imagining so often ascribed to primitive men. These did not busy themselves and bother their brains with all sorts of vagrant fancies instead of getting an actual grasp of the homeliest facts. It was not 'primitive man' but two German metaphysicians who were looking out of window at a falling shower of rain when one of them remarked, 'Perhaps it is I who am doing that.' 'Or I,' chimed in the other.
The present writer once had a cat before whom he placed a sheet of polished tin. The cat saw herself reflected as in a mirror, and looked for a short time at her own image. So far as sight and appearance went, this might have been another cat. But she proceeded to apply the comparative process and test one sense by another, deliberately smelling at the likeness to find out if any cat was there. She did not sit down as a non-verifying visionary to formulate hypotheses or conjure up the ghost of a cat. Her sense of smell told her that as a matter of fact there was no other cat present; therefore she was not to be misled by a false appearance, in which she took no further interest. That, we may infer, was more like the action of primitive man, who would find no human likeness behind the phenomena of external nature. Indeed, man was so generally represented by the animals that the appearance could be mistaken for a primitive belief that the animals were his ancestors. But the powers [p.4] first perceived in external nature were not only unlike the human; they were very emphatically and distinctly more than human, and therefore could not be adequately expressed by features recognisable as merely human. Primitive men were all too abjectly helpless in presence of these powers to think of them or to conceive them in their own similitude. The one primordial and most definite fact of the whole matter was the distinct and absolute unlikeness to themselves. Also they themselves were too little the cause of anything by the work of their own hands to enter into the sphere of causation mentally. They could only apprehend the nature-forces by their effects, and try to represent these by means of other powers that were present in nature, but which were also necessarily superior to the human and were not the human faculties indefinitely magnified. The human being could only impress his own image on external nature in proportion to his mastery over natural conditions. He could not have figured the thunderbolt as a stone-axe in the hands of a destroying power until he himself had made and could wield the axe of stone as the weapon of his own power. But he could think of it in the likeness of the serpent already known to him in external nature as a figure of fatal force.
An ignorant explanation of the Egyptian sign-language was begun by the Greeks, who could not read the hieroglyphics. It was repeated by the Romans, and has been perpetuated by 'classical scholars' ever since. But, as the interpreter of Egypt, that kind of scholastic knowledge is entirely obsolete. Ignorance of primitive sign-language has been and is a fertile source of false belief. For example, Juvenal asks, 'Who does not know what kind of monsters Egypt insanely worships?' And having seen or heard of the long-tailed ape in an Egyptian temple, the satirist assumed without question that this animal was set up as an object of worship. He did not know that the ape itself was the worshipper, as an image in sign-language and as the saluter of the gods. Ani, the name of this particular ape, denotes the saluter, and to salute was an Egyptian gesture of adoration. The ape or cynocephalus with its paws uplifted is the typical worshipper as saluter of the light. It was, and still is, looked upon in Africa generally as a prehuman moon-worshipper, who laments and bewails the disappearance of its night-light and rejoices at the renewal and return of that luminary. In the vignettes to the Ritual, Ani the ape is the saluter of the rising sun, that is of Ra, upon the mount of sunrise. One of the most profound perversions of the past has been made in misapprehending this primitive sign-language for what is designated 'worship,' whether as 'sun-worship,' 'serpent-worship,' 'tree-worship,' or 'phallic-worship.' The tree, for example, is a type, but the type is not necessarily an object of worship, as misunderstood by those who do not read the types when these are rooted in the ground of natural fact. The forest-folk were dwellers in the trees, or in the bush. The tree that gave them food and shelter grew to be an object of regard. Hence it became a type of the mother-earth as the birthplace and abode. Hence Hathor was the hut or house of Horus (Har) in the tree. But worship is a word of cant employed by writers who are [p.5] ignorant of sign-language in general. Such phrases as 'stock-and-stone worship' explain nothing and are worse than useless. The mother and child of all mythology are represented in the tree and branch. The tree was a type of the abode, the roof-tree; the mother of food and drink; the giver of life and shelter; the wet-nurse in the dew or rain; the producer of her offspring as the branch and promise of periodic continuity. Was it the tree then the Egyptians worshipped, or the giver of food and shelter in the tree? On the Apis Stele in the Berlin Museum two priests are saluting the Apis-bull. This is designated 'Apis-worship.' But the Apis carries the solar disk between its horns. This also is being saluted. Which then is the object of worship? There are two objects of religious regard, but neither is the object of adoration. That is the god in spirit who was represented as the soul of life in the sun and in the tree, also by the fecundating bull. In this and a thousand other instances it is not a question of worship but of sign-language.
Nor did mythology spring from fifty or a hundred different sources, as frequently assumed. It is one as a system of representation, one as a mould of thought, one as a mode of expression, and all its great primordial types are virtually universal. Neither do the myths that were inherited and repeated for ages by the later races of men afford any direct criterion to the intellectual status of such races. A mythical representation may be savage without those who preserve it being savages. When the Egyptians in the time of Unas speak of the deities devouring souls it is no proof of their being cannibals at the time. Mythology has had an almost limitless descent. It was in a savage or crudely primitive state in the most ancient Egypt, but the Egyptians who continued to repeat the myths did not remain savages. The same mythical mode of representing nature that was probably extant in Africa 100,000 years ago survives today amongst races who are no longer the producers of the myths and märchen than they are of language itself. Egyptian mythology is the oldest in the world, and it did not begin as an explanation of natural phenomena, but as a representation by such primitive means as were available at the time. It does not explain that the sun is a hawk or the moon a cat, or the solar god a crocodile. Such figures of fact belong to the symbolical mode of rendering in the language of animals or zootypes. No better definition of 'myth' or mythology could be given than is conveyed by the word 'sem' in Egyptian. This signifies representation on the ground of likeness. Mythology, then, is 'representation on the ground of likeness,' which led to all the forms of sign-language that could ever be employed. The matter has been touched upon in previous volumes, but for the purpose of completeness it has to be demonstrated in the present work that external nature was primarily imaged in the prehuman likeness. It was the same here as in external nature the animals came first, and the predecessors of man are primary in sign-language, mythology, and totemism.
It is quite certain that if the primitive method had been conceptual and early man had possessed the power to impose the likeness of human personality upon external phenomena it would have been in the image of the male, as a type or in the types of power; whereas the primal human personification is in the likeness of the female. The [p.6] Great Mother as the primal parent is a universal type. There could be no divine father in heaven until the fatherhood was individualised on earth. Again, if primitive men had been able to impose the human likeness on the mother-nature the typical wet-nurse would have been a woman. But it is not so; the woman comes last. She was preceded by the beast itself, the sow, the hippopotamus, or lioness, and by the female form that wears the head of the zootype, the cow, frog or serpent, on the body of a divinity. Moreover, the human likeness would, of necessity, have included sex. But the earliest powers recognised in nature are represented as being of no sex. It is said in the Akkadian Hymns, 'Female they are not, male they are not.' Therefore they were not imaged in the human likeness. The elements of air, earth, water, fire, darkness and light are of no sex, and the powers first recognised in them, whether as destructive or beneficent, are consequently without sex. So far from Nature having been conceived or imaged as a non-natural man in a mask, with features more or less human, however hugely magnified, the mask of human personality was the latest that was fitted to the face of external nature. Masks were applied to the face of nature in the endeavour to feature and visibly present some likeness of the operative elemental forces and manifesting powers of air, fire, water, earth, thunder and lightning, darkness and dawn, eclipse and earthquake, sandstorm or the drowning waters of the dark. But these masks were zoomorphic, not human. They imaged the most potent of devouring beasts, most cunning of reptiles, most powerful birds of prey. In these monstrous masks we see the primal powers of nature all at play, as in the pantomime, which still preserves a likeness to the primordial representation of external nature that is now chiefly known under the names of mythology and totemism. The elemental powers operant in external nature were superhuman in the past as they are in the present. The voice of thunder, the death-stroke of lightning, the coup de soleil, the force of fire, or of water in flood and the wind in a hurricane were superhuman. So of the animals and birds: the powers of the hippopotamus, crocodile, serpent, hawk, lion, jackal, and ape were superhuman, and therefore they were adopted as zootypes and as primary representatives of the superhuman powers of the elements. They were adopted as primitive ideographs. They were adopted for use and consciously stamped for their representative value, not ignorantly worshipped; and thus they became the coins as it were in the current medium of exchange for the expression of primitive thought or feeling.
Sign-language includes the gesture-signs by which the mysteries were danced or otherwise dramatised in Africa by the pygmies and bushmen; in totemism, in fetishism, and in hieroglyphic symbols; very little of which language has been read by those who are continually treading water in the shallows of the subject without ever touching bottom or attaining foothold in the depths. It is by means of sign-language that the Egyptian wisdom keeps the records of the prehistoric past. The Egyptian hieroglyphics show us the connection between words and things, also between sounds and words, in a very primitive range of human thought. There is no other such a record known in all the world. They consist largely of human [p.7] gesture-signs and the sounds first made by animals, such as 'ba' for the goat, 'meow' for the cat, 'su' for the goose, and 'fu' for the cerastes snake. But the Kamite representation by means of sign-language had begun in inner Africa before the talking animals, birds, and reptiles had been translated into the forms of gods and goddesses by the dwellers in the valley of the Nile. The living ideographs or zootypes were primary, and can be traced to their original habitat and home, and to nowhere else upon the surface of our earth. The cow of the waters there represented the earth-mother as the great bringer-forth of life before she was divinised as Apt the goddess in human guise, with the head of a hippopotamus. The overseeing giraffe (or was it the okapi?) of Sut, the hawk of Horus, the kaf-ape of Taht-Aan, the white vulture of Neith, the jackal of Anup, and fifty others were preextant as the talking animals before they were delineated in semi-human guise as gods and goddesses or elemental powers thus figured forth in the form of birds and beasts or fish and reptiles. The zootypes were extant in nature as figures ready-modelled, pictures ready-made, hieroglyphics and ideographs that moved about alive: pictures that were earlier than painting, statues that preceded sculpture, living nature-types that were employed when there were no others known to art. Certain primordial types originated in the old dark land of Africa. These were perfected in Egypt and thence dispersed about the world. Amongst them is the earth as solid ground amidst the water of surrounding space, or as the bringer-forth of life, depicted as a water-cow; possibly the cow of Kintu in Uganda; the dragon of darkness or other wide-jawed swallower of the light that rose up from the abyss and coiled about the mount of earth at night as the devourer; the evergreen tree of dawn—pre-eminently African—that rises on the horizon, or upon the mount of earth, from out the waters of space the opposing elemental powers beginning with the twins of light and darkness who fought in earth and heaven and the netherworld, the great Earth-Mother of the nature-powers; the seven children of her womb, and various other types that are one in origin and worldwide in their range.
When the solar force was yet uncomprehended, the sinking sun could be imaged naturally enough by the beetle boring its way down through the earth, or by the tortoise that buried itself in the soil: also by the crocodile making its passage through the waters, or the golden hawk that soared up through the air. This was representing phenomena in external nature on the ground of likeness when it could not be imaged directly by means of words. When it is held, as in Australia, that the lizard first divided the sexes and that it was also the author of marriage, we have to ascertain what the lizard signified in sign-language, and when we find that, like the serpent or the frog, it denoted the female period, we see how it distinguished or divided the sexes and in what sense it authorised or was the author of totemic marriage, because of its being a sign or symbol of feminine pubescence. It is said by the Amazulu, that when old women pass away they take the form of a kind of lizard. This can only be interpreted by knowing the ideographic value in the primitive system of sign-language in which the lizard was a zootype. The lizard [p.8] appeared at puberty, but it disappeared at the turn of life, and with the old women went the disappearing lizard.
The frog which transformed from the tadpole condition was another ideograph of female pubescence. This may be illustrated by a story that was told some time since by Miss Werner in the Contemporary Review which contains a specimen of primitive thought and its mode of expression in perfect survival. It happened that a native girl at Blantyre Mission was called by her mistress, a missionary's wife, to come and take charge of the baby. Her reply was, 'Nchafuleni is not there; she is turned into a frog.' She could not come for a reason of taboo, but said so typically in the language of animals. She had made that transformation which first occurs when the young girl changes into a woman. She might have said she was a serpent or a lizard or that she was in flower. But the frog that changed from a tadpole was also a type of her transformation, and she had figuratively become a frog for a few days of seclusion. Similarly the member of a totem also became a frog, a beetle, a bull or bear as a mode of representation, but not because the human being changed into the animal. The same things which are said at a later stage by the ideographic determinatives in the Egyptian hieroglyphics had been expressed previously by the inner African zootypes or living beasts, birds and reptiles, as may be seen in the stories told of the talking animals by the Bushmen. The original records still suffice to show that the physical agencies or forces first perceived were not conceived or mentally embodied in the human likeness, and that external nature offered no looking-glass for the human face.
To take the very illustration adduced by Hume. The original Man in the Moon did not depend upon any fancied resemblance to the human face. The Egyptian Man in the Moon, Taht or Tehuti (Greek Thoth), had the head of an ibis or of the cynocephalus; both ibis and cynocephalus were lunar types which preceded any human likeness, and these were continued as heads to the human figure after this had been adopted. The Man in the Moon, who is Taht (or Khunsu) in Egypt, had a series of predecessors in the dog or cynocephalus, the ibis, the beetle, the bull, the frog, and other ideographic figures of lunar phenomena. As natural fact, the Ibis was a famous fisher of the Nile, and its familiar figure was adopted as a zootype of Taht, the lunar god. Where the modern saw the new moon with the 'auld Moon in her arm,' the Egyptian saw the ibis fishing up the old dark orb from out the waters with the crescent of its curving beak, as the recoverer and saviour of the drowning light. The moon was not looked upon as having any human likeness when it was imaged as (or by) the cat who saw in the dark: the hare that rose up by night and went round the horizon by leaps and bounds: the ibis as the returning bird of passage and messenger of the inundation: the frog that transformed from the tadpole: the old beetle that renewed itself in the earth to come forth as the young one, or the cow that gave rebirth to the child of light as her calf. The sun was not conceived as 'human in its nature' when the solar force at dawn was imaged by the lion-faced Atum; the [p.9] flame of its furnace by the fiery serpent uati; the soul of its life by the hawk, the ram, or the crocodile, which are five Egyptian zootypes and a fivefold disproof of the sun being conceived as or considered human in its nature or similitude.
In beginning ab ovo our first lesson is to learn something of the symbolical language of animals, and to understand what it is they once said as zootypes. We have then to use that knowledge in simplifying the mysteries of mythology.
This primitive language is still employed in diverse forms. It is extant in the so-called 'dead language' of the hieroglyphics; the ideographs and pictographs; in the totemic types, and figures of tattoo; in the portraiture of the nature-powers which came to be divinised at length in the human likeness as the gods and goddesses of mythology; and in that language of the folk-fables still made use of by the Bushmen, Hottentots, and other Africans, in which the jackal, the dog, the lion, the crane, the white vulture and other beasts and birds keep on talking as they did in the beginning, and continue more or less to say in human speech what they once said in the primitive symbolism; that is, they fulfil the same characters in the märchen that were first founded in the mythos. It has now to be shown how the mythical mode of representing natural phenomena was based upon this primitive system of thought and expression, and how the things that were thought and expressed of old in this language constitute the primary stratum of what is called 'mythology' today.
In the most primitive phase mythology is a mode of representing certain elemental powers by means of living types that were superhuman like the natural phenomena. The foundations of mythology and other forms of the ancient wisdom were laid in this preanthropomorphic mode of primitive representation. Thus, to summarise a few of the illustrations; the typical giant Apap was an enormous water-reptile. The typical genetrix and mother of life was a water-cow that represented the Earth. The typical twin-brothers were two birds or two beasts. The typical twin-brother and -sister were a lion and a lioness. The typical virgin was a heifer, or a vulture. The typical messiah was a calf, a lamb or unbu the branch. The typical provider was a goose. The typical chief or leader is a lion. The typical artisan is a beetle. The typical physician is an ibis (which administered the enema to itself). The typical judge is a jackal or a cynocephalus, whose wig and collar are amusingly suggestive of the English law-courts. Each and all of these and hundreds more preceded personification in the human image. The mighty Infant who slew the dragon or strangled serpents while in his cradle was a later substitute for such a zootype as the little ichneumon, a figure of Horus. The ichneumon was seen to attack the cobra di capella and make the mortal enemy hide its head and shield its most vital parts within the protecting coils of its own body. For this reason the lively, daring little animal was adopted as a zootype of Horus the young solar god, who in his attack upon the Apap-serpent made the huge and deadly reptile hide its head in its own enveloping darkness. But, when the figure is made anthropomorphic and the tiny [p.10] conqueror is introduced as the little hero in human form, the beginning of the mythos and its meaning are obscured. The ichneumon, the hawk, the ibis might attack the cobra, but it was well enough known that a child would not, consequently the original hero was not a child, although spoken of as a child in the literalised marvels, miracles, and fables of 'the Infancy.'
It is the present writer's contention that the wisdom of the Ancients was the wisdom of Egypt, and that her explanation of the zootypes employed in sign-language, totemism, and mythology holds good wherever the zootypes survive. For example, the Cawichan tribes say the moon has a frog in it, and with the Selish Indians of North-West America the frog (or toad) in the moon is equivalent to our Man in the Moon. They have a tradition that the devouring wolf being in love with the frog (or toad), pursued her with great ardour and had nearly caught her when she made a desperate leap and landed safely in the moon, where she has remained to this day. Which means that the frog, as a type of transformation, was applied to the changing moon as well as to the Zulu girl, Nchafuleni.
Sign-language was from the beginning a substitution of similars for the purpose of expression by primitive or preverbal man, who followed the animals in making audible sounds accompanied and emphasised by human gestures. The same system of thought and mode of utterance were continued in mythography and totemism. Renouf says the scarabaeus was 'an object of worship in Egypt,' as a symbol of divinity. But this is the modern error. If there was a God, and the beetle was his symbol, obviously it was the divinity that was the object of worship, not the symbol not the zootype. Ptah, we know, was that divinity, with the beetle as a type, and those who read the types were worshippers of the God and not of his symbolic dung-beetle which was honoured as a sign of transformation. When told that the Egyptians were worshippers of the 'bee,' the 'mantis,' and the 'grasshopper,' we recall the words of Horapollo, who says that when the Egyptians would symbolise a mystic and one of the initiated they delineate a grasshopper because the insect does not utter sounds with its mouth, but makes a chirping by means of its spine. The grasshopper, then, which uttered a voice that did not come from its mouth, was a living type of superhuman power. And being an image of mystery and superhuman power, it was also considered a fitting symbol of Kagn, the Bushman Creator, or Great Spirit of creative mystery. Moreover, the grasshopper made his music and revealed his mystery in dancing; and the religious mysteries of Kagn were performed with dancing or in the grasshopper's dance. Thus the initiates in the mysteries of the mantis are identical with the Egyptian mystic symbolised by the grasshopper; and the dancing probably goes back to the time when preverbal man was an imitator of the grasshopper, which was a primitive type of mystery, like the transforming frog and the self-interring tortoise. There is a religious sect still extant in England who are known as the 'jumpers,' and their salutatory exercises still identify them with the leaping 'grasshoppers' and the 'praying mantis' in the [p.11] mysteries of old. They still 'dance that dance.' The 'moon belongs to the mantis,' say the Bushmen, which goes to show that the mantis was not only a lunar type as the leaper round the horizon, but on account of its power of transformation; and this again suggests the reason why the mantis should be the zootype of the mystic who transformed in trance, as well as leaped and danced in the mysteries. The frog and the grasshopper were earlier leapers than the hare. These also were figures of the moon that leaped up in a fresh place every night. It was this leaping up of the light that was imitated in the dances of the Africans who jumped for joy at the appearance of the new moon which they celebrated in the monthly dance, as did the Congo negroes and other denizens of the dark continent who danced the primitive mysteries and dramatised them in their dances. The leapers were the dancers, and the leaping mantis, the grasshopper, the frog, the hare, were amongst the prehuman prototypes. The frog is still known in popular weather-wisdom as the prophesier of rain. As such, it must have been of vastly more importance in the burning lands of inner Africa, and there is reason to suppose that Hekat, the consort of Khnum, the king of frogs, was frog-headed as the prophetess, or foreteller, on this ground of natural fact. Erman says the 'Great Mep of the South,' the 'Privy Councillors of the royal orders were almost always invested—I know not why—with the office of prophet of the frog-headed Goddess Hekat.' The frog was a prophet of rain in some countries, and of springtime in others. In Egypt it was the prophet of the inundation, hence Hekat was a consort of Khnum, the lord of the inundation, and king of frogs. Hekat was also the seer by night in the moon, as well as the crier for the waters and foreteller of their coming. From her, as seer in the dark, we may derive the names of the witch as the hexe, the hag, the hagedisse; and also that of the dark goddess Hecate, the sender of dreams. As prophesier of rain, or of the inundation, it was the herald of new life to the land of Egypt, and this would be one reason for its relationship to the resurrection. But, in making its transformation from the tadpole state to that of the frog, it was the figure of a still more important natural fact. This, in the mythology, was applied to the transformation and renewal of the moon, and to the transformation of the mortal into an immortal in the eschatology, a type of Ptah, who in one form is portrayed as the frog-headed god. Lamps have been found in Egypt with the frog upon the upper part, and one is known which has the legend egw eimi anstasis, 'I am the Resurrection.' In this figure the lamp is an equivalent for the rising sun, and the frog upon it is the type of Ptah, who in his solar character was the resurrection and the life in the mythology before the image passed into the eschatology, and the god who rose again as solar became the Light of the World in a spiritual sense. The frog was a type of transformation, and the frog-headed Ptah made his transformation in Amenta to rise again as the opener of the nether Earth. And as he represented the sun in Amenta, the frog, like the cynocephalus of Memphis, was imaged as golden. Thus we find the sun in the lower earth of two depicted in the golden frog, and, as stated by John Bell, the [p.12] lamas had an idea that the earth rested on a golden frog, and that when the frog stretched out its foot there was an earthquake. Here the frog beneath the earth, like the tortoise, is Egyptian, and as such we can learn what fact in nature was represented by it as a zootype of Ptah in the netherworld called the earth of eternity, where the typical tadpole that swam the waters made its transformation into the frog that stretched itself out and set foot on land.
It is related in a Chinese legend that the lady, Mrs. Chang-ngo, obtained the drug of immortality by stealing it from Si Wang Nu, the royal mother of the west. With this she fled to the moon, and was changed into a frog that is still to be seen on the surface of the orb. As Egyptian, the mother of the west was the goddess who received the setting sun and reproduced its light. The immortal liquor is the solar light. This was stolen for the moon. Chang-ngo is equivalent to the frog-headed Hekat who represented the resurrection. The frog, in Egypt, was a sign of 'myriads' as well as of transformation. In the moon it would denote myriads of renewals when periodic repetition was a mode of immortality. Hekat the frog-headed is the original Cinderella. She makes her transformation into Sati, the lady of light, whose name is written with an arrow. Thus, to mention only a few of the lunar types, the goddess Hekat represented the moon and its transformation as the frog. Taht and his cynocephalus represented the man and his dog in the moon. Osiris represented the lunar light in his character of the hare-headed Un-Nefer, the up-springing hare in the moon. These are Egyptian zootypes, to be read wherever found by means of the Egyptian wisdom. Amongst other hieroglyphic signs in the language of animals, the head of a vulture signifies victory (doubtless because of the bird's keen scent for blood). The sheathen claw is a determinative of peaceful actions. The hinder-part of the lioness denotes the 'great magical power.' The tail of a crocodile is a sign for 'black' and for 'darkness.' An ape is the ideograph of rage and a fiery spirit, or spirit of fire. The sparrow is a type of physical evil because of its destructive nature in thieving corn—its name of 'Tu-tu signifies a kind of plague or affliction of the fields.' The water-wagtail is a type of moral evil. This bird, as Wilkinson pointed out, is still called in Egypt the father of corruption (aboo fussad). It was regarded as the type of an impure or wicked person, on account of its insidious suggestiveness of immoral motion. The extent to which morals and philosophy were taught by means of these living object-pictures cannot now be measured, but the moralising fables spoken as well as acted by the typical animals still offer testimony, and language is full of phrases which continue the zootypes into the world of letters, as when the greedy, filthy man is called a hog, the grumpy man a bear, the cunning one a fox, the subtle and treacherous one a snake.
In the folklore of various races the human soul takes the form of a snake, a mouse, a swallow, a hawk, a pigeon, a bee, a jackal, or other animal, each of which was an Egyptian zootype of some [p.13] power or soul in nature before there was any representation of the human soul or ancestral spirit in the human form. Hence we are told that when twins are born the Batavians believe that one of the pair is a crocodile. Mr. Spencer accepts the 'belief' and asks, 'May we not conclude that twins, of whom one gained the name of crocodile, gave rise to a legend which originated this monstrous belief?' But all such representations are mythical and are not to be explicated by the theory of 'monstrous belief.' It is a matter of sign-language. The Batavians knew as well as we do that no crocodile was ever born twin along with a human child. In this instance the poor things were asserting in their primitive way that man is born with or as a soul. This, the gnosis enables us to prove. One of the earliest types of the sun as a soul of life in the water is a crocodile. We see the mother who brings forth a crocodile when the goddess Neith is portrayed in human shape as the suckler of the young crocodiles hanging at her breasts. Neith is the wet-nurse personified whose child was the young sun-god. As Sebek he was imaged by the crocodile that emerged from the waters at sunrise. Sebek was at once the child and the crocodile brought forth by the Great Mother in the mythology. And because the crocodile had imaged a soul of life in water, as a superhuman power, it became a representative, in sign-language, of the human soul. We see this same type of a soul in external nature applied to the human soul in the Book of the Dead, where the Osiris in the netherworld exclaims, 'I am the Crocodile in the form of a man,' that is as a soul of which the crocodile had been a symbol, as soul of the sun. It was thus the crocodile was born with the child, as a matter of sign-language, not as a belief. The crocodile is commonly recognised by the Congo natives as a type of soul. Miss Kingsley tells of a witch-doctor who administered emetics to certain of his patients and brought away young crocodiles. She relates that a witch-doctor had been opened after death, when a winged lizard-like thing was found in his inside which Batanga said was his power, the power being another name for his soul.
Mr. Spencer not only argues for the actuality of these 'beliefs' concerning natural facts, supposed to have been held by primitive men and scientific Egyptians, which vanish with a true interpretation of the mythical mode of representation, he further insists that there seems to be 'ample justification for the belief that any kind of creature may be transformed into any other' because of the metamorphosis observed in the insect-world, or elsewhere, from which there resulted 'the theory of metamorphosis in general' and the notion 'that things of all kinds may suddenly change their forms,' man of course included. But there was no evidence throughout all nature to suggest that any kind of creature could be transformed into any other kind. On the contrary, nature showed them that the frog was a tadpole continued; that the chrysalis was the prior status of the butterfly, and that the old moon changed into the new. The transformation was visible and invariable, and the product of transformation was always the same in kind. There was no sign or suggestion of an unlimited possibility in metamorphosis. Neither was there ever a race of savages who did think or believe (in the words of Mr. Spencer) [p.14] 'That any kind of creature may be transformed into any other,' no more than there ever were boys who believed that any kind of bird could lay any other kind of bird's egg. They are too good observers for any such self-delusion as that.
Mythical representation did not begin with 'stories of human adventure,' as Mr. Spencer puts it, nor with human figures at all, but with the phenomena of external nature, that were represented by means of animals, birds, reptiles and insects, which had demonstrated the possession of superhuman faculties and powers. The origin of various superstitions and customs seemingly insane can be traced to sign-language. In many parts of England it is thought necessary to 'tell the bees' when a death has occurred in the house, and to put the hives into mourning. The present writer has known the housewife to sally forth into the garden with warming-pan and key and strips of crape to 'tell the bees,' lest they should take flight, when one of the inmates of the house had died. We must seek an explanation for this in the symbolism of Egypt that was carried forth orally to the ends of the earth. The bee was anciently a zootype of the soul which was represented as issuing forth from the body in that form or under that type. There is a tradition that the bees alone of all animals descended from Paradise. In the Engadine, Switzerland, it is said that the souls of men go forth from this world and return to it in the form of bees. Virgil, in the fourth book of the Georgics, celebrates the bee that never dies, but ascends alive into heaven. That is the typical bee which was an image of the soul. It was the soul, as bee, that alone ascended into heaven or descended from thence. The bee is certainly one form of the Egyptian abait, or bird-fly, which is a guide and pilot to the souls of the dead on their way to the fields of Aarru. It was a figure of Lower Egypt as the land of honey, thence a fitting guide to the celestial fields of the Aarru-Paradise. It looks as if the name for the soul (ba in Egyptian) may be identical with our word bee. Ba is honey determined by the bee-sign, and ba is also the soul. The Egyptians made use of honey as a means of embalming the dead. Thus the bee, as a zootype of the soul, became a messenger of the dead and a mode of communication with the ancestral spirits. Talking to the bees in this language was like speaking with the spirits of the dead, and, as it were, commending the departed one to the guidance of the bees, who as honey-gatherers naturally knew the way to the Elysian Fields and the meads of Amaranth that flowed with milk and honey. The type is confused with the soul when the bee is invoked as follows, 'almost as if requesting the Soul of the departed to watch for ever over the living':—
'Bienchen, unser Herr ist todt,
Verlass mich nicht in meiner Noth.'
In the Ritual the abait (as bee or bird-fly) is the conductor of souls to the celestial fields. When the deceased is asked who conducted him thither, he replies, 'It was the abait-deity who conducted me.' He also exclaims, 'Hail to thee, who fliest up to heaven to give light to the stars.' Here the bee or bird-fly is a solar type, and that which represented the ascending sun in the mythology [p.15] became a type of the soul in the eschatology. Thus the inventor of honey in this world led the way to the fields of flowers in the next.
Modern popular superstition to a large extent is the ancient symbolism in its second childhood. Here is a case in point. The cock having been a representative of soul or spirit, it is sure to be said that the human soul has entered the cock by a kind of reincarnation. Hence we read of a legacy left to a fowl by a wealthy lady named Silva, of Lisbon, who held that the soul of her dead husband survived in a cock. So it has been with the zootypes of other elemental souls that were continued for the human soul, from the crocodile of the Batavians to the red mouse of the Germans. Folklore is full of fables that originated in this language of signs.
The jackal in the Egyptian representation is the guide of the sun upon his pathway in Amenta, who takes up the young Child-Horus in his arms to carry him over the waters. In the Hottentot prototype the jackal finds the sun in the form of a little child, and takes him upon his back to carry him. When the sun grew hot the jackal shook himself and said, 'Get down.' But the sun stuck fast and burnt the jackal, so that he has a long black stripe down his back to this day. The same tale is told of the coyote or prairie-dog, who takes the place of the jackal in the mythical legends of the Red Men. In the Ritual the jackal who carried Horus, the young sun-god, had become the bearer and supporter of souls. In passing the place where the dead fall into darkness, the Osiris says, 'Apuat raiseth me up.' And when the overwhelming waters of the deluge burst forth, he rejoices, saying, 'Anup is my bearer.' Here, as elsewhere, the mythical type extant with the earlier Africans had passed into the eschatology of the Egyptians.
The eternal contest between the powers of light and darkness is also represented in the African folktales. The hare (or rabbit) Kalulu and the Dzimwi are two of the contending characters. The hare, as in Egypt, is typical of the good power, and no doubt is a zootype of the young up-springing moon. The Dzimwi is the evil power, like Apap, the giant, the ogre, the swallower of the waters or the light. It is very cunning, but in the end is always outwitted by the hare. When the Dzimwi kills or swallows the hare's mother it is the dragon of darkness, or eclipse, devouring the lunar light. The moon-mythos is indefinitely older than the solar, arid the earliest slayer of the dragon was lunar, the mother of the young child of light. Here she is killed by the Dzimwi. Then Kalulu comes with a barbed arrow, with which he pierces the Dzimwi through the heart. This is the battle of Ra and Apap, or Horus and Sut, in the most primitive form, when as yet the powers were rendered non-anthropomorphically. Again, the monkey who is transformed into a man is a prototype of the moon-god Taht, who is a dog-headed ape in one character and a man in another. A young person refuses several husbands. A monkey then comes along. The beast takes the skin off his body, and is changed into a man. To judge [p.16] from the Egyptian mythos, the young person was lunar, and the monkey changing into a man is lunar likewise. One of the two won the lady of light in the moon. This was the monkey that became a man, as did the bear in Beauty and the Beast. In another tale, obviously luni-solar, that is, with the sun and moon as the characters, a girl (that is, the moon) refused a husband (that is, the sun). Thereupon she married a lion; that is a solar type. In other words, the moon and sun were married in Amenta. This tale is told with primitive humour. When the wedded pair were going to bed she would not undress unless he let her cut off his tail. For this remained unmetamorphosed when he transformed into a man. 'When she found out that he was a lion she ran away from that husband.' So in a Hindu story a young woman refuses to marry the sun because he is too fiery-hot. Even in the American negro stories of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, and Brer Terrapin the original characters of the typical animals are still preserved as they were in the Egyptian mythology when divinised. The turtle or tortoise, the wise and sagacious one, is the hider; the fox, like the jackal, Anup, is the cunning one. The wolf is the swallower, and the rabbit equates with the hare, a type of the good Osiris or of the African Kalulu.
Any number of current superstitions are the result of ignorance concerning the ancient wisdom, and one of the worst results bequeathed to us by the past is to be found in our customs of cruelty to dumb animals. These poor victims have had to suffer frightfully for the very service which they once rendered to man as primitive types of expression in sign-language. In the Persian and Hebrew laws of clean and unclean, many of the animals and birds that were once held sacred in Egypt for their symbolic value are there condemned as unclean, to be cast out with curses; and so the real animals became the outcasts of the mental world, according to the later religion, in the language of letters which followed and superseded the carven hieroglyphics of the earlier time. The ass has been a shameful sufferer from the part it played in the primitive typology. Beating and kicking the ass used to be a Christian sport practised up and down the aisles of Christian churches, the ass being a cast-out representative of an old Hebrew, and still older Egyptian deity.
The cat is another sufferer for the same reason. The cat sees by night, and was adopted as a type of the moon that saw by night and kept watch in the dark. Now, witches are seers and foreseers, and whenever they were persecuted and hounded to death the cat suffered with them, because she had been the type and symbol of praeterhuman sight. These were modes of casting out the ancient fetish-images initiated and enforced by the priesthood of a later faith. In Egypt, as Horapollo tells us, the figure of a mouse signified a disappearance. Now, see how cruelly the little animal has been treated because it was a type of disappearance. It was, and may be still, an English custom to charm away disease by making a hole in the shrew-ash or witch-elm tree and shutting up a live shrewmouse in it. In immuring the mouse in the bole of the tree, the disappearing victim typified or [p.17] enacted the desired disappearance of the disease. That which had been a symbol in the past is now made use of alive in performing a symbolical action in the present.
Much misery has been caused to human beings as well as animals through the misapplication of certain mythical, that is, symbolical characters. Plutarch tells us how the evil Sut (or Typhon) was humiliated and insulted by the Egyptians at certain festivals, 'when they abuse red-haired men and tumble an ass down a precipice because Typhon was red-haired and like an ass in complexion.' The fact is also notorious in Europe that an evil character has been commonly ascribed to red-haired persons, with no known warrant whatever from nature. They suffer for the symbol. Now, for the origin of the symbol, according to the Egyptian wisdom. Sut, the treacherous opponent of Horus (Osiris in the later mythos), was the Egyptian Judas. He betrayed his brother to his enemies the sebau. He was of a red complexion. Hence the red ass and the red-haired people were his types. But the complexion and red hair of Sut were not derived from any human origin. Sut was painted red, yellowish, or sandy, as representative of the desert. He was the original devil in the wilderness, the cause of drought and the creator of thirst. As the hippopotamus, Sut, like Apt the mother, was of a red complexion. As the betrayer of his brother Osiris, Sut was brought on with the Jesus-legend in the character of Judas, the traitor; hence in the Miracle-plays and out-of-door customs, Judas, true to the Sut-typhonian tradition, is always red-haired or wears a red wig. Thus, in our pictures of the past the typical traitor still preserves his proper hue, but in the belief of the ignorant the clue is lost and the red-haired people come to be the viva effigies of Sut, the Egyptian Judas, as a human type of evil.
Folklore in many lands is the final fragmentary form in which the ancient wisdom—the wisdom of old Egypt—still survives as old wives fables, parables, riddles, allegorical sayings, and superstitious beliefs, consecrated by the ignorance which has taken the place of primitive knowledge concerning the mythical mode of representation; and from lack of the lost key, the writers on this subject have become the sheerest tale-bearers whose gossip is full of scandal against primitive and ancient man. But not in any land or language can the märchen tell us anything directly concerning themselves. They have lost the memory of their meaning. It is only in the mythos that we can ascertain their original relationship to natural fact and learn that the people who repeat the folktales were not always natural fools. It is only in the Egyptian wisdom that the key is to be found.
One of the most universal of the folktales, which are the debris of mythology, is that of the giant who had no heart (or spark of soul) in his body. The Apap-dragon, in Africa, was the first of all the giants who has no heart in his body, no root in reality, being as he is only the representation of non-existence, drought, darkness, death and negation. To have no heart in the body is an Egyptian expression for lack of understanding and want of nous. As it is said in the Anastasi Papyri of the slave who is driven with a stick and beaten like the ass, 'He has indeed no heart in his body.' It was this [p.18] lack of intelligence that made the giant of the märchen such a big blundering booby, readily outwitted by clever little Jack, Horus or Petit Yorge, the youthful solar god; and so easily cajoled by the fair princess or lunar lady who is held a captive in his dungeon underground. In one of the Tartaro legends told in Basque the hero fights 'a body without a soul.' When the monster is coming it is said of him 'he is about to come, this horrible body without a soul.' In another tale the seven-headed serpent, Heren-Suge, bemoans his fate that he hasn't 'a spark betwixt his head and tail' if he had he would burn up Petit Yorge, his lady, his horse, and his terrible dog. In this version the monster is a serpent, equivalent to the Apap-reptile or dragon of drought and darkness, which in the Kamite mythos has no soul in its body, because it is an image of darkness and negation.
Most of the characters and localities, the scenery and imagery of these märchen belong to the Egyptian mythos. The lake is also African, as the typical great water of those who had never seen the ocean. It remained the same type with the Egyptians after they did know the great green water of the Mediterranean Sea. In such ways they have preserved their proofs of the inner African beginnings with an adamantine unchangeableness. The lake of the goose or duck is referred to in the Ritual. The sun was imaged as a golden egg laid by the duck or goose. The hill or island standing in the lake is the earth considered as a mount of the double earth in the Kamite eschatology. The snake or dragon in the lake, or coiling about the mount or round the tree, is the Apap-reptile in the water of darkness who coils about the hill at sunset or attacks the Tree of Life which is an image of the dawn, the great green sycamore of Hathor. Earth itself was imaged as a goose that rested on the Nun or the waters of space. This was the ancient mother goose that every morning laid her golden egg. The sun sinking down into the underworld is described in the Ritual as 'the egg of the great cackler:' 'The egg which Seb hath parted from the earth.' The giant with no heart or soul is a figure of darkness as the devouring monster with no sun (or soul) in his body. Hence the heart, or soul, that was hidden in the tree, or in the egg of the bird far away. The sun is the egg that was laid by the goose of earth that brought forth the golden egg. This soul of the giant, darkness, was not the personal soul of any human being whatsoever, and the only link of relationship is when the same image of a soul in the egg is applied to the manes in the dark of death. The soul of the sun in the egg is the soul of Ra in the underworld of Amenta; and when the sun issues from the egg (as a hawk) it is the death of darkness the monster.
Our forbears and forerunners were not so far beside themselves as to believe that if they had a soul at all, it was outside of their own bodies hidden somewhere in a tree, in a bird, in an egg, in a hare, in a duck, a crocodile, or any other zootype that never was supposed to be the dwelling of the human soul. In the Basque story of Marlbrook the monster is slain by being struck on the forehead with an egg that was found in a pigeon, that was found in a fox, that was [p.19] found in a terrible wolf in a forest. However represented, it was the sun that caused the monster's death. So in the Norse tales the troll or ogre bursts at sight of dawn, because his death was in the solar orb that is represented by the Kamite egg of the goose. The giant of darkness is inseparable from the young hero or the solar god who rises from Amenta as his valiant conqueror. These being the two irreconcilable enemies, as they are in the Ritual, it follows that the princess who finally succeeds in obtaining the giant's secret concerning the hiding-place of his heart in the egg of a bird is the lunar lady in Amenta who, as Hathor, was the princess by name when she had become the daughter of Ra. She outwits the Apap, who is her swallower at the time of the eclipse, and conveys the secret knowledge to the youthful solar hero who overcomes the giant by crushing his heart in the egg. In fighting with the monster, the Basque hero is endowed with the faculty of transforming into a hawk! The hawk says to him, 'When you wish to make yourself a hawk, you will say, "Jesus Hawk," and you will be a hawk.' The hawk of Jesus takes the place of the Horus-hawk, just as the name of Malboro is substituted for that of the hero who is elsewhere Petit Yorge, Little Horus. Horus, like the hero of these tales, is human on earth, and he transforms into the hawk when he goes to fight the Apap-monster in Amenta. In the Basque version the human hero transforms into a hawk, or, as it is said, 'the young man made himself a hawk,' just as the human Horus changed into the golden hawk: and then flew away with the princess clinging firmly to his neck. And here the soul that was in the egg is identified as the hawk itself. At least it is when the egg is broken—with the blow struck by the princess on the giant's forehead that the hero makes his transformation into the hawk. In the mythology it was the bird of earth that laid the egg, but in the eschatology when the egg is hatched it is the bird of heaven that rises from it as the golden hawk. The hawk of the sun is especially the Egyptian bird of soul, although the dove or pigeon also was a type of the soul that was derived from Hathor. In the märchen the duck takes the place of the goose. But these are co-types in the mythos.
In the Egyptian, Horus pierces the Apap-dragon in the eye and pins his head to the earth with a lance. The mythical mode of representation went on developing in Egypt, keeping touch with the advancing arts. The weapon of the Basque hero was earlier than the lance or spear of Horus; it is a stake of wood made red-hot. With this he pierces the huge monster in the eye and burns him blind. The Greek version of this is too well known to call for repetition here, and the Basque lies nearer to the original Egyptian. It is more important to identify the eye and the blazing stake. Horus, the young solar god, is slayer of the Apap by piercing him in the eye. The Apap is the giant, the dragon, the serpent of darkness, and the eye of Apap was thought of as the eye of a serpent that was huge enough to coil round the mountain of the world, or about the Tree of Life and light which had its rootage in the nether earth. This, on the horizon, was the tree of dawn. The stake is a reduced form of the tree that was figured in the green of dawn. The typical tree was a weapon of the [p.20] ancient Horus who is described as fighting Sut with a branch of palm, which also is a reduced form of the tree. The tree of dawn upon the horizon was the weapon of the solar god with which he pierced the dragon of darkness and freed the mountain of earth and the princess in Amenta from its throttling, crushing, reptilinear coils. This tree, conventionalised in the stake made red-hot in the furnace, formed the primitive weapon with which Horus or Ulysses or the Tartaro put out the monster's eye, and pierced the serpent's head to let forth the waters of light once more and to free the lady from her prison in the lower world. When the Apap-monster in the cave of darkness was personified in something like the human shape, the giant as reptile in the earliest representation passed into the giant as a monster in the form of a magnified man called the Cyclops and named Polyphemus. In one of the African folktales the little hero Kalulu slays the monster by thrusting a huge red-hot boulder down the devourer's throat. This is a type of the red-hot solar orb which the power of darkness tried to swallow, and thus put out the light.
The lunar lady, as well as the solar hero, is the dragon-slayer in the Basque legends. In one of these the loathly reptile lies sleeping with his head in the lap of the beautiful lady. The hero descends to her assistance in the Underworld. She tells him to 'be off.' 'The Monster' has only three-quarters of an hour to sleep, she says, 'and if he wakes it is all over with you and me.' It is the lunar lady who worms the great secret out of the monster concerning his death, when he confesses where his heart lies hidden. 'At last, at last,' he tells her, 'you must kill a terrible wolf which is in the forest, and inside of him is a fox, and in the fox is a pigeon; this pigeon has an egg in its head, and whoever should strike me on the forehead with this egg would kill me.' The hero, having become a hawk, secures the egg and brings it to the 'young lady' and, having done his part, hands over the egg and says to her, 'At present it is your turn; act alone.' Thus it appears that the egg made use of by the prince to kill the giant is the sun, and that made use of by the princess was the lunar orb. Here we have 'the egg of the sun and the moon' which Ptah is said to have moved in the beginning. 'She strikes the monster as he had told her, and he falls stark dead.' The dragon was known in Britain as the typical cause of drought and the devourer of nine maidens who had gone to fetch water from the spring before he was slain by Martin. These are representative of nine new moons renewed at the source of light in the netherworld. Dr. Plot, in his History of Cambridgeshire, mentions the custom at Burford of making a dragon annually and 'carrying it up and down the town in great jollity, on Midsummer Eve,' to which he says, not knowing for what reason, 'they added a giant.' Both the dragon and giant signified the same monster that swallowed the water and devoured the givers of light, lunar or solar, the dragon being a zoomorphic type and the giant hugely anthropomorphic. Instead of saying nine moons passed into the dark, as a mode of reckoning the months, it might be said, and was said, that nine maidens were devoured by the dragon of darkness, the myth originated when darkness was the devouring giant and the weapon of the warrior was a stone that imaged the solar orb. In the [p.21] contest of the young and ruddy hero David with the giant Goliath the Hebrew version of the folktale still retains the primitive feature of the stone.
We know the universal monster as the evil reptile of the dark, for ever warring with the light, who also drinks the water which is the life of vegetation, as the fiery dragon of drought. But there is a very primitive version extant amongst the Australian aborigines, the Andaman Islanders, and the red men, in which a gigantic frog drinks up all the waters in the world. Here the frog plays the part of the Apap-monster that swallows the waters at sundown and is pierced and cut in pieces coil by coil to set them flowing freely at the return of day, either by the hawk of Ra or the cat or by Horus, the anthropomorphic hero. In the Andaman version of the conflict between the bird of light and the devil of darkness the waters are drunk up and withheld by a big toad. An Iroquois or Huron form of this mythical representation also shows the devouring monster as a gigantic frog that drank up all the water of the world. The aborigines of Lake Tyers likewise relate that once on a time there was no water anywhere on the surface of the whole earth. This had all been drunk up and was concealed in the body of a monstrous frog. The dragon of the waters is also a denizen of the holy well in Britain; and here again the evil power of drought and darkness is represented by the Devil in the form of a frog as presiding spirit of the water. In the well on the Devil's Causeway between Ruckley and Acton there is supposed to be a huge frog which represents the devil, that is, the hostile power of drought. The proper time for the malevolent frog to be seen would be when the well was dried up in times of great drought, hence he is but seldom seen in a rainy climate like ours. The frog still suffers even in this 'enlightened land' of ours for supplying a zootype of the evil power. It is yet a provincial sport for country louts to 'hike the toad,' that is by jerking it high in the air from the end of a plank as a mode of appealing to Heaven for rain and the kind of weather wanted. Even so, poor froggy has to walk the plank and suffer in the present for having been a representative in the past of the monster that drank up all the water. The Orinoco Indians used to keep toads in vessels, not to worship them, but to have them at hand as representatives of the power that drank up the water or kept back the rain; and in time of drought the toads were beaten to procure the much-desired rain.
In various countries the monster of the dark was represented by an animal entirely black. This in Egypt was the black boar of Sut. And what these customs signified according to the wisdom of Egypt they mean elsewhere. When the Timorese are direfully suffering from lack of rain, they offer up a black pig as a sacrifice. The black pig was slain just as Apap was pierced because it imaged the dark power that once withheld the waters of day and now denies the rain, or the water of life. In Sumatra it is the black cat that typifies the inimical power which withholds the rain. Women go naked or nearly so to the river, and wade in it as a primitive mode of sacrifice or solicitation. Then a black cat is thrown into the water and forced to swim for its life, like the witch in the European custom.
The black goat, the black pig, and the black cat are all typhonian types of the same symbolic value as the black boar of Sut or the Apap-dragon. In each case the representative of the dark and evil power was slain or thrown into the water as propitiation to the beneficent power that gave the rain. Slaying the type of drought was a means of fighting against the power of evil and making an appeal to the good spirit. It was a primitive mode of casting out Satan, the Adversary, in practical sign-language.
The giant or ogre of mythology was a result of humanising the animal types. At first the Apap-reptile rose up vast, gigantic, as the swallowing darkness or devouring dragon. This, when humanised, became the giant, the magnified non-natural ogre of a man that takes the monster's place in later legendary lore. The Apap-dragon coiled about the mount was the keeper of the treasures in the netherworld. So is it with the giant. In Jack the Giant-killer it is said 'the mount of Cornwall was kept by a huge giant named Cormoran.' Jack, our little solar hero, asked what reward would be given to the man who killed Cormoran. 'The giant's treasure,' they told him, would be the reward. Says Jack, 'Then let me undertake it.' After he had slain the giant, Jack went to search the cave, which answers to the Amenta in the lower earth, in which the treasure was concealed. This was the treasure of light and water that had been hidden by the giant in his lair.
The Aryan fairytales and folktales can be unriddled in the Kamite mythos which was based on the phenomena of external nature. It is the moon, for instance, who was a woman one half the time and a frog or serpent during the other half. In the first character she was Sati, the lady of light. In the second half of the lunation she was the frog that swam the waters of the nether earth and made her transformation as Hekat in Amenta. Some writers have denounced the savage brutality and obscenity of those whom they look upon as the makers of mythology. But in all this they have been spitting beside the mark. Moreover, the most repulsive aspects do not belong to mythology proper, but are mainly owing to the decadence and degradation of the matter in the märchen. Also to the change which the mythos suffered in passing from the zoomorphic mode of representation. There is neither morality nor immorality so long as the phenomena are nonhuman and the drama is performed by the primitive actors. But when the characters are humanised or divinised in human form the recast may be fatal to the mythical meaning; primitive simplicity is apparently converted into senseless absurdity, and the drama of the nature-powers turned into a masquerade of monsters. Plutarch will furnish us with an illustration which these idiotai might have selected for an example. When speaking of the elder Horus who 'came into the world before his time' as the phantom-forerunner of the true light, he says that Osiris had accompanied with Isis (his spouse) after her decease. Which looks very ominous for the morals of the 'myth-makers' who could ascribe such immorality to their gods. Is it not a fair deduction from a datum like that to infer that the Egyptians were accustomed to cohabit with the corpses of their dead women? Obviously that is one of the possible implications. Especially as Osiris, according to Spencer, was once a man!
But now for an explanation on the plain ground of natural fact: Isis, in one character, was the mother-moon, the reproducer of the light in Amenta; the place of conjunction and of re-begettal by the sun-god, when Osiris entered the moon, and she became the woman who was clothed with the sun. At the end of a lunation the old moon died and became a corpse—it is at times portrayed as a mummy—in the underworld, and there it was revivified by Osiris, the solar fecundator of the moon who was the mother that brought forth the child of light, the 'cripple-deity' that was naturally enough begotten in the dark. But worse, still. When Osiris lay helpless and breathless in Amenta with a 'corpse-like face' his two wives who are likewise his daughters came to cohabit with him, and raise him from the dead, or re-erect him like, and as, the tat. It is said of Isis she 'raised the remains of the god of the resting heart and extracted his seed to beget an heir,' or to make him humanly reincarnation in the flesh. In this phase it is the female who cohabits with the corpse of the dead male. But in neither were the actors of the drama human, although they are humanised in the märchen. The mythos is repeated and applied in a Semitic folktale when Lot's two daughters are 'with child by their father.' The difference being that Osiris as father in the mysteries of Amenta was dead at the time, whereas in the irresponsible märchen Lot is represented as dead-drunk.
The myths are not to be explained by means of the märchen; not if you collect and compare the nursery tales of all the world. But we can explain the märchen more or less by aid of the myths, or rather the mythical representation in which we can once more recover the lost key. The Aryan folktales, for example, are by no means a faithful reflection of the world as it appeared to the primitive mind. They are not a direct reflection of anything; they are refracted mythology, and the representation in mythology is not direct, not literal, but mystical. Egyptian mythology, and all it signifies, lies between the Aryan or other folktales and primitive man. The märchen are not the oldest or most primitive form of the myth; they are the latest. The coinage is the same, but the primitive impress is greatly worn down, and the features are often well-nigh effaced. In the märchen, the ancient wise woman or old mother goes on telling her tales, but the memory of their meaning has lapsed by reason of her age. Whereas in the Ritual the representation is still preserved and repeated accurately according to knowledge. The mythos passes into the folktale, not the folktale into the mythos.
In Egyptian sign-language, the earliest language of mythology, the Sun was represented, in the fullness of its power, by the lion. When it went down to the underworld by night or in the winter time it was imaged as the disappearing mouse. Ra was the lion: Horus was the mouse: the blind shrewmouse being a type of Horus darkling in Amenta. Ra as the solar lion lost his power in the underworld and was as the animal in the hunter's toils. Then Horus the little hero as the shrewmouse came to deliver the entangled lion. Under the type of the mongoose or ichneumon [p.24] the little hero attacked the serpent of darkness and, as the mouse, it was the deliverer of the lion in the mythos. But when or where the wisdom was no longer taught in the mysteries the gnosis naturally lapsed. The myth became a folktale or a legend of the nursery, and passed into the fable of the mouse that nibbled the cord in two which bound the captured lion and set the mighty beast at liberty. Thus the mythos passed into the märchen, and the mysteries still clung on for very life in the moralities.
The ass in a male form is a type of Tum the sun-god in Amenta. A vignette to the Ritual shows the ass being devoured by the serpent of darkness called the eater of the ass. The ass then in the Egyptian mythos represents the sun-god Tum, Greek Tomos, passing through the netherworld by night. It is Tum in his character of Aiu or Iu who is also represented on the tomb of Rameses the Sixth as a god with the ears of an ass, hauling at the rope by which the sun is drawn up from Amenta, the lower Egypt of the mythos. Atum, or Tum, is the old man of the setting sun and Aiu is his son. Thus the three characters of the old man, his son, and the ass can be identified with Atum-Aiu = Osiris and Horus; and the nocturnal sun or the sun of winter with the slow motion which constitutes the difficulty of getting the ass forward in the fable. This difficulty of getting the ass along, whether ridden by Tum the father or pulled along by his son, was illustrated in a popular pastime, when on the eighth day of the festival of the Corpus Domini the people of Empoli suspended the ass aloft in the air and made it fly perforce in presence of the mocking multitude. Gubernatis says the Germans of Westphalia 'made the ass a symbol of the dull St. Thomas, and were accustomed to call it by the name of "the Ass Thomas," the laggard boy who came the last to school upon St. Thomas's Day.' But we find an earlier claimant than this for the 'Ass Thomas' in Tum, or Tomos, the Kamite solar god, who made the passage of Amenta very slowly with the ass, or as it was represented, riding on the ass and therefore for the Greek fable of the old man and his ass.
The birth of a folktale may be seen in the legend of 'The Sleeping Beauty.' When it was known that the renewing moon derived her glory from the procreative sun, their meeting in the underworld became a fertile source of legends that were mothered by the myth. The moon-goddess is the lovely lady sleeping in Amenta waiting for her deliverer, the young solar god, to come and wake her with the lover's kiss. She was Hathor, called the princess in her lunar character; and he was the all-conquering Horus. It was a legend of the resurrection which at first was soli-lunar in the mythos; afterwards a symbolic representation of the soul that was awakened from the sleep of death by Horus in his role of saviour or deliverer of the manes in Amenta. So the mythos faded in the fairytale.
It is a cardinal tenet of the present work that the Aryan märchen and European folklore were derived from the Egyptian mythology. This might be illustrated without end. For example, there is a classical tradition or folktale, repeated by Pliny, which tells of a time when a mother in Egypt bore seven children at [p.25] one birth. Of course this legend had no origin in natural history. Such a birth belongs to mythology in which the mother of seven children at a birth was primarily the bringer-forth of seven elemental powers, who can be traced as such, in all their seven characters. The one Great Mother with her seven sons constituted a primary ogdoad. She survived in a gnostic form as Achamoth-Ogdoads, mother of the seven rulers of the heptanomis. 'This Mother,' says Irenaeus, 'they also call Ogdoad, Sophia, Terra, Jerusalem.' Jerusalem is identified by Jeremiah with the ancient mother who was the bringer-forth of seven sons as the 'mother of the young men,' 'she that hath borne seven,' who now giveth up the ghost. This mother of seven also appears as the Great Harlot in the Book of Revelation who is the mother of the seven kings which were at the same time seven heads of the solar dragon, and also seven consorts who were born children of the old Great Mother. These were 'the seven children of the Thigh' in the astronomical mythology. Thus the ancient genetrix was the mother who brought forth seven children at a birth, or as a companionship, according to the category of phenomena. Her seven children were the nature-powers of all mythology. They are variously represented under diverse types because the powers were reborn in different phenomena. We shall find them grouped as seven serpents, seven apes, seven jackals, seven crocodiles, hippopotami, hawks, bulls or rams, who become seven children of the mother when the myth is rendered anthropomorphically in the later forms of the märchen, amongst which there is a Bengalese folktale of a boy who was suckled by seven mothers. And this boy of the märchen can be identified with Child-Horus in the astronomical mythos, as 'the bull of the seven cows'. The seven cows were grouped in the Great Bear as a sevenfold figure of motherhood. The cows were also called the seven Hathors who presided over the birth of the child as seven Fates in the Egyptian theology. And in later legends these are the seven mothers of one child. When he became a child they were the seven women who ministered to him of their substance in a very literal manner. The seven givers of liquid life to the nursling were portrayed as women in Amenta; the seven Hathors who were present as Fates, at childbirth; and as cows in the constellation of the Great Bear. The sucklers might be imaged as seven women, seven cows, seven sows. Thus the Romans had evidently heard of them as a sevenfold form of Rerit the sow, a co-type with the cow. The Bengalese folktale shows the Egyptian mythos reduced to the stage of the Aryan märchen. The typical seven mothers of the child also survive amongst the other curiosities of Christianity. It is said in the Gospel of the Nativity that Mary 'the virgin of the Lord' had been brought up with seven other virgins in the temple. Also there are seven women in the gospels who minister to Jesus of their substance. Again we are able to affiliate the folktale with the original mythos. After which it is of little importance to our inquiry which country the Aryan märchen came from last. The seven Hathors or cows in the mythos are also the seven Fates in attendance at the birth of a child; and in the Babar Archipelago seven [p.26] women, each of them carrying a sword, are present when a child is born, who mix the placenta with ashes and put it into a small basket, which they hang up in a particular kind of tree. These likewise are a form of the seven Hathors who were present at childbirth as the seven Fates in the mythos. In such ways the Kamite mythos passed into the Aryan märchen.
The child who had no father had been mythically represented as the fertiliser of the mother when in utero, like Ptah, the god in embryo. Hence he was called the 'bull of his mother.' But why the bull? Because this was not the human child. It was Horus as the calf born of the cow and a prehuman type when the fatherhood was not yet individualised. The solar god at sunset made his entrance into the breeding-place of the netherworld, and is said to prepare his own generation for rebirth next day, but not in human guise. The bull of his mother is shown upon the horizon as Horus the calf. But when the persons and transactions are presented anthropomorphically, in accordance with the human terminology the calf which had no father but was his own bull becomes the child who was born without a father. Thus the mythos passes into the märchen or legendary lore, and the child who fecundated his own mother takes a final form as the boy-lover of Venus, Ishtar, or Hathor, the divine mother, and the subject culminated in literature, as (for example) in Shakespeare's poem of Venus and Adonis, which is at root mythology fleshed in a human form. Again and again the Egyptian mythos furnishes a prototype that will suffice to account for a hundred folktales. For another instance, take the legend of the child that was predestined to be a king in spite of the monster pursuing the mother, or lying in wait to devour and destroy the infant from before its birth. Har-Ur, or Horus the Elder, was that child in the mythos. The title of repa will identify the child born to be king as that signifies the heir-apparent, or the prince who was predestined to become the king. An instructive example of the way in which the mythos, that we look on as Egyptian, was dispersed and spread in folktales over the whole world, may be seen in the legend of the combat between a father and son. The story has attained to somewhat of an epical dignity in Matthew Arnold's poem of Sohrab and Rustum. It is also found in many parts of the world, including New Zealand. Briefly summarised, the story, in legendary lore, is that of the son who does not know his own father. In the Maori tale of 'Kokako' the boy is called a bastard. Also in the tale of Peho the child is a bastard. This is a phrase in later language to describe the boy whose birth was matriarchal when the father was unknown individually. But such a legend as this, when found in folklore, does not come straight out of local sociology or ethnology in any country. We have to reckon with the rendering of the natural fact in the astronomical mythology of Egypt. In the olden day of indefinite paternity, when the father was personally unknown it was likewise unknown that the child of light born and reborn in the moon was the son of the solar god. This was a mythical son who could not know his own father. The earliest son in sociology or mythology did not know his own father. The elder Horus was the mother's child, who was born but not begotten. Now, a child whose [p.27] father is unknown is called a bastard. Thus Horus was a bastard born, and it was flung at him by Sut that he was a bastard. Also in Jewish legend Jesus is called the mamzer or bastard. Thus, the child of the mother only was the bastard, just as the mother who was 'na wife' came to be called the Harlot. The present writer has no knowledge of a folktale version of the legend being extant in Egyptian. This does not belong to the kind of literature that was preserved in the sanctity of the coffins and tombs, as was the Book of the Dead. But the essentials are extant, together with the explanation in natural fact, in the ancient luni-solar mythos. Horus the bastard was the child of light that was born of Isis in the moon, when the moon was the mother of the child and the father-source of light was unidentified. But sooner or later there was a secret knowledge on the subject. For instance, in the story told by Plutarch it is said that Taht the moon-god cleared the character of the mother by showing that Horus was not a bastard, but that Ra, the solar god, was his true father. It is still continued to be told in various folktales that the woman was no better than a wanton in her wooing of the man whom she seeks or solicits as her paramour. This character may be traced in the mythology. It is the lady of light in the moon who pursues and seduces the solar god in the darkness of Amenta, and who exults that she has seized upon the god Hu and taken possession of him in the vale of Abydos where she went to lie down and sought to be replenished with his light. Child-Horus always remains a child, the child of twelve years, who at that age transforms into the adult and finds his father. So when he is twelve years of age, the boy Jokull in an Icelandic version of the folktale goes in search of his father. They fight and the son is slain, at least he dies after living for three nights. In other versions the fight between father and son is continued for three days. This is the length of time for the struggle of Osiris in death and darkness who rises again as Lord of Light in the moon and now is recognised as the father of Horus who was previously the mother's child that knew not his father. Moreover, in the märchen it is sometimes the father who is killed in the combat, at other times it is the son. And, in the mythos, Osiris the father rises again upon the third day in the moon, but at other times he rises as Horus the triumphant son. A legend like this of the combat between father and son does not originate in history much less does it rise from a hundred different ethnological sources, as the folklorists would have us think. In the folktales there are various versions of the same subject; the mythos is one, and in that oneness must the origin be sought for the märchen. This origin of our folklore may be found a hundred times over in the 'wisdom' of old Egypt. The Tale of the Two Brothers furnishes a good example of the Egyptian mythos reappearing in the folktale. In this there are two brothers named Anup, the elder, and Bata, the younger. Anup has a wife who falls in love with Bata and solicits him illicitly. 'And she spoke to him saying: "What strength there is in thee, indeed, I observe thy vigour every day." Her heart knew him. She seized upon him and said to him: "Come, let us lie down for a while. Better for thee beautiful clothes."' Like Joseph in the Hebrew version, the youth [p.28] rejected the advances of the lady. He 'became like a panther' in his fury at her suggestion. Like Potiphar's wife, she charges him with violating and doing violence to her. We shall have to return to the story. Let it suffice for the present to say that the 'tale of the two brothers' in the märchen is derived in the course of a long descent from the myth of Sut and Horus, the brothers who were represented later as Anup and Horus, also as the Horus of both horizons. The elder brother Anup corresponds to Sut, who in one form is Anup; the younger, Bata, to the sun-god Horus of the East. The name of Bata signifies the soul (ba) of life in the earth (ta) as a title of the sun that rises again. On this account it is said that Bata goes to 'the Mountain of the Cedar,' in the flower of which upon the summit lies his heart, or soul, or virile force; the power of his resurrection as the solar god. Hence Bata says to Anup, 'Behold, I am about to become a Bull.' And he was raised by Ra to the dignity of hereditary prince as ruler of the whole land, over which he reigned for thirty years. As myth, such märchen are interpretable wheresoever they are found. The solar power on the two horizons or the sun with a dual face was represented by two brothers who are twins, under whichever name or type, who were earlier than Ra. One is the lesser, darkling and infertile sun of night, or of autumn; the other is the victor in the resurrection. These were associated in Amenta with the moon, the lady of the lunar light, who is described with them in chapter 80 of the Ritual as uniting herself with the two brother-gods who were Sut and Horus. She is wedded to the one but is in love with the other. Whether as Sut or Elder Horus, her consort was her impubescent child; and she unites with Hu the virile solar god and glories in his fertilising power. She confesses that she has seized upon Hu and taken possession of him in the vale of Abydos when she sank down to rest. Her object being to engender light from his potent solar source, to illuminate the night, and overthrow the devouring monster of the dark. This is true mythos which is followed afar off by the folklore of the tale. There was no need to moralise, as this was Egyptian mythology, not Semitic history.
When the Aryan philologists have done their worst with the subject and the obscuration has passed away, it will be seen that the legend of Daphne was a transformation that originated in the Egyptian mythos. Ages before the legend could have been poetised in Greece, Daphne was extant as an Egyptian goddess Tafne or Tefnut by name, who was a figure of the green Egyptian dawn. The green tree was also a type of the dawn in Egypt. The transformation of the goddess into the tree is a bit of Greek fancy-work which was substituted for the Kamite gnosis of the myth. Max Muller asked how the 'total change of a human being or a heroine into a tree' is to be explained. Whereas Daphne never was a human being any more than Hathor in her green sycamore, or Tefnut in the emerald sky of the Egyptian dawn. The roots of these things lie far beyond the anthropomorphic representation, and in a region where the plummet of the Aryanists has never sounded. As the Egyptians apprehended, the foremost characteristic of the dawn was its dewy moisture and [p.29] refreshing coolness, not its consuming fire. The tree of dewy coolness, the sycamore of Hathor, or of Tefnut, was the evergreen of dawn, and the evergreen as fuel may be full of fire, like the ash or the laurel into which Apollo turned the young divinity who was Daphne in Greece and Tafne in Egypt. And if Apollo be the youthful sun-god, like Horus, on the horizon, who climbs the tree of dawn, the dews would be dried by him; otherwise the tree of moisture would be transformed into a tree of fire, and assume the burning nature of the laurel, as in the Greek story. It was the sun that kindled the fire, and as the sun climbed up the tree the dews of Tefnut dried. It was not the dawn quâ dawn that was changed into a laurel, but the cool green tree of dew = Tafne Daphne, or the dawn that was dried and turned into the tree of blazing lustre by the solar fire, or the sun, i.e., by Horus or Apollo when personified. The water of heaven and the tree of dawn precede personification, and the name of Tefnut, from Tef (to drip, drop, spit, exude, shed, effuse, supply), and Nu, for heaven, shows that Tefnut represented the dew that fell from the tree of dawn. She is the giver of the dew; hence the water of dawn is said to be the water of Tefnut. Tefnu gives the moisture from the tree of dawn in heavenly dew, but in another character she is fierce as fire, and is portrayed in the figure of a lioness. The truth is, there was Egyptian science enough extant to know that the dew of dawn was turned into the vapour that was formed into the green tree on the horizon by the rising sun of morning, and the Kamite mythos which represented the natural fact was afterwards converted Greek fancy, as in numerous other instances.
When once they are identified the myths must be studied in their Egyptian dress. It is my work to point the way, not to elucidate all the Semitic and Aryan embellishments or distortions. But we may depend upon it that any attempt to explain or discuss the Asiatic, American, Australian, and European mythologies with that of Egypt omitted is the merest writing on the sand which the next wave will obliterate.
Max Muller asked how it was that our ancestors, who were not idiots, although he has done his utmost to make them appear idiotic in the matter of mythology, came to tell the story of a king who was married to a frog? His explanation is that it arose, as usual, from a misapplication of names. The frog was a name given to the sun, and the name of the frog, Bekha, or Bekhi, was afterwards confused with or mistaken for the name of a maiden whom the king might have married. In reply to this absurd theory of the mythical origins another writer says it was the nature of savages to make such mistakes, not merely in names but in things; in confusing natural phenomena and in confounding frog-nature with human nature: this confounding confusion being the original staple of 'savage myth.' It would be difficult to tell which version is farthest from the actual fact.
Whoever begins with the mythos as a product of the 'savage' mind as savages are known today is fatally in error. Neither will it avail to begin with idiots who called each other nicknames in Sanskrit. Let us make another test-case of Bekhi the frog. The Sanskritist does not start fair. He has not learned the language of [p.30] animals. The mythical representation had travelled a long way before any human king could have got mixed up with a frog for his wife. We must go back to the proto-Aryan beginnings, which are Egyptian or Kamite. In Africa we find these things next to nature where we can get no further back in search of origins. Egypt alone goes back far enough to touch nature in these beginnings, and, also often to be said in the present work, Egypt alone has faithfully and intelligently kept the record.
The frog was a lunar type on account of its metamorphosis from the tadpole-condition in the water to the four-legged life on land, which type was afterwards applied to the moon in its coming forth from the waters of the Nun. The name of the frog in Egyptian is ka, whence the lunar lady, who was represented as a frog, is designated Mistress Heka or Hekat, who was a consort of the solar god Khnum-Ra. An inscription in the British Museum tells us that under one of his titles Khnum was called 'the King of Frogs.' There is no proof, perhaps, of his being a frog himself, but his son, Ptah, had a frog-headed form, and his consort, Hekat, is the froggess. This, then, is the very king by name who was wedded to a frog, but not as a human being. Such a tale was only told when the gnosis was no longer truly taught and the ancient myth had been modernised in the märchen. In the Kamite mythos Khnum has three consorts, the goddesses Hekat, Sati, and Ank. We might call them one wife and two consorts. The wife is Ank, whose name signifies the mirror. She personates the moon as reflector of the sun. Hekat and Sati are representatives of the dual lunation; Hekat is the frog of darkness, and Sati the lady of light. As the frog, Hekat sloughs her frog-skin and reveals her wondrous beauty in the form of Sati, the woman in glory. These three are the consorts of Khnum-Ra, who is (1) in Amenta with Hekat, (2) in Heaven with Sati, and (3) in the moon herself, as the generator of light with Ank, or in the mirror. Khnum-Ra is the nocturnal sun, and Hekat, his consort, is a representative of the moon that transforms in the lower hemisphere, as the tadpole transforms and emerges from the waters in the form of a frog. Khnum, god of the nocturnal sun, is king of frogs in Amenta, the hidden underworld, and it is there that Hekat is his consort as the froggess. In the upper heaven she is the lovely goddess with the arrow of light that was shot from the lunar bow with which her name of Sati (Coptic, Sate) is hieroglyphically written. And every time she re-enters the water of the nether world she transforms into a frog according to the mythical mode of representing the moon in Amenta. Thus we can identify the 'sun-frog' of the Aryan märchen in the frog-headed solar god (Ptah) or in Khnum, 'the king of frogs,' both of whom were solar deities. We can also identify the frog-maiden in 'Mistress Heka,' or Hekat, the goddess with a frog's head, who is one of Khnum's consorts, the Cinderella (so to say) of the three sisters, who are Ank, Sati, and Hekat, the three goddesses of the myth who survive as the well-known three sisters of the märchen. The 'sun-frog' then was Khnum, 'the King of Frogs,' as the sun in the night of the underworld, who was wedded to Hekat, the lunar frog in the mythos which supplied the matter for the märchen.
It is only in this netherworld that sun and moon can ever meet, and that but once a month, when the lady of light transforms into the frog, or Hekat, which frog re-transforms into Sati, the lady of light, when she emerges from the abyss. The king was not to be seen by his mistress without the royal garments on, and these were laid aside when the sun-god entered the nether-earth. If the lady dared to look upon her lover in the night she would find him in the shape of the beast, as in 'Beauty and the Beast,' which was prohibited; and if the lover looked upon the maiden under certain conditions she would transfigure into a frog or other amphibious creature, and permanently retain that shape as the story was told when the myth was moralised in the märchen the exact antithesis of the frog that transformed into a beautiful princess, the transformation of Bekhi, and possibly (or certainly) of Phryne, the frog, whose sumptuous beauty was victoriously unveiled when she was derobed before her vanquished judges. In the different phases of the mythos the young sun-god might have been met by night as a crocodile, a beetle, a frog, an eel, or a bear, for the bear was also a zootype of Horus. In one of his battles with Sut he fought in the form of a bear. It was a law of primitive taboo that the bride or wife was not to be seen by the lover or husband in a state of nudity. In the story of Melusine the bride is not to be looked on when she is naked. She tells her lover that she will only abide with him so long as he observes this custom of women. This also was the law in the mythical land of Naz, and one man who did look on his wife unveiled was transformed into a monster. Now, the veil of the bride is one with that of the virgin Isis, which originated in the loincloth or leaf-belt that was demanded by the 'custom of women' when the female first became pubescent.
In Egypt, the dog-headed ape aarmi was a zootype of the moon in her period of eclipse and change, as explained by Horapollo. The menstruating ape was a representative of the sloughing moon, that is, of the veiled bride, the female who was on no account to be looked on in her nudity. The sun and moon could not meet below except when the goddess or mistress did vanish from the light of mortals in the world above. The lunar lady in her poor and lonely state goes underground or enters the waters to make her transformation and is invisible during three nights (and days), which correspond to the three days' festival at which Cinderella lost her slipper (the last relic of the magical skin), and won the heart of the fairy prince. The meeting of the sun and moon in Amenta was monthly: once every twenty eight days, as it was reckoned in the calendar which, for mystical reasons, counted 13 new moons to the year; and it is these mystical reasons which alone can penetrate to the natural origin of taboo concerning the custom of women. It was the menses = the mensis; the female period = the lunar. The wife, as we have seen, was not to be looked upon during her monthly period when she was in retirement, like the moon once a month. It was on the sixth day of the new moon that Osiris re-entered the orb and paid his first visit to the lady of light. The Australian deity Purmdjel is said to have a wife whose face he never looks upon. When that representation was first made Amenta was not known as the monthly [p.32] meeting-place for moon and sun by night. It had only been observed that they did not meet by day. Isis, veiled in black, goes down to the netherworld in search of lost Osiris. It was only there they ever met, he as the Bull of Eternity, she as the cow, a later type than the frog of Hekat.
This drama of the primitive mysteries, this mythical mode of representing natural fact, is at times more appealing in its touching simplicity than anything to be found amongst the best things that have been 'said' in literature. The custom of women which was to be religiously respected being identified, it is easy to see that this led to other customs of taboo, which were founded and practised as modes of memorising the law intended to be taught and fulfilled.
The mystical bride who was not to be seen naked was personated by the wife who wore the bridal veil, or the wife whose face was never to be seen by her husband until she had borne him a child or who is only to be visited under cover of the night. For, like the sun and the moon, they dwell in separate huts and only meet occasionally and then by stealth, according to the restrictions of taboo. Hence marriages were made on condition that the woman was not to be seen naked by her husband. When Ivan has burned the frog-skin of the beautiful Helen in the Russian tale, to prevent her from turning into a frog again, she bids him farewell, and says to him, 'Seek me in the 27th earth, in the 30th kingdom.' We have here a reference to the twenty-seven nights of lunar light, the three nights of the moon out of sight, together with the transformation and re-arising on the third day. But the annual conjunction of sun and moon at the vernal equinox is indicated in the Vedic version when Urvasi promises to meet her husband on the last night of the year for the purpose of giving birth to the child, which was born monthly of the moon and annually in the soli-lunar rendering of the mythos. Urvasi says to Pururavas, 'Come to me the last night of the year, and thou shalt be with me for one night, and a son will be born to thee.'
The Egyptians have preserved for us and bequeathed the means of interpreting this typology of the early sign-language. The primitive consciousness or knowledge which has lapsed or got confused in inner Africa, or Australia, India, or Greece, lived on and left its record in their system of signs. If the Australian savage does attribute the earliest marriage-laws to a crow, he is but saying the same thing as Horapollo, who tells us that when the Egyptians denote marriage they depict two crows, because the birds cohabit in the human fashion, and their laws of intercourse are strictly monogamic. Nor is the gnosis of the original representation quite extinct. The 'Wisdom of Manihiki' is a Mangaian designation of the gnosis, or knowledge of mythical representation, the secrets of which were limited to a few priests who were the same in the Hervey Isles that the Her-Seshti were to the wisdom of Egypt. A race so degraded or undeveloped as the Bushmen have their hidden wisdom, their magic, with an esoteric interpretation of their dramatic dances and pantomime, by which they more or less preserve and perpetuate the mythic meaning of their religious mysteries. What we do really find is that the inner African and other aborigines still continue to talk and think [p.33] their thought in the same figures of speech that are made visible by art, such as is yet extant among the Bushmen; that the Egyptians also preserved the primitive consciousness together with the clue to this most ancient knowledge, with its symbolic methods of communication, and that they converted the living types into the later lithographs and hieroglyphics. Animals that talk in the folktales of the Bushmen, or the Indians, or the märchen of Europe, are still the living originals which became pictographic and ideographic in the zootypology of Egypt, where they represent divinities, i.e., nature-powers at first and deities afterwards; then ideographs, and finally the phonetics of the Egyptian alphabet.
No race of men ever yet imagined that the animals talked in human language as they are made to do in the popular märchen. No men so 'primitive' as to think that anyone was swallowed by a great fish and remained three days and nights in the monster's belly, to be afterwards belched up on dry land alive. They were not human beings of whom such stories were told, and therefore those who first made the mythical representations were not capable of believing they were human. Put your living representatives of primitive or aboriginal men to the test. Try them with the miracles of the Old or New Testament, presented to them for matters of fact, as a gauge of credulity. What does Dr. Moffat say of his African aborigines? 'The Gospel appeared too preposterous for the most foolish to believe,' and 'To speak of the Creation, the Fall, and the Resurrection seemed more fabulous, extravagant, and ludicrous to them than their own vain stories of lions and hyænas.' But they knew, more or less, that their own legends were mythical, whereas the Christian was vouching for his mythos being historical, and that they could in no wise accept. A Red Indian known to Hearne as a perfect bigot with regard to the arts and tricks of the jugglers could yet by no means be impressed with a belief in any part of the Christian religion, for the documents and vouchers for its truth. When Robert Drury told the Malagasy for the first time how God created a man, and made a woman from one of his ribs while he was asleep, they said 'it was a plain untruth, and that it was a shame to tell such lies with a serious countenance.' They at once proceeded to test the statement by reckoning the ribs of a woman and a man. 'They said that to talk of what was done before man was made was silly, and that what I had said of God's talking with men and telling them such things had no proof; and the things I pretended to know and talk of were all old women's stories. When I mentioned the resurrection of the body, they told me "it must be a lie, and to talk to them of burning in fire after this life was an abominable lie."'
The aborigines do not mistake the facts of nature as we have mistaken the primitive method of representing them. It is we, not they, who are the most deluded victims of false belief. Christian capacity for believing the impossible in nature is unparalleled in any time past amongst any race of men. Christian readers denounce the primitive [p.34] realities of the mythical representation as puerile indeed, and yet their own realities alleged to be eternal, from the fall of Adam to the redemption by means of a crucified Jew, are little or nothing more than the shadows of these primitive simplicities of an earlier time. It will yet be seen that the culmination of credulity, the meanest emasculation of mental manhood, the densest obscuration of the inward light of nature, the completest imbecility of shut-eyed belief, the nearest approach to a total and eternal eclipse of common sense have been attained beyond all chance of competition by the victims of the Christian creeds. The genesis of delusive superstitions is late, not early. It is not the direct work of nature herself. Nature was not the mother who began her work of development by nursing her child in all sorts of illusions concerning things in general. She did not place her hands upon his eyes and bid him to interpret the world subjectively. Primitive man was not a metaphysician, but a man of common sense. And if limited as a limpet, he clung hard and fast to the rock of reality as the sole ground he had to go upon. The realities without and around were too pressing for the senses to allow him to play the fool with delusive idealities; the intellectual and sentimental luxuries of later hypo-idealists. Modern ignorance of the mythical mode of representation has led to the ascribing of innumerable false beliefs not only to primitive men and present day savages, but also to the most learned, enlightened, and highly civilized people of antiquity, the Egyptian; for had these natural impossibilities been believed the Egyptians must have shared the same mental confusion, the same manifest delusion concerning nature, the same incapacity for distinguishing one thing from another, as the pygmy or the Papuan.
It has been asserted that there was little or no prayer in the lower forms of religion. But this would have to be determined by sign-language rather than by words. Two hands of a person clasped together are equivalent to a spoken prayer. In the Ritual, the speaker says of the God Osiris, 'His branch is of prayer, by means of which I have made myself like him.' Teru is the branch, and the same word signifies to adore, invoke, and pray. It was as a mode of praying that the branches of the bedwen or birch were strewn in the ancient British graves. It is the same language and the same sign when the Australian aborigines approach the camp of strangers with a green bough in their hands as the sign of amity equivalent to a prayer for peace and goodwill. Acted sign-language is a practical mode of praying and asking for what is wanted by portraying instead of saying. A green branch of a symbolic tree is dipped in water and sprinkled on the earth as a prayer for rain. New Caledonian wizards dig up a skeleton and pour water on the dead bones to denote the great need of a revivifying rain. Amongst the rock-drawings of the Bushmen there is a scene in which it is apparent that a hippopotamus is being dragged across country as a symbolic device for producing rain. Naturally the water-cow is an African zootype of water. In Egypt she imaged the Great Mother who was invoked as the wateress. Not only are the four naked natives dragging the water-cow overland; two of them also carry the water-plant, probably a lotus, in their hands, as a symbol of the water that is so greatly needed. It was a common mode of primitive appeal for savages [p.35] to inflict great suffering on the representative victim to compel the necessary response. In this case, as we read the language of signs, they are intending to compel the nature-power to send them water, the female hippopotamus or water-cow being the image of that power. This would be dragged across the land as a palpable mode of forcing the great cow of Earth to yield the water, in the language that was acted. The appeal to the power beyond was also made with the human being as the suffering victim. In Transylvania, girls strip themselves stark naked, and, led by an elder woman who is likewise naked, they steal a harrow and carry it across a field to the nearest brook; then they set it afloat and sit on the harrow for an hour in making their appeal. The Pawnee victim (or the Khond Meriah) made appeal to the cruel powers as the intercessor and suppliant on behalf of the people by her wounds, her tears and groans, her terrible tortures purposely prolonged in slowly dying, her torn tormented flesh agape with ruddy wounds, as in the later mysteries where the victim was held to be divine. Pathetic appeal was made to the nature-power or elemental spirit, chiefly the goddess of Earth as food-giver, by means of the suffering, the moans, the tears, the prayers of the victims. This was employed as a moving-power, often cruel enough to search the heavens for the likeness of a pitying human heart. The ears of dogs were pinched by the Mexican women during an eclipse to make them howl to the power of light. Meal-dust is thrown into the eyes of the sacred turtle by the Zunis to make it weep. The Australian Diererie solicit the good spirit for rain by bleeding two of their mediums or divinely-inspired men, supposed to be persons of influence with the Moora-Moora or good spirits, who will take heed of their sufferings and send down rain. The scene described by Gason should be compared with that in the 1st Book of Kings where the priests of Baal cut and slash their flesh with knives and lances and limp around the altar with their bleeding wounds as a mode of invoking heaven for rain. Such customs were universal; they were supplicating in the dumb drama of sign-language for the water or the food that was most fervently desired. The Guanches used to separate the lambs from their mothers, so that their bleatings might make a more touching appeal to the superhuman powers. When the corn of the Zulus was parched with continual drought they would hunt for a particular victim called the 'Heaven-bird,' as the favourite of the gods, kill it and cast it into a pool of water. This was done that the heart of heaven might be softened for its favourite, and weep and 'wail for it by raining; wailing a funereal wail.' The idea is to make the heavens weep at sight of this appeal, that is representation, of the suffering people, and elicit an answer from above in tears of rain. The customs generally express the need of water and the suffering endured from long-continued drought.
When the Chinaman raises his little breast-work of earth with bottles stuck in it muzzle outward, looking like guns in position, to scare away the devils or evil nature-powers, he is threatening them and protecting his dwelling in sign-language—signs which they are [p.36] supposed to understand. Making the sign of the cross or ringing the bells subserves the same purpose in the religion of Rome. When the church-bells were rung in a thunderstorm it was intended to scare off evil spirits just as much as was the Chinaman's futile fortification.
The Intichiuma ceremonies of the Arunta tribes are amongst the most primitive now extant upon the surface of the earth. These are performed as sacred mysteries in various modes of sign-language, by which the thought, the wish, the want is magically expressed in act instead of, or in addition to, words. The obvious object of these most ancient mysteries of magic is the perennial increase of food, more expressly of the animal or plant that gives its name to the totem of those who perform the particular rites. The members of the witchetty-grub tribe perform a mystery of transformation in relation to the grub which is an important article of diet. With magical incantations they call upon the grub to lay an abundance of eggs. They invite the animals to gather from all directions and beg them to breed in this particular feeding-ground of theirs. The men encase themselves in the structure intended to represent the chrysalis from which the grub emerges in rebirth, and out of this they crawl. In trying to interpret the dumb drama of these totemic mysteries we have to learn what is thought and meant to be expressed chiefly by what is done. Thus we see the mystery of transformation is acted magically by the men of the witchetty-grub totem for the production of food in the most primitive form of a prayer-meeting or religious service; and the powers are solicited, the want made known by signs, especially by the sign of fasting during the performance. They shuffle forth one after another in imitation of animals newly born. Thus they enact the drama or mystery of transformation in character.
The primary phase of what has been continually miscalled 'phallic worship' originated in the idea and the symbolism of motherhood. The earth itself as producer of food and drink was looked upon as the mother of life. The cave in the earth was the womb of the bringer-forth, the uterine symbol of the genetrix. The mother in mythology is the abode. The sign of the female signified the place of birth: the birthplace was in the cave, and the cleft in the rock or entrance to the Mother-earth was the earliest phallic type identified throughout external nature. The cave, the cavern, or cleft in the rock was an actual place of birth for man and beast, and therefore a figure of the uterus of the Mother-earth. Hence the mount of earth, or the rock, was made a type of the Earth-mother in the stone seat of Isis, or the conical pillar of Hathor. The stone image of the mount of earth as mons veneris was identified at times as female by the κτείς being figured on it, as it was upon the conical stone of Elagabalus: or the impression of Aphrodite which was pointed out upon the black stone at Mecca by Byzantine writers. The cteis or yoni was the natural entrance to or outrance from the mount, and all its co-types and equivalents, because it was an emblem of the mother who brought forth her children from the earth.
The natives of Central Africa have a widespread tradition that the human race sprang out of a soft stone. This goes far towards [p.37] identifying the stone as a symbol of the earth; especially the stone with a hole in it that was made use of in the mysteries as the emblem of a second or spiritual birth. The Yao, of Central Africa, affirm that man, together with the animals, sprang from a hole in the rock. This birthplace, with the Arunta of Australia, is represented by the stone with a hole in it, from which the children emanate as from the womb of creation. In their magical ceremonies they represent a woman by the emblematic figure of a hole in the earth. Also a figure of the vulva as the door of life is imaged on certain of their totems. The Eskimo Great Mother Sidné is the earth itself as producer of life and provider of food, who is a figure of the mother.
The origin of so-called 'phallic worship' then began with the earth herself being represented as the womb of universal life, with the female emblem for a figure of the birthplace and bringer-forth. Not that the emblem was necessarily human, for it might be the sign of the hippopotamus, or of the lioness, or the sow; anything but worshipful or human. The mythical gestator was not imaged primarily as a woman, but as a pregnant water-cow, size being wanted to represent the great, i.e., enceinte, Earth-mother, and her chamber of birth. But, under whatsoever type, the mother was the abode, and the oval image drawn by the cave-dwellers on their walls as the universal figure of the female proves the type to have been uterine. The female was the dwelling and the door of life, and this was her image 'in all the earth.' The likeness was also continued in the oval burial-place as sign and symbol of rebirth, and lastly as the oval window or the door in architecture; the vesica in Freemasonry. The mother's womb was not only a prototype of the tomb or temple; it also represented the house of the living.
'When the magistrate of Gwello had his first house built in wattle and daub, he found that the Makalanga women, who were engaged to plaster it, had produced, according to a general custom, a clay image of the female member in relief upon the inside wall. He asked them what they did that for. They answered benevolently that it was to bring him good luck. This illustrates the pure form of the cult of these people, who recognize the unknown and unseen power by reverencing its manifestation (in this instance) on the female side of the creative principle.' They knew the natural magic of the emblem if the European did not. Also, they were identifying the woman with the abode. In Bent's book he gives an illustration of an iron-smelting furnace, conventionally showing the female figure and the maternal mould. 'All the furnaces found in Rhodesia are of that form, but those which I have seen (and I have come upon five of them in a row) are far more realistic, most minutely and statuesquely so, all in a cross-legged sitting position, and clearly showing that the production or birth of the metal is considered worthy of a special religious expression. It recognized the Creator in one form of his human manifestation in creation.' This is lofty language. 'We call the same thing by another name in our part of the country.'
The god Seb is the Egyptian Priapus, who might be termed a phallic deity. But he is the Earth-god and father of food; the god [p.38] of fructification associated with plants and fruits, flowers and foliage, which are seen issuing from his body. He is the 'Lord of Aliment,' in whom the reproductive powers of earth are ithyphallically portrayed. But the potency represented by Seb was not human, although the human member is depicted as a type of the begetter or producer. The enemies of Ra are repulsed by the phallus of Horus. When the Apap-monster is overthrown it is said, 'Thy phallus, O Horus, acts for ever. Thy phallus is eternal.' Where Heracles employs his club against the Hydra, the phallus was the typical weapon used by Horus against the Apap-dragon. Apap was the image of evil as negation, sterility, non-production; and the weapon of Horus symbolized the virile power of the procreative sun. Again, it is said the phallus of Osiris is agitated for the destruction of the rebels, and it dooms the beast Baba to be powerless during millions of years. The lion and phallus are elsewhere identical as zootype and type of the solar force when it is said the luminous lion in its course (the sun) is the phallus of Ra. As this was solar and not human, it will account for the enormous size of the image carried in the processions of the phallus.
Hippolytus, in his account of the Naaseni, speaks of the hidden mystery manifested by the phallic figure which held a 'first position in the most ancient places, being shown forth to the world, like a light set upon a candlestick.' This identifies the male emblem with its solar origin as symbol of the sun. It is something to know that when the long sperm candles are set up in the religious mysteries today, the ritualists are not doing this to the praise and glory of the human member, but are making use of a type which has been continued in the darkest Christian ignorance of pre-Christian origins.
A still more curious but kindred case of survival occurs in Australia, where it is a custom yet extant amongst the aborigines for the widow of a deceased person of importance to wear the phallus of her dead husband suspended round her neck for some time, even for years, after his death. This is not an action directly natural, but one that is dominated and directed by some religious sentiment, however primitive, which makes the action symbolical, and Egypt, who used such types, intelligently interprets them. By wearing the phallus the widow was preserving it from decaying in the earth, and in wearing it she was preserving that type of resurrection which Isis in her character of the widow sought so sedulously to preserve in a typical image. In the Turin Ritual the manes prays that the phallus of Ra may not be devoured by the powers of evil at a feast of fiends. In Egyptian resurrection scenes the re-arising of the dead or inert Osiris is indicated by the male emblem, re-erection being one with resurrection. It is thus the dead are raised or re-erected as spirits and the power of rising again is imaged in the life-likeness as by the figure of Amsu-Horus. Thus interpreted few things could be more pathetic than the poor widow's devotion to her dead husband, in wearing the emblem as a token of his future resurrection. In point of time and stage of development the widow in Australia is the natural prototype of the widow divinized as Isis who consecrated the phallus of Osiris and wore it made of wood. It [p.39] is in such ways as this the wisdom of old Egypt will enable us to read the most primitive sign-language and to explicate the most ancient typical customs, because it contains the gnosis or science of the earliest wisdom in the world. The 'language of animals' is obviously inner African. It is employed especially by the Bushmen and Hottentots. Just as obviously was it continued by the dwellers in the valley of the Nile. Beyond the hieroglyphics are the living types, many of which were continued as Egyptian, and these have the same significance in Egypt that they had in inner Africa, and still say the same things in the language of words that they said as zootypes. It appears as if the many links that we thought broken past mending in the long chain of human evolution were preserved in Egypt. There is a Kamite tradition mentioned by Plutarch that previous to the time when Taht first taught a language of words to the human race they used mere cries like the prehuman animals. We know that homo imitated the cries of the zootypes because he continued to do so in the totemic mysteries. We know that the ape was one of the most prominent zootypes. Now the god Taht who is here called the creator of speech, and whose name of Tehuti is derived from tehu, a word for speech and to tell, is portrayed in the form of the kaf-ape. The kaf-ape is the clicking cynocephalus; and it is recognized as the clicker who preceded the speaker; the animal from whom the later language came. Whence, the kaf-headed Taht-Ani is the figure of the god who taught mankind their speech and made the hieroglyphics, which ultimately led to letters. This type of language, speech, the word, the mouth, the tongue, carries us back to the pre-lingual clickers, and establishes the link between them and the clicking ape in tracing the origin and line of descent for human speech. The cynocephalus, then, represents a prehuman source of speech, and is personified in Taht-Ani as the divine speaker. We may look upon the clicking ape as one of the animals whose sounds were repeated by his successor man. The Egyptian record testifies to his pre-eminence. Possibly the ape, as typical talker, sayer or divine word, may account for the tradition current among the negroes in West Africa, also in Madagascar, that the apes once talked and could do so yet, but they conceal their faculty of speech for fear they should be made to work. The ass was also honoured like the ape of Taht-Ani as a saluter of the gods or nature-powers. It was a great past-master of prehuman sounds, as the prehuman utterer of the vowels in their earliest form. The Egyptians call the ass by the name of Iu, Aiu, and Aai, three forms of one primary diphthong in which the seven vowel-sounds originated. Iu signifies to come and go, which might aptly describe the ass's mode of producing the voice. Aiu or Iu with the A prothetic shows the process of accretion or agglutination which led to the word Aiu, Iao, Ioa, Iahu becoming extended to the seven vowels finally represented in the fully drawn-out name of Jehovah, which was written with the seven vowels by the Gnostics. The English attribute the dual sound of 'hee-haw' to the donkey, and, if we omit the aspirate, 'ee-aw' is near enough as a variant and the equivalent of Iu, Aiu, or Aai, as the name given to itself by the ass which was registered in language by [p.40] the Egyptians. The animal with his loud voice and long-continued braying was an unparalleled prototype of the praiser and glorifier of the gods or nature-powers. He uttered his vowel-sounds at the bottom and top of the octave which had only to be filled in for the ass to become one of the authors of the musical scale. Such were two of the sayers in the language of animals, as zootypes, as pictographs of ideas; as likenesses of nature-powers; as words, syllables, and letters; and what they said is to be read in totemism, astronomy, and mythology: in the primitive symbolism of the aborigines, and in the mystical types and symbols now ignorantly claimed to be Christian.
It is but doing the simplest justice to these our predecessors in the ascending scale of life and evolution to show something of the role they once played and the help they have rendered to nascent, non-articulate man in supplying the primary means of imaging the superhuman forces surrounding him; in lending him their own masks of personality for totemic use before he had acquired one of his own and in giving shape and sound and external likeness to his earliest thought, and so assisting him on his upward way with the very means by which he parted company from them. Whosoever studies this record by the light that shines from within will surely grow more humanly tender towards the natural zootypes and strive henceforth to protect them from the curse of cruelty, whether inflicted by the fury of the brutal savage or the bloody lust of the violating vivisectionist. This zoomorphic mode of representation offers us the key by which we can unlock the shut-up mind of the earliest, most benighted races so far as to learn more or less what they mean when they also talk or act their unwritten language of animals in totemic customs and religious rites, and repeat their märchen and dark sayings which contain the disjecta membra of the myths. It is as perfect for this purpose of interpreting the thought of the remotest past, become confused and chaotic in the present, as is the alphabet for rendering the thought of the present in verbal language.
Homo was the finisher but by no means the initial fashioner of language. Man was preceded by the animals, birds, and reptiles, who were the utterers of pre-verbal sounds that were repeated and continued by him for his cries and calls, his interjections and exclamations, which were afterwards worked up and developed as the constituents of later words in human speech into a thousand forms of language. Thinking, by man or animal, does not depend upon speech. Naming is not necessary for reflecting an image of the place or thing or person in the mirror of the mind. Thought is primarily a mental mode of representing things. Without true images of things, there is no trustworthy process of thought. Doubtless many blank forms may be filled in with a word as a substitute for thinking; but words are not the images of things, nor can they be the equivalent of the mental representation which we call thinking. It is the metaphysician who thinks, or thinks he thinks, in words alone—not the poet, dramatist, or natural man. The Argus-eyed pheasant did not think in words but in images and colours when she painted certain spots upon the feathers of her young progeny. Thought is possible without words to the animals. Thought was possible without words [p.41] to inarticulate man and the mere clickers. The faculty of thinking without words is inherent in the dumb, and it is impossible that such faculty should be extinct or not exercised by articulate man. Much thinking had been acted without words before the appearance of man upon the planet. Also by homo while as yet there were no words but only cries, ejaculations, and animal sounds. The dog can think without words. To make its hidden meaning heard, how pleadingly he will beseech without one sound of human speech. So it is with the human being. As an example, let us suppose we are going upstairs to bed in the dark. In doing this we do not think 'stairs—banister—landing—handle of door—candle-stick—matches.' We act the same as if we saw, only the vision is within and the dark without. We see the stair and feel for it with the foot. We see the banister mentally and clutch it with the hand. Internal seeing and external touch concern us a thousandfold more than words, and these give us a sensible hold of outer things. Thought does not need to spell its way in letters. We are thinking all the while as a process of mental representation, and do not go on words when we are not called upon to speak.
The bull and cow said 'moo;' the cow with us is still called a 'moo-cow' in nursery language. The goat and ram said 'ba.' The goose in hissing cried 'su.' The hippopotamus in roaring said 'rur' or 'rur-ruri'. Various others in uttering sounds by nature were giving themselves the names by which they were to be known in later language. The name of the cat in Egyptian is mau or miau. This, then, was one of the self-namers, like the goose Su. Philologists may tell us that 'mu' and 'ba' and 'su' are not words at all. In Egyptian they are not only words but things, and the things are named by the words. Such words are a part of the primary sound-stuff out of which our later words were coined. Moreover, they are words in the Egyptian language. In that we find the word ba signifies to be, ba therefore is a form of to be. Also it is the name for the ram and the goat, both of whom are types of the ba-er or be-ing, both of whom say 'ba.' The cow says 'moo'. Mu (Eg.) means the mother, and the mythical mother was represented as a moo-cow. The ibis was one of the self-namers with its cry of 'aah-aah,' consequently aah-aah is one name of the bird in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and also of the moon which the ibis represented.
It is but natural to infer that the totemic mother would make her call with the sound of the animal that was her totemic zootype. Her zootype was her totem, and her call would identify her with her totem for the children of each particular group. But where the moo-cow made its gentle call at milking-time, the water-cow would roar and make the welkin ring. And the wide-mouthed roarers would be imitated first perforce, because most powerful and impressive. They roared on earth like the thunder or Apap-reptile in the darkness overhead. In the hieroglyphics the word rur is equal to roar in English, or to ruru, for the loud-roarer in Sanskrit; and the greatest type of the roarer under that name is Rurit the hippopotamus, whose likeness was figured in heaven as the Mother of the Beginnings. When the cat cried 'meow' it did not exactly utter the letters which now compose the word, but contributed the primary sounds evolved by [p.42] the animal in its caterwauling and the phonetics that followed were evolved in perfecting the sounds. The shaping of primary into fully developed sounds, and continuing these in words, was the work of the dawning human intelligence. So with other prehuman sounds that were produced by animals before the advent of man.
According to the hidden wisdom, which is now almost a dead letter, there are reasons why we should be particular in sounding the letter h as an aspirate. In the hieroglyphics one H or Ha-sign is the forepart of a lion, signifying that which is first, beginning, essence, chief, or lord; and Shu the power of breathing-force is represented by a panting lion. This, then, is the 'Ha,' and in expelling the breath it makes the sound of ha. Thus the lion says 'Ha,' and is the figure of breathing-force; and this one of the origins in language survives in the letter h—when properly aspirated. It is a dark saying of the rabbis that 'All came out of the letter H.' The Egyptian zootypes and hieroglyphics are the letters in which such dark sayings were written and can still be read. The letter h, Hebrew hé (הּ), Egyptian ha, is the sign of breath, as a soul of life, but as the hieroglyphics show, even the breath that is first signified was not human. The earliest typical breather is an animal. The panting lion imaged the likeness of the solar force and the breath of the breeze at dawn, as an ideographic zootype of this especial nature-power. On the line of upward ascent the lion was given to the god Shu, the Egyptian Mars. On the line of descent the ideographic type passes finally into the alphabet for common everyday use as the letter h. The supremacy of the lion amongst animals had made it a figure of firstness. And in the reduced form of the hieroglyphics the forepart of the lion remained the sign of the word 'Ha,' which denotes priority. The essence of all that is first and foremost may be thought in this likeness of the lion.
Amongst the natural zootypes which served at first as ideographs that were afterwards reduced to the value of letters in the final phonetic phase, we see that beast, bird, fish, and reptile were continued until the written superseded the painted alphabet. These pictorial signs, as Egyptian, include an:
|A from Am, or Hab, the ibis
A from Akhu, a bird
A from Akhem, the eagle
A from An (variant Un), the hare
Aa from Khaa, the calf
B from Ba, the Bird of Soul
B from Ba, a nycticorax
B from Ba, the goat or ram
F from Fu, the puff-adder
H from Ha, the panting lion
H from Hem or Hum, the grasshopper
K an erect serpent
|K from Ka, an ape
K from Kam, the crocodile's tail
Kh or Q from Kha, the fish
Kh or Q the calf
M from Mu, the owl
M from Mau, the cat or lion
H from Mu, the vulture
N from Neh, the black vulture
N from the lizard
N from the fish
N from the crocodile
P from Peh, the lioness
|P from Pa, a water-fowl
R or L from Ru, the lion
R from Ru, the snake
R from Ru, the grasshopper
S from Su, the goose
S from Sa, the jackal
T from Tet, the snake
|T from Ta, the nestling
T from the hoopoe
T from Tet, the ibis
U from the duckling
U from Un, the hare
U from Ur, the finch
The zootypes serve to show the only ground on which a divine origin could have been ascribed to language on account of the prehuman and superhuman sounds. Several of these are representative of powers in nature that were divinized. They uttered the sounds by which they were self-named, and thus the language of animals might become the language of the gods. The zootype of Apt the roarer was the hippopotamus, and Apt of Ombos was 'the Living Word.' The zootype of Taht, as god of speech and writing, was the clicking ape. A zootype of the nocturnal sun as Atum-Ra was the ass. The goose that said 'su' was a zootype of Seb the god of Earth. Ka is the Egyptian name for the frog; this was obviously self-conferred by the call of the animal, and the frog was made a zootype of power divinized in Ptah the god of transformation and evolution.
It is obvious that homo in making his gestures either continued or imitated sounds that were already extant in the animal world, such as the clicks of the cynocephalus, and other sounds which can be identified with their zootypes, the animals that uttered the sounds before man had come into being. We know that monkeys have an uncontrollable horror of snakes, and no doubt primitive man had a similar feeling. Now, supposing the primitive man in a difficulty wished to warn his fellows of the presence of a snake, and had no words to convey the warning with, what would he do? What could he do but make use of the imitative faculty which he possessed in common with the ape? He would try to utter some signal of warning in an imitative manner! The sound would have to be self-defining, i.e., a snake-sound for a snake. It is usually said that snakes hiss. But the Africans represent them as puffing and blowing rather than hissing, as we have it expressed in the name of the puff-adder. When the snake swelled and distended itself, reared up and puffed, it made the sound which constituted its own audible sign: and the human being would naturally repeat that sound as his note of warning to anyone in danger. The apes will do so much, for they will swell and puff and thrust out the mouth, expel their breath and spit at sight of the snake. This representative sound turned into a note of warning would in time be accompanied by a gesture that portrayed to the eye some visible likeness to the thing signified by the sound. To do this the mimic would swell and puff out his cheeks in puffing out his breath. He would thus become the living likeness of the puff-adder, both to eye and ear. The man would represent the audible image and visible likeness of the snake, and such a representation would belong to the very genesis of gesture-language and natural hieroglyphics. Further, we have the means of proving that such was the process in the beginning. The puff-adder, the [p.44] cerastes or horned snake, remains the Egyptian hieroglyphic sign for the phonetic figure or letter F, the syllabic fu, which was an ideographic fuff or puff-adder. The swelling, puffing, fuffing snake is self-named and self-defined in the first or ideographic stage—it then becomes fu in the second or syllabic stage, and finally is the letter f of modern language, where it still carries the two horns of the hieroglyphic snake (Ã). Here we see the survival of the snake as one of the mythical authors of language, like the ape, the ass, the goose, the hissers, purrers, grunters, roarers previously described.
Sometimes the zootypes are continued and remain apparent in the personal name. Some neighbours of the present writer, who are known by the name of Lynch, have a lynx in their coat-of-arms, without ever dreaming that their name was derived from the Lynx as their totem, or that the Lynches were the lynxes. This is one of numerous survivals of primitive totemism in modern heraldry. Again, the lynx is one of the animals which have the power of seeing in the dark. The moon is an eye that sees by night, or in the dark. This was represented as the eye of the lynx or the cat, the seer being divinized as a lynx in Mafet, an Egyptian goddess. The seeing power thus divinized is marked in later language by the epithet 'lynx-eyed.' Lastly, there are something like 1,000 ideographic signs in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and only 26 letters in our alphabet. So few were the sounds, so numerous the visible signs of things and ideas. We now know that man had a language of gesture-signs when he was otherwise dumb, or could only accompany his visible signs with clicks and other ape-like sounds, which he kept on repeating with intention until they were accepted at an exchangeable value as the first current coinage or counters of speech before words. The zootypes were also continued in the religious mysteries to visibly and audibly denote the characters assumed in this primitive drama. Just as the Zulu girl could not come to her mistress because she was now a frog, so the manes in Amenta exclaim; 'I am the crocodile,' 'I am the beetle,' 'I am the jackal,' and 'I am the god in lion-form.' These express his powers. They are also the superhuman forms taken by the superhuman powers, power over the water, power of transformation, power of resurrection, power of seeing in the dark of death, together with others, all of which are assumed because superhuman. In assuming the types he enters into alliance with the powers, each for some particular purpose, or, rather, he personates them. When surrounded by the enemies of the soul, for example, he exclaims, 'I am the crocodile-god in all his terrors.' This has to be read by the Osirian drama. Osiris had been thus environed by the sebau and the associates of the evil Sut when he lay dismembered in sekhem. But he rose again as Horus. In this case the crocodile-type of terror was employed: and down went the adversaries before the Almighty Lord—thus imaged in sign-language. The masquerade continued in later mysteries with the transformation of the performers in the guise of beasts, birds, and reptiles, had been practised in the mysteries of Amenta, where the human soul in passing through the netherworld assumed shape after shape, and made its transformation from the one to the other in a series of new births according to the Kamite doctrine of metempsychosis, which [p.45] was afterwards perverted and turned to foolishness in India and in Greece. In this divine drama the soul from earth is assimilated to the zootypes or is invested in their forms and endowed with their forces which had figured forth the earlier nature-powers in the mythology. The Egyptian Ritual is written in this language of animals, and never was it read in the past, never will it be in the future, unless the thinking can be done in the ideographic types of thought. Merely reading the hieroglyphics as phonetics is but a first lesson in sign-language.
This page last updated: 09/01/2014