ANCIENT EGYPT THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
ELEMENTAL AND ANCESTRAL SPIRITS, OR THE GODS AND THE GLORIFIED
The fetishism and mythology of inner Africa, left dumb or unintelligible, first became articulate in the valley of the Nile. Egypt alone preserved the primitive gnosis, and gave expression to it in the language of signs and symbols as mouthpiece of the old dark land. From her we learn that amulets, talismans, luck-tokens, and charms became fetishtic, because they represented some protecting power that was looked to for superhuman aid, and that this power belonged to one of two classes of spirits or superhuman beings which the Egyptians of the Ritual called 'the Gods and the Glorified.' The first were elemental powers divinized. The second are the spirits of human ancestors, commonly called the ancestral spirits. The present object is to trace the origin of both, and to distinguish between the one and the other, so as to discriminate elsewhere between the two kinds of spirits, with the Egyptian wisdom for our guide.
According to the historian Manetho, who was a master of the secrets that were known to the Hir-Seshta, the keepers of chronology in Egypt had reckoned time and kept the register for a period of 24,900 years. This period Manetho divides under three divine dynasties with three classes of rulers, namely, the 'Gods,' the 'Heroes,' and the 'Manes.' The reign of the gods was subdivided into seven sections with a deity at the head of each. Now, as will be shown, the 'gods' of Egypt originated in the primordial powers that were derived at first from the Mother-earth and the elements in external nature, and these gods became astronomical or astral, as the khus or Glorious Ones in the celestial heptanomis, or heaven in seven divisions.
In their stellar character they became the seven Glorious Ones whom we read of in the Ritual, who were seven with Horus in Orion; seven with Anup at the pole of heaven; seven with Taht, with Ptah, and finally with Ra and Osiris, as the Seven Lords of Eternity. These two divine dynasties, elemental and kronian, were followed in the list of Manetho by the manes or ancestral spirits. In his Hibbert Lectures, Renouf denied the existence of ancestor-worship in Egypt. Nevertheless, he was entirely wrong. The New Year's Festival of the Ancestors determines that. This is referred to in the calendar of Esné. It was solemnized on the 9th of [p.121] Taht, the first month of the Egyptian year, and was then of unknown antiquity.
The Egyptians entertained no doubt about the existence, the persistence, or the personality of the human spirit or ghost of man; and as we understand Manetho's account of the Egyptian religion in the times before Mena, the worship of the ghosts or spirits of the dead was that which followed the two previous dynasties of the elemental powers of earth and the Kronidae in the astronomical mythology. For the present purpose, however, the three classes mentioned fall into the two categories of beings which the Egyptians designated 'the Gods and the Glorified.' The gods are superhuman powers, whether elemental or astronomical. The glorified are the souls once mortal which were propitiated as the spirit-ancestors, here called the manes of the dead. Not that the Egyptian deities were what Herbert Spencer thought, 'the expanded ghosts of dead men.' We know them from their genesis in nature as elemental powers or animistic spirits, which were divinized because they were superhuman, and therefore not human. Sut, as the soul of darkness; Horus, as the soul of light; Shu, as the soul of air or breathing force; Seb, as soul of earth; Nnu (or Num), as soul of water; Ra, as soul of the sun, were gods, but these were not expanded from any dead men's ghosts. Most emphatically, man did not make his gods in his own image, for the human likeness is, we repeat, the latest that was applied to the gods or nature-powers. Egyptian mythology was founded on facts which had been closely observed in the ever-recurring phenomena of external nature, and were then expressed in the primitive language of signs. In the beginning was the void, otherwise designated the abyss. Darkness being the primordial condition, it followed naturally that the earliest type in mythical representation should be a figure of darkness. This was the mythical dragon, or serpent Apap, the devouring reptile, the monster all mouth, the prototype of evil in external nature, which rose up by night from the abyss and coiled about the Mount of Earth as the swallower of the light; who in another phase drank up all the water, as the fiery dragon of drought. The voice of this huge, appalling monster was the thunder that shook the firmament; the drought was its blasting breath that dried up the waters and withered vegetation. As a mythical figure of the natural fact, this was the original Ogre of the North, the giant who had no heart or soul in his body. Other powers born of the void were likewise elemental, with an aspect inimical to man. These were the spawn of darkness, drought and disease. In the Ritual they are called the sami, demons of darkness, or the wicked sebau, who for ever rose in impotent revolt against the powers that wrought for good. These sami, or black spirits, and sebau supplied fiends and spirits of darkness to later folklore and fairyology; and, like the evil Apap, the offspring also are of neither sex. Sex was introduced with the Great Mother in her hugest, most ancient form of the water-cow, as representative of the Mother-earth and bringer forth of life amidst the waters of surrounding space. Her children were the elemental powers or forces, such as wind and water, earth and fire; but these are not to be confused with the evil progeny of Apap. Both are [p.122] elemental in their origin, but the first were baneful, whereas the latter are beneficent.
When the terrors of the elements had somewhat spent their force, and were found to be non-sentient and unintelligent, the chief objects of regard and propitiation were recognized in the bringers of food and drink and the breath of air as the elements of life. Those were the beneficent powers, born of the old mother as elemental forces, that preceded the existence of the gods or powers divinised. The transformation of an elemental power into a god can be traced, for example, in the deity Shu. Shu as an elemental force was representative of wind, air, or breath, and more especially the breeze of dawn and eve, which was the very breath of life to Africa. Darkness was uplifted or blown away by the breeze of dawn. The elemental force of wind was imaged as a panting lion couched upon horizon or the mountain-top as lifter up of darkness or the night. The power thus represented was animistic or elemental. Next, Shu was given his star, and he became the Red who attained the rank of stellar deity as one of the seven 'Heroes' who obtained their souls in the stars of heaven. The lion of Shu was continued as the figure of his force; and thus a god was born, the warrior-god, who was one of the heroes, or one of the powers in an astronomical character. Three of these beneficent powers were divinized as male deities in the Kamite pantheon, under the names of Nnu, Shu, and Seb. Nnu was the producer of that water which in Africa was looked upon as an overflow of very heaven. Shu was giver of the breath of life. Seb was divinized, and therefore worshipped as the god of earth and father of food. These three were powers that represented the elements of water, air, and earth. Water is denoted by the name of Nnu. Shu carries the lion's hinder-part upon his head as the sign of force; the totem of Seb is the goose that lays the egg, a primitively perfect figure of food. These, as elemental powers or animistic souls, were life-givers in the elements of food, water, and breath. Not as begetters or creators, but as transformers from one phase of life to another, finally including the transformation of the superhuman power into the human product. There are seven of these powers altogether, which we shall have to follow in various phases of natural phenomena and on divers radiating lines of descent. Tentatively we might parallel:—Darkness = Sut; Light = Horus; Breathing-power = Shu; Water = Nnu (or Hapi); Earth = Tuamutef (or Seb); Fire = Khabsenuf; Blood = Child-Horus. These were not derived from the ancestral spirits, once human, and no ancestral spirits ever were derived from them. Six of the seven were prehuman types. The seventh was imaged in the likeness of Child-Horus, or of Atum, the man. Two lists of names for the seven are given in the Ritual, which correspond to the two categories of the elemental powers and the Glorious Ones, or heroes. Speaking of the seven, the initiate in the mysteries says, 'I know the names of the seven Glorious Ones. The leader of that divine company is An-ar-ef the great by name.' The title here identifies the human elemental as the sightless mortal Horus—that is, Horus who was incarnated in the flesh at the head of the seven, to become the first in status, he who had been the latest in develop- [p.123] ment. In this chapter of the Ritual the seven have now become astronomical, with their stations fixed in heaven by Anup, whom we shall identify as deity of the pole. 'They do better,' says Plutarch, 'who believe that the legends told of Sut, Osiris, and Isis do not refer to either gods or men, but to certain great powers that were superhuman, but not as yet divine.' The same writer remarks that 'Osiris and Isis passed from the rank of good demons (elementals) to that of deities.' This was late in the Kamite mythos, but it truly follows the earlier track of the great powers when these were Sut and Horns, Shu and Seb, and the other elemental forces that were divinized as gods.
In the astronomical mythology the nature-powers were raised to the position of rulers on high, and this is that beginning which was described by Manetho with 'the gods' as the primary class of rulers, whose reign was divided into seven sections, or, as we read it, in a heaven of seven divisions—that is, the celestial heptanomis. Certain of these can be distinguished in the ancient heavens yet as figures of the constellations which became their totems. Amongst such were the hippopotamus-bull of Sut, the crocodile-dragon of Sebek-Horus, the lion of Shu, the goose of Seb, the beetle of Khepra (Cancer), and other types of the starry souls on high, now designated deities, or the Glorious Ones, as the khuti. The ancient mother, who had been the cow of earth, was elevated to the sphere as the cow of heaven. It was she who gave rebirth to the seven powers that obtained their souls in the stars, and who were known as the 'Children of the Thigh' when that was her constellation. These formed the company of the seven Glorious Ones, who became the Ali or Elohim, divine masters, timekeepers, makers and creators, which have to be followed in a variety of phases and characters. The Egyptian gods were born, then, as elemental powers. They were born as such of the old first Great Mother, who in her character of Mother-earth was the womb of life, and therefore mother of the elements, of which there are seven altogether, called her children. The seven elemental powers acquired souls as gods in the astronomical mythology. They are given rebirth in heaven as the seven children of the old Great Mother. In the stellar mythos they are also grouped as the seven khus with Anup on the Mount. They are the seven taasu with Taht in the lunar mythos, the seven khnmu with Ptah in the solar mythos. They then pass into the eschatology as the seven souls of Ra, the Holy Spirit, and the seven great spirits glorified with Horus as the eighth in the resurrection from Amenta.
The Egyptians have preserved for us a portrait of Apt (Kheb, or Ta-urt), the Great Mother, in a fourfold figure, as the bringer forth of the four fundamental elements of earth, water, air, and heat. As representative of the earth she is a hippopotamus, as representative of water she is a crocodile, and as the representative of breathing force she is a lioness, the human mother being imaged by the pendent breasts and procreant womb. Thus the mother of life is depicted as bringer forth of the elements of life, or at least four of these, as the elemental forces or 'souls' of earth, water, fire, and air, which four are imaged in her compound corpulent figure, and were set forth as four of her seven children. Apt was also the mother of [p.124] sparks, or of souls as sparks of starry fire. She was the kindler of life from the spark that was represented by the star. This, we reckon, is the soul of Sut, her firstborn, as the beneficent power of darkness. The power of water was imaged by Sebek-Horus as the crocodile. The power of wind or air, in one character, was that of the lion-god Shu; and the power of the womb is the Child-Horus, as the fecundator of his mother. These, with some slight variation, are four of the seven powers of the elements identified with the mother as the bringer-forth of gods and men, whom we nowadays call Mother Nature. Six of the total seven were represented by zootypes, and Horus was personalized in the form of a child. Evidence for a soul of life in the dark was furnished by the star. Hence the soul and star are synonymous under the name of khabsu in Egyptian. This was an elemental power of darkness divinized in Sut, the author of astronomy. Evidence for a soul of life in the water was furnished by the fish that was eaten for food. This elemental power was divinized in the fish-god Sebek and in Ichthus, the mystical fish. Evidence for a soul of life in the earth was also furnished in food and in periodic renewal. The elemental power was divinized in Seb, the father of food derived from the ground, the plants, and the goose. Evidence for a soul of life in the sun, represented by the uraeus-serpent, was furnished by the vivifying solar heat, the elemental power of which was divinized in Ra. Evidence for a soul of life in blood was furnished by the incarnation, the elemental power of which was divinized in elder Horus, the eternal child. Six of these seven powers, we repeat, were represented by zootypes; the seventh was given the human image of the child, and later of Atum the man. Thus the earliest gods of Egypt were developed from the elements, and were not derived from the expanded ghosts of dead men. Otherwise stated, the ancestral spirits were not primary.
Dr. Rink, writing of the Eskimo, has said that with them the whole visible world is ruled by supernatural powers or 'owners,' each of whom holds sway within certain limits, and is called his Inua (viz., its or his Inuk, which word signifies 'man' and also owner or inhabitant). This is cited by Herbert Spencer as most conclusive evidence that the agent or power was originally a human ghost, because the power may be expressed as the Inuk, or its man—'the man in it—that is, the man's ghost in it.' The writer did not think of the long way the race had to travel before 'the power' could be expressed by 'its man,' or how late was the anthropological mode of representing the forces of external nature. 'The man' as type of power belongs to a far later mode of expression. Neither man nor woman nor child was among the earliest representatives of the elemental forces in external nature. By the by, the Inuk is the power, and in Egyptian the root nukh denotes the power or force of a thing, the potency of the male, as the bull; thence nukhta is the strong man or giant. Sut was a Suten-Nakht. Horus was a [p.125] Suten-Nakht, but neither of them was derived from man. The elements themselves were the earliest superhuman powers, and these were thought of and imaged by superhuman equivalents. The power of darkness was not represented by its man, or the ghost of man. Its primal power, which was that of swallowing all up, was imaged by the devouring dragon. The force of wind was not represented by its man, but by its roaring lion; the drowning power of water by the wide-jawed crocodile, the power of lightning or of sunstroke by its serpent-sting, the spirit of fire by the fiery-spirited ape. In this way all the elemental forces were equated and objectified before the zootype of sign-language was changed for the human figure or any one of them attained its 'man' as the representative of its power. The earliest type of the man, even as male power, was the bull, the bull of his mother, who was a cow, or hippopotamus. Neither god nor goddess ever had been man or woman or the ghost of either in the mythology of Egypt, the oldest in the world. The Great Mother of all was imaged like the totemic mother, as a cow, a serpent, a sow, a crocodile, or other zootype, ages before she was represented as a woman or the ghost of one. It is the same with the powers that were born of her as male, six of which were portrayed by means of zootypes before there was any one in the likeness of a man, woman, or child, And these powers were divinized as the primordial gods. The Egyptians had no god who was derived from a man. They told Herodotus that 'in eleven thousand three hundred and forty years [as he reckons] no god had ever actually become a man.' Therefore Osiris did not originate as a man. Atum, for one, was a god in the likeness of a man. But he was known as a god who did not himself become a man. On the other hand, no human ancestor ever became a deity. It was the same in Egypt as in inner Africa; the spirits of the human ancestors always remained human, the glorified never became divinities. The nearest approach to a deity of human origin is the god in human likeness. The elder Horus is the divine child in a human shape. The god Atum in name and form, is the perfect man. But both child and man are entirely impersonal—that is, neither originated in an individual child or personal man. Neither was a human being divinized. It is only the type that was anthropomorphic.
The two categories of spirits are separately distinguished in the Hall of Righteousness, when the Osiris pleads that he has made 'oblations to the gods and funeral offerings to the departed.' And again, in the chapter following, the 'oblations are resented to the gods and the sacrificial meals to the glorified.'
A single citation from the chapter of the Ritual that is said on arriving at the Judgment Hall will furnish a brief epitome of the Egyptian religion as it culminated in the Osirian cult. 'I have propitiated the great god with that which he loveth; I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, a boat to the shipwrecked. I have made oblations to the gods and funeral offerings to the departed,' or to the ancestral spirits. The statement shows that the divine service consisted [p.126] of good works, and primarily of charity. The gods and the glorified to whom worship was paid are: (1) The great one god (Osiris); (2) the nature-powers, or gods; and (3) the spirits of the departed. But the order in development was: (1) the elemental forces, or animistic nature-powers; (2) the ancestral spirits; (3) the one great god over all, who was imaged phenomenally in the Kamite trinity of Asar-Isis in matter, Horus in soul, Ra in spirit, which three were blended in the great one god. In the Hymn to Osiris (line 6) the ancestral spirits are likewise discriminated from the divine powers or gods. When Osiris goes forth in peace by command of Seb, the god of earth, 'the mighty ones bow the head; the ancestors are in prayer.' These latter are the commonalty of the dead, the human ancestors in from the gods or powers of the elements that were divinized in the astronomical mythology. In one of the texts the 'spirits of the king,' the ever-living Mer-en-Ra, are set forth as an object of religious regard superior in status to that of the gods, by which we understand the ancestral spirits are here exalted above the elemental powers as the objects of propitiation and invocation. The Egyptian gods and the glorified were fed on the same diet in the fields of divine harvest, but are entirely distinct in their origin and character. The glorified are identifiable as spirits that once were human who have risen from the dead in a glorified body as sahus. The gods are spirits or powers that never had been human. We know the great ones, female or male, from the beginning as elemental forces that were always extant in nature. These were first recognized, represented, and divinized as superhuman. The ghost, when recognized, was human still, however changed and glorified. But the Mother-earth had never been a human mother, nor had the serpent Rannut, nor Nut, the celestial wateress. The 'God of the Pole' as Anup, the moon god Taht, the sun god Ra, had never been spirits in a human guise. They were divinized, and therefore worshipped or propitiated as the superhuman powers in nature, chiefly as the givers of light, food, and drink, and as keepers of time and season. These, then, are the goddesses and gods that were created by the human mind as powers that were impersonal and non-human. Hence they had to be envisaged with the aid of living types. Spirits once human manifest as ghosts in human form. It follows that the gods were primary, and that worship, or extreme reverence, was first addressed to them and not to the ancestral spirits, which, according to H. Spencer and his followers, had no objective existence. Neither is there any sense in saying the Egyptian deities were conceived in animal forms. This is to miss the meaning of sign-language altogether. 'Conception' has nought to do with Horus being represented by a hawk, a crocodile, or a calf; Seb by a goose, Shu by a lion, Rannut by a serpent, Isis by a scorpion. The primary question is: Why were the goddesses and gods or powers presented under these totemic types, which preceded the anthro-type in the different modes of mythical representation? Three of the seven children born of the Great Mother have been traced in the portrait of Apt, the old first genetrix, as Sut the hippopotamus, Sebek the crocodile, and Shu the lion. But there was an earlier phase of representation with her two children [p.127] Sut and Horus, who were born twins. It is the same in the Kamite mythology as in external nature. The two primary elements were those of darkness and light: Sut was the power of darkness, Horus the power of light. In one representation the two elements were imaged by means of the black bird of Sut and the white bird, or golden hawk, of Horus. Thus we can identify two elemental powers, as old as night and day, which are primeval in universal mythology and these two powers, or animistic souls, were divinized as the two gods Sut and Horus with the two birds of darkness and light, the black vulture and the gold hawk depicted back to back as their two representative types or personal totems.
The beginning with these two primal powers is repeated in the mythology of the blacks on the other side of the world. With them the crow and hawk (the eagle-hawk) are equivalent to these two birds of darkness and light; and according to the native traditions, the eagle-hawk and crow were first among the ancestors of the human race. That is as the first two of the elemental powers which became the nonhuman ancestors in mythology. They are also known as the creators who divided the Murray blacks into two classes or brotherhoods whose totems were the eagle-hawk and crow, and who now shine as stars in the sky. This is the same point of departure in the beginning as in the Kamite mythos with the first two elemental powers, viz., those of darkness and light. These two birds are also equated by the black cockatoo and the white cockatoo as the two totems of the Mukjarawaint in Western Australia. The two animistic souls or spirits of the two primary elements can be paralleled in the two souls that are assigned to man or the manes in the traditions of certain aboriginal races called the dark shade and the light shade, the first two souls of the seven in the Ritual. These, as Egyptian, are two of the seven elements from which the enduring soul and total personality of man is finally reconstituted in Amenta after death. They are the dark shade, called the khabsu, and the light shade, called the sahu. A Zulu legend relates that in the beginning there were two mothers in a bed of reeds who brought forth two children, one black, the other white. The woman in the bed of reeds was Mother-earth, who had been duplicated in the two mothers who brought forth in space when this was first divided into night and day. Another version of the mythical beginning with a black and white pair of beings was found by Duff Macdonald among the natives of Central Africa. The black man, they say, was crossing a bridge, and as he looked round he was greatly astonished to find that a white man was following him. These are the powers of darkness and daylight, who were portrayed in Egypt as the Sut-and-Horus twins, one of whom was the black Sut, the other the white Horus, and the two men were elementals. The natives on the shores of Lake Rudolf say that when it thunders a white man is born. But the white man thus born is the flash of light or lightning imaged by an anthropomorphic figure of speech.
The aborigines of Victoria likewise say the moon was a black fellow before he went up into the sky to become light, or white. Horus in Egypt was the white man as an elemental power, the white one of [p.128] the Sut-and-Horus twins, who is sometimes represented by an eye that is white, whereas the eye of Sut was black. In the mythos Horus is divinized as the white god. The children of Horus, who are known to mythology as the solar race, are the khuti. These are the white spirits, the children of light. The solar race at last attained supremacy as chief of all the elemental powers, and in the eschatology the khuti are the glorious ones. The khu-sign is a beautiful white bird. This signifies a spirit, and the spirit may be a human ghost, or it may be the spirit of light, otherwise light imaged as a spirit; thence Horus the spirit of light in the mythology, or the glorified human spirit, called the khu, in the eschatology. The symbols of whiteness, such as the white down of birds, pipe-clay, chalk, flour, the white stone, and other things employed in the mysteries of the black races and in their mourning for the dead, derive their significance from white being emblematic of spirit, or the spirits which originated in the element of light being the white spirit. The turning of black men into white is a primitive African way of describing the transformation of the mortal into spirit. It is the same in the mysteries of the Aleutians, who dance in a state of nudity with white eyeless masks upon their faces, by which a dance of spirits is denoted. With the blacks of Australia the secret 'wisdom' is the same as that of the dark race in Africa. According to Buckley, when the black fellow was buried the one word 'Animadiate,' was uttered, which denoted that he was gone to be made a white man. But this did not mean a European. Initiates in the totemic mysteries were made into white men by means of pipe-clay and birds' down, or white masks, the symbols of spirits in the religious ceremonies. This mode of transformation was not intended as a compliment to the pale-face from Europe. Neither did white spirits and black originate with seeing the human ghost. Horus is the white spirit in the light half of the lunation, Sut in the dark half is 'the black fellow,' because they represent the elements of light and darkness that were divinized in mythology. Hence the eternal contention of the twins Sut and Horus in the moon. It is common in the African mysteries for the spirits to be painted or arrayed in white, and in the custom of pipe-claying the face, on purpose to cause dismay in battle, the white was intended to suggest spirits, and thus to strike the enemy with fear and terror. Also, when spirits are personated in the mysteries of the Arunta and other tribes of Australian aborigines, they are represented in white by means of pipe-clay and the white down of birds. It is very pathetic, this desire and strenuous endeavour of the black races, from Central Africa to Egypt, or to the heart of Australia, to become white, as the children of light, and to win and wear the white robe as a vesture of spiritual purity, if only represented by a white mask or coating of chalk, pipe-clay, or white feathers. Many a white man has lost his life and been made up into medicine by the black fellows on account of his white complexion being the same with that assigned to the good or white spirits of light. In a legend of creation preserved among the Kabinda it is related that God made all men black. Then he went across a great river and called upon all men to follow him. The wisest, the best, the bravest of those who heard the invitation [p.129] plunged into the wide river, and the water washed them white. These were the ancestors of white men. The others were afraid to venture. They remained behind in their old world, and became the ancestors of black men. But to this day the white men come (as spirits) to the bank on the other side of the river and echo the ancient cry of 'Come thou hither!' saying, 'Come; it's better over here!' These are the white spirits, called the white men by the black races, who originated in the representation of light as an elemental spirit, the same term being afterwards applied to the white bird, the white god, and the white man. This legend is also to be found in Egypt. As the Ritual shows, there was an opening day of creation, designated the day of 'Come thou to me.' The call was made by Ra, from the other side of the water, to Osiris in the darkness of Amenta—that is, from Ra as the white spirit to Osiris the black in the eschatology. But there was an earlier application of the saying in the solar mythos. In the beginning, says the best-known Egyptian version, the sun god Temu, whose name denotes the creator god, having awoke in the Nnu from a state of negative existence, appeared, as it were, upon the other side of the water, a figure of sunrise, and suddenly cried across the water, 'Come thou to me!' (as spirits). Then the lotus unfolded its petals, and up flew the hawk, which represented the sun in mythology and a soul in the eschatology. Thus Tum the father of souls, being established in his spiritual supremacy, calls upon the race of men to come to him across the water in the track of sunrise or of the hawk that issued forth as Horus from the lotus. From such an origin in the course of time all nature would be peopled with 'black spirits and white,' as animistic entities, or as the children of Sut and Horus as the black vultures or crows of the one, and the white vultures or gold hawks of the other. Thus we have traced a soul of darkness and a soul of light that became Egyptian gods in the twin powers Sut and Horus, and were called the dark shade and the light of other races, the two first souls that were derived as elementals. The anima or breath of life was one of the more obvious of the six 'souls' whose genesis was visible in external nature. This was the element assigned to Shu, the god of breathing force. In the chapter for giving the breath of life, to the deceased the speaker, in the character of Shu, says: 'I am Shu who conveys the breezes, or breathings. I give air to these younglings as I open my mouth.' These younglings are the children whose souls are thus derived from Shu, when the soul and breath were one, and Shu was this one of the elemental powers divinized as male.
Messrs Spencer and Gillen have shown that up to the present time the Arunta tribes of Central Australia do not ascribe the begettal of a human soul to the male parent. They think the male may serve a purpose in preparing the way for conception, but they have not yet got beyond the incorporation of a soul from the elements of external nature, such as wind or water—that is, the power of the air or of water, which was imaged in the elemental deity. Spirit children, derivable from the air, are supposed to be especially fond of travelling in a whirlwind, and on seeing one of these approaching a native woman who does not wish to have a child [p.130] will flee as if for her life, to avoid impregnation. This doctrine of a soul supposed to be incorporated from the elements is so ancient in Egypt as to have been almost lost sight of or concealed from view beneath the mask of mythology. The doctrine, however, was Egyptian. The insufflation of the female by the spirit of air was the same when the goddess Neith was impregnated by the wind. With the Arunta tribes it is the ordinary woman who is insufflated by the animistic soul of air. In Egypt, from the earliest monumental period, the female was represented mythically as the Great Mother Neith, whose totem, so to call it, was the white vulture and this bird of maternity was said to be impregnated by the wind. 'Gignuntur autem hunc in modum. Cum amore concipiendi vultur exarserit, vulvam ad Boream aperiens, ab eo velut comprimitur per dies quinque.'
This kind of spirit not only entered the womb of Neith, or of the Arunta female; it also went out of the human body in a whirlwind. Once when a great Fijian chieftain passed away a whirlwind swept across the lagoon. An old man who saw it covered his mouth with his hand and said in an awestruck whisper, 'There goes his spirit.' This was the passing of a soul in the likeness of an elemental power, the spirit of air that was imaged in the god Shu, the spirit that impregnated the virgin goddess Neith. According to a mode of thinking in external things which belonged to spiritualism, so to say, in the animistic stage, the human soul had not then been specialized and did not go forth from the body as the ka or human double. It was only a totemic soul affiliated to the power of wind, which came and went like the wind, as the breath of life. To quote the phrase employed by Messrs Spencer and Gillen, a spirit-child was incarnated in the mother's womb by the spirit of air. The doctrine is the same in the Christian phase, when the Holy Spirit makes its descent on Mary and insufflates her, with the dove for totem instead of some other type of breathing force or soul. There is likewise a survival of primitive doctrine when the Virgin Mary is portrayed in the act of inhaling the fragrance of the lily to procure the mystical conception of the Holy Child. This is a mode of inhaling the spirit breath, or anima, the same as in the mystery of the Arunta, but with the difference that the Holy Spirit takes the place of the spirit of air, otherwise that Ra, as source of soul, had superseded Shu, the breathing force. Such things will show how the most primitive simplicities of ancient times have supplied our modern religious mysteries.
We learn also from the Arunta tribes that it is a custom for the mother to affiliate her child thus incorporated (not incarnated) to the particular elemental power, as spirit of air or water, tree or earth, supposed to haunt the spot where she conceived or may have quickened. Thus the spirit-child is, or may be, a reincorporation of an Alcheringa ancestor, who as Egyptian is the elementary power divinized in the eschatology, and who is to be identified by the animal or plant which is the totemic type of either. Not that the animal or plant was supposed by the knowers to be transformed directly into a [p.131] human being, but that the elemental power or superhuman spirit entered like the gust that insufflated the vulture of Neith or caused conception whether in the Arunta female or the Virgin Mary. The surroundings at the spot will determine the totem of the spirit and therefore of the spirit-child. Hence the tradition of the churinga-nanga being dropped at the place where the mother was impregnated by the totemic spirit, which, considering the sacred nature of the churinga, was certainly a form of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of air rushed out of the gap between the hills; or it was at the waterhole, or near the sacred rock, or the totemic tree, that the mother conceived, and by such means the child is affiliated to the elemental power, the animistic spirit, the Alcheringa ancestor, as well as to the totemic group. The mother caught by the power of wind in the gap is the equivalent of divine Neith caught by the air god Shu and insufflated in the gorge of Neith. The element of life incorporated is the source of breath, or the spirit of air, which would have the same natural origin whether it entered the female in her human form, or into that of the bird, beast, fish, or reptile. It was the incorporation of an elemental spirit, whether of air, earth, water, fire, or vegetation.
In popular phraseology running water is called living water, and still water is designated dead. There is no motion in dead water, no life, no force, no spirit. Contrariwise, the motion of living water, the running spring or flowing inundation, is the force, and finally the soul of life in the element. Air was the breath of life and therefore a soul of life was in. the breeze. In the deserts of Central Africa the breeze of dawn and eve and the springs of water in the land are very life indeed and the givers of life itself, as they have been from the beginning. These, then, are two of the elements that were brought forth as nature powers by the earth, the original mother of life and all living things. When the supreme life-giving, life-sustaining power was imaged as a pouring forth of overflowing energy the solar orb became a figure of such a fountainhead or source. But an earlier type of this great welling forth was water. Hence Osiris personates the element of water as he who is shoreless. He is objectified as the water of renewal. His throne in heaven, earth, and Amenta is balanced upon water. Thus the primary element of nutriment has the first place to the last with the root-origin of life in water. Birth from the element of water was represented in the mysteries of Amenta by the rebirth in spirit from the water of baptism. It is as a birth of water that Child-Horus calls himself the primary power of motion. Also 'the children of Horus' who stand on the papyrus plant or lotus are born of water in the new kingdom that was founded for the father by Horus the son. This too was based upon the water. Hence two of Horus' children, Tuamutef and Kabhsenuf, are called the two fishes, and elsewhere the followers of Horus are the fishers. One of the two lakes in paradise contained the water of life. It was designated the 'Lake of Sa', and one of the meanings of the word is spirit, another is soil or basis. It was a lake, so to say, of spiritual matter from which spirits were derived in germ as the Hammemat. This lake of [p.132] spirit has assuredly been localized in Europe. The superstition concerning spirits that issue from the water is common, and in Strathspey there is a lake called Loch Nan Spoiradan, the Lake of the Spirits.
When spirit-children were derived from the soul of life that was held to be inherent in the element of water, they would become members of the water-totem—unless some prearrangement interfered. For example, a water-totem is extant in the quatcha-totem of the Arunta tribe. A child was conceived one day by a lubra of the witchetty-grub clan who happened to be in the neighbourhood of a quatcha, or water locality. She was taking a drink of water near to the gap in the ranges where the spirits dwell, when suddenly she heard a child's voice crying 'Mia, mia!' the native term for relationship, which includes that of motherhood. She was not anxious to have a child, and therefore ran away, but could not escape. She was fat and well-favoured, and the spirit-child overtook her and was incorporated willy-nilly. In this instance the spirits were witchetty-grub instead of water spirits of the quatcha-totem locality, otherwise, if the totem had not been already determined locally, this would represent the modus operandi of the elemental power becoming humanized by incorporation. The water spirit is a denizen of the water element, always lying in wait for young, well-favoured women, and ready to become embodied in the human form by the various processes of drinking, eating, breathing, or other crude ways of conversion and transformation.
The several elements led naturally to the various origins ascribed to man from the ideographic representatives of earth, water, air, fire, such as the beast of earth, the turtle or fish of water, the bird of air, the tree or the stone. The Samoans have a tradition that the first man issued from a stone. His name was Mauike, and he is also reputed to be the discoverer of fire. Now the discoverer of fire, born of a stone, evidently represents the element of fire which had been found in the stone, the element being the animistic spirit of fire, to which the stone was body that served as type. The derivation of a soul of life from the element of fire, or from the spark, is likewise traceable in a legend of the Arunta, who thus explain the origin of their fire-totem. A spark of fire, in the Alcheringa, was blown by the north wind from the place where fire was kindled first, in the celestial north, to the summit of a great mountain represented by Mount Hay. Here it fell to the earth, and caused a huge conflagration. When this subsided, one class of the Inapertwa creatures issued from the ashes. These were 'the ancestors of the people of the fire-totem,' the people born from the element of fire. The tradition enables us to identify an origin for children born of fire, or the soul of fire, that is, the power of this element. Moreover, it is fire from heaven. It falls as a spark, which spark falls elsewhere in the fire-stone. These particular Inapertwa, or prehuman creatures, were discovered by two men of the Wungara or wild-duck totem, and made by them into men and women of the fire-totem. Such, then, are the offspring of fire or light, where others are the children of air or of water, as one of the elemental or animistic powers; and the prehuman creatures [p.133] became men and women when they were made totemic. The transformation is a symbolical mode of deriving the totemic people from the prehuman and pretotemic powers which were elemental.
There is a class of beings in the German folktales who are a kind of spirit, but not of human origin, like so many others that are a product of primitive symbolism, which came to be designated elementals because they originated in the physical elements. These little earthmen have the feet of a goose or a duck. Here the Kamite wisdom shows how these are the spirits of earth who descended from Seb, the power, spirit, or god of earth, whose zootype in Egypt was the goose. Thus the earth god or elemental power of the mythos becomes the goose-footed earth man of the märchen and later folklore, which are the debris of the Kamite mythology. The cave-dwellers in various lands are likewise known as children of the earth. Their birthplace may be described as a bed of reeds, a tree, a cleft in the rock, or the hole in a stone. Each type denotes the earth as primordial bringer forth and mother of primeval life. Children with souls derived from the element of earth are also represented by the Arunta as issuing from the earth via 'the Erithipa stone.' The stone, equal to the earth, is here the equivalent for the parsley-bed from which the children issue in the folklore of the British Isles. The word erithipa signifies a child, though seldom used in this sense. Also a figure of the human birthplace is very naturally indicated. There is a round hole on one side of the stone through which the spirit-children waiting for incorporation in the earthly form are supposed to peep when on the lookout for women, nice and fat, to mother them. It is thought that women can become pregnant by visiting this stone. The imagery shows that the child-stone not only represents the earth as the bringer forth of life, but that it is also an emblem of emanation from the mother's womb. There is an aperture in the stone over which a black band is painted with charcoal. This unmistakably suggests the pubes. The painting is always renewed by any man who happens to be in the vicinity of the stone. These Erithipa stones are found in various places. This may explain one mode of deriving men from stones, the stone or rock in this case being a figure of the Mother-earth.
In such wise the primitive representation survives in legendary lore, and the myth remains as a tale that is told. Earth, as the birthplace in the beginning, was typified by the tree and stone. A gap in the mountain range, a cleft in the rock, or the hole in a stone presented a likeness to the human birthplace. The mystery of the stone affords an illuminative instance of the primitive mode of 'thinging' in sign-language, or thinking in things. Conceiving a child was thought of as a concretion of spirit, and that concretion or crystallization was symbolized by means of the white stone in the mysteries. It is the tradition of the Arunta tribe that when a woman conceives, or, as they render it, when the spirit-child enters the womb, a churinga-stone is dropped, which is commonly supposed to be marked with a device that identifies the spirit-child, and therefore the human child, with its totem. Usually the churinga is found on the spot by some of the tribal elders, who deposit it in the Ertnatulunga, or storehouse, in which the stones of conception are kept so sacredly [p.134] that they must never be looked upon by woman or child, or any uninitiated man. 'Each Churinga is so closely bound up with the spirit individual (or the spirit individualized) that it is regarded as its representative in the Ertnalutunga' or treasury of sacred objects. In this way the Arunta were affirming that, when a child was conceived of an elemental power, whether born figuratively from the rock or tree, the air, the water, or it may be from the spark in the stone that fell with the fire from heaven, or actually from the mother's womb, it was in possession of a spirit that was superhuman in its origin and enduring beyond the life of the mortal. This was expressed by means of the stone as a type of permanence. Hence, when the stone could not be identified upon the spot, a churinga was cut from the very hardest wood that could be found. The stones were then saved up in the repository of the tribe or totemic group, and these churingas are the stones and trees in which primitive men have been ignorantly supposed to keep their souls for safety outside of their own bodies by those who knew nothing of the ancient sign-language.
A magical mode of evoking the elemental spirit from material substance survives in many primitive customs. Whistling for the wind is a way of summoning the spirit or force of the breeze, which was represented in Egypt as the power of a panting lion. Touching wood or iron, or calling out 'Knife!' to be safe, is an appeal to the elemental spirit as a protecting power. Setting the poker upright in front of the grate to make the fire burn is a mode of appeal made to the spirit of fire in the metal. This, like so many more, has been converted to the superstition of the cross. The Servians at their Coledar set light to an oak log and sprinkle the wood with wine. Then they strike it and cause sparks to fly out of it, crying, 'So many sparks, so many goats and sheep! so many sparks, so many pigs and calves! so many sparks, so many successes and so many blessings!' These in their way were seekers after life, the elemental spirit of life in this instance being that of fire from the spark. The element of fire was evoked from both wood and stone. It was their spirit-child. Now, it is a mode of magic to evoke a spirit from these by rubbing the wood or stone, or the totems made from either. And this way of kindling fire is applied by the Arunta for the purpose of calling forth the spirits of children from the Erithipa stones, which are supposed to be full of them. By rubbing a man can cause them to come forth and enter the human mother. Clearly the modus operandi is based on rubbing the stone or wood, to kindle fire from the spark that signified a germ or soul of life.
Another mode of evoking the spirit of and from an element may be illustrated by a Kaffir custom. When the girls have come of age and have suffered the opening rite of puberty, it is the Zulu fashion for the initiate to run stark naked through the first plenteous downpour of water, which is characteristically called a 'he-rain,' to secure fertilization from the nature power. In this custom a descent of the elemental spirit for incorporation is by water instead of fire (or earth, air, or light), but the principle is the same in primitive animism. Whichever the agent, there is a derivation from a source that is superhuman, if only elemental. It was the elemental powers that [p.135] supplied prehuman souls in the primitive sociology. These we term totemic souls, souls that were common to the totemic group of persons, plants, animals, or stones, when there was no one soul yet individualized or distinguished from the rest as the human soul. They could not be 'the souls of men' that were supposed to inhabit the bodies of beasts and birds, reptiles and insects, plants and stones, when there were no souls of men yet discreted from the prehuman souls in old totemic times. The human lives, or souls, are bound tip with the totemic animal or bird, reptile or tree, because these represented the same animistic nature power from which the soul that is imaged by the totem was derived. The soul in common led to the common interest, the mysterious relationship and bond of unity between the man and animal and elemental powers, or the later gods. It was this totemic soul, common to man and animal, which explains the tradition of the Papagos that in the early times 'men and beasts talked together, and a common language made all brethren.' In the primary phase the soul that takes shape in human form was derived directly from the element as source of life. In a second phase of representation the powers of the elements were imaged by the totemic zootypes. Thence arose the universal tradition, sometimes called belief, of an animal ancestry in which the beasts, birds, reptiles, fish, plants, trees, rocks, or stones were the original progenitors of the human race, through the growing ignorance of primitive sign-language. Spirit-children derived from the elemental power of air are described in the Ritual as 'the younglings of Shu,' the god of breathing-force. And as the lion was the totem of Shu, the children would or might be derived from the lion as their totemic type. Germs of soul might ascend from the water of life in the celestial Lake of Sa, or soul, as the children of Nnu. The children of Horus are emanations from the sun. As such they have their birth in heaven to become incorporate on the earth, Child-Horus being first, according to the eschatology. It is because the sun was looked upon at one stage as the elemental source of a soul that its power could be, as it was, represented by a phallus. Thence also arose the belief that the sun could impregnate young women. This will partly explain why the female at the time of first menstruation must not be looked on by the sun. The young and fat Arunta woman, fleeing to escape from the embraces of the wind for fear of being impregnated with the elemental spirit-child, suggests a clue. She did not wish to bear a child, therefore she fled from the elemental power. In the other case the maiden must not be caught, for fear a soul should be made incarnate under the new conditions. For this reason the young girls were taught that terrible results would happen if they were seen by the sun in their courses; and they were consequently kept in the shade, or were instructed to hide themselves when the time arrived. They were not merely secluded at puberty, but were shut up sometimes darkly for years together, and suspended on a stage between earth and heaven, as taboo, until the period of pubescence came, at which moment they must not be shone upon by the sun, nor breathed on by the air, nor must they touch the elements of earth or water. They were secluded and consecrated for puberty, and were shut up from the elements to which generation had been [p.136] attributed by the early human thought, a superior element of soul being now recognized in the blood of the virgin.
Blood was the latest element of seven from which a soul of life was derived. This followed the soul of air, water, heat, vegetation, or other force of the elements, and a soul derived from blood was the earliest human soul, derived from the blood of the female. Not any blood, not ordinary menstrual blood, but that blood of the pubescent virgin who was personalized in the divine virgin Neith, or Isis, or Mary. In the Semitic creation man, or Adam, was created from a soul of blood. Blood and Adam are synonymous, and the previous races, 'which are but spittle,' had derived their souls, in common with the animals, from the elements of external nature that were represented by totems, not by the blood of the mother nor the ancestry of the father. Several forms of an external soul had been derived from the elements of earth, air, and water, and at length a human soul was differentiated from the rest. This was the soul of blood which has been traced to the pubescent virgin. The virgin mother in mythology is only typical, but the type was founded in the natural fact that the mother-blood originated with the virgin when the blood was held to be the soul of life. This, to reiterate, was the pubescent virgin ready for connubium. The virgin Neith was represented by that bird of blood, the vulture, who was said to nurse her young on her own blood. The virgin Isis was portrayed as the red heifer, when Child-Horus was her red-complexioned calf. The first rendering, then, was preanthropomorphic, and at last the human likeness was adopted for the soul of blood, and this was imaged in Child-Horus as the soul born in the blood of Isis, the divine blood-mother, who was the typical virgin. This was the creation of man in the mythology, who was Atum the red in the Egyptian, Adam in the Hebrew version; and in man this seventh soul was now embodied in the human form.
The human soul never was 'conceived as a bird,' but might be imaged as a bird, according to the primitive system of representation. The golden hawk, for instance, was a bird which typified the sun that soared aloft as Horus in the heavens, and the same bird in the eschatology was then applied to the human soul in its resurrection from the body. Hence the hawk with a human head is a compound pass for angels in the imagination of Christendom have no direct relation to spiritual reality. A feathered angel was never yet seen by image, not the portrait of a human soul. The celestial poultry that clairvoyant vision, and is not a result of revelation. We know how they originated, why they were so represented, and where they came from into the Christian eschatology. They are the human-headed birds that were compounded and portrayed for souls in Egypt, and carried out thence into Babylonia, Judea, Greece, Rome, and other lands.
In the Contes Arabes, published by Spitta Bey, the soul of a female jinn who has become the wife of a human husband goes out of her as a beetle, and when the beetle is killed the female dies. Again, in a German tale the soul of a sleeping girl is seen to issue from her mouth in the form of a red mouse, and when the mouse is killed the maiden dies. In both cases we find Egyptian symbolism surviving in folk- [p.137] lore. The red mouse was a zootype of the soul of blood, the soul derived from the mother of flesh, and, being such, it was consecrated as an image of Child-Horus, who was born in the blood of Isis; and because it was the figure of an elemental soul in the ancient symbolism, the mouse remained the emblem of the human soul in the märchen of other nations. The scarabaeus placed in the chest of the deceased to signify another heart was given to the manes in Amenta, and the giving of this other heart to the manes was dramatically represented on the earth by inserting the beetle in the embalmed body as a typical new heart, the beetle being a type of transformation in death. According to Renouf, Parallels in Folklore, we have here the notion of 'a person's life or soul being detached from the body and hidden away at a distance.' 'The person,' he continues, 'does not appear to suffer in the least from the absence of so essential a part of himself.' But this is not the genesis of the idea. What we find in folklore is not contemporary evidence for current beliefs. In this the ancient wisdom is continually repeated without knowledge, and the symbols continue to be quoted at a wrong value. The soul or heart of the witch, the jinn, or the giant never was the soul of a mortal. The Arabic jinn originate as spirits of the elements. They appear in animal forms because the primary nature powers were first represented by the zootypes; hence such animals as jackals, hyenas, serpents, and others are called 'the cattle of the jinn.' No human soul was ever seen in the guise of a mouse or a beetle, hawk or serpent, turtle, plant or tree, fire-stone or starry spark, if but for the fact that no one of the souls had been discreted separately as a human soul from the elemental, animistic, or totemic powers which were prehuman. It was on the ground of a prehuman origin for such souls that a doctrine of pre-existence, of transmigration, of reincarnation for the soul could be and was established, i.e., because it was not the personal human soul. This account of an elemental origin for the earliest souls of life may help to explain that pre-existence of the soul (erroneously assumed to be the human soul) which crops up in legendary lore. In the Book of the Secrets of Enoch it is declared that 'Every soul was created eternally before the foundation of the world.' The pre-existence of souls is an Egyptian doctrine, but not of human souls already individualized and possessing each a personal identity. They were the elemental souls, not the ancestral human spirits. The Egyptian hammemat survived in Talmudic tradition as a class of prehuman beings. It was held as a Jewish dogma that the souls which were to enter human bodies had existed before the creation of the world in the garden of Eden, or in the seventh, i.e. the highest, heaven. So the primordial powers in the Ritual are identifiable with the divine ancestors who preceded Ra, and who are called the ancestors of Ra. 'Hail ye, chiefs, ancestors of Ra.' Elsewhere they are the seven souls of Ra, when Atum-Ra becomes the one god in whom all previous powers are absorbed and glorified. The religious ceremonies of the Arunta date from and represent the doings of these ancestors in the Alcheringa at a time when the ancestor as kangaroo was not directly distinguishable from the kangaroo as man. The derivation [p.138] of souls from elemental and prehuman powers is marked when the Arunta claim that each individual is a direct reincarnation of a totemic ancestor who is still living in the Alcheringa. And, as the same origin is assigned for the totemic animal, it follows that the man and animal are brothers, born of the same ancestral and prehuman soul. This is indicated when it is said that the spirit kangaroo enters the kangaroo animal in just the same way in which the spirit kangaroo man enters the womb of the kangaroo woman. These totemic souls are the prehuman ancestors of the Arunta tribes who lived in their prehuman as well as prehistoric past. 'Every native thinks that his (mythical) ancestor in the Alcheringa was the descendant of, or is immediately associated with, the animal or plant 'which bears his totemic name.' So intimately in the native mind are these ancestors associated with the totemic types that 'an Alcheringa man says of the kangaroo totem that it may sometimes be spoken of either as a man kangaroo or a kangaroo man.' The present explanation is that these ancestors in the Alcheringa originated in the superhuman nature powers or elemental souls that were first represented by the totems which are afterwards (or also) representative of the totemic motherhood. Thus the origin of the totemic men, in this phase, was not from the tree or animal of the totem whose name they bore, but from the elemental power or prehuman nature-soul from which both the man and animal derived a soul of life in common, as it was in the Alcheringa or old, old times of the mythical ancestors which in other countries, as in Egypt, have become the gods, whereas in Australia, inner Africa, China, India, and elsewhere they remained the ancestors derived from animals, plants, and other zootypes that were totemic and prehuman. The derivation and descent of human souls from these superhuman elemental nature powers was at first direct; afterwards they were represented by totemic zootypes in ways already indicated and to be yet more fully shown. Thus a clan of the Omahas were described as the wind people. The Damaras have kept count of certain totemic descents (or eandas) from the elemental powers when they reckon that some of their people 'come from the sun' and others 'come from the rain;' others come from the tree. The progenitor, as male, may and does take the mother's place in later ages, but the bringer forth was female from the first. So is it with the types. Hence the mount, the tree, the cave, the waterhole, the earth itself were naturally female; indeed, we might say that locality is feminine as the birthplace, and the elemental power was brought forth as male. In Scotland, persons who bore the name of 'Tweed' were supposed to have had the genii of the River Tweed for their ancestors, which denotes the same derivation from the elemental source, in this instance the spirit of water, as when the Arunta of the water-totem claim descent by reincorporation from the elemental ancestor in the Alcheringa, or as it might be in the Egyptian wisdom, from the god Nnu, or Num, or Hapi, the descent being traceable at first by the totem, and afterwards by the name.
Primitive man has been portrayed in modern times as if he were a [p.139] philosophic theorist. He has been charged with imagining all sorts of things which never existed, as if that were the origin of his spirits and his gods, whereas the beginning was with the elemental powers. These were external to himself. There was no need to imagine them. They were. And with this cognition his theology began. Primitive men were taught by the consistency of experience. However primitive, they neither had nor pretended to have the power of taking the soul out of the body when in peril, and depositing it for safety in a tree, or stone, or any other totemic type. Such a delusion belongs to the second childhood of the human race rather than to the first. It never was an article of faith even with the most benighted savages, as will be exemplified. Bunsen was one of those who have cited the Tale of the Two Brothers to prove 'how deep-seated was the Egyptian belief in the transmigration of the human soul.' But, as before said, Bata, the hero of the transmigrating soul, is not a human being! He is a folklore form of the mythical hero, the young solar god who issued in the morning or the spring-time from the typical tree of dawn. In like manner the golden hawk, in the Ritual, brings his heart = soul from the Mountain of the East, where it had been deposited in the tree of dawn upon the horizon. Externalizing the heart or soul in this way was not the act of men who were out of their minds or beside themselves, but simply a mode of symbolism which remains to be read in order that the error based upon it may be dispelled. When the nature powers are represented as human in the folktales they assume a misleading look, and primitive thought is charged with puerilities of the most recent fashion. It is these elemental souls that have been mixed up with the human soul by Hindus and Greeks, by Buddhist, Pythagorean, and Neo-Platonist, and mistaken for the human soul in course of transmigration through the series which were but representatives of souls that were distinguished as non-human by those who understood the types. The mantis, the hawk, the ram, the lion, and others in the Ritual are types of souls, may be of human souls, but not on this earth. Such were types of elemental powers first, and next they were continued as indicators of the stages made in the seven transformations of the manes in Amenta, the earth of eternity. This imagery was first applied to the powers of external nature, and when it is continued in a later phase the mythical characters become mixed up and confounded with the human in the minds of those who know no better, or who are at times too knowing ever to know. Once a year the Santals 'make simple offerings to a ghost [or spirit] who dwells in a Bela-tree.' This is taken by Herbert Spencer to show that the spirit in the tree was derived from the human ghost, which, according to his theory, never existed save in dreams. He points to certain Egyptian representations of 'female forms' 'emerging from trees and dispensing blessings.' But in no case has the female any human origin or significance. The females are Hathor and Nut, who personate the divine mother, not the human mother, in the tree, as the giver of food and drink provided by the Mother-earth. As to the 'ghost in the tree,' neither was that derived from the human spirit or the shadow seen in dreams. Egypt will tell us what it signified, and thereby prove that it did not originate in the human ghost or the Spencerian phantom [p.140] born of sleep. 'Plant worship,' says the same writer, 'is the worship of a spirit originally human.' 'Everywhere the plant spirit is shown by its conceived human form and ascribed human desires to have originated from a human personality.' In reply to this it can be shown from the oldest representations known, viz., those of Egypt, that the anthropomorphic mode of rendering was not primary, but the latest of all. Rannut, the goddess of plant life, was depicted as a serpent, before the human figure was assigned to her, the sloughing, self-renovating serpent being a zootype of renewal in a variety of phenomena, including vegetation. Nut in a female form gives the water of life from the tree, but she was previously Heaven itself in very person or Heaven typified as giver of the water from the tree or milk from the cow. Neither Nut nor Rannut was derived from a spirit originally human, but from a power in external nature that was known to be superhuman. Hathor in the tree was a divinity not derived from any mortal personality, and her figure of the divine female in the tree was preceded by that of the wet-nurse as a milch-cow and still earlier as the water-cow. In the Osirian mysteries the so-called 'corn spirit' is derived from the water. At Philae the god = the corn spirit is represented with stalks of corn springing from his mummy, and, according to the inscription, this is Osiris of the mysteries who springs from the returning waters—as the bringer of food in the shape of corn. In a vignette to the Book of the Dead the power of water also is portrayed in 'the Great Green One,' a spirit represented by the hieroglyphic lines that form a figure of water. This when divinized is Horus as the shoot of the papyrus plant, or the branch of endless years—a type of the eternal manifested by renewal in food produced from the element of water in the inundation. What the picture intimates is that water was the source of life to vegetation, and the figure in green arising from the element of water is the spirit of vegetation that was divinized in Horus as the 'shoot' or 'natzar,'—a figure that survives as 'Jack' in the green who dances in the pastimes on May-day. Nowhere in the range of Egyptian symbolism does 'the plant spirit' originate in or from a human personality. Mighty spirits were supposed to dwell in certain trees by the Battas of Sumatra, who would resent and revenge any injury done to them. Such mighty spirits or powers of the elements had grown up, as Egyptian, to become the goddesses and gods, as Hathor and Nut in the sycamore, Isis in the persea tree, Seb in the shrubs and plants, Horus in the papyrus, or unbu in the golden bough.
A soul of self-renewing life in the earth or the tree had been imaged by the serpent, a soul of life in the water had been imaged by the fish, a soul of life in the air by the bird, the elements being represented by the zootypes which afterwards became totemic and finally fetishtic. Thus, if the tree were the Nanja of an Australian tribe it would stand for the life of the tribe and be the totem of the prehuman soul. And when the human soul had been discreted as an individual soul from the general or tribal soul, the sacred tree which imaged the life or soul of the tribe might be claimed to represent the soul of a man. This was what did occur. A definite case is known to Messrs Spencer and Gillen in which a black [p.141] fellow earnestly pleaded with a white man not to cut down a particular tree, because it was the nanja-tree, and he feared that if it were destroyed some evil would befall him personally. The tree qua tree had been a type of self-renewing superhuman power, then a tribal totem bound up with the life of the tribe, and lastly it is said that the man believed his separate or discreted soul was in the tree, which furnished a place of refuge when his tree soul was in danger.
The reader may depend upon it that primitive man who fancied he had a separate soul which he could hide for safety in a tree, a stone, or an egg is a very modern product indeed, the sheerest reflex image of his misinterpreters, who are but speculative theorists that have never mastered the language of the primitive signs. As already said, the supposed transmigration of human souls, of turtles, or of other zootypes was impossible when as yet there was no human soul. The soul that might transmigrate was prehuman, elemental, and totemic; a soul that was divisible according to its parts and elemental powers, but common to life in general and in all its forms in earth and water, air and tree, to man and reptile, fish, insect, bird, and beast. When the sacred bear is killed for food at Usu, Volcano Bay, by the Ainu, they shout, 'We kill you, O bear! Come back soon into an Ainu.' That is as food, which in a sense is the transmigration of soul, but it is that elemental soul of food which is represented by the bear of eternity, and not a human soul. There was a doctrine of the transmigration of soul, or souls that were not human, to warrant the language of the Zuni Indian which he addressed to the turtle: 'Ah! my poor dear lost child, or parent, my sister or brother to have been! Who knows which? May be my own great-grandfather or mother.' This, however, was no transmigration of human souls. We repeat, at that primitive stage of thought no soul was specialized as human. There were only animistic or totemic souls; and if the element derived from should be water and the totem be the turtle, the type would represent the soul that was common to both man and animal, as brother turtles of the water totem, the elemental power over all being imaged as the turtle that was eternal, one of the mythical ancestors in the Arunta Alcheringa, or one of the gods in Egypt. Moreover, when once the soul of blood born of woman had been discriminated as a human soul it was no longer possible to postulate a return of that same soul to the prehuman status. It was discreted for ever from the soul of the animal, fish, bird, and reptile. The kangaroo-man would no longer have the same soul as the kangaroo. There was no ground for thinking that the human soul would be reincorporated or reincarnated in the body of the beast or reptile, and therefore no foundation for the doctrine of reincarnation which has been applied to human souls, and consequently misapplied by modern reincarnationists who do not know one soul from another. But the metempsychosis of soul or souls did survive as a doctrine long after the human species had been discreted and individualized, and when the primitive significance was no longer understood. Readjustment of the standpoint was made in the Egyptian wisdom, but seldom if ever elsewhere. Thus, in Buddhist metaphysic the soul continued to pass (theoretically) [p.142] through the same 'cycle of necessity' with the totemic souls which had been the prehuman creatures of the elements, like the 'Inapertwa' of the Arunta. As a result of the soul, here termed totemic, having been at one time common to men and animals and the elemental powers, this led to a perplexing interchange of personality, or at least of shape, between the superhuman powers, the men, and animals in the primitive mysteries and in the later folktales or legendary lore, in which we seem to hear the very aged mother-wisdom, or her misinterpreters, maundering in a state of dotage.
It must be borne in mind that the earliest mode of becoming was not by creating, but by transforming. For instance, when Ptah is imaged as the frog, or beetle, he is the deity as transformer, but when portrayed as the embryo in utero he images the creator or creative cause. A drama of transformation was performed in the totemic mysteries. The boy became a man by being changed into an animal, which animal was his totemic representative of the providing and protecting power. This was a mode of assimilating the human being to the divine or superhuman power when it had been imaged in the elemental stage by means of the particular totemic zootype, whether animal, bird, fish, insect, reptile, or plant. We gather from the magical practices of the western Inuit that when the sorcerer or spirit medium clothes himself in the skin of animals, the feathers of birds, teeth of serpents, and other magical emblems it is done to place himself en rapport with the kings of the beasts and the powers of the elements, for the purpose of deriving superhuman aid from these our 'elder brothers.' This, of course, was the natural fact that has been described as making the transformation into animal, bird, or reptile.
Spirit mediums, as sorcerers and magicians, witches and wizards, are great transformers who make their transformation in the mystery of trance. In that state they were assimilated to and united in alliance with one or other of the primordial powers, each of which was represented by its totemic zootype. There were spirit mediums extant when the superhuman powers were elemental (not the ancestral spirits), and these were imaged by the animals and other zootypes. Thus the spirit mediums in alliance with certain of these powers might be said to assume their likeness as animals, just as in modern times the witch is reputed to transform into a cat or hare, or the wizard into a wolf. The blacksmiths in Africa, who are thought to work by spirit agency, are supposed in Abyssinia to transform themselves into hyenas. The sorcerers and witches, otherwise the spirit mediums, of the Mexicans were said to transform themselves into animals. The Khonds affirm that witches have the power of transforming themselves into tigers.
Again, when the goddess Neith and the Arunta women were insufflated by the wind the soul was thus derived directly from the element. But when the bird is introduced as the white vulture of Neith or the dove of Hathor the insufflation may be attributed to the bird of air or soul. So with the element of water. The descent of soul may be direct from the element or derived from some type of the element. For example, the Karens hold that the waters are inhabited by beings whose proper shape is that of dragons or crocodiles, but occasionally these appear as men and take wives of the children of men, as [p.143] do the sons of heaven in the Book of Enoch. Indeed, it is quite possible that this self-incorporation of the elemental powers in a human form through the mothers is the source of the Semitic legend relating to the sons of God who cohabited with the daughters of men. Of course, the phrase 'sons of God' belongs to a later nomenclature. The elemental powers knew no God the Father. These in the Book of Enoch are the seven primary powers that were the Holy Watchers once in heaven and the heirs of life eternal, but whose origin was as powers of the elements such as pursued the Arunta daughters of men. And, whether elemental or astronomical, they were seven in number. They are charged with having forsaken their lofty station and with acting like the children of earth. They have 'lain with women' and 'defiled themselves with the daughters of men.' In the Book of Enoch the seven have acquired the character that was attained by the elemental powers, and have to be followed in the phase of legendary lore which obfuscates the ancient wisdom, though far less so than does the Book of Genesis. It was not as astronomical powers that the story could be told of the seven. But as elemental forces pursuing nice fat women—like the Arunta spirits of air—to incorporate themselves they could be described as beings who polluted themselves with women; they being spiritual or superhuman, whereas the daughters of men were of the earth earthy. This legend was represented finally in literature by what has been termed 'the loves of the angels.' The complexion of these external spirits is likewise elemental. Their various colours are copied straight from nature, and not from the complexion of human beings. The spirit of darkness was black. The spirit of light was white. The spirit of water or vegetation was green. The spirit of air was blue. The spirit of fire was red. The spirit of the highest god upon the summit of the seven upward steps is golden, as Ra the divine or holy spirit in the final eschatology. Thus we can trace the black spirits and white, red spirits and grey, green, or blue, to an elemental origin, and show that the spirit as a green man, a blue man, a black man (where there are no blacks), a white man (where there are no whites), a red man, or a golden child was derived directly from the elements and not from a ghost that was called into existence by the wizardry of dreams. When human spirits were recognized and portrayed the same types and colours were used. The human spirit issuing from the red flesh in death is painted blue. Not because spirits were seen to be of that complexion when 'all was blue,' but because the spirit of air or anima had been an elemental spirit in the blue. The spirit in green (vegetation) remains the 'green man' as wood spirit in Europe. The spirit of darkness is black as the bogey man, the black Sut in Egypt. The Zuni Indians described by Mr Cushing have a system of praying to the seven great spirits, or nature gods, by means of the seven different colours which are painted on their prayer-sticks, Six of these colours represent the six regions into which space was divided, the four quarters, together with the height and depth or zenith and nadir. The powers thus localized are called the 'makers of the paths of life,' on account of their relationship to the supreme one of the seven, who sits at the centre of [p.144] all, and who is the only one of them portrayed in the human form as the highest of the seven. Each of these has its own proper complexion, and the fetishes that represent the human powers are also determined by colours in the material from which they are modelled or the pigment with which they are painted. The particular power prayed to is identified to the ear by imitating the roar or cry of the beast that served for zootype, as well as to the eye by its own especial colour. And here it may be possible to trace what might be termed the 'golden prayer' of the Zunis. In the ceremonies of their ancient mysteries an ear of corn is typical of renewal in a future life. In praying for plenty of food two ears of corn are laid on the body of a dead deer close to the heart. 'Prayer meal' made from maize is held in the hand and scattered on the fetish image of the deer, whilst the prayer is addressed to the deer divinity or prey-god, as the power beyond the fetish. The corn-pollen is offered so that the spirit may clothe itself in yellow or in the wealth of harvest gold. If this prayer in yellow (equivalent to a prayer-book bound in gold, or at least gilt-edged) were addressed to the corn god by the Zuni when he prays for his daily bread and offers the flower of the yellow maize, the colour of the offering would identify it with the colour of the fetish, and therefore with the yellow lion as a zootype of the vivifying sun that ripened the corn to clothe the earth with vegetable gold.
Like the Zuni Indians, the Tibetans still pray in accordance with a scheme of colours. A prayer was lately found upon a 'praying wheel' addressed 'To the yellow god, the black god, the white god, and the green god. Please kindly take us all up with you, and do not leave us unprotected, but destroy our enemies.' Some such colour scheme is apparent in Egypt when Horus is the white god, Osiris is the god in black, Shu the god in red, Amen the god in blue, Num the god in green.
In the Egyptian series of colours yellow likewise represented corn, which gave the name to the 'yellow Neith.' The nature gods were appealed to and invoked in want or sickness as a primitive kind of doctors who were looked to as superhuman and whose powers were medicines. The power of the deer god was the deer medicine, and each medicine represented the special power that was besought in hunting each particular beast. These are the kind of 'spirits' that were prayed to in colours by primitive races of men, and these colours, like the glorified globes in the druggist's window, represented the powers of the different spirits as medicines. The native doctors of New Guinea have a scale of colours with which they paint their patient with the complexions of corresponding spirits. Different colours denoted different spirits of healing forces in nature that were representative of the seven elements and seven localities of the spirits. When the Omaha medicine-men are acting as healers of the sick they will use the movements and cry with the voices of their totemic animals. Not because the animals were a source of healing power in themselves, but because the totems had a spiritual relationship and were the representatives of powers beyond the human. Thus, in one case the spirits prayed to are identified by their colours, and in the other by their totemic zootypes. If we interpret this according to Egyptian symbolism, when the sick person was [p.145] suffering from asthma he would plead his suit in blue to the god of air or breathing-force whilst panting like a sick lion, and the medicine would be equivalent to a blue pill. In case of fever he would pray in green to the god in green, that is, to the water spirit, and would be going to the green god for a drink, as the thirsty soul in our day might seek the sign of the Green Dragon or the Green Man. And if he prayed in red it would be to the red Atum, or Horus, the child that was born red in the blood of Isis, as the saviour who came apparelled in that colour. The main object at present however, is to distinguish animism from spiritualism by tracing the difference between the elemental souls and the ancestral spirits, although animism is a most unsatisfactory title. The anima signifies one of the seven elemental souls, but does not comprehend the group. Here is one of several clues. The animistic nature powers were typified; the ancestral spirits are personalized. The elemental powers are commonly a group of seven, but spiritualism has no experience nor knowledge of seven human spirits that visit earth together, or traverse the planetary chain of seven worlds; nor is there any record of the dream personages coming and going in a group of seven, or in seven colours, not even as a septenary of nightmares born of seven generations of neurotic sufferers from sevenfold insomnia. In animism, mediums could not interview the serpent, bull, or turtle of eternity in spirit form. On the contrary, the animistic powers have had to be objectified and made apparent by means of these totemic types. Thus, in animism there are no spirits proper—that is, no spirits which appear as the doubles of the dead or phantasms of the living. It may be allowed that the spirits of the elements—of air, water, earth, fire, plant or tree—were in a sense ancestral, though not ancestral spirits. But the one were prehuman, the others are originally human. These animistic powers in the Arunta Alcheringa are called the ancestors who reproduce themselves by incorporation in the life on earth in the course of becoming man or animal. It was inevitable that there should be some confusion here and there between the elemental souls and the ancestral spirits when the power to differentiate the one from the other by means of the type was lost or lapsing. It was Kalabar 'fash,' the natives told Hutchinson, that the souls of men passed into monkeys. The Zulus also say there are Amatonga or ancestral spirits who are snakes, and who come back to visit the living in the guise of reptiles. Such 'fash,' however, is just the confusion that follows the lapse of the most primitive wisdom. Both the monkey and the snake had been totemic types not only of the human brotherhoods, but also of the elemental powers or souls. Thus there was an elemental soul of the snake-totem and the ancestral spirits of that same ilk; and the snake remained as representative of both, to the confounding of the animistic soul with the ancestral spirit at a later stage. But those who kept fast hold of the true doctrine always and everywhere insisted that their ancestral spirits did not return to earth in the guise of monkeys, snakes, crocodiles, lions, hawks, or any other of the totemic zootypes. They did not mistake the 'souls' of one category for 'spirits' in the other, because they knew the differ- [p.146] ence. The same distinction that was made by the Egyptians between the superhuman powers and the manes, or the gods and the glorified, is more or less identifiable all the world over.
Thus, the origin of spirits and of religion is twofold. At first the elemental powers are propitiated; next the ancestors are worshipped. The earliest form of a religious cult was founded in evocation and propitiation of the great Earth-mother, the giver of life and birth, of food and water, as the primary power in mythology, who was represented in Egypt by her zootypes the water-cow of Apt; the fruit-tree of Hathor, the sow of Rerit, the serpent of Rannut, who was first besought in worship as 'the only one,' the great goddess, the Good Lady, the All-Mother who preceded the All-Father. The gods and goddesses of the oldest races were developed from these superhuman nature powers which originated with and from the earth as the universal Great Mother, and not from the ancestral human spirits. Also the one is universally differentiated from the other. The two classes of gods and spirits, elemental and ancestral, are still propitiated and invoked by the natives of West Africa. As Miss Kingsley tells us, one class is called 'the Well-disposed Ones.' These are the ancestral spirits, which are differentiated from the other class, that is referred to as 'them,' the generic name for nonhuman spirits.
The religion of the Yao is now pre-eminently a worship of the ancestral spirits, but 'beyond and above the spirits of their fathers and chiefs localized on the hills, the Yao speak of others that they consider superior; only their home is more associated with the country which the Yao left in the beginning.' This was that land of the gods who were the primordial elemental powers, the old home or primeval paradise of many races.
The Yao also distinguished clearly between the elemental power and its zootype. 'It is usual,' says Mr Macdonald, 'to distinguish between the spirit and the form it takes. A spirit often appears as a serpent. When a man kills a serpent thus belonging to a spirit he goes and makes an apology to the offended god, saying, "Please, please, I did not know that it was your serpent!"' The Thlinkeets emphatically assert that the ancestor of the wolf clan does not reappear to them in the wolf form. The Maori likewise are among those who distinguish between the atuas that represent the ancient nature powers and the spirits which reappear as spectres in the human form. They recognize the difference between the totemic type and the ancestral human spirit. It is our modern metaphysical explanation and the vague theories of universal animism that confuse the gods and ghosts together, elemental spirits with human, and the zootypes with the pretotemic ancestors. The Ainu people recognize two classes of gods and spirits. The first are known as the 'distant gods,' those who are remote from human beings. The others are the 'near at hand,' corresponding to the spirit ancestors of other races. The Shintoism of the Japanese shows the same dual origin of a cult that is primitive and universal, which was based first on a propitiation of the nature powers, and secondly on the worship of ancestral spirits. The number and the nature of these powers as the Great Mother and [p.147] the seven or the eight kami are the same in Japan as in the land of Kam. The Veddahs of Ceylon, who worship 'the shades of their ancestors and their children,' also hold that 'the air is peopled with spirits; that every rock, every tree, every forest, and every hill, in short every feature of nature, has its genius loci.' Here again we have the two classes of ancestral spirits, human in origin, and the animistic spirits derivable from the elements. The 'gods' of the Samoans were those elemental powers that were represented by the zootypes. 'These gods,' says Turner, 'are supposed to appear in some visible incarnation, and the particular thing (or living type) in which the god appeared was to the Samoan an object of veneration. It was, in fact, his "idol" (or his totem). One, for instance, saw his god in the eel, another in the shark, another in the lizard,' and so on through all the range of external nature.
With the Eskimo the nature spirits are quite distinct from the ghosts of human beings. Some of the former are allowed to the common people as objects of religious regard, but it is the spirits of human beings, the dead ancestors or relatives of the living, who inspire or otherwise manifest through the abnormal medium called the Angekok. Everywhere it is the reappearing spirits of the dead, and they alone, who can demonstrate a continuity of existence for the living. The original powers or gods of the elements that were represented by the zootypes are very definitely discriminated by the Tongans from the spirits of human beings. They do not mix up or confuse their gods with their ghosts. Their primal gods were not ghosts. These do not come as apparitions in the human likeness, or as shadows of the dead. When they appear to men, it is said to be in their primitive guise of lizards, porpoises, water-snakes, and other elemental totemic types; whereas the ghosts of nobles and chiefs, who alone are supposed to have the power of coming back, or of being on view, are not permitted to appear in the shape of lizards, porpoises, and water-snakes, the representatives of the original gods. So the Banks Islanders recognize and distinguish two classes of supernatural powers, in the spirits of the dead and those that never have been human. These are their gods and ghosts, the gods and the glorified. The nature powers are called tamate, the ghosts are designated vui. As with the Tongans, the Papuan ghosts of the nobles are nearest in status to the great or primary powers, but are not to be confounded with them; being of different origin in this world, they do not blend together in the next. This shows that in both cases the gnosis is not quite extinct. Kramer tells us that the Niassans worship both gods and ancestors, and that the two kinds of superhuman beings are never confounded by them. The two are kept perfectly distinct, and each has a different terminology. This distinction made between the elemental gods and the ghosts of ancestors is shown by the Institutes of Manu. 'Let an offering to the gods be made at the beginning and end of the fráddha. It must not begin and end with an offering to ancestors, for he who begins and ends it with an oblation to the Pitris quickly perishes with his progeny.' Amongst [p.148] all the 'spirits,' the apparition or ghost is solely human. There is no pretence of seeing the ghosts of animals. The great spirit or great bear of the Ainus remains a bear. The great spirit as the turtle of the Zunis remains a turtle. The great spirit of the Samoans remains an owl. Their representatives are the bear, the turtle, the owl, and not the apparition of a bear, a turtle, or an owl. The zootypes have no spiritual manifestations or phantasms. Only the souls of human beings reappear as ghosts. Thus we demonstrate that the worship of human ancestors alone was not the primary phase of religious worship.
We need to be careful not to get the 'divinity' confounded with the 'divine personage.' But we may say there was no killing of the god, the tree spirit, the corn spirit, or the spirit of vegetation, in the Frazerian sense, and of putting the deity to death to save him from old age, disease, and decay, and magically bringing him to life again in a more youthful form. This is another result of mixing up the two classes together by the modern non-spiritualist. The aborigines knew better. The death of the sacred bird, with the Samoans, was 'not the death of the god. He was supposed to be yet alive, and incarnate in all the owls in existence.' So was it with the turtle of the Zunis, the panes-bird of the Acagchemen Indians, and the bull of Osiris, called 'the Bull of Eternity.' In killing the goose of Seb or the calf of Horus, the bull of Osiris or the meriah of the Khonds, the partakers of the sacrament had no more thought of killing the god or nature power as a mode of rejuvenation than they had of killing the earth which produced the food.
Also the spiritual theory will most satisfactorily explain the motive for killing and eating the divine personage, whether as the mother or the monarch, whilst the victim was comparatively young, in good health, and wholly exempt from any bodily infirmity. The slaying and eating were performed as a religious rite and a mode of spiritual communion. This implies a sacrificial offering to the gods or spirits, which had to be as pure and perfect as possible. In the rubrical directions of the Hebrew ritual it is expressly commanded that the sacrificial offering shall be presented 'without blemish' otherwise it is unacceptable to the Lord. The death or dying down of the food-producing power as Osiris was a fact of annual occurrence in external nature. This death of the self-devoted victim was solemnized and mourned over in the mysteries, where the chief object of celebration was the resurrection of Osiris, as the sun from the nether world, or the returning waters of the inundation; or as Horus in the lentils, or unbu in the branch of gold, or the human soul resurgent from the mummy in the mysteries of Amenta. This was the divinity who has to be distinguished from the typical divine personage. We learn from the eschatology, by which the mythology was supplemented and fulfilled, that there were seven food-givers altogether in a female form. These are grouped as the seven Hathors, or milch-mothers, in the mythology called 'the providers of plenty' for the glorified elect, in the green pastures Aarru, or the Elysian Fields. The earliest representation being totemic and prehuman, the mythical mother was portrayed by means of the zootype.
The wet-nurse was imaged as a cow or a sow. The mother of aliment was figured in the tree. The earth itself was imaged as the goose, or other zootype, which laid the egg for food. The Red Men say 'the bear, the buffalo, and the beaver are manitus (spirits) which furnish food.' They were totems of the elemental powers that were propitiated as the givers of food. Now, the first giver of food and drink was the Mother-earth, who was represented by the zootypes which furnished food and drink. The elemental spirits as producers of food may be seen in the Aztec Popul Vuh as 'they that gave life,' a group of primordial powers, with such names as shooter of the coyote, opossum, and other animals with the blowpipe—a naive way of describing the superhuman providers of food in the character of the hunter. The Zuni 'prey-gods' are also propitiated as superhuman powers in animal forms, the gods of prey that are the givers of food. In the Arunta stage of mythical representation there are no goddesses or gods. The powers of the elements were not yet divinized; they are only known, like the human groups, by their totemic types. Whereas in the wisdom of ancient Egypt we can identify the elemental powers and trace them by nature and by name into the phase of divinities, whether as goddesses or gods.
Thus we are enabled to reach back to the superhuman powers in totemism that preceded the gods and goddesses in mythology. Instead of gods and goddesses, the Arunta tribe have their mythical ancestors, who were kangaroos, emus, beetles, bandicoots, dingoes, and snakes, as totemic representatives of elemental forces, especially those of food and drink, in the primordial Alcheringa, who were incorporated or made flesh on earth in both men and animals. In the Egyptian eschatology these primordial powers finally became the Lords of Eternity. But from the first they were the ever-living ones under pre-anthropomorphic totemic types. Osiris, for example, remains in the Ritual as 'the Bull of Eternity.' Atum was the Lion of Eternity. And when both had been personified in the human likeness the zootype still survived. Thus the beast, the bird, the fish, which represented the powers of the elements, which were of themselves ever-living, furnished natural types of the eternal. Again, the human descent from the elemental powers is indicated by the tradition of the Manx which asserts that the first inhabitants of their island were fairies, and that the little folk, called the good people, still exist among them and are to be seen dancing on moonlight nights, the same as in the Emerald Isle:—
'Wee folk, good folk,
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather.'
In relation to spiritism, the present demonstration has hitherto been limited to the animistic 'spirits' or elemental powers that were prehuman, superhuman, and entirely nonhuman. We now come to the spirits of human origin which manifest as phantoms of the living and as doubles of the dead. [p.150] The origin of the 'gods' was in the powers of the elements, with a magical evocation and propitiation of these powers ever manifesting in external nature, especially as givers of food and drink, with the ritual based on blood. But the most essential part of religion assuredly originated in the worship of the ancestral spirits. Only there must be the spirits of human origin discriminated from the animistic spirits or elemental powers as the raison d'être of the worship. The feeling of fear and dread of the destroying powers was followed at a later stage of development by the natural affection for the mothers, the fathers, and children, who were universally propitiated as the ancestral spirits. Spiritualism proper begins with the worship of ancestral spirits, the spirits of the departed, who demonstrate the continuity of existence hereafter by reappearing to the living in phenomenal apparition, the same to the races called civilized as to those who are supposed to 'believe in ghosts' because they are savages. Herbert Spencer proclaims that 'the first traceable conception of a supernatural being is the conception of a ghost.' Here in passing we may note that the word 'supernatural,' continually employed by the agnostics, belongs, like many others, to an obsolete terminology which has no meaning for the evolutionist. There was no supernatural when there could have been no definition of the natural. In the present work the word superhuman is made use of as being more exact. The elemental powers were superhuman, yet they were entirely natural.
A brief but comprehensive account of inner African spiritualism is given by the author of Three Years in Savage Africa, who says: 'The religion of the Wanyamwezi is founded mainly on the worship of spirits called the "Musimo." Their ceremonies have but one object, the conciliation or propitiation of these spirits. They have no idea of one supreme power or God—personal or impersonal—governing the world, and directing its destinies or those of individuals. They believe in the earthly visitation of spirits, especially to announce some great event, and more generally some big disaster. Thus they tell how the Chief Mirambo one day met a number of Musimo carrying torches, who invited him to follow them into the forest, which he did. Once there, they attempted to dissuade him from proceeding with a war which he was then contemplating, and in which he subsequently lost his life. The dead in their turn become spirits, under the all-embracing name of Musimo. The Wanyamwezi hold these Musimo in great dread and veneration, as well as the house, hut, or place where their body has died. Every chief has near his hut a Musimo hut, or house of the dead, in which they are supposed to dwell, and where sacrifices and offerings must be made. They are constantly consulting oracles, omens, and signs, an attach great importance to them.' When desirous of consulting the spirits, 'the party betakes itself to the Musimo house, in front of which the Mfumu (medium) stands with the others arranged in a circle behind him. The Mfumu then holds a kind of religious service: he begins addressing the spirits of their forefathers, imploring them not to visit their anger upon their descendants. This prayer he offers up kneeling, bowing and bending to the ground from time to time. Then he rises and commences a hymn of praise to the ancestors, and all join [p.151] in the chorus. Then, seizing his little gourd, he executes a pas seul, after which he bursts into song again, but this time singing as one inspired. Suddenly he stops and recovers himself. All this time, except when chanting, the spectators observe a most profound stillness. After a brief interval of silence the Mfumu proceeds to publish the message which he has just received from the Musimo. This he does by intoning in a most mournful and dreary manner. The congregation then retire, and wind up the proceedings with a noisy dance in the village.' According to Geil, the pigmies of the Ituri Forest, at the lowest point in the ascent of man, propitiate and invoke the spirits of their ancestors; they also build little huts for them to rest in and make offerings of food to their spirit visitants. The Lendu to the west of Lake Albert, who are worshippers of the ancestral spirits, are accustomed to carry rough wooden dolls supposed to represent the departed, and place them in the deserted huts in which their dead lie buried.
African spiritualism, which might be voluminously illustrated, culminated in the Egyptian mysteries. The mystery teachers were so far advanced as phenomenal spiritualists, and say so little about it in any direct manner, that it has taken one who owns to having had a profound experience of the phenomena many years to come up with them in studying the eschatology of the Ritual. If spiritualism proper is based on phenomenal and veritable facts in nature, as it is now claimed to be, then the past history of the human race has to be rewritten, for it has hitherto been written with this the most important of all mental factors omitted, decried, derided, or falsely explained away. Current anthropology knows nothing of man with a soul that offers evidence for a continuity of its own existence. The Egyptians had no more doubt about it than the Norsemen who used to bring legal actions against the spirits of the dead that came back to haunt and torture the living, and were accused on evidence and adjudged to be guilty. There is a like case in a papyrus translated by M. Maspero. In this an Egyptian widower cites the spirit of his deceased wife to a law court, and forbids her to torment or persecute him with her unwelcome attentions. He asks what offence did he ever commit in her lifetime that should warrant her in causing him to suffer now. He speaks of the evil condition he is in, and of the affidavit he has made. This writing is directed to the gods of Amenta, where it is to be read in judgment against her. Maspero suggests that the writ would probably be read aloud at the tomb, and then tied to the statue of his wife, who would receive the summons in the same way that she was accustomed to receive the offerings of prayer and food by proxy at certain times of the year. The Egyptians were profoundly well acquainted with those abnormal phenomena which are just re-emerging within the ken of modern science, and with the hypnotic, magnetic, narcotic, and anaesthetic means of inducing the conditions of trance. Their rekhi or wise men, the pure spirits in both worlds, are primarily those who could enter the life of trance or transform into the state of spirits, as is shown by the determinative of the name, the phoenix of spiritual transformation.
Ancestor worship is made apparent in the Book of the Dead by the speaker in the nether world, who asks that he may behold the forms of his father and his mother in his resurrection from Amenta. And when he attains the domain of Kan-Kanit on Mount Hetep, where the joy is expressed by dancing, he prays that he may see his father and intently view his mother. It is said of one of the magical formulae, 'If thou readest the second page it will happen that if thou art in the Amenta thou wilt have power to resume the form which thou hadst upon the earth.' In one of the Egyptian tales the writer describes the dead in the tombs conversing about their earth life, and as having the power of leaving the sepulchre and mixing once more with the living on this earth. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is based upon a resurrection of the soul in Amenta and its possible return to the earth at times, for some particular purpose, as the double or ghost. The deceased when in Amenta prays that he may emerge from the world of the dead to revisit the earth. He asks that he may come forth with breath for his nostrils and with eyes which can see, and that he may shine upon his own ka-image from without, not that he may become a soul within an idol of wood or stone. The persistence of the human soul in death and its transformation into a living and enduring spirit is a fundamental postulate of the Egyptian Ritual and of the religious mysteries. The burial of the mummy in the earth is coincident with the resurrection of the soul in Amenta, which is followed by its purifications and refinings into a spirit that may be finally made perfect. In the opening chapter the departing soul of the deceased pleads that he may be conscious in death, to see the lords of the nether world and to inhale the 'incense of the sacrificial offerings made to the divine host—sitting with them.' He prays: 'Let the priestly ministrant make invocations over my coffin. Let me hear the prayers of propitiation.' Not as the dead body, but as a living spirit. He also pleads that when the mat is opened he may 'come forth to do his pleasure upon earth amid the living.' The Egyptians know nothing of death except in the evil that eats out the spiritual life. The dead are those that do not live the spiritual life, no matter where. These are called the twice dead in the spirit world. It will suffice to show how profound the spiritualism must have been when the prayers and invocations are made, the oblations and the sacrifices are offered, not to the person of the deceased (who is represented by the dead mummy), but to the ka-image of his eternal soul, which was set up in the funeral chamber as the likeness of that other spiritual self to whose consciousness they made their religiously affectionate appeal. They make no mistake as to the locality of consciousness. Their funeral feast was a festival of rejoicing, not of mourning. When Unas makes his passage it is said, 'Hail, Unas! Behold, thou hast not departed dead, but as one living thou hast gone to take thy seat upon the throne of Osiris.' The sacred rites were duly paid to the departed not merely 'in memory of the dead,' but for the delectation of the re-embodied ka that lived on in death. The dead were designated the ever-living. The coffin was called the chest of the living. No eye might look on the prepared [p.153] mummy in its last resting place but the eye of its spiritual owner, who came back to see that it was properly preserved in sepulchral sanctity, a small aperture being left in the wall of the serdab through which the returning spirit alone might pass, to see the mummy, when it returned on a visit to the earth. We learn from the vignettes to the Ritual that the soul might revisit the earth when it bad attained the status of the ba, which is imaged as the hawk with a human head. In this shape it descends and ascends the ladder or staircase that was erected as the way up from the kâsu or burial place to the boat of souls.
In the first stage of continuity hereafter the soul persists visibly as the shade. This form of the manes is commonly associated with the mummy in the tomb where it received the mortuary meals that were offered to the dead. It was held by some that the shade remained as warder of the mummy, or corpse, and never left the earth. When the deceased has passed the forty-two tribunals of the Judgment Hall he is told that he can now go out of the Amenta and come in at will as an enfranchised spirit. It is said to the Osiris, 'Enter thou in and come forth at thy pleasure like the Glorified Ones; and be thou invoked each day upon the Mount of Glory.' He has now become one of the glorified, the spirits who are appealed to as protectors—that is, the ancestral spirits, the host of whom he joins to become the object of invocation and propitiation or of worship on the Mount of Glory. The clairvoyants in the Kamite temples were designated seers of the gods and the spirits. In speaking of his forced exclusion from office in the Temple of Amen, Tahtmes III says, 'So long as I was a child and a boy I remained in the Temple, but not even as a seer of the god did I hold office.' In the Second Tale of Khamuas there is a contest between the Ethiopian and Egyptian magicians. Amongst other tests of superiority, the Ethiopians bring writing as a challenge to the court of Pharaoh. This has to be read without opening the letter or breaking the seal. Then said Si-Osiris to his father, 'I shall be able to read the letter that was brought to Egypt without opening it, and to find what is written on it without breaking its seal.' The father asks what is the sign that he can do this. Si-Osiris answers, 'Go to the cellars of thy house: every book that thou takest out of the case I will tell thee what book it is and read it without seeing it.' This he does, and then he shows the superiority of Egyptian magic over the sorceries of the Ethiopians by reading the contents of the letter without opening it or breaking the seal.
The mode in which the clairvoyant faculty was made use of in the mysteries for seeing into the world beyond death is also illustrated by the priest who is portrayed as the dreamer with the dead. He is called the sem-priest, and is represented as being in the tomb and sleeping the sleep in which he was visited by the glorified. The recumbent sem awakes when the other officiating ministrants arrive at the sepulchre. His first words are, 'I see the Father in his form entire.' That is Osiris in his character of Neb-er-ter. In his demise Osiris was represented as being cut in pieces, by his enemy Sut, as a [p.154] mode of depicting death to the sight of the initiates. That which applied to Osiris also applied to the dead in Osiris. They were figuratively cut in pieces as the tangible equivalent for abstract death. 'I see the Father in his form entire' was the formula of the sem-priest as sleeper and seer in the tomb and as witness and testifier that the dead in Osiris were living still. 'How wonderful! He no longer existed.' And now, 'What happiness! He exists, and there is no member missing to the manes' (i.e., the human soul in Amenta).
All ancestor worshippers have been spiritualists in the modern sense who had the evidence by practical demonstration that the so-called dead are still the living in a rarer, not less real form. The ancestral spirits they invoke and propitiate were once human, not the elemental or animistic forces of external nature, which under the name of spirits have been confused with them. Their belief in a personal continuity has ever been firmly based on phenomenal facts, not merely floated on ideas. The evidence that deceased persons make their reappearance on the earth in human guise is universal; also that the doubles of the dead supplied both ground and origin for a worship of ancestral spirits that were human once in this life and still retained the human likeness in the next, and manifested in the human form. The Karens say the là (or ghost) sometimes appears after death, and cannot then be distinguished from the deceased person. In the opinion of the Eskimo the soul (or spirit) exhibits the same shape as the body it belonged to, but is of a more subtle and ethereal nature, as is the Egyptian sahu or spiritual body. The Tonga Islanders held that the human soul was the finer, more aeriform, part of the body—the essence that can pass out as does the fragrance from a flower. The islanders of the Antilles found that the ghosts vanished when they tried to clutch them. The Greenland seers described the soul as pallid, soft, and intangible when they attempted to seize it. 'Alas! then,' says Achilles, as he tries to embrace the spirit of Patroclus, 'there is indeed in the abodes of the shades a spirit and an eidolon, but it is unsubstantial.' Mr Cushing tells us that, whatsoever opinions the ancestors of the Zunis may have held regarding the so-called 'transmigration of souls,' their belief today relative to the future life is spiritualistic. When a corpse had been burnt by the Hos they still called upon the spirit to come back to the world of the living. It is held by them that the spirit lives on, although the dead body is reduced to ashes. The author of Africana testifies that the Central African tribes among whom he lived were unanimous in saying there is something beyond the body which they call spirit or pure spirit, and that 'every human being at death is forsaken by the spirit.' Hence they do not worship at the grave. 'All the prayers and offerings of the living are presented to the spirits of the dead.' It is common for the Yao to leave an offering beside the head at the top of their beds intended for the spirits who it is hoped will come and whisper to the sleeper in his dreams. Their spirits appear to them in sleep and also in waking visions, which are carefully discriminated from dreams of the night by them as by all intelligent aborigines, and not confused the one with the other, as is generally done by the European [p.155] Agnostic. The Banks Islanders pray to their dead men, and not to the elemental powers or animistic spirits. The Vateans call upon the spirits of their ancestors, whom they invoke over the kava bowl—that is, the divine drink which is taken by the seers for the purpose of entering into rapport with the spirits. When the Zulu King Cetewayo was in London he said to a friend of the present writer, 'We believe in ghosts or spirits of the dead because we see them.' But when asked whether the Zulus believed in God, he said they had not seen him. For them the ghost demonstrates its own existence; the god is but an inference, if necessary as a final explanation of phenomena. The ghost can be objectively manifested; the deity must be ideally evolved. The Amazulu say the same thing as Cetewayo; 'We worship those whom we have seen with our eyes, who lived and died amongst us. All we know is that the young and the aged die and the shade departs.' These shades were propitiated. That is the universal testimony of all races, savage or civilized. They believe in ghosts because they see them. The ghost is the supreme verity in universal spiritualism. As Huxley says, 'There are savages without God in any proper sense of the word, but there are none without ghosts.' The colossal conceit of obtuse modern ignorance notwithstanding, the ghost and the faculty for seeing the ghost are realities in the domain of natural fact. The seers may be comparatively rare, although the clairvoyant and seer of spirits (as a product of nature) is by no means so scarce as either a great painter or great poet. These abnormal faculties are human, and they can be increased by cultivation. Their existence is for ever being verified like other facts in nature, and the truth is ultimately known by the experience which is for ever being repeated. It is a funeral custom of the Amandebele, one of the Bantu tribes, to introduce the spirit of a deceased person to his father, his grandfather, and other relatives, of whose conscious existence and personal presence no doubt is entertained. These are matters of life and death with the primitive races. The spirits come to announce the death of individuals. They see the ghost, they hear its message, and they die to the day or hour foretold. 'I could give many instances which have come within my own knowledge among the Fijians,' says Mr Fison. Mr Spencer tell us that 'negroes who when suffering go to the woods and cry for help to the spirits of dead relatives show by these acts the grovelling nature of the race.' Whether the spirits are thought to be a reality or not, this appears one of the most natural and touching of human acts, aspiring rather than grovelling, especially as the relative addressed is so commonly the mother, the African mama. But is it grovelling to cling to the loved and lost?—to turn for comfort to the dear ones gone, and seek a little solace if only in the memory that leaned and rested on them in the solitude of their suffering? Here the 'great teacher of our age' is far behind the nigger. He did not know that the 'spirits of dead relatives' are and always have been a demonstrable reality, and those who do not know have no authority for giving judgment on the subject. They who have no [p.156] dead lost friends to feed, to invoke, or to love may look on such ceremonies as savage or insensate, but to those who have, and who still offer them the food of affection, such actions are but the primitive exhibition of our modern spiritualism in its simple childhood, and they have for us something of the tender and touching charm of infancy, even when the first has now become a sort of second childhood through length of time and lapse of knowledge and loss of memory.
The Peruvians declared that the reason why they buried property with their departed friends was because they had seen those who had long been dead walking adorned with the clothes and jewels which their friends had buried with them. West African negroes have been so sure of their conscious continuity hereafter that when they were slaves in far-off lands they have killed themselves on purpose to revisit and relive in their old homes. We have it on the authority of Livingstone that the Manyema tribe of Africans exulted in the assurance that after death the suffering ones would be able to come back when they were set free to return and haunt and torture those who had sold them into slavery during their life on earth. Mariner mentions the case of a young Tongan chief who was pursued by the spirit of a dead woman. She, having fallen in love with him, besought him to die and go to her; and he died accordingly. The Karens hold that the dead are only divided from the living by a thin white veil which their seers can penetrate. The Kaffirs when fighting used to leave open spaces in their line of battle for their dead heroes to step into and stop the gap in fighting for them shoulder to shoulder and side by side.
First of all, there is a class of customs intended to prevent the dead from returning in spirit. The living will do anything in their power by way of propitiation, bribery, and flattery for the dead not to come back. All they needed in this life was supplied to them for the next: food, drink, clothes, horses, weapons, slaves, and wives in abundance. For if the dead were in need of anything it was feared that they might pursue and haunt the living. The Zulu Kaffirs say that diseases are caused by the spirits of the dead to compel the living to supply them with offerings of meat and drink. It was a custom of the Fijians to pour out water after the corpse to hinder the ghost from coming back, water being the element opposed to breath, to spirit or spirits—'a running stream they daurna cross!' The Siamese break an opening through the wall of a house, pass the coffin through, and carry the corpse round the house three times to prevent the spirit from finding its way back. The Hottentots make a hole in the wall of their hut and carry the dead body through it, closely building it up immediately afterwards. We may smile, but until lately we had the relic of a belief as simple. We used to run a stake through the bodies of our suicides, buried at the crossroads, to pin them to the cross and not allow them to walk or wander as ghosts. This custom of barring the passage back was practised by black men, red men, yellow men, and white men—therefore it was universal. An Australian aborigine will cut the right thumb off the hand of his dead enemy, so that the returning ghost shall not be able to handle a spear or club if he should come back. Many other races purposely maimed their dead. When [p.157] Clytemnestra put her husband to death she took the precaution of having him 'arm-pitted'—that is, of having his hands cut off and bound fast under his arms, which was a Greek mode of doing an irretrievable injury to the ghost of the dead.
Nor was the feeling of fear limited to those whom they had any reason to dread. On the death of a nursing child the Iroquois take two pieces of cloth, steep them in the milk of its mother, and place them in the hands of the dead little one so that it may not return in spirit from need of food to haunt and trouble the bereaved parent. They also think that the sleeping infant holds intercourse with the spirit world, and it is a custom for the mother to rub the face of the living child with a pinch of ashes at night to protect it from nocturnal spirits. In Lapland the mothers, when committing infanticide, cut out the tongues of the little ones before casting them away in the forest, lest the poor innocents should be heard crying and calling on them in the night. The Chinook Indians declare that the dead wake at night and get up in search of food. The Algonquin bring food to the grave for the nourishment of the shade which remains with the body after death. In doing this they had an object, which was the ghost in reality and not a hallucination to be resolved into nothingness by any philosophy of dreams. The Iroquois maintained that unless these rites of burial were performed the spirits would return to trouble their relatives and friends. In one of the cuneiform texts it is taught that the manes which are neglected by their relatives on earth succumb to hunger and thirst. As it is said, 'He whose body is left forgotten in the fields, his soul has no rest on earth. He whose soul no one cares for, the dregs of the cup, the remains of the repast, that which is thrown among the refuse of the street, that is all he has to nourish him.' The necessity that was felt for providing the dead with food will account for the Buddhist doctrine of non-immortality for the man who has no children. In this way; the manes need provisioning. The proper person to supply them is a son, and he who dies without a son to perform the sacrifice may be left like the poor souls in the Assyrian story who succumb to hunger and thirst and thus die out altogether as neglected starvelings. It is said in the Dattaka-Mimansa, 'Heaven awaits not one who is destitute of a son.' The Inuit likewise have a custom of giving a newborn son the name of someone who has lately died, in order 'that the departed may have rest in the tomb.' This is a mode of adopting a son for the service of the dead where the deceased may have had no son to make the offerings. Of all the charitable institutions on the earth's surface, the most remarkable, surely, is that of the Chinese Taoists called the Yu-Lan-Ui, or 'association for feeding the dead,' which collects supplies for the sustenance of the needy spirits who have no relations on earth to offer sacrifices to these paupers of the other world. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead the deceased prays that he may take possession in Amenta of the funeral meals that were and continue to be offered to him by his living friends on earth. 'Let me have possession of my funeral meals. Let me have possession of all things which are ritualistically offered for me in the nether world. Let me have possession of the table (of offerings) which was made for me on [p.158] earth, the solicitations which were uttered for me that he (I) may feed upon the bread of Seb.' This is the refrain to a kind of litany. In the vignettes to the Ritual and other scenes it is noticeable how the female mourners expose their breasts and as it were offer their nipples to the mummy on its way to the dead-house. This agrees with the scene in a funeral procession of the Badyas, in which the women lean over their dead companions and squeeze their milk into the mouth of the deceased. King Teta in the Pyramid Texts exults in Amenta that he is not left to suffer from hunger and thirst as a manes. He is not like one of those poor starvelings who are forced to eat the excrements and swallow the filth that is, as it were, the sewage of the life on earth. 'Hateful to Teta are hunger and thirst,' and from these he does not suffer. He is supplied with pure food and drink in plenty. Homer describes the spirits as rushing to lap or breathe the blood poured out in sacrifice. When Odysseus entered Hades and the blood was poured out, the shades that drank of it revived and spoke. The Zuni Indians of today reverence certain images or fetishes of the ancestral souls or spirits, which images they treat as their representatives of the dead. These are dipped into the blood that is offered in sacrifice. Whilst performing this rite they will say, 'My father, this day thou shalt refresh thyself with blood; with blood shalt thou enlarge thy heart!' The Indians of Virginia used to put children to death for a certain class of spirits to suck the blood, as they said, from the left breast. The Mexicans, who would sacrifice 50,000 human beings in one year, held that human blood was the only efficacious offering, and the purest was the most acceptable. Hence the sacrifice of infants and virgins. Offering the blood of the innocent to save the guilty, or those who feared for themselves, would lead to a doctrine of substitution and vicarious atonement which culminated as Christian in the frightful formula, 'Without blood there is no remission of sin!' Not merely human blood this time, but the ichor of a divine being who was made flesh on purpose to pour out the blood for the divine vengeance to lap in the person of a gory ghost of God. 'My father! This day shalt thou refresh thyself with blood!' That doctrine is but an awful shadow of the past—the shadow, as it were, of our earth in a far-off past that remains to eclipse the light of heaven in the present and darkens the souls of men today through this survival of savage spiritualism direfully perverted. The blood first offered as life for the dead was not given for the remission of sin.
The Peruvians spread the funeral feast, 'expecting the soul of the deceased' to come and eat and drink. The Bhils, among the hill tribes of India, offer 'provision for the spirit.' The North American Indians paid annual visits to the place of the dead, and made a feast to feed the spirits of the departed. The Amazulu prepare the funeral meal and say, 'There then is your food, all ye spirits of our tribe; summon one another. I am not going to say, "So-and-so, there is your food," for you are jealous. But thou, So-and-so, who art making this man ill, call the spirits come all of you to eat this food.' There were economical reasons against carrying the worship back too far when worship consisted mainly in [p.159] making offerings. A Yao will excuse himself from giving even to own grandfather. He gives to his father, and says, 'O father! I do not know all your relatives. You know them all invite them to feast with you.' Thus he makes his offering once for all, and saves expenses.
The funeral custom is almost universal for the mortuary meal to be made to feed the spirits of the departed, and communion with the ancestral spirits was an object of the totemic eucharist. The sacrifices offered to the dead, the burial rites and funerary ceremonies, generally imply the existence of a living consciousness to which the piteous appeal was made. The fact becomes visible in the mysteries of Amenta. And one of the greatest acts of sacrifice for the dead is shown in the funeral feast. In their funeral ceremonies the Yucatanese fasted for the sake of the dead. Now fasting for the sake of the dead in the most primitive sense was going without food that it might be given to the ghosts or spirit ancestors. The living fasted that the manes might be fed. And herein lies the true rationale of the funeral fast. This was no doubt the motive for the Haker-festival of the Egyptians, when the provisions were laid upon the altar as an offering to Osiris in his coffin. The word haker denotes both a festival and a fast; it also signifies starving, and starving with the view of giving the food thus saved to the spirits of the dead would be a really religious sacrifice. This festival that was celebrated by starving or fasting on behalf of the dead comes to its culmination in the season of Lent as a fast of forty days. In this originally the food of the living would be given as a sacrificial offering to the dead, or the ancestral spirits, or to the god who gave his life in food for men and animals. Here the Egyptian Lent or season of fasting for forty days is in the true position, as it followed and did not precede the death of Osiris. To have any real meaning, the fast which was ordained as a sacrifice of food for the dead was naturally celebrated after and not before the death, to constitute a funeral offering and 'to make that spirit live.' Going without the food and giving it as a sacrificial offering to the dead assuredly affords the proper explanation of the funeral festival that was celebrated as a solemn fast which finally passed into the Christian eucharist. The offering of blood to the dead is explained on the ground that the blood is the life; and the more blood shed, the more the life offered, the more precious the sacrifice. Further, the Tahitians thought the gods fed on the spirits of the dead, and therefore frequent sacrifices of human beings were made to supply them with spiritual diet. Blood, the liquid of life, was drink; spirit, the breath of life, was food. This should be compared with the Egyptian legend of Unas, who is fed on the spirits of gods. Also with the account of Horus-Sahu, the wild hunter, of whom it is said that he ate the great gods for his breakfast, the lesser ones for his dinner at noon, and the small ones for his evening meal. The doctrine is identical with that of the Tahitians. Prayers for the dead are continued when the offerings of food have ceased. The fasting survives when the practice has become a meaningless farce. The oblation of blood is still a religious rite. For flagellation that causes the blood to flow is closely akin to the self-gashings, lacerations, amputations, and immo- [p.160] lations of primitive mourners who made their personal sacrifice in this way at the grave. Also blood and spirit as an offering to the dead are still represented by the sacramental wine and bread.
Here it may be remarked that when modern ritualists swing their censers heavenwards and fill the church with clouds of incense, the rite, so far as it has any fundamental significance, is an act in the worship of the ancestral spirits. Breath, like blood, is an element of life, and this was represented by the smoke of the fire-offering and by fragrance-breathing incense in the primitive ritual of inner Africa, that was continued in ancient Egypt and afterwards in Rome. A breath of life is offered in the ascending fumes to give the spirits life, because the breath was once considered to be the soul of life. This was one of the elemental souls. Incense, truly typical and properly compounded in the Christian ritual, ought to include the seven elements in one soul of breathing life as an offering to the spirits of the dead, because the elemental souls were seven in number, and because the seven souls contributed to the making of the one eternal spirit. It has been said that savages believe their weapons to have souls in common with themselves, and therefore when they bury their dead they not only bury their weapons, they also break them, to set free the souls of the weapons to accompany the spirits of the warriors. The supposed reason is purely gratuitous and ignorantly European. The interpreters know nothing of the ancient sign-language as it was enacted in such typical customs as these. The breaking of the weapons or other things when offered to the dead is done as a sign of sacrifice. The object of the offering is sacrifice, and no sacrifice could be too great, no property too precious, as an offering to the spirits of the dead. When Mtesa, King of Uganda, died, over £10,000 worth of cloth, was buried with him as a sacrificial offering.
Herbert Spencer could find no origin for the idea of an afterlife save the conclusion which the savage draws from the notion suggested by dreams. But whatsoever dreams the savage had, they would become familiar in the course of time. He would learn that dreams had no power to externalize themselves in apparitions, had there been no ghosts or doubles of the dead. He would also learn readily enough, and the lesson would be perpetually repeated, that howsoever great his success when hunting in his dreams of the night, there was no game caught when he woke next morning. Clearly no reliance could be placed on dreams for establishing the ghost, any more than on the result of other dreams. Moreover, the same savage that is assumed to have panned out on dreams for a false belief also reports that he sees the spirits of the dead by abnormal vision and has the means of communicating with them But all the credulity of all the savages that ever existed cannot compete or be compared with the credulity involved in this belief or assumption that the ghost itself together with the customs, the ceremonies, the religious rites of evocation and propitiation, the priceless offerings, the countless testimonies to the veritability of abnormal vision, the universal practices for inducing that vision for the purpose of communicating with spiritual intelligences, had no other than a [p.161] subjective basis, and a false belief that the dream-shadow was the sole reality. Now, can one conceive anything more fatal to the claims made on behalf of evolution as a mode of nature's teaching than this assumption that man has universally been the victim of an illusion derived from a baseless delusion? If primitive men were the victims of a delusion which has been continued for thousands of years in defiance of all experience and observation, what guidance or trust could there be in evolution; or how are we to distinguish between the false product and the true if man dreamed the ghost into being when there was no ghost, if he has been so far the victim of his own Frankenstein as to found the whole body of his religious beliefs and customs on that which never existed? Primitive man was not a hundredth part so likely to be the victim of hallucination or diseased subjectivity as the modern. External nature is not hallucinative it is the scene of continuous education in primal or rudimentary and constantly recurring realities. His elemental spirits or forces were real, and not the result of hallucination; why not his ancestral spirits? Primitive or archaic man was not metaphysician enough to play the fool with facts in this way, to say nothing of his manufacturing facts from the fantasies and vanishing stomachic vapours from which dreams are continually made. A dreamer by night who became the condenser of his dreams by day, and then manufactured the ghost that no one ever saw or handled or heard or 'smelt out,' which ghost had no existence in verifiable reality, and yet had the power to haunt mankind inside of them for ever after! The aborigines knew better, whereas the Agnostics do not know.
It is not the people that see visions who are the visionaries. The true visionaries are the subjective-minded metaphysicians, who do not know a dream of the night from a vision of the day, and who can most easily blend the object and subject in one. The Kurnai distinguish between the imagery of dreams and the spirits seen by open vision. They say that whereas anyone may be able to communicate with 'ghosts' during sleep, it is only the spirit mediums or wizards who can do so in waking hours. A priest of the Fijian god Ndengi, describing his passing into the state of trance, said, 'My own mind departs from me, and then, when it is truly gone, my god speaks through me.' Unless a profound fanatic, a modern medium would not call the spirit that controlled him God, but the spirit of a person that had once been human and now was one of the ancestral spirits. There is nothing in all nature but the fact that will adequately account for the universal fear of the ghost. It is the fact alone that gives any rational explanation of the inarticulate faith. When once we admit the fact as operative reality the costly customs, the libations of life, the mysteries of belief, the propitiations of fear and proofs of affection, are all duly motived or amply explicated. Modern science has let loose a deluge of destruction that is fatal to the ignorant beliefs and the false faiths derived from misinterpreted mythology, but it will not efface one single fact nor uproot a single reality in nature. Gods and goddesses may defeature and dislimn, to pass away as fading phantoms of the nature powers, but the human ghost remains, and manifests today as ever, or more than ever, to the civilized as well as to the savage. [p.162] And if, as we maintain, these phenomena are a part of nature's reality, the methods of science once applied to them can but verify the fact and establish its veridical character. There is no possible way of knowing the truth except by interrogation of the phenomena themselves, not merely in the physical domain, but also in the region of intelligence, where you meet with an operator who has to be taken into partnership. The spiritualistic phenomena also confute the assertion of Spinoza to the effect that personality has no foothold in the world outside ourselves, for these intelligences whom we call 'spirits' are persons. They appear in the visible, audible, tangible, and palpable forms of personality. Not only as the persons who are called 'the dead,' but also as phantoms of the living, eidolons, recognizable feature by feature, of individuals who were not yet dead. The ghost of the living as a visible reality has been seen out of the body in this life, as Goethe saw his other self, which tends to double the evidence for the existence of the ghost of the dead. The English Society for Psychical Research has collected over a thousand cases of the phantasms of the living.
The 'science of religion' with the ghost left out is altogether meaningless. The ghost offers the one unique objective proof of spiritual existence, and the doings and sayings of the ghost, whether it be apparent or concealed, still furnish the data of modern as of ancient spiritualism.
Religion proper commences with and must include the idea of or desire for another life. And the warrant for this is the ghost and the faculties of abnormal seership. It has been urged by some writers that religion began with the worship of death and the apotheosis of the corpse. But ancestor worship in all lands was a worship of the ancestral spirits, not a cultus of the corpse. The spirits were the ancestors; the ancestors were spirits. The awe excited by the dead is caused by the active ghost of the dead, not by the motionless corpse. The sacrifices offered to the dead are made to propitiate the living ghost of the dead, not the corpse. It was the fact that the ghost might return and did return and make itself apparent, with the power to manifest displeasure or revenge, that made the revenant so fearsome in the early stages of 'ghost worship.' Dread of the ghost and the desire to placate so uncanny a visitant will account for propitiation of the ghosts.
The truth is that the Christian cult is the one and only religion in the world that was based upon the corpse instead of the resurrection in spirit. In no other religion is continuity in spirit made dependent on the resurrection of the earthly body. The Christians mistook the risen mummy in Amenta for the corpse that was buried on earth, whereas the Egyptian religion was founded on the rising again of the spirit from the corpse as it was imaged in the resurrection of Amsu-Horus transforming from the mummy-Osiris, and by the human soul emerging alive from the body of dead matter. There is no instance recorded in all the experience of spiritualists ancient or modern of the corpse coming back from the tomb. And this religion founded on the risen corpse is naturally losing all hold of the world. It has failed because immortality or the continuity of personality could not be based upon a reappearing corpse. The so-called worship of ancestors [p.163] depended entirely on the ancestors being considered living, conscious, acting and recipient spirits, and not as corpses mouldering in the earth. This furnished the sole raison d'être for all the sacrificial offerings, the life, the blood, the food, the choicest and costliest things that could be given to the dead. Those whom we call 'the dead' were to them the veritable living in superhuman forms possessing superhuman powers. The Egyptian Amenta is the land of the ever-living. Sacrifices to the dead were not senselessly offered to the senseless corpse, but to the spirit personage that was its late inhabitant, still alive, and supposed to be needing material nourishment from the well-known elements of life. In an Australian funeral ceremony it was customary for the relatives of the deceased to cut themselves until the corpse and burial place were covered with their blood. This was done, they said, to give the dead man strength and enable him to rise in another country. By which they meant a survival of the living spirit, not a resurrection of the buried body. The corpse is not, and could not be, the starting point of worship when the sacrifice was eaten quiveringly alive, with the flesh warm and the blood welling forth from every wound. That is when there was no corpse, and neither was there any death. The life was taken and converted into other life, the life of the children, tribe, or clan, and was continued on that line. It was also continued on another line in the spirit life. Again we say there was no death in our modern acceptation of the term. The burial customs, rites, and ceremonies one and all, from the remotest times, were founded in the faith that the departed still lived on in spirit. In the earliest mode of interment known the dead were buried for rebirth. The corpse was bound up in the foetal likeness of the embryo in utero, and placed in the earth as in the mother's womb, the type being continued in the womb-shaped burial vase of the potters. This, however, did not denote a resurrection of the body, but was symbolical of rebirth in spirit. Not only were the dead elaborately prepared for the spiritual rebirth; many symbols of reproduction and emblems of the resurrection were likewise buried in the tomb as amulets and fetish figures of protecting power. The corpse and spirit are distinguished in the resurrection scenes of the Egyptian Ritual by the black shade laid out upon the ground and the ka-image of continued life. The corpse and spirit are shown together as the twofold entity when the Chinese, amongst others, kindle candles round the coffin, 'to give light to the spirit which remains with the corpse.' One Egyptian picture shows the ba-soul nestling to the body on the funeral couch in an attitude of the tenderest solicitude; with its hands placed over the non-beating heart of the mummy. The Australian Kurnai likewise hold that the ghost of the deceased comes back to take a look at its mortal remains. A native speaking of this to Howitt said, 'Sometimes the Murup comes back and looks down into the grave, and it may say, "Hallo, there is my old possum rug, there are my old bones."' The Fijians practise one of the naivest customs for preventing a deceased woman from manifesting as an apparition. In life her only garment was the liku or waist [p.164] fringe which she wore as a cover for her nakedness. In death this little apron is purposely left upon her body with the strings untied, so that if the poor thing should rise up with a desire to return, her only bit of clothing will fall from her, and she will be forced, from delicacy of feeling, to crouch down again in shame and confusion, and thus be unable to show herself to the living.
Now it was known that no Fijian corpse had ever risen and returned from the tomb. It was also known that the consciousness thus appealed to was not that of the corpse. This therefore was an appeal in sign-language pathetically made to the manes or spirit of the departed not to come back and trouble the living. When the bodies of the dead (or living) were buried at the base of a building, it was not for any service that could be rendered by the rotting body, but for the spirit to become a protecting power in Siam when a new city gate was erected the first four or eight people passing were seized and buried beneath it as 'guardian angels.' Under the gates of Mandalay human victims were buried alive to furnish 'spirit watchers.' Everywhere the spirit or ghost, not the corpse, is the object of religious regard. And as no corpse was ever known by any race of people to return from the grave, the practices that were intended to prevent the dead from coming back were not aimed at the corpse, to whom they did not apply, but to the alleged living consciousness of the spirit that was represented by the double. Hence the custom of eating or of burying the victim whilst alive.
Brough Smyth describes a birraark or medium as lying on his stomach beside the dead body whilst speaking to the spirit of the deceased, receiving and reporting the messages given to him by the spirits dead man. The birraark of the Kurnai were declared to be initiated into their mysteries by the spirits or mrarts whom they met in the bush, and it was from the spirits of the dead they obtained their replies when they were consulted by members of the tribe. Spirits of the dead appear to the living and address them in their own language, as when the Eskimo mother comes back to her boy by day to cheer him and says, 'Be not afraid; I am thy mother, and love thee still.' The Mandan Indians arrange the skulls of their dead in a circle. The widows know the skulls of their former husbands, and the mothers know the skulls of their children. The skulls so placed form the spirit-circle in which the women sit for intercourse with the souls of the departed. 'There is scarcely an hour in a pleasant day but more or less of these women may be seen sitting or lying by the skull of their child or husband, talking to it in the most pleasant and endearing language that they can use (as they were wont to do in former days), and seemingly getting an answer back.' John Tanner bears witness to the reality of these phenomena amongst the Indian Medamen. He was himself inducted into the state of abnormal seership, and saw a spirit in the shape of a young man, who said to him, 'I look down upon you at all times, and it is not necessary you should call me with such loud cries.' The Marian Islanders held that the spirits of the dead returned to talk with them. [p.165] The dead bodies of their ancestors were desiccated and kept in their huts for the purpose of spirit-communion, and oracles were supposed to be given from their skulls. This tends to identify at least one motive for making and preserving the mummy. A custom of the Acagehemen Indians is peculiarly enlightening in relation to totemic spiritualism. At seven years of age the children are, or used to be, thrown into a trance by the medicine-men in order that they might learn from their spirit guides which of the zootypes, beast, bird, reptile, or what not, was to be adopted for the child's own personal totem. This, according to the present reading of the data, was a mode of identifying the particular power represented by the totemic zootype, and a means of affiliating the child, now become an individual, to the power (the later god) for the protection thus sought, and this power was figured and visualized by the totemic zootype. Thus the personal totem which was seen by the child in trance was a prototype of the spiritual support extended to the novice by a protector in the spirit world. So when the Inuit novice had prepared his body to become the temple of some spirit, he would call upon the genius (or ka) to take up its abode with him. The spirit invoked sends some totemic animal, an otter or badger or other zootype, for him to kill and flay and clothe himself with the skin. By this means he is supposed to obtain the power of running wild or of making his transformation into the animal that images the superhuman power. The tongue of the beast is then cut out and worn as the medicine, the fetish, charm, or gris-gris of the initiate. This again, to all appearance, is equivalent to the Child-Horus becoming the Word.
We now turn to the chief human agent in the production of abnormal phenomena, namely, the spiritual medium. As usual, we make use of the Egyptian wisdom for guidance in the past. A human soul had been discreted and discriminated from the animistic and totemic souls and personalized in Horus as the child of the blood-mother. This was Horus in the flesh, or in matter. A divine soul was then imaged as the Horus who had died and risen again in spirit from the dead. The powers previously extant had been united and continued as 'the Seven Souls of Ra.' We read of these in the Ritual, where they are the seven elemental powers that were divinized as the 'Ancestors of Ra,' those who preceded him in time, but are now 'in his following.' Ra is the self-originated invisible and eternal being, the father in spirit who is not to be apprehended save through the mediumship of Horus the son; that is, Horus in spirit who bears witness for the father in his resurrection from the dead by testifying to the hidden source of an eternal life, the Horus who says in the Ritual, 'I am the Everlasting One; Witness of Eternity is my name.' In him the human Horus divinized in death became the spirit medium of the father-god. Ra the Holy Spirit was now the source of a divine descent for human souls, who were consequently higher in status than the earlier gods that were but elemental powers, and higher than the mother-soul which had been incarnated in the human Horus. These were ever-living souls, and born immortals, who were looked upon in many lands as divine beings manifesting in the human form. A spirit that lived for ever was now the supreme [p.166] type of the human soul. The king who never dies, that is, the divine personage in human form, now took the place of the turtle that never died, or the Bull of Eternity, or any other totemic type of the elemental and prehuman soul. The king who never dies impersonates the immortal in man, who was the royal Horus in the Kamite eschatology. 'The king is dead, long live the king!' is an ancient doctrine of human Horus dying to rise again as royal Horus the ever-living, who was the typical demonstrator of a life eternal as Horus the born immortal. The king who ever lives is a human figure of the immortal born from the dead. Egyptian kings were not directly deified. The human Ra was an image of the divine Ra, a likeness of the superhuman power. In various texts the pharaoh is called the ka of the god, the image and likeness, and to that the worship was indubitably directed. It was as the living representative of divinity that the Ra or Pharaoh was adored by the Egyptians. In this character the king himself is portrayed in the act of worshipping his own ka, or divine eidolon—the god imaged within and by himself. In both cases the worship was no mere flattery of the mortal man; it was meant for the ever-living immortal. The pharaoh was the representative of Ra on earth. So was it in Africa beyond. The Master of Whiddah said of himself, 'I am the equal of God; such as you behold me, I am his complete portrait.' This as Egyptian would be the ka-image of the god. The person who, as reckoned, now inherited a soul that was thought to be immortal verily shared in a nature that was superior to any of the elemental forces, such as those of wind and earth and water, even the sun, or the blood of Isis, the highest of them all and over these the spirit-born, or second-born, assumed the mastery or claimed supremacy. They themselves were of spiritual origin, and as spirits they were superhuman on a higher plane than any merely animistic powers, who, like the Polynesian Tuikilakila, chief of Somosomo, also claimed to be a god. Mendieta in his report of the Mexican gods tells us, 'Others said that only such men had been taken for gods who transformed themselves or (who) appeared in some other shape and did or spake something while in that shape beyond (the ordinary) human power.' The Mexicans were here speaking of their trance-mediums. They entered the state of trance for their transformation, and in that condition manifested superhuman or spiritual powers that were looked upon as divine. Amongst all races of people such men were divinized under whatsoever name, as mediums, mediators, and links between two worlds. In this phase the transformers were those who entered the state of trance. This asserted superiority over the powers of the elements is one cause of the claims made by or accredited to the divine mediums, preposterous enough at times, with regard to their superhuman control of the elements as rain-makers and rulers of the weather. The supernormal faculty of the seer and sorcerer is the sole root of reality from which the fiction springs. The Mexican kings, on assuming the sovereignty, were sworn to make the sun shine, the clouds to give forth rain, the rivers to flow, and the earth to produce abundantly. The Inuit Angekok has to [p.167] play the part of 'great provider' to the people, as master of the elements on which plenty of food depends, the water for fish and the air for returning birds of passage. Such mediums were a sort of titular, not actual, masters over the elemental powers, as a result of their asserted higher origin. A line of priest-kings founded on this basis of divinity was at one time extant in the island of Niué, in the South Pacific. Being the representative of deity, the monarch was made responsible for the growth of food, and in times of dearth he was put to death because of a failure in the crops. So exigent were the people that at last no one would consent to become king, and so the monarchy expired.
The immortal in man being more immediately demonstrated by spiritual manifestation and the abnormal phenomena of trance and interior vision, the mediums were the first divine persons who demonstrated the facts of spirit existence and spirit intercourse. And such were the earliest born immortals. They had the witness within. But those who were not mediums had to attain assurance as best they could; they had to make use of the others. Paul speaks of not being certain of his own immortality. But he presses on to see if by any means he may attain to the resurrection from the dead. This led to a doctrine of conditional immortality that was universal, and to a theory of the mediums or mediators being divine personages or born immortals, like the second Horus, who was the first fruits of them that previously slept. The earliest guidance then was spiritual on this ground. The aboriginal priest-king or divine person was looked to as a ruler and leader in this world on account of his abnormal relationship to the other. He was the demonstrator of a soul that was the first considered to be ever-living. This divine descent was based upon the derivation from the god in spirit who was now superior to all other gods, and who in the Egyptian religion is Ra the Holy Spirit. The three highest ranks in Egypt were the divine, the royal, and the noble, and the three were distinguished from each other by their peculiar type of beard. Thus the loftiest rank was spiritual, and this primacy originated not in men becoming bishops, but in their possessing those spiritual powers and faculties which have been repudiated and expurgated by the Churches of orthodox Christianity, but which were looked upon of old as verily divine. We also learn from Synesius' Logos Aiguptios, quoted by Heeren, that in electing a monarch, whereas the vote of a soldier was reckoned as one, the vote of a prophet or seer was counted as one hundred. The Egyptian priesthood pre-eminently exemplifies the idea that the incarnating power made use of certain persons as sacred agents, male or female, for such a purpose. Hence the higher order of priests were known as fathers in god. They were supposed to share in the divine nature, with power to communicate the holy spirit to others who desired to partake of its benefits. The insufflation of the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands by modern religious impostors who do but parody the ancient custom without knowledge is a relic of the sacred rite. The spiritualistic medium was originally revered not because he was a priest or king, not on account of his earthly office, but because of his being an intercessor with the superhuman powers on behalf of mortals. Among the Zulu Kaffirs the [p.168] mere political chief has been known to steal the medicines and fetish charms, the information and the magical vessel of the diviner and seer, on purpose to confer the sacred authority on himself and then to put the spiritual ruler to death and take his place, which is similar to the method of the Christians in getting rid of the pagans and stealing the appurtenances of their religion, and ruling without their 'open vision.' Among the Hottentots the 'greatest and most respected old men of the clan' are the seers and prophesiers, or the mediums of spirit intercourse. Their practical religion, says Dr. Hahn, consists of a 'firm belief in sorcery and the arts of the living medicine-man on the one hand, and on the other belief in and adoration of the powers of the dead.' That is the religion of all ancient spiritualism distinguished from animism, and it is universal amongst the aboriginal races. The spirits of the dead are accepted as operative realities. They are dreaded or adored according to the mental status of the spiritualists, and the sorcerers, magi, the medicine-men, the witches, and witch doctors are the spirit mediums employed as the accepted and established means of communication. Also witches, wizards, sorcerers, shamans, and other abnormals who had the power of going out of the body in this life were feared all the more after death by many tribes because they had demonstrated the facts which caused such fear and terror; they had also been their exorcists and layers of the ghost whose protective influence was now lost to the living. One way of denoting that such beings were heavenly or of divine descent was signified by the custom of not allowing them to touch the ground with their feet. This was not an uncommon kind of taboo applied to the divine personage as representative of the god. It was a mode of showing that he was not of the earth earthy, and therefore he was heavenly, or something between the earth and heaven, like Horus, who was 'the connecting link' in spirit. It was because he was reckoned of divine descent that the king or other form of the ruler was not allowed to show the ordinary signs of age, decay, and decrepitude, nor to die a natural death like any mere mortal, but was put to death in his prime whilst robust and vigorous, and, as the saying is, 'full of spirit.' The Japanese Mikado was carried on men's shoulders because it was detrimental to his divinity for him to go afoot. One account of him says, 'It was considered as a shameful degradation for him even to touch the ground with his foot.' These were the divine kings, like the Egyptian ank, the everlasting ones, the born immortals among men. This mode of doing honour and conferring dignity has its survivals in the custom of 'chairing' or carrying the hero of the hour on the shoulders of those whose desire to elevate him beyond a footing of equality with themselves of common ground also in the practice of taking the horses out of the hero's carriage, when human beings take the place and position of beasts.
It may be that there were other reasons than the one assigned one a previous page for the crucial seclusion of the girls at the period puberty. It is probable that they were at the same time initiated in mysteries of mediumship. Seeing that it was a practice for pubescent lads to be initiated into the mysteries of seership and made medium [p.169] of at the time they were made into men, it is more than probable that the girls were also inducted into the mysteries of trance at the time of their pubescent transformation. This would explain the extreme length of time during which the girls were often secluded from all eyes save those of their female overseers. We hear of the boys being kept in their isolation and practised upon until they did see. Why not the girls? Clairvoyance was 'the vision and the faculty divine,' the 'beatific vision' of all the early races. It was sought for and cultivated, prized and protected, as the most precious of all human gifts, and the possessor was held to be divine. The girls who were secluded for the serpent's visit would, as spirit mediums, become the oracles of the serpent wisdom, and as mediums they would attain to primitive divinity. Moreover, when the typical serpent visits the Basuto virgin her limbs are plastered over with white clay and her face is covered by a mask. This denotes her transformation into a superior being of a spiritual order, which she would become as a spirit medium. This suggestion finds support from a story that is told by the Kirgis of Siberia. The daughter of a khan was kept shut up in a dark iron house so that no man might look upon her. She was attended by an old woman. When the girl attained her maidenhood she said to the old woman, 'Where do you go so often?' 'My child,' said the old woman, 'there is a bright world. In that bright world your father and mother live, and all sorts of people dwell; that is where I go.' Obviously this other world was entered in the state of trance as well as at the time of death. The maiden said, 'Good mother, I will tell nobody, but show me that bright world.' So the old woman took the girl out of the dark iron house. But when the girl saw the bright world she fainted and fell. And the eye of God fell on her and she conceived. This was evidently in the hypnotic swoon that was induced by the aged woman, who thus initiated the maiden into the mysteries of mediumship at the period of her puberty.
According to Mansfield Parkyns, the greater number of the mediums or possessed persons among the Abyssinians were women. It is the same today in modern spiritual phenomena. Also in ancient Egypt the woman was held to be the superior medium as seer and diviner. Duff Macdonald says of the Yao people: 'Their craving for clearer manifestations of the deity is satisfied through the prophetess. She may be the principal wife of the chief. In some cases a woman without a husband will be set apart for the god (or spirit). The god comes to her with his commands at night. She delivers the message in a kind of ecstasy. She speaks (as her name implies) with the utterance of a person raving with excitement. During the night of the communication her ravings are heard resounding all over the village.' It was as a medium for spirit communication that the witch or wise woman attained her pre-eminence in the past and her evil character in the present. Witchcraft is but the craft of wisdom; witches were the wise in a primitive sense and in ways considered to be magical for assignable reasons. But witchcraft and wizardry, magic and 'miracle,' would be meaningless apart from primitive spiritualism. The witch as abnormal seer and revealer was the most ancient form of the mother's wisdom. The [p.170] spirit medium was the nearest approach to a human divinity. He or she was the born immortal who demonstrated the existence in this life of a soul or spirit beyond or outside of the body for a life hereafter. And as he or she was the demonstrator of that soul, they were the first to be accredited with the possession of such a soul, and this possession constituted him or her as born immortal. The Tongans hold that it is not everyone who possesses a spiritual part capable of living a separate existence in Bolutu, the Tongan Amenta. Only the Egi, or chiefs, are credited with the possession of enduring souls in the life on earth. The status of these souls of the nobles is well shown when it is said they cannot return to earth in the old totemic guise of lizards, water-snakes, or porpoises. Not these, but the ghost, or double, is the one witness for the ever-living souls. The Fijians, amongst others, declare that only the select few have souls which are inherently immortal. Thus, when the ordinary Egyptian entered Amenta he, like Paul, was by no means certain of his enduring soul. This had to be attained, and his pilgrimage and progress to that end are portrayed in the drama of the Ritual, as will be hereafter shown. It is quite common for the old dark races to be despised and badly treated by the more modern as the people who have no souls. They are not looked upon as human beings, but are denounced as wild beasts, reptiles, monkeys, dog-men, bush-men, men with tails, and it is here explained how it was they had no souls. They were the preliminary people, who only had totemic souls which were born of the elements and only represented the elemental or prehuman soul. An arresting instance is mentioned by Howitt in which a group of the Australian aborigines ceased to use their own totemic name and called their children after a celebrated seer or medium. In doing this they were affiliating the fatherless ones to a higher type than that of the old totemic elemental soul. This was the soul whose origin was held to be divine, as demonstrated by the supranormal faculties of the birraark or spirit medium. The Incas of Peru were a superior race, who had souls, whereas the aborigines were looked down upon as the people without souls. The Incas on account of this superior soul, were also born immortals or the ever-living ones, whose name of the Inca agrees with that of the Egyptian ank, the king, or the ankh, as the ever-living. Such persons did not originate in kings and emperors or as earthly rulers merely mortal. Under whatsoever personal title or type, the divine or semi-divine character was primarily derived from intercourse with spirits or the gods, and the consequent extension of human faculty in the abnormal phase of mediumship. The people of East Central Africa, says Santos, 'regard their king as the favourite of the souls of the dead, and think that he learns from them all that passes in his dominions.' This identifies the king in this case with the spiritual medium, and points to the origin of the priest-king in the same character. The fitaure of the Senegambian Sereres, who is the chief and priest in one, is a spirit medium, with power over the souls of the living and the spirits of the dead. 'Every West African tribe,' says Miss Kingsley, 'has a secret society—two, in fact, one for men, one for women. Every free man has to pass through the secret society of his tribe. If during [p.171] this education the elders of the society discover that a boy is what is called in Calabar an ebumtup (a medium), a person who can see spirits, they advise that he should be brought up to the medical profession.' In Kimbunda the sova or chief is the religious centre of his tribe. He is their wise man, their seer, their supreme man of abnormal powers. The religion, according to Magyar[171a], consists in making sacrifices to the ghosts of their ancestors, the richest offerings being made to the sova. The faculty of seeing and foreseeing formed the basis of their power over the common people. The mchisango or witch-doctor of the Yao and other Central African tribes, who is called by Stanley the 'gourd-and-pebble man,' is the person sought by the people in all their profoundest perplexities. The man of mental medicine still keeps his place and holds his own against the doctors who deal in physics. He invokes his spirits by means of a rattle made of a dried gourd with small pebbles inside it. 'Some of these diviners,' says the Rev. Duff Macdonald, 'are the most intelligent men in the country.' The same account is given by Messrs Spencer and Gillen of the Arunta spirit mediums and medicine-men in Central Australia.
The divine man was the diviner, the seer, the sorcerer, the spirit medium with all the early races. In the Marquesan and the South Sea Islands the divine man was supreme, whether he was a priest, a king, or only a person of inferior birth and station. If he had the supernormal faculty, the mana, he was the human representative of divinity on that account. 'Among the Solomon Islanders,' says Mr Codrington, 'there is nothing to prevent any man becoming a chief, if he can show that he is in possession of the mana—that is, the abnormal, mediumistic, or supernormal power.' The Egyptian magical power will explain the mana of the Melanesians, described by Dr Codrington as a power derived from all the powers of nature that were recognized. They are not in the mental position of thinking they can derive their mana directly from a god that is postulated as the one spiritual source of power. The powers recognized in nature are various, and were recognized because they were superhuman though not supernatural. Hence their influence was solicitously sought to augment the human. The unseen powers were operant in nature from the first as elemental forces which man would like to wield if he only knew the way to gain alliance with them and to share the power. 'The mana,' says Dr Codrington, 'can exist in almost anything. Disembodied souls or supernatural beings have it and can impart it, and it belongs essentially to personal beings who originate it, though it may act through the medium of water, or a stone or a bone.' That is, it can be gathered from the powers that were pre-personal and elemental, as well as from the ancestral spirits who are personal. The Melanesian gathering his mana may be seen in the manes of the Egyptian Ritual in the act of collecting his magical power. Here the mana is magical, and it is described as the great magic ur-heka which is formulated for use as the word of power that can be directed at will by the manes in possession of it. The soul of the deceased has great need of this superhuman power in his passage through Amenta. It is by means of this he opens the doors that are closed against him, makes [p.172] his transformations, and conquers the direst of all difficulties. He collects his magical charm or word of power from every place and thing in which it exists and from which it rays out. 'Behold,' he exclaims, 'I bring my magical charms which I have collected from every quarter,' more persistently than the hounds of chase and more swiftly than the light. In this way he is drawing influence from the nature powers as well as from the ancestral spirits.
At a later stage of the present inquiry it will be shown how the Egyptian eschatology was formulated in the mould of the mythology. The typical seven souls in the one are repeated as a type in the other. The seven elemental powers were continued as the seven souls of Ra, and are described as 'the ancestors of Ra.' Thus, when the personality of the deceased is reconstituted in Amenta for the after life, it is on the foundation of these seven external souls, the highest of which is represented by the 'ka.' The seventh in the series of souls was personified in the human Horus, and this is the first soul to rise again and to be repeated after death as Horus in spirit. When it is said of the Egyptian king that spirit constitutes his personality, he is Horus in spirit, the representative of Ra—the ka, or living likeness of the god on earth. The ka-image, then, is the type of this, the enduring personality. With the Pelew Islanders the divine man is a spirit medium called a korong—that is, if the power be permanent; in other words, if he is naturally a medium, he is a korong. But they distinguish between the born korong and a person who may be temporarily possessed. The office of korong is not hereditary, and when the korong dies the manifestation of the spirit or the divine afflatus in another medium is eagerly awaited. This is looked upon here, as elsewhere, as a new incarnation of the god, which shows that the reincarnation was one of the power and not the personality of the korong. It was the power of seership, not the individual soul of the seer, that returned in the new avatar; hence the same power was not dependent on the return of the same person. The power may be manifested by some one of very lowly origin, but he is forthwith exalted to the highest place as a divine being. Those who are ignorant of the facts of abnormal experience are entirely 'out of it,' both as students and teachers of anthropology. The most important of all data concerning the origins of religion have to be omitted from their interpretation of the past of man, or, what is far worse, obfuscated with false or baseless explanations.
The wizards who are reverenced by the Australian Kurnai are those who can 'go up aloft' and bring back information from the spirits of the departed commonly known in many lands as 'the ancestral spirits.'
The spiritual medium ruled as a seer, a sorcerer, a diviner, a healer, who foresaw and uttered oracles, revealed superior knowledge by supernal power, and was looked up to as a protector, a guardian spirit, because he was held to be in league with the spirit world; very divinity in a human form. The divine kings, the spiritual emperors, the gods in human guise, the 'supernatural' beings, the intercessors for common people, whether male or female, were incalculably earlier than the physical force hero, the political ruler, or the ritualistic [p.173] priest. Hence it is amongst the most undeveloped races, like the African and Melanesian, that these preserve their early status still. We have a survival of this status of the spirit medium in a modified form when the priest is called in as exorcist of spirits because he represents the wise man or wizard, in whom Latinity has taken the place of the ancient wisdom. Thus when the ghost of Hamlet's father appears, Marcellus says, 'Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio!' Some of the most degraded aborigines among the dark races of India still keep the position of superior people in relation to the neighbouring tribes on account of their being the masters of magical arts and the mediums of spirit intercourse. The Burghers of the Neilgherry Hills have the custom of getting one of the neighbouring tribe of Curumbars to sow the first handful of seed and to reap the first sheaf of corn, evidently for mystical reasons, as the Curumbars are reputed to be great sorcerers, and therefore the influence sought is spiritualistic which they are accredited with possessing. From the first sheaf thus reaped cakes are made to be offered as an oblation of first-fruits and eaten together with the flesh of a sacrificial animal in a sacramental meal. Spirit mediums being considered divine beings, or immortals in a mortal guise, like the Manushya Devah, have been looked to as the purveyors of a diviner essence than the protozoa of the ordinary mortal male for the procreation of children. 'Roman ladies,' says Réclus, 'flung themselves into the arms of the thaumaturgists, whom they took for quasi-divine beings able to bestow intenser pleasure and a superior progeny.' The medium was looked upon as a being loftily transcendent, a channel of communication for the gods and the glorified in their intercourse with mortals. The Eskimos are not only willing but anxious that their Angekoks or spirit mediums should have sexual intercourse with their wives, so that they may secure children superior to those of their own personal begetting. The Angekok is looked upon as a medium for the descent of the holy spirit, and as such he is chosen to initiate young girls into the mystery of marriage. Those men who afterwards take the young women for wives consider this connection with the divine man a preparatory purification for motherhood. With other races it was looked upon as a religious rite for the bride to cohabit with the holy man or medium on the night before her marriage. There are instances, as on the Malabar coast, in which the bridegroom sees the holy man to lie with his wife the first night after marriage. With the Cambodians, the right to spend the first night with the bride was the prerogative of the priest. The Burmese great families have each their spiritual director, to whom they send their daughter before her wedding night, and, according to the official phrase, 'pay him the homage of the flower of virginity.' A Brahman priest complained to Weitbrecht the missionary that he was the spiritual purifier in this sense to no fewer than ten different women, not one of whom was his own wife. According to Wilken, the Arabs act in the same way in order that the offspring may be ennobled. This practice—this desire for being ennobled—may have led to its being claimed as a right, the [p.174] jus prima noctis, or right of the feudal lord to sleep the first night with his vassal's new-made bride. The primitive religious feeling would give the profoundest sanction to the phallic rite. Descending from the chief as a medium to the man whose supremacy was acknowledged on account of his courage, we find it was a custom with the Spartans for a husband to select a hero or brave man to lie with his wife to beget heroic offspring. The offices of king, priest, or clergyman remain, but the vision and the faculty divine have fled. The king survives without the seal of sovereignty, the priest without his spiritual influence, divines without divinity. The religious doctors still practise, but they are no longer of the healing faculty. The curates cannot cure. False diplomas take the place of the genuine warrant. The once living link considered to be the ever-living one is now the missing link betwixt two worlds. Indeed, this was prepensely broken by the Christians, and that spiritualism was cast out as devilish which all Gnostics held to be divine. Blindness through believing a lie has taken the place of the 'open vision' which was sought of old. The priests remain as mediums, without the mediumistic faculty; but they still take the tithe and receive payment for performing the magical rites as qualified intermediaries between the gods and men or women. Nor is the belief in their spiritual potency as fathers in God entirely extinct.
The theory and practice of magic were fundamentally based on spiritualism. The greatest magician or sorcerer, witch or wizard, was the spirit medium. The magical appeal made in mimetic sign-language was addressed to superhuman powers as the operative force. The spirits might be elemental or ancestral, but without the one or the other there was no such thing as magic or sovereignty. In one of its most primitive aspects magic was a mode of soliciting and propitiating the superhuman elemental powers or animistic spirits, the want, the wish, the intention, or command being acted and chiefly expressed in sign-language. In another phase it was the application of secret knowledge for the production of abnormal phenomena for the purpose of consulting the ancestral spirits. The hypnotic power of the serpent over its victims was recognized as magical. This is shown in the Ritual when the speaker says to the 'serpent that goeth on his belly,' 'I am the man who puts a veil (of darkness) on thy head.' 'I am the great magician.' 'Thine eyes have been given to me, and through them I am glorified.' He has wrested the magical power called its strength from the serpent by taking possession of its eyes, and by this means he is the great magician. Black magic has its secrets only to be muttered in the dark. In the mysteries of the obeah and voodoo cults it was held that the starveling ghosts could be evoked by offerings of blood, and that they were able to materialize the more readily and become visible in the fumes of this physical element of life. Other mysteries of primitive spiritualism might be cited. For example, Miss Kingsley, who was so profoundly impressed on the subject of African 'fetishism,' mentions a class of women who had committed adultery with spirits, and who were recognized as human outcasts by the natives of West Africa, and consequently accursed.
Sexual commerce between human sensitives and spirits is known alike to the aboriginal races and to modern mediums. Telepathic communication of mind with mind directed by the power of will even without words was a mode of magic practised by the primitive spiritualists. All that is nowadays effected under the names of hypnotism, mesmerism, or human magnetism was known of old as magic. In Egyptian the word heka, for magic, means to charm, enchant, or ensnare; it also signifies thought and rule—ergo, thought as ruling power was a mode of magic; and the god Taht, the ruling power of thought, the thinker personified, was the divine magician, mainly as the transformer in the moon. One mode of exercising magical power practised by Australian medicine-men, though not limited to them, is to point at the person who is being operated on with a stick or bone. This is done to render the person unconscious. Therefore the 'pointing-stick' thus used is a kind of magic wand, equivalent to the disk of the modern mesmerist intended to fix attention and induce the condition of coma. Pointing with the stick was naturally preceded by pointing with the fingers, as in modern hypnotism. The 'magnetic fluid' of the modern mesmerist was known to the African mystery-men from time immemorial. This again corresponds to the magical fluid of the Egyptians called the 'sa,' which was imparted from one body to another by the laying on of hands or making passes as in hypnotizing. The sa was a sort of ichor that circulated in the veins of the gods and the glorified. This they could communicate to mortals, and thus give health, vigour, and new life. Maspero says the gods themselves were not equally charged with the sa. Some had more, some less, their energy being in proportion to the quantity. Those who possessed most gave willingly of their superfluity to those who lacked, and all could readily transmit the virtue of it to mankind. This transfusion was most easily accomplished in the temples. 'The king or any ordinary man who wished to be impregnated presented himself before the statue of the god, and squatted at its feet with his back to the statue. The statue then placed its right hand on the nape of his neck, and by making passes caused the fluid to flow from it and to accumulate in him as in a receiver.' By transmitting their sa of life to mortals the gods continually needed a fresh supply, and there was a lake of life in the northern heaven, called the Lake of Sa, whither they went to draw the magical ichor and recruit their energies, when exhausted, at this celestial fount of healing. Khunsu Nefer-hetep, the great god, giver of oracles in Thebes, was the caster-out of demons, the driver-away of obsessing spirits; and in the story of The Possessed Princess his statue is sent for by the Chief of Bakhten to exorcise an evil spirit that has taken possession of his daughter. This is effected by the god imparting the sa, from the magical power of which the evil demon flees.
Magic has been described as a system of superstition that preceded religion. But magical ceremonies and incantations are religious, inasmuch as they are addressed to superhuman powers. Magical ceremonies were religious rites. If religion signifies a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man, it is not necessarily opposed to magic, which supplied the most ready means of influencing such [p.176] powers that were postulated as extant. Various modes of so-called 'sympathetic magic' have been practised in making a primitive appeal to the powers. The Tshi-speaking people have a magical ceremony, the name of which denotes an invocation to the gods for pity and protection. In time of war the wives of the men who are with the army dance publicly stark naked through the town, howling, shrieking, gesticulating, and brandishing knives and swords like warriors gone insane. And from head to foot their bodies are painted of a dead-white colour. Dancing in a state of nudity was a mode in which the women showed the natural magic of the sex. Being all in white, they danced as spirits in the presence of the powers, whether sympathetic or not whilst soliciting aid and protection for their men engaged in battle. In magic there was also a sense of binding as the root idea of religion, far beyond the meaning of the word 'religio' in Latin. The bond or tie had been magical before it was moral, as we find it in the 'bonds of gesa' and other modes of binding by means of magical spells. One mode of compelling spirits was by the making of a tie, and of tying knots as a mode of acting the desire or of exhibiting controlling power. The most primitive and prevalent type of the African gris-gris is a magical tie. The magic of this proceeding was on the same plane as the utterance of the 'words that compel,' only the intent was visibly enacted in the language of signs, howsoever accompanied in the language of sounds. The character of the fetish-man was continued by the Christian priest. According to the promise made to Peter in the gospels, it is said, 'Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' And thus in the latest official religion the power to bind, tie up, and make fast was re-conferred on Rome, where theological beliefs became identical with spiritual and intellectual bondage.
This attitude of controlling, commanding, and binding of the superhuman powers by means of magic also points to the lowly origin of these nature powers which became more and more inferior and of less and less account in later times when they were superseded by other 'spirits' or gods, and the practices of magic were less and less appropriate to a deepening sense of the divine.
The earliest human soul which followed those that were derived from the external elements had not attained the power of reproduction for an afterlife, on which account the likeness of the Elder Horus in the mythos is an impubescent child. But when he makes his transformation in death Horus has acquired the reproducing power, as shown by his figure of the virile male, portrayed in the person of Amsu, who arises from the tomb in ithyphallic form. In the eschatology the reproducing power is spiritual. It is the power of resurrection and of reappearing as a spirit—that is, the divine double of the human soul, which was tabulated as the eighth in degree. The soul that could reappear victoriously beyond the grave was a soul that could reproduce itself for 'times infinite,' or for eternity. When Horus rose again from the dead as the divine double of the human Horus he exclaims, 'I am he who cometh forth and proceedeth. I am the everlasting one. I am Horus who [p.177] steppeth onwards through eternity.' 'I am the link.' This is he who had passed and united a soul that was elemental with the spirit that was held to be divine. This is the soul beyond the human, which has power to reproduce itself in spirit and prove it by the reappearance of the ka or double of the dead. The Kamite ka is portrayed in the Egyptian drawings as a spiritual likeness of the body, to identify it with the soul of which it is the so-called double—the soul, that is, which has the power to duplicate itself in escaping from the clutch of death, and to reappear in rarer form than that of the mortal, as the soul or spirit outside the body to be seen in apparition or by the vision of the seers. The ardent wish of the deceased in Amenta to attain the power of appearing once more on the earth is expressed again and again in the Ritual as the desire to become a soul or spirit that has the power to reproduce itself in apparition, or as the double of the former self, which was imaged in the ka; the desire for continual duration after death, or in other words for everlasting life, also with the power to reappear upon the earth among the living.
'My duration' the speaker calls his ka. All life through it was an image of the higher spiritual self, divine in origin and duration. The speaker continues, 'May I come to thee (the ka) and be glorified and ensouled?' It was a soul that could be drawn upon and lived on in this life as a sort of food of heaven or sustenance for a future life. The ka was propitiated or worshipped—that is, saluted with oblations—as a divine ideal. It was the ka of the god that was 'propitiated according to his pleasure.' It was the ka of the pharaoh that was worshipped as the image of Ra. So when the manes propitiates the ka-image of himself it is not an offering to his mortal self, but to that higher spiritual self which was now held to be an emanation of the divine nature, and which had the power of reappearing and demonstrating continuity after death. The Kamite equivalent for eternal life is the permanent personality which was imaged by or in the ka. With the Tshi-speaking tribes the ka is called the kra, which name answers to the kla of the Karens. The kra, like the ka, is looked upon as the genius or guardian spirit who dwells in a man, but whose connection with him terminates when the ka transforms or merges into the sisa or enduring spirit. According to Ellis, 'when a man dies his Kra becomes a Sisa, and the Sisa can be born again to become a Kra in a new body.' The ka was common to inner Africa as a statue or portrait of the spiritual man. Whilst the mummy of a king of Congo was being made, an image of the deceased was set up in the palace to represent him, and was daily presented with food and drink. This was his living likeness, his spiritual double, which the Egyptians called the ka. And this, not the dead corpse, was propitiated with the offerings. The object of worship or propitiation was the ka, not the mummy. The ka imaged the ghost or double itself, and not a spirit supposed to be residential in the mummy. The Eskimo, the Lapps, and other northern races also preserved the Egyptian ka, especially in relation to the shaman or Angekok, who has his ka or double like the Egyptian priest. With this he unites himself in soul when about to divine and make his revelations in the state of trance.
Uniting with the ka or genius is a mode of describing his entrance into the spirit or the entrance of the inspiring spirit into him. The practice of the Mexicans and others, who made an image of the dead and placed it on the altar and offered oblations to it, shows that their effigy also represented the ka or spiritual likeness. Amongst many races an image of the deceased person was set up to receive the oblations of food and drink. All primitive spiritualists held that in death the spirit rose again and lived on still, and for this reason the ka statue was erected in the funerary chamber as it had been in the forest hut. A black shadow of the body cast upon the ground could not demonstrate the existence of an eternal soul neither could the hawk or serpent or any other symbol of force. But the ka is the double of the dead. It is a figure of the ghost. The ka, then, was an image of the only soul of all the series that ever could be seen outside the human body. This was wholly distinct from the soul of life in a tree, a plant, a bird, a beast, or a reptile, because it was an apparition of the human soul made visible in the human form. The Battas of Sumatra have the seven souls like the Egyptians. One of these is outside the body, but when it dies, however far away it may be from the man, he also dies, his life being bound up with it. But the origin and significance of the ka, together with the doctrine of its propitiation, are explicitly stated in the rubrical directions to chapter 144 of the Ritual. At this stage of his spiritual progress the deceased has reached the point where the mummy Osiris has transformed into the risen Horus, the divine one who is the eighth at the head of the seven great spirits. Thus, in the mysteries of Amenta, human Horus dies to rise again as lord of the resurrection and to manifest as double of the dead. He is divinized in the character of the ghost, and as such he becomes the spirit medium for his father, the holy spirit; his 'Witness for Eternity,' who is called the only-begotten and anointed son. In this character the deceased is Horus in spirit, ready for the boat of Ra. An effigy of the boat was to be made for the deceased. Amongst the other instructions given it is said that 'a figure of the deceased is to be made' in presence of the 'gods.' This figure is the ka. Hence the oblations of flesh and blood, bread and beer, unguents and incense, are to be offered; and it is stated that this is to be done to make the spirit of the deceased to live. It is also promised that the ceremony, if faithfully performed, will give the Osiris strength among the gods and cause his stride to increase in Amenta, earth, and heaven. Thus the ka image to which the offerings were made was representative of the deceased who lived on in the spirit, whether groping in the netherworld, or walking the earth as the ghost, or voyaging the celestial water in the boat of Ra on his way to the heaven of eternity. Naturally enough, the sustenance of life was offered to feed the life of those who were held to be the living, not the dead. Amongst the other things it is commanded that four measures of blood shall be offered to the spirit or ka image of the deceased. The doctrine is identical with that of the other races who gashed and gored their bodies to feed the spirits of the departed with their blood, because the blood was the life, and because it was the life they desiderated for their dead. In the same rubrical directions it is ordered that incense shall be burned in presence of the ka-image as [p.179] an offering to the spirit of Osiris-Nu, and in sign-language incense represents the breath of life; in that way another element of life besides blood was offered the deceased 'to make that spirit live.' And the offerings are to be presented to the ka image of the deceased. Thus the Egyptian wisdom witnesses and avouches that the primitive practices of offering food and drink to the dead, and more especially the soul of life in blood, were based upon the postulate that the so-called dead were living still in spirit form. And, obviously enough, the sustenance of life was offered to feed the life of those who were held to be living because seen to be existing in the likeness that was represented by the human figure of the spirit-ka.
It is one of the various delusions recrudescent in our day that theology began with the self-revelation to the world of a one and only god. No delusion or mania could be a grosser birth of modern ignorance, more especially as the 'only one' of the oldest known beginning was female and not male; the mother, not the father—the goddess, not the god.
The Egyptians gave a primary and permanent expression to the dumb thought of the non-speaking, sign-making races that preceded them in the old African home. But they did not begin by personifying any vague infinite with a definite face and form, nor by worshipping an abstraction which is but the shadow of a shade, and not the image of any substance known. In the Book of the Dead, the adorations are addressed to the Great Mother SekhetBast as the supreme being, she who was uncreated by the gods and who was worshipped as the 'Only One;' she who existed with no one before her, the only one mightier than all the gods, who were born of her, the Great Mother, the All-Mother when she was the 'Only One.' By a cunning contrivance, this Great Mother is shown to be the only one who could bring forth both sexes. As Apt, and again as Neith, the genetrix or creatress is portrayed as female in nature, but also having the virile member of the male. This was the only one who could bring forth both sexes. She was figured as male in front and female in the hinder-part. Here we may refer to the Arunta traditions of the Alcheringa ancestors relating to the beings who were half women and half men when they first started on their journey, but before they had proceeded very far their organs were modified and they became as other women are.
The mother was indeed the Only One in the beginning, however various her manifestations in nature. She was the birthplace and abode. She was the Earth-mother as the bringer-forth, the giver of food and drink who was invoked as the provider of plenty. As the Great Mother she was depicted by a pregnant hippopotamus. As a crocodile she brought the water of the inundation. As Apt the water-cow, Hathor the milch-cow, or Rerit the sow she was the suckler. As Rannut she was the serpent of renewal in the fruits of earth. As the Mother of Life in vegetation, she was Apt in the dom-palm, Uati in the papyrus, Hathor in the sycamore-fig, Isis in the persea-tree. In one character, as the Mother of Corn, she is called the sekhet or field, a title of Isis; all of which preceded her being imaged in the human likeness, because she was the mother [p.180] divinized. This is the 'only one' who is said to have been extant from the time when as yet there had been no birth. The mother gave birth to the child as Horus, who came by water in the fish, the shoot of the papyrus, the branch of the tree, and other forms of food and drink that were most sorely needed. Hence the child as bringer was a saviour to the land of Egypt.
In the beginning of the Egyptian theology, then, the Word was not the god, but the goddess. The fecundity, the power, the glory, and the wisdom of the primordial bringer forth were divinized in the Great Mother, who was worshipped at Ombos as the 'Living Word.' In one of her many forms she is the lioness-headed Sekhet-Bast, who was the object of adoration in inner Africa as 'the Only One.' Following the mythical mother, the son became her word or logos, and in Sebek-Horus the Word was god. This was in the mythology that preceded the eschatology. The earliest mode of worship recognizable was in propitiation of the superhuman power. This power of necessity was elemental, a power that was objectified by means of the living type; and again of necessity the object of propitiation, invocation, and solicitation was the power itself, and not the types by which it was imaged in the language of signs.
But, if we use the word worship at all, then serpent worship is the propitiation of the power that was represented by the serpent as a proxy for the superhuman force. The power might be that of renewal in the fruits of earth which was divinized in the serpent goddess Rannut or in the serpent of the inundation. 'Tree worship' was the propitiation of a power in nature that was represented by the tree and by the vegetation that was given for food. Although the votive offerings were hung upon its branches, the tree itself was not the object of the offering, but the power personified in Hathor or Nut as giver in the tree. Waitz tells the story of a negro who was making an offering of food to a tree, when a bystander remarked that a 'tree did not eat food.' The negro replied: 'Oh, the tree is not fetish; the fetish is a spirit and invisible, but he has descended into this tree. Certainly he cannot devour our bodily food, but he enjoys its spiritual part, and leaves behind the bodily part which we see.' This, then, was not tree worship as commonly assumed; the tree was not the object of religious regard. There was a spirit or power beyond that manifested in the tree. In like manner, earth worship was the propitiation of the power in nature that was worshipped as the Great Mother, the bringer forth and nurse of life, the 'only one' who was the producer of plenty. The most primitive man knew what he wanted. The objects of perpetual desire and longing were food and fecundity.
It has been shown that the Egyptian gods were primarily the elemental powers, and how the ancestral spirits became the glorified elect in the Egyptian eschatology. It is now possible to trace the one god of the Osirian religion as the final outcome from the original rootage, the culmination and consummate flower of all.
Before the human father could be personalized as the progenitor it would seem that causation was represented by the embryo in utero, the child, whom the Egyptians called the fecundator of the [p.181] mother. The eternal child is thus addressed in one of the solar litanies; 'O, thou beautiful being, who renewest within thyself in season as the disk within thy mother Hathor' as 'the Heir of Eternity, self-begotten and self-born.' According to the Ritual, life was apprehended as a mode of motion or renewal coming of itself, in the water welling from the earth, the vegetation springing from the water, or, more mystically manifested, in the blood of the pubescent virgin. The type of this self-motion is the eternal, ever-coming child. Hence Child-Horus claims to be 'the primary power of motion.' This was as the child of her who came from herself, the seventh soul that was imaged as Horus, the mortal who was incarnated in the virgin blood. There is another curious thing worth noting. The seven elemental powers or animistic souls were all male, and male only, which may account for the tradition that women have no souls, unless they derive them from the male; whereas the second Horus, Horus in spirit, represented a soul of both sexes, as the typical witness for the parent in heaven. With the Egyptians (of the Ritual) real existence and enduring personality were spiritual, and these were imaged by the ka-type of an existence and personality which could only be attained in spirit. The ka-image represented an enduring or eternal soul as a divine ideal that was already realized, even in this life, by the born immortals who were mediums of the spirit. But for others it was a type of that which had to be attained by individual effort. On entering Amenta the soul of the deceased was not necessarily immortal. He had to be born again as a spirit in the likeness of Horus divinized. Thus the man of seven souls was said to be attended or accompanied all life through by the ka-likeness of an immortal spirit, which was his genius, guardian, guide, or protector, to be realized in death, when he rose again and manifested as the ka or eidolon of the dead—that is, as the ghost, the eighth man, the man from heaven, the Christ or risen Horus of the gnosis.
The process of compounding the many gods in one is made apparent when Osiris says, 'I am one, and the powers of all the gods are my powers.' In the course of unifying the nature powers in one, the mother goddess with the father god was blended first in Ptah, the biune being, as a type of dual source such as was illustrated by the customs of couvade and sub-incision, in which the figure of the female was assumed by the man with a vulva or the divinity as parturient male, the type that was repeated in both Atum and Osiris, as well as in Brahma and Jehovah. In the Inscription of Shabaka from Memphis, Ptah, in one of his divine forms, is called 'the mother giving birth to Atum and the associate gods.'
The highest of the elemental powers was divinized as solar in the astronomical mythology. This was the Elder Horus, who had been the soul of vegetation in the shoot of the papyrus plant as product of the inundation. As the young sun god he was now the calf or child upon the Western Mount and leader of the seven glorious khuti. In his second advent, at his resurrection from Amenta, he became the Horus in spirit, Horus of the resurrection, he who arose hawk-headed on the Eastern Mount. This was Atum- [p.182] Horus, he in whom the spirit or ghost was blended with the elemental power in Atum-Ra, who had attained the status of the holy spirit in the Egyptian eschatology. The eighth was now the highest of the series as the god who demonstrated the power of resurrection by his rising from the dead, first as the sun, next as the soul which was represented by the ka as the image of the reappearing other self. The gods were thus 'essentialized in the one' (as Thomas Taylor phrased it) the seven in Horus the mortal, the eight in Horus of the resurrection, the nine in Ptah, or, as Damascius observed, speaking Chaldaically, 'in the paternal peculiarity.' This god was impersonated as the one in Atum-Ra, the 'Holy Spirit.' There was no god personified as the father in spirit until the All-One was uniquely imaged in Atum-Ra as the first wearer of the atef-crown, and in him the god in spirit was based upon the ghost instead of the earlier elemental soul. Not only was the 'paternal peculiarity' represented in Atum as a begetter, he was the begetter of souls, or rather of soul and spirit; the one being personalized in his son Hu, the other in his son Sa (or Ka). The soul of man the mortal had been derived from the seven elemental powers, including the mother blood. This was divinized in Horus, who was Atum as the child (Tum) the first Adam in the Hebrew creation. The soul of man the immortal was now derived from Atum-Ra, the father in spirit, and imaged in Nefer-Atum, the Hebrew second Adam. This was Horus of the resurrection as an eighth soul, the outcome of the seven. The soul with power to reproduce itself in death was now an image of eternal life as Horus who became the resurrection and the life to men.
The one god in spirit and in truth, personified in Atum-Ra, was worshipped at Annu as Huhi the eternal, also as the ankhu or ever-living one in the character and with the title of the Holy Spirit. He is described as the divinized ghost. Hence it is said that 'it is Atum who nourishes the doubles' of the dead, he who is first of the divine ennead, 'perfect ghost among the ghosts.' There was no father god or divinized begetter among the seven primordial powers. They were a company of brothers. Ptah was the first type of a father individualized as the father who transforms into his own son, and also as a father and mother in one person. Ra, as the name implies, is the creator god, the god in spirit founded on the ghost. He is god of the ancestral spirits, first to attain that spiritual basis for the next life which the ka or double in this life vouched for after death. Hence Atum-Ra was deified as 'the perfect ghost among the ghosts,' or the god in spirit the head of the nine. The elemental souls were blended with human in the deity Ptah, and in Atum-Ra, his successor, an ancestral spirit was typified and divinized as a god in perfect human form, who became the typical father of the human race and immortal souls proceeding from him as their creator, who is no to be distinguished from all previous gods which had reproduce by transformation and by reincorporation or incarnation of the elemental powers.
Thus the gods of Egypt originated in various modes of natural [p.183] phenomena, but the phenomena were also spiritual as well as physical, the one god being ultimately worshipped as the holy spirit. Both categories of the gods and the glorified were, so to speak, combined and blended in the one person of Atum-Ra, who imaged the highest elemental power as soul of the sun in the mythology, and was divinized as Ra the holy spirit, the ghost of ghosts, in the Egyptian eschatology. The reappearing human spirit thus supplied the type of an eternal spirit that was divinized and worshipped as the Holy Ghost in Egypt and in Rome.
Maspero has said of Egypt that she never accepted the idea of the one sole god beside whom there is none other. But here the 'one god' is a phrase. What is meant by the phrase? Which, or who, is the one god intended? Every description applied to the one god in the Hebrew writings was pre-extant in the Egyptian. Atum-Ra declares that he is the one god, the one just or righteous god, the one living god, the one god living in truth. He is Unicus, the sole and only one, beside whom there is none other; only, as the later Egyptians put it, he is the only one from whom all other powers in nature were derived in the earlier types of deity. When Atum is said to be 'the Lord of oneness,' that is but another way of calling him the one god and of recognizing the development and unification of the one supreme god from the many, and acknowledging the birth of monotheism from polytheism, the culmination of manifold powers in one supreme power, which was in accordance with the course of evolution. In the Ritual the Everlasting is described as Neb-Huhi Nuti Terui-f, the Eternal Lord, he who is without limit. And, again, the infinite god is portrayed as he who dilates without limit, or who is the god of limitless dilation, Fu-nen-tera, as a mode of describing the infinite by means of the illimitable. And it is this Nen-tera that we claim to be at the root of the word nnuter or nuter. Here the conception is nothing so indefinite or general as that of power. Without limit is beyond the finite, and consequently equal to the infinite. Teru also signifies time. The name, therefore, conveyed the conception of beyond time. Thus nnuter (or nuter) denoted the illimitable and eternal in one, which is something more expressive than mere power. Power is of course included, and the nuter sign, the stone axe (Â) is a very primitive sign of power.
Of this one supreme god it is said in the Hymn to the Nile or to Osiris, as 'the water of renewal' 'He careth for the state of the poor. He maketh his might a buckler. He is not graven in marble. He is not beheld. He hath neither ministrants nor offerings. He is not adored in sanctuaries. No shrine is found with painted figures. There is no building that can contain him. He doth not manifest his forms. Vain are all representations.' Also, in the Hymn to Amen-Ra (the hidden god), a title of Atum, he is saluted as 'the one in his works,' 'the one alone with many hands, lying awake while all men sleep to seek out or consider the good of his creatures,' 'the one maker of existence,' 'the one alone without a peer,' 'king alone, single among the gods.' Surely this is equivalent to the one god with none beside him, so far as language can go. The Egyptians had all [p.184] that ever went to the making of the one god, only they built on foundations that were laid in nature, and did not begin en l'air with an idea of the 'sole god' in any abstract way. Their one god was begotten before he was conceived. Egypt did not accept the idea. She evolved and revealed it from the only data in existence, including those of phenomenal spiritualism which supplied the idea of a holy ghost that was divinized in the likeness of the human—the only data, as matter of fact, from which the concept could have ever been evolved; and but for the Egyptians, neither Jews nor Christians would have had a god at all, either as the one, or three, or three-in-one. There is no beginning anywhere with the concept of a 'one god' as male ideationally evolved. But for thousands of years before the era called Christian the Egyptians had attained the idea, and were trying to express it, of the one god who was the one soul of life, the one self-generating, self-sustaining force, the one mind manifesting in all modes of phenomena; the self-existent one, the almighty one, the eternal one; the pillar of earth, the ark of heaven, the backbone of the universe, the bread of heaven and water of life; the ka of the human soul, the way, the truth, the resurrection, and the life everlasting; the one who made all things, but himself was not made.
But, once more, what is the idea of the one god as a Christian concept? The one god of the Christians is a father manifesting through one historic son by means of a virgin Jewess. Whereas the father was the one god of the Egyptians in the cult of Atum-Ra which was extant before the monuments began ten thousand years ago. Only the son of the one god in Egypt was not historic nor limited to an individual personality. It was the divine nature manifesting as the soul of both sexes in humanity. The one god of the Christians is a trinity of persons consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and these three constituted the one god in the religion which is at least as old as the coffin of Men-Ka-Ra, who is called 'Osiris living eternally, king of the double earth,' nearly six thousand years ago.
Finally, in the Egyptian theology Osiris is Neb-Ua, the one and only lord. All previous powers were united in his power. Where Ra had seventy-two names denoting his attributes, Osiris has over one hundred and fifty. All that was recognized as beneficent in nature was summarized in Osiris. All the superhuman powers previously extant were combined and blended in the final form of the all-in-one—the motherhood included. For in the trinity of Osiris, Horus, and Ra, which three are one, the first person is imaged in the likeness of both sexes. Osiris as male with female mammy is a figure of the nourisher and source of life, who had been from the beginning when the mother was the 'only one.' The one god of the Egyptian theology culminated as the eternal power of evolution, reproduction, transformation, renewal, and rebirth from death to life, on earth in food, and to a life of the soul that is perpetuated in the spirit. The oneness of the godhead unified from all the goddesses and gods was finally compounded in this supreme one inclusive deity, in whom all others were absorbed—Horus and Sut, as twins of light and darkness; the seven elemental powers, as the seven souls; [p.185] Nnu, father of the celestial water, as the water of renewal in Osiris; Seb, the father of food on earth, as the father of divine food or bread of heaven in Amenta. The mother and father were combined in Ptah as the one parent. Atum-Horus assumed the form of man, as son of Seb on earth; Osiris-Sekeri that of the mummy in Amenta, as god the ever-living in matter; and Ra, bird-headed, as an image of the holy spirit. Horus the elder was the manifestor as the eternal child of Isis the virgin mother and his foster-father Seb, the god of earth; and at his second advent in Amenta Horus became the son of the father in heaven as a final character in the Osirian drama. Taht gave place to Osiris in the moon, Ptah to Osiris in the Tat, Anup to Osiris as the guide of ways at the pole. It is said in the Hymn to Osiris that 'he contains the double ennead of the double land.' He is 'the principle of abundance in Annu'; he gives the water of renewal in the Nile, the breath of life in the blessed breezes of the north, the bread of life in the grain. And, lastly, he is the food that never perishes; the god who gives his own body and blood as the sacramental sustenance of souls; the 'Bull of Eternity' who is reincorporated periodically as the calf, or, under the anthropomorphic type, as Horus the ever reincarnating, ever-coming child who rose up from the dead to image an eternal soul. Such was the god in whom the all at last was unified in oneness and as One.
This page last updated: 17/01/2014