THE NATURAL GENESIS
NATURAL GENESIS OF THE KAMITE TYPOLOGY
In an epistle to the Egyptian Anebo, assigned to Porphyry, the learned Greek writer asks, 'What is the meaning of those mystic narrations which say that a certain divinity is unfolded into light from mire; that he is seated above a lotus, that he sails in a ship, and that he changes his form every hour according to the signs of the zodiac? If these things are asserted symbolically, being symbols of the powers of this divinity, I request an interpretation of these symbols.'
According to Proclus, in his Commentary on the Enneads of Plotinus, Iamblichus wrote his work On the Mysteries as a reply to the pertinent questioning of Porphyry. But Iamblichus, like so many who have followed him, began with things where he first met with them, on the surface, in their latest phase. He represented the Egyptians as worshippers of the one god, uncreated, unique, omnipotent, and universal. He starts with this as their starting-point, and affirms that all the other gods of the pantheon are nothing more than the various attributes and powers of the supreme personified. In short, he makes monotheism the foundation instead of the summit of the Egyptian religion. This view has been maintained by several Egyptologists.
Champollion-Figeac says, 'A few words will suffice to give a true and complete idea of the Egyptian religion. It was purely monotheistic and manifested itself externally by a symbolical Polytheism.' According to De Rouge, one idea pervades the total cult—that of a single primordial god. M. Maspero is likewise of opinion that all the forms [p.2] and names of the innumerable gods were for the worshipper only so many terms and forms of the one God. M. Chabas declares that all the gods and goddesses are but different aspects or attributes of the one sole God who existed before everything.
M. Pierret asserts that the ignorant were held in abject fetishism by the despotism of the priests, but the initiated recognized one sole and hidden God.
Mariette, in reply to Iamblichus, has denied this interpretation point blank, and in toto. He says, 'Neither in these temples nor in those which were previously known to us does the "one God" of Iamblichus appear. We find everywhere deities who are immortal and uncreated; but nowhere do we find the one and invisible God without name and without form, who presides from on high over the Egyptian pantheon. No indication to that effect is given by the Temple of Denderah, the most hidden inscriptions of which have now been thoroughly examined.'
Dr. Samuel Birch, our great English Egyptologist, in conversation with the present writer, agreed with Mariette. Renouf asks 'Was there really, as is frequently asserted an esoteric doctrine known to the scribes and priests alone, as distinct from popular belief?' His answer is, 'No evidence has yet been produced in favour of this hypothesis.'
Nor was there a one god known to Iamblichus. He quotes two by name, as Ichton and Ήμήφ. Bunsen says no notice of the latter name appears elsewhere. But it is evidently intended for Iu-em-hept, the Greek Imothes, whose mother's name was Iusaas, she who was great with the Coming One; and his father is Atum. The one god in this case was the solar trinity of Heliopolis, the Hebrew On.
There never was a subject which demanded the evolutionary mode of manipulation more than this of the origin of Egyptian mythology and the expansion of religious ideas in the valley of the Nile. Nothing but the application of the evolutionary method can rescue us from the traditions we have inherited as survivals of the primitive system of mythical interpretation. It takes the latter half of all one's lifetime to unlearn the falsehood that was instilled into us during the earlier half. Generation after generation we learn, unlearn, and relearn the same lying legendary lore. Henceforth our studies must begin from the evolutionist standpoint in order that they may not have to be gone over again.
In vain the non-evolutionist, who is likewise a metaphysician, would deal with the problem of the religious origins. None but the evolutionist can go back far enough. None but the evolutionist [p.3] can commence early enough. None but the evolutionist is entirely freed from the falsehood of the 'Fall' and the hallowed beginning at the wrong end of things, called the 'Creation.' Only the evolutionist can present the facts in their natural sequence and the true order of their development. The non-evolutionist can begin at any time, and anywhere, except at the right place. But neither in Egypt nor out of it did mythology commence with the causative interpretation of phenomena assumed by the non-evolutionist. Reverence for an unseen power apprehended as mind and conscious cause was preceded by a recognition of powers and potencies in nature exterior and superior to men, which were estimated by the force of their physical manifestations; and the fear and dread of these were operative long ages before the existence of that reverence which can be called religious—that which Shakespeare designates the 'Angel of the World.' Primos in orbe deos fecit timor.
An unfathomable fall awaits the non-evolutionist misinterpreters of mythology in their descent from the view of a primeval and divine revelation made to man in the beginning, to the actual facts of the origins of religion. A 'primitive intuition of God,' and a God who 'had in the beginning revealed Himself as the same to the ancestors of the whole human race,' can have no existence for the evolutionist.
The 'primitive revelation,' so-called, had but little in it answering to the notion of the supernatural. It was solely just what the early men could make out in the domain of the simplest matters-of-fact. Theirs is the profundity of simplicity, not of subtlety. Their depth, like that of the Egyptian soil, is the result of constant accumulation of silt between us and the solid rock. Moreover, an Egyptologist may know the monuments from first to last, and yet be unable to give any satisfactory account of the rise and development of the Egyptian religion, because its roots are hidden in an unknown past. All that would be of supreme interest and primordial value to the evolutionist is out of view and untested by the comparative process. Egypt comes into sight upon a summit of attainment. The non-evolutionist is still infected with the notion of a primeval monotheism and a lapse into polytheism and idolatry, whereas mythology arose out of typology, and religion was developed from the mythology, not the mythology from religion; but to begin with a conception of the one hidden god is to make religion precede mythology. A religion had been established in the time of the earliest monuments, but the mythology no more begins at that point than the Nile springs in Egypt. M. Pierret, for instance, is right as to the ideographic types being figures for use rather than fetishes for worship, but utterly wrong as to their origin in a manifold expression of monotheistic thought. [p.4] It is easy, of course, to take the later texts and then read the monuments backwards. It is easy to assume that all the divine types are modes of manifestation for the one God; but the idea of the one God belongs to religion; this was preceded by mythology, and these types were extant before either. We require to know what they signified in their pre-monumental phase, and what was their origin. We cannot tell who or which the gods are until we have ascertained what they represented or typified—in short, what was their natural genesis.
Egyptologists who talk of the one primordial God as the father of souls, never seem to recognize the fact that the individualized fatherhood was comparatively late as a human institution, and that the father could not be recognized in heaven before he had been discovered on earth. There is no fatherhood in the first pleroma of the gods, who are a family of seven, born of the genetrix of gods and men. Those of the seven that can be traced, such as Sut, Kebekh, Kak, Kafi (Shu), and Horus, had no father. Hence, when we do get back to a one God on any local line of Egyptian mythology, it is the mother alone, and not the father, we find to be the first. No matter which cult we question, the genetrix of the gods precedes the primordial God, whether as Ta-urt, the Mother of the Revolutions, who presides in the birthplace at the centre; or Neith, who came 'from herself,' and who boasted significantly at Sais that her peplum had never been lifted by the male generator; or Mut, Ank, or Hathor. The mother is everywhere first and foremost, as she was in nature where the bringer-forth was observed and typified long before the human mind could enter into the realm of creative cause, or the fatherhood had been established. Hence the female was continued with the male in the image of the one God, and there is no one God that is not a biune being, a twin form of the 'double primitive essence,' like Ptah; in fact, a 'MaleMother,' which is the meaning of 'Ka-Mutf,' a title of Khem because the mother-mould of the producer was primordial.
When at last attained, the 'one God' of Egypt is as much a result of evolution and survival of the fittest type, as in the case of any other species, ranging through the four series of elemental, stellar, lunar, and solar deities. The unity is final, not initial, and when the one has been aggregated from the many, which is the sole followable process of attaining unity, the last result is a dual deity who brings forth from and with the womb. Manifested 'existences are in his hand; unmanifested existences are in his womb (kat).' This is the language of various other texts that might be cited.
If there be a one and only god, according to the language of certain inscriptions, a father of beginnings endowed with all the attributes of the sole god, it is Amen-Ra, the hidden sun. But his creation is comparatively late—the solar regime being last of all—he [p.5] was later than Ptah, Atum, Horus, Seb, Shu, Osiris, and Sut, and his birth was as a timekeeper. In the inscription from the temple of El-Karjeh it is said that he was 'self-produced,' and that in 'making his body,' and 'giving birth to it,' 'he has not come out of a womb—he has come out of cycles.'
Like Taht, the moon-god, and Seb, the star-god, he too was a birth of time. This is the 'only one,' as the sun-god, of whom the Osirian says, 'Let me cross and manage to see the Only One, the sun going round, as the giver of peace.'
The language of monotheism reaches its climax in the hymns and addresses to Amen-Ra, the one god, one in all his works and ways. Yet he was a god with a beginning, and his piety to his parents is on record. He paid an annual visit to the Valley of the Dead, and poured out a libation to his father and mother on the altar of propitiation. The one god is simply the culminating point of all the immeasurable past of polytheism.
The world of sense was not a world of symbol to the primitive or primeval man. He did not begin as a Platonist. He was not the realizer of abstractions, a personifier of ideas, a perceiver of the Infinite. In our groping after the beginnings we shall find the roots of religious doctrines and dogmas with the common earth, or dirt even, still clinging to them, and showing the ground in which they grew.
Metaphysical explanations have been the curse of mythology from the time of the Platonists up to the present. All interpretation is finally futile that is not founded on the primary physical phenomena. Fortunately, this basis of the earliest thought is more or less extant in the types that have been left us to interpret as best we may; and on this concrete foundation we have to build. Nor is there any origin of religion worth discussing apart from these foundations of mythology which are verifiable in the phenomena of nature.
Instead of a monotheistic instinct, or a primeval revelation of the one god, mythology exhibits a series of types as the representatives of certain natural forces from which the earliest gods were evolved, and finally compounded into a one deity, who assumed their attributes as his manifestations, and thus became the supreme being and god over all. It will be demonstrated that Egyptian mythology began with the typifying of seven elements or seven elemental forces, such as fire and water, earth and air, born of the typhonian genetrix, as the Abyss. These were the eight in Am-Smen, the place of preparation, who were born of space or chaos before the formation of the world, or the establishment of order and time. Their types were continued in the secondary phase—that of time—as intelligencers to men.
The primordial, or supreme deity in Egypt, then, was not a god one, or one god of the beginning, but the one who had been com- [p.6] pounded and elevated to the supremacy as solar type of the godhead and representative of a pleroma. Neither Ra, Atum, Amen, nor Ptah was one of the eight original gods. The processes will be shown by which the latest deities were compounded or developed from characters previously extant, who were gods of the earliest time, as these were of the latest.
Ra, as a total god, comprises the seven spirits, or souls that preceded his creation, as the seven spirits of the Bear. So the one god of the Avesta, Ahura-Mazda, is made up of the seven spirits, or Amshaspands, who preceded his supremacy. One title of the sun-god Ra is 'Teb-Temt,' and temt means totalled, from tem, the total, as in the English team. His total, as Teb-temt, consists of seventy-five characters. These seventy-five manifestations of Ra—which correspond to the seventy-five zones of suffering in the Hades, whence came the cries of those who were in greatest need of knowing a name to call upon—are repeated in number in the Ormazd-Yasht of the Avesta, where the divinity gives to Zarathushtra his seventy-five names. The Parsees say the number should be seventy-two, correlating them probably with the seventy two decans, but the seventy five correlate with the original Egyptian unknown to them.
The primordial god, as Ptah, was not divided into four couples as M. Pierret argues, but the four couples, or the eight great gods previously extant, were represented by Ptah; they were resolved into his attributes, or manifestations, when Ptah as a solar god had been created. Everywhere, inevitably, the non-evolutionist reverses the process of development.
Canon Rawlinson has lately reaffirmed the statement that there was an esoteric and exoteric system of teaching, by which the Egyptian priests, with whom the 'primary doctrine of the esoteric religion undoubtedly was the real essential unity of the divine nature,' taught the people at large 'a polytheism of a multitudinous, and in many respects, of a gross character.' This is the portrait of the Egyptian priest commonly presented by modern monotheists, who surreptitiously interpolate the ancient texts.
Here, however, the seventeenth chapter of the Ritual, which is designated the gospel or faith of the Egyptians, and is the kernel of their religious creed, contains a complete refutation and reversal.
It happens that in this chapter we have the text mixed up with the glosses, which were intended to be kept oral; the two corresponding to the written and oral law of the Hebrews. Thus, for once the exoteric and esoteric teaching appear together. A text or saying is announced followed by the 'Petar ref su,' = 'let him (the esoterist) explain it;' and in many instances he does explain the text. The result is that the announcement contains all the monotheistic matter, the [p.7] supposed esoteric doctrine, whereas the glosses which secreted the hidden oral wisdom relate to the materialistic beginnings, and tend to identify the abstract god once more with the origins in phenomena, the spiritual god being explained physically—mark, not in the exoteric but in the esoteric teaching.
The theosophy is continually rendered in terms of physical phenomena. The deceased speaks in the person of various gods. He says, for example, 'I am Tum, the only being in the firmament.' Now Tum is the 'one god,' the father of souls. But the abstract idea is in the text, and the commentary, gloss, or esoteric teaching keeps the mind anchored fast to the natural genesis in physical phenomena. The god of the exoteric teaching is all through the actual sun of the esoteric.
The 'sun in his rising,' the 'sun in his disk,' the 'great god' in the pool is the 'sun himself.' The 'father' is 'the sun.' The one who 'orders his name to rule the gods' as Horus, the 'son of Osiris,' is explained to be 'the sun himself.'
These explanations, which usually remained unwritten, show that the cause of concealment in later times was the simple physical nature of the beginnings out of which the more abstract ideas had been gradually evolved.
There is undoubtedly a dislike in the later stage of ideas to having them expressed in those terms of phenomena which serve to recall the physical origins, and a great desire to keep their primitive nature clothed and out of sight, requiring all the unshrinking honesty of modern science—'whose soul is explanation'—to counteract such diffidence. Yet it was necessary for the learned to retain a knowledge of the beginnings. This it was that led to the hidden wisdom, the gnosis, the Kabbalah, the inner mysteries. The knowledge was concealed because of its primitiveness, and not on account of its profundity.
According to the statement of the Bishop of Cæsarea, the learned Egyptian Chaeremon acknowledged no intellectual principles in the earliest mythology of Egypt. This shows that he knew the matter to the root, and the nature of the eight Elementaries whose origin was entirely physical.
It is certain, then, that Egyptian polytheism was not monotheism intentionally disguised with various masks for one face, and equally sure that the image of the one god and supreme being was evolved from many preceding gods, and that the process of this evolution can be followed and fixed.
Cicero asks, 'Do you not see how from the productions of nature and the useful inventions of men have arisen fictitious and imaginary deities, which have been the foundation of false opinions, pernicious errors, and miserable superstitions?'
And he affirms rightly that the sacred and august Eleusina, into [p.8] whose mysteries the most distant nations were initiated, and the solemnities in Samothrace and in Lemnos, secretly resorted to by night, if they were properly explained and reduced to reasonable principles, would rather explicate the nature of tidings than discover the knowledge of the gods.
A few hints may be found in Plutarch's ever-precious fragment Of Isis and Osiris; also in the Hieroglyphics of Horapollo, which have been considerably undervalued by certain Egyptologists. But the mysteries remained unpublished. The Greeks could not master the system of Egyptian mythology, and the hieroglyphics were to them the dead letter of a dead language.
What Herodotus knew of the mysteries he kept religiously concealed. What Plato had learned made him jealous of the allegories to which he did not possess the clue; but he would have banished the poems of Homer from his republic, because the young would be unable to distinguish between what was allegorical and what was actual; exactly on the same ground that many sound thinkers today would banish the Bible from our schools for children.
Outside of their own mysteries the Greeks stood altogether outside of the subject. They, as their writers allege, had inherited their mythology, and the names of the divinities, without knowing their origin or meaning. They supplied their own free versions to stories of which they never possessed the key. Whenever they met with anything they did not understand, they turned it the more effectively to their own account. All that came to hand was matter for metaphysics, poetry, statue, and picture. They sought to delight and charm the world with these old elements of instruction, and with happy audacity supplied the place of the lost nature of mystic meaning with the abounding grace and beauty of their art. Nothing, however, could be more fatal than to try to read the thoughts of the remoter past through their eyes, or to accept the embellishments of these beautifiers for interpretations of the ancient typology; and the reproduction of the primitive myths from the Aryan stage of language in Greece is on a par with the modern manufacture of ancient Masters carried on in Rome.
In his Commentary on the Politicus of Plato, Proclus, speaking of the symbolism of the ancients, and their sacerdotal system, says truly that from this mythology Plato himself derived or established many of his peculiar dogmas.
The utterly misleading way in which Egyptian physics were converted by Plato and his followers into Greek metaphysics, makes Platonism only another name for imposture. Time, says Plato finely, is the moving image of eternity. But the foundation of the image is planetary, or stellar motion, and on this basis of visible things he sought to establish all that was invisible, and build up the human [p.9] soul backwards, according to the celestial geometry of the Egyptians. Philo complains that the Greeks had brought a mist upon learning which made it impossible to discover the truth. The same charge may be substantialized on other grounds against his own countrymen.
In India the myths have been vaporised. Their poets are at play with the shadows of ancient things, and the mere fringe of phenomena.
It is not that the mythical characters in the Vedas have not yet been evolved into a definite form. It is not the indefiniteness of beginning that we find there, but of dissolution. The definite representation was earlier, and in the Vedas the shapes are in process of dislimning and being evaporated into doctrinal abstractions; the concrete facts of early earth are passing off into the fading phantoms of cloudland.
The decadence of mythology is to be found in the Greek poetising, Hebrew euhemerising, and Vedic vagueness. What the myths have to tell us depends on their having preserved the earliest shape; they have reached their decay when made to speak falsely through the interfusion of later thought. They preceded our civilisation, are not a birth of it, nor a descent from it; and their value is in proportion to the marks of their origin which have not yet been worn off them.
It is with mythology as with language. In vain we look for the lost likeness of language simply in the structure of a thousand languages. The genius of language has been at work for countless years to diversify and divaricate in structure. We must seek the primitive unity in the original matter of human thought, and in the earliest modes of expression; and the further we go back the nearer we shall find ourselves approaching to the origin in unity, for the bole of the tree is extant as well as the branches above and the roots below.
It is solely in the symbolic stage of expression that we can expect to recover the lost unity. This is preserved in the gesture-signs, ideographic types, the origin of numbers and the myths, the imagery scattered over the world that still remains unread by us; and in the religious rites and ceremonies, popular customs, and other practical forms of typology which have been wandering dispersedly about the earth. Any single shape of registered tradition is no absolute guarantee for fidelity to the lost original. It is, as it were, only an individual memory. We have to appeal to the memory of the whole human race, by gathering up the scattered fragments and various versions of the general tradition. Many incoherent witnesses may testify to one truth when we are in possession of the clue. Their disconnected evidence is all the more express when they are too unconscious to connive.
We shall find the human race has kept its own buried records of the prehistoric preliterary ages almost as faithfully as the earth its [p.10] geological register. So far from the process having corrupted or dissipated the ideas entrusted to its keeping (as Gibbon alleges), these have been preserved because they were branded and bitten into the memory more permanently than they could have been stamped in metal or engraved in stone.
The most perfect, that is the most primitive, forms of the myths and symbols out of Africa are those which for thousands of years have been kept by living memory alone. Having to trust to the memory in the absence of written records the oral method of communication was held all the more sacred, as we find it in the ancient priesthoods, whose ritual and gnosis depended on the living memory for their truth, purity, and sanctity. It was the mode of communication from 'mouth to ear,' continued in all the mysteries, including Masonry—that monotheism in polytheism!
In Sanskrit, the tradition which has been borne in mind from the beginning, delivered by mouth and learned by ear, to live in memory alone, is 'Smriti.' S'ruti, a form of the same word, signifies hearing. Sem, in Egyptian, also denotes hearing; rut means repeated; and on this hearing of the oral wisdom has been based a theory of the Vedas having been communicated by audible revelation! But the revelation was simply made from mouth to ear.
So ancient was this mode of making sure of the treasures of knowledge, so deeply were these engrafted in the mind, so painfully scored in the flesh by the marks and symbols of tattoo, as if one should bury his jewels in his own body for a safe; so permanently was the record inscribed that it still lives and underlies all literature or artificial registers in the world. It reaches down to the origins of human thought, however far from those we may be who dwell on the surface today, where we keep our own written records of the past. This matter, preserved by the universal memory, belongs to the symbolic stage of expression, and can only be understood by reverting to the symbol. The symbol is the true Tower of Babel and point of dispersion in language. The symbolic extends beyond the written or the spoken language of any people now extant.
With the Chinese, for example, their symbols can be read in various parts of the empire by words and sounds so entirely different that the speakers who interpret the typology cannot understand each other when they talk.
The symbols underlie two other languages, and at that depth the scattered readers meet once more.
So is it with the typology of tattoo. The African Oworos and the Basas do not speak one language, but they have the same tattoo-mark, and that is the link of a connection earlier than their language as spoken at the present time.
The Khoi-Khoi, or Hottentots, form one branch of a widespread [p.11] race which has been divided into ever so many tribes. These differ totally in language, but they preserve a primeval relationship in the use of certain peculiar sounds, of which the clicks constitute the essential part.
Among the Tembus, Pondos, Zulus, Ashantis, Fantis, and various other African tribes there are many people of the same family title. These are unable to trace any relationship with each other, but wherever they are they find themselves in possession of ceremonial customs which are quite peculiar to those who bear that name. Thus the particular customs observed at the birth of a child are exactly the same in different parts of the country among those who have the same family title, although they have never heard of each other's existence, whilst their neighbours of the same clan, but of different family names, have altogether dissimilar customs. Here the name and the typical custom lead down to that unity of origin which is lost sight of on the surface. This equally applies to such typical customs and names on a far larger scale than that of the Kaffir tribes. Also it shows how the name, the mark, and the custom have persisted together from time immemorial.
So is it on the American continent. Not the remotest affinity can be detected by grammarians between the languages of the Pawnees and the neighbouring Mandans, but when it comes to a type like that of the four quarters and the cross, together with the customs and superstitions associated with the type, then the earlier connection becomes apparent and the possession is found to be in common.
James describes the Kiawa-Kaskaia Indians as nations united 'under the influence of the Bear-tooth,' yet they were totally ignorant of each other's spoken language, and when two individuals of different nations wished to converse they did so freely by the language of gesture-signs. That was the earlier and simpler medium of communication reverted to when the spoken language was dispersed. The primal unity was shown by the totemic 'Bear-tooth' and by gesture-signs. Here, then, we get down to a record of the past that lies beyond spoken language, the living memory of man, or of the tribe, the local race, or the human race itself. This record is the language of symbolism, a skeleton of all other forms of human speech, whose bones are like the fossil remains that exist as proofs of an original unity between the lands that are now severed, just as the bones of the mammoth in Britain and France show that the two lands, though divided now, were originally one.
As Emerson has it, 'a good symbol is a missionary to convince thousands.' When Europe was first converted to Christianity, it was by making use of the same symbols that were hallowed in the pagan [p.12] cult; the rooted types being indefinitely more potent than any later sense engrafted on them.
Whether for good or ill the symbol has proved all-powerful. The hold of symbolism is in its way as strong in civilised society as in the savage world. Crestolatry is as nearly a form of devotion as Christolatry, totemism, or fetishism, except that a Briton who had the fish, stag, or vine in his coat-of-arms, would not nowadays think of totally abstaining from fish, venison, or wine in consequence; as would the Bechuana of Southern Africa or the Kol of Nagpore; although the time was, in these islands, when he would have done so, as may be seen by the non-eating of the pig, hare, and eel in the past.
The king, as sacred ruler, acquired the vesture of his divinity and the halo of awful light because he was made to personate or reflect the deity on earth, and thus became vicariously divine. Kingship, in this phase, was not founded on the human character, however supremely able, however exalted in the forms of chieftainship, but on the typical and representative character. Hence the 'divinity that doth hedge a king,' which did not emanate from him but was conferred upon him; he wore it from without, as a lay figure invested with the drapery of deity.
The ank (Eg.) or the inca (Peru.) represented the living and ever-living one, who was therefore not a human being, and on this ground was based the fiction of the king being the undying one. So the king never dies. This was not directly derived from the natural genesis, but is in accordance with the typology formulated in Egypt and extant wherever the title of inca, ying, or king is found.
Hence the king becomes the life and the master of life to his people, as in Siam, in a very literal later fashion, where the typical character is superstitiously interpreted. The king in Egypt was the living image of the solar god. He was the divine child, the repa, god-begotten, who grew up into the god in person on earth. And just as the king was glorified as the sun, so were the earlier rulers glorified under more primitive types of power. In Madagascar the monarch, like the pharaoh of Egypt, was the potent bull. The king of Ashanti is glorified as the snake and the lion; the Zulu king as the tiger, lion or mountain. In Guatemala the king was the tiger of the wood, the laughing jaguar, the mighty boa, the oppressing eagle. The Norse king Gorm was the great worm (or Crom) the dragon-king. The chief in a Kaffir folktale is a snake with five heads. By the earliest titles the bearers were assimilated to the most terrible types of power and the most primitive forms of force, and, therefore, to the elementary gods, which preceded the sun, moon, and star gods of the cycles of time.
When the symbol has lost its significance, the man or woman still remains to receive the homage of ignorance and the sacrifices that [p.13] once were offered intelligently to the visible and living image of the god, as it was in Egypt or to the demon in Africa beyond. So potent is the influence of symbols over the mind that the world's welfare cannot afford to have their indefinable appeal perverted by cunning or ignorance.
Symbols still dominate the minds of men and usurp the place of realities. A symbol may cause humanity proudly to rise in stature or grovel pronely in the dust. Who has not felt the flutter of the flag in one's pulses and been stirred with rapture to horripilation at sight of some war-worn, shot-riddled remnant, stained with the blood of its bearers, which had braved and beckoned forward the battle on some desperate clay, that made all safe once more for the dear land of our love? Whether used for good or evil the symbol, that outward and visible shape of the idea, is supreme. Most helpful of servants, most tyrannous of masters. Expression still attains the summit in a symbol. It belongs to the universal language, the masonry of nature, the mode of the immortals.
In the case of the flag the link between the fact and its sign is not lost, but precisely where it is lost and we have no clue to the natural verity signified, the origin is there claimed to be supernatural, and credited with the power of conferring a divine sanction on all sorts of devilry. The same influence will prevent the Hindu, if starving, from tasting a bit of cow, or killing the monkey that is devastating villages.
The ancient symbolism was a mode of expression which has bequeathed a mould of thought that imprisons the minds of myriads as effectually as the toad shut up by the rock into which it was born.
The human mind has long suffered an eclipse and been darkened and dwarfed in the shadow of ideas, the real meaning of which has been lost to the moderns. Myths and allegories whose significance was once unfolded to initiates in the mysteries have been adopted in ignorance and reissued as real truths directly and divinely vouchsafed to mankind for the first and only time! The earlier religions had their myths interpreted. We have ours misinterpreted. And a great deal of what has been imposed on us as God's own true and sole revelation to man is a mass of inverted myth, under the shadow of which we have been cowering as timorously as birds in the stubble when an artificial kite in the shape of a hawk is hovering overhead. The parables of the primeval thinkers have been elevated to the sphere, so to say, as the 'hawk' or 'serpent,' the 'bull' or the 'crab' that gave names to certain groups of stars, and we are in precisely the same relationship to those parables and allegories as we should be to astronomical facts if we thought the serpent and bull, the crab and hawk were real animal and bird instead of constellations with symbolical names. The simple realities of the earliest time were [p.14] expressed by signs and symbols and these have been taken and applied to later thoughts and converted by theologists into problems and metaphysical mysteries which they have no basis for and can only wrangle over en l'air, unable to touch solid earth with one foot when they want to expel opponents with the other.
The Greek and still more modern misinterpretations of ancient typology have made it the most terrible tyranny in the mental domain.
Much of our folklore and most of our popular beliefs are fossilized symbolism. The fables and allegories that fed the minds of the initiated, when interpreted, became the facts of the ignorant when the oral teaching of the mysteries was superseded by letters and direct reading, because the hidden wisdom had never been published. Misinterpreted mythology has so profoundly infected religion, poetry, art, and criticism, that it has created a cult of the unreal. Unreality is glorified, called the ideal, and considered to be poetry, a mocking image of beauty, that blinds its followers, until they cannot recognise the natural reality.
In the great conflict of the age between the doctrine of evolution and the dogmas of mythology, between the marvellous and the impossible, our art and poetry are continually found on the side of the mytholators. The myths still furnish lay-figures for the painter and poet, and lives are spent in the vain endeavour to make them live by those and for those who have never known what they signified at first. Youth yet falls in love with them, and has the desire to reproduce; Humanity is recast in the present according to a lion-browed, ape-toed Greek type of the past (described later on), and the humanly heroic is superseded by the counterfeit divine. The prostitute of primitive intercourse, the great harlot of mythology, is continued as a supreme personage in poetry, whether as Helen of Troy or Gwenivere of Britain, or Iseult of Brittany, the Welsh Essyllt, one of the 'three unchaste maidens' of British mythology. It is on the assumption that these lay-figures of poetry, art, or religion, were human once that an interest is taken in them now. But the assumption is false, and falsehood, however attractive, is always fraudulent.
These divinities of the bygone time may serve to beguile the children of today as dolls for dandling, but they are outgrown by all who have attained the stature and status of real men and women. Shakespeare, we are told, has no heroes. Happily to a large extent he drew from nature instead of the models of mythology.
The Jews are caught and confined in a complete network of symbolism, so closely woven round them that they are cramped and catalepsed into rigidity from long keeping of the same postures, and the interstices are almost too narrow for breath to pass through. So is it with the Mohammedan and Parsee ritual of rigid rule and ceremonial routine; a religion of form in which the trivial is stereo- [p.15] typed for all time because of its mystical, that is emblematical, character.
The world of thought is thronged with false births and malformations which were entirely bred of perverted typology. The theological doctrines of evil, the depravity of matter, the fallen nature of the flesh have no other basis and had no other beginning.
Religion itself is sick and daily dying in the process of unloving and sloughing off that which has been imposed upon it by a misinterpretation of symbolism.
It is not the ancient legends that lie; the creators of these did not deal falsely with us. The falsehood is solely the result of ignorantly mistaking mythology for 'revelation' and historic truth.
They did not teach geology in the ancient mysteries. The Christian world assumed that they did, and therefore it was found in opposition to scientific geology.
They did not teach the historic fall of man in the myths. Theologists have assumed that they did, and consequently were found to be utterly opposed to the ascent of man unveiled by the doctrine of evolution. The earliest limits of the human mind have been re-imposed upon it as the latest, in the name of religion, until it looks at last as if all that faith accepted is arrayed against and at enmity with everything that science affirms to be true.
As the later people of many lands no longer recognise the Celt stones for things of human workmanship, but consider them to have fallen ready-made from heaven, so has it been with the simplest ideas of the primitive or archaic men which have been unrecognised because outgrown. These were picked up and preserved as divine. They are believed to have come direct from heaven and are treasured as such in that repository which is in reality the European museum of the Kamite mythology.
Nor were the symbolists insane as they appear to Max Muller.
There is nothing of insanity, nothing irrational in the origins of mythology, when the subject is considered in the light of evolution. The irrationality arises from and remains with the non-evolutionist view. It may be affirmed here, for it will be proved hereafter, that the ancient wisdom is not made up of guesses at truth, but is composed of truths which were carefully ascertained and verified; that the chief character of the myths in their primitive phases is a most perfect congruity and that they have the simplicity of nature itself.
The only work of value left to be written on mythology or typology is one that will account for the facts upon which the myths and religions are founded by relating them once more to the phenomena in which they originated, so that we may know how and where we stand in regard to a beginning. That is now attempted. This work aims at getting to the root and discovering [p.16] the genesis of those ideas that have caused more profound perplexity to the human mind in modern times, without benefit to the individual or the race, than all the problems solved by science, with its glorious gains and rich results for universal humanity.
The idea of De Brosses that 'these fetishes are anything which people like to select for adoration, a tree, a mountain, the ocean, a piece of wool, the tail of a lion, a pebble, a shell, fish, plant, flower, cow goat, elephant, or anything else,' is entirely erroneous, as regards the origins. We might as well expect to select our words by the promiscuous heaping together of any of the letters at random. What he calls fetishes are types which were almost as much the result of natural selection as are any other things in nature, so little conscious choice had man in the matter, so slow was the process of adoption, so great the economy of means on the part of nature. But once evolved they were preserved as faithfully as any other types. De Brosses had no glimpse of the origin of symbolism which he called fetishism.
Men did not 'set to' to select and adopt their symbols, they made use of things to express their thoughts, and those things became symbols in what grew to be a system of homonymism which was created by the human consciousness so gradually under the guidance of natural law, that individual authorship was unknown.
Mr. Spencer has rightly denied that 'conscious symbolization' is at the foundation of certain ceremonial customs and rites of what he terms 'ceremonial government.' He has argued that there is just as little basis for the belief that primitive men deliberately adopted symbols as that they deliberately made rules of social contract. Symbolism was not a conscious creation of the human mind; man had no choice in the matter. He did not begin by thinging his thoughts in intentional enigmas of expression.
Necessity, the mother of invention, was the creator of types and symbols. The type is but a first pattern which becomes the model figure because it was first. Tepi (Eg.) the type, signifies the first. The earliest signs that were made and adopted for current usage were continued as the primary types which had to serve for several later applications.
We have to remember that doing was earlier than saying, and the dumb drama was acted first. When all allowance has been made for the influence of heredity, the deaf-mute who imitates faces and peculiar features and gestures to represent the likeness of certain persons is an extant specimen of the primitive and preverbal mimic. Naturally picture-making by gesture signs preceded the art of picture-writing or drawing of figures on the ground, on bones, stones and the bark of trees. Also the earliest figure-drawing was by imitation of objects as they appear, and not as they are conceived by thought. Things were portrayed before thoughts by those who were thingers [p.17] rather than thinkers. The men who first employed signs had not attained the art which supplies an ideal representation of natural facts; they directly represented their meaning in visible forms. The signs enter a second phase as the representatives of ideas when they become ideographic and metaphorical.
The figure of an eye directly represents sight and seeing, but the eye as reflector of the image becomes a symbol. The eye of Horus is his mother as mirror and reproducer of the babe-image. The uta-eye signifies health, welfare, safety, and salvation, because when placed with the mummy in the tomb it denoted reproduction for another life. The Macusi Indians of Guiana say that when the body decays in death the 'Man in the eyes will not die,' the image reflected by the eye being emblematic of the shadow or soul. The Nootkas of Nootka Sound were found, by Lord, to be in possession of a precious medicine; a solid piece of copper hammered flat, and of an oval or eye-shape, the chief device on which was an eye represented in many sizes. This medicine was most carefully preserved and shown only on extraordinary occasions. This was identical with the symbolic eye of health, welfare, and salvation in Egypt.
The Hottentots to this day will take the root of a shrub called kharab, cut it up and pound it on stones. When one is hungry he takes a pinch of the dust and goes to the house of his neighbour where instead of asking for food, he throws the powder on the fire and expects food to be given to him. The charm is known as the food-provider. Here the action is elaborately symbolical. In the earliest stage of sign-language it would have sufficed to point to the mouth and the food. Again the tip of the crocodile's tail is the hieroglyphic sign for black, not because it was black, for it is but slate-coloured when darkest, and is often of a reddish brown. The type therefore in this case does not depend directly on the complexion. According to Horapollo the tail of the crocodile signifies darkness because the animal inflicts death on any other animal which it may have caught by first striking it with its tail (?) and rendering it incapable of motion. That is one idea. The crocodile likewise denoted sunset. Its two eyes typified the sunrise, its tail the sunset or darkness. All day long the animal lay on land and when the night came down it disappeared in the waters. The tip of its tail was the end of it, and the black signified was night; the colouring matter, so to say, was mental and this sign became its ideograph. The crocodile, his mark! that had been made on their minds by actual contact, and the wrestling for supremacy during ages of watching of this intelligent one of the deep, or the deep one, not unmixed with a sense of relief at the nightly-vanishing tip of its tail.
A distinct statement of the symbolic nature of the sacred fish may be quoted from the Ritual. One of the forty two sins was the catching of 'the fish which typify.' These then were sacred because symbolical.
The meaning of many curious customs and rites cannot be directly ascertained, for the memory is lost, and the ritual of the cult was unwritten. Nor can it be directly derived from nature, which has outgrown that infantile age of humanity, however lucky the guesses we may make. True, the evolutionist is able to affirm that such customs as we now call symbolical are not accounted for until we can trace them to their natural genesis. Here is the imperative need of the typological phase of these things to interpret that which was once the natural; the directly representative, which is still reflected for us by the older races of the world in the primitive customs, religious rites, superstitious beliefs, folklore, and fetishes also in the mirror of mythology. Between us and the natural genesis of ancient customs, rites, ceremonies and religious beliefs, lie the culture represented by Egypt, America, Babylonia, and China, and the decadence and obliviousness of the dying races; and at least we need to know what Egypt has yet to say on these earliest simplicities which have become the later mysteries; she who is the contemporary of time, or rather its creator; the chronologer, the revealer, the interpreter of antiquity; the sole living memory of the dark, oblivious land (the very consciousness of Kam), the speaker for the dumb, unfathomable past, who gave, in graven granite, permanence to the primitive signs of thought, and types of expression; whose stamp or mint-mark may be found generally on this current coinage of the whole world. Without some such clue as Egypt offers, any direct or literal rendering of that which has become symbolic, is likely to be erroneous. The decaying races can but seldom tell what is the intention underlying the type. They have their symbols without the means or desire to interpret them for us. They have their thoughts, for which they do not find expression; their feelings, that may not be transfigured into thought; but for us they are dumb in the awful shadow of the past that hangs over them, and they cannot explain the meaning of its mystery; they have no interpreter between themselves and us for the language of symbols, and until these are understood we shall never understand them. We English mix with 250,000,000 of natives in India, and can rule over them, but cannot comprehend them. Yet those natives who read the present work will penetrate its significance far more profoundly than the writer's own countrymen, whose knowledge is too late a creation, and whose minds live too extensively on the surface of the present for them to get en rapport with their remoter ideas, and establish any real camaraderie of relationship with the peoples of the far-off past.
Egypt can help us to enter the primordial domain of human thought. Egypt or Kam is the parent of all primitive typology, and she alone can adequately explain it, as she was the great conscious recorder of that which had been unconsciously created for the commonest use in the inner African birthplace.
What is here termed typology had its origin in gesture-language, where a few signs supplemented by a few sounds served all purposes for expressing sensations, feelings, and ideas. Gesture-language was (so to say) developed and made permanent in typology. The origin of both may be traced to the fact that men visualised thought in pictures, which they portrayed to the eye, and reflected things in their mental mirror long before they could speak in words, just as the deaf-mutes tell us they thought before mastering the alphabet of gesture-signs. The origins of mythology, symbolism, and numbers have all to be sought in the stage of gesture-language, which was the first mode of figuring an image. For instance, a pin made crooked to throw into the 'wishing-well' is a prayer made permanent. It is a survival of gesture-language; a kind of drawing made by the dumb for the invisible powers to see. The sign can be interpreted by the hieroglyphic uten (ò), a twisted bit of metal, signifying an offering, a libation, the appeal of sacrifice, therefore a type of prayer. Such sign-language is yet extant, and is illustrated at a distance by the Chinaman who failing to convey his meaning by words will draw the ideographic character on the palm of his hand, or with his fan in the air, saying, 'I mean that!'
Stanley tells us how the Waganda frequently have recourse to drawing figures on the ground to illustrate imperfect oral description, and that they show surprising cleverness in the truthfulness of their rough-and-ready delineations. The skill of the Bushmen, Kaffirs and some negroes in the drawing and modelling of figures is a result of the primordial gesture-language transferred from the air to solid earth.
Leibnitz has said that the writing of the Chinese might seem to have been invented by a deaf person, its formation was so near to that of gesture-signs addressed to the eye. The oldest Chinese characters, two hundred in number, are called Siang-Hing, that is images or ideographic representations. A considerable number of Chinese ideographs are identical with the Egyptian.
The most ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics are those which convey their meaning by direct representation or imitation. In a later phase these were still continued as ideographic determinatives, so that notwithstanding the development of the hieroglyphics the links are complete from the gesture-signs down to the alphabet.
Man invoking, praying, adoring, rejoicing, dancing, striking, building, sculpturing, tilling the ground, fighting, reposing, ruling, carrying, walking, old man and young child, are represented directly [p.20] in the act of making the appropriate gesture-signs or visible speech which all men can read at sight. Things belonging to sight are indicated by an eye. An arm outstretched is the sign of offering, and making a present. The ear is an emblem of listening, hearing, judging; the nose, of breathing, smelling, and the delight of life or existence. A pair of legs going denotes the transitive verb and the legs in transitu were first.
A comparison of certain Egyptian signs with those of the North American Indians tends to the conclusion that they had a common origin. The Egyptians engraved such hieroglyphics in granite and the Indians still figure them in the air. But the typology is at times identical and the two continue to meet in one and the same meaning.
With the Indians one sign serves to convey several meanings according to a prototypal idea. The index finger lifted above the face signifies over, heaven, great spirit, and day, or today. So in the hieroglyphics her, the sign of heaven, denotes above, over, superior, a spirit, and the same word means day. Thus, one form of the sign is the face (her), above, and the Indian sign is made above the face.
In making the signs for day, morning, noon, tomorrow, or yesterday, the subject must face the south with his back to the north, and right hand to the west. This attitude shows the Sabean and pre-solar standpoint in which the south was the face and front and the north the hinder part, whereas in the solar reckoning the east was the front and the west was the back.
In Egyptian imagery the south is the front, the north the hinder-part. The male emblem as the bahu denotes the front, and is the figure of 'before.' The female is the image of behind and the hinder-part, probably in relation to primitive usage, when woman was as the animal. This typology is illustrated by the Bongos, who bury the male facing the north, or frontwise, and the female facing the south or hinderwise, according to the Kamite reckoning.
It is probable that the Indian sign of before is an equivalent for the Egyptian ideograph. 'The left hand representing an imaginary line, the action of the right makes it the front, or before;' the forefinger is pointed outward, and the hand thrust forward forcibly and rapidly. These gestures tend to identify the original meaning with the Egyptian masculine sign. When the Indians, according to Dunbar's list of gesture-signs, denote the man by closing the hand and with the extended forefinger drawing a line down over the stomach from the upper to the lower part of the body, they are indicating the male as the front one, just as the bahu hieroglyphic of the male signifies [p.21] 'before.' Behind is portrayed by making the gesture for before, and then swinging the hand backwards from the thigh, with a motion quickened as the hand goes back. Behind (khepsh the north, or khept the rump) is represented in the hieroglyphics by the hinder thigh.
The typology of the left as the lower hand, the feminine half, corresponding to the hinder-part and the nethermost of two, runs through all the Indian signs. The lower, hinder-part, and the left hand are feminine in the quarters north and west. The Indian sign for the female (squaw) is made by passing the flat extended hands with fingers joined down the sides of the head as far as the shoulders to denote long hair. Then the left hand is held transversely before the body, pointing to the right. The right hand, index downwards, is then passed beneath the left hand along the abdomen, and the sign is made which signifies 'of woman born.'
'Below,' as with the Egyptians, is identical with the left hand; the indicatory movements being made with the left, or lower, hand, palm downwards, and the eyes kept looking down; Also to rub the back of the left hand with the fingers of the right, is a sign of black, the lower, night side, the English Car-hand, for the left hand, and Car-land for lowland.
This identifies the left hand, the Car-hand, with the kas or karh (Eg.) of the lower, the night side, the dark. In gathering the selagot herb, Pliny says, the Druids plucked it with the right hand wrapped in a tunic, the left being uncovered, as though they were stealing it. This is the pictograph of stealing according to the Indian sign-gestures. In these, the left hand and night, or the dark side, being identical as the under hand.
The action of stealing is portrayed by holding the left forearm a little in front of, and across the body for cover and concealment, then the seizure is suddenly made with the right hand, which feels furtively, grasps, and withdraws; the act being performed under the security of darkness or night, typified by the left hand. Stealing is yet described as 'underhand work.'
The left hand plays the same part in the mimeograph of fruitless. It is brought forward; the left index punches the right palm, and is then swept backwards and downwards by the left side. This sign of negation and deficiency is employed by the Hottentots, who describe a stingy chief as being gei-âre, or greatly left-handed; âre, with the click, being identical with the English car for the left hand; the Egyptian kar for underneath.
Some antique statues have been lately found by M. de Sarzec in the mounds of Tello, belonging to an art and civilisation which preceded those of Babylonia and Assyria. They have all one attitude, the arms being crossed on the breast with the left hand clasping the right. [p.22] This is a gesture-sign to be read at sight. The left hand being the lower and inferior, this is the attitude of humility, or an act of worship. Whether the object be human or divine must be determined by the surroundings, but the gesture-sign belongs to gesture-language, and tells its story according to one system wherever found.
The significance of giving the 'right hand of fellowship,' and in making a covenant, or of being seated on the right hand still depends on the origin in gesture-language, the right being the superior hand. The symbolism of the left hand is also applied by the Indians to the representation of death, in which it is held flat over the face with the back outwards, when the right hand similarly held is passed below the other, gently touching it. This sign likewise denotes the passage under; death itself being described as 'going under.' In the representation of 'dying,' the left hand is held as in the sign for dead and the right is passed under it with a slow, gentle, interrupted movement.
The signs for death point to drowning as the typical end and mode of 'going under.' One illustration is by reversal of the hand, which reads 'upset,' 'keeled over.' Water is the most primary and permanent of types, one of the Two Truths of Egypt; the natural opposite or antithesis of breath. The Egyptian ideograph of negation, no, not, without, deprived of, is a wave of water; and the Indian representations of death include a downward movement of the hand outstretched with the palm upward. The hand is lowered gradually with a wave-like motion. In another sign the palm of the hand is placed at a short distance from the side of the head, and then withdrawn gently in an oblique downward direction, at the same time the upper part of the body bends, leans, and the sinking motion is thus imitated twice over. The word 'ke-neeboo' is pronounced slowly. Colonel Mallery points out that in Ojibwa the word nibo means he dies, he sleeps, the original significance being he leans, from anibeia, it is leaning; but the leaning, keeling over, and sinking, all indicate death by water, and in the chief Indian languages, nibo, for 'he dies' is the type-name for water, as:
|neebi, Ojibwa.||nepee, Knistinaux.||nippe, Massachusetts.|
|nebee, Potowatami.||nepee, Skoffi.||nipe, Narragansetts.|
|nipish, Ottawa.||nepee, Sheshatapoosh.||nape, Miami.|
|nipi, Old Algoukin.||nabi, Abenaki.|
Death by drowning was a form of sinking and going under that was obvious to the earliest perception, and this negation of life by means of water is figured in the hieroglyphic sign of negation.
It has been said that there is no negative in nature* but the men [p.23] who made water the sign for no, en, or nun had observed that it was the negation of breath, and the hieroglyphics show the type of negation in running water. Also the word skhet (Eg.) which means to slay, signifies to capsize. Khem (Eg.) is a form of no, not, and the word likewise means dead.
* Negation. 'Now we come upon a feature which is inconsiderable in its bulk ... but yet one which covers with its influence half the realm of language. This is the apparatus of negation ... Where in the outer world is there such a thing as a negative? Where is the natural phenomenon that would suggest to the human mind the idea of negation? There is no negative in nature.'
With this waving and sinking of the hand to indicate death we may connect, and possibly interpret, the Indian signs of no, the emphatic negative. One of these is made by moving the hand in front of the face; another by oscillating the index finger before the face from right to left. This latter sign, made by the Pah-Utes, is said by Canon de Jorio to be in use also among the Neapolitans, and in many parts of Southern Europe. Oscillation shows negation whether made with the head or the hand. This sign is extant among the Japanese.
The shake of the head is another mode of negation corresponding to the wave and the waving motion. Also the natives near Torres Straits have a gesture of negation in which they hold up the right hand and shake it by turning it half round and back again two or three times, which corresponds to our shake of the head as a sign of 'no.' The essential feature is the waving or wave which imitates the wave of water that constitutes the hieroglyphic no, emphatic negation, none (nun).
A Chinese character signifying law is composed of 'water' and 'to go,' why is unknown; but, as water denotes the negative, the two signs read 'no go,' or 'thou shalt not,' which was the earliest formula of law.
Darwin, in The Expression of the Emotions, remarks that 'the waving of the hand front right to left, which is used as a negative by some savages, may have been invented in imitation of shaking the head; but whether the opposite movement of waving the hand in a straight line from the face which is used in affirmation has arisen through antithesis or in some quite distinct manner, is doubtful.' The left hand in the Kamite typology is the negative, feminine, nether, underhand; the emphatic negative being expressed by both hands held low down, whilst the straight is the right and thus the right hand waved in a straight line has the value of yes.
Straight is synonymous with true or right and true, that is with mâ, which also means 'come,' 'you may,' and is therefore an affirmative. So the Dakota signs of yes and truth are identical. Possibly this sign of mâ or mâi, for 'come,' 'you may,' can be read at root by 'maaui' (Eg.) which signifies 'in the power of.' More fully 'You may come, I am in your power, truly, or empty-handed; see the palm of my hand.' [p.24] In the Egyptian ideograph of the verb to pray and beseech the palms of the two hands are presented outward, showing that the hands are empty.
In a similar manner the sound of 'cooey,' which the Australian settlers have adopted from the natives, affords its intimation. In the Yarra dialect the word kooo-ey signifies 'alone,' or 'I am alone;' and this intelligence is first uttered by the messenger from one tribe to another whilst he is yet a mile from their place of encampment.
In the Apache, Comanche, Kaiowa and Wichita sign, the palm of the right hand is afterwards thrown against the horizontal palm of the left hand, showing in another way that both hands are empty, although only one was lifted in invitation.
This reading may be illustrated by the Yoruban saying, 'The palm of the hand does not lie,' or it never deceives one. The same fundamental meaning survives in the phrase of clear or 'clean-handed.'
The Egyptian ideograph of peaceful and gentle actions is the arm with the hand fallen thus À. Whereas the determinative of forcible actions is the clenched hand uplifted ¾.
The Indian intimation of no, not, negation, is conveyed by the hand being waved in refusing to accept the idea or statement presented. This action is in keeping with the hieroglyphic sign for no, not, negation, with the two hands waved apart and extended palm-downwards ¹. In the Dakota sign the hand is held flat and pointing upwards before the right side of the chest, then thrown outward and pressed down. Also there is a strong coincidence between the negative particle 'ma,' given by Landa, and the Egyptian emphatic negative.
According to Fornander, the same gesture sign for 'no' prevails throughout Polynesia. He says, 'Ask a person if he had such or such a thing, and, two to one, instead of saying "No," he will turn his hand or hands palm-downwards, in sign of a negative answer.'
This figure of negation, of forbidding and prohibiting represented by the hieroglyphic ¹, is yet made by our railway signalmen for staying the train and preventing it from starting. It is still the 'no' of gesture speech.
The explanation as given by Captain Burton of the Indian signs for truth and lie, is sufficient to affiliate the gestures to the 'Two Truths' of Egypt, which are manifold in their application as two aspects or phases of the one idea, such as yes or no, before and behind, good and bad, right and wrong, the dual justice or twofold truth. Captain Burton says the forefinger extended straight from the mouth is the sign for telling truth, as 'one word,' whereas two fingers denote the 'double-tongue,' or a lie. Truth is that which comes straight from the heart or mouth. Speaking the truth is straight speech. Among [p.25] the Khoi-Khoi, law means that which is straight, right, true, in a straight line, in exact agreement with Maat, for the law as inflexible rule. Also the gentleman's or great man's word is the true word (amab).
Although comparatively superseded by the cubit measure, yet the finger (É) is at times found to be an Egyptian determinative of mā, the true, truth, or goddess of truth. Mā signifies to stretch out (protendere), to hold out straight before one, just as the Indians extend the finger. This stretching out straight is the sign of right rule, the finger being an early form of the rule measure, or the straight, right, and true. All the meanings meet in the Zend erezu for rule, straight, right, true, and the name of the finger.
The extended finger was the rule-sign of truth, of mā, which has two phases, positive and negative, or true and untrue, the untrue being indicated by the second finger as the dual mā. If we read mâti as makti, that is double-tongue. Here it may be remarked that one sign of mā is the hand outstretched in offering the sign of stretched-out, but not of hand, and that the Mexicans portrayed a hand—ma (itl)—to signify the sound of ma, and not the word hand.
The Egyptian ankh, to pair, couple, clasp together, duplicate, naturally includes marriage, and, as we still say, the marriage-tie. The ankh-knot is made in gesture-speech by forming the loop with the tips of the thumb and forefinger. When Goat's-Nose makes this sign by softly coupling the nails of the two members together, Pantagruel says the sign denotes marriage. This is the modern Neapolitan sign for 'love,' and was a sign of marriage and of Venus in Italy from remotest times.
This sign of coupling, unity and marriage is made by Vishnu with his right handi, in the act of embracing Lakshmi with his left. When the ankh tie was formed, that served the purpose, but the gesture made with the thumb and forefinger was first.
The knot or tie (ankh) is a hieroglyphic sign of life and living. Ankh also means to clasp, and the Indian sign of life and alive is made with a particular mode of making the clasp with the thumb and middle (root) finger of the right hand.
In the sign for death (Comanche) the gesture-maker might be undoing the ankh-sign of life as the instructions are: 'Bring the left hand to the left breast, hand half clinched, then bring the right hand to the left with the thumb and forefinger in such a position as if you were going to take a bit of string from the forefinger of the left hand, and pull the right hand as if you were stretching out a string.' This reads 'Soul going to happy hunting grounds;' and as before said looks [p.26] like the loosening of the ankh-knot of life. Moreover, the untying in the sign of death is the right natural antithesis to the tie or clasp (ankh) as the symbol of life.
The death-sign described by Holt is made by placing the 'left forefinger and thumb against the heart, act as if taking a hair from the thumb and forefinger of the left hand with the thumb and forefinger of the right and slowly casting it front you, only letting the left hand remain at the heart and let the index finger of the right hand point outward toward the horizon.' Here also we have the sign of the knot or cord which formed the ankh-symbol of life, and the pantomime of loosing it; that loosing of the silver לבח (Eg. kabu the cord) described by the Hebrew writer, which also probably applies to the noose-symbol of life.
The mode of describing the meaning destroyed, all gone, no more, is by an action of the palms. These are rubbed together, signifying rubbed out. The hands are held horizontally and the palms are rubbed together two or three times circularly; the right hand is then carried off from the left in a short horizontal curve. They are rubbed out. This is an express signification of 'ter' (Eg.) for killing, running through, transfixing, obliterating, literally to wipe and rub out.
One mimeograph of the personal pronoun I, myself is made by striking the breast repeatedly with the clenched hand, and it is noticeable that ank (Eg.) the personal pronoun, the I, I the king, also means to clench or clasp the hand. Others touch the top of the nose with the index finger, or lay it along the ridge with the top resting between the eyes. So in Egypt.
'He pronounced an oath by the sovereign Lord (the pharaoh) striking his nose and his ears with both hands upon a rod.'
In some languages the man, the I, and the nose have one name.
The personal pronoun I is—
|nira in Illinois.||nal, Ostiac.||nyr, Ziranian.|
|nir in the old Algonkin.||nol, Vogul.||onari, Guaque (Carib.)|
|nil, Micmac.||nyr, Votiak.||naran, Ticunas.|
|nel, Etchemin.||nyr, Permian.||nyore, Mose (African).|
In Egyptian nra is the man, nra the neb of the vulture. In Tsheremis her is the nose. In Latin hare is a nose; also the nostrils of a hawk. Here the three types of man, the personal pronoun, and the nose meet under one word, and are in keeping with the Indian sign of 'I'.
The Arapahos make a gesture sign, which denotes their name, by taking the nose between the thumb and forefinger. And as in other Indian gesture signs the nose is the ideograph of the personal pronoun I, and as the nose is an equivalent for ankh (Eg.) I, I am, [p.27] the king, these according to the typology are claiming a supremacy among men. If interpreted by the nar or nose of the vulture they would be the sure hunters, the far-sighted, the victorious.
The Todas of the Neilgherry Hills have a mode of salutation, supposed to be one of respect, in which they raise the open right hand to the brow and rest the thumb on the nose. The hieroglyphic nose (¦) when human signifies pleasure and delight; glad to smell you as it were.
The nose as the ank or personal pronoun I is equivalent to the Eskimo innuk, a type-name for man. In one of the dialects (Kuskutshewak) nikh is the name for the nose, which is kinaga in Kadiak. Innuwok in Eskimo is life and to live. In the Maya we have inic, winic, winak; in Javanese wong. The Iroquois onnhe, to live, is a modified form of the same archetypal word, and probably the wang or spirit of inner Africa is the unku (Eg.) a spirit; the spirit was primarily the breath, hence the connection with the nose as an organ of breathing, and a type of the I, the ank, who in Egypt had become the king, the living one.
The nasal sound nug of the Cherokee language is the inner African nge, the most common form of the personal pronoun 'I,' in Africa, or the rest of the world. This represents the nose, and the personal pronoun 'I,' the ankh itself in the domain of sounds.
The mouth, eye, nose, and ear are all forms of the ankh-type of life and living; the being, the one who is, the I am, the I see, or I hear, I breathe, I smell out, I perceive, with the particular organ for ideographic determinator. Hence the mouth, eye, nose, and ear became natural hieroglyphics of the I in person, sufficient to distinguish four different ideas or persons, and to furnish four totemic signs. The Chinese have five officials of the human body, the mouth, nose, ear, eye, and eyebrow. The strong eyebrow is a preserver of a modified ankhu or emblem of life; the natural being primary.
The teeth are touched by the Indians to indicate the meaning of white, and in Egyptian the tooth is 'hu' which is also the name long life; and in the Egyptian hieroglyphics the anhu, eyebrow, is for white as hut. Black is signified by touching the hair, and in Egyptian black and hair are synonymous; they have one name as kam. Another sign for black is made by pointing to the sun and executing the sign for no; no sun or sun-setting being equal to black. So the Chinese ideograph of the setting sun which is similar to the Akkadian and like it has the value of 'mi,' i.e., sunset, night, black, is one with the Egyptian am or mmi for the west, the place of sunset. The mode of indicating a period, applied to the end of a lifetime, as in the 'Address of Kin Chē-ĕss,' is by the gesture-sign of 'cut off.' Ever, always, or eternal is 'never cut off.' This ideograph belongs to the oldest representation of time in heaven. In the [p.28] planisphere of Denderahi the goddess of the seven stars and mother of time is portrayed holding a knife, the kat (Eg.), English cutter, in her hand. That is the sign of time cut off, separated, distinguished. One revolution of the Bear was one year cut off; the annual quota cut off, quotannis. A long time is expressed by placing the thumbs and forefingers as if a thread were held between the thumb and forefinger of each hand; the hands first touching each other, are then slowly drawn apart as if stretching a piece of gum elastic. Colonel Mallery compares this act with the Greek τείνω, to stretch. In Egyptian ten, denotes time, measure, to stretch and to reckon. Ten is to extend, lengthen out; tens is a stretcher. Ten is to complete, fill up, determine, and the variant tem (our time) has the same meaning. A tent is a length of time, a fortnight; temt is a total.
The Egyptian gesture-sign for ter to interrogate, ask, inquire, question, English tell me, is made with both hands scooped upwards exactly as the one hand is employed in making the common Indian sign for 'tell me.' This gesture is used by the natives of Australia and is common with all orators as a mode of inquiry. Another link may be established between teru for time, and teru to draw. The sign-gesture for drawing was first, but teru (Eg.) to draw had become pictorial, applied to colour and painting. Teru, to draw, is also a measure of land, or of time, the gesture is a measure of time, indicated by the drawing out.
Horapollo observes, 'When we would denote the loins or constitution of a man we depict the backbone, for some hold that the seed proceeds from thence.'
Mr. Long says: 'If an Indian wishes to tell you that an individual present is his offspring, he points to the person, and then with the finger still extended, passes it forward from his loins in a line curving downward, then slightly upward.' Captain Burton tells us, 'A son or daughter is expressed by making with the hand a movement denoting issue from the loins.' Offspring, read literally, is 'out of the loins.'
The signs for male and female, boy and girl, are made by direct imitation, the forefinger taking the place of the Egyptian ideograph. To depict the female the two outstretched thumbs and forefingers are joined, and placed in position to form the ovoid figure represented by the hieroglyphic ru ¨. The sign for the female is also made with an almond-shaped opening between the thumb and forefinger, with the tip of the one resting on the tip of the other.
One sign for woman is also European. The left fore and second fingers are extended and separated with the other fingers closed. The thumb is then placed against the palm in such a manner that [p.29] the top is visible in the crotch thus figured. This represents a likeness to the form et staturigo veneris in the pudendum muliebre.
It is common among the English peasantry, and constitutes a most deadly sign of insult with the Latin races, who give the fico, or fig, in a similar manner. The insult lies in the gesture indicating the female, and reads, 'You are effeminate,' 'Behold your sign.' So our English boys who shoot (at marbles) with the thumb tucked in are chaffingly said to play 'cunny-thumbed.'
A form of this feminine mimeograph is given by Colonel Mallery under the heading of 'Challenge, Florentine Sign.' 'A fist clinched with the thumb thrust out under the forefinger.' The thumb thrust out is a sign of mockery and contempt with various African races. One of the Oji proverbs says, 'If you go to the sabbat (or 'customs') making the sign with the thumb (i.e., thrusting out the thumb) you will be answered with blows.' One mimeograph for woman is made by imitating the action of combing the long hair. This sign has the same value as the comb found on the tomb of the Lars, in the Akkadian pictographs, or on the Scottish stones along with the mirror, both being feminine, both symbols of reproduction by the pubescent female. The comb is a female sign in the hieroglyphics (?), and is equivalent to the sign of combing. Another of the ideographs for woman is to point to or express the mammæ. This is the same as the sign of the two breasts in hieroglyphics, the determinative of menâ, the wet-nurse, and menâ, to suckle. Menâ (menkat) had become a goddess in Egypt, and her vases had taken the place of the mammæ, but the living type is still retained in the Indian sign. The primary natural signs remain for use where vases, breast-shaped or womb-shaped, are no longer manufactured. The vase of menâ was both mammæ-shaped and womb-shaped, and in the gesture-sign for the female, as rendered by Matthews, 'the arms were flexed and the hands held fist-like at either side in the position of the female mammary glands, then swept semi-circularly downwards.' The sign reads, one with prominent mammæ who can bring forth young, and who thus represented the blessings of the Hebrew shadai. The vase of mena was also imitated by making the cup-shape over each breast.
The Egyptians indicated pregnancy in the female by a swelling abdomen, and the hieroglyphy is the same, although only drawn in gesture-sign for the moment, when the Indians express the same fact pantomimically by passing the two hands slightly arched from the pubis in a curve upward and in toward the pit of the stomach, and thus depict the rotund shape of the abdomen.
For birth, delivery, to produce the child, the Egyptians represent the woman in the act of emaning the child, whose head and arms [p.30] are visible (]). The Indians enact the process of parturition, and imitate the pubic arch and the curve of carus with the two hands, which is followed by the head of the child during birth. This sign is used generically. With additions it means mother, father, grandparent. The Egyptian sign reads pâ-pâ, for the human species; pâ, the race, men; pâpâ, to produce and be delivered. To denote the babe, or nursling, the back of the right hand is laid crosswise in the palm of the left, on the left side of the breast, and the movement up and down is then made as though holding and dandling an infant. So in the hieroglyphics, renn, to dandle, and renn, the nursling, are identical; and the babe is shown in the arms of the nurse, who is dandling it up and down, and who is named the dandler, as Rennut.
The child, or suckling, is portrayed by the thumb and fingers being brought to the mouth, or by the finger placed in the mouth. This is the Egyptian hieroglyphic for the child. The primary idea was probably in reference to the suckling child. Still the infant and infans are inseparably connected, and the Greeks were not so wrong as some Egyptologists have supposed in making the child Har-pi-kart, the god of silence, or the silent god. The child and silence have the same name in Egyptian. Khart, the child, also means silence. It is always perilous to limit an ideograph to one meaning. The chief sign for astonishment, surprise, and wonder is made by placing the right hand before the mouth, which is supposed to be open. This gesture is generic in the hieroglyphics, where it is used for expressing various emotions; it likewise signifies to speak, whisper, meditate, and to kiss, as in Job's description of idolatry or adulation conveyed by kissing the hand. It also has the meaning of thinking and meditating, and would therefore apply to being lost in astonishment, or speechless. It serves as the determinative of 'dumb,' 'mouthless.' Hiding the mouth, with many Asiatic races, is equivalent to being mouthless, i.e., dumb. The negroes on the West Coast of Africa clap their hands to their mouths when surprised, saying, at the same time, 'My mouth cleaves to me,' that is, I am speechless, dumb with amazement. In spite of all assumptions to the contrary, this gesture is a sign of the child as the speechless one, the dumb Horus, or silent khart, who was the opposite of the True Voice. The sign has really to be read by childhood being the type of speechlessness. The gesture says, 'I am voiceless, a child again, a ninny who has nothing to say.' The Australians, the North American Indians, and the Africans all make this gesture-sign of wonder. Darwin remarks that it has been observed among so many races of men it must have some natural origin. We may add, that there must also have been consensus. The mimeograph [p.31] for silence and the child, are both expressed by the one word khart (Eg.).
Mrs. Barber says the Kaffirs and Fingoes express astonishment by a serious look and by placing the right hand upon the mouth, uttering the word 'mawo' which is the Xhosa exclamation for wonderful! prodigious! The word also signifies 'alas.' The fuller form of the expression in grief is 'mame-mawo,' or 'Alas! my mother!' In this the mother is added to the type of the child. So in Egyptian the mam, mum or mu is the mother, and malui denotes wonder, to be full of astonishment, like the vulgar English 'O moy!' The word 'adore' really means 'with hand to mouth.'
For the sign of companion, as the husband, or to accompany, the forefinger of each hand is extended pointing straight to the front and joined, all other fingers of both hands being closed, the hands held horizontal, with the backs upwards, signifying 'inseparable, united, equal.' A similar sign is made by the native Australians when they offer the woman to a visitor as a rite of hospitality, the fingers of both hands being closely interlocked. In the hieroglyphics teka, to join, adhere, mix, and multiply with the sign of the cross X is equivalent to the two or the ten digits, or to the two hands being interlaced to signify conjunction. To denote a basket, or wickerwork, the separated fingers of both hands are interlaced in front of the body. So tekar (Eg.), the digit, is the type of teka, to join, cross, cleave, twist, intertwine, as do the fingers, or the withies in making baskets.
The sign of counting, and of enumeration in general, is made by stretching out the ten digits. Also many, much, quantity, multiplicity, are expressed by stretching out the fingers and clutching at the air several times. This action, says Kohl, is often confounded with that for counting. The native Australians likewise denote many, multitude, large numbers, by holding up the hand, spreading out the fingers, and shutting and opening them rapidly.
Now the first and most universal reckoning was digital, and the name of the digits and the number ten of many languages is tek, or tekh (Eg.). Tekh is a title of the reckoner, who was both tekhi, the goddess, and Taht. Tekar is the Egyptian digit, a finger. The sign of tek is the cross X, the Roman figure of ten, or decem, and this is the hieroglyphic symbol of multiplication.
One sign of all is made by moving both hands horizontally, palm downwards, in a large circle, two feet in front of the face. The Egyptian all, as neb and temt, is a total and a circle of two halves.
Among the signs for day, one is described by Titchkemátski, the Cheyenne Indian, as ending with the palms of the hands being [p.32] outspread upward, to indicate the opening out of day. Wied also describes this gesture as consisting in both hands being placed apart, some distance from the breast, with the palms upward. This sign for day, or this morning, is an Egyptian gesture. It is made with lifted hands, and the palms outspread upwards, signifying 'all open,' 'everything is open,' the reverse of the sign for night, or 'everything is closed.' This is the hieroglyphic for tuau, or seb, which has the meaning of opening day, morning, morrow, and also to worship. So certainly is the sense of 'opening out' conveyed by the words seb and tuau, for the dawn of day, that they also denote the gateway of the light; the gate or gate-opener being a star. One sign of the night is made by the two hands crossed horizontally. The cross is a well-known Indian sign of night and darkness. This is connected with the crossing of the sun by night, who is represented as the black god.
It was the custom in Egypt to reckon the year by the inundation. The month of Mesore is named from the new birth of the waters. In like manner one of the Indian signs for rain or snow is the ideographic sign for a year. The year as a rain marks the same mode of computation as that of the Unyamwesi and the Hottentots, who reckon time by the rainy seasons, as the Egyptians did by the inundations.
The hand and language have one name in Egyptian, as 'tut.' Also the tongue and hand are the two Egyptian hieroglyphics of speech. The sign-language of the Indians is known as Hand-Conversation. Burton says the open hand is extended from the mouth. Various other gestures of hand and mouth likewise denote speech.
The Egyptian sign of kâ, to beckon, call, and say, with the uplifted hands, agrees with the Oto sign for an interview—'Approach, I will open myself to you, I will speak to you.' One Egyptian determinative for tet, speech, address, to tell, shows both hands held up and waving level with the mouth. Both hands are used for 'conversation' in the Ankara and Hidatsa gesture-signs. An Egyptian tradition, recorded in Plutarch, tells us that until the god Taht taught men speech they used mere cries like other animals; and it is true that Taht, the lunar logos, is later than the god Shu, or Kafi, and the typhonian genetrix Kefa. The kaf-ape was a type of 'hand-conversation' and gesture-language. The ape is the hand of the gods, has the name of the hand, is the hand personified, and its name, kaf is the earlier form of kâ, for calling and saying; thus the hand is an earlier sign of speech in Egyptian mythology than the mouth or tongue as Taht, the lunar logos.
In the scenes of the Hades appear four monkeys, each holding an enormous hand. Moreover, the descent of the hand-type can be [p.33] traced in language from the kaf-monkey, to the human hand of Taht. One name of the oldest genetrix, the kaf-nosed hippopotamus, is Tept. Tept is the tongue, and she was depicted with her tongue lolling out as a symbol of utterance. Tept modifies into tet, for the tongue, the human hand, and the later equivalent for kaf, the hand, to take, to utter language. Typology and mythology agree in this beginning with the kaf which is solely African, and neither Asiatic, European, nor American. Tep in Egyptian means to taste, breathe, inhale. It is also the name for the tongue and palate. This is a common type-name for the tongue or mouth, the organ of taste, as—
|tupe, Coropo.||topono, Yarura.||tavas, Cornish.|
|tope, Purus.||debe, Alege.||teppa, Comanche.|
|tib, Soiony.||tafod, Welsh.||tupa, Wihinasht.|
Tofo, in Polynesian, and tovolea, Fijian, mean taste; tubbu, Fiji, is to be sweet to the taste, and dovu is the sugar-cane. Teb (Eg.) is the fig, the fruit that is sweet to the taste. In Santa Barbara salt is tipi; and in San Luis Obispo it is tepu. A variant of the word tef (Eg.), tyffen, Cornish, is to spit; also tuf, in Persian.
The Indian sign for taste is to touch the tip of the tongue. In the Shienne gesture-sign for 'sweet,' the tip of the forefinger is pressed on the tip of the tongue. The same sign is used for 'sour.' The Dakota sign for sour includes spitting. Now the tongue (tep) was touched in tasting, and gave its answer in saliva before there was a word tep to express the sensation, or to name the organ or the act.
Colonel Mallery says:—
'A lesson was learned by the writer as to the abbreviation of signs and the possibility of discovering the original meaning of those most obscure from the attempts of a Shienne to convey the idea of "old man." He held his right hand forward bent at elbow, with fingers and thumb closed sidewise. This not conveying any sense, he found a long stick, bent his back, and supported his frame in a tottering step by the stick held as was before only imagined. There, at once, was decrepit Age dependent on a Staff.'
The bent old man leaning on a long staff is likewise the Egyptian sign of age, elders, the old man (5).
In this description we see a mode of reducing the earliest direct ideograph to a secondary representation, or kind of hieroglyphic shorthand corresponding to the reduction of the Egyptian ideographic signs in the demotic phase on the way to their becoming letter signs. The mimic finding the symbolic and secondary phase ineffectual had recourse to direct representation, as we do when we revert to the primary gesture-language. In like manner the deaf mutes will contract and reduce the natural, or spontaneous gesture, into an artificial sign that loses all obvious likeness to the [p.34] natural one, but is understood by them, and serves the purpose of expression.
Gesture-language was, and still is, continued in religious rites and ceremonies. In holding up the holy water the Parsee ritual prescribes that at certain words it is to be lifted level with the heart of the officiating priest, and at others it is to be held level with the arm of the priest, so that the warriors fighting for their country may be fuller of breath, and the husbandmen stronger of arm in tillage and cultivation of the world.
The principle is the same if the action is not so primitive as that of the Hottentots, who, when out on the war-path, will take the heart of a crow and calcine it to dust. This is then rammed into a gun and fired off with powder. As the heart is blown into air it is held that the enemy will lose heart and fly off like timid crows. Both had their origin in the acting drama and the signs that preceded spoken language. Our popular beliefs still talk to us or make their dumb show of meaning in gesture-speech. The noose of the hangman or the suicide is not only held to be healing on account of its having taken life it loses its efficacy if allowed to fall to the ground, and the touch of the dead hand must be applied whilst the body is still hanging. Why? Because the symbol of suspending or of being suspended was taken to suspend the disease.
These primates of human expression have now to be traced on another line of thought. In the early dawn of the human consciousness man would observe that the animals, birds, reptiles, and insects excelled him in various kinds of contrivance, modes of getting a living, and power over the elements. The fish could breathe in the water which was fatal to him. The frog could engender and suspend on the flood a floating foothold of life, a base of being that began in the water and ended on the land. The hippopotamus could dive and disappear for an hour together. In attack or retreat many of the animals were superior to himself. The dog made a better hunter and watchman; the cat could see and pounce on her prey in the dark the bee, bird, and beaver beat him in building; the spider in spanning empty space, with the woven means of crossing it. The serpent managed the art of locomotion without visible members, and renewed its garment periodically by changing its skin. The monkey, with his four hands, excelled man, who had lost two of his in the process of metamorphosis and descent from the fourfold foothold in the tree to the twofold standing on the earth. Animate or inanimate things were adopted of necessity for use as a means of representing his primitive thought, and these things in the later phase became sacred objects, and thus Africa and the world were filled with fetish images which are only another kind of hieroglyphics not yet interpreted; a [p.35] rendering of which was brought on, almost intact, by the Egyptians. Tradition, customs, and language in many lands, still preserve the ancient types, where their meaning is no longer understood. But the notion that the primitive man fell straightway to worshipping these types is wholly erroneous. Greek writers, like Porphyry, mystified themselves with thinking that the Egyptian respect paid to animals arose from their belief in the transmigration of souls. This was their guess at the hieroglyphics they could not translate, and the symbolism they did not comprehend. Our remotest ancestors were not so simple as to regard the brutes as gods, or the birds as angels, or the reptiles as devils. Such a reading postulates gods, angels, and devils, which were not then extant. They observed the keen instincts, the ingenious works and ways of the creatures as something remarkable and imitable, so far as was possible, without suspecting the presence of divinities or demons in animal disguise.
The Bushmen venerate or pay homage to a kind of caterpillar, to which, or in presence of which, they pray for success in hunting after game. The caterpillar is the stealthy crawler. In Egyptian, hefa, to crawl, is the name of the caterpillar and viper, or snake. It would supply a type of that crawling stealthily along the ground which was a necessity with the early man in pursuit of his prey. And the so-called praying to the image would be equivalent to saying, may we slide along as silently and successfully as the caterpillar, only as they expressed themselves by means of things, this was their sole way of saying it.
The mantis, a perfect type of the most deadly deception, is also highly honoured by the Bushmen and Hottentots. The noiseless movement of the caterpillar, or snake, and the deceiving appearance of the mantis, were enviable and admirable to the primitive huntsman. They are living ideographs, which were afterwards portrayed in Egypt as hieroglyphic determinatives of ideas.
The enormous fecundity of the frog was the cause of the tadpole being adopted as the ideograph of a million, and also designated the lord of life. The time was when people in England, who wished for offspring, would swallow frogs to ensure children. The frog was eaten not for any virtue which it could communicate, but because it was an ideograph of fecundity. So the Malays of Singapore eat the flesh of the tiger, and pay highly for it, not that they like it, but they say that the man who eats tiger 'acquires the sagacity, as well as the courage, of that animal.'
Captain Burton remarked that in the heraldry of the Abeokutans, which is tattooed into their own flesh, the lizard was an especial favourite. This on the monuments is an ideograph of multiplying, [p.36] to be numerous, and, like the frog, was a type of fertility and reproduction, whether applied to this life or the next, or both. So in the Hervey Islands the custom of tattoo was said to be derived from their most fecund fish, whose name (tini) signifies innumerable, and whose striped pattern they copied.
When the nature of symbolism is understood, such phrases as 'zoolatry' and 'worship of animals' will be superseded. Animals were the living hieroglyphics, among the first figures of speech, and means of thinging thoughts; pictures painted by nature to illustrate the primary language. A bull-man, a cow-mother, a serpent-woman, are modes of expression; ideographs adopted for use, having no necessary relation to animal or reptile worship.
Cicero makes the apposite remark, that the Egyptians held no beasts to be sacred, except on account of some benefit which they had received from them. The barbarians, he says, paid divine honours to the beasts because of the advantages they derived from them, whereas the Roman gods not only conferred no benefit, but were idle and did nothing whatever to get their living—as we say.
The ichneumon will destroy the cobra-di-capello, and consequently was greatly honoured as a serpent-killer. Pigs, as is well known, are determined enemies of snakes. So soon as a pig sees a snake he rushes at it, and the snake immediately makes off at sight of a pig. Pigs have been employed in America to clear out districts that were infested with rattlesnakes. Even the hedgehog in England will attack and devour the viper. The sow was a type of Rerit, the goddess of the Great Bear. The numerous mammæ were one cause of the personification, but the picture of the mother devouring snakes—man's fatal and most subtle enemies—in defence of her young, would arrest early attention. In recognising his friends and defenders the early man would not overlook the hedgehog and pig. Accordingly we find the hedgehog was sacred to Pasht or Buto, the Great Mother. In the Pahlavi Vendidad the hedgehog is termed 'the slayer of the thousands of the evil spirit,' and in the Shayast La-Shayast it is said the high priest taught 'that it is when the hedgehog voids urine into an ant's nest that a thousand ants will die.' The ant being considered a noxious creature because it carried off grain.
The ibis received great honour from its destroying all deadly and venomous reptiles, so that any person who killed one was punished with instant death. The Thessalians protected the stork for the same reasons. Darwin mentions the 'secretary hawk' as having had his whole frame modified for the purpose of killing snakes with impunity. This bird is named the gxangxosi in Xhosa Kaffir. It lives on snakes and other reptiles, and is protected by law from being killed. [p.37] Major Serpa Pinto in the account of his crossing Africa, tells us of an intelligent creature. He says no sooner does the traveller penetrate into one of the extensive forests of South-Central Africa, than the indicator* makes its appearance, bopping from bough to bough, in close proximity to the adventurer, and endeavouring by its monotonous note to attract his attention. This end having been attained, it rises heavily upon the wing, and perches a little distance off, watching to see if it is followed. If no attention be paid, it again returns, hopping and chirping as before, evidently inviting the stranger to follow in its wake, and when the wayfarer yields, it guides him through the intricacies of the forest, almost unerringly, to a bees' nest. Whether the action arises from the bird's desire to communicate the secret or to make a cat's-paw of the newcomer, it is very arresting if true, and worthy of the land which we look upon as the nursery of the human mind.
* The Kaffirs tell the same story of the ngende, or honey-bird.
These birds were honoured for work done. Besides which the ibis, that represented Taht, who amongst other things was the god of medicine, taught men the use of the enema, or clyster, by administering it to herself, as Plutarch relates, she being observed to be after this manner washed and purged by herself. So that those of the priests who were the strictest observers of their sacred rites, when they used water for lustration, would fetch it from some place, where the ibis had been drinking, for she will neither taste any infectious, nor come near any unwholesome water. Horapollo says when the Egyptians symbolise a man that conceals his own defects they depict an ape making water, for when he does so he conceals his urine. The cat, another curiosity of cleanliness, would also present a worthy example as a concealer of its own defects. That such animals were among the teachers of the primitive and prehistoric men, is witnessed by the way in which their portraits have been preserved in the picture-gallery of the hieroglyphics.
The Chinese are still in the habit of using the eye of the cat for a timepiece. No matter whether the day is cloudy or dull, they will run to the nearest cat, pull open her eyes, if closed, and at once determine the time by the contraction of the iris and size of the pupil.
Horapollo writes: 'The Egyptians say that the male cat changes the shape of the pupils of his eyes according to the course of the sun. In the morning, at the rising of the god, they are dilated, in the middle of the day they become round, and about sunset appear less brilliant; whence the statue of the god in the city of the sun is in the form of a cat.' In the Ritual, one of the transformations of [p.38] the solar god is into a cat. As such he 'makes the likeness of Seb,' or Time, which shows the timepiece as the cat.
When the dog turns round before lying down to rest, he is said, in the Isle of Wight, to be 'making his doke.' He has no need to do so now, as his wild ancestors had when they made their nightly bed in the long grass and liked to have it well beaten down, with a clear and ample space around for the purpose of watching; but he still continues the habit on bare boards, with no enemy to apprehend. The doke is a furrow, a hollow, a division, a small brook. It answers to the Egyptian tek, a boundary frontier, dyke, cutting. It supplied the name of the district or nome as tek, variant tesh, when the nomads who came down into Egypt had made their dokes and dykes. Doke and dog are synonymous for a boundary, fence, defence; that which encloses and guards, as the dog-irons fence the fire. In the celestial divisions the first nome, or doke, was given to the dog, who had taught the primitive man a lesson in making his doke; and the dog as Canis Major or Canis Minor continues to make his doke, and to be the doke, tekh, or dog in heaven for ever.*
* The dog. Tekh, or takh is a name of Taht, one of whose types is the dog. The name is applied to the tongue of the Balance which was represented by the cynocephalus as well as by the vase. The dog is the tongue or voice of the gods. But tekai (Eg.) means the adherer; a most appropriate name for the dog or doggie!
The Egyptians had no 'tide-predicting machines,' but, according to Plutarch, the beetle khepra and the crocodile 'were the natural prognosticators of the height of the coming inundation, he affirms that in whatsoever place in the country the female crocodile lays her eggs, that may with certainty be regarded as the utmost limit to which the rise of the river Nile will reach for the year. For, 'not being able to lay their eggs in the water, and being afraid to lay them far from it, they have so exact a knowledge of futurity, that, although they enjoy the benefit of the approaching stream at their laying and hatching, they still preserve their eggs dry and untouched by the water. They lay sixty eggs in all, and are just that number of days in hatching them, and the longest-lived of them live as many years; that being the first measure (no. 60) made use of by those who are employed in the celestial reckonings.' The crocodile was also honoured as a purifier of the holy water of the Nile.
Yarrell, in his book on British birds, tells the story of a swan on the river at Bishop's Stortford which was sitting on four or five eggs. One day, previous to a very heavy downpour of rain, she was observed to be most diligently adding to her nest, which she raised some two and a half feet higher. That night the rain fell and the flood rose, but her nest had lifted the eggs just beyond the coming water's reach, and they were safe. Man had no such prescience of impending danger. He made no preparation, but the swan did.
The beetle, in Egypt, during the inundation, would have been washed out of life altogether but for its Arkite cunning in making ready for the waters by rolling up its little globe, with the seed inside, and burying it in the dry earth until the inundation subsided. How they must have watched the clever creature at work; no font of letter-type employed in radiating human thought could shed a clearer light of illustration on the idea of resurrection from the earth than this living likeness of the process of transformation into the winged world. How the primitive man observed the works and ways and on-goings of the intelligence thus manifested around him; how he copied where he could, and gradually found a line of his own in the scheme of development; how he honoured these his early teachers and instructors, and made their forms the pictures of the primal thoughts which they had evoked from his mind, is at length recorded in the system of hieroglyphic symbols and mythology; and the illustrative proofs are extant to this day.
One of the workers that caught the attention of primitive men was the spider, as the spinner. In inner Africa the ten-legged spider, called ananse in Ashanti, serves as the type for the Creator of man. This can be interpreted. The spider, as the first weaver, made the suspended woof. Heaven is the blue woof, the weaver of which was therefore the spider, according to the typology. They always represent ananse as talking through his nose. The nose is an organ of breath. The god Khnef is called the breath of those who are in the firmament. Ananse, as spinner of the blue woof above, was a deity of breath, or the nose as a type of life.
The spider is an object of great reverence with the Maori, who are most careful not to break any webs or gossamers. The Bishop of Wellington said their priests taught that the souls of the faithful went to heaven on gossamer threads. The insect's name will show how this was to mistake the typology. The spider, in Maori, is the pungawerewere; from punga, to anchor, and werewere, to be suspended. Thus it was the type of an anchorage above. Poetry has no finer image.
This type of the spinner is British as well as African, and by the type we can explain the custom of shutting up the large house-spider alive in a pillbox or in a nutshell, to be worn round the neck as a cure for ague. The type of spinning and reproducing from itself is laid hold of as the representative of disease, for when shut up it cannot go on spinning, nor sustain itself and as it dies the disease is supposed to be suspended and to die out. The type is one whether it represents the good or the evil power.
Horapollo has been unduly depreciated by Bunsen, Wilkinson, and Sharpe for his hints respecting the symbolical and allegorical values of the hieroglyphics. They are symbols in relation to an [p.40] occult knowledge of their application to dogma and doctrine not yet possessed by readers of the hieroglyphics, who know that a certain ideograph is the determinative of a special meaning, without knowing why it is so.
Horapollo now and again gives us a valid reason for the adoption of the type. He tells us that the lion is one of the signs of the inundation because half of the new water is supplied whilst the sun is in the sign of Leo. Hence it is that those who anciently presided over sacred works have made the spouts of the fountains in the form of lions. The lion's head was commonly used as a waterspout in Egyptian temples, and has been continued in Europe. In three months the waters ceased to flow, and the exhalation began with the sun in the sign of Serk, or the scorpion. This is suggestive of the Egyptian origin of the zodiac. The scorpion is borne on the head of the goddess Serk, who is associated with the four quarters.
'When the Egyptians symbolise one enemy engaged with another equal to himself, they depict a scorpion and a crocodile, far these kill one.' Whether this be a fact in nature or not, the Egyptians placed the crocodile in the sign or as a paranatellon of Scorpio, at the place of the equinox, when the year began with Scorpio, the place of poise and equal power. The scorpion likewise represented breath and dryness; the crocodile, water; two other forms of the twinship of upper and lower in heaven, and the Two Truths of life.
To denote connubial intercourse, says Horapollo, the Egyptians depict two crows, because these birds cohabit with one another in the same manner as does a man by nature. Another reason is because the bird lays two eggs; one of these produces a male, the other a female; these two make a monogamous marriage and repudiate polygamy altogether for the rest of their lives. So faithful are they to each other, that they hold no intercourse with any other crow, and when one of them dies the other does not wed again, but ends its widowed life in solitude. Hence, when men meet with a single crow, they look upon it as an evil omen, because they have met with a widowed creature. On account of the remarkable custom and concord of these birds, he says, the Greeks in their marriages exclaim ekkori, kori, korone, although 'unacquainted with the import of the words.' We have the same symbolry in Britain with regard to the magpie; 'one's a funeral, two's a wedding,' says our folklore; and if you see a single bird you ought to turn round three times to avert ill-luck. Possibly it was the faithful crows that converted the ancient Egyptians, or Kamites, from polygamy to single marriage, and first instituted the prohibition of marriage with the wife's sister; they seem to have held the doctrine which is still maintained by many modern clerical rooks.
A night-raven signifies death because it pounces suddenly on the [p.41] young of the crows by night, as death overtakes men. Death, or darkness, the Hebrew ereb, or ghareb, means either Erebus (darkness) or the raven, Arabic ghuráb, and, according to Damascius, the Sidonians made the bird an emblem of Erebus. This type of death in the dark had thus a very natural origin before it was invested with supernatural power to become the prophetic bird of death with many other races of men.
Livingstone describes the ibis flying by night and crying 'Aah-Aah,' a duplicate equivalent in Egyptian to 'Aah-ti' a name of the moon-god, who was represented by the ibis, and who was the lunar tongue, mouth, or speech of the gods. Thus the ibis, as testified to by the modern ear, and mode of pronunciation, named itself as the aah, or aah-aah, i.e., aah-ti, in Egyptian. Aah is the moon, and aah-ti, or aah-aah, is the ibis-headed divinity.
A Cretan story tells how a poor woman once sat down, and for very weariness sighed 'ah,' where upon a Moor instantly appeared whose name was 'ah.' The Moor is the dark side of his dual character. He, too, transforms into a radiant youth, as the old dark moon renews itself and the kaf-ape transforms into the ibis-headed Taht, or Aah-ti. Aah, whether male or female (for there is a feminine Aah-ti), or both, has two aspects, like the moon, with a continual metamorphosis.
The stork, or crane is the European representative of the lunar ibis and the transformation of Taht; and the bird is extant in the folklore of Friesland, where the changing of storks into men, and men into storks is still an article of popular belief.
In parts of Germany it is forbidden to hurt the stork, for, it is urged, 'he is elsewhere a man.' It is recorded, likewise, by Gervase of Tilbury, that the stork is also a man. So Taht, the ibis-headed god was also portrayed in the human form as a man. A Flemish legend relates that a citizen of Bruges once met a man near Mount Sinai, who told him they were near neighbours in Bruges, for the nest of one (as the stork) was next door to the home of the other: and the stork-man showed the other a ring which he had stolen from the Fleming once upon a time; he gave this back on condition that the stork's nest should be protected. Bruges and Mount Sinai answer to the two opposite sides of the moon's circle, where the moon-god, as in Egypt, was a stork in one region and a man in the other.
The moon is considered to be masculine in Egyptian mythology, but Aahti was also a goddess. Sefekh was the consort of Taht, and Hathor was a lunar divinity. In the Ritual we read, 'I am the woman, the orb (hour) of darkness; I have brought my orb to darkness, it is changed to light. I have prepared Taht at the gate of the moon. Its feathers are on my body.'[145a] Here the woman is the bringer-forth, [p.42] apparently under the feathered or ibis image, and Taht the young moon is her messenger.
So the stork in Germany, Denmark and Holland is the typical bringer of the babies, and messenger of the genetrix Frau Holda. The stork keeps its character too as the fisher of the waters. The ibis was depicted as the fisher with the fish in its mouth, and thus furnished the type of the fisher-up of the moon out of the waters. In the Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens the new moon is described in popular phrase with the old moon in its arms, and the crescent of light which clasps the orb of darkness was represented by the curving beak of the ibis as bringer.
The German genetrix is portrayed sitting in her stately subterraneous home beneath the waters, the nursery of unborn children, and the refuge of those who are lost or strayed. Hence her connection with the fountains so popular in Germany, the kinderbrunnen, where the stork finds the little ones and leads them home. The lady of the fountains has her queckbrunnen or fonts of life in Dresden out of which the 'clapper-stork fetches the Dresden children.' The fisher of the hieroglyphics is yet extant in the stork, whose figure surmounts the chapel holding one babe in its beak and two more in its claws.
Birds and beasts are the divine personages of the Australians. The native cat represents the moon. Its name is bede or bude. In Egypt the cat-headed lunar goddess is Buto or Peht.
The Mangaians say that the gods first spake to man through the small land birds. The little bird that tells is with us a living relic of the same mode of revealing. Now when the Aztecs lived in Astulan there was a certain Huiziton who heard the voice of a bird crying tihui, tihui, rendered 'let us go, let us go.' The little bird in this case was called the humming bird, but another typical leader, Quetzalcoatl, was represented by the sparrow. The sparrow in Egyptian is the thuu; and the word tehu signifies speech and to tell; tehu or tekhu being one of the bird-headed tellers; speech personified. All such sayings are readable in the hieroglyphics.
Regarding the bird ashozusht, which is the bird Zobara-Vahman (compare the Persian zûlah, a sparrow or lark), and also the bird sôk (compare Persian sak, a magpie), they say that it has given an Avesta with its tongue. Mak (Eg.) signifies the tongue; and to mag in English is to chatter.
'Regarding karshipt they say that it knew how to speak words, and brought the religion to the inclosure which Yima made and circulated it. There they utter the Avesta in the language of birds.' Karshipt is the bird-shaped karshipta of the Gujarat version of the Vendidad. The birds here, as elsewhere, were the time-tellers set in heaven, [p.43] because they returned and told of time and season on the earth. Karshipt is the roc, the Persian simurgh. This bird is said to be the first created, but not for this world. Its resting place is in the tree of life and of all seeds; and every time it rises, its wings shake down the seed of future life: which the hieroglyphics will explain. The Egyptian rukh is a form of the phoenix, and a type of immortality. More than one bird served as a phoenix. The bennu is portrayed in the asru tree over the tomb of Osiris. The rukh represents the pure spirits; it may be termed the phoenix of 3,000 years, in relation to the life in Hades.
It should be noticed that the mythical roc of the Arabian tales (and the simurg, or kamrosh of the Persian scriptures) has been lately discovered in reality. Captain Burton says: 'The French missionaries brought to Zanzibar from Udoe, on the Upper Wami, the tips of the flippers measuring two and a half feet long. They declare that the bird is said to have had its habitation about the equatorial African Lakes, and Herr Hildebrand, a well-known naturalist and traveller, accepts the discovery.'
Thus the real roc or rukh of inner Africa, although extinct, has been preserved as an ideographic type in the pictographic museum of Kam, and was set in heaven as the phoenix. The 'Rukh of Madagascar' lays an egg said to contain the equivalent of 148 hens' eggs. With us the type of the long-lived blackbird is extant as the rook.
Horapollo says, 'When the Egyptians would symbolise an aged minstrel they portray a swan, for when it is old it sings the sweetest melody.' The usual form of the tradition is that the song of the swan when dying is the perfect sweetness of music: this has to be interpreted. The Swan constellation of the Greeks was the bennu, or phoenix of the Egyptians, in which the Dog-star Sirius was so conspicuous a luminary. From being a celestial type of repetition in time the phoenix or swan became the symbol of continuity or immortality, and the more imminent the end of the cycle that it represented, the more near was the new era which it prophesied; hence the death-song was the sweetest on account of the future life proclaimed by the bird of resurrection. The reason given by Horapollo for the hawk being adopted as the type of soul is because it did not drink of water, but drank blood, by which, likewise, the foetal soul is fed, nurtured, and sustained. This agrees with the name of the hawk-headed Kabh-senuf, whose refreshment is blood.
The gemsbok, now found chiefly in the Karoos of South Africa, is [p.44] the oryx of the hieroglyphics. This was a typhonian type, and as such was turned into an image of impurity. Horapollo says the oryx shows such antipathy to the moon that when she rises the beast howls with anger and indignation. This it does so punctually as to form a kind of gnomon. It would be honoured at first as a time-teller in the pre-lunar or typhonian stage, and then superseded as a bad character, one of the unclean animals.
Darwin says, 'it is a remarkable fact that an ape, one of the gibbons, produces an exact octave of musical sounds, ascending and descending the scale by half-tones.' And Professor Owen has observed that this monkey, 'alone of brute mammals, may be said to sing.' This, then, was the first teacher of the scale in Africa.
Possibly the typology may tell us something more of the cause and origin of the ape's singing. Horapollo says of the cynocephalus, the personified speaker, singer, and later writer, that the Egyptians symbolised the moon by it on account of a kind of sympathy which the ape had with it at the time of its conjunction with the god. 'For at the exact instant of the conjunction of the moon with the sun, when the moon becomes unillumined, then the male cynocephalus neither sees, nor eats, but is bowed down to the earth with grief as if lamenting the ravishment of the moon. The female also, in addition to its being unable to see, and being afflicted in the same manner as the male, ex genitalibus sanguinem emittit; hence even to this day cynocephali are brought up in the temples, in order that from them may be ascertained the exact instant of the conjunction of the sun and moon.' 'And when they would denote the renovation of the moon, they again portray a cynocephalus in the posture of standing upright and raising its hands to heaven with a diadem on its head.'*
* The crowned kafi. Compare the crowned Kepheus.
'And for the renovation they depict this posture, into which the cynocephalus throws itself, as if congratulating the goddess, if we may so express it, in that they have both recovered light.'**
** Captain Burton tells me the idea survives in modern Africa.
This presents us with a picture of the ape in the act of crying or singing, and supplies a motive for the music, such as it is, in the loss of the lunar light. Want or desire must have been the earliest incentive to the development of the human voice. Virility becomes audible in the voice of animals and birds in their respective breeding times, whether this be in spring or in autumn, as with the rutting deer. The call of the male to its mate, and the mother to her young, is incessant in their seasons. The joy of various animals becomes vocal at meeting and greeting each other. But the sharpest sounds, the tones of highest pitch, are evoked at parting, and by the sense of loss. The bleat of the parent in pain for her lost young ones; the cry of the bird that hovers wailing round the robbed nest; the roar of the lion rising higher and higher [p.45] in the presence of death, as he realises the loss of his companion, or cubs, tend to show how the sense of loss, when added to desire and want, will increase the upward range of voice. In Horapollo's description, the:—
Monkey crying in the night,
A monkey crying for the light,
And with no language but a cry,
illustrates this sense of loss, and the consequent increase of the higher tones, when the loss is that of the lunar light. The sense would be still more quick, and the voice more emotional, when the companion of life was lost.
Thus we may infer that sitting in the darkness of night and of the deeper darkness of death the gibbon evolved and by degrees formulated his voice, his scale of sounds, until at length the notes by which he had expressed his perception of darkness and loss of companionship became a solace and a source of pleasure through constant repetition, and he was like a poet who transmutes his sorrow into the music of his song. The ape was certainly the predecessor of man, and the singing of the gibbon was therefore an earlier phase of utterance than human speech; and as the ape has been continued for the typical singer and divine bard it looks as if a form of musical sounds may have been practised by the primitive man in imitation of the ape, who was not only the first singer, as the bewailer of the lost light and saluter of the re-illumined orb, but the earliest teacher of a musical scale and composer of songs without words.
The hieroglyphics of Egypt may not contain all the signs made by the ape-men in their earliest phase of mimesis, but the essential types have been continued. The hand kaf bears the name of the kaf-monkey, which is the typical hand on the monuments—the hand of the gods. From this we may gather that the kaf idea was derived from the kaf-animal, that could climb and made such dexterous use of its forepaws; and that the hand-type of speech was identified with the language of gesture-signs, beginning with the kaf, who presented the picture of hand-conversation and demonstrated the idea of kaf to seize with the hand, which is registered by kaf becoming the name of the hand, and by the monkey and hand being two types expressed under one word. The kaf is likewise the clicker, and was continued in Egypt as the image of language, the word of speech, and type of the lunar logos. The clickers were the earliest articulators of sound, which could be understood before the formation or evolution of verbal speech. They are identified by name with the kaf as the Kaffirs.
In the hieroglyphics the ibis which cries 'aah-aah' and supplies the type of 'aah-ti' became finally a phonetic a. The eagle and a bird of the goose kind, also the fish, became signs of the letter a. The sparrow-hawk, nycticorax, and ram are forms of the letter b. [p.46] The cerastes snake supplied the phonetic f, and its horns are still extant in the shape of that letter. The lion furnished one of the signs for h, the frog and beetle two others. The jackal and perch are found as forms of the t. The ape and the crocodile's tail supply two shapes of the k. The owl and the vulture figure as signs for m. The fish and another kind of vulture appear as n. A water-bird and the lioness are variants of the letter p. The r is a lion; later this was the phonetic sign for l. The goose and jackal supply a form of the s. The t's include the snake, a bird, and the beetle. The chicken, swallow, and hare are among the different u's. The fish is a supplementary k (kha or gha) as well as the calf (kha or aá). These are ideographs reduced to phonetics.
With them we may compare the Kamilaroi 'sayings' (gurre) or ideographic letters.
|B. bundar, kangaroo.||K. karagi, duck||P. pilar, lance.|
|D. dinoun, emu.||M. mullion, eagle.||T. tulu, tree.|
|G. giwir, male.||N. nurai, snake.||W. waru, bird.|
|L. inar, female.||G. garumbon, stork with fish.||V. yaraman, man going.|
|J. jimba, sheep.|
Now we can understand how these types and symbols got misinterpreted in popular beliefs and superstitions.
The connecting link of the beast fables of Europe and inner Africa is not only extant in the Egyptian ideographs, the fables themselves as found in Aesop are Egyptian. In one of these the mouse is about to be devoured by the lion, whereupon he reminds him that when he was caught in the net of the hunters, he the mouse released him.
Enceinte women in Hertfordshire still hear with alarm of a lioness having brought forth young; the present writer had proof of this a few years since, when an accouchement was announced at the Zoological Gardens that caused great consternation in the country. It was held to be an unlucky omen for all who were child-bearing. This is the result of misinterpreting a nearly-effaced type. The Egyptians, says Horapollo, when they would symbolise a woman that has brought forth once, depict a lioness, for she never conceives twice. The lioness having brought forth, bequeaths the blank future to the woman not yet delivered.
The Little Earth-Men of the German folklore are said to have the feet of geese, the print of which they leave on the ashes that are strewn for them. This may be explained by the type of Seb, who is the representative of the earth, and whose image is the goose!
The ancient Peruvians used to beat their dogs during an eclipse to make them howl. In Greenland the women also pinched the ears of [p.47] their dogs during an eclipse; and if the animals howled lustily, it was a sign that the end of the world had not yet come. It was the dog's duty to howl at such a time. For this reason, the dog in Europe took the place of the dog-headed ape of the mysteries in Egypt, the howler during the moon's eclipse, and was bound to fulfil the character, willy-nilly.
Many games are typical, and constitute a kind of picture-reading, as well as picture-writing of the past. The cockchafer still suffers in another symbolical ceremony belonging to the cruel rites performed by boys. The chafer, in Egypt the scarab, called khepr, was a type of time and turning round. It was the turner round. And it is a pastime with boys to thrust a pin through the middle of the cockchafer, and enjoy his spinning round and round, as the circle-maker.
All who have ever suffered mentally from the misinterpretation of ancient myths in the name of theology, and felt its brand of degradation in the very soul, ought to sympathize with the treatment of the ass, for it is a fellow-victim who has likewise undergone unmerited punishment, and had its fall, and still awaits its redemption. The ass was once in glory, sacred to Sut, and a type of the Hebrew deity. But Sut was transformed into Satan, and the ass who carried the Messiah in the mysteries, having borne him for the last time, was degraded and assailed with stripes, kicks, and curses. The ass that carried the mythical messiah was treated as the beast that bore the real one, or carried the cross at the time of the crucifixion—as proved by the mark between its shoulders—and 'beating the ass' became a Christian sport, a humorous pastime in which the pagan past was figuratively kicked out in the real kicking of the ass. The animal being cast down from his primitive estate was associated with all that was ignominious. The adulterer and the cuckold were mounted on the ass with their faces turned to its tail, when the animal received the rain of bountiful blows, and suffered the worst part of the punishment.
The hare is considered unclean in various countries; the animal whose form was assumed by the witch, solely on account of its having served as a type. It is the sign of un (Eg) to open. Un is also an hour, a period. The opening period is that of pubescence, whether of the male or female. When the Egyptians would denote an opening, says Horapollo, they delineate a hare because this animal always has its eyes open.
In relation to feminine pubescence, it signifies 'it is lawful' or 'unprohibited,' therefore open. But the hare, as the emblem of the period, had a double phase, and delivered a double message to men. It is likewise related to the egg of the opening that was laid at puberty.
According to Pliny, the hare is of a double sex. It was simply the type of periodicity which had a double phase, whether lunar or human and these two are signified by the hare and egg, the hare being considered a feminine, and the egg (of puberty) a masculine symbol.
'The Easter hare,' says Holtzman, 'is inexplicahle to me; probably the hare is the animal of Astara; on the picture of Abnoba a hare is present.' Easter was the opening of another year, hence the emblem of the hare of March or Easter.
It is on this account that the hare is associated with the egg of Easter, which is broken as an emblem of the opening period. In Saxony they say the Easter hare brings the Easter egg, and in Swabia children are sent in search of the hare's egg. In some parts the Easter eggs are made into cakes in the form of a hare; in others the babies are said to come out of the hare's form. The uncleanness of the hare was solely symbolic.
Rats and mice in Germany were held to represent the human soul. One story relates that at Saalfeld, in Thuringia, a girl fell asleep whilst her companions were shelling nuts. They observed a little red mouse creep from her mouth and run out of window. They shook the sleeper but could not wake her, so they removed her to another place. Presently they saw the mouse creep back and run about in search of the girl, but, not finding her, it vanished, and at the same moment the girl died.
The goddess Holda was said to lead an army of mice, and she was the receiver of children's souls. Now, in Egypt, the shrewmouse (mygale, mus araneus) was consecrated to the genetrix Buto, and the mummies, together with those of the solar hawk, were buried in the city of Buto. The animal was held to be blind, and the hawk was the personification of sight. These furnished two types of the soul or being, only to be understood in accordance with the 'Two Truths,' one of which will account for the red mouse.
Plutarch says the mouse was reverenced for its blindness because darkness was before light. The hawk was the bird of light. Buto was the nurse who concealed Horus, and the mouse was a type of Horus in Skhem, the hidden shrine and shut-place, also known as a region of annihilation. The mouse typified the mystery of shutting up the red source of life, the flesh-maker, which was looked upon as the first factor in biology. And it was by its being shut up and transformed in the region of annihilation that the future life was created. The mouse thus represented the soul of flesh, so to say, the mother-soul, the eyeless and unseeing soul, before the fatherhood was acknowledged; the first, the blind Horus, who had to be blended [p.49] with the second, as the two halves of the complete soul. According to this primitive mode of thought and expression we can account for the shrewmouse in England being made the victim of sacrifice.
It is well known that amongst other charms for healing and saving the shrewmouse was selected to be offered up on or in the tree; the shrew-ash or elm being the most popular for the purpose. A deep hole was bored in the bole, and a shrewmouse was thrust in alive, the hole being plugged up behind the victim. This represented the Horus in Skhem, the saviour-victim who was sacrificed in the physiological, solar, and lastly Christological drama of redemption, according to the doctrine of blood-sacrifice. 'To denote disappearance,' says Horapollo, 'the Egyptians portrayed the mouse.' And the disease or ailment prescribed for was supposed to disappear with the imprisoned and decaying mouse.
It came to be believed of this type of a disappearance, that if the heart were cut out of a mouse when alive and worn round about the arms of a woman, it would prove fatal to conception. The Hebrew abomination denounced as 'eating the mouse,'[178a] may have had a kindred significance. On the other hand, during an eclipse of the moon, the Mexican women who were enceinte and terribly alarmed lest the unborn child should be turned into a mouse, were accustomed to hold a bit of iztli (obsidian) in their mouths or in their girdles to guard against such a fatality. The moon in eclipse represented the period opposed to gestation. The stone was a symbol of founding and establishing, and the mouse an emblem of a disappearance.
The shrewmouse in Britain is a sufferer from the later sense read into words. Shrew in Anglo-Saxon means to curse (compare Eg. sriu, curse), and denotes something wicked; hence the poor shrewmouse is accounted wicked and accursed. But this is not a primary meaning or form of the word, which is skrew in Somerset, and scro elsewhere. The animal was named as the digger; so the German schormaus and the Dutch schermuys are the mole as the digging mouse, named from schoren or scharren, to dig. The shrew is the earlier scro-mouse, and the digging is retained in the Gaelic sgar and Breton skarra, to tear open, to dig. In Egyptian, sru is to dig, as with a prior form in skru, to cut and plough, the plough or digger being the ska, whence skin and screw. The shrewmouse would not have typified a disappearance but for its being the digger. The digging to bring forth its young was the cause of its adoption as a sign of the shut-place in Skhem, the mythological shrine of rebirth for the solar god in the underworld, where the sun disappeared to be reborn on the horizon of the resurrection.
There is a Bohemian legend in which the Devil creates the mouse to eat up 'God's corn,' whereupon God creates the cat to destroy the mouse. This belongs to Egyptian mythology, where we find the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt in the house that Jack built. It appears as the 'abominable rat of the sun,' which was looked after by the cat-headed Great Mother, Pash (whence the Arabic bisseh or tibby); the cat being a type of the moon as the luminous eye of the dark.
To a great extent modern superstition is symbolism in its state of dotage, when it cannot remember what the types originally meant. The Abipones are said to see the souls of their ancestors in certain birds, the widgeon or other water-fowl that fly by night, and make their cry; and in the hieroglyphics, not only is the bird a symbol of the soul but one of these, the pâ, a sign of the soul of breath, is the widgeon or a wild goose in the act of hissing as the bird of breath issuing from the waters. So that the hissing duck or goose was the symbol of a soul in Egypt, and, as pâ (or pepe) means to fly, of a flying soul. The hieroglyphics are still unwittingly preserved by the Abipones.
The Eskimos say that all living beings have the faculty of soul, but especially the bird.
The Hurons of North America are reported to believe that the souls of their deceased friends turned into turtle-doves. The turtle-dove, in Hebrew רות, bears the name of the genetrix Tef, English dove. The dove as well as the hawk was associated with Hathor, who was the habitation of the hawk (Horus, her child) or more literally the birdcage of the soul.
The priestesses of Western Sarawak make the figures of birds which are said to be inhabited by spirits. But the bird as a type of the spirit or soul must be read all round.
The Egyptians did not think the soul turned into a bak-hawk when they depicted or embodied the ba (soul) in bird shape. It is a mode of expression which may be variously interpreted according to the mental stage. The hawk of fire, or spirit, is the one of the seven elementaries which became the solar Horus; and in Britain we have seven spirit-birds that fly by night, known as the 'seven whistlers.'
The learned and conscientious Montesinos relates that when the worship, or veneration, for a certain stone had ceased, a parrot flew from that fetish and entered another stone, which was held as an object of adoration instead. In this story the parrot takes the place of the hawk, the bird of soul, or the dove, the bird of breath. The soul (or spirit) is thus represented as typically passing out of the one type into the other. The bird imaged the object of worship, and the fetish-stone its dwelling place.
According to a Mohammedan tradition, the souls of the martyrs are said to rest in the crops of green birds, which eat of the fruits and drink of the waters of Paradise. This is the Egyptian imagery in which souls are represented as human-headed birds being fed with the fruit and nourished by the water of the Tree of Life! Also green is the colour of renewal, and of Ptah the revivifier.
The soul of the hieroglyphics, depicted as winged, with the human head, is the original of the winged race of men in the Phaedrus of Plato and the winged angels of iconography. All such types belong to the hieroglyphical and symbolical mode of representation, not to the human race pre-Adamite or otherwise.
When told that the natives of West Africa look upon monkeys who are seen near a burial-ground as being animated by the spirits of the dead, we turn to the hieroglyphics for interpretation. There we find the ape (ben) is a type of the resurrection, elevated in the Ritual to the status of a divinity. The ben-ape is a form of the phoenix, whose name it bears, and the dead turning into monkeys is the same typologically as the ape being an image of the transforming dead.
The ape, as the imager or imitator, offered a natural model for the transformer. Shu, the star-god, transformed under this type; and the moon made its great change in the character of Aan, the ape. Lastly, the same type was applied to the soul in death as a mode of representation. In Egypt the animal was known to be ideographic. But in inner Africa the real animal became a fetish-image confused with the spirits of the dead, the original link of connection being more or less missing in the mind of the modern natives, and absent altogether from that of the missionaries.
It is often reported that such and such a people, like the Kaffirs of South Africa, believe that the spirits of their dead ancestors appear to them in the shape of serpents. Zulus are said to recognise the spirits of their ancestors in certain green snakes that are harmless. This means that in such a case the serpent, not the bear, ape, or dog, is the particular token. The green colour also identifies the type of immortality. Green is the hue of the resurrection from the earth; the colour of the stone-axe and amulet of jade; the colour of Ptah, Num, and Shu, as the sign of rising again.
Also, as the serpent was a type of the eternal by periodic renewal, an emblem therefore of immortality, the belief that their ancestors survived in spirit was expressed by the serpent symbol, and this is independent of any perversion of the matter, whether by the native mind or the missionary. The true significance can be recovered in Egypt with whom survived the consciousness of Kam.
The goddess Renen, the gestator, is said to receive in death the [p.52] breaths (souls) of those belonging to her. The serpent was one of her symbols, consequently these souls, or breaths, would enter the serpent-woman to be born again; and as the serpent was a type of renewal before Renen was personified in Egypt, we hear the inner Africans talking in the same figures of speech that were made visible by Egyptian art.
When the Greenlander who has been at point of death in an exhausting illness, recovers his health and pristine vigour, they speak of his having lost his former soul and had it replaced by that of a young child, or a reindeer. But this also is only a figurative mode of speech; the language is that of the hieroglyphics; the imagery that of the bone-caves.
The bone of the calf, or of the child, was an emblem of renewal, buried as such with the dead. The horns of the reindeer were indicative of renewal coming of itself and, like the bone of the child, simply supplied a type of rejuvenescence.
The underlying typology is in many instances obscured, but seldom quite extinct. Nor do the older races mistake the symbol for the thing signified, so much as is represented. The totemic nature of the type is made significant every time the supposed worshippers slay their god in the shape of a bear, crocodile, or other fetish with apologies and appeasing rites offered to the animal they have killed. They recognise in some dim way that it was only a type of the hidden meaning, not a real deity; a representation, and not an incarnation. The reporters are mainly responsible for the doctrine of incarnation. It was because the image was representative that it acted vicariously, and was beaten at times by the irate worshipper, not as the god in person, but as some sort of likeness. The doctrine of vicarious sacrifice and atonement dates from this origin in the most primitive stage of thought—in thus laying hold of something that imaged and represented the absent, invisible, intangible—which culminated at last in Christology and in the waxen image of witchcraft as it had done earlier in the mummy-figure of the Egyptians.
The Basutos are said to think that if a man should walk along a river's bank and cast his shadow in the water, a crocodile may seize it and draw him in; his shadow, or seriti, being one with his soul. This, too, is connected with the Egyptian typology. The crocodile was one of the animals into which the soul passed or was transformed in order that it might cross the waters in death. The crocodile was a form taken by the goddess of the Great Bear, who was a crocodile in her hinder-part, one of her four types.
The eighty-eighth chapter of the Ritual is named the 'Chapter of Making the Transformation into a Crocodile'; and the vignette is a crocodile-headed snake—two forms of the genetrix in one. The speaker (deceased) says: 'I am the crocodile whose soul comes from [p.53] men. I am the crocodile whose soul comes from men; I am the crocodile leading away by stealth. I am the great fish of Horus, the great one in Kam-Ur. I am the person dancing in Skhem.' The crocodile (as Ta-urt or Typhon) was the earliest form of the fish-mother, the Derketo, Atergatis, Hathor or Venus, who brought forth from the waters. The speaker personates the crocodile who leads away the souls of men by stealth. The skhem is the shrine of rebirth, and this therefore is represented by the crocodile. He is in the crocodile (or is the crocodile), and so crosses the waters as did the sun-god, whether as Horus or Herakles, inside the fish during the three days at the winter solstice. Thus the tradition of the crocodiles seizing the souls of men in the shape of their shadows, can be traced to the typology.
'In North-west America,' says Dr. Tylor, 'we find some Indians believing the spirits of their dead to enter into bears, and travellers have heard of a tribe begging the life of a wrinkle-faced old grizzly she-bear as the recipient of the soul of some particular grandame, whom they fancied the creature to resemble. So among the Eskimo, a traveller noticed a widow who was living for conscience' sake upon birds, and would not touch walrus-meat which the Angekok had forbidden her for a long time, because her late husband had entered into a walrus.'
A Chiriquane woman of Buenos Ayres was heard by a missionary to say of a fox: 'May not that be the spirit of my dead daughter?' These were thinging their thought according to the ancient typology which is yet interpretable by means of the Kamite mythology. In this the Great Bear constellation (the hippopotamus, seal, walrus, or other water-type) was the great genetrix who became the reproducer of souls in a later phase of thought, because she had been the mother of the revolutions or time-cycles in heaven, and of the elementary gods.
From being the mother of the beginnings in space and time, she was made to impersonate the womb of a new life. She formed the principal car (urt) in heaven which the thought of man mounted to ride round and ascend up out of the darkness of the depths when the constellation was the 'dipper' below the horizon. It is the bearer still, as the wain of Charles. It was the car of Osiris in Egypt, and the coffin which the Osiris deceased entered to be reborn in the eternal round.
Thus the souls of the Egyptian dead entered the bear or hippopotamus as with the American Indians, among whom the aged she-grizzly represented the most ancient genetrix, the recipient of souls, who bore them and brought them to rebirth. The same type is continued in the Arabic daughters of the bier (Ursa Major) and the Chinese coffin of the seven stars, in which a board is placed [p.54] for the dead to rest on. This board contains seven holes which are regarded as representing the seven stars, and it is therefore called the 'seven-stars-board.' It is fluted as well as perforated, and a quantity of lime and oil is deposited between the board and the bottom of the coffin.
The fox or jackal was a type of Anup, the conductor of souls, who led them up to the horizon of the resurrection, as the divine embalmer, chief of the mountain in which the dead were laid. The jackal in two characters tows the bark of the sun and the souls, and these two are called 'Openers of the Way.' One opens the road of darkness to the north, the other the road of light to the south.
The spirit of the dead girl being identified with the fox in Buenos Ayres is the exact parallel to the souls of men becoming jackals in the belief of the African Marawi. With them, however, there is another connecting link. It is the soul of the bad man that becomes the jackal; the soul of the good man becomes a snake. The jackal, or seb, was a type of the earth; the lower world of two, whereas the snake was a symbol of renewal and immortality.
The practice of killing and burying a dog with a deceased person is not uncommon, and the custom can be read by the hieroglyphics. Cranz relates that the Eskimo laid the head of a dog in a child's grave as the type of the intelligent animal that was sure to find the way. Bishops used to be buried in this country with a dog lying at their feet. One of the chief funeral ceremonies of the Aztecs was to slaughter the techichi, a native dog which was burnt or buried with the corpse, a thread being fastened round its neck, and its office was to guide the deceased across the waters of Chiuhnahuapan on the way to the land of the dead.
The custom of bringing a dog to the bedside of a dying person, as an escort and guide to the soul, was common with the Hindus and Persians. A corpse which had not been seen by a dog was held capable of polluting a thousand men. But when the corpse had been shown to an observant dog, that removed the power of pollution. The dog was supposed to be its guardian against the fiend of corruption by the Parsees. In Egypt, the dog as Anubis was the embalmer and preserver of the dead. Hence the protection afforded to the corpse by the presence of the dog.
In a recent work on Japan, the dog of the dead is described as being the messenger of spirit-mediums, whose stock-in-trade consists of a small box (supposed to contain some mystery known only to the craft) of somewhat less than a foot square. It is said that, in the south, a dog is buried alive, the head only being left above ground, and food is then put almost within its reach, exposing it thus to the [p.55] cruel fate of Tantalus. When in the greatest agony and near death, the head is chopped off and put in a box. This cruel treatment is intended to make the animal return in spirit, and thus the dog (which was the wolf-dog, or the golden dog—the Egyptian Mercury) fulfils the character of the psychopompus.
So the hound of Hermes, in Greece, came to guide the passing soul to the river Styx. And still, when the soul of the dying is about to go forth, the dog is supposed to utter its howl with prescient instinct. This intelligent friend and faithful companion was sacrificed to become the guide of the poor cave-dwellers when benighted in death.
The barrow at Barra was a central room with seven other chambers that contained the skeletons of men and dogs.
The bones of a dog were found buried with the human skeleton in a cave of the Pyrenees, showing that this faithful friend of man, at that remote time, was looked upon as a kind of psychopompus, an intelligent shower of the way through the dark. Here it may be thought that a creature so intelligent as the dog might be independently adopted in various lands. But the dog was a creation of man, who made the animal domesticated. The dog is a civilized descendant of the wolf and jackal, and both these types are earlier than the dog, in the Egyptian mythology as in nature.
Colonel Hamilton Smith in opposing the theory of the dog's descent from the wolf and jackal, suggested by Darwin, has rashly asserted that a thorough philological inquiry would most assuredly show that in no language and at no period, did man positively confound the wolf, the jackal, or the fox, with a real dog. This of course could only apply to the name. And it happens that the name of the wolf in Greek, lycos, is confounded, or is identical with the Akkadian name for the dog, likku, which again answers to arigu, the dog in the Ai-Bushman tongue. The names of the wolf and dog are found to be equivalent in the prehistoric languages.
Tsip is the dog in Inbask (Yukahiri), and in Egyptian tseb, Arabic díb, is the wolf. In the Hottentot language the jackal is named girib, and in the abraded form arib is the name of the dog. In Egyptian one name of the dog is Anush or Unush, and this is likewise a name of the wolf, which not only confounds the dog with the wolf, but tends to show the derivation of the dog from the wolf as is acknowledged by the continuity of the name of the wild animal for that of the domesticated dog.
The star Sothis is the well-known star of the dog. The dog was identified as its type when there came to be a dog, but its still earlier forms were the jackal (or golden dog), the wolf, and the fox-dog of Abyssinia, called the fenekh. All three preceded the domesticated dog, and all three meet in the dog of the Dog-star. Before this [p.56] domesticated dog could have been adopted as a type Anubis as jackal, wolf, or fenekh, was the still earlier guide of the sun and souls through the under world. Anubis is designated the 'preparer of the way of the other world.' 'I have made way,' says the deceased, 'by what Anup has done for me.'
The Osirian in the Ritual, in the 10th gate of his passage to Elysium, brings with him the head of a dog as a kind of talismanic toll. He pleads with the gatekeeper: 'I have anointed myself with red wax. I have provided myself with a dog's head.' The keeper replies: 'Thou mayst go: thou art purified.'
The Kamite types are to be found the world over, in one stage or another. They can be traced to Upper Nilotic Africa as their birthplace; and wheresoever they are extant, Egypt alone is their interpreter.
The Khoi-Khoi declare that if the jackal discovers an ostrich nest he will scream for the white vulture. This bird then follows him, and when they come to the nest, which is covered by the ostrich hen, the vulture claws up a stone and ascends the air vertically over the nest to drop the stone down plumb on the breeding hen. The ostrich, startled and frightened by the blow, scuttles off, and then Reynard breaks the eggs, and both he and the vulture feast on them in the most friendly manner.
These sly rogues furnished two divine types. The vulture is Egyptian (neophron perenopterus), and a representative of the Great Mother Neith, whose guide and companion, her Mercury, is the jackal! The vulture is also a prophetic bird with the Khoi-Khoi as it was in Egypt. The jackal, Anup, who was such a subtle thief in inner Africa, was the typical thief, and god of thieving, and he became the Greek Hermes and Roman Mercury.
The fainche is a fox in Irish-Celtic and the fenekh is the fox-dog of Abyssinia, which was a type of the Dog-star, the announcer of the inundation.
In Europe the fox is still the announcer, the prophesier, as was Anup, the jackal or fox (fenekh) in Egypt. When the fox is heard barking in the woods at night in England, he is said to prophesy a sharp winter.
Egypt, who brought on certain types of things in the simplest condition from inner Africa to develop and send them forth into the whole world at different stages in her own development, can still give the sole intelligible account of their origin and significance.
Thus in inner Africa the chief type-name of the lion and leopard is gfa. In Egyptian kafa denotes force, puissance, potency, the abstract forms of power. But it also means to hunt and seize by force. The kafau are the destroyers and desolators. Kafi (Shu) [p.57] a divine type of power, who forces the sun along, wears on his head the hind-quarter of the lioness as the emblem of his force. The lion and leopard were the live types first-named, and Egyptian shows the later application of the same word to a more abstract or recondite meaning.
Gray describes the treatment of a Mandenga who had killed a lion, and who was considered guilty of a great crime because he was only a subject, whereas the lion was a lord or sovereign. This status of the animal was continued in the ideographs where the lion (ha) signifies the lord, the ruler, the first and foremost, the glory (peh), a type of the double force.
The tail of a lion suspended from the roof of a Xhosa-Kaffir chief's hut as the sign of his power, has the same meaning when worn by a Rameses as pharaoh of Egypt. Other animals (as already mentioned) which were first named in inner Africa can be traced by those names in Egypt where they have become divine types in mythology, that is gods and goddesses. Nome is the serpent in Bidsogo and the deity Num is serpent-crowned in Egypt. Nam is a goat in Kiamba, and the goat in Egypt is another type of the god Num.
The numu, in Vei, is an enormous kind of toad. Num (Eg.) is called the king of frogs, and Hek is his frog-headed consort in Egypt. The monkey is named kept in Krebu; kebe in Kra; efie in Anfue. In Egypt this is the kaf-ape, a figure of Shu (Kafi) and Hapi, a type of one of the seven elemental gods. In the Makua language paka is simply the cat. In Egypt pekha is the cat-headed goddess. She is also known as Buto (Peht), and the cat is named boode in Embomma, and boude in Malamba.
Azi is the cow in the Kaffir dialects; esu in Isiele. This is the type of Isis the cow-headed genetrix called As or Hes as the Egyptian goddess. Gbami is the cow in the Pika, and khebma is the water-cow the most ancient type of the genetrix in Egypt. The type-name for the woman in inner Africa is—
|manka in Ekamtulufu.||menge in Bayon.||mangbe in Momenya.|
|manka in Udom.||mengue in Pati.||mengue in Param.|
|manka in Mbofon.||mengue in Kum.||mana-Nube in Kisawahili.|
The position of the woman was that of concubine and slave, like the Kaffir ncinza, rather than of wife, and in this double character she is named—
|manka in Ekamtulufu.||mengu in Param.||mangbe in Bagba.|
|manka in Udom.||mengue in Bayon.||mengbe in Momenya.|
|amanka in Mbofon.||mengue in Kum.|
In Egypt manka or menka (menâ) reappears as the wet nurse, the suckler, another type of the genetrix who was divinized as the great mother in mythology. Here, and elsewhere, inner Africa shows [p.58] the natural genesis, the primitive forms, the earliest status of things which became symbolical and were held to be divine in Egypt, and these underlying facts show a more profound relationship between inner Africa and Egypt than those of syntax and grammar in language. They belong to the same ancient order of evidence as the totemic signs, gesture-language, and the oldest primitive customs that are likewise found to be the most universal in their range.
This page last updated: 14/02/2014