Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World

BOOK 3 of 12

ELEMENTAL  AND ANCESTRAL SPIRITS, OR THE GODS AND THE GLORIFIED

[Page 120] The Fetishism and Mythology of Inner Africa, left dumb or unintelligible, first became articulate in the Valley of the Nile. Egypt alone preserved the primitive gnosis, and gave expression to it in the language of signs and symbols as mouthpiece of the old dark land. From her we learn that amulets, talismans, luck-tokens, and charms became fetishtic, because they represented some protecting power that was looked to for superhuman aid, and that this power belonged to one of two classes of spirits or superhuman beings which the Egyptians of the Ritual called “the Gods and the Glorified”. The first were elemental powers divinized. The second are the spirits of human ancestors, commonly called the ancestral spirits. The present object is to trace the origin of both, and to distinguish betwixt the one and the other, so as to discriminate elsewhere betwixt the two kinds of spirits, with the Egyptian wisdom for our guide.
According to the historian Manetho, who was a master of the secrets that were known to the Hir-Seshta, the keepers of chronology in Egypt had reckoned time and kept the register for a period of 24,900 years.
This period Manetho divides under three divine dynasties with three classes of rulers, namely, the “Gods”, the “Heroes” and the “Manes”. The reign of the gods was sub-divided into seven sections with a deity at the head of each. Now, as will be shown, the “Gods” of Egypt originated in the primordial powers that were derived at first from the Mother-earth and the elements in external nature, and these gods became astronomical or astral, as the Khus or Glorious Ones in the celestial Heptanomis, or Heaven in seven divisions.
In their stellar character they became the Seven Glorious Ones whom we read of in the Ritual (ch. 17), who were seven with Horus in Orion; seven with Anup at the pole of heaven; seven with Taht, with Ptah, and finally with Ra and Osiris, as the Seven Lords of Eternity. These two divine dynasties, elemental and Kronian, were followed in the list of Manetho by the Manes or ancestral spirits. In his Hibbert Lectures, Renouf denied the existence of ancestor-worship in Egypt. Nevertheless, he was entirely wrong. The New Year's Festival of the Ancestors determines that. This is referred to in the Calendar of Esne. It was solemnized on the 9th of [Page 121] Taht, the first month of the Egyptian year, and was then of unknown antiquity.
The Egyptians entertained no doubt about the existence, the persistence, or the personality of the human
spirit or ghost of man ; and as we understand Manetho's account of the Egyptian religion in the times before Mena, the worship of the ghosts or spirits of the dead was that which followed the two previous dynasties of the elemental powers of earth and the Kronidae in the astronomical mythology. For the present purpose, however, the three classes mentioned fall into the two categories of beings which the Egyptians designated “the Gods and the Glorified”. The gods are superhuman powers, whether elemental or astronomical. The glorified are the souls once mortal which were propitiated as the spiritancestors, here called the Manes of the dead. Not that the Egyptian deities were what Herbert Spencer thought, “the expanded ghosts of dead men”. We know them from their genesis in nature as elemental
powers or animistic spirits, which were divinized because they were superhuman, and therefore not human. Sut, as the soul of darkness; Horus, as the soul of light; Shu, as the soul of air or breathing force; Seb, as soul of earth; Nnu (or Num), as soul of water; Ra, as soul of the sun, were gods, but these were not expanded from any dead men's ghosts. Most emphatically, man did not make his gods in his own image, for the human likeness is, we repeat, the latest that was applied to the gods or nature-powers.
Egyptian mythology was founded on facts which had been closely observed in the ever-recurring phenomena of external nature, and were then expressed in the primitive language of signs. In the beginning was the void, otherwise designated the abyss. Darkness being the primordial condition, it followed naturally that the earliest type in mythical representation should be a figure of darkness. This was the mythical dragon, or serpent Apap, the devouring reptile, the monster all mouth, the prototype of evil in external nature, which rose up by night from the abyss and coiled, about the Mount of Earth as the swallower of the light; who in another phase drank up all the water, as the fiery dragon of drought. The voice of this huge, appalling monster was the thunder that shook the firmament (Rit., ch. 39) ; the drought
was its blasting breath that dried up the waters and withered vegetation. As a mythical figure of the natural fact, this was the original Ogre of the North, the giant who had no heart or soul in his body. Other powers born of the void were likewise elemental, with an aspect inimical to man. These were the spawn of darkness, drought and disease. In the Ritual they are called the Sami, demons of darkness, or the wicked Sebau, who for ever rose in impotent revolt against the powers that wrought for good. These Sami, or black spirits, and Sebau supplied fiends and spirits of darkness to later folklore and fairy-ology; and, like the evil Apap, the offspring also are of neither sex. Sex was introduced with the Great Mother in her hugest, most ancient form of the water cow, as representative of the Mother-earth and bringer forth of life amidst the waters of surrounding space. Her children were the elemental powers or forces, such as wind and water, earth and fire; but these are not to be confused with the evil progeny of Apap. Both are [Page 122] elemental in their origin, but the first were baneful, whereas the latter are beneficent.
When the terrors of the elements had somewhat spent their force, and were found to be non-sentient and unintelligent, the chief objects of regard and propitiation were recognized in the bringers of food and drink and the breath of air as the elements of life. Those were the beneficent powers, born of the Old Mother as elemental forces, that preceded the existence of the gods or powers divinized. The transformation of an elemental power into a god can be traced, for example, in the deity Shu. Shu as an elemental force was representative of wind, air, or breath, and more especially the breeze of dawn and eve, which was the very breath of life to Africa. Darkness was uplifted or blown away by the breeze of dawn. The elemental force of wind was imaged as a panting lion couched upon the horizon or the mountain-top as
lifter up of darkness or the sky of night. The power thus represented was animistic or elemental. Next, Shu was given his star, and he became the Red God, who attained the rank of stellar deity as one of the seven “Heroes” who obtained their souls in the stars of heaven. The lion of Shu was continued as the figure of his force; and thus a god was born, the warrior-god, who was one of the Heroes, or one of the powers in an astronomical character. Three of these beneficent powers were divinized as male deities in the Kamite Pantheon, under the names of Nnu, Shu, and Seb. Nnu was the producer of that later which in Africa was looked upon as an overflow of very heaven. Shu was giver of the breath of life. Seb was divinized, and therefore worshipped as the god of earth and father of food. These three were powers that
represented the elements of water, air, and earth. Water is denoted by the name of Nnu. Shu carries, the lion's hinder part upon his head as the sign of force; the totem of Seb is the goose that lays the egg, a primitively perfect figure of food. These, as elemental powers or animistic souls, were life-givers in the elements of food, water, and breath. Not as begetters or creators, but as transformers from one phase of life to another, finally including the transformation of the superhuman power into the human product.
There are seven of these powers altogether, which we shall have to follow in various phases of natural phenomena and on divers radiating lines of descent. Tentatively we might parallel:-Darkness=Sut; light=Horus; breathing power=Shu; water=Nnu (or Hapi) earth=Tuamutef (or Seb); fire = Khabsenuf; blood=Child-Horus. These were not derived from the ancestral spirits, once human, and no ancestral spirits ever were derived from them. Six of the seven were pre-human types. The seventh was imaged in the likeness of Child-Horus, or of Atum, the man. Two lists of names for the seven are given in the Ritual (ch. 17, i., 99-107), which correspond to the two categories of the elemental powers and the Glorious Ones, or Heroes. Speaking of the seven, the initiate in the mysteries says, “ I know the names of the seven Glorious Ones. The leader of that divine company is An-ar-ef the Great by name”. The title here identifies the human elemental as the sightless mortal Horus - that is, Horus who was incarnated in the flesh at the head of the seven, to become the first in status, he who had been the latest in development. [Page 123] In this chapter of the Ritual the seven have now become astronomical, with their stations fixed in heaven by Anup, whom we shall identify as deity of the Pole. “They do better”, says Plutarch, “who believe that the legends told of Sut, Osiris, and Isis do not refer- to either gods or men, but to certain great powers that were super-human, but not as yet divine” (Of Isis and Osiris, ch. 26). The same writer remarks that “Osiris and Isis passed from the rank of good demons ( elementals ) to that of deities” ( ch. 30). This was late in the Kamite mythos, but it truly follows the earlier track of the great! powers when these were Sut and Horus, Shu and Seb, and the other elemental forces that were divinized as gods.
In the astronomical mythology the nature-powers were raised to the position of rulers on high, and this is that beginning which was described by Manetho with “the gods” as the primary class of rulers, whose reign was divided into seven sections, or, as we read it, in a heaven of seven divisions - that is, the celestial Heptanomis. Certain of these can be distinguished in the ancient heavens yet as figures or the constellations which became their totems. Amongst such were the hippopotamus-bull of Sut, the crocodile-dragon of Sebek-Horus, the lion of Shu, the goose of Seb, the beetle of Kheper (Cancer), and other types of the starry souls on high, now designated deities, or the Glorious Ones, as the Khuti. The ancient mother who had been the cow of earth, was elevated to the sphere as the Cow of heaven It was she who gave rebirth to the seven powers that obtained their souls in the stars. and who were known as “the Children of the Thigh” when that was her constellation. These formed the company of the seven Glorious Ones, who became the Ali or Elohim, divine masters, time-keepers, makers and creators, which have to be followed in a variety of phases and characters. The Egyptian gods were born then, as elemental powers. They were born as such of the old first Great Mother; who in her character of Mother earth was the womb of life and therefore mother of the elements of which there are seven altogether, called her children. The seven elemental powers acquired souls as gods in the astronomical mythology.
They are given rebirth in heaven as the seven children of the old Great Mother. In the stellar mythos they are also grouped as the seven Khus with Anup on the Mount. They are the seven Taasu with Taht in the lunar mythos, the seven Knammu with Ptah in the solar mythos. They then pass into the eschatology as the seven souls of Ra, the Holy Spirit, and the seven great spirits glorified with Horus as the eighth in the resurrection from Amenta. The Egyptians have preserved for us a portrait of Apt (Kheb, or Ta-Urt), the Great Mother, in a four-fold figure. as the bringer forth of the four fundamental elements of earth, water, air, and heat. As representative of the earth she is a hippopotamus. as representative of water she is a crocodile and as the representative of breathing force she is a lioness, the human mother being imaged by the pendent breasts and procreant womb. Thus the mother of life is depicted as bringer forth of the elements of life. or at least four of these, as the elemental forces or “souls” of earth, water, fire, and air which four are imaged in her compound corpulent figure, and were set forth as four of her seven children.
Apt was also the mother of [Page124] sparks, or of souls as sparks of starry fire. She was the kindler of life from the spark that was represented by the star. This, we reckon, is the soul of Sut, her first-born, as the beneficent power of darkness. The power of water was imaged by Sebek-Horus as the crocodile. The power of wind or air, in one character, was that of the lion-god Shu ; and the power of the womb is the Child-Horus, as the fecundator of his mother. These, with some slight variation, are four of the seven powers of the elements identified with the mother as the bringer forth of gods and men, whom we
                            nowadays call Mother Nature. Six of the total seven were represented by zootypes, and Horus was                                  personalized in the form of a child. Evidence for a soul of life in the dark was furnished by the
                            star.                                  
                            Hence the soul and star are synonymous under the name of Khabsu in Egyptian. This was an
                            elemental power of darkness divinized in Sut, the author of astronomy.
                            Evidence
                            for a soul of life in the water was furnished by the fish that was eaten for food.
                            This elemental power was divinized in the fish-god Sebek and in Ichthus, the mystical fish. Evidence                                  for a soul of life in the earth was also furnished in food and in periodic renewal. The elemental power
                            was divinized in Seb, the father of food derived from the ground, the plants, and the goose. Evidence                                  for a soul of life in the sun, represented by the uraeus-serpent, was furnished by the vivifying solar                                    heat, the elemental power of which was divinized Apt, the First Great in Ra Evidence for a soul of life   in blood was Mother furnished by the incarnation, the elemental power of which was divinized in elder Horus, the eternal child. Six of these seven powers, we repeat, were represented by zootypes; the seventh was given the human image of the child, and later of Atum the man. Thus the earliest gods of Egypt were developed from the elements, and were not derived from the expanded ghosts of dead men Otherwise stated, the ancestral spirits were not primary.
Dr. Rink, writing of the Eskimo, has said that with them the whole visible world is ruled by supernatural powers or “owners”, each of whom holds sway within certain limits, and is called his Inua (viz., its or his Inuk, which word signifies “man” and also owner or inhabitant). This is cited by Herbert Spencer as most conclusive evidence that the agent or power was originally a human ghost, because the power may be expressed as the Inuk, or its man- “the man in it - that is, the man's ghost in it”. The writer did not think of the long way the race had to travel before “the power” could be expressed by “its man”, or how late was the anthropological mode of representing the forces of external nature. “The man” as type of power belongs to a far later mode of expression. Neither man nor woman nor child was among the earliest representatives of the elemental forces in external nature. By the bye, the Inuk is the power, and in Egyptian the root Nukh denotes the power or force of a thing, the potency of the male, as the bull; thence Nukhta is the strong man or giant. Sut was a Suten-Nakht. Horus was a [Page 125] Suten-Nakht, but neither of them was derived from man. The elements themselves were the earliest superhuman powers, and these were thought of and imaged by superhuman equivalents. The power of darkness was not represented by its man, or the ghost of man. Its primal power, which was that of swallowing all up, was imaged by the devouring dragon. The force of wind was not represented by its man, but by its roaring lion; the drowning power of water by the wide-jawed crocodile, the power of lightning or of sunstroke by its serpent-sting, the spirit of fire by the fiery-spirited ape. In this way all the elemental forces were equated and objectified before the zootype of Sign-Ianguage was changed for the human figure or anyone of them attained its “man” as the representative of its power. The earliest type of the man, even as male power, was the bull, the bull of his mother, who was a cow, or hippopotamus. Neither god nor goddess ever had been man or woman or the ghost of either in the
mythology of Egypt, the oldest in the world. The Great Mother of all was imaged like the totemic mother, as a cow, a serpent, a sow, a crocodile, or other zootype, ages before she was represented as a woman or the ghost of one. It is the same with the powers that were born of her as male, six of which were portrayed by means of zootypes before there was anyone in the likeness of a man, woman, or child. And these powers were divinized as the primordial gods. The Egyptians had no god who was derived from a man. They told Herodotus that “in eleven thousand three hundred and forty years [as he reckons] no god had ever actually become a man” (B. 2, 142). Therefore Osiris did not originate as a man. Atum, for one, was a god in the Iikeness of a man. But he was known as a god who did not himself become a man. On the other hand, no human ancestor ever became a deity. It was the same in Egypt as in Inner Africa; the spirits of the human ancestors always remained human, the glorified never became divinities. The nearest approach to a deity of human origin is the god in human likeness. The elder Horus is the divine child in a human shape. The god Atum in name and form is the perfect man. But both child and man are entirely impersonal - that is, neither originated in an individual child or personal man. Neither was a human being divinized. It is only the type that was anthropomorphic.
The two categories of spirits are separately distinguished in the Hall of Righteousness, when the Osiris pleads that he has made “oblations to the gods and funeral offerings to the departed” (Rit.,. ch. 125). And again, in the chapter following, the “oblations are presented to the gods and the sacrificial meals to the glorified” (ch. 126).
A single citation from the chapter of the Ritual that is said on arriving at the Judgment Hall, will furnish a brief epitome of the Egyptian religion as it culminated in the Osirian cult.- “I have propitiated the great god with that which he loveth; I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, a boat to the shipwrecked. I have made oblations to the gods and funeral offerings to the departed”, or to the ancestral spirits (Rit., ch. 125). The statement shows that the divine service consisted [Page 126] of good works, and primarily of charity. The gods and the glorified to whom worship was paid are: (I) The Great One God (Osiris) ; (2) the Nature-Powers, or Gods; and (3) the Spirits of the Departed. But the order in development was: (I) The Elemental Forces, or Animistic Nature-Powers; (2) the Ancestral Spirits; (3) the One Great God over all, who was imaged phenomenally in the Kamite trinity of Asar-Isis in matter, Horus in soul, Ra in spirit, which three were blended in the Great One God. In the Hymn to Osiris (line 6) the ancestral spirits are likewise discriminated from the divine powers or gods. When Osiris goes forth in peace by command of Seb,
the God of Earth, the mighty ones bow the head; the ancestors are in prayer.“These latter are the commonalty of the dead, the human ancestors in general, distinguished from the gods or powers of the elements that were divinized in the astronomical mythology. In one of the texts the “spirits of the king”, the ever-Iiving Mer-en-Ra, are set forth as an object of religious regard superior in status to that of the gods, by which we understand the ancestral spirits are here exalted above the elemental powers as the objects of propitiation and invocation. The Egyptian gods and the glorified were fed on the same diet in the fields of divine harvest, but are entirely distinct in their origin and character.
The glorified are identifiable as spirits that once were human who have risen from the dead in a glorified body as Sahus. The gods are spirits or powers that never had been human. We know the great ones, female or male, from the beginning as elemental forces that were always extant in nature. These were first recognized, represented, and divinized as superhuman. The ghost, when recognized, was human still, however changed and glorified. But the Mother-earth had never been a human mother, nor had the serpent Rannut, nor Nut, the celestial wateress. The god of the Pole as Anup, the moon god Taht, the sun god Ra, had never been spirits in a human guise. They were divinized, and therefore worshipped or propitiated as the superhuman powers in nature, chiefly as the givers of light, food, and drink, and as keepers of time and season. These, then, are the goddesses and gods that were created by the human mind as powers that were impersonal and non-human. Hence they had to be envisaged with the aid of living types. Spirits once human manifest as ghosts in human form. It follows that the gods were primary, and that worship, or extreme reverence, was first addressed to them and not to the ancestral spirits, which, according to H. Spencer and his followers, had no objective existence. Neither is there any sense in saying the Egyptian deities were conceived in animal forms.
This is to miss the meaning of Sign-Ianguage altogether. “Conception” has nought to do with Horus being represented by a hawk, a crocodile, or a calf; Seb by a goose, Shu by a lion, Rannut by a serpent, Isis by a scorpion. The primary question is: Why were the goddesses and gods or powers presented under these totemic types, which preceded the anthrotype in the different modes of mythical representation? Three of the seven children born of the Great Mother have been traced in the portrait of Apt, the old first genetrix, as Sut the hippopotamus, Sebek the crocodile, and Shu the
lion. But there was an earlier phase of representation with her two children [Page 127] Sut and Horus, who were born twins. It is the same in the Kamite mythology as in external nature. The two primary elements were those of darkness and light: Sut was the power of darkness, Horus the power of light.
In one representation the two elements were imaged by means of the black bird of Sut and the white bird, or golden hawk, of Horus. Thus we can identify two elemental powers, as old as night and day, which are primeval in universal mythology; and these two powers, or animistic souls, were divinized as the two gods Sut and Horus with the two birds of darkness and light, the black vulture and the gold hawk depicted back to back as their two representative types or personal totems.
The beginning with these two primal powers is repeated in the mythology of the Blacks on the other side of the world. With them the crow and hawk (the eagle-hawk) are equivalent to these two birds of darkness and light; and according to the native traditions, the eagle-hawk and crow were first among the ancestors of the human race. That is as the first two of the elemental powers which became the non-human ancestors in mythology. They are also known as the creators who divided the Murray Blacks into two classes or brotherhoods whose totems were the eagle-hawk and crow, and who now
shine as stars in the sky. (Brough Smyth, v. i., 423 and. 431.) This is the same point of departure in the beginning as in the Kamite mythos with the first two elemental powers, viz., those of darkness and light. These two birds are also equated by the black cockatoo and the white cockatoo as the two totems of the Mimukjarawaint in Western Australia. The two animistic souls or spirits of the two primary elements can be paralleled in the two souls that are assigned to man or the Manes in the traditions of certain aboriginal races, called the dark shade and the light shade, the first two souls of the seven in the Ritual. These, as Egyptian, are two of the seven elements from which the-enduring soul and total personality of man is finally reconstituted in Amenta after death. They are the dark shade, called the Khabsu, and the light shade, called the Sahu. A Zulu legend relates that in the beginning there were two mothers in a bed of reeds who brought forth two children, one black, the other white. The woman in the bed of reeds was Mother-earth, who had been duplicated in the two mothers who brought forth in space when this was first divided into night and day. Another version of the mythical beginning with a black and white pair of beings was found by Duff Macdonald among the
natives of Central Africa. The black man, they say, was crossing a bridge, and as he looked round he was greatly astonished to find that a white man was following him (Africana, vol. i., p. 75). These are the powers of darkness and day-light, who were portrayed in Egypt as the Sut-and-Horus twins, one of whom was the black Sut, the other the white Horus, and the two “men” were elementals. The natives on the shores of Lake Rudolf say that when it thunders a white man is born. But the white man thus born is the flash of light or lightning imaged by an anthropomorphic figure of speech.
The aborigines of Victoria likewise say the moon was a black fellow before he went up into the sky to become light, or white. Horus in Egypt was the white man as an elemental power, the white one of [Page 128] the Sut- and-Horus twins, who is sometimes represented by an eye that is white, whereas the eye of Sut was black. In the mythos Horus is divinized as the white god. The children of Horus, who are known to mythology as the solar race, are the Khuti. These are the white spirits, the children of light. The solar race at last attained supremacy as chief of all the elemental powers, and in the eschatology the Khuti are the glorious ones. The Khu sign is a beautiful white bird. This signifies a spirit, and the spirit may be a human ghost, or it may be the spirit of light, otherwise light imaged as a spirit; thence Horus the spirit of light in the mythology, or the glorified human spirit, called the Khu, in the eschatology. The symbols of whiteness, such as the white down of birds, pipe clay, chalk, flour, the white stone, and other things employed in the mysteries of the black races and in their mourning for the dead, derive their significance from white being emblematic of spirit, or the spirits which originated in the element of light being the white spirit. The turning of black men into white is a primitive African way of describing the transformation of the mortal into spirit. It is the name in the mysteries of the Aleutians, who dance in a state of nudity with white eyeless masks upon their faces, by which a dance of spirits is denoted. With the blacks of Australia the secret wisdom “is the same as that of the dark race in Africa. According to Buckley, when the black fellow was buried the one word Animadiate”, was uttered, which denoted that he was gone to be made a white man. But this did not mean a European. Initiates in the totemic mysteries were made into white men by means of pipe clay and birds' down, or white masks, the symbols of spirits in the religious ceremonies. This mode of transformation was not intended as a compliment to the pale-face from Europe. Neither did white spirits and black originate with seeing the human ghost. Horus is the white spirit in the light half of the lunation, Sut in the dark half is “the black fellow”, because they represent the elements of light and darkness that were divinized in mythology. Hence the eternal contention of the twins Sut and Horus in the moon. It is common in the African mysteries for the spirits to be painted or arrayed in white, and in the custom of pipe claying the face, on purpose to cause dismay in battle, the white was intended to suggest spirits, and thus to strike the enemy with fear and terror. Also, when spirits are personated in
the mysteries of the Arunta and other tribes of Australian aborigines, they are represented in white by means of pipe clay and the white down of birds. It is very pathetic, this desire and strenuous endeavour of the black races, from Central Africa to Egypt, or to the heart of Australia, to become white, as the children of light, and to win and wear the white robe as a vesture of spiritual purity, if only represented by a white mask or coating of chalk, pipe clay, or white feathers. Many a white man has lost his life and been made up into medicine by the black fellows on account of his white complexion being the same with that assigned to the good or white spirits of light. In a legend of creation preserved among the Kabinda it is related that God made all men black. Then he went across a great river and called upon all men to follow him. The wisest, the best, the bravest of those who heard the invitation [Page 129] plunged into the wide river, and the water washed them white. These were the ancestors of white men. The others were afraid to venture. They remained behind in their old world, and became the ancestors of black men. But to this day the white men come (as spirits) to the bank on the other side of the river and echo the ancient cry of
“Come thou hither!” saying, “Come, it is better over here!” (Kingsley, M. H., Travels in West Africa, pp. 430, 431.) These are the white spirits, called the white men by the black races, who originated in the representation of light as an elemental spirit, the same term being afterwards applied to the white bird, the white god, and the white man.
This legend is also to be found in Egypt. As the Ritual shows, there was an opening day of creation, designated the day of “Come thou to me”. The call was made by Ra, from the other side of the water, to Osiris in the darkness of Amenta – that is, from Ra as the white spirit to Osiris the black in the eschatology. But there was an earlier application of the saying in the solar mythos. In the beginning, says the best-known Egyptian version, the sun god Temu, whose name denotes the creator god, having awoke in the Nnu from a state of negative existence, appeared, as it were, upon the other side of the water, a figure of sunrise, and suddenly cried across the water, “Come thou to me!” (as spirits).
Then the lotus unfolded its petals, and up flew the hawk, which represented the sun in mythology and a soul in the eschatology. Thus Tum the father of souls, being established in his spiritual supremacy, calls upon the race of men to come to him across the water in the track of sunrise or of the hawk that issued forth as Horus from the lotus. From such an origin in the course of time all nature would be peopled with “black-spirits and white”, as animistic entities, or as the children of Sut and Horus; as the black vultures or crows of the one, and the white vultures or gold hawks of the other. Thus we have traced a soul of darkness and a soul of light that became Egyptian gods in the twin powers Sut and Horus, and were called the dark shade and the light of other races, the two first souls that were derived as elementals. The anima or breath of life was one of the more obvious of the six “souls” whose genesis was visible in external nature. This was the element assigned to Shu, the god of breathing force. In the chapter for giving the breath of life, to the deceased (Rit., ch. 55) the speaker, in the character of Shu, says: “I am Shu, who conveys the breezes or breathings. I give air to these younglings as I open my mouth”. These younglings are the children whose souls are thus derived from Shu, when the soul and breath were one, and Shu was this one of the elemental powers divinized as male.
Messrs. Spencer and Gillen have shown that up to the present time the Arunta tribes of Central Australia do not ascribe the begettal of a human soul to the male parent. They think the male may serve a purpose in preparing the way for conception, but they have not yet got beyond the incorporation of a soul from the elements of external nature, such as wind or water - that is, the power of the air or of water, which was imaged in the elemental deity. Spirit children, derivable from the air, are supposed to be especially fond of traveling in a whirlwind, and on seeing one of these approaching a native woman who does not wish to have a child [Page 130] will flee as if for her life, to avoid impregnation. (Native Tribes, p. 125.) This doctrine of a soul supposed to be incorporated from the elements is so ancient in Egypt as to have been almost lost sight of or concealed from view beneath the mask of mythology. The doctrine, however, was Egyptian. The insufflation of the female by the spirit of air was the same when the goddess Neith was impregnated by the wind. With the Arunta tribes it is the ordinary woman who is insufflated by the animistic soul of air. In Egypt, from the earliest monumental period, the female was represented mythically as the Great Mother Neith, whose totem, so to call it, was the white vulture; and this bird of maternity was said to be impregnated by the wind. “Gignuntur autem hunc in modum.Cum amore concipiendi vultur exarserit, vulvam ad Boream aperiens, ab eo velut comprimitur per dies quinque” (Hor-Apollo, B. I, II).
This kind of spirit not only entered the womb of Neith, or of the Arunta female; it also went out of the human body in a whirlwind. Once when a great Fijian chieftain passed away a whirlwind swept across the lagoon. An old man who saw it covered his mouth with his hand and said in an awestruck whisper, “There goes his spirit”. This was the passing of a soul in the likeness of an elemental power , the spirit of air that was imaged in the god Shu, the spirit that impregnated the virgin goddess Neith. According to a mode of thinking in external things which belonged to spiritualism, so to say, in the animistic stage, the human soul had not then been specialized and did not go forth from the body as the Ka or human double. It was only a totemic soul affiliated to the power of wind, which came and went like the wind, as the breath of life. To quote the phrase employed by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, a spirit-child was incarnated in the mother's womb by the spirit of air. The doctrine is the same in the Christian phase, when the Holy Spirit makes its descent on Mary and insufflates her, with the dove for totem instead of some other type of breathing force or soul. There is likewise a survival of primitive doctrine when the Virgin Mary is portrayed in the act of inhaling the fragrance of the lily to procure the mystical conception of the Holy Child. This is a mode of inhaling the spirit breath, or anima, the same as in the
mystery of the Arunta, but with the difference that the Holy Spirit takes the place of the spirit of air, otherwise that Ra, as source of soul, had superseded Shu, the breathing force. Such things will show how the most primitive simplicities of ancient times have supplied our modern religious mysteries.
We learn also from the Arunta tribes that it is a custom for the mother to affiliate her child thus incorporated (not incarnated) to the particular elemental power, as spirit of air or water, tree or earth, supposed to haunt the spot where she conceived or may have quickened. (N. T., pp. 124 and 128.)
Thus the spirit-child is, or may be, a re-incorporation of an Alcheringa ancestor, who as Egyptian is the elementary power divinized in the eschatology, and who is to be identified by the animal or plant which is the totemic type of either. Not that the animal or plant was supposed by the knowers to be transformed directly into a [Page 131] human being, but that the elemental power or superhuman spirit entered like the gust that insufflated the vulture of Neith or caused conception whether in the Arunta female or the Virgin Mary. The surroundings at the spot will determine the totem of the spirit and therefore of the spirit-child. Hence the tradition of the Churinga-Nanga being dropped at the place where the mother was impregnated by the totemic spirit, which, considering the sacred nature of the Churinga, was certainly a form of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of air rushed out of the gap between the hills; or it was at the water-hole, or near the sacred rock, or the totemic tree, that the mother conceived, and by such means the child is affiliated to the elemental power, the animistic spirit, the Alcheringa ancestor, as well as to the totemic group. The mother caught by the power of wind in the gap is the equivalent of divine Neith caught by the air god Shu and insufflated in the gorge of Neith.
The element of life incorporated is the source of breath, or the spirit of air, which would have the same natural origin whether it entered the female in her human form, or into that of the bird, beast, fish, or reptile. It was the incorporation of an elemental spirit, whether of air, earth, water, fire, or vegetation.
In popular phraseology running water is called living water, and still water is designated dead. There is no motion in dead water, no life, no force, no spirit. Contrariwise, the motion of living water, the running spring or flowing inundation, is the force, and finally the soul of life in the element. Air was the breath of life, and therefore a soul of life was in the breeze. In the deserts of Central Africa the breeze of dawn and eve and the springs of water in the land are very life indeed and the givers of life itself, as they have been from the beginning. These, then, are two of the elements that were brought forth as nature powers by the earth, the original mother of life and all living things. When the supreme lifegiving, life-sustaining power was imaged as a pouring forth of overflowing energy the solar orb became a figure of such a fountain-head or source. But an earlier type of this great welling forth was water. Hence Osiris personates the element of water as he who is shore less. He is objectified as the water of renewal. His throne in heaven, earth, and Amenta is balanced upon water. Thus the primary element of nutriment has the first place to the last with the root-origin of life in water. Birth from the element of water was represented in the mysteries of Amenta by the rebirth in spirit from the water of baptism. It is as a birth of water that Child-Horus calls himself the primary power of motion. Also “the children of Horus” who stand on the papyrus plant or lotus are born of water in the new kingdom that was founded for the father by Horus the son. This too was based upon the water. Hence two of Horus's children, Tuamutef and Kabhsenuf, are called the two fishes (Rit., ch. I 13), and elsewhere the followers of Horus are the fishers. One of the two lakes in Paradise contained the water of life. It was designated the Lake of Sa, and one of the meanings of the word is spirit, another is soil or basis.
It was a lake, so to say, of spiritual matter from which spirits were derived in germ as the Hammemat. This lake of [Page 132] spirit has assuredly been localized in Europe. The superstition concerning Spirits that Issue from the water is common, and in Strathspey there is a lake called Loch Nan Spoiradan, the Lake of the Spirits.
When spirit-children were derived from the soul of life that was held to be inherent in the element of water, they would become members of the water-totem - unless some pre-arrangement interfered. For example, a water-totem is extant in the quatcha-totem of the Arunta tribe. A child was conceived one day by a lubra of the Witchetty-grub clan who happened to be in the neighbourhood of a quatcha, or water locality. She was taking a drink of water near to the gap in the ranges where the spirits dwell, when suddenly she heard a child's voice crying “Mia, mia!” the native term for relationship, which includes that of motherhood. She was not anxious to have a child, and therefore ran away, but could not escape. She was fat and well-favoured, and the spirit-child overtook her and was incorporated willy-nilly. In this instance the spirits were Witchetty-grub instead of water spirits of the quatcha-totem locality, otherwise if the totem had not been already determined locally, this would represent the modus operandi of the elemental power becoming humanized by incorporation. The water spirit is a denizen of the water element, always lying in wait for young, well-favoured women, and ready to become embodied in the human form by the various processes of drinking, eating, breathing, or other crude ways of conversion and transformation.
The several elements led naturally to the various origins ascribed to man from the ideographic representatives of earth, water, air, fire such as the beast of earth, the turtle or fish of water, the bird of air, the tree or the stone. The Samoans have a tradition that the first man issued from a stone. His name was Mauike, and he is also reputed to be the discoverer of fire. Now the discoverer of fire, born of a stone, evidently represents the element of fire which had been found in the stone, the element being the animistic spirit or fire, to which the stone was body that served as type (Turner, Samoa. p. 280, ed. 1884).
The derivation of a soul of life from the element of fire, or from the spark, is likewise traceable in a legend of the Arunta, who thus explain the origin of their fire-totem. A spark or fire, in the Alcheringa, was blown by the north wind from the place where fire was kindled first, in the celestial north, to the summit of a great mountain represented by Mount Hay. Here it fell to the earth, and caused a huge conflagration.
When this subsided, one class of the Inapertwa creatures issued from the ashes. These were “the ancestors of the people of the fire totem”, the people born from the element of fire (N. T., p. 445). The tradition enables us to identify an origin for children born of fire, or the soul of fire, that is the power of this element. Moreover, it is fire from heaven. It falls as a spark, which spark falls elsewhere in the fire-stone.
These particular Inapertwa, or pre-human creatures, were discovered by two men of the Wungara or wild-duck totem, and made by them into men and women of the fire-totem. Such, then, are the offspring of fire or light, where others are the children of air or of water, as one of the elemental or animistic powers; and the pre-human creatures [Page 133] became men and women when they were made totemic.
The transformation is a symbolical mode of deriving the totemic people from the pre-human and pretotemic powers which were elemental.
There is a class of beings in the German folk-tales who are a kind of spirit, but not of human origin, like so many others that are a product of primitive symbolism, which came to be designated elementals because they originated in the physical elements. These little earth-men have the feet of a goose or a duck. Here the Kamite wisdom shows how these are the spirits of earth who descended from Seb, the power, spirit, or god of earth, whose zootype in Egypt was the goose. Thus the earth god or elemental power of the mythos becomes the goose-footed earth man of the Märchen and later folk-lore, which are the débris of the Kamite mythology. The cave-dwellers in various lands are likewise known as children of the earth. Their birthplace may be described as a bed of reeds, a tree, a cleft in the rock, or the hole in a
stone. Each type denotes the earth as primordial bringer forth and mother of primeval life. Children with souls derived from the element of earth are also represented by the Arunta as issuing from the earth via “the Erithipa stone”. The stone, equal to the earth, is here the equivalent for the parsley-bed from which the children issue in the folk-lore of the British Isles. The word Erithipa signifies a child, though seldom used in this sense. Also a figure of the human birthplace is very naturally indicated. There is a round hole on one side of the stone through which the spirit-children waiting for incorporation in the earthly form are supposed to peep when on the look-out for women, nice and fat, to mother them. It is thought that women can become pregnant by visiting this stone. The imagery shows that the child-stone not only
represents the earth as the bringer forth of life, but that it is also an emblem of emanation from the mother's womb. There is an aperture in the stone over which a black band is painted with charcoal. This unmistakably suggests the pubes. The painting is always renewed by any man who happens to be in the vicinity of the stone (N.T., p. 337). These Erithipa stones are found in various places. This may explain one mode of deriving men from stones, the stone or rock in this case being a figure of the Mother-earth.
In such wise the primitive representation survives in legendary lore, and the myth remains as a tale that is told. Earth, as the birth-place in the beginning, was typified by the tree and stone. A gap in the mountain range, a cleft in the rock, or the hole in a stone presented a likeness to the human birthplace.
The mystery of the stone affords an illuminative instance of the primitive mode of thinging in Sign language, or thinking in things. Conceiving a child was thought of as a concretion of spirit, and that concretion or crystallization was symbolized by means of the white stone in the mysteries. It is the tradition of the Arunta tribe that when a woman conceives, or, as they render it, when the spirit-child enters the womb, a Churinga-stone is dropped, which is commonly supposed to be marked with a device that identifies the spirit-child, and therefore the human child, with its totem. Usually the Churinga is found on the spot by some of the tribal elders, who deposit it in the Ertnatulunga, or storehouse, in which the stones of conception are kept so sacredly [Page 134] that they must never be looked upon by woman or
child, or any uninitiated man.“Each Churinga is so closely bound up with the spirit individual (or the spirit individualized) that it is regarded as its representative in the Ertnalutunga” or treasury of sacred objects.
In this way the Arunta were affirming that, when a child was conceived of an elemental power, whether born figuratively from the rock or tree, the air, the water, or it may be from the spark in the stone that fell with the fire from heaven, or actually from the mother's womb, it was in possession of a spirit that was superhuman in its origin and enduring beyond the life of the mortal. This was expressed by means of the stone as a type of permanence. Hence when the stone could not be identified upon the spot, a Churinga was cut from the very hardest wood that could be found. The stones were then saved up in the repository of the tribe or totemic group, and these Churingas are the stones and trees in which primitive men have been ignorantly supposed to keep their souls for safety outside of their own bodies by those who knew nothing of the ancient Sign-language.
A magical mode of evoking the elemental spirit from material substance survives in many primitive customs. Whistling for the wind is a way of summoning the spirit or force of the breeze, which was represented in Egypt as the power of a panting lion. Touching wood or iron, or calling out “Knife!” to be safe, is an appeal to the elemental spirit as a protecting power. Setting the poker upright in front of the grate to make the fire burn is a mode of appeal made to. the spirit of fire in the metal. This, like so many more, has been converted to the superstition of the cross. The Servians at their Coledar set light to an oak log and sprinkle the wood with wine. Then they strike it and cause sparks to fly out of it, crying, “So many sparks, so many goats and sheep! so many sparks, so many pigs and calves! so many sparks, so many successes and so many blessings!”. (Hall). These in their way were seekers after life, the elemental spirit of life in this instance being that of fire from the spark. The element of fire was evoked from both wood and stone. It was their spirit-child. Now, it is a mode of magic to evoke a spirit from these by rubbing the wood or stone, or the totems made from either. And this way of kindling fire is applied by the Arunta for the purpose of calling forth the spirits of children from the Erithipa stones, which are supposed to be full of them. By rubbing a man can cause them to come forth and enter the human mother. Clearly the modus operandi is based on rubbing the stone or wood, to kindle fire from the spark that signified a germ or soul of life.
Another mode of evoking the spirit of and from an element may be illustrated by a Kaffir custom. When the girls have come of age and have suffered the opening rite of puberty, it is the Zulu fashion for the initiate to run stark naked through the first plenteous down-pour of water, which is characteristically called a “he-rain”, to secure fertilization from the nature power. In this custom a descent of the elemental spirit for incorporation is by water instead of fire ( or earth, air, or light), but the principle is the same in primitive animism. Whichever the agent, there is a derivation from a source that is superhuman, if only elemental.
It was the elemental powers that [Page 135] supplied pre-human souls in the primitive sociology. These we term totemic souls, souls that were common to the totemic group of persons, plants, animals, or stones, when there was no one soul yet individualized or distinguished from the rest as the human soul. They could not be “the souls of men” that were supposed to inhabit the bodies of beasts and birds, reptiles and insects, plants and stones. when there were no souls of men yet discreted from the pre-human souls in old totemic times. The human lives, or souls, are bound up with the totemic animal or bird, reptile or tree, because these represented the same animistic nature power from which the soul that is imaged by the totem was derived. The soul in common led to the common interest, the mysterious relationship and bond of unity betwixt the man and animal and elemental powers, or the later gods. It was this totemic soul, common to man and animal, which explains the tradition of the Papagos that in the early times “men and beasts talked together, and a common language made all brethren”. (Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 76.)
In the primary phase the soul that takes shape in human form was derived directly from the element as source of life. In a second phase of representation the powers of the elements were imaged by the totemic zootypes. Thence arose the universal tradition, sometimes called belief, of an animal ancestry in which the beasts, birds, reptiles, fish, plants, trees, rocks, or stones were the original progenitors of the human race, through the growing ignorance of primitive Sign-language. Spirit-children derived from the elemental power of air are described in the Ritual as “the younglings of Shu”, the god of breathing-force.
And as the lion was the totem of Shu, the children would or might be derived from the lion as their totemic type. Germs of soul might ascend from the water of life in the celestial Lake of Sa, or soul, as the children of Nnu. The children of Horus are emanations from the sun. As such they have their birth in heaven to become incorporate on the earth, Child-Horus being first, according to the eschatology. It is because the sun was looked upon at one stage as the elemental source of a soul that its power could be, as it was, represented by a phallus. Thence also arose the belief that the sun could impregnate young women This will partly explain why the female at the time of first menstruation must not be looked on by the sun. The young and fat Arunta woman, fleeing to escape from the embraces of the wind for fear of
being impregnated with the elemental spirit-child, suggests a clue. She did not wish to bear a child, therefore she fled from the elemental power. In the other case the maiden must not be caught, for fear a soul should be made incarnate under the new conditions. For this reason the young girls were taught that terrible results would happen if they were seen by the sun in their courses; and they were consequently kept in the shade, or were instructed to hide themselves when the time arrived. They were not merely secluded at puberty, but were shut up sometimes darkly for years together, and suspended on a stage betwixt earth and heaven, as Tabu, until the period of pubescence came, at which moment they must not be shone upon by the sun, nor breathed on by the air, nor must they touch the elements of earth or water. They were secluded and consecrated for puberty, and were shut up from the elements to which generation had been [Page 136] attributed by the early human thought, a superior element of soul being now recognized in the blood of the virgin.
Blood was the latest element of seven from which a soul of life was derived. This followed the soul of air, water, heat, vegetation, or other force of the elements, and a soul derived from blood was the earliest human soul, derived from the blood of the female. Not any blood, not ordinary menstrual blood, but that blood of the pubescent virgin who was personalized in the divine virgin Neith, or Isis, or Mary. In the Semitic creation man, or Adam, was created from a soul of blood. Blood and Adam are synonymous, and the previous races,“which are but spittle”, had derived their souls, in common with the animals, from the elements of external nature that were represented by totems, not by the blood of the mother nor the ancestry of the father. Several forms of an external soul had been derived from the elements of earth, air, and water, and at length a human soul was differentiated from the rest. This was the soul of blood which has been traced to the pubescent virgin. The virgin mother in mythology is only typical, but the type was founded in the natural fact that the mother-blood originated with the virgin when the blood was held to be the soul of life. This, to reiterate, was the pubescent virgin ready for connubium. The virgin Neith was represented by that bird of blood, the vulture, who was said to nurse her young on her own blood. The virgin Isis was portrayed as the “red heifer, when Child-Horus was her red-complexioned calf. The first rendering, then, was pre-anthropomorphic, and at last the human likeness was adopted for the soul of blood, and this was imaged in Child-Horus as the soul born in the blood of Isis, the divine blood-mother,
who was the typical virgin. This was the creation of man in the mythology, who was Atum the red in the Egyptian, Adam in the Hebrew version; and in man this seventh soul was now embodied in the human form.
The human soul never was “conceived as a bird”, but might be imaged as a bird, according to the primitive system of representation. The golden hawk, for instance, was a bird which typified the sun that soared aloft as Horus in the heavens, and the same bird in the eschatology was then applied to the human soul in its resurrection from the body. Hence the hawk with a human head is a compound image, not the portrait of a human soul. The celestial poultry that pass for angels in the imagination of Christendom have no direct relation to spiritual reality. A feathered angel was never yet seen by clairvoyant vision, and is not a result of revelation. We know how they originated, why they were so
represented, and where they came from into the Christian eschatology. They are the human-headed birds that were compounded and portrayed for souls in Egypt, and carried out thence into Babylonia, Judea, Greece, Rome, and other lands.
In the Contes Arabes, published by Spitta Bey, the soul of a female jinn who has become the wife of a human husband goes out of her as a beetle, and when the beetle is killed the female dies. Again, in a German tale the soul of a sleeping girl is seen to issue from her mouth in the form of a red mouse, and when the mouse is killed the maiden dies. In both cases we find Egyptian symbolism surviving in folklore.
[Page 137] The red mouse was a zootype of the soul of blood, the soul derived from the mother of flesh, and, being such, it was consecrated as an image of Child-Horus, who was born in the blood of Isis; and because it was the figure of an elemental soul in the ancient symbolism, the mouse remained the emblem of the human soul in the Märchen of other nations. The scarabeus placed in the chest of the deceased to signify another heart was given to the Manes in Amenta, and the giving of this other heart to the Manes was dramatically represented on the earth by inserting the beetle in the embalmed body as a typical new heart, the beetle being a type of transformation in death. According to Renouf on Parables in Folk-lore, we have here the notion of “a person's life or soul being detached from the body and hidden away at a distance”. “The person” he continues, “does not appear to suffer in the least from the absence of so essential a part of himself”. (Proceedings Soc. Bib. Arch., April 2, 1889, p. 178.) But this is not the genesis of the idea. What we find in folklore is not contemporary evidence for current beliefs. In this the ancient wisdom is continually repeated without knowledge, and the symbols continue to be quoted at a wrong value. The soul or heart of the witch, the jinn, or the giant never was the soul of a mortal. The Arabic jinns originate as spirits of the elements. They appear in animal forms because the primary nature powers were first represented by the zootypes; hence such animals as jackals, hyenas, serpents, and others are called “the cattle of the jinn”.No human soul was ever seen in the guise of a mouse or a beetle, hawk or serpent, turtle, plant or tree, fire-stone or starry spark, if but for the fact that no one of the souls had been discreted separately as a human soul from the elemental, animistic, or totemic powers which were pre-human. It was on the ground of a pre-human origin for such souls that a doctrine of preexistence, of transmigration, of reincarnation for the soul could be and was established, i.e., because it was not the personal human soul. This account of an elemental origin for the earliest souls of life may help to explain that pre-existence of the soul (erroneously assumed to be the human soul) which crops up in legendary lore. In the Book of the Secrets of Enoch it is declared that “Every soul was created eternally before the foundation of the world”. (Sclavonic Enoch, ch. 23, 5.)
The pre-existence of souls is an Egyptian doctrine, but not of human souls already individualized and possessing each a personal identity. They were the elemental souls, not the ancestral human spirits. The Egyptian Hammemat survived in Talmudic tradition as a class of pre-human beings. It was held as a Jewish dogma that the souls which were to enter human bodies had existed before the creation of the world in the Garden of Eden, or in the seventh, i.e. the highest, heaven (Chagiga, 12 b). So the primordial powers in the Ritual are identifiable with the divine ancestors who preceded Ra (ch. 178, 22), and who are called the ancestors of Ra. “Hail ye, chiefs, ancestors of Ra!” Elsewhere they are the seven souls of Ra, when Atum-Ra becomes the one god in whom all previous powers are absorbed and glorified. The religious ceremonies of the Arunta date from and represent the doings of these ancestors in the Alcheringa at a
time when the ancestor as kangaroo was not directly distinguishable from the kangaroo as man. The derivation [Page 138] of souls from elemental and pre-human powers is marked when the Arunta claim that each individual is a direct reincarnation of a totemic ancestor who is still living in the Alcheringa. And, as the same origin is assigned for the totemic animal, it follows that the man and animal are brothers, born of the same ancestral and pre-human soul (N.T., p. 202). This is indicated when it is said that the spirit kangaroo enters the kangaroo animal in just the same way in which the spirit kangaroo man enters the womb of the kangaroo woman (N.T., p. 209). These totemic souls are the pre-human ancestors of the Arunta tribes who lived in their pre-human as well as prehistoric past. “Every native thinks that his
(mythical) ancestor in the Alcheringa was the descendant of, or is immediately associated with, the animal or plant” “which bears his totemic name”. So intimately in the native mind are these ancestors associated with the totemic types that “an Alcheringa man says of the kangaroo totem that it may sometimes be spoken of either as a man kangaroo or a kangaroo man” (N.T., pp. 73, 119, and 132). The present explanation is that these ancestors in the Alcheringa originated in the superhuman nature powers or elemental souls that were first represented by the totems which are afterwards (or also) representative of the totemic motherhood. Thus the origin of the totemic men, in this phase, was not from the tree or animal of the totem whose name they bore, but from the elemental power or pre-human nature-soul from which both the man and animal derived a soul of life in common, as it was in the Alcheringa or old, old times of the mythical ancestors which in other countries, as in Egypt, have become the gods, whereas in Australia, Inner Africa, China, India, and elsewhere they remained the ancestors derived from animals, plants, and other zootypes that were totemic and pre-human. The derivation and descent of human souls from these superhuman elemental nature powers was at first direct , afterwards they were represented by totemic zootypes in ways already indicated and to be yet more fully shown. Thus a clan of the Omahas were described as the wind people. The Damaras have kept count of certain totemic descents (or eandas) from the elemental powers when they reckon that some of their people “come from the sun” and others “come from the rain” (Galton, Narrative,137); others come from the tree. The progenitor, as male, may and does take the mother's place in later ages, but the bringer forth was female from the first.
So is it with the types. Hence the mount,. the tree, the cave, the water-hole, the earth itself were naturally female; indeed, we might say that locality is feminine as the birth-place, and the elemental power was brought forth as male. In Scotland, persons who bore the name of “Tweed” were supposed to have had the genii of the River Tweed for their ancestors (Rogers,Social Life in Scotland, iii., 336), which denotes the same derivation from the elemental source, in this instance the spirit of water, as when the Arunta of the water-totem claim descent by reincorporation from the elemental ancestor in the Alcheringa, or as it might be in the Egyptian wisdom, from the God N nu, or N um, or Hapi, the descent being traceable at first by the totem, and afterwards by the name.
Primitive man has been portrayed in modern times as if he were a [Page 139] philosophic theorist. He has been charged with imagining all sorts of things which never existed, as if that were the origin of his spirits and his gods, whereas the beginning was with the elemental powers. These were external to himself.
There was no need to imagine them. They were And with this cognition his theology began. Primitive men were taught by the consistency of experience. However primitive, they neither had nor pretended to have the power of taking the soul out of the body when in peril, and depositing it for safety in a tree, or stone, or any other totemic type. Such a delusion belongs to the second childhood of the human race rather than to the first. It never was an article of faith even with the most benighted savages, as will be exemplified. Bunsen was one of those who have cited the “Tale of the Two Brothers” to prove “how deepseated was the Egyptian belief in the transmigration of the human soul”. But, as before said, Bata, the hero of the transmigrating soul, is not a human being! He is a folk-lore form of the mythical hero, the
young solar god who issued in the morning or the spring-time from the typical tree of dawn. In like manner the golden hawk, in the Ritual brings his heart = soul from the Mountain of the East, where it had been deposited in the tree of dawn upon the horizon. Externalizing the heart or soul in this way was not the act of men who were out of their minds or beside themselves, but simply a mode of symbolism which remains to be read in order that the error based upon it may be dispelled. When the nature powers are represented as human in the folk-tales they assume a misleading look, and primitive thought is charged with puerilities of the most recent fashion. It is these elemental souls that have been mixed up with the human soul by Hindus and Greeks, by Buddhist, Pythagorean, and Neo-Platonist, and mistaken for the
human soul in course of transmigration through the series which were but representatives of souls that were distinguished as non-human by those who understood the types. The mantis, the hawk, the ram, the lion, and others in the Ritual are types of souls, may be of human souls, but not on this earth. Such were types of elemental powers first, and next they were continued as indicators of the stages made in the seven transformations of the Manes in Amenta, the earth of eternity. This imagery was first applied to the powers of external nature, and when it is continued in a later phase the mythical characters become mixed up and confounded with the human in the minds of those who know no better, or who are at times too knowing ever to know. Once a year the Santals “make simple offerings to a ghost [or spirit] who dwells in a Bela-tree” (Hunter). This is taken by Herbert Spencer to show that the spirit in the tree was
derived from the human ghost which, according to his theory, never existed save in dreams. He points to certain Egyptian representations of “female forms” “emerging from trees and dispensing blessings” (Data, ch. 23, 182). But in no case has the female any human origin or significance. The females are Hathor and Nut, who personate the divine mother, not the human mother, in the tree, as the giver of food and drink provided by the Mother-earth. As to the “ghost in the tree”, neither was that derived from the human spirit or the shadow seen in dreams. Egypt will tell us what it signified, and thereby prove that it did not originate in the human ghost or the Spencerian phantom [Page 140] born of sleep. “Plant worship”, says the same writer, “is the worship of a spirit originally human”. “Everywhere the plant spirit is shown by its conceived human form and ascribed human desires to have originated from a human personality”. In
reply to this it can be shown from the oldest representations known, viz., those of Egypt, that the anthropomorphic mode of rendering was not primary, but the latest of all. Rannut, the goddess of plant life, was depicted. as a serpent, before the human figure was assigned to her, the sloughing, selfrenovating serpent being a zootype of renewal in a variety of phenomena, including vegetation. Nut in a female form gives the water of life from the tree, but she was previously Heaven itself in very person or Heaven typified as giver of the water from the tree or milk from the cow. Neither Nut nor Rannut was derived from a spirit originally human, but from a power in external nature that was known to be
superhuman. Hathor in the tree was a divinity not derived from any mortal personality, and her figure of the divine female in the tree was preceded by that of the wet-nurse as a milch-cow and still earlier as the water-cow. In the Osirian mysteries the so-called “corn spirit” is derived from the water. At Philae the god = the corn spirit is represented with stalks of corn springing from his mummy, and, according to the inscription, this is Osiris of the mysteries who springs from the returning waters - as the bringer of food in the shape of corn. In a vignette to the Book of the Dead the power of water also is portrayed in “the Great Green One”, a spirit represented by the hieroglyphic lines that form a figure of water. This when divinized is Horus as the shoot of the papyrus plant, or the branch of endless years - a type of the eternal manifested by renewal in food produced from the element of water in the inundation (Pap. of Ani, p. 8).
What the picture intimates is that water was the source of life to vegetation, and the figure in green arising from the element of water is the spirit of vegetation that was divinized in Horus as the “shoot” or “natzar”, a figure that survives as “Jack” in the green who dances in the pastimes on May-day. Nowhere in the range of Egyptian symbolism does “the plant spirit” originate in or from a human personality. Mighty spirits were supposed to dwell in certain trees by the Battas of Sumatra, who would resent and revenge any injury done to them. Such mighty spirits or powers of the elements had grown up, as Egyptian, to become the goddesses and gods, as Hathor and Nut in the sycamore, Isis in the persea tree, Seb in the shrubs and plants, Horus in the papyrus, or Unbu in the golden bough.
A soul of self-renewing life in the earth or the tree had been imaged by the serpent, a soul of life in the water had been imaged by the fish, a soul of life in the air by the bird, the elements being represented by the zootypes which afterwards became totemic and finally fetishtic. Thus, if the tree were the Nanja of an Australian tribe it would stand for the life of the tribe and be the totem of the pre-human soul. And when the human soul had been discreted as an individual soul from the general or tribal soul, the sacred tree which imaged the life or soul of the tribe might be claimed to represent the soul of a man. This was what did occur. A definite case is known to Messrs. Spencer and Gillen in which a black [Page 141] fellow earnestly pleaded with a white man not to cut down a particular tree, because it was the Nanja-tree, and he feared that if it were destroyed some evil would befall him personally. The tree quâ tree had been a type of self-renewing superhuman power, then a tribal totem bound up with the life of the tribe, and lastly it is said that the man believed his separate or discreted soul was in the tree, which furnished a place of refuge when his tree soul (or Miss Kingsley's “bush soul”) was in danger.
The reader may depend upon it that primitive man who fancied he had a separate soul which he could hide for safety in a tree, a stone, or an egg is a very modern product indeed, the sheerest reflex image of his mis-interpreters, who are but speculative theorists that have never mastered the language of the primitive signs. As already said, the supposed transmigration of human souls, of turtles, or of other zootypes was impossible when as yet there was no human soul. The soul that might transmigrate was pre-human, elemental, and totemic; a soul that was divisible according to its parts and elemental powers, but common to life in general and in all its forms in earth and water, air and tree, to man and reptile, fish, insect, bird, and beast. When the sacred bear is killed for food at Usu, Volcano Bay, by the Ainu, they shout, “We kill you, O bear! Come back soon into an Ainu”. That is as food, which in a sense is the transmigration of soul, but it is that elemental soul of food which is represented by the bear of eternity, and not a human soul. There was a doctrine of the transmigration of soul, or souls that were not human, to warrant the language of the Zuni Indian which he addressed to the turtle: “Ah ! my poor dear lost child, or parent, my sister or brother to have been ! Who knows which? May be my own great-grandfather or mother”. (Cushing, F. H., Century Magazine, May, 1883.) This, however, was no transmigration of human souls. We repeat, at that primitive stage of thought no soul was specialized as human. There were only animistic or totemic souls; and if the element derived from should be water and the totem be the turtle, the type would represent the soul that was common to both man and animal, as brother turtles of the water totem, the elemental power over all being imaged as the turtle that was eternal, one of the mythical ancestors in the Arunta Alcheringa, or one of the gods in Egypt. Moreover, when once the soul of blood born of woman had been discriminated as a human soul, it was no longer possible to postulate a return of that same soul to the pre-human status. It was discreted for ever from the soul of the animal, fish, bird, and reptile. The kangaroo-man would no longer have the same soul as the kangaroo. There was no ground for thinking that the human soul would be reincorporated or reincarnated in the body of the beast or reptile, and therefore no foundation for the doctrine of reincarnation which has been applied to human souls, and consequently misapplied by modern reincarnationists who do not know one soul from another.
But the metempsychosis of soul or souls did survive as a doctrine long after the human species had been discreted and individualized, and when the primitive significance was no longer understood.
Readjustment of the standpoint was made in the Egyptian wisdom, but seldom if ever elsewhere. Thus, in Buddhist metaphysic the soul continued to pass (theoretically) [Page 142] through the same “cycle of necessity” with the totemic souls which had been the pre-human creatures of the elements, like the “Inapertwa” of the Arunta. As a result of the soul, here termed totemic, having been at one time common to men and animals and the elemental powers, this led to a perplexing interchange of personality, or at least of shape, betwixt the superhuman powers, the men, and animals in the primitive mysteries and in the later folk-tales or legendary lore, in which we seem to hear the very aged mother-wisdom, or her misinterpreters, maundering in a state of dotage.
It must be borne in mind that the earliest mode of becoming was not by creating, but by transforming. For instance, when Ptah is imaged as the frog, or beetle, he is the deity as transformer, but when portrayed as the embryo in utero he images the creator or creative cause. A drama of transformation was performed in the totemic mysteries. The boy became a man by being changed into an animal, which animal was his totemic representative of the providing and protecting power. This was a mode of assimilating the human being to the divine or superhuman power when it had been imaged in the elemental stage by means of the particular totemic zootype, whether animal, bird, fish, insect, reptile, or
plant. We gather from the magical practices of the western lnoits that when the sorcerer or spirit medium clothes himself in the skin of animals, the feathers of birds, teeth of serpents, and other magical emblems it is done to place himself en rapport with the kings of the beasts and the powers of the elements, for the purpose of deriving superhuman aid from these our “elder brothers”. This, of course, was the natural fact that has been described as making the transformation into animal, bird, or reptile. Spirit mediums, as sorcerers and magicians, witches and wizards, are great transformers who make their transformation in the mystery of trance. In that state they were assimilated to and united in alliance with one or other of the primordial powers, each of which was represented by its totemic zootype. There were spirit mediums extant when the superhuman powers were elemental (not the ancestral spirits), and these were imaged
by the animals and other zoo types. Thus the spirit mediums in alliance with certain of these powers might be said to assume their likeness as animals, just as in modern times the witch is reputed to transform into a cat or hare, or the wizard into a wolf. The blacksmiths in Africa, who are thought to work by spirit agency, are supposed in Abyssinia to transform themselves into hyenas. The sorcerers and witches, otherwise the spirit mediums, of the Mexicans were said to transform themselves into animals.
The Khonds affirm that witches have the power of transforming themselves into tigers.
Again, when the goddess Neith and the Arunta women were insufflated by the wind the soul was thus derived directly from the element. But when the bird is introduced as the white vulture of Neith or the dove of Hathor the insufflation may be attributed to the bird of air or soul. So with the element of water.
The descent of soul may be direct from the element or derived from some type of the element. For example, the Karens hold that the waters are inhabited by beings whose proper shape is that of dragons or crocodiles, but occasionally these appear as men and take wives of the children of men, as [Page 143] do the sons of heaven in the Book of Enoch. Indeed, it is quite possible that this self-incorporation of the elemental powers in a human form through the mothers is the source of the Semitic legend relating to the sons of God who cohabited with the daughters of men. Of course, the phrase “sons of God” belongs to a later nomenclature. The elemental powers knew no God the Father. These in the Book of Enoch are the seven primary powers that were the Holy Watchers once in heaven and the heirs of life eternal, but whose origin was as powers of the elements such as pursued the Arunta daughters of men. And, whether elemental or astronomical, they were seven in number. They are charged with having forsaken their lofty station and with acting like the children of earth. They have “lain with women” and “defiled themselves with the daughter of men”. In the Book of Enoch the seven have acquired the character that was attained by the elemental powers, and have to be followed in the phase of legendary lore which obfuscates the ancient wisdom, though far less so than does the Book of Genesis. It was not as astronomical powers that the story could be told of the seven. But as elemental forces pursuing nice fat women - like the Arunta spirits of air - to incorporate themselves they could be described as beings who polluted
themselves with women; they being spiritual or superhuman, whereas the daughters of men were of the earth earthy. This legend was represented finally in literature by what has been termed “the loves of the angels”. The complexion of these external spirits is likewise elemental. Their various colours are copied straight from nature, and not from the complexion of human beings. The spirit of darkness was black. The spirit of light was white. The spirit of water or vegetation was green. The spirit of air was blue. The spirit of fire was red. The spirit of the highest god upon the summit of the seven upward steps is golden, as Ra the divine or holy spirit in the final eschatology. Thus we can trace the black spirits and white, red spirits and grey, green, or blue, to an elemental origin, and show that the spirit as a green man, a blue man, a black man (where there are no blacks), a white man (where there are no whites), a red man, or a golden child ,was derived directly from the elements and not from a ghost that was called into existence by the wizardry of dreams. When human spirits were recognized and portrayed the same types and colours were used. The human spirit issuing from the red flesh in death is painted blue. Not because spirits were seen to be of that complexion when “all was blue”, but because the spirit of air or anima had been an elemental spirit in the blue. The spirit in green (vegetation) remains the “green man as wood spirit in Europe. The spirit of darkness is black as the bogey man, the black Sut in Egypt. The Zuni Indians described by Mr. Cushing have a system of praying to the seven great spirits, or nature gods, by means of the seven different colours which are painted on their prayer-sticks. Six of these colours represent the six regions into which space was divided, the four quarters, together with the height and depth or zenith and nadir. The powers thus localized are called the “makers of the paths of life”, on account of their relationship to the supreme one of the seven, who sits at the centre of [Page 144] all, and who is the only one of them portrayed in the human form as the highest of the seven. Each of these has its own proper complexion, and the fetishes that represent the human powers are also determined by colours in the material from which they are modelled or the pigment with which they are painted. The particular power prayed to is identified to the ear by imitating the roar or cry of the beast that served for zootype, as well as to the eye by its own especial colour. And here it may be possible to trace what might be termed the “golden prayer” of the Zunis. In the ceremonies of their ancient mysteries an ear of corn is typical of renewal in a future life. In praying for plenty of food two ears of corn are laid on the body of a dead deer close to the heart. “Prayer meal” made from maize is held in the hand and scattered on the fetish image of the deer whilst the prayer is addressed to the deer divinity or prey-god, as the power beyond the fetish.
The corn-pollen is offered so that the spirit may clothe itself in yellow or in the wealth of harvest gold. If this prayer in yellow (equivalent to a prayer-book bound in gold, or at least gilt-edged) were addressed to the corn god by the Zuni when he prays for his daily bread and offers the flower of the yellow maize, the colour of the offering would identify it with the colour of the fetish, and therefore with the yellow lion as a zootype of the vivifying sun that ripened the corn to clothe the earth with vegetable gold. Like the Zuni Indians, the Tibetans still pray in accordance with a scheme of colours. A prayer was lately found upon a “praying wheel” addressed “To the yellow god, the black god, the white god, and the green god. Please kindly take us all up with you. and do not leave us unprotected, but destroy our enemies”. Some such colour scheme is apparent in Egypt when Horus is the white god. Osiris is the god in black, Shu the god
in red, Amen the god in blue, Num the god in green.
In the Egyptian series of colours yellow likewise represented corn, which gave the name to the “yellow Neith”. The nature gods were appealed to and invoked in want or sickness as a primitive kind of doctors who were looked to as superhuman and whose powers were medicines. The power of the deer god was the deer medicine, and each medicine represented the special power that was besought in hunting each particular beast. These are the kind of “spirits” that were prayed to in colours by primitive races of men, and these colours, like the glorified globes in the druggist's window, represented the powers of the different spirits as medicines. The native doctors of New Guinea have a scale of colours with which they paint their patient with the complexions of corresponding spirits. Different colours denoted different spirits of healing forces in nature that were representative of the seven elements and seven localities of the spirits. When the Omaha medicine-men are acting as healers of the sick they will use the movements and cry with the voices of their totemic animals. Not because the animals were a source of healing power in themselves, but because the totems had a spiritual relationship and were the representatives of powers beyond the human. Thus, in one case the spirits prayed to are identified by their colours, and in the other by their totemic zootypes. If we interpret this according to Egyptian symbolism, when the sick person was [Page 145] suffering from asthma he would plead his suit in blue to the god of air or breathingforce whilst panting like a sick lion, and the medicine would be equivalent to a blue pill. In case of fever he would pray in green to the god in green, that is, to the water spirit, and would be going to the green god for a drink, as the thirsty soul in our day might seek the sign of the Green Dragon or the Green Man.
And if he prayed in red it would be to the red Atum, or Horus, the child that was born red in the blood of Isis, as the saviour who came apparelled in that colour. The main object at present, however, is to distinguish animism from spiritualism by tracing the difference betwixt the elemental souls and the ancestral spirits” although animism is a most unsatisfactory title. The “anima” signifies one of the seven elemental souls, but does not comprehend the group. Here is one of several clues. The animistic nature powers were typified; the ancestral spirits are personalized. The elemental powers are commonly a group of seven, but spiritualism has no experience nor knowledge of seven human spirits that visit earth together, or traverse the planetary chain of seven worlds; nor is there any record of the dream personages coming and going in a group of seven, or in seven colours, not even as a septenary or nightmares born of seven generations of neurotic sufferers from sevenfold insomnia. In animism, mediums could not interview the serpent, bull, or turtle of eternity in spirit form. On the contrary, the animistic powers have had to be objectified and made apparent by means of these totemic types. Thus, in animism there are no spirits proper - that is, no spirits which appear as the doubles of the dead or phantasms of the living. It may be allowed that the spirits of the elements - of air, water, earth, fire, plant or tree - were in a sense ancestral, though not ancestral spirits. But the one were pre-human, the others
are originally human. These animistic powers in the Arunta Alcheringa are called the ancestors who reproduce themselves by incorporation in the life on earth in the course of becoming man or animal. It was inevitable that there should be some confusion here and there betwixt the elemental souls and the ancestral spirits when the power to differentiate the one from the other by means of the type was lost or lapsing. It was Kalabar “fash”, the natives told Hutchinson, that the souls of men passed into monkeys.
The Zulus also say there are Amatonga or ancestral spirits who are snakes, and who come back to visit the living in the guise of reptiles. Such “fash”, however, is just the confusion that follows the lapse of the most primitive wisdom. Both the monkey and the snake had been totemic types not only of the human brotherhoods, but also of the elemental powers or souls. Thus there was an elemental soul of the snaketotem and the ancestral spirits of that same ilk; and the snake remained as representative of both, to the confounding of the animistic soul with the ancestral spirit at a later stage. But those who kept fast hold of the true doctrine always and everywhere insisted that their ancestral spirits did not return to earth in the guise of monkeys, snakes, crocodiles, lions, hawks, or any other of the totemic zoo types. They did not
mistake the “souls” of one category for “spirits” in the other, because they knew the difference. [Page 146]
The same distinction that was made by the Egyptians betwixt the superhuman powers and the Manes, or the gods and the glorified, is more or less identifiable all the world over.




Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World Part II

Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World Part III

Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World

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