By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Serpent-Worship and Other Essays - with a chapter on Totemism
Author: Wake, C. Staniland
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Serpent-Worship and Other Essays - with a chapter on Totemism" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Hyphenation
and accents have been standardised, but other variations remain

Footnotes are placed at the end of each chapter.

Anchors for footnotes 144 and 369 have been added.

Italics are represented thus _italic_.


                           AND OTHER ESSAYS

                           WITH A CHAPTER ON



                           C. STANILAND WAKE

                             GEORGE REDWAY
                       YORK STREET COVENT GARDEN


  CHAPTER I.                                                       PAGE.

  RIVERS OF LIFE                                                       1


  PHALLISM IN ANCIENT RELIGIONS                                        8


  THE ORIGIN OF SERPENT-WORSHIP                                       81


  THE ADAMITES                                                       107


  THE DESCENDANTS OF CAIN                                            128


  SACRED PROSTITUTION                                                149


  MARRIAGE AMONG PRIMITIVE PEOPLES                                   165


  MARRIAGE BY CAPTURE                                                180


  DEVELOPMENT OF THE “FAMILY”                                        192


  “CIVILISATION”                                                     219


  SPIRITISM AND MODERN SPIRITUALISM                                  233


  TOTEMS AND TOTEMISM                                                247


  MAN AND THE APE                                                    278



The lines of development of the religious faiths of mankind have been
aptly termed by Major-General Forlong “Rivers of Life.” The streams
of faiths are marvellously depicted by this writer in a chart which
shows “the rise and fall of the various religious ideas, mythologies,
and rites which have at any time prevailed among nations.” This chart
ingeniously shows, moreover, “the degrees of intensity manifested at
stated periods by any particular wave of doctrine or worship, and the
mode in which the tributary streams of mythological or theological
thought become in turn absorbed in the central River of Life.” The
views adopted by General Forlong have much in common with those
embodied in the works of Godfrey Higgins and some later writers, but
they have a special value as being based on personal observation. The
author of “Rivers of Life” had the inestimable advantage of being
admitted to shrines and of receiving instructions in sacred mysteries
which are generally closed to European inquirers, and of having made
“a diligent exploration of ruined temples, pillars, and mounds, and
all such traces of a primitive symbolism, which lie scattered over the
East and West, as religious fossils underlying the superficial crust of
theological strata.”

Rivers of religious life have a beginning, like other streams, and what
are the sources to which man’s primitive faiths may be traced? The early
“symbolic objects of man’s adoration” are arranged by General Forlong
in the following order: First, Tree; 2nd, Phallic; 3rd, Serpent; 4th,
Fire; 5th, Sun; 6th, Ancestral. The first “breathings of the human
soul” were manifested under the sacred tree or grove, whose refreshing
shade is so highly valued in the East. All nations, particularly the
Aryan peoples, have considered tree-planting a sacred duty, and the
grove was man’s first temple, “and became a sanctuary, asylum, or
place of refuge, and as time passed on, temples came to be built in
the sacred groves.” If tree-worship had such an origin as this, its
origin ought to be shown in the ideas associated with it. What, then,
are those ideas? General Forlong, after referring to Dr. Fergusson’s
statement that the tree and serpent are symbolised in every religious
system which the world has known, says that the two together are
typical of the reproductive powers of vegetable and animal life. The
connection between tree and serpent-worship is often so intimate that
we may expect one to throw light on the other. The Aryans generally
may be called “tree-worshippers,” and according to Fergusson they as a
rule destroyed serpents and serpent-worshipping races. Yet at Athens
and near Rome both those faiths flourished together, as they appear
to have done also in many parts of Western Asia. They are intimately
associated with religious notions of many Buddhist peoples. This is
shown curiously in the early legends of Kambodia. These are said by
General Forlong to present two striking features. First, a holy tree,
which the kingly race, who came to this serpent country, reposed under,
or descended from heaven by; secondly, that this tree-loving race are
captivated by the dragon princess of the land. It is the serpent king,
however, who builds the city of _Nakon Thom_ for his daughter and her
stranger husband. It is not improbable that Buddhism originated among a
people who were both tree and serpent-worshippers, although the former
became more intimately and at an earlier period associated with its

Let us now see what ideas are symbolised by the serpent. We are told
that he is “an emblem of the Sun, Time, Kronos, and Eternity.” The
serpent was, indeed, the Sun-God, or spirit of the sun, and therefore
Power, Wisdom, Light, and a fit type of creation and generative power.
Dr. Donaldson came to the conclusion that the serpent has always a
Phallic significance, a remark which exactly accords with General
Forlong’s experience, “founded simply upon _close observation_ in
Eastern lands, and conclusions drawn by himself, unaided by books or
teachers, from thousands of stories and conversations with Eastern
priests and people.” The testimony of a competent and honest observer
is all important, and we must believe when we are told that the
serpent, or the constant early attendant on the Lingam, is the special
symbol which veils the actual God. The same may be said, indeed, of
Tree Worship, and as tree-worship and serpent-worship embrace the
Phallic faith, the first three streams of faiths are represented by
them. It is evident, however, that Phallic ideas are at the foundation
of both tree and serpent-worship, and the Phallic stream of faith
should be given the first place as the actual source of the Rivers of
Life. General Forlong does, indeed, affirm that Phallic worship enters
so closely into union with _all_ faiths to the present hour that it
is impossible to keep it out of view. We can well understand how this
should be as to the tree, serpent, and solar cults, but it is not
so evident at first sight in relation to fire-worship. If fire was,
however, regarded as the servant of Siva, and all creating gods, there
is no difficulty in accepting the position. The object of the worship
offered to the sacred fire is consistent with that view. Thus Greeks,
Romans, and Hindoos “besought Agni by fervent prayers for increase of
flocks and families, for happy lives and serene old age, for wisdom
and pardon from sin.” General Forlong appears to see in the worship
of fire essentially a household faith, and this was undoubtedly so if
his explanation of the Lares and Penates is correct. These symbols
represented “the _past_ vital fire or energy of the tribe, as the
patriarch, his stalwart sons and daughters did that of the _present_
living fire the sacred hearth.” General Forlong states, indeed, that
everything relating to blood used to be connected with fire, and he
supposed, therefore, that _agnatio_ may have been _relation by fire_,
for the _agnati_ can only be those of the fire or father’s side.

If the father derived his authority in the household from the sacred
hearth-fire, we can understand why General Forlong has assigned to
ancestor-worship the last place in his scheme. He says, moreover, that
ancestor-worship is “a development and sequence of that idiosyncracy
of man which has led him to worship and deify even the living—that
which, according to the teaching of Euemerus, accounts for all the
mythological tales of the gods and god-like men of Greece.” The
ancestor was worshipped in the great chief, the Father of Fathers, each
of whom was worshipped in the _Dii Gentiles_ of his own class, and this
not only during the comparatively modern Roman sway, but during the
ages of serpent, fire, and solar faiths. In the still earlier faiths
he was represented in the rude pillar, as well as in the little Lares
and Penates of the hearths. In this case, however, ancestor-worship
would seem to be entitled to stand on the same level as tree-worship
and serpent-worship as a phase of the Phallic faith. In fact, it is
in a sense identified with serpent-worship. General Forlong remarks
that among the Greeks and Romans “the ancestor came to be honoured
and worshipped only as the Generator, and so also the serpent as his
symbol.” This agrees with the conclusion I have elsewhere endeavoured
to establish, that the serpent is really regarded as the representative
of the ancestor, in which case ancestor-worship is a very primitive
faith, although, in a specialised form, it may possibly, as asserted by
General Forlong, come later than fire-worship.

It can hardly now be doubted that the same ideas underlie all the early
faiths. This view is entertained by General Forlong, who says: “So
imperceptibly arose the serpent on pure Phallic faiths, fire on these,
and sun on all, and so intimately did all blend with one another, that
even in the ages of true history it was often impossible to descry the
exact God alluded to.” The foundations of all those faiths, and of
ancestor-worship as allied to them, must therefore be sought in the
ideas entertained by mankind in the earliest times, “when the races
lived untaught, herded with their cattle, and had as their sole object
in life the multiplication of these and of themselves.” The question
arises, however, whether the simple faith which man then entertained
was the earliest he had evolved. General Forlong answers this question
in the negative, for he says, then referring to the serpent Buddhism
of Kambodia, that “Fetish worship was the _first_ worship, and to a
great extent is still the _real_ faith of the ignorant, especially
about these parts.” He finds that nearly one quarter of the world yet
deifies, or at least reverences, sticks and stones, rams’ horns and
charms, a practice not unknown even to later faiths. The fundamental
belief which furnishes the key to those phenomena, as well as to the
animal-worship which is so closely associated with one or other of the
great faith streams, should not be lost sight of. Jacob Grimm pointed
out, in his “Teutonic Mythology,”[1] that all nature was thought of by
the heathen Germans as living. Gods and men transformed themselves into
trees, plants, or beasts; spirits and elements attained animal forms;
and therefore we cannot wonder at the heavenly bodies, and even day and
night, summer and winter, being actually personified. These ideas lend
themselves as well to fetishism as to sun-worship, and all the ancient
faiths alike may justly, therefore, be regarded as phases of one
universal nature-worship. Mankind prays only for that which is thought
good, and if one man seeks to obtain his desire through the agency of
a stick or a stone, and another through a serpent or planetary god, the
difference between them is purely objective. The prayers which were
offered to the Vedic gods would be equally appropriate in the mouth of
a native of Western Africa. They had relation simply to temporal needs,
and were, says Mr. Talboys Wheeler,[2] for plenty of rain, abundant
harvests, and prolific cattle, for bodily vigour, long life, numerous
offspring, and protection against all foes and robbers. Moreover,
the observances of the more advanced faiths have little practical
difference from the fetishist. All alike have for their object the
compelling the good countenance, or counteracting the evil designs,
of the gods or spirits, and the real difference is to be sought in
the symbols under which they are represented. Thus the Vedic Aryans
regarded their deified abstractions as personified with human wants,
and invoked them with rites which “may have formed an accompaniment
to every meal, and may have been regarded almost as a part of the
cooking.” Mr. Wheeler adds[3] that “Sometimes a deity is supposed to
be attracted by the grateful sound of the stone and mortar by which
the _soma_ juice was expressed from the plant, or by the musical noise
of the churning sticks by which the wine was apparently stirred up and
mixed with curds; and the eager invokers implore the god not to turn
aside to the dwelling of any other worshipper, but to come to them
only, and drink the libation which they had prepared, and reserve for
them all his favours and benefits.”


[1] Eng. Trans., vol. ii., p. 647.

[2] “The History of India,” vol. i., p. 8.

[3] Ditto, p. 13.



Dr. Faber, when treating of the ancient mysteries in opposition to
Bishop Warburton’s views of their original purity, says: “Long before
the time of Apuleius, whom he (Warburton) would describe as quitting
the impure orgies of the Syrian Goddess for the blameless initiations
of Isis, did the Phallic processions, if we may credit Herodotus and
Diodorus, form a most conspicuous and essential part, not only of the
mysteries in general, but of these identical Isiac or Osiric mysteries
in particular. Nor is there any reason to doubt their accuracy on this
point. The same detestable rites prevailed in Palestine among the
votaries of Siton, or Adonis, or Baal-Peor, long before the exodus of
Israel from Egypt. The same also, anterior at least to the days of
Herodotus, in Babylonia, Cyprus, and Lydia. The same likewise from
the most remote antiquity in the mountains of Armenia, among the
worshippers of the great mother Anais; and the same, from the very
first institution of their theological system, as we may fairly argue
from the uniform general establishment of this peculiar superstition,
among the Celtic Druids both of Britain and of Ireland. Nor do we find
such orgies less prevalent in Hindostan. Every part of the theology of
that country ... is inseparably blended with them, and replete with
allusions to their fictitious origin.”[4] It will not be necessary
for me to give details of the rites by which the Phallic superstition
is distinguished, as they may be found in the works of Dulaure,[5]
Richard Payne Knight,[6] and many other writers. I shall refer to them,
therefore, only so far as may be required for the due understanding
of the subject to be considered, the influence of the Phallic idea
in the religions of antiquity. The first step in the inquiry is to
ascertain the origin of the superstition in question. Faber ingeniously
referred to a primitive universal belief in a Great Father, the curious
connection seen to exist between nearly all non-Christian mythologies,
and he saw in Phallic worship a degradation of this belief. Such an
explanation as this, however, is not satisfactory, since not only does
it require the assumption of a primitive divine revelation, but proof
is still wanting that all peoples have, or ever had, any such notion
of a great parent of mankind as that supposed to have been revealed.
And yet there is a valuable germ of truth in this hypothesis. The
Phallic superstition is founded essentially in the family idea. Captain
Richard Burton recognised this truth when he asserted that “amongst
all barbarians whose primal want is progeny, we observe a greater or
less development of the Phallic worship.”[7] This view, however, is
imperfect. There must have been something more than a mere desire for
progeny to lead primitive man to view the generative process with the
peculiar feelings embodied in this superstition. We are, in fact, here
taken to the root of all religions—awe at the mysterious and unknown.
That which the uncultured mind cannot understand is viewed with dread
or veneration, as it may be, and the object presenting the mysterious
phenomenon may itself be worshipped as a fetish or the residence of
a presiding spirit. But there is nothing more mysterious than the
phenomena of generation, and nothing more important than the final
result of the generative act. Reflection on this result would naturally
cause that which led to it to be invested with a certain degree of
superstitious significance. The feeling generated would have a double
object, as it had a double origin—wonder at the phenomenon itself
and a perception of the value of its consequences. The former, which
is the most simple, would lead to a veneration for the organs whose
operation conduced to the phenomena, hence the superstitious practices
connected with the phallus and the yoni among primitive peoples. In
this, moreover, we have the explanation of numerous curious facts
observed among Eastern nations. Such is the respect shown by women
for the generative organ of dervishes and fakirs. Such also is the
Semitic custom referred to in the Hebrew Scriptures as the putting of
the hand under the thigh, which is explained by the Talmudists to be
the touching of that part of the body which is sealed and made holy by
circumcision; a custom which was, up to a recent date, still in use
among the Arabs as the most solemn guarantee of truthfulness.[8]

The second phase of the Phallic superstition is that which arises from
a perception of the value of the consequences of the act of generation.
The distinction between this and the preceding phase is that, while
the one has relation to the organs engaged, the other refers more
particularly to the chief agent. Thus the father of the family is
venerated as the generator, and his authority is founded altogether on
the act and consequences of generation. We thus see the fundamental
importance, as well as the Phallic origin, of the family idea. From
this has sprung the social organisation of all primitive peoples. An
instance in point may be derived from Mr. Hunter’s account of the
Santals of Bengal. He says that the classification of this interesting
people among themselves depends “not upon social rank or occupation,
but upon the family basis.” This is shown by the character of the six
great ceremonies in a Santal’s life, which are, “admission into the
family; admission into the tribe; admission into the race; union of his
own tribe with another by marriage; formal dismission from the living
race by incremation; lastly, a reunion with the departed fathers.”[9]
We may judge from this of the character of certain customs which are
widespread among primitive peoples, and the Phallic origin of which
has long since been lost sight of. The value set on the results of the
generative act would naturally make the arrival at the age of puberty
an event of peculiar significance. Hence we find various ceremonies
performed among primitive, and even among civilised peoples, at this
period of life. Often when the youth arrives at manhood other rites
are performed to mark the significance of the event. Marriage, too,
derives an importance which it would not otherwise possess. Thus, among
many peoples, it is attended with certain ceremonies denoting its
object, or at least marking it as an event of peculiar significance in
the life of the individual or even in the history of the tribe. The
marriage ceremonial is especially fitted for the use of Phallic rites
or symbolism, the former among semi-civilised peoples often being
simply the act of consummation itself, which appears to be looked on
as part of the ceremony. The symbolism we have ourselves retained to
the present day in the wedding-ring, which had undoubtedly a Phallic
origin, if, as appears probable, it originated in the Samothracian
mysteries.[10] Nor does the influence of the Phallic idea end with
life. The veneration entertained for the father of the family, as the
“generator,” led in time to peculiar care being taken of the bodies of
the dead, and finally to the worship of ancestors, which, under one
form or another, distinguished all the civilised nations of antiquity,
as it does even now most of the peoples of the heathen world.

There is one Phallic rite which, from its wide range, is of peculiar
importance. I refer to circumcision. The origin of this custom has not
yet, so far as I am aware, been satisfactorily explained. The idea
that, under certain climatic conditions, circumcision is necessary for
cleanliness and comfort,[11] does not appear to be well founded, as the
custom is not universal, even within the tropics. Nor is the reason
given by Captain Richard Burton, in his “Notes connected with the
Dahoman,” for both circumcision and excision, perfectly satisfactory.
The real origin of these customs has been forgotten by all peoples
practising them, and therefore they have ceased to have their primitive
significance. That circumcision at least had a superstitious origin
may be inferred from the traditional history of the Jews. The old
Hebrew writers, persistent in their idea that they were a peculiar
people, chosen by God for a special purpose, asserted that this rite
was instituted by Jehovah as a sign of the covenant between Him and
Abraham. Although we cannot doubt that this rite was practised by the
Egyptians and Phœnicians[12] long before the birth of Abraham, yet two
points connected with the Hebrew tradition are noticeable. These are,
the religious significance of the act of circumcision—it is the sign
of a covenant between God and man—and its performance by the head of
the family. These two things are indeed intimately connected; since, in
the patriarchal age, the father was always the priest of the family,
the officer of the sacrifices. We have it on the authority of the Veda
that this was the case also among the primitive Aryan people.[13]
Abraham, therefore, as the father and priest of the family, performed
the religious ceremony of circumcision on the males of his household.

Circumcision, in its inception, is a purely Phallic rite,[14] having
for its aim the marking of that which from its associations is
viewed with peculiar veneration, and it connects the two phases of
this superstition, which have for their objects respectively the
_instrument_ of generation and the _agent_. We are thus brought back to
the consideration of the simplest form of Phallic worship, that which
has for its object the generative organs, viewed as the mysterious
instruments in the realisation of that keen desire for children
which distinguishes all primitive peoples. This feeling is so nearly
universal that it is a matter of surprise to find the act by which it
is expressed stigmatised as sinful. Yet such is the case, although the
incidents in which the fact is embodied are so veiled in figure that
their true meaning has long been forgotten. Clemens Alexandrinus tells
us that “the bacchanals hold their orgies in honour of the frenzied
Bacchus, celebrating their sacred frenzy by the eating of raw flesh,
and go through the distribution of the parts of butchered victims,
crowned with snakes, shrieking out the name of that Eva by whom
error came into the world.” He adds that “the symbol of the Bacchic
orgies is a consecrated serpent,” and that, “according to the strict
interpretation of the Hebrew term, the name Hevia, aspirated, signifies
a _female serpent_.”[15] We have here a reference to the supposed
fall of man from pristine “innocence,” Eve and the serpent being very
significantly introduced in close conjunction, and indeed becoming
in some sense identified with each other. In fact, the Arabic word
for serpent, _hayyat_, may be said also to mean “life,” and in this
sense the legendary, first human mother is called Eve or _Chevvah_, in
Arabic _hawwa_. In its relations, as an asserted fact, the question
of the fall has an important bearing on the subject before us. Quite
irrespective of the impossibility of accepting the Mosaic Cosmogony
as a divinely-inspired account of the origin of the world and man—a
cosmogony which, with those of all other Semitic peoples, has a purely
“Phallic” basis[16]—the whole transaction said to have taken place
in the Garden of Eden is fraught with difficulties on the received
interpretation. The very idea on which it is founded—the placing by
God in the way of Eve of a temptation which he knew she could not
resist—is sufficient to throw discredit on the ordinary reading of
the narrative. The effect, indeed, that was to follow the eating of
the forbidden fruit appears to an ordinary mind to furnish the most
praiseworthy motive for not obeying the commandment to abstain. That
the “eating of the forbidden fruit” was simply a figurative mode of
expressing the performance of the act necessary to the perpetuation of
the human race—an act which in its origin was thought to be the source
of all evil—is evident from the consequences which followed and from
the curse entailed.[17] As to the curse inflicted on Eve, it has always
been a stumbling block in the way of commentators. For what connection
is there between the eating of a fruit and sorrow in bringing forth
children? The meaning is evident, however, when we know that conception
and child-bearing were the direct consequences of the act forbidden.
How far this meaning was intended by the compiler of the Mosaic books
we shall see further on.

The central feature of the Mosaic legend of the “fall” is the reference
to the tree of knowledge or wisdom. It is now generally supposed that
the forbidden fruit was a kind of _citrus_,[18] but certain facts
connected with _aborolatry_ clearly show this opinion to be erroneous.
Among peoples in the most opposite regions of the world various
species of the fig-tree are considered sacred. In almost every part of
Africa the _banyan_ is viewed with a special veneration. Livingstone
noticed this among the tribes on the Zambesi and the Shire,[19] and
he says that the banyan is looked upon with veneration all the way
from the Barotse to Loanda, and thought to be a preservative from
evil.[20] Du Chaillu states that in almost every Ishogo and Ashango
village he visited in Western Equatorial Africa there was a large
_ficus_ “standing about the middle of the main street, and near the
mbuiti or idol-house of the village.” The tree is sacred, and if
it dies the village is at once abandoned.[21] Captain Tuckey found
the same thing on the Congo, where he says the _ficus religiosa_ is
considered sacred.[22] Again, according to Caillié, at Mouriosso, in
Western Central Africa, the market was held under a tree, which, from
his description, must have been the banyan, and he noticed the same
thing in other towns.[23] It is evident from Dr. Barth’s “Travels in
Central Africa,” that superstitious regard for certain trees is found
throughout the whole of the region he traversed, and among some tribes
the fig-tree occupies this position. Thus, he says, “the sacred grove
of the village of Isge was formed by magnificent trees, mostly of
the _ficus_ tribe.”[24] Nor is this superstition unknown among other
dark races of the Southern Hemisphere. A species of the fig-tree is
planted by the New Zealanders close to the temples of their gods. The
superstition is traceable, according to Mr. Earle, even among the
aborigines of Northern Australia, certain peculiar notions connected
with the banyan tree being common to the inhabitants of the Coburg
Peninsula and of the Indian Islands.[25] Mr. Marsden met with this
superstition among the Sumatrans, and we learn from Mr. Wallace that
in one of the towns of Eastern Java the market is held under the
branches of a tree allied to the sacred fig-tree.[26] If we turn to
India, we find that while the banyan is venerated by the Brahmans,
it is the bo-tree which is held sacred by many of the followers of
Gautama Buddha. This may be because, under the name of the _Pilpel_,
it was the peculiar tree of the first recorded Buddha, of whom Gautama
was supposed by his disciples to be an incarnation. Both of these
trees belong to the genus _ficus_, and it is curious that, although
probably in consequence of Semitic influence, the _ficus sycamorus_
was the sacred tree in ancient Egypt, of which it was the symbol, its
place appears ultimately to have been taken by the banyan (_ficus
indica_),[27] so highly venerated in other parts of Africa. Now,
what is the explanation of the peculiar character ascribed to these
trees by peoples who must, on any hypothesis, have been separated for
thousands of years? The bo-tree of the Buddhists itself derived a more
sacred character from its encircling the palm—the Palmyra Palm being
the _kalpa-tree_, or “tree of life,” of the Hindu paradise.[28] The
Buddhists term this connection “the bo-tree united in marriage with the
palm.” The Phallic significance of the palm is well known, and in its
connection with the bo-tree we have the perfect idea of generative
activity, the combining of the male and female organs, a combination
intended by the Hebrew legend when it speaks of the tree of life, and
also of “the knowledge of good and evil.”[29] “The palm-tree,” says
Dr. Inman, “is figured on ancient coins alone, or associated with some
feminine emblem. It typified the male creator, who was represented as
an upright stone, a pillar, a round tower, a tree stump, an oak-tree,
a pine-tree, a maypole, a spire, an obelisk, a minaret, and the
like.”[30] As we have just seen, the Palmyra Palm is the _kalpa-tree_,
or the “tree of life” of the Hindu paradise, and this was not the only
kind of tree with which the idea of life was thus associated.

In the mythologies of more northern peoples the place of the palm is
supplied by the more stately, if less upright, oak. The patriarch Jacob
hid the idols of his household under the oak near Shechem,[31] and his
descendants afterwards made burnt offerings under every thick oak.[32]
Among the Greeks and Romans this tree was sacred to Zeus, or Jupiter,
the Father of Gods and men. With the Russians, the Prussians, and the
Germans, the oak was equally sacred. The sacred oak was the form under
which the Druids worshipped the Supreme Being _Hæsus_, or Mighty.
According to Davies,[33] it was symbolised by the letter D, which
forms the consonantal sound of the word denoting God in many languages,
as it does of the name of the mythical father _Ad_, of the Adamic stock
of mankind. In Teutonic mythology the great oak forms the roof-tree of
the Volsung’s hall, spreading its branches far and wide in the upper
air, being the counterpart, says Mr. Cox, of the mighty Yggdrasil.[34]
This is the gigantic ash-tree, whose branches embrace the whole world,
and which is thought to be only another form of the colossal Irminsul.
Mr. Cox observes on this: “The tree and pillar are thus alike seen in
the columns, whether of Herakles or of Roland; while the cosmogonic
character of the myth is manifest in the legend of the primeval Askr,
the offspring of the ash-tree, of which Virgil, from the characteristic
which probably led to its selection, speaks as stretching its roots as
far down into earth as its branches soar towards heaven.”[35] The name
of the Teutonic Askr is also that of the Iranian _Meschia_,[36] and the
ash, therefore, must be identified with the tree from which springs
the primeval man of the Zarathustrian cosmogony.[37] So Sigmund of the
Volsung Tale is drawn from the trunk of a poplar tree,[38] which thus
occupies the same position as the ash and the oak as a “tree of life.”
The poplar was, indeed, a sacred tree among many nations of antiquity.
This may, doubtless, be explained by reference to its “habit,” which
much resembles that of the sacred Indian fig-tree, with which the
trembling movement, as well as the shape, of its leaves have caused it
to be thus compared.

That the ideas symbolised by the various sacred trees of antiquity
originated, however, with the fig-tree is extremely probable. No
other tree has been so widely venerated as this. The sycamore (_ficus
sycamorus_) was sacred to Netpe, the mother of Osiris, whose statue
was generally made of its wood. In relation to that subject, Sir
Gardner Wilkinson says:[39] “The Athenians had a holy fig-tree, which
grew on the ‘sacred road,’ where, during the celebration of the
Eleusinian mysteries, the procession which went from Athens to Eleusis
halted. This was on the sixth day of the ceremony, called Jacchus, in
honour of the son of Jupiter and Ceres, who accompanied his mother
in search of Proserpine; but the fig-tree of Athens does not appear
to have been borrowed from the sycamore of Egypt, unless it were in
consequence of its connection with the mother of Osiris and Isis, whom
they supposed to correspond to Ceres and Bacchus.”[40] According to
Plutarch, a basket of figs formed one of the chief things carried in
the processions in honour of Bacchus, and the sacred phallus, like the
statue of Priapus, appears to have been generally made of the wood of
the fig-tree.[41] These facts well show the nature of the ideas which
had come to be connected with that tree. To what has been already
said may, however, be added the testimony of a French writer, who,
after speaking of the _lotus_ as one of the many symbols anciently
used to represent the productive forces of nature, continues: “Il faut
y joindre, pour le règne végétal, le figuier indien, ou l’arbre des
Banians, le figuier sacré ou religieux (ficus indica, bengalensis,
ficus religiosa, &c.), _vata_, _aswatha_, _pipala_, et bien d’autres,
idéalisés de bonne heure, dans le mythologie des Hindous, sous la
figure de l’arbre de vie, arbre immense, colonne de feu, énorme et
orgueilleux phallus, l’abord unique, mais depuis devisé et dispersé,
et qui n’est peut-être pas sans rapport, soit avec l’arbre de la
connaissance du bien et du mal, soit avec d’autres symboles non moins

That the _ficus_ was the symbolical tree “in the midst of the garden”
of the Hebrew legend of the fall is extremely probable. That notion
would seem, indeed, to be required by reference to the fig leaves[43]
as the covering used by Adam and Eve when, after eating the forbidden
fruit, they found themselves to be naked. The fig-tree, moreover, meets
the difficulty in distinguishing between the tree of life and the
tree of knowledge. These, according to the opinion above expressed,
as to the meaning of the “fall,” would represent the male and female
principles, as do the bo-tree and palm, “united in marriage,” of the
Buddhists, the palm deriving more sacredness from being encircled
by the ficus. Probably, however, the double symbol was of later
introduction. The banyan of itself would be sufficient to represent
the dual idea, when to the primitive one of “knowledge” was added that
of “life.” The stately trunk would answer to the “tree of life,” while
its fruit was the symbol of that which was more especially affected by
the act of disobedience. This was the eating of the fruit, which, as
conveying the forbidden wisdom, is evidently the essential feature of
the legend, and the _fig_ had anciently just that symbolical meaning
which would be required for the purpose.[44] Throughout the East, from
the earliest historical period, the fruit of the fig-tree was the
emblem of virginity. Dr. Inman says: “The fruit of the tree resembles
in shape the virgin uterus; with its stem attached, it symbolises the
_sistrum_ of Isis. Its form led to the idea that it would promote
fertility. To this day, in Oriental countries, the hidden meaning of
the fig is almost as well known as its commercial value.”[45]

That we have in the Mosaic account of the “fall” a Phallic legend,
is evident also from the introduction of the serpent on the scene,
and the position it takes as the inciting cause of the sinful act.
We are here reminded of the passage already quoted from Clemens
Alexandrinus, who tells us that the serpent was the special symbol of
the worship of Bacchus. Now this animal holds a very curious place in
the religions of the civilised peoples of antiquity. Although, in
consequence of the influence of later thought, it came to be treated
as the personification of evil, and as such appears in the Hebrew
legend of the fall, yet originally the serpent was the special symbol
of wisdom and healing. In the latter capacity it appears even in
connection with the Exodus from Egypt. It is, however, in its character
as a symbol of wisdom that it more especially claims our attention,
although these ideas are intimately connected—the power of healing
being merely a phase of wisdom. From the earliest times of which we
have any historical notice the serpent has been connected with the
gods of wisdom. This animal was the especial symbol of _Thoth_ or
_Taaut_, a primeval deity of Syro-Egyptian mythology,[46] and of all
those gods, such as _Hermes_ and _Seth_, who can be connected with
him. This is true also of the 3rd member of the Chaldean triad, _Héa_
or _Hoa_. According to Sir Henry Rawlinson, the most important titles
of this deity refer “to his functions as the source of all knowledge
and science.” Not only is he “the intelligent fish,” but his name
may be read as signifying both “life” and a “serpent,” and he may
be considered as “figured by the great serpent which occupies so
conspicuous a place among the symbols of the gods on the black stones
recording Babylonian benefactions.”[47] The serpent was also the symbol
of the Egyptian _Kneph_, who resembled the _Sophia_ of the Gnostics,
the divine wisdom. This animal, moreover, was the _Agatho-dæmon_ of
the religions of antiquity—the giver of happiness and good fortune.[48]
It was in these capacities, rather than as having a Phallic
significance, that the serpent was associated with the sun-gods, the
Chaldean _Bel_, the Grecian _Apollo_, and the Semitic _Seth_.

But whence originated the idea of the wisdom of the serpent which led
to its connection with the legend of the “fall?” This may, perhaps, be
explained by other facts, which show also the nature of the wisdom here
intended. Thus, in the annals of the Mexicans, the first woman, whose
name was translated by the old Spanish writers, “_the woman of our
flesh_,” is always represented as accompanied by a great male serpent.
This serpent is the sun-god _Tonacatle-coatl_, the principal deity of
the Mexican Pantheon, while the goddess-mother of primitive man is
called _Cihua-Cohuatl_, which signifies “_woman of the serpent_.”[49]
According to this legend, which agrees with that of other American
tribes, a serpent must have been the father of the human race. This
notion can be explained only on the supposition that the serpent was
thought to have had at one time a human form. In the Hebrew legend
the tempter speaks, and “the old serpent having two feet,” of Persian
mythology, is none other than the evil spirit Ahriman himself.[50] The
fact is that the serpent was only a symbol, or at most an embodiment of
the spirit which it represented, as we see from the belief of several
African and American tribes, which probably preserves the primitive
form of this superstition. Serpents are looked upon by these peoples
as embodiments of their departed ancestors,[51] and an analogous
notion is entertained by various Hindoo tribes. No doubt the noiseless
movement and the activity of the serpent, combined with its peculiar
gaze and marvellous power of fascination, led to its being viewed as a
spirit embodiment, and hence also as the possessor of wisdom.[52] In
the spirit character ascribed to the serpent, we have the explanation
of the association of its worship with human sacrifice noted by Mr.
Fergusson—this sacrifice being really connected with the worship of

It is evident, moreover, that we find here the origin of the idea of
evil sometimes associated with the Serpent-God. The Kafir and the
Hindu, although he treats with respect any serpent which may visit his
dwelling, yet entertains a suspicion of his visitant. It may perhaps
be the embodiment of an _evil_ spirit, or for some reason or other
it may desire to injure _him_. Mr. Fergusson states that “the chief
characteristic of the serpents throughout the East in all ages seems
to have been their power over the wind and rain,” which they gave or
withheld according to their good or ill-will towards man.[53] This
notion is curiously confirmed by the title given by the Egyptians to
the Semitic God _Seti_ or _Seth_—_Typhon_, which was the name of the
Phœnician Evil principle, and also of a destructive wind, thus having
a curious analogy with the “Typhoon” of the Chinese Seas.[54] When
the notion of a duality in nature was developed, there would be no
difficulty in applying it to the symbols or embodiments by which the
idea of wisdom was represented in the animal world. Thus, there came to
be not only good, but also bad serpents, both of which are referred to
in the narrative of the Hebrew Exodus, but still more clearly in the
struggle between the good and the bad serpents of Persian mythology,
which symbolised Ormuzd or Mithra and the Evil spirit Ahriman.[55] So
far as I can make out the serpent symbol has not a _direct_ Phallic
reference, nor is its attribute of wisdom the most essential. The idea
most intimately associated with this animal was that of _life_, not
present merely but continued and probably everlasting.[56] Thus the
snake _Bai_ was figured as Guardian of the doorways of those chambers
of Egyptian Tombs which represented the mansions of heaven.[57] A
sacred serpent would seem to have been kept in all the Egyptian
temples, and we are told that “many of the subjects, in the tombs of
the kings at Thebes, in particular, show the importance it was thought
to enjoy in a future state.”[58] Crowns, formed of the asp, or sacred
_Thermuthis_, were given to sovereigns and divinities, particularly
to Isis,[59] and these, no doubt, were intended to symbolise eternal
life. Isis was a goddess of life and healing,[60] and the serpent
evidently belonged to her in that character, seeing that it was the
symbol also of other deities with the like attributes. Thus, on papyri
it encircles the figure of Harpocrates,[61] who was identified with
Æsculapius; while not only was a great serpent kept alive in the temple
of Serapis, but on later monuments this god is represented by a great
serpent with or without a human head.[62] Mr. Fergusson, in accordance
with his peculiar theory as to the origin of serpent-worship, thinks
that this superstition characterised the old Turanian (or let us
rather say Akkadian) empire of Chaldea, while tree-worship was more a
characteristic of the later Assyrian Empire.[63] This opinion is no
doubt correct, and it means really that the older race had that form of
faith with which the serpent was always indirectly connected—adoration
of the _male_ principle of generation, the principal phase of which was
probably ancestor-worship; while the latter race adored the _female_
principle, symbolised by the sacred tree, the Assyrian “grove.” The
“_tree_ of life,” however, undoubtedly had reference to the _male_
element, and we may well imagine that originally the _fruit_ alone was
treated as symbolical of the opposite element.

There is still one important point connected with this legend which
requires consideration as throwing light on another very widespread
superstition. Baron Bunsen says that the nature of the _Kerubim_
who were set to keep the way to the tree of life has not yet been
satisfactorily explained. He seems to think they have a volcanic
reference, although the usual supposition is that they were angels
bearing “flaming swords.” The latter opinion, however, could only have
arisen from the association, in other places, of kerubim with seraphim,
who are also popularly supposed to be angelic spirits, but whom Bunsen
thinks have reference to flame. All these explanations, however, appear
to me to be erroneous. According to one opinion, kerub is compounded
of two words, _ke_ a particle of resemblance, and _rab_, signifying
great, powerful. If this derivation be correct we may safely infer that
the _kerub_ was simply a representation of the strong deity himself,
of whom the flaming sword was also an emblem. This notion is confirmed
by the statement of the Jewish Targams that “the glory of God dwelt
between the two cherubim at the gate of Eden, just as it rested upon
the two cherubim in the Tabernacle.”[64] It is curious that in the
analogous Greek myth of the Garden of Hesperides, the golden apples
were guarded by a serpent. We have a closer resemblance to the Hebrew
Kerubim in Persian mythology. Delitzsch says “the kerubs appear here
as guards of Paradise, just as in the Persian legend 99,999—_i.e._,
innumerable attendants of the Holy One keep watch against the attempts
of Ahriman over the tree Hôm, which contains in itself the power of
the resurrection. Much closer, however, lies the comparison of the
winged lion-and-eagle-formed griffin,[65] which watch the gold-caves of
the Arimaspian metallic mountains, and of the sometimes more or less
hawk-formed, sometimes only winged and otherwise man-formed-guardians,
upon the Egyptian and Assyrian monuments. The resemblance of the
symbols is surprisingly great; and the comparison of the King of
Tyre,[66] to a protecting kerub with outspread wings, who, stationed
on the holy mountain, walked up and down in the midst of the stones of
fire, justifies us in assuming such a connection.”[67]

The real nature and origin of the Hebrew kerub is apparent on reference
to the language used by Ezekiel in describing his vision of winged
creatures. Dr. Faber shows clearly that these were the same as the
kerubim in the Holy of Holies of the Hebrew temple, and he argues,
moreover, with great justice, that the latter must have agreed with
those who were said to have been stationed before the tree of life in
Eden. In fact, the King of Tyre is styled by Ezekiel “the anointed
covering kerub of Eden, the garden of God.”[68] Now, a curious
difference is made by Ezekiel in the two descriptions he gives of the
creatures which appeared in his vision. In the one case he describes
them as having each four faces—that of a man, that of a lion, that
of an ox, and that of an eagle.[69] Subsequently, however, they are
described as having each the faces of a _kerub_, of a man, of an eagle,
and of a lion.[70] Judging from this discrepancy, the head of a kerub
being substituted for that of an ox, it has been suggested that the
kerub and the ox are synonymous. Dr. Faber very justly observes on this
difficulty, that Ezekiel “would scarcely have called the head of the ox
by way of eminence the _head of a kerub_, unless the form of the ox so
greatly predominated in the compound form of the kerub as to warrant
the entire kerub being familiarly styled _an ox_.”[71] This conclusion
is the more probable when we consider that in the first vision the
creatures are represented with feet like those of a calf.[72] In
fact, we have in this vision, as in the _kerubim_ of Genesis, animal
representations of deity, such as the Persians and other Eastern
peoples delighted in, the most prominent being that of the ox—or,
rather _bull_, as it would be more properly rendered.

But what was the sacred bull of the religions of antiquity, or rather
what its mythological value? Dr. Faber says expressly on this subject:
“There is perhaps no part of the Gentile world in which the bull and
the cow were not highly reverenced and considered in the light of
holy and mysterious symbols.”[73] He cites the traditional founder of
the Chinese empire, Fohi, as having a son with a bull’s head, this
personage being also venerated by the Japanese under the title of the
“ox-headed prince of heaven.” According to Mr. Doolittle, a paper image
of a domestic buffalo, as large as life, with smaller images in clay of
this animal, are carried in procession at the Great Chinese Festival in
honour of spring, while a live buffalo accompanies the procession for
some distance.[74] It is curious to find that at the other side of the
Europo-Asiatic continent the bull was considered sacred by the Celtic
Druids, it being reverenced by the ancient Britons as the symbol of
their Great God Hu. Thus also the Kimbri “adored their principal God
under the form of a brazen bull;” as the ancient Colchians worshipped
brazen-footed bulls which were said to emit fire from their nostrils,
which has reference to the sacrifices with which they were propitiated.
Dr. Faber says as to the Great Phœnician God, called by the Greek
translator of Sanchoniatho Agruerus, from the circumstance of his being
an agricultural God, that he “was worshipped by the Syrians and their
neighbours the Canaanites, under the titles of _Baal_ and _Moloch_;
and, as his shrine was drawn by oxen, so he himself was represented
by the figure of a man having the head of a bull, and sometimes
probably by the simple figure of a bull alone”. The Persian _Mithra_
is also represented as a bull-god, and it is highly suggestive that
in one of the carved grottos near the Campus Marjorum he is figured
under the symbol of the phallus surmounted by the head of a bull. Even
among the Hebrews themselves the golden calf was, under the authority
of Aaron, used as an object of worship, a form of idolatry which was
re-established by Jeroboam, if it had ever been abandoned. Dr. Faber,
indeed, thinks that the calves worshipped at Samaria were copies of
the kerubim in the Temple at Jerusalem. If we turn to peoples kindred
to the Hebrews, we find that the Phœnician Adonis was sometimes
represented as a horned deity, as were also Dionysos and Bacchus, who
were, in fact, merely the names under which Adonis was worshipped
in Thrace and Greece. Plutarch says that “the women of Elis were
accustomed to invite Bacchus to his temple on the seashore, under the
name of ‘the heifer-footed divinity,’ the illustrious bull, the bull
worthy of the highest veneration.” Hence in the ceremonies, during the
celebration of the mysteries of Bacchus and Dionysos, the bull always
took a prominent place, as it did also during the festivals of the
allied deity of Egypt—the bull Apis being worshipped as an incarnation
of Osiris. In India the bull is still held sacred by the Brahmans,
and in Hindu mythology it is connected with both Siva and Menu.[75]
A superstitious veneration for this animal is in fact entertained
by all pastoral or agricultural peoples who possess it. To seek the
explanation of this curious phenomenon in the traditional remembrance
of the kerubic representations of deity which guarded the tree of life
would be in the highest degree irrational. These representations were
merely copies of symbolical figures, which, like the story of the fall,
were borrowed from an Eastern source. The real explanation is found in
the fact that the bull was an emblem of the productive force in nature.
The Zend word _gaya_, which means “bull,” signifies also the “soul” or
“life,” as the same Arabic word denotes both “life” and a “serpent.” A
parallel case is that of the Zend word _orouéré_, which means a “tree”
as well as “life” or “soul.”[76] According to the cosmogany of the
Zend-Avesta, Ormuzd, after he had created the heavens and the earth,
formed the first being, called by Zoroaster “the primeval bull.” This
bull was poisoned by Ahriman, but its seed was carried by the soul
of the dying animal, represented as an _ized_, to the moon, “where
it is continually purified and fecundated by the warmth and light of
the sun, to become the germ of all creatures.” At the same time the
material prototypes of all living things, except perhaps man himself,
issued from the body of the bull.[77] This is but a developed form
of the ideas which anciently were almost universally associated with
this animal, among those peoples who were addicted to sun-worship.
There is no doubt, however, that the superstitious veneration for the
bull existed, as it still exists, quite independent of the worship of
the heavenly bodies.[78] The bull, like the goat, must have been a
sacred animal in Egypt before it was declared to be an embodiment of
the sun-god Osiris. In some sense, indeed, the bull and the serpent,
although both of them became associated with the solar deities, were
antagonistic. The serpent was symbolical of the _personal_ male
element, or rather had especial reference to the man,[79] while the
bull had relation to _nature_ as a whole, and was symbolical of the
_general_ idea of fecundity. This antagonism was brought to an issue in
the struggle between Osiris and Seti (Seth), which ended in the triumph
of the god of nature, although it was renewed even during the Exodus,
when the golden calf of Osiris or Horus was set up in the Hebrew camp.

The reference made to the serpent, to the tree of wisdom, and to the
bull, in the legend of the “fall,” sufficiently proves its Phallic
character, which was, indeed, recognised in the early Christian
church.[80] Judging from the facts above referred to, however, we can
hardly doubt that the legend was derived from a foreign source. That it
could not be original to the Hebrews may, I think, be proved by several
considerations. The position occupied in the legend by the serpent is
quite inconsistent with the use of this animal symbol by Moses.[81]
Like Satan himself even, as the Rev. Dunbar Heath has shown,[82]
the serpent had not, indeed, a wholly evil character among the early
Hebrews. In the second place, the condemnation of the act of generation
was directly contrary to the central idea of patriarchal history. The
promise to Abraham was that he should have seed “numerous as the stars
of heaven for multitude,” and to support this notion the descent of
Abraham is traced up to the first created man, who is commanded to
increase and multiply.

The legend of the fall is not unknown to Hindu mythology, but here the
subject of the temptation is the divine Brahma, who, however, is not
only mankind collectively, but a man individually.[83] In human shape
he is Sivayambhuva, and to try this progenitor of mankind, Siva, as
the Supreme Being, “drops from heaven a blossom of the sacred _vata_,
or Indian fig—a tree which has been always venerated by the natives
on account of its gigantic size and grateful shadows, and invested
alike by Brahman and by Buddhist with mysterious significations, as
the tree of knowledge or intelligence (_bodhidruma_).[84] Captivated
by the beauty of the blossom, the first man (Brahma) is determined
to possess it. He imagines that it will entitle him to occupy the
place of the Immortal, and hold converse with the Infinite; and on
gathering up the blossom,[85] he at once becomes intoxicated by this
fancy, and believes himself immortal and divine. But ere the flush
of exultation has subsided, God Himself appears to him in terrible
majesty; and the astonished culprit, stricken by the curse of heaven,
is banished far from Brahmapattana, and consigned to an abyss of misery
and degradation. From this, however, adds the story, an escape is
rendered possible on the expiration of some weary term of suffering and
of penance. And the parallelism which it presents to sacred history
is well-nigh completed when the legend tells us further that woman,
his own wife, whose being was derived from his, had instigated the
ambitious hopes which led to their expulsion, and entailed so many ills
on their posterity.”[86] That parallelism cannot well be the result
of mere coincidence, and the reference to the fig-tree in the Hindu
legend not only renders it highly probable that this was the tree of
knowledge[87] of Hebrew legend, but confirms, by the symbolical ideas
connected with it, the explanation of the nature of the “fall” given in
the preceding pages. The real meaning of the legend was well understood
by the Gnostics and Manicheans, and those Christian Fathers who were
brought into contact with Eastern ideas through them.[88]

The Persians, who were indebted to the Chaldeans for many of their
religious ideas, possessed the story of the fall in a form agreeing
more closely with that which may have been the original of the Hebrew
legend. According to the _Boundehesch_, one of the sacred books of the
Parsees, a tree gave birth to the primeval man _Meschia_. The body
of this androgynous being afterwards became divided, one part being
male and the other female—_Meschia_ and _Meschiana_,[89] as the man
and woman were called—were at first pure and holy, but seduced by
Ahriman, who had metamorphosed himself into a serpent, they rendered
to the Prince of Darkness the worship which was due only to Ormuzd,
the God of Light. Meschia and Meschiana thus lost their primitive
purity, which neither they nor their descendants could recover without
the assistance of Mithra, the god who presided at the mysteries or at
the initiations—that is to say, at the way of rehabilitation which
is opened before those who seek earnestly the salvation of their
souls.[90] At the instigation of Ahriman, the man and woman had, for
the first time, committed, in thought, word, and deed, the carnal sin,
and thus tainted with original sin all their descendants.[91] Lajard,
referring to this legend, adds in a note: “Le triple caractère que
presente ici le péché originel est très nettement indiqué dans le
passage cité du Boundehesch. Il y est accompagné de détails que font de
ce passage un des morceaux les plus curieux de ce traité. Quelques-uns
de ces détails ... rattache à ce même mot (serpent) ou à sa racine la
dénomination des parties sexuelles de la homme et de la femme.” The
Persian account of the fall and its consequences agrees so closely
with the Hebrew story when stripped of its figurative language that we
cannot doubt that they refer to the same legend,[92] and the use of
figurative language in the latter may well lead us to believe that it
was of later date than the former.[93] In Ahriman, who was known to
Persian teaching as “the old serpent having two feet,” we evidently
have the origin of the speaking serpent of Genesis, while in “the
seed of the woman who shall bruise the serpent’s head,” the follower
of Zarathustra would have seen a reference to Mithra, just as the
Christian finds there a prophecy of Christ. Even the antagonism between
the Cherubim and the Serpent can be found in Persian teaching, for it
was to the malignant action of the Serpent Az that the death, not only
of the first man, but of the “primeval bull,” was due.[94] The latter
was formed by Ormuzd after the creation of the heavens and the earth,
and that from which proceeded the material prototypes of all the beings
“who live in the water, on the earth, and in the air.”[95]

It is very probable, however, that when the legend was appropriated
by the compiler of the Hebrew Scriptures it had a moral significance
as well as a merely figurative sense. The legend is divisible into
two parts—the first of which is a mere statement of the imparting of
wisdom by the serpent and by the eating of the fruit of a certain tree,
these ideas being synonymous, or at least consistent, as appears by the
attributes of the Chaldean _Héa_.[96] The nature of this wisdom may be
found in the rites of the Hindu _Sacti Puja_.[97] The second part of
the legend, which is probably of much later date, is the condemnation
of the act referred to, as being in itself evil and as leading to
misery, and even to death itself. The origin of this later notion must
be sought in the esoteric doctrine taught in the mysteries of Mithra,
the fundamental idea of which was the descent of the soul to earth
and its re-ascent to the celestial abodes after it had overcome the
temptations and debasing influences of the material life.[98] Lajard
shows that these mysteries were really taken from the secret worship of
the Chaldean _Mylitta_, but the reference to “the seed of the woman who
shall bruise the serpent’s head,” is too Mithraic for us to seek for an
earlier origin for the special form of the Hebrew myth. The object of
the myth evidently was to explain the origin of _death_,[99] from which
man was to be delivered by a coming Saviour, and the whole idea is
strictly Mithraic, the Persian deity himself being a Saviour God.[100]
The importance attached to _virginity_ by the early Christians sprang
from the same source. The Avesta is full of reference to “purity” of
life, and there is reason to believe that in the secret initiations
the followers of Mithra were taught to regard marriage itself as

The religious ideas which found expression in the legend of the fall
were undoubtedly of late development,[102] although derived from still
earlier phases of religious thought. The simple worship in symbol of
the organs of generation, and of the ancestral head of the family,
prompted by the desire for offspring and the veneration for him who
produced it, was extended to the generative force in nature. The bull
which, as we have seen, symbolised this force, was not restricted
to earth, but was in course of time transferred to the heavens, and
as one of the constellations was thought to have a peculiar relation
to certain of the planetary bodies. This astral phase of the Phallic
superstition was not unknown to the Mosaic religion. A still earlier
form of this superstition was, however, known to the Hebrews, probably
forming a link between the worship of the symbol of personal generative
power and that of the heavenly phallus; as the worship of the bull
connected the veneration for the human generator with that for the
universal father. One of the primeval gods of antiquity was _Hermes_,
the Syro-Egyptian _Thoth_, and the Roman _Mercury_. Kircher identifies
him also with the god _Terminus_. This is doubtless true, as Hermes
was a god of boundaries, and appears, as Dulaure has well shown, to
have presided over the national frontiers. The meaning of the word
“Thoth”—_erecting_—associates it with this fact. The peculiar primitive
form of Mercury or Hermes was “a large stone, frequently square, and
without either hands or feet. Sometimes the triangular shape was
preferred, sometimes an upright pillar, and sometimes a heap of rude
stones!”[103] The pillars were called by the Greeks _Hermæ_, and the
heaps were known as _Hermèan_ heaps—the latter being accumulated “by
the custom of each passenger throwing a stone to the daily-increasing
mass in honour of the god.” Sometimes the pillar was represented with
the attributes of Priapus.[104]

The identification of Hermes or Mercury with Priapus is confirmed by
the offices which the latter deity fulfilled. One of the most important
was that of protector of gardens and orchards, and probably this was
the original office performed by Hermes in his character of “a God of
the country.”[105] Figures set up as charms to protect the produce of
the ground would, in course of time, be used not only for this purpose,
but also to mark the boundaries of the land protected, and these two
offices being divided, two deities would finally be formed out of one.
The Greek Hermes was connected also with the Egyptian _Khem_, and no
less, if we may judge from the symbols used in his worship, with the
Hebrew _Eloah_. Thus, in the history of the Hebrew patriarchs, we are
told that when Jacob entered into a covenant with his father-in-law,
Laban, a pillar was set up and a heap of stones made, and Laban said
to Jacob, “Behold this heap and behold this pillar, which I have cast
betwixt me and thee; this heap be witness, and this pillar be witness,
that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shall not
pass over this heap and this pillar unto me for harm.”[106] We have
here the _Hermæ_ and _Hermèan_ heap, used by the Greeks as landmarks
and placed by them on the public roads. In the _linga_ of India we have
another instance of the use of the pillar symbol. The form of this
symbol is sufficiently expressive of the idea which it embodies, an
idea which is more explicitly shown when the Linga and the Yoni are, as
is usually the case among the worshippers of the Hindu Siva, combined
to form the _Lingam_. The stone figure is not, however, itself a god,
but only representative of a spirit,[107] who is thought to be able to
satisfy the yearning for children, so characteristic of many primitive
peoples, this probably having been its original object and the source
of its use as an amulet for the protection of children against the
influence of the evil eye. In course of time, however, when other
property came to be coveted equally with offspring, the power to give
this property would naturally be referred to the primitive Phallic
spirit, and hence he became, not merely the protector, as above seen,
of the produce of the fields, and the guardian of boundaries, but also
the God of wealth and traffic, and even the patron of thieves, as was
the case with the Mercury of the Romans. The Hebrew patriarchs desired
great flocks as well as numerous descendants, and hence the symbolic
pillar was peculiarly fitted for their religious rites. It is related
even of Abraham, the traditional founder of the Hebrew people, that
he “planted a grove[108] (_eshel_) in Beersheba, and called there on
the name of Jehovah, the everlasting _Elohim_.”[109] From the Phallic
character of the “grove” (_ashera_),[110] said to have been in the
House of Jehovah, we must suppose that the _eshel_ of Abraham also had
a Phallic reference.[111] Most probably the so-called “grove” of the
earlier patriarch, though perhaps of wood, and the stone “_bethel_”
of Jacob had the same form, and were simply the _betylus_,[112] the
primitive symbol of deity among all the Semitic and many Hamitic

The participation of the Hebrew patriarchs in the rites connected
with the “pillar-worship” of the ancient world, renders it extremely
probable that they were not strangers to the later planetary worship.
Many of the old Phallic symbols were associated with the new
superstition, and Abraham, being a Chaldean, it is natural to suppose
that he was one of its adherents. Tradition, indeed, affirms that
Abraham was a great astronomer, and at one time at least a worshipper
of the heavenly bodies, and that he and the other patriarchs continued
to be affected by this superstition is shown by various incidents
related in the Pentateuch. Thus, in the description given of the
sacrificial covenant between Abraham and Jehovah, it is said that,
after Abraham had divided the sacrificial animals, a deep sleep fell
upon him as the sun was going down, and Jehovah spoke with him. “Then
when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and
a burning lamp, that passed between those pieces.” The happening of
this event at the moment of the sun’s setting reminds us of the Sabæan
custom of praying to the setting sun, still practised, according
to Palgrave, among the nomads of central Arabia. That some great
_religious_ movement, ascribed by tradition to Abraham, did take place
among the Semites at an early date is undoubted. What the object of
this covenant was it is difficult to decide. It should be remembered
that the Chaldeans worshipped a plurality of gods, supposed to have
been symbolised by the seven planets. Among these deities the sun-god
held a comparatively inferior position—the moon-god _Hurki_ coming
before him in the second triad.[113] It was at Ur, the special seat of
the worship of the moon-god,[114] that Abraham is said to have lived
before he quitted it for Haran. This fact, considered in the light of
the traditions relating to the great patriarch, may perhaps justify
us in inferring that the reformation he endeavoured to introduce was
the substitution of a simple sun-worship, for the planetary cultus
of the Chaldeans, in which the worship of the moon must to him have
appeared to occupy an important place. The new faith was, indeed,
a return to the old Phallic idea of a god of personal generation,
worshipped through the symbolical _betylus_, but associated also with
the adoration of the sun as the especial representative of the deity.
That Abraham had higher notions of the relation of man to the divine
being than his forerunners is very probable, but his sojourn in
Haran proves that there was nothing fundamentally different between
his religious faith and that of his Syrian neighbours. I am inclined,
indeed, to believe that to the traditional Abraham must be ascribed
the establishment of sun-worship throughout Phœnicia and Lower Egypt
in connection with the symbols of an earlier and more simple Phallic
deity. Tradition, in fact, declares that he taught the Egyptians
astronomy,[115] and we shall see that the religion of the Phœnicians,
as, indeed, that of the Hebrews themselves, was the worship of Saturn,
the erect, pillar-god who, under different names, appears to have been
at the head of the pantheons of most of the peoples of antiquity. The
reference in Hebrew history to the _seraphim_ of Jacob’s family recalls
the fact that Abraham’s father was _Terah_, a “maker of images.” The
_teraphim_ were doubtless the same as the _seraphim_, which were
serpent images,[116] and probably the household charms or idols of the
Semitic worshippers of the sun-god, to whom the serpent was sacred.

Little is known of the religious habits of the Hebrews during their
abode in Egypt. Probably they differed little from those of the
Egyptians themselves, and even in the religion of Moses, so-called,
which we may presume to have been a reformed faith, there are many
points of contact with the earlier cultus. The use of the ark of Osiris
and Isis shows the influence of Egyptian ideas, and the introduction
of the new name for God, _Jahve_, is evidence of contact with later
Phœnician thought. The ark was doubtless used to symbolise nature, as
distinguished from the serpent and pillar symbols, which had relation
more particularly to man. The latter, however, were by far the most
important, as they were most intimately connected with the worship of
the national deity, who was the divine father, as Abraham was the human
progenitor, of the Hebrew people. That this deity, notwithstanding his
change of name, retained his character of a sun-god, is shown by the
fact that he is repeatedly said to have appeared to Moses under the
figure of a flame. The pillar of fire which guided the Hebrews by night
in the wilderness, the appearance of the cloudy pillar at the door of
the Tabernacle, and probably of a flame over the mercy seat to betoken
the presence of Jehovah, and the perpetual fire on the altar, all point
to the same conclusion. The notion entertained by Ewald that the idea
connected with the Hebrew Jahve was that of a “Deliverer” or a “Healer”
(Saviour)[117] is quite consistent with the fact I have stated. The
primeval Phenic deity El or Cronus was not only the preserver of the
world, for the benefit of which he offered a mystical sacrifice,[118]
but “Saviour” was a common title of the sun-gods of antiquity.

There is one remarkable incident which is said to have happened during
the wanderings of the Hebrews in the Sinaitic wilderness which appears
to throw much light on the character of the Mosaic cultus and to
connect it with other religions. I refer to the use of the brazen
serpent as a symbol for the healing of the people. The worship of the
golden calf may, perhaps, be said to be an idolatrous act in imitation
of the rites of Egyptian Osiris worship, although probably suggested
by the use of the ark. The other case, however, is far different, and
it is worth while repeating the exact words in which the use of the
serpent symbol is described. When the people were bitten by the “fiery”
serpents,[119] Moses prayed for them, and we read that, therefore,
“Jehovah said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent (literally, a
_seraph_), and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that
every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And
Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to
pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent
of brass, he lived.”[120] It would seem from this account that the
Hebrew seraph was, as before suggested, in the form of a serpent;
but what was the especial significance of this healing figure? At an
earlier stage of our inquiry reference was made to the fact of the
serpent being indirectly, through its attribute of wisdom, a Phallic
symbol, but also directly an emblem of “life,” and to the peculiar
position it held in nearly all the religions of antiquity. In later
Egyptian mythology the contest between Osiris and the Evil Being, and
afterwards that between Horus and Typhon, occupy an important place.
Typhon, the adversary of Horus, was figured under the symbol of a
serpent, called Aphôphis or the Giant,[121] and it cannot be doubted
that, if not a form of, he was identified with the god Seth. Professor
Reuvens refers to an invocation of Typhon-Seth,[122] and Bunsen quotes
the statement of Epiphanius that “the Egyptians celebrate the festivals
of Typhon under the form of an ass, which they call Seth.”[123]
Whatever may be the explanation of the fact, it is undoubted that,
notwithstanding the hatred with which he was afterwards regarded, this
god Seth or Set was at one time highly venerated in Egypt. Bunsen
says that up to the thirteenth century B.C. Set “was a great god
universally adored throughout Egypt, who confers on the sovereigns
of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties the symbols of life and
power. The most glorious monarch of the latter dynasty, Sethos, derives
his name from this deity.” He adds: “But subsequently, in the course
of the twentieth dynasty, he is suddenly treated as an evil demon,
inasmuch as his effigies and name are obliterated on all the monuments
and inscriptions that could be reached.” Moreover, according to this
distinguished writer, Seth “appears gradually among the Semites as the
background of their religious consciousness;” and not merely was he
“the primitive god of Northern Egypt and Palestine,” but his genealogy
as “the Seth of Genesis, the father of Enoch (the man), must be
considered as originally running parallel with that derived from the
Elohim, Adam’s father.”[124] That Seth _had_ some special connection
with the Hebrews is proved, among other things, by the peculiar
position occupied in their religious system by the _ass_—the first-born
of which alone of all animals was allowed to be redeemed[125]—and
the _red heifer_, whose ashes were to be reserved as a “water of
separation” for purification from sin.[126] Both of these animals were
in Egypt sacred to Seth (Typhon), the ass being his symbol, and red
oxen being at one time sacrificed to him, although at a later date
objects of a red colour were disliked, owing to their association
with the dreaded Typhon.[127] That we have a reference to this deity
in the name of the Hebrew lawgiver is very probable. No satisfactory
derivation of this name, Moses, Môsheh (Heb.), has yet been given. Its
original form was probably _Am-a-ses_ or _Am-sesa_,[128] which might
become to the Hebrews Om-ses or Mo-ses, meaning only _the_ (god) Ses,
_i.e._, Set or Seth.[129] On this hypothesis we may have preserved, in
the first book of Moses (so-called), some of the traditional history
said to have been contained in the sacred books of the Egyptian Thoth,
and of the records engraved on the pillars of Seth. It is somewhat
remarkable that, according to a statement of Diodorus, when Antiochus
Epiphanes entered the temple at Jerusalem, he found in the Holy of
Holies a stone figure of Moses, represented as a man with a long beard,
mounted on an ass, and having a book in his hand.[130] The Egyptian
Mythus of Typhon actually said that Set fled from Egypt riding on a
grey ass.[131] It is strange, to say the least, that Moses should not
have been allowed to enter the promised land, and that he should be
so seldom referred to by later writers until long after the reign of
David,[132] and above all that the name given to his successor was
Joshua—_i.e._, _Saviour_. It is worthy of notice that “Nun,” the name
of the father of Joshua, is the Semitic word for _fish_, the Phallic
character of the fish in Chaldean mythology being undoubted. _Nin_, the
planet Saturn, was the fish-god of Berosus, and, as may possibly be
shown, he is really the same as the Assyrian national deity _Asshur_,
whose name and office have a curious resemblance to those of the Hebrew
leader, _Joshua_.

But what was the character of the primitive Semitic deity? Bunsen
seems to think that Plutarch in one passage alludes to the identity
of Typhon (Seth) and Osiris.[133] This is a remarkable idea, and yet
curiously enough Sir Gardner Wilkinson says that Typhon-Seth may have
been derived from the pigmy Pthath-Sokari-Osiris,[134] who was clearly
only another form of Osiris himself. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead,
Horus, the son of Osiris, is declared to be at the same time Set, “by
the distinction made between them by Thoth.”[135] However that may
be, the Phallic origin of Seth can be shown from other data. Thus it
appears that the word _Set_ means, in Hebrew as in Egyptian, pillar,
and, in a general sense, the erect, elevated, high.[136] Moreover,
in a passage of the Book of the Dead, Set, according to Bunsen, is
called _Tet_, a fact which intimates that Thoth inherited many of the
attributes of Set.[137] They were, however, in some sense the same
deities, it being through Thoth that Set was identified with Horus.
We have here an explanation of the statement that Tet, the Phœnician
_Taaut_, was the snake-god, Esmun-Esculapius, the serpent being the
symbol of Tet, as we have seen it to have been that of Seth also. In
this we have a means of identifying the Semitic deity Seth with the
Saturn of related deities of other peoples. Ewald says that “the common
name for God, _Eloah_, among the Hebrews, as among all the Semites,
goes back into the earliest times.”[138] Bryant goes further, and
declares that El was originally the name of the supreme deity among all
the nations of the East.[139] This idea is confirmed, so far as Chaldea
is concerned, by later researches, which show that Il or El was at the
head of the Babylonian Pantheon. With this deity must be identified the
Il or Ilus of the Phœnicians, who was born the same as Cronus, who,
again, was none other than the primeval Saturn, whose worship appears
to have been at one period almost universal among European and Asiatic
peoples. Saturn and El were thus the same deity, the latter, like the
Semitic Seth, being, as is well known, symbolised by the serpent.[140]
A direct point of contact between Seth and Saturn is found in the
Hebrew idol _Kiyun_ mentioned by Amos, the planet Saturn being still
called _Kevan_ by Eastern peoples. This idol was represented in the
form of a pillar, the primeval symbol of deity, which was common
undoubtedly to all the gods here mentioned.[141] These symbolical
pillars were called _betyli_ or _betulia_. Sometimes also the column
was called _Abaddir_, which, strangely enough, Bryant identifies with
the serpent-god.[142] There can be no doubt that both the pillar and
the serpent were associated with many of the sun-gods of antiquity.

Notwithstanding what has been said it is undoubtedly true, however,
that all these deities, including the Semitic Seth, became at an
early date recognised as sun-gods, although in so doing they lost
nothing of their primitive character. What this was is sufficiently
shown by the significant names and titles they bore. Thus, as we have
seen, _Set_ (Seth) itself meant the _erect_, _elevated_, _high_, his
name on the Egyptian monuments being nearly always accompanied by a
stone.[143] The name, _Kiyun_ or _Kevan_, of this deity, said by
Amos to have been worshipped in the wilderness, signifies “god of the
pillar.” The idea expressed by the title is shown by the name _Baal
Tamar_, which means “Baal as a pillar,” or “Phallus,” consequently
“the fructifying god.” The title “erect,” when given to a deity, seems
always to imply a Phallic idea, and hence we have the explanation of
the _S. mou_ used frequently in the “Book of the Dead” in relation
to Thoth or to Set.[144] There is doubtless a reference of the same
kind in the Phœnician myth, that “Melekh taught men the special art
of creating solid walls and buildings;” although Bunsen finds in this
myth “the symbolical mode of expressing the value of the use of fire
in building houses.”[145] That these myths embody a Phallic notion
may be confirmed by reference to the Phœnician _Kabiri_. According
to Bunsen, “the Kabiri and the divinities identified with them are
explained by the Greeks and Romans as ‘the strong,’ ‘the great;’” while
in the book of Job, _Kabbîr_, the strong, is used as an epithet of God.
Again, _Sydyk_, the father of the Kabiri, is “the Just,” or, in a more
original sense, the Upright; and this deity, with his sons, correspond
to Ptah, the father of the Phœnician Pataikoi. Ptah, however, seems to
be derived from a root which signifies in Hebrew “to open,” and Sydyk
himself, therefore, may, says Bunsen, be described as “the Opener” of
the Cosmic Egg.[146] The Phallic meaning of this title is evident from
its application to Esmun-Esculapius, the son of Sydyk, who, as the
snake-god, was identical with Tet, the Egyptian Thoth-Hermes.

The peculiar titles given to these deities, and their association
with the sun, led to their original Phallic character being somewhat
overlooked, and instead of being the Father-Gods of human-kind, they
became _Powerful_ Gods, _Lords_ of Heaven. This was not the special
attribute taken by other sun-gods. As was before stated, Hermes and
his related deities were “gods of the country,” personifying the idea
of general natural fecundity. Among the chief gods of this description
were the Phœnician _Sabazius_, the Greek _Bacchus-Dionysos_, the Roman
_Priapus_, and the Egyptian _Khem_. All these deities agree also in
being sun-gods, and as such they were symbolised by animals which
were noted either for their fecundity or for their salaciousness. The
chief animals thus chosen were the _bull_ and the _goat_ (with which
the ram[147] was afterwards confounded), doubtless because they were
already sacred. The Sun appears to have been preceded by the Moon as an
object of worship, but the moon-god was probably only representative
of the primeval Saturn,[148] who finally became the sun-god _El_ or
_Il_ of the Syrian and Semites and the _Ra_ of the Babylonians. The
latter was the title also of the sun-god of Egypt, who was symbolised
by the obelisk, and who, although his name was added to that of other
Egyptian gods, is said to have been the tutelary deity of the stranger
kings of the eighteenth dynasty,[149] whom Pleyte, however, declares
to have been Set (Sutech).[150] We are reminded here of the opposition
of Seth and Osiris, which has already been explained as arising from
the fact that these deities originally represented two different ideas,
_human fecundity_ and the _fruitfulness of nature_. When, however, both
of these principles became associated with the solar body, they were
expressed by the same symbols, and the distinction between them was in
great measure lost sight of. A certain difference was, nevertheless,
still observable in the attributes of the deities, depending on the
peculiar properties and associations of their solar representatives.
Thus the powerful deity of Phœnicia was naturally associated with the
strong, scorching, summer sun, whose _heat_ was the most prominent
attribute. In countries such as Egypt, where the sun, acting on the
moist soil left by inundations, caused the earth to spring into renewed
life, the mild but energetic early sun was the chief deity.

When, considering the sacred bull of antiquity, the symbol of the
fecundating force in nature, Osiris, the national sun-god of the
Egyptians, was referred to as distinguished from the Semitic Seth
(Set), who was identified with the detested shepherd race. The
association of Osiris with Khem shows his Phallic character,[151] and,
in fact, Plutarch asserts that he was everywhere represented with
the phallus exposed.[152] The Phallic idea enters, moreover, into
the character of all the chief Egyptian deities. Bunsen says: “The
mythological system obviously proceeded from ‘the concealed god’ Ammon
to the creating god. The latter appears first of all as the generative
power of nature in the Phallic god Khem, who is afterwards merged in
Ammon-ra. Then sprung up the idea of the creative power in Kneph. He
forms the divine limbs of Osiris (the primeval soul) in contradiction
to Ptah, who as the strictly demiurgic principle, forms the visible
world. Neith is the creative principle, as nature represented under
a feminine form. Finally, her son Ra, Helios, appears as the last of
the series, in the character of father and nourisher of terrestrial
beings. It is he, whom an ancient monument represents as the demiurgic
principle, creating the mundane egg.”[153] The name of Ammon has
led to the notion that he was an embodiment of the idea of wisdom.
He certainly was distinguished by having the human form, but his
hieroglyphical symbol of the _obelisk_, and his connection with Khem,
show his true nature. He undoubtedly represented the primitive idea of
a generative god, probably at a time when this notion of fecundity had
not yet been extended to nature as distinguished from man, and thus he
would form a point of contact between the later Egyptian sun-gods and
the pillar gods of the Semites and Phœnicians.[154] To the Egyptians,
as to these other peoples, the sun became the great source of deity.
His fecundating warmth or his fiery destroying heat were, however,
not the only attributes deified. These were the most important,
but the Egyptians, especially, made gods out of many of the solar
characters,[155] although the association of the idea of “intellect”
with Amun-re must have been of late date, if the original nature of
Amun was what has been above suggested.

As man, however, began to read nature aright, and as his moral and
intellectual faculties were developed, it was necessary that the solar
deities themselves should become invested with co-relative attributes,
or that other gods should be formed to embody them. The perception
of _light_, as distinguished from heat, was a fertile source of such
attributes. In the Chaldean mythology, _Vul_, the son of _Anu_, was the
god of the air, but his power had relation to the purely atmospheric
phenomena rather than to light.[156] The only reference to light found
in the titles of the early deities is in the character ascribed to
_Va-lua_, the later _Bur_ or _Nin-ip_, who is said to “irradiate the
nations like the sun, the light of the gods.”[157] But this deity was
apparently the distant planet Saturn, if not originally the moon,
and the perception of light as a divine attribute must be referred
to the Aryan mind.[158] Thus the Hindu _Dyaus_ (the Greek _Zeus_) is
the shining deity, the god of the bright sky. As such the sun-gods
now also become the gods of intellectual wisdom, an attribute which
also appears to have originated with the Aryan peoples, among whom
the Brahmans were possessors of the highest wisdom, as children of
the sun, and whose Apollo and Athené were noble embodiments of this
attribute. The Chaldean gods, _Héa_ and _Nebo_, were undoubtedly
symbolised by the wedge or arrow-head, which had especial reference to
learning. In reality, however, this symbol merely shows that they were
the patrons of letters or writing, and not of wisdom, in its purely
intellectual aspect. If the form of the Assyrian alphabetical character
was of Phallic origin,[159] we may have here the source of the idea
of a connection between physical and mental knowledge embodied in the
legend of the “fall.” In the Persian _Ahurô-mazdâo_ (the wise spirit)
we have the purest representation of intellectual wisdom. The book of
Zoroaster, the Avesta, is literally the “word,” the word or wisdom
which was revealed in creation and embodied in the divine Mithra, who
was himself the luminous sun-god.

The similarity between the symbols of the sun-gods of antiquity and the
natural objects introduced into the Mosaic myth of the fall has been
already referred to, and it is necessary now to consider shortly what
influence the Phallic principle there embodied had over other portions
of Hebraic theology. The inquiries of Dr. Faber have thrown great light
on this question, although the explanation given by him of the myth of
Osiris and of the kindred myths of antiquity is by no means the correct
one. Finding a universal prevalence of Phallic ideas and symbolism,
Dr. Faber refers it to the degradation of a primitive revelation of
the Great Father of the Universe. The truth thus taught was lost sight
of, and was replaced by the dual notion of a Great Father and a Great
Mother—“the transmigrating Noah and the mundane Ark” of the universal
Deluge. Noah was, however, only a reappearance of Adam, and the ark
floating on the waters of the Deluge was an analogue of the earth
swimming in the ocean of space.[160] There is undoubtedly a parallelism
between the Adam and Noah of the Hebrew legends, as there is between
the analogous personages of other phases of these legends, yet it is
evident that, if the Deluge never happened, a totally different origin
from the one supposed by Dr. Faber must be assigned to the great
Phallic myth of antiquity. It is absolutely necessary, therefore, to
any explanation (other than the Phallic one) of the origin of this
myth, to establish the truth of the Noahic Deluge.[161] Accordingly, an
American writer has framed an elaborate system of “Arkite symbolism,”
founded on the supposed influence of the great Deluge over the minds
of the posterity of those who survived its horrors. Mr. Lesley sees in
this catastrophe the explanation of “phallism,” which, “converting all
the older Arkite symbols into illustrations of its own philosophical
conceptions of the mystery of generation, gave to the various parts
and members of the human body those names which constitute the special
vocabulary of obscenity of the present day.”[162]

But the priority of these symbols or conceptions is the question
at issue. Did the development of “Arkism” precede or follow the
superstitions referred to by Mr. Lesley as _Ophism_, _Mithraism_, and
_Phallism_, all of which have been shown to embody analogous ideas?
If the question of priority is to be determined by reference to the
written tradition which furnishes the real ground of belief in a
great Deluge, it must clearly be given to the Phallic superstition;
for it is shown conclusively, as I think, that almost the first event
in the life of man there related is purely Phallic in its symbolism.
Nor is the account of the fall the only portion of the Mosaic history
of primitive man which belongs to this category. The Garden of Eden,
with its tree of life and the river which divided into four streams,
although it may have had a secondary reference to the traditional place
of Semitic origin to which the Hebrews looked back with a regretful
longing, has undoubtedly a recondite Phallic meaning. It must be so, if
the explanation I have given of the myth of the fall be right, since
the two are intimately connected, and the Garden[163] is essential
to the succeeding catastrophe. That this opinion is correct can be
proved moreover by reference to Hindu mythology. “The Hindu,” says
Dr. Creuzer, “contemplates with love his mysterious Merou, a sacred
mountain from whence the source of life spreads itself in the valleys
and over the plains, which separates day from night, reunites heaven
and earth, and finally on which the sun, the moon, and the stars each
repose.”[164] But what is this mysterious mountain, the sacred Merou?
It is shown by Dr. Creuzer’s own explanation. He says: “It is on the
Mount Merou, the central point of the earth (which elevates itself
as an immense phallus from the centre of an immense yoni amongst the
islands with which the sea is sown), that the grand popular deity who
presides over the Lingam, _Siva_ or Mahadeva, the father and master
of nature, makes his cherished abode, spreading life to every part
under a thousand diverse forms which he incessantly renews. Near him
is _Bhavani_ or _Parvati_, his sister and his wife, the Queen of the
mountains, the goddess of the Yoni, who carries in her bosom the germ
of all things, and brings forth the beings whom she has conceived by
Mahadeva. We have here the two great principles of nature, the one
male and the other female, generators and regenerators, creators and
at the same time destroyers; but they destroy only to renew; they
only change the forms; life and death succeed in a perfect circle,
and the substance remains in the midst of all these changes.” The
sacred mountain is wanting to the Mosaic legend, but Dr. Faber justly
sees[165] in the Mount Merou, where resides Siva and Bhavani, the
Hebrew Paradise, and we find that the Hindu myth affirms that the
sacred river not only sprang from the roots of Jambu, a tree of a most
extravagant size, which is thought to convey knowledge and to effect
the accomplishment of every human wish, but also that, after passing
through “the circle of the moon,” it divides it into “four streams,
flowing towards the four cardinal points.”

The priority of the Phallic superstition over “Arkism” is further
proved by the undoubted fact that, even in the traditions of the race
to whom we are indebted for the precise details of the incidents
accompanying the Deluge, the Phallic deities of the Hamitico-Semites
are genealogically placed long before the occurrence of this event.
The Semitic deity Seth is, according to one fable, the semi-divine
first ancestor of the Semites. Bunsen has shown clearly also that
several of the antediluvian descendants of the Semitic Adam were
among the Phœnician deities. Thus, the Carthaginians had a god Yubal,
Jubal, who would appear to have been the sun-god Æsculapius, called
“the fairest of the gods and so, we read in a Phœnician inscription
Ju-Baal—_i.e._, beauty of Baal, which Movers ingeniously interprets
Æsculapius—Asmun-Jubal.” Here, then, adds Bunsen, “is another old
Semitic name attached to a descendant of Lamekh, together with Adah,
Zillah, and Naamah.”[166] Hadah, the wife of Lamekh, as well of Esau,
the Phœnician Usov, is identified with the goddess, worshipped at
Babylon as Hera (Juno), and, notwithstanding Sir Gardner Wilkinson’s
dictum to the contrary, her names, Hera, Hadah, point to a connection
with the Egyptian _Her Her_, or _Hathor_, who was the daughter of Seb
and Netpe, as Hera was the daughter of Chronos and Rhea. The name of
the god _Kiyun_, or Kevan, who was worshipped by the Hebrews, and
who in Syria was said to devour children, seems, from its connection
with the root _kun_, to erect, to point to the antediluvian Kain or
Kevan. _Kon_, derived from the same root, was, according to Bunsen,
a Phœnician designation of Saturn.[167] Even the great Carthaginian
sun-god _Melekh_, who was also “held in universal honour throughout
Phœnicia,” seems, although Bunsen does not thus identify him, to be
no other than Lamekh, the father of Noah, in one of the genealogies
of Genesis. We may, perhaps, have in the sacrifices to the Phœnician
deities, when the first-born sons of the people were offered on his
altars, an explanation[168] of the passage in Genesis which has so
much puzzled commentators, where Lamekh is made to declare that he
has “slain a man for his wound, and a youth for his hurt,” for which,
while Cain was avenged seven times, Lamekh should be avenged seventy
times seven times.[169] The Phœnicians had a tradition that Kronos
(Saturn) had sacrificed his own beloved son Yadid, and some ancient
writers said that the human sacrifices to Moloch were in imitation of
this act.[170] This reason may not be the correct one for the use of
human sacrifices, but the seventy times seven times in which Lamekh was
avenged may well refer to the abundance of the victims offered on the
altar of the Phœnician deity.

The priority of the Phallic superstition over “Arkism,” or rather the
existence of that superstition before the formation of the Deluge
legend, is proved, moreover, by its agreement with the myth of Osiris
and Isis. This agreement forms the central idea of the explanation of
pagan idolatry given by Faber, and yet it conclusively proves that
the Noachian Deluge was simply a myth, having, like that of Osiris, a
Phallic basis. Bunsen says “the myth of Osiris and Typhon, heretofore
considered as primeval, can now be authoritatively proved to be of
modern date in Egypt—that is to say, about the thirteenth or fourteenth
century B.C.”[171] But it is _this_ version of the Osirian myth which
is said to be founded on the Noachian catastrophe, Typhon or The Evil
Being, the persecutor of Osiris, being the Waters of the Deluge. The
very foundation of the Hebrew legend is thus cut away, and from the
fact, moreover, that the Egyptians had no tradition of a great flood,
we must seek for another origin for the legend of which different
phases were held by so many of the peoples of antiquity. The fact of
Typhon (Seth) having been venerated in Egypt to so late a date as the
thirteenth century B.C. is a proof that the myth, according to which
he was the cruel persecutor of his brother Osiris, must have been of
a later origin. The primitive form of the myth is easily recognised
when it is known that both Osiris and Typhon (Seth) were sun-gods.
Thus, according to Bunsen, “the myth of Osiris typifies the solar
year, the power of Osiris is the sun of the lower hemisphere, the
winter solstice. The birth of Horus typifies the vernal equinox—the
victory of Horus, the summer equinox—the inundation of the Nile.
Typhon is the autumnal equinox—Osiris is slain on the seventeenth
of Athyr (November).... The rule of Typhon lasts from the autumnal
equinox to the middle of December. He reigns twenty-eight years, or
lives as long.”[172] Thus the history of Osiris is “the history of the
circle of the year,” and in his resurrection as Horus we see the sun
resuscitating itself after its temporary eclipse during the winter
solstice. Here Typhon is also a sun-god, his rule being at the autumnal
equinox when the sun has its full power. This was the deity of the
Semites and of the inhabitants of Lower Egypt, and his scorching force,
doubtless, prepared the Egyptians, who venerated the milder Osiris,
to look with abhorrence on Typhon-Seth, who had already, probably
under the same influence, become a savage deity, delighting in burnt
offerings and human sacrifices.[173] No wonder, therefore, that when
the worshippers of the Semitic god were driven out of Egypt, the god
himself was treated as an enemy. Thus we are told that the enemies
of Egypt and their gods contended with the gods of Egypt, who veiled
themselves under the heads of animals in order to save themselves
from Typhon. Moreover, when this Semitic god was thus degraded and
transformed into an Evil Being, he would naturally come to be looked
upon as the enemy of Osiris, seeing that he was already identified
with the autumn sun, which during the autumnal equinox triumphs over
the sun of Osiris; and we can easily understand how, if the myth of a
Deluge, and the consequent destruction of all mankind but the father of
the renewed human race, was introduced, Typhon would be the destroying
enemy and Osiris the suffering and restored man-god.

If, as Dr. Faber supposes, the Egyptian myth was a form of that which
relates to the Noachian Deluge, we can only suppose them to have had
a similar basis, a basis which, from the very circumstances of the
case, must be purely “Phallic.” This explanation is the only one
which is consistent with a peculiarity in the Hebrew legend which is
an insurmountable objection to its reception as the expression of a
literal fact. We are told by the Mosaic narrative that Jehovah directed
Noah to take with him into the ark “of fowls after their kind, and of
cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his
kind, two of every sort.” Now, according to the ordinary acceptation
of the legend, this passage expresses a simple absurdity, even on the
hypothesis of a partial Deluge. If, however, we read the narrative in
a Phallic sense, and by the ark understand the sacred _Argha_ of Hindu
mythology, the _Yoni_ of Parvati, which, like the moon in Zoroastrian
teaching, carries in _itself_ the “germs of all things,” we see the
full propriety of what otherwise is incomprehensible. The Elohim
“created” the heavens and the earth, and on its destruction the seeds
of all things were preserved in the ark to again cover the earth. Taken
in this sense, we see the reason of the curious analogy which exists in
various points between the Hebrew legends of the Creation and of the
Deluge, this analogy being one of the grounds on which the hypothesis
of the Great Father as the central idea of all mythologies has been
based. Thus, the primeval ship, the navigation of which is ascribed
to the mythological being, is not the ark of Noah or Osiris, or the
vessel of the Phœnician Kabiri. It was the moon, the ship of the sun,
in which his seed is supposed to be hidden until it bursts forth in
new life and power. The fact that the moon was, in early mythologies,
a male deity, almost necessitates, however, that there should have
been another origin for the sacred vessel of Osiris. This we have in
the Hastoreth-_karnaim_, the cow-goddess, whose horns represent the
lunar ark, and who, without doubt, was a more primitive deity than the
moon-goddess herself.[174] The most primitive type of all, however,
is that of the _Argha_ or _Yoni_ of the Indian Iswara, which from its
name was supposed to have been turned into a dove.[175] Thus, in Noah
and the ark, as in Osiris and the moon, we see simply the combination
of the male and female elements as they are still represented in the
Hindu lingam. The introduction of the dove into the myth is a curious
confirmation of this view. For this bird, which, as “the emblem of love
and fruitfulness,” was “consecrated to Venus, under all her different
names, at Babylon, in Syria, Palestine, and Greece;[176] which was the
national banner-sign of the Assyrians, as of the earlier Sythic empire,
whose founders, according to Hindu tradition, took the name of _Jonim_
or _Yoniyas_, and which attended on Janus, a diluvian ‘god of opening
and shutting;’ was simply a type of ‘the Yoni’ or Jonah, or Navicular
feminine principle,” which was said to have assumed the form of a ship
and a dove.[177]

In bringing this essay to a close, some mention should be made of
what may be called the _modern_ religions, Brahminism, Buddhism, and
Christianity, seeing that these still exist as the faiths of great
peoples. As to the first of these, it may be thought that its real
character cannot be ascertained from the present condition of Hindu
belief. It is said that the religion of the _Vedas_ is very different
from that of the _Puranas_, which have taken their place. It should
be remembered, however, that these books profess to reproduce old
doctrine, the word “Purana” itself meaning _old_, and that Puranas
are referred to in one of the Upanishads, while the _Tantras_, which
contain the principles of the _Sacti Puja_, and which are as yet
almost unknown to Europeans, are considered by the Brahmins to be
more ancient than the Puranas themselves.[178] The origin of the
ideas contained in these books is a difficult question. The germs
of both Vishnu-worship and Siva-worship appear to be found in the
Vedas,[179] and the worship of the linga is undoubtedly referred to
the Mahabharata.[180] It is more probable, as thought by Mr. Fergusson
and other late writers, that they are only indirectly sprung from
the primitive Hinduism. The similarity between Siva-ism and the
Santal-worship of the Great Mountain pointed out by Dr. Hunter is
very remarkable, and this analogy is strengthened by intermixture
in both cases with river-worship.[181] There is no doubt that the
Great Mountain is simply a name for the Phallic emblem, which is the
chief form under which Siva is represented in the numerous temples at
Benares dedicated to his honour. Considering the position occupied by
the serpent as a symbol of life and indirectly of the male power, we
should expect to find its worship connected to some extent with that
of Siva. Mr. Fergusson, however, declares that it is not so, and,
although this statement requires some qualification,[182] yet it is
certain that the serpent is also intimately associated with Vishnu.
In explanation of this fact, Mr. Fergusson remarks: “The Vaishnava
religion is derived from a group of faiths in which the serpent always
played an important part. The eldest branch of the family was the Naga
worship, pure and simple; out of that arose Buddhism, ... and on its
decline two faiths—at first very similar to one another—rose from its
ashes, the Jaina and the Vaishnava.” The serpent is almost always found
in Jaina temples as an object of worship, while it appears everywhere
in Vaishnava tradition.[183] But elsewhere Mr. Fergusson tells us
that, although Buddhism owed its establishment to Naga tribes, yet its
supporters repressed the worship of the serpent, elevating tree-worship
in its place.[184] It is difficult to understand how the Vaishnavas,
who are worshippers of the female power,[185] and who hate the
_lingam_, can yet so highly esteem the serpent which has indirectly,
at least, reference to the male principle. Perhaps, however, we may
find an explanation in Mr. Fergusson’s own remarks as to the character
and development of Buddhism. According to him, Buddhism was chiefly
influential among Naga tribes, and “was little more than a revival of
the coarser superstitions of the aboriginal races,[186] purified and
refined by the application of Aryan morality, and elevated by doctrines
borrowed from the intellectual superiority of the Aryan races.[187]”
As to its development, the sculptures on the Sanchi Tope show that at
about the beginning of the Christian era, although the _dagoba_, the
_chakra_ or wheel, the _tree_, and other emblems, were worshipped, the
serpent hardly appears; while at Amravati, three centuries later, this
animal had become equal to Buddha himself.[188] Moreover, there can be
no doubt that the _lingam_ was an emblem of Buddha, as was also the
_lotus_, which represents the same idea—the conjunction of the male
and female elements, although in a higher sense perfect wisdom.[189]
The association of the same ideas is seen in the noted prayer _Om mani
padmi hum_ (“Oh, the Jewel in the Lotus”), which refers to the birth
of Padmipani from the sacred lotus flower,[190] but also, there can be
little doubt, to the phallus and the yoni. We may suppose, therefore,
that whatever the moral doctrine taught by Gautama, he used the old
Phallic symbols, although it may be with a peculiar application. If the
opinion expressed by Mr. Fergusson as to the introduction into India
of the Vaishnava faith by an early immigrant race be correct, it must
have existed in the time of Gautama, and indeed the Ion-ism of Western
Asia is traditionally connected with India itself at a very early
date,[191] although probably the early centre of Ion-ism, the worship
of the Dove or Yoni, was, as Bryant supposes, in Chaldea.[192] We see
no trace, however, in Buddhism proper of _Sacti Puja_, and I would
suggest that, instead of abolishing either, Gautama substituted for the
separate symbols of the linga and the yoni, the association of the two
in the _lingam_. If this were so, we can well understand how, on the
fall of Buddhism, Siva-worship[193] may have retained this compound
symbol, with many of the old Naga ideas, although with little actual
reference to the serpent itself, other than as a symbol of life and
power; while, on the other hand, the Vaishnavas may have reverted to
the primitive worship of the female principle, retaining a remembrance
of the early serpent associations in the use of the _Sesha_, the
heavenly naga with seven heads[194] figured on the Amravati sculptures.
It is possible, however, that there may be another ground of opposition
between the followers of Vishnu and Siva. Mr. Fergusson points out
that, notwithstanding the peculiarly Phallic symbolism of the latter
deity, “the worship of Siva is too severe, too stern for the softer
emotions of love, and all his temples are quite free from any allusion
to it.” It is far different with the Vaishnavas, whose temples
“are full of sexual feelings generally expressed in the grossest
terms.”[195] Siva, in fact, is specially a god of intellect, typified
by his being three-eyed, and although terrible as the resistless
destroyer, yet the recreator of all things in perfect wisdom;[196]
while Vishnu has relation rather to the lower type of wisdom which was
distinctive of the Assyrians, among ancient peoples, and which has so
curious a connection with the female principle. Hence the _shell_ or
_conch_ is peculiar to Vishnu, while the _linga_ belongs to Siva.[197]
Gautama combined the simpler feminine phase of religion with the more
masculine intellectual type, symbolising this union by the lingam and
other analogous emblems. The followers of Siva have, however, adopted
the combined symbol in the place of the linga alone, thus approaching
more nearly than the Vaishnavas to the idea of the founder of modern
Buddhism. Gautama himself, nevertheless, was most probably only the
restorer of an older faith, according to which perfect wisdom was to be
found only in the typical combination of the male and female principles
in nature. The real explanation of the connection between Buddhism
and Siva-ism has perhaps, however, yet to be given[198]. The worship
of the serpent-god is not unknown, even at the present day, in the
very stronghold of Siva-ism,[199] reminding us of the early spread of
Buddhism among Naga tribes. In the “crescent surmounted by a pinnacle
similar to the pointed end of a spear,” which decorates the roofs of
the Tibetan monasteries,[200] we undoubtedly have a reproduction of the
so-called trident of Siva. This instrument is given also to _Sani_, the
Hindu Saturn, who is represented as encompassed by two serpents,[201]
and hence the pillar symbol of this primeval deity we may well suppose
to be reproduced in the linga of the Indian Phallic god.[202] But the
pillar symbol is not wanting to Buddhism itself. The columns said to
have been raised by Asoka have a reference to the pillars of Seth. The
remains of an ancient pillar supposed to be a Buddhist _Lat_ is still
to be seen at Benares,[203] the word _Lat_ being merely another form
of the name _Tet_, _Set_, or _Sat_, given to the Phœnician Semitic or
deity. In the central pillar of the so-called Druidical circles we have
doubtless a reference to the same primitive superstition, the idea
intended to be represented being the combination of the male and female

In conclusion, it must be said that Christianity itself is certainly
not without the Phallic element. Reference may be made to the important
place taken in Christian dogma by the “fall,” which has been shown to
have had a purely Phallic foundation, and to the peculiar position
assigned to Mary, as the Virgin Mother of God.[205] It must not be
forgotten, however, that, whatever may have been the primitive idea
on which these dogmas are based, it had received a totally fresh
aspect at the hands of those from whom the founders of Christianity
received it.[206] As to symbols, too, these were employed by the
Christians in the later signification given to them by the followers
of the ancient faiths. Thus the fish and the cross symbols originally
embodied the idea of _generation_, but afterwards that of _life_, and
it was in this sense that they were applied to Christ.[207] The most
evidently Phallic representation used by the Christian Iconographers is
undoubtedly the _aureole_, or _vesica piscis_, which is elliptical in
form and contained the figure of Christ—Mary herself, however, being
sometimes represented in the aureole, glorified as Jesus Christ.[208]
Probably the _nimbus_ also is of Phallic significance, for, although
generally circular, it was sometimes triangular, square, &c.[209] The
name of Jehovah is inscribed within a radiating triangle.[210] Didron
gives an illustration of St. John the Evangelist with a circular
nimbus, surmounted by two sun-flowers, emblems of the sun, an idea
which, says Didron, “reminds us of the Egyptian figures, from the
heads of which two lotus-flowers rise in a similar manner.”[211] There
is also a curious representation in the same work of the _Divine
hand_ with the thumb and two forefingers outstretched, resting on
a cruciform nimbus.[212] In Egypt the hand having the fingers thus
placed was a symbol of Isis, and, from its accompaniments, there can
be no doubt, notwithstanding the mesmeric character ascribed to it by
Ennemoser,[213] that it had an essentially Phallic origin, although
it may ultimately have been used to signify life. There can be no
question, however, that, whatever may be thought as to the nature
of its symbols,[214] the basis of Christianity is more emotional
than that of any other religion now existing. Reference has been
made to the presence in Hebraic theology of an idea of God—that of a
Father—antagonistic to the Phœnician notion of the “Lord of Heaven.”
We have the same idea repeated in Christ’s teaching, its distinctive
characteristic being the recognition of God as the Universal Father—the
Great Parent of mankind, who had sent His son into the world that
he might reconcile it unto Himself. It is in the character of a
forgiving parent that Christians are taught to view God, when He is
not lost sight of in the presence of Christ, of whom the church is
declared to be the bride. In Christianity we see the final expression
of the primitive worship of the father as the head of the family—the
generator—as the result of an instinctive reasoning process leading
up from the particular to the universal—with which, however, the
dogma of the “fall” and its consequences—deduced so strangely from
a Phallic legend—have been incorporated.[215] As a religion of the
emotions, the position of Christianity is perfectly unassailable.
As a system of rational faith, however, it is otherwise; and the
tendency of the present age is just the reverse of that which took
place among the Hebrews—the substitution of a Heavenly King for a
Divine Father. In fact, modern science is doing its best to effect for
primitive fetishism, or demon-worship, what Christianity has done for
Phallic-worship—generalise the powers of nature and make of God a Great
Unknowable Being, who, like the Elohim, of the Mosaic Cosmogony, in
some mysterious manner, causes all things to appear at a word. This
cannot, however, be the real religion of the future. If God is to be
worshipped at all, the Heavenly King and the Divine Father must be
combined as a single term, and He must be viewed, not as the unknowable
cause of being, but as the great source of all being, who may be known
in nature—the expression of his life and energy, and in man who was
“created” in his own image.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Note._—M. François Lenormant, in the seventh edition of his “Histoire
ancienne de l’Orient” (T. i., p. 91), after considering the traditions
of a great deluge preserved by various peoples, concludes that “the
biblical deluge, far from being a myth, has been a real and historical
fact, which has struck the ancestors of at least the Aryan or
Indo-European, the Semitic or Syro-Arab, and the Hamitic or Kouschite
races—that is, the three great civilised races of the ancient world,
before the ancestors of these races were separated, and in the Asiatic
country which they inhabited together.” The authority of M. Lenormant
is great, but preference must be given on this point to the arguments
of M. Dupuis, who, in his “Origine de tous des Cultes” (T. iii., p.
176, _et seq._), has almost certainly proved the astronomical character
of what he terms the “fiction sacerdotale,” which, however, may have
originated with the common ancestors of the three races referred to by
M. Lenormant.


[4] “Origin of Pagan Idolatry,” vol. iii., p. 117.

[5] “Histoire abrégée de differens Cultes,” vol. ii.

[6] “A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus.”

[7] “Memoirs of the Anthropological Society of London,” vol. i., p. 320.

[8] Dulaure, _op. cit._, vol. ii., 219.

[9] “Rural Bengal,” p. 203.

[10] Ennemoser’s “History of Magic” (Bohn), vol. ii., p. 33.

[11] Dr. Fernand Castelain, in his work, “La Circoncision est-elle
utile?” comes to the conclusion (p. 14) that it is both hygienic and
moral. The value of circumcision may be admitted, without ascribing its
origin to a sanitary motive.

[12] Herodotus, “Euterpe,” sec. 104.

[13] De Coulanges, “La Cité antique,” 6th ed., pp. 36, 100.

[14] M. Elie Reclus, in a remarkable paper presented in 1879 to the
Anthropological Institute, affirms (p. 16, _et seq._) that circumcision
is derived from the custom of emasculation practised on captives,
which is equivalent to death, and that it is a substitute for human
sacrifices. He admits, however (p. 32), that, among the Semites at
least, circumcision was a “consecration of the sexual organ to a
Phallic divinity.”

[15] “Ante-Nicene Christian Library,” vol. iv. (Clement of Alexandria),
p. 27.

[16] The Hebrew word _bara_ translated “created” can be used in a
different sense.

[17] “Jashar,” by Dr. Donaldson, 2nd ed. (1860), p. 45, _et seq._

[18] Smith’s “Dictionary of the Bible”—Art., “Apple-tree.” Inman’s
“Ancient Faiths,” vol. i., p. 274.

[19] “Zambesi and its Tribes,” p. 188.

[20] “Missionary Travels in South Africa,” p. 495.

[21] “Journey to Ashango Land,” p. 295.

[22] “River Zaire,” p. 181.

[23] “Travels through Central Africa,” p. 394, 407.

[24] “Travels,” vol. ii., p. 391; and vol. iii., p. 665.

[25] Journal of R. Geog. Society, vol. xvi., p. 240.

[26] “The Malayan Archipelago,” vol. i., p. 158.

[27] Wilkinson, vol. iv., p. 260, 313.

[28] Tennent’s “Ceylon,” vol. ii., p. 520.

[29] M. Littré sees in the two trees of Genesis only the soma, which
was introduced into the Brahmanical Sacrifices, which, with the
Iranians, was transformed into _two_ mystic trees.—_La Philosophie
Positive_, 3rd vol., p. 341, _et seq._

[30] _Op. cit._, vol. ii., p. 448.

[31] Gen., xxxv. 4.

[32] Ezek., vi. 13.

[33] “Celtic Researches,” p. 446.

[34] “Aryan Mythology,” vol. i., p. 274_n._

[35] Ditto, vol. ii., p. 19.

[36] See Grimm’s “Teutonic Mythology,” p. 571, _et seq._

[37] Cox, _op. cit._, vol. i., p. 274_n._

[38] According to Gen., ii. 23, the name isha (woman) was bestowed by
Adam on the first woman, because she was taken out of man (_Ish_)—terms
which were used in reference to man and wife. This is shewn by the
subsequent reference to marriage (v. 24). See Smith’s “Dictionary of
the Bible”—Art. “Marriage.”

[39] “Ancient Egyptians,” vol. iv., p. 313.

[40] Ditto, p. 313.

[41] Dulaure’s “Histoire abregée de differens Cultes,” vol. ii., p. 169.

[42] See Guigniaut’s “Religions de l’Antiquité” (1825), vol. i., p. 149.

[43] See on this, Inman, _op. cit._, vol. ii., p. 462.

[44] The Hindu legend expressly mentions the fig. See _infrà_.

[45] _Op. cit._, vol. i., p. 108, 527. In the East the pomegranate
symbolises the full womb.

[46] See Bunsen’s “Egypt,” vol. iv., p. 225, 255, 288.

[47] “History of Herodotus,” vol. i., p. 600.

[48] Wilkinson’s “Ancient Egyptians,” vol. iv., p. 412, 413; and King’s
“Gnostics,” p. 31. See also Bryant’s “Ancient Mythology,” vol. iv., p.
201. The last-named work contains most curious information as to the
extension of serpent-worship.

[49] See “The Serpent Symbol in America,” by E.G. Squier,
M.A.—“American Archæological Researches,” No. 1 (1851), p. 161, _et
seq._; “Palenqué,” by M. de Waldeck and M. Brasseur de Bourbourg
(1866), p. 48.

[50] Lajard—“Mémoires de l’Institut Royal de France” (Acad. des
Inscriptions et Belles Lettres), T. xiv., p. 89.

[51] Wood’s “Natural History of Man,” vol. i., p. 185; also Squier’s
“Serpent Symbol,” p. 222, _et seq._

[52] I have a strong suspicion that in the primitive shape of the
Hebrew legend, as in that of the Mexicans, both the father and mother
of the human race had the serpent form.

[53] _Op. cit._, p. 46. Rudra, the Vedic form of Siva, the “King of
Serpents,” is called the father of the Maruts (winds). See _infrà_ as
to identification of Siva with Saturn.

[54] The idea of _circularity_ appears to be associated with both these
names. See Bryant, _op. cit._, vol. iii., p. 164, and vol. ii., p. 191,
as to derivation of Typhon.

[55] Lajard. _Op. cit._, p. 182, “Culte de Mithra,” p. 45; also
“Mémoire sur l’Hercule Assyrien de M. Raoul-Rochette.”

[56] Mr. J. H. Rivett-Carnac suggests that the snake is a “symbol of
the phallus.” He adds, “The sun, the invigorating power of nature,
has ever, I believe, been considered to represent the same idea,
not necessarily obscene, but the great mystery of nature, the life
transmitted from generation to generation, or, as Professor Stephens
puts it, ‘life out of death, life everlasting.’”—_Snake Symbol in
India_ (reprinted from. “Journal of As. Soc. of Bengal”), 1879, p. 13.

[57] Wilkinson, _op. cit._, vol. v., p. 65

[58] Ditto, p. 243.

[59] Ditto, p. 239.

[60] See Ennemoser’s “History of Magic” (Bohn), vol. i., p. 253.

[61] Ditto, p. 243.

[62] Guigniaut’s “Le Dieu Serapis,” p. 19.

[63] _Op. cit._, p. 12.

[64] Faber’s “Pagan Idolatry,” vol. 1, p. 424_n._

[65] Prof. Max Müller derives cherubim from [Greek: gryphes], griffins,
the guardians of the Soma in the Veda and Avesta. “Chips from a German
Workshop,” 2nd ed., i. 157.

[66] Ez., c. 28, v. 14-16.

[67] See Colenzo’s “Pentateuch” (1865), p. 341.

[68] See Faber’s “Pagan Idolatry,” vol. iii., p. 606.

[69] C. i., v. 10.

[70] C. x., v. 14.

[71] _Op. cit._, vol. i., p. 422.

[72] Ez., c. i., v. 7.

[73] _Op. cit._, vol. i., p. 404.

[74] “Chinese,” p. 376.

[75] See Faber, _op. cit._, vol. i., pp. 404-410.

[76] Lajard, “Le culte de Mithra,” pp. 56, 59.

[77] Lajard, _op. cit._, p. 50; _infrà_, p. 39.

[78] This superstition is found among peoples—the Kafirs, for
instance—who do not appear to possess any trace of planetary worship.

[79] This is evident from the facts mentioned above, notwithstanding
the use of this animal as a symbol of _wisdom_.

[80] In connection with this subject, see St. Jerome, in his letter on
“Virginity” to Eustachia.

[81] The turning of Aaron’s rod into a serpent had, no doubt, a
reference to the idea of _wisdom_ associated with that animal.

[82] “The Fallen Angels” (1857).

[83] Moor’s “Hindu Pantheon,” p. 101.

[84] The Bo-tree. See _suprà_, p. 18.

[85] Probably the _fruit_ is really intended. Higgins refers to “a
peculiar property which the fig has of producing its fruit from its
flowers, contained within its own bosom, and concealed from profane
eyes,” as a reason why the leaves of the fig-tree were selected by Adam
and Eve to cover their nakedness. _Anacalypsis_, vol. ii., p. 253.

[86] Hardwicke’s “Christ and other Masters,” vol. i., p. 305-6.

[87] Mr. Hardwicke states that the sacred Indian fig is endowed by the
Brahmans and Buddhists with mysterious significance, as the tree of
knowledge or intelligence.

[88] See Beausobre’s curious and learned work, “Histoire de Manichée et
du Manichéisme,” Liv. vii., ch. iii.; Gibbon’s “Fall and Decline of the
Roman Empire,” vol. ii., p. 186.

[89] As already suggested, these may be the _ish_ and _isha_ of Genesis.

[90] Lajard, “Le culte de Mithra,” p. 52.

[91] Ditto, p. 60.

[92] This is shown by Mr. Gerald Massey in his remarkable work, “The
Natural Genesis,” and particularly the chapter entitled “Typology of
the Fall in Heaven and on Earth.”

[93] Lajard, _op. cit._, p. 49.

[94] “Ormazd et Ahriman,” by James Darmesteter, pp. 154, 159.

[95] It may be objected that the “Boundehesch,” which gives the above
details, is comparatively a modern work. It must be noted, however,
that the destruction of purity in the world by the serpent _Dahâka_ is
mentioned in the 9th Yaçna, v. 27, which is much earlier, and that Dr.
Haug supposes the “Boundehesch” to have had a Zend original (“Essays on
the Sacred Language, &c., of the Parsees,” p. 29). Windischmann, also,
says that “a closer study of this remarkable and venerable book, and
comparing it with the original text preserved to us, will induce us to
form a much more favourable opinion of its antiquity and contents.”
(“Zoroastrische Studien,” p. 282). The opinion of this latter writer is
that, notwithstanding the striking resemblance between the narrative
of the fall of man contained in the “Boundehesch” and that in Genesis,
the former is original, although inferior in simplicity to the Hebrew
tradition (_idem_, p. 212). The narratives are so much alike, however,
that they can hardly have had independent origins, and the very
simplicity of the latter is a very strong argument against its priority.

[96] See _suprà_, p. 24.

[97] Memoirs of the Anthropological Society of London, vol. ii.,
p. 264, _et seq._, and compare with the Gnostic personification of
“Truth,” for which see King’s “Gnostics and their Remains,” p. 39.

[98] Lajard, _op. cit._, p. 96.

[99] Jehovah threatens _death_, but the Serpent impliedly promises
_life_, the former having relation to the _individual_, the latter to
the _race_.

[100] Lajard, _op. cit._, p. 60, _note_.

[101] Some of the Essenes, who appear to have had connection with
Mithraism, taught this doctrine.

[102] It is well known to Biblical writers that this legend formed no
part of the earlier Mosaic narrative.

[103] Faber’s “Pagan Idolatry.”

[104] See Dulaure, _op. cit._, vol. i., as to the primeval Hermes.

[105] Smith’s “Dictionary of Mythology”—Art., “Hermes.”

[106] Gen., xxxi. 45-53.

[107] _Linga_ means a “sign” or “token.” The truth of the statement in
the text would seem to follow, moreover, from the fact that the figure
is sacred only after it has undergone certain ceremonies at the hands
of a priest.

[108] Or tamarisk tree.

[109] Gen., xxi. 33.

[110] Dr. Inman suggests that ashera is the female counterpart of
_Asher_. See under these names in “Ancient Faiths,” vol. i.

[111] Even if the statement of this event be an interpolation, the
argument in the text is not affected. The statement is not inconsistent
with the form of worship traditionally assigned to Abraham.

[112] Bætylia were “stones having souls.”

[113] Rawlinson’s “Five Ancient Monarchies,” vol. i., p. 617; vol. ii.,
p. 247.

[114] Dr. Alexander Wilder says: “The later Hebrews affected the
Persian religion, in which the sun was the emblem of worship. Abraham
evidently had a like preference, being a reputed iconoclast. The lunar
religionists employed images in their worship.”

[115] Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews,” ch. viii. 2.

[116] The Serpent-symbol of the Exodus is called “Seraph.”

[117] “The History of Israel” (Eng. Trans.), vol i., p. 532.

[118] See “Sanchoniatho” (Cory, _op. cit._)

[119] Much discussion has taken place as to the nature of these
animals. For an explanation of the epithet “fiery,” see Sanchoniatho,
“_Of the Serpent_” (Cory, _op. cit._)

[120] Numbers, xxi. 8, 9.

[121] Wilkinson’s “Ancient Egyptians,” vol. iv., p. 435.

[122] Ditto, p. 434.

[123] Egypt, vol. iii., p. 426.

[124] “God in History,” vol. i., pp. 233-4.

[125] Exodus, xxxiv. 20.

[126] Numbers, xix. 1-10.

[127] As to the god Seth, see Pleyte’s “La Religion des Pré-Israelites”

[128] Fürst renders the name Mo-cese, “Son of Isis,” _Inman’s_ “Ancient
Faiths,” vol. ii., p. 338.

[129] According to Pleyte, the Cabalists thought that the soul of Seth
had passed into Moses (_op. cit._, p. 124). It is strange that the
name of the Egyptian princess who is said to have brought up Moses is
given by Josephus as _Thermuthis_, this being the name of the sacred
asp of Egypt (see “_suprà_”). We appear also to have a reference to
the serpent in the name Levi, one of the sons of Jacob, from whom the
descent of Moses was traced.

[130] “Fragments.” Book xxxiv. (See also in connection with this
subject, “King’s Gnostics,” p. 91.)

[131] Bunsen’s “God in History,” vol. i., p. 234.

[132] Ewald notices the fact. (See “_op. cit._, vol. i., 454.”)

[133] “Egypt,” vol. iii., p. 433.

[134] _Op. cit._, vol. iv., p. 434.

[135] “Le Livre des Morts,” par Paul Pierret, p. 259.

[136] Bunsen’s “Egypt,” vol. iv., p. 208.

[137] Ditto, vol. iii., p. 427.

[138] _Op. cit._, p. 319.

[139] _Op. cit._, vol. vi., p. 328.

[140] As to the use of this symbol generally, see Pleyte, _op. cit._,
pp. 109, 157.

[141] On these points, see M. Raoul-Rochette’s Memoir on the Assyrian
and Phœnician Hercules, in his “Mémoires de l’Institut National de
France. Académie des Inscriptions,” tom. xvii., p. 47, _et seq._

[142] _Op. cit._, vol. i., p. 60; vol. ii., p. 201.

[143] Pleyte, _op. cit._, p. 172.

[144] Bunsen’s “Egypt,” vol. iv., p. 249.

[145] Ditto, p. 217.

[146] See ditto, pp. 226-9.

[147] The ram appears to have been the first month of the Akkadian
calendar. “Law of Kosmic Order,” by Mr. Rob. Brown, jun., 1882, p. 36.

[148] Rawlinson’s “History of Herodotus,” vol. i., p. 620.

[149] Rawlinson’s “History of Herodotus,” vol. ii., p. 291.

[150] _Op. cit._, p. 89, _et seq._

[151] Wilkinson, _op. cit._, vol. iv., pp. 342, 260.

[152] Bunsen’s “Egypt,” vol. i., p. 423.

[153] _Op. cit._, vol. i., p. 388.

[154] In the temple of Hercules at Tyre were two symbolical _steles_,
one a pillar and the other an obelisk. See Raoul-Rochette, _op. cit._,
p. 51, where is a reference to a curious tradition, preserved by
Josephus, connecting Moses with the erection of columns at Heliopolis.

[155] Wilkinson, _op. cit._, vol. iv., p. 299.

[156] Rawlinson’s “Herodotus,” vol. i., p. 608.

[157] Ditto, p. 620.

[158] _Mau_, the name of the Egyptian God of Truth, certainly signifies
“light,” but probably only in a figurative sense.

[159] The importance ascribed to the mechanical arts may perhaps lead
us to look for the formal origin of this character in the “wedge,”
which was the chief mechanical power the ancients possessed.

[160] Faber, _op. cit._, vol, ii., p. 20.

[161] Bryant, in his “Ancient Mythology,” has brought together a great
mass of materials bearing on this question. The facts, however, are
capable of quite a different interpretation from that which he has
given to them.

[162] “Origin and Destiny of Man,” p. 339.

[163] Dr. Inman points out that, in the ancient languages, the term for
“garden” is used as a metaphor for woman. “Ancient Faiths,” i. 52; ii.

[164] Guigniaut’s “Religions de l’Antiquité,” vol. i., p. 146.

[165] _Op. cit._, i. 315.

[166] “Egypt,” vol. iv., p. 257.

[167] “Egypt,” vol. iv., p. 209.

[168] Mr. Gerald Massey appears to regard the crime of Lamekh as the
practice of abortion, men not desiring to have children. _Op. cit._,
ii. 119.

[169] Gen., iv. 23, 24.

[170] Bunsen’s “Egypt,” vol. iv., pp. 285-6.

[171] Bunsen’s “Egypt,” vol. iii., p. 413.

[172] Bunsen’s “Egypt,” vol. iii., p. 437.

[173] Ditto, vol. iv., p. 286.

[174] If space permitted, we might trace to their source the
developments which the primeval goddess of fecundity underwent. To the
ideas embodied in her may be referred nearly all the feminine deities
of antiquity.

[175] Faber, _op. cit._, vol. ii., p. 246.

[176] Kenrick’s “Phœnicia,” p. 307.

[177] See Faber, _op. cit._; also Note at the end of this chapter.

[178] On this question, see the “Memoirs of the Anthropological Society
of London,” vol. ii., p. 265; also “Sketch of the Religious Sects of
the Hindus,” in the “Asiatic Researches,” vol. xvii. (1832), p. 216,
_et seq._

[179] This question is fully considered by Dr. Muir in his Sanscrit
Texts, part iv., p. 54, _et seq._

[180] Ditto, pp. 161, 343.

[181] “Rural Bengal,” p. 187, _et seq._, 152. This association of the
mountain and the river is found also in the Persian Khordah-Avesta. See
(5) Abun-yasht, v. 1-3.

[182] See “Tree and Serpent Worship,” p. 70; also Sherring’s “Benares,”
pp. 75-89. Here the serpent is evidently symbolical of _life_. In the
Mahabharata, Mahadeva is described as having “a girdle of serpents,
ear-rings of serpents, a sacrificial cord of serpents, and an outer
garment of serpent’s skin.” Dr. Muir, _op. cit._, part iv., p. 160.

[183] _Op. cit._, p. 70.

[184] Ditto, p. 62.

[185] Mr. Sellon, in the “Memoirs of the Anthropological Society of
London,” vol. ii., p. 273.

[186] It should not be forgotten that the Vedic religion was not that
of all the Aryan tribes of India (see Muir, _op. cit._, part ii.,
pp. 377, 368, 383), and it is by no means improbable that some of
them retained a more primitive faith—“Buddhism” or “Rudraism”—_i.e._,

[187] _Op. cit._, p. 62. To come to a proper conclusion on this
important point, it is necessary to consider the real position occupied
by Gautama in relation to Brahmanism. Burnoux says that he differed
from his adversaries only in the definition he gives of salvation (_du
salut_). “Introduction à l’Histoire du Buddhisme Indien,” p. 155.

[188] Fergusson, _op. cit._, pp. 67, 222, 223.

[189] See Guigniaut, _op. cit._, vol. i., pp. 293, 160 _n._

[190] Schlagenweit, “Buddhism in Tibet,” p. 120.

[191] Higgins’ “Anacalypsis,” vol. i., p. 332, _et seq._ See also p.
342, _et seq._

[192] _Op. cit._, vol. i., p. 1, _et seq._, 25.

[193] Dr. Hunter points out a connection between Siva-ism and Buddhism.
_Op. cit._, p. 194.

[194] Mr. Fergusson, _op. cit._, p. 70. The serpent is connected with
Vishnuism as a symbol of _wisdom_ rather than of life.

[195] _Op. cit._, p. 71.

[196] Hence Siva, as _Sambhu_, is the patron deity of the Brahman
order, and the most intellectual Hindus of the present day are to be
found among his followers. See Wilson, _op. cit._, p. 171. Sherring’s
“Sacred City of the Hindus,” p. 146, _et seq._

[197] The _bull_ of Siva has reference to strength and speed rather
than to fecundity, while the Rig-veda refers to Vishnu as the former
of the _womb_, although elsewhere he is described as the _fecundator_.
Muir, _op. cit._, part iv., pp. 244, 292, 83, 64.

[198] This question has been considered by Burnoux, _op. cit._, p. 547,
_et seq._ But see also Hodgson’s “Buddhism in Nepaul,” and paper in the
“Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society,” vol. xviii. (1860), p. 395, _et

[199] See Herring, _op. cit._, p. 89.

[200] Schlagenweit, _op. cit._, p. 181.

[201] Maurice’s “Indian Antiquities,” vol. vii., p. 566.

[202] As to the identity of Siva and Saturn, see Guigniaut, _op. cit._,
vol. i., p. 167 _n._

[203] Sherring, _op cit._, p. 305, _et seq._

[204] It should be noted that many of the so-called “circles” are in
reality _elliptical_.

[205] See, on this subject, Higgins’ “Anacalypsis,” vol. i., p. 315,
_et seq._

[206] We must look to the esoteric teaching of Mithraism for the
origin and explanation of much of primitive Christian dogma. The
doctrine of “regeneration,” which is a spiritual application of the
idea of physical generation, was known to all the religious systems
of antiquity, and probably the Phallic emblems generally used were
regarded by the initiated as having a hidden meaning. I may, perhaps,
be allowed to refer to the second volume of my “Evolution of Morality”
for information on the subject of the “re-birth.”

[207] The serpent elevated in the wilderness is said to be typical of
Christ. A Gnostic sect taught that Christ was Seth.

[208] Didron’s “Christian Iconography” (Bohn), pp. 272-286.

[209] It is a curious fact that Buddhist saints are often represented
in the _Vesica_ and with the _nimbus_. See Hodgson’s figures (Plates v.
and vi.) in the “Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society,” vol. xvi.

[210] Didron, pp. 27, 231.

[211] Ditto, p. 29.

[212] Ditto, p. 215.

[213] “History of Magic” (Bohn), vol. i., p. 253, _et seq._

[214] As to these, see King’s “Gnostics and their Remains,” p. 72.

[215] In the philosophy of St. Paul, the death of Christ was rendered
necessary by the fall. By the first man, Adam, came death, and in
Christ the second Adam are all made alive. Mankind reverts to the
position occupied by Adam before he sinned; and as in the New Jerusalem
there is no marriage, so in the earthly paradise of the Hebrew legend
man was at first intended to live alone.



The subject to be discussed in the present chapter is one of the
most fascinating that can engage the attention of anthropologists.
It is remarkable, however, that although so much has been written in
relation to it, we are still almost in the dark as to the origin of the
superstition in question. The student of mythology knows that certain
ideas were associated by the peoples of antiquity with the serpent,
and that it was the favourite symbol of particular deities; but why
that animal rather than any other was chosen for the purpose is yet
uncertain. The facts being well known, however, I shall dwell on them
only so far as may be necessary to support the conclusions based upon

We are indebted to Mr. Fergusson for bringing together a large array
of facts, showing the extraordinary range which serpent-worship had
among ancient nations. It is true that he supposes it not to have been
adopted by any nation belonging to the Semitic or Aryan stock; the
serpent-worship of India and Greece originating, as he believes, with
older peoples. However this may be, the superstition was certainly not
unknown to either Aryans or Semites. The brazen serpent of the Hebrew
exodus was destroyed in the reign of Hezekiah, owing to the idolatry to
which it gave rise. In the mythology of the Chaldeans, from whom the
Assyrians seem to have sprung, the serpent occupied a most important
position. Among the allied Phœnicians and Egyptians it was one of the
most divine symbols. In Greece, Hercules was said “to have been the
progenitor of the whole race of serpent-worshipping Scythians, through
his intercourse with the serpent Echidna;” and when Minerva planted
the sacred olive on the Acropolis of Athens, she placed it under the
care of the serpent-deity Erechthonios. As to the Latins, Mr. Fergusson
remarks that “Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ are full of passages referring to
the important part which the serpent performed in all the traditions
of classic mythology.” The superstitions connected with that animal
are supposed not to have existed among the ancient Gauls and Germans;
but this is extremely improbable, considering that it appears to
have been known to the British Celts and to the Gothic inhabitants
of Scandinavia. In Eastern Europe there is no doubt that the serpent
superstition was anciently prevalent, and Mr. Fergusson refers to
evidence proving that “both trees and serpents were worshipped by the
peasantry in Esthonia and Finland within the limits of the present
century, and even with all the characteristics possessed by the old
faith when we first became acquainted with it.”

The serpent entered largely into the mythology of the ancient Persians,
as it does into that of the Hindus. In India it is associated with
both Siva-ism and Vishnuism, although its actual worship perhaps
belonged rather to the aboriginal tribes among whom Buddhism is
thought by recent writers to have originated. The modern home of the
superstition, however, is Western Africa, where the serpent is not
merely considered sacred, but is actually worshipped as divine. On the
other side of the Indian Ocean traces of the same superstition are met
with among the peoples of the Indian islands and of Polynesia, and also
in China. The evidences of serpent-worship on the American Continent
have long engaged the attention of archæologists, who have found it to
be almost universal, under one form or another, among the aboriginal
tribes. That animal was sculptured on the temples of Mexico and Peru,
and its form is said by Mr. Squier to be of frequent occurrence among
the mounds of Wisconsin. The most remarkable of the symbolic earthworks
of North America is the great serpent mound of Adam’s county, Ohio,
the convolutions of which extend to a length of 1,000 feet. At the
Edinburgh meeting of the British Association, in 1871, Mr. Phené
gave an account of his discovery in Argyllshire of a similar mound
several hundred feet long, and about fifteen feet high by thirty feet
broad, tapering gradually to the tail, the head being surmounted by a
circular cairn, which he supposes to answer to the solar disc above the
head of the Egyptian uræus, the position of which, with head erect,
answers to the form of the Oban serpent-mound. This discovery is of
great interest, and its author is probably justified in assuming that
the mound was connected with serpent-worship. It may be remarked, in
evidence of the existence of such structures in other parts of the old
world, that the hero of one of the Yaçnas of the Zend Avesta is made
to rest on what he thinks is a bank, but which he finds to be a great
green snake, doubtless a serpent-mound. Another ancient reference
to these structures is made by Iphicrates, who, according to Bryant,
“related that in Mauritania there were dragons of such extent, that
grass grew upon their backs.”

Let us now see what ideas have been associated with the serpent by
various peoples. Mr. Fergusson mentions the curious fact that “the
chief characteristic of the serpent throughout the East in all ages
seems to have been their power over the wind and rain.” According to
Colonel Meadows Taylor, in the Indian Deccan, at the present day,
offerings are made to the village divinities (of whom the nâg, or
snake, is always one) at spring time and harvest for rain or fine
weather, and also in time of cholera or other diseases or pestilence.
So, among the Chinese, the dragon is regarded as the giver of rain, and
in time of drought offerings are made to it. In the spring and fall
of the year it is one of the objects worshipped, by command of the
Emperor, by certain mandarins. The Chinese notion of the serpent or
dragon dwelling above the clouds in spring to give rain reminds us of
the Aryan myth of Vritra, or Ahi, the throttling snake, or dragon with
three heads, who hides away the rain-clouds, but who is slain by Indra,
the beneficent giver of rain. “Whenever,” says Mr. Cox, “the rain is
shut up in the clouds, the dark power is in revolt against Dyaus and
Indra. In the rumblings of the thunder, while the drought still sucks
out the life of the earth, are heard the mutterings of their hateful
enemy. In the lightning flashes which precede the outburst of the
pent-up waters are seen the irresistible spears of the god, who is
attacking the throttling serpent in his den; and in the serene heaven
which shone out when the deluging clouds are passed away, men beheld
the face of the mighty deity who was their friend.” Mr. Cox elsewhere
remarks that Vritra, “the enemy of Indra, reappears in all the dragons,
snakes, or worms slain by all the heroes of Aryan mythology.”

Whether the great serpent be the giver or the storer of rain, the
Aryans, like all Eastern peoples, suppose it to have power over the
clouds. This, however, is only one of its attributes. It is thought
to have power over the wind as well as the rain, and this also is
confirmed by reference to Aryan mythology. Mr. Cox has well shown that
Hermes is “the air in motion, or wind, varying in degree from the
soft breath of a summer breeze to the rage of the growing hurricane.”
In these more violent moods he is represented by the Maruts, the
“crushers” or “grinders,” who are also the children of Rudra, the
“Father of the Winds,” and himself the “wielder of the thunderbolt” and
the “mightiest of the mighty.” Rudra is also “the robber, the cheat,
the deceiver, the master thief,” and in this character both he and
Hermes agree with the cloud-thief Vritra.

Notwithstanding the fact that in the Mahabharata, Rudra, like Hercules,
is described as the “destroyer of serpents,” he is in the same poem
identified with Mahadeva, and hence he is evidently the same as Siva,
who has the title of King of Serpents. The primitive character of
Siva, as the Vedic Rudra, is now almost lost, but the identity of the
two deities may be supported by reference to an incident related in
the myth of Hermes and Apollo. It is said that, in return for the
sweet-sounding lyre, Apollo gave to Hermes the magical “three-leafed
rod of wealth and happiness.” Sometimes this rod was entwined with
serpents instead of fillets, and there is no difficulty in recognising
in it the well-known emblem of Siva, which also is sometimes encircled
by serpents. It can be shown that the Hindu deity is a form of
Saturn, one of the Semitic names for whom was Set or Seth. It was the
serpent-symbol of this God[216] which was said to have been elevated
in the wilderness for the healing of the people bitten by serpents,
and curiously enough Rudra (Siva) was called not only the _bountiful_,
the _strong_, but the _healer_. The later Egyptian title of the god
Set was Typhon, of whom Mr. Breal says that “Typhon is the monster who
obscures the heaven, a sort of Greek Văritra.” The myth of Indra and
Vritra is reproduced in Latin mythology as that of Hercules and Căcus.
Căcus also is analogous to Typhon, and as the former is supposed to
have taken his name from, or given it to, a certain wind which had the
power of clothing itself with clouds, so the latter bore the same name
as a very destructive wind which was much dreaded by the Phœnicians
and Egyptians. Moreover, the name Typhon was given by the Egyptians to
anything tempestuous, and hence to the ocean; and in Hebrew the allied
word “Suph” denotes a “whirlwind.” There is another point of contact,
however, between Siva and the god Set or Typhon, who was known to
the Egyptians also as the serpent Aphôphis, or the giant. An ancient
writer states that one of the names of El, or Chronos, was Typhon,
and the serpent and pillar symbols of the Phœnician deity confirm
the identification between Set or Saturn, and the Siva of the Hindu

One of the leading ideas connected with the serpent was, as we have
seen, its power over the rain, but another equally influential was
its connection with health. Mr. Fergusson remarks that “when we first
meet with serpent-worship, either in the wilderness of Sinai, the
groves of Epidaurus, or in the Sarmatian huts, the serpent is always
the Agatho-dæmon, the bringer of health and good fortune.”[217] The
Agatho-dæmon, which in ancient Egypt presided over the affairs of men
as the guardian spirit of their houses,[218] was the Asp of Rânno, the
snake-headed goddess who is represented as nursing the young princes.
That the idea of health was intimately associated with the serpent is
shown by the crown formed of the asp, or sacred _Thermuthis_, having
been given particularly to Isis, a goddess of life and healing. It was
also the symbol of other deities with the like attributes. Thus on
a papyri it encircles the figure of Harpocrates, who was identified
with the serpent god Æsculapius; while not only was a great serpent
kept alive in the temple of Serapis, but on later monuments this
deity is represented by a great serpent, with or without a human
head. Sanchoniathon says of that animal—“It is long-lived, and has
the quality not only of putting off its old age and assuming a second
youth, but of receiving at the same time an augmentation of its size
and strength.” The serpent, therefore, was a fit emblem of Rudra,
“the healer;” and the gift which Apollo presented to Mercury could
be entwined by no more appropriate object than the animal which was
supposed to be able to give the health without which even Mercury’s
magic-staff could not confer wealth and happiness. It is remarkable
that a Moslem saint of Upper Egypt is still thought to appear under the
form of a serpent, and to cure the diseases which afflict the pilgrims
to his shrine.

Ramahavaly, one of the four national idols of the Malagasy, bears a
curious analogy to the serpent gods of wisdom and healing. One of his
titles is _Rabiby_, signifying “animal,” and denoting “the god of
beasts;” and his emissaries are the serpents which abide in Madagascar,
and are looked upon with superstitious fear by the inhabitants.
Ramahavaly is, moreover, regarded as the Physician of Imerina, and
is thought to preserve from, or expel, epidemic diseases. Mr. Ellis
says that he is sometimes described “as god, sacred, powerful, and
almighty; who kills and makes alive; who heals the sick, and prevents
diseases and pestilence; who can cause thunder and lightning to strike
their victims or prevent their fatality; can cause rain in abundance
when wanted, or can withhold it so as to ruin the crops of rice. He is
also celebrated for his knowledge of the past and future, and for his
capacity of discovering whatever is hidden or concealed.”

It is probable that the association with the serpent of the idea of
healing arose from the still earlier recognition of that animal as a
symbol of life. We have already referred to the representations in
the Egyptian temples of the young princes being nursed by a woman
having the head of an asp. It is interesting to find that in India at
the present day serpent-worship is expressly resorted to on behalf
of children, and “the first hair of a child which is shaved off when
it has passed teething and other infantine ailments is frequently
dedicated to a serpent.” This animal in both cases is treated as the
guardian of life, and therefore the crown given to Egyptian sovereigns
and divinities was very properly formed of the asp of Rânno. Another
snake-headed Egyptian goddess has the name _Hih_ or _Hoh_, and Sir
Gardner Wilkinson mentions that the Coptic word _Hof_ signifies the
viper, analogous to the _hye_ of the Arabs. The Arabic word _hiya_,
indeed, means both life and a serpent. This connection is supported by
the association, already pointed out, between the serpent and the gods
of the life-giving wind, and by the fact that these also possess the
pillar symbol of life. This belongs as well to Siva the destroyer, the
preserver, and the creator, as to Set or Saturn, to Thoth-Hermes, and
El or Chronos. Both the serpent and the pillar were assigned also to
many of the personifications of the sun, the deified source of earthly
life. Probably the well-known figure representing the serpent with
its tail in its mouth was intended to symbolise endless life rather
than eternity, an idea which does not appear to have been associated
with that animal by the Egyptians. Agreeably with this view, Horapollo
affirms that Kneph-Agatho-dæmon denoted immortality.

One of the best-known attributes of the serpent is wisdom. The Hebrew
tradition of the fall speaks of that animal as the most subtle of
the beasts of the field; and the founder of Christianity tells his
disciples to be as wise as serpents, though as harmless as doves. Among
the ancients the serpent was consulted as an oracle, and Maury points
out that it played an important part in the life of several celebrated
Greek diviners in connection with the knowledge of the language of
birds, which many of the ancients believed to be the souls of the dead.
The serpent was associated with Apollo and Athené, the Grecian deities
of wisdom, as well as with the Egyptian Kneph,[219] the ram-headed god
from whom the Gnostics are sometimes said to have derived their idea
of the _Sophia_. This personification of divine wisdom is undoubtedly
represented on Gnostic gems under the form of the serpent. In Hindu
mythology there is the same association between the animal and the
idea of wisdom. Siva, as Sambhu, is the patron of the Brahmanic order,
and, as shown by his being three-eyed, is essentially a god possessing
high intellectual attributes. Vishnu also is a god of wisdom, but of
the somewhat lower type which is distinctive of the worshippers of
truth under its feminine aspect. The connection between wisdom and the
serpent is best seen, however, in the Hindu legends as to the Nagas.
Mr. Fergusson remarks that “the Naga appears everywhere in Vaishnava
tradition. There is no more common representation of Vishnu[220]
than as reposing on the Sesha, the celestial seven-headed snake,
contemplating the creation of the world. It was by his assistance that
the ocean was churned and Amrita produced, He everywhere spreads his
protecting hood over the god or his avatars; and in all instances it
is the seven-headed heavenly Naga, not the earthly cobra of Siva.”
The former animal, no doubt, is especially symbolical of wisdom, and
it is probably owing to his intellectual attributes, rather than to
his destructive or creative power, that Siva is sometimes styled the
King of Serpents. The Upanishads refer to the science of serpents, by
which is meant the wisdom of the mysterious Nagas, who, according to
Buddhistic legend, reside under Mount Méru, and in the waters of the
terrestrial world. One of the sacred books of the Tibetan Buddhists is
fabled to have been received from the Nagas, who, says Schlagentweit,
are “fabulous creatures of the nature of serpents, who occupy a place
among the beings superior to man, and are regarded as protectors of the
law of the Buddha. To these spiritual beings Sâkyamuni is said to have
taught a more philosophical religious system than to men, who were not
sufficiently advanced to understand it at the time of his appearance.”
So far as this has any historical basis, it can mean only that
Gautama taught his most secret doctrines to the Nagas, or aboriginal
serpent-worshippers, who were the first to accept his teaching, and
whose religious ideas had probably much in common with those of Gautama
himself. Mr. Fergusson refers to the fact that a king of the Naga race
was reigning in Magadha when Buddha was born in 623 B.C.; and he adds
that the dissemination of his religion “is wholly due to the accident
of its having been adopted by the low caste kings of Magadha, and to
its having been elevated by one of them to the rank of the religion of
the state.” It would appear, indeed, that according to a Hindu legend,
Gautama himself had a serpent lineage.

The “serpent-science” of Hindu legend has a curious parallel in
Phœnician mythology. The invention of the Phœnician written character
is referred to the god Taaut or Thoth, whose snake-symbol bears his
name Têt, and is used to represent the ninth letter of the alphabet
(_teta_), which in the oldest Phœnician character has the form of the
snake curling itself up. Philo thus explains the form of the letter
_theta_, and that the god from whom it took its name was designated
by the Egyptians as a snake curled up, with its head turned inwards.
Philo adds that the letters of the Phœnician alphabet “are those
formed by means of serpents; afterwards, when they built temples, they
assigned them a place in the adytums, instituted various ceremonies and
solemnities in honour of them, and adored them as the supreme gods,
the rulers of the universe.” Bunsen thinks the sense of this passage
is “that the forms and movements of serpents were employed in the
invention of the oldest letters, which represent the gods.” He says,
however, that “the alphabet does not tally at all with the Phœnician
names,” and the explanation given by Philo, although curious as showing
the ideas anciently associated with the serpent, is reliable only so
far as it confirms the connection between that animal and the inventor
of the written characters. According to another tradition, the ancient
theology of Egypt was said to have been given by the Agatho-dæmon, who
was the benefactor of all mankind.

The account given of the serpent by Sanchoniathon, as cited by
Eusebius, is worth repetition as showing the peculiar notions anciently
current in connection with that animal. The Phœnician writer says:
“Taautus first attributed something of the divine nature to the serpent
and the serpent tribe, in which he was followed by the Phœnicians and
Egyptians; for this animal was esteemed by him to be the most inspired
of all the reptiles, and of a fiery nature, inasmuch as it exhibits
an incredible celerity, moving by its spirit without either hands or
feet, or any of those external members by which other animals effect
their motion, and in its progress it assumes a variety of forms,
moving in a spiral course, and darting forwards with whatever degree
of swiftness it pleases. It is, moreover, long-lived, and has the
quality not only of putting off its old age, and assuming a second
youth, but of receiving at the same time an augmentation of its size
and strength, and when it has fulfilled the appointed measure of its
existence it consumes itself, as Taautus has laid down in the sacred
books; upon which account this animal is introduced in the sacred rites
and mysteries.” In India at the present day some Brahmans always keep
the skin of a nâg, or snake, in one of their sacred books, probably
from some idea connected with the casting by the serpent of its skin
referred to in the preceding passage.

We have now seen that the serpent was anciently the symbol of wisdom,
life, and healing, and also that it was thought to have power over
the wind and rain. This last attribute is easily understood when the
importance of rain in the east is considered, and the ideas associated
by the ancients with the air and moisture are remembered. The Hebrew
tradition which speaks of the creative spirit moving over the face of
the waters embodies those ideas, according to which the water contains
the elements of life and the wind is the vivifying principle. The
attribute of wisdom cannot so easily be connected with that of life.
The power of healing is certainly an evidence of the possession of
wisdom,[221] but as it is only one phase of it, probably the latter
attribute was antecedent to the former, or at least it may have had
an independent origin. What this origin was may perhaps be explained
by reference to certain other ideas very generally entertained in
relation to the serpent. Among various African tribes this animal
is viewed with great veneration, under the belief that it is often
the re-embodiment of a deceased ancestor. This notion appears to be
prevalent also among the Hindus, who, like the Kafirs, will never
kill a serpent, although it is usually regarded with more dislike
than veneration. Mr. Squier remarks that “many of the North American
tribes entertain a superstitious regard for serpents, and particularly
for the rattlesnake.[222] Though always avoiding they never destroy
it, ‘lest,’ says Barham, ‘the spirit of the reptile should excite its
kindred to revenge.’” Mr. Squier adds that, “according to Adair, this
fear was not unmingled with veneration. Charlevoix states that the
Natchez had the figure of a rattlesnake, carved from wood, placed among
other objects upon the altar of their temple, to which they paid great
honour. Heckwelder relates that the Linni Linape called the rattlesnake
‘grandfather,’ and would on no account allow it to be destroyed. Hemy
states that the Indians around Lake Huron had a similar superstition,
and also designated the rattlesnake as their ‘grandfather.’ He also
mentions instances in which offerings of tobacco were made to it, and
its parental care solicited for the party performing the sacrifice.
Carver also mentions an instance of similar regard on the part of
a Menominee Indian, who carried a rattlesnake constantly with him,
‘treating it as a deity, and calling it his great father.’”

The most curious notion, however, is that of the Mexicans, who always
represented the first woman, whose name was translated by the old
Spanish writers “the woman of our flesh,” as accompanied by a great
male serpent. The serpent is the sun-god _Tonacatle-coatl_, the
principal deity of the Mexican Pantheon, and his female companion,
the goddess mother of mankind, has the title _cihua-cohuatl_, which
signifies “woman of the serpent.” With the Peruvians, also, the
principal deity was the serpent-sun, whose wife, the female serpent,
gave birth to a boy and a girl from whom all mankind were said to be
descended. It is remarkable that the serpent origin thus ascribed to
the human race is not confined to the aborigines of America. According
to Herodotus, the primeval mother of the Scyths was a monster, half
woman and half serpent. This reminds us of the serpent parentage
ascribed to various personages of classical antiquity.[223] Among the
Semites, Zohák, the traditional Arabian conqueror of Central Asia,
is represented as having two snakes growing at his back; and Mr.
Bruce mentions that the line of the Abyssinian kings begins with “The
Serpent,” _Arwe_, who is said to have reigned at Axum for 400 years,
showing that the royal descent was traced from this animal. From the
position assigned to the dragon in China, it probably was formerly
thought to stand in a similar relation to the Emperor, of whom it is
the special symbol.

The facts cited prove that the serpent superstition is intimately
connected with ancestor-worship, probably originating among uncultured
tribes, who, struck by the noiseless movement and the activity of the
serpent, combined with its peculiar gaze and power of casting its skin,
viewed it as a spirit embodiment. As such, it would be supposed to have
the superior wisdom and power ascribed to the denizens of the invisible
world, and from this would originate also the ascription to it of
the power over life and health, and over the moisture on which those
benefits are dependent. The serpent-spirit may, however, have made
its appearance for a good or a bad purpose, to confer a benefit or to
inflict punishment for the misdeeds of the living. The notion of there
being good and evil serpent-spirits would thus naturally arise. Among
ancestor-worshipping peoples, however, the serpent would be viewed as a
good being who busied himself about the interests of the tribe to which
he had once belonged. When the simple idea of a spirit-ancestor was
transformed into that of the Great Spirit, the father of the race, the
attributes of the serpent would be enlarged. The common ancestor would
be relegated to the heavens, and that which was necessary to the life
and well-being of his people would be supposed to be under his care.
Hence the great serpent was thought to have power over the rain and the
hurricane, with the latter of which he was probably often identified.

When the serpent was thus transferred to the atmosphere, and the
superstition lost its simple character as a phase of ancestor-worship,
its most natural association would be with the solar cult. It is
not surprising, therefore, to find that _Quetzalcoatl_, the divine
benefactor of the Mexicans, was an incarnation of the serpent-sun
_Tonacatlcoatl_, who thus became the great father, as the female
serpent _Cihua-coatl_ was the great mother, of the human race. It is
an interesting inquiry how far the sun-gods of other peoples partook
of this double character. Bunsen has a remarkable passage bearing on
the serpent nature of those deities. He says that “Esmun-Esculapius
is strictly a Phœnician god. He was especially worshipped at Berytus.
At Carthage he was called the highest god, together with Astarté and
Hercules. At Babylon, according to the above genealogy of Bel, Apollo
corresponded to him. As the snake-god he must actually be Hermes,
in Phœnician Têt, Taautes.... In an earlier stage of cosmogonical
consciousness he is Agatho-dæmon-Sôs, whom Lepsius has shown to be the
third god in the first order of the Egyptian Pantheon.” The serpent
deity who was thus known under so many forms was none other than the
sun-god Set or Saturn, who has already been identified with Siva and
other deities having the attributes usually ascribed to the serpent.
Bunsen asserts that Set is common to all the Semites and Chaldeans,
as he was to the Egyptians, but that “his supposed identity with
Saturn is not so old as his identity with the sun-god, as Sirius
(Sôthis), because the sun has the greatest power when it is in Sirius.”
Elsewhere the same writer says that “the Oriento-Egyptian conception of
Typhon-Set was that of a drying-up parching heat. Set is considered as
the sun-god when he has reached his zenith, the god of the summer sun.”

The solar[224] character of the serpent-god appears therefore to
be placed beyond doubt. But what was the relation in which he was
supposed to stand to the human race? Bunsen, to whose labours I am so
much indebted, remarks that Seth “appears gradually among the Semites
as the background of their religious consciousness,” and not merely
was he “the primitive god of northern Egypt and Palestine,” but his
genealogy as “the Seth of Genesis, the father of Enoch (the man),
must be considered as originally running parallel with that derived
from the Elohim, Adam’s father.” Seth is thus the divine ancestor of
the Semites, a character in which, but in relation to other races,
the solar deities generally agree with him. The kings and priests of
ancient peoples claimed this divine origin, and “children of the sun”
was the title of the members of the sacred caste. When the actual
ancestral character of the deity is hidden he is regarded as “the
father of his people” and their divine benefactor. He is the introducer
of agriculture, the inventor of arts and sciences, and the civiliser of
mankind; “characteristics,” says Faber, “which every nation ascribed to
the first of their gods or the oldest of their kings.” This was true
of Thoth, Saturn, and other analogous deities, and the Adam of Hebrew
tradition was the father of agriculture, as his representative Noah was
the introducer of the vine.

Elsewhere I have endeavoured to show that the name of the great
ancestor of Hebrew tradition has been preserved by certain peoples who
may thus be classed together as Adamites. He appears, indeed, to be
the recognised legendary ancestor of the members of that division of
mankind whose primeval home we can scarcely doubt was in Central Asia,
answering in this respect to the Seth of the Semites. According to the
tradition, however, as handed down to us by the Hebrews, Seth himself
was the son of Adam. From this, it would seem to follow that, as Seth
was the serpent sun-god (the Agatho-dæmon), the legendary ancestor
of the Adamites must himself have partaken of the same character.
Strange as this idea may appear it is not without warrant. We have
already seen that the Mexicans ascribed that nature to _Tonacatlcoatl_
and his wife, the mother of mankind, and that a similar notion was
entertained by various peoples of the old world. The Chaldean god _Héa_
who, as the “teacher of mankind,” and the “lord of understanding,”
answers exactly to the divine benefactor of the race before referred
to, was “figured by the great serpent which occupies so conspicuous
a place among the symbols of the gods on the black stones recording
Babylonian benefactions.” The name of the god is connected with the
Arabic _Hiya_, which signifies a serpent as well as life, and Sir
Henry Rawlinson says that “there are very strong grounds indeed for
connecting him with the serpent of Scripture, and with the Paradisaical
traditions of the tree of knowledge and the tree of life.” The god Héa
was, therefore, the serpent revealer of knowledge, answering in some
respects to the serpent of the fall. He was, however, the Agatho-dæmon,
and in the earlier form of the legend doubtless answered to the great
human ancestor himself. It is curious that, according to Rabbinical
tradition, Cain was the son, not of Adam, but of the serpent-spirit
Asmodeus, who is the same as the Persian Ahriman, “the great serpent
with two feet.”[225] In the name of Eve, the mother of mankind, we
have, indeed, direct reference to the supposed serpent-nature of our
first parents. Clemens Alexandrinus long since remarked that the
name _Hevia_, aspirated, signifies a female serpent. The name Eve is
evidently connected with the same Arabic root as that which we have
seen to mean both “life” and “a serpent,” and the Persians appear to
have called the constellation _Serpens_ “the little Ava,” that is
_Eve_, a title which is still given to it by the Arabs. But if Eve was
the serpent mother, Adam must have been the serpent father. In the old
Akkad tongue _Ad_ signifies “a father,” and the mythical personages
with whom Adam is most nearly allied, such as Seth or Saturn, Taaut
or Thoth, and others, were serpent deities. Such would seem to have
been the case also with the deities whose names show a close formal
resemblance to that of Adam. Thus the original name of Hercules was
_Sandan_ or _Adanos_, and Hercules, like the allied god Mars, was
undoubtedly often closely associated with the serpent. This notion
is confirmed by the identification of Adonis and Osiris as _Azar_ or
_Adar_, according to Bunsen the later Egyptian _Sar-Apis_, who is
known to have been represented as a serpent. The _Abaddon_ of St. John,
the old dragon Satan, was probably intended for the same serpent-god.
It is interesting to compare the ideas entertained as to the great
dragon in the Book of Revelation and those held by the Chinese in
relation to probably the same being. Mr. Doolittle says: “The dragon
holds a remarkable position in the history and government of China.
It also enjoys an ominous eminence in the affections of the Chinese
people. It is frequently represented as the greatest benefactor of
mankind. It is the dragon which causes the clouds to form and the rain
to fall. The Chinese delight in praising its wonderful properties and
powers. It is the venerated symbol of good.”

This was probably the view originally taken by the Egyptians, who were
all followers of the serpent cult. In Egypt two kinds of serpents were
the objects of peculiar veneration, and of an almost universal worship.
All the gods were more or less symbolised or crowned by serpents,
while all the goddesses were hieroglyphically represented by serpents.
The animal used for these purposes was the cobra de copello, or
uræus, which, according to Mr. W. R. Cooper,[226] “from its dangerous
beauty, and in consequence of ancient tradition asserting it to have
been spontaneously produced by the rays of the sun,” was universally
assumed as the “emblem of divine and sacro-regal sovereignty.” The
uræus appears to be always represented on the Egyptian monuments, in
the feminine form, and it was used as a symbol of fecundity, agreeably
to which idea the generative power of the solar beams is typified by
pendent uræi. The uræus, moreover, symbolised life and the power of
healing, and it was the emblem of immortality. Mr. Cooper remarks that
in the Egyptian religious system the principle of good was typically
represented by a serpent, while under the form of an entirely different
serpent was figured a monstrous _personal_ evil being who maintained
a constant spiritual warfare with the spirit of good. The serpent
embodiment of the principle of evil was called Hof, Rehof, or Aphôphis,
and it was a species of coluber of large size. It is described as “the
destroyer, the enemy of the gods, and the devourer of the souls of
men;” and it was thought to dwell in the depths of “that mysterious
ocean upon which the Baris, or boat of the sun, was navigated by the
gods through the hours of day and night, in the celestial regions.”
The idea of an antagonism between the giant serpent Aphôphis and the
good serpent, as the “soul of the world,” constantly occurs in the
Ritual of the Dead, and the aid of every divinity in turn is sought
by the deceased in his conflict with the evil being. It is remarkable
that the “soul of the world,” Chnuphis, or Bait, is represented as a
coluber, and that it appears to be identified with Aphôphis in one
chapter of the Ritual. Mr. Cooper states that, although a large coluber
which is figured as being worshipped resembles Aphôphis, it cannot
be him, as there is no example of direct worship paid to Aphôphis,
“unless, indeed, we identify it with Sutekh, as the Shepherd Kings,
the last but one of whom was named Aphôphis, appear to have done.”
The serpent Aphôphis is sometimes represented with the crown of Lower
Egypt upon his head, and at one period he was identified with Set or
Seth, the national deity of the Hyksos or Shepherd tribes. All traces
of the worship of Set was obliterated from the Egyptian monuments, but
one representation has been preserved in which Set is figured with
Horus, united as one divinity, between the triple serpent of good.
This shows that Set, and probably, therefore, his serpent emblem, was
originally not considered evil. Lower Egypt was largely populated by
Semitic peoples, whose national deity was their legendary ancestor
Seth, and the detestation with which the Egyptians regarded Set and
the serpent Aphôphis identified with him was probably the result of
national enmity. Mr. Cooper points out that the serpent of good is
always represented by the Egyptians as upright and the serpent of evil
as crawling, this being generally the only distinction made. The god
Chnuphis, the “soul of the world,” is usually figured as a Serpent
(Coluber) walking upon two human legs, and curiously enough this is
the form taken by the evil principle of Persian mythology, the great
serpent walking on two feet. A similar inversion of ideas occurs in the
religious mythology of the Naga peoples of the East. Near the ruined
temples of Cambodia, as on the Buddhist Topes of India, are sculptured
gigantic serpents with voluminous folds supported by human figures, as
the gigantic Aphôphis is represented on the Egyptian monuments. There
must have been some special reason why the great serpent was regarded
so differently by various peoples, and this was probably the result of
race antagonism.

It is remarkable that one of the most ancient people of whom we have
any written record—the primitive inhabitants of Chaldea—not only bore
the name of the traditional father of mankind, but were especially
identified with the serpent. The predecessors of the _Akkad_, in
Chaldea, were the Medes, or _Mad_, of Berosus, and the distinctive
title of at least the later Medes was _Már_, which in Persian means “a
snake.” This Sir Henry Rawlinson supposes to have given rise “not only
to the Persian traditions of Zohák and his snakes, but to the Armenian
traditions, also, of the dragon dynasty of Media.” The Medes of Berosus
belonged almost certainly to the old Scythic stock of Central Asia,
to whom the Chaldeans, the Hebrews, and the Aryans have alike been
affiliated by different writers. When, therefore, Mr. Fergusson says
that serpent-worship characterised the old Turanian Chaldean Empire, he
would seem to trace it to the old Asiatic centre. Probably to the same
source must be traced the serpent tradition of the Abyssinian kings.
Bryant long since asserted that that superstition originated with the
Amonians or Hamites, who also would seem to have been derived from the
Scythic stock. The facts brought together in the preceding pages far
from exhaust the subject, but they appear to justify the following

First, The serpent has been viewed with awe or veneration from primeval
times, and almost universally as a re-embodiment of a deceased human
being, and as such there were ascribed to it the attributes of life
and wisdom, and the power of healing.

Secondly, The idea of a simple spirit re-incarnation of a deceased
ancestor gave rise to the notion that mankind originally sprang from a
serpent, and ultimately to a legend embodying that idea.

Thirdly, This legend was connected with nature—or rather
sun-worship—and the sun was, therefore, looked upon as the divine
serpent-father of man and nature.

Fourthly, Serpent-worship, as a developed religious system, originated
in Central Asia, the home of the great Scythic stock, from whom all the
civilised races of the historical period sprang.

Fifthly, These peoples are the Adamites, and their mythical ancestor
was at one time regarded as the Great Serpent, his descendants being in
a special sense serpent-worshippers.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Note._—At page 88, the Malagasy idol Ramahavaly is spoken of as still
existing. As a fact, however, in 1869 all the Malagasy national idols
were, by order of the Government, publicly burned. Many other idols and
charms were at the same time destroyed by their owners.—_Madagascar and
its People_, by the Rev. James Sibree, Jun., p. 481.


[216] Theodoret did not distinguish between an Egyptian sect called
_Sethians_ and the Gnostic _Ophites_ or serpent-worshippers.

[217] The heavenly serpent, _Danh_, of the Dahomans, is said by Captain
Burton to be the god of wealth. “His earthly representative is esteemed
the supreme bliss and general good.” The Slavonian Morlacchi still
consider that the sight of a snake crossing the road is an omen of good
fortune.—Wilkinson’s “Dalmatia and Montenegro,” vol. ii., p. 160.

[218] Mr. Lane states that each quarter of Cairo is supposed to have
its guardian genius, or Agatho-dæmon, in the form of a serpent.—Vol.
i., p. 289.

[219] Warburton supposes that the worship of the One God Kneph was
changed into that of the dragon or winged-serpent Knuphis.

[220] Vishnu is often identified with Kneph.

[221] According to Gaelic and German folklore, the white snake when
boiled has the faculty of conferring medicinal wisdom. The white snake
is venerated as the king of serpents by the Scottish Highlanders as
by certain Arab tribes, and it would appear also by the Singhalese of

[222] The snake is one of the Indian tribal _totems_.

[223] Pausanias, iv., 14, mentions Aristodama, the mother of Aratus,
as having had intercourse with a serpent, and the mother of the great
Scipio was said to have conceived by a serpent. Such was the case also
with Olympias, the mother of Alexander, who was taught by her that he
was a god, and who in return deified her.—_Le Mythe de la Femme et du
Serpent_, par Ch. Schoebel, 1876, p. 84.

[224] Mr. Robert Brown, jun., says that the serpent has six principal
points of connection with Dionysos:—1, As a symbol of, and connected
with, wisdom; 2, As a solar emblem; 3, As a symbol of time and
eternity; 4, As an emblem of the earth-life; 5, As connected with
fertilising moisture; 6, As a Phallic emblem.—_The Great Dionysiak
Myth_, 1878, ii., 66.

[225] Mr. Cooper states (_loc. cit._, p. 390) that prominent in the
Egyptian religious system was the belief in a monstrous _personal_ evil
being typically represented as a serpent, and that the principle of
good was there likewise represented by an entirely different serpent, a
constant spiritual warfare being maintained between the two.

[226] “The Serpent Myths of Ancient Egypt,” published in the
“Transactions of the Victoria Institute,” vol. vi., 1872.



Much has from time to time been written as to the distinction between
the Adamites and the pre-Adamites, although little has been done to
identify the members of the two great divisions into which the human
race has been thus divided. Those who accept the Deluge of Noah as a
historical fact, stated however in terms too wide, may say generally
that all the descendants of this patriarch are, as such, Adamites,
while the pre-Adamites comprise the peoples of the primitive area
inhabited by the dark races, supposed by some writers to be referred
to in the Hebrew Scriptures under the term _ish_, “the sons of man,”
as distinguished from the sons of Adam. Little value, however, can
be attached to such a general statement as this. Supposing Noah to
have been a second common father of the race, we are still ignorant
as to what peoples are to be classed among his descendants. No doubt
the _Toldoth Beni Noah_ of Genesis throws considerable light on the
question. According to that genealogical table the whole earth was
divided after the Flood among the families of the three sons of
Noah—Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It is not necessary here to identify
the peoples described as the descendants of these patriarchs. It
will suffice to say that Professor Rawlinson, who differs only in
one or two particulars from other recent authorities, writes as to
the distribution of those peoples: “Whereas the Japhetic and Hamitic
races are geographically contiguous, the former spread over all the
northern regions known to the genealogist—Greece, Thrace, Scythia,
most of Asia Minor, Armenia, and Media; the latter over all the south
and the south-west, North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, Southern and
Southeastern Arabia, and Babylonia—so the Semitic races are located in
what may be called one region, that region being the central one, lying
intermediate between the Japhetic region upon the north and the Hamitic
one upon the south.”

Supposing the Toldoth to give an exact statement of the descendants
of the three sons of Noah, it by no means follows that the peoples
there referred to are alone entitled to be classed as Adamites, and
I propose, therefore, to see whether the latter can be identified by
other evidence. Almost intuitively we turn, in the first place, to that
region known as Chaldea, which has furnished in our own days material
so important for the reconstruction of the annals of civilised man in
the earliest historical period. Professor Rawlinson, indeed, at the
Liverpool meeting of the British Association, held in 1870, sought to
establish that the Garden of Eden of the Hebrew writers was none other
than Babylonia; a hypothesis which certainly agrees with Sir Henry
Rawlinson’s statement that _Héa_, the third member of the primitive
Chaldean triad, may be connected with the Paradisaical traditions of
the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. This would point to Chaldea
as the original home of the Adamites, unless, indeed, the traditions
were derived from a still earlier centre, and it will be well to
ascertain whether there is anything in the history of Babylon which
directly connects its people with the Adamic stock.

If we were to accept with Chwolson the great antiquity of “The Book of
Nabathæan Agriculture,” there would be no difficulty in assigning such
a position to the Chaldeans. For this book not only expressly declares
that they were the descendants of Adam, but in it Adam appears as the
founder of agriculture in Babylon, acting the part of a civiliser, and
hence named “The Father of Mankind.” This agrees well with the Old
Testament account of Adam as the first cultivator of the ground. M.
Renan, however, would seem to have conclusively established the late
date of the so-called Nabathæan work, showing that it contains legends
as to Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham, “analogous to those which
they have in the apocryphal writings of the Jews and Christians, and
subsequently in those of the Mussulmans,” Adam being known to all the
Moslem East as “The Father of Mankind.”

We must seek, therefore, for some more reliable record of early
Chaldean history; and this we have in the stone monuments on which its
annals were engraved. Sir Henry Rawlinson, on their authority, says
of the Chaldeans of Babylonia that they were “a branch of the great
Hamitic race of _Akkad_, which inhabited Babylonia from the earliest
times. With this race originated the art of writing, the building of
cities, the institution of a religious system, the cultivation of all
science, and of astronomy in particular.” The race affinity of the
_Akkad_ is hardly yet settled, but some information as to this point
may be gained from the name by which they were designated. This appears
to be composed of two words _Ak(k)-Ad_, the latter of which may be
identified with the first syllable of the name Adam. As to the word
_Ak_, some light may probably be thrown on its meaning by reference
to the Celtic languages. Baldwin, without seeing its full bearing,
makes the remark that the Dravidians of Southern India use _Mag_, as
the Berbers and Gaels use _Mac_ (_Mach_), the former word denoting
“kindred” in all the Teutonic languages. Now, it could be proved by
many examples that the letter _M_, which is found at the beginning of
certain words in various eastern languages, is often simply a prefix.
This is especially the case in Hebrew and Arabic, and, therefore,
probably in the more ancient languages with which they are allied.
Such, at least, must be the case with the initial letter of the word
_mach_, “son,” as in Erse the _m_ is wanting, and in Welsh the related
word, having the sense of “a root or stem, lineage,” is also simply
_ach_. Thus _Ak(k)-Ad_ may well be “the sons or lineage of Ad;” as
Mac-Adam in Gaelic is a son of Adam. That the first syllable of this
word had the signification here assigned to it is rendered extremely
probable by another circumstance. It is well known that the Welsh
equivalent for _Mach_, in the sense of “son,” is _Ap_; and so also we
find that in Hebrew “son” is rendered by _ben_ (the Assyrian _ban_),
while in Arabic it is _ibn_. In these words the _b_ is the root sound,
and if son was expressed by _ak_ in the old Akkad tongue, this would
bear the same relation to the Semitic languages as the Welsh does to
the Gaelic and Erse—_ak_ and _ben_ in the one class answering to _ach_
and _ap_ in the other. Nor is this view without positive support. The
Hebrew has a word _ach_ which expresses, not only the sense of “a
brother,” but also “one of the same kindred.” In Assyrian _uk_ means a
“people,” while _ak_ signifies a “Creator;” these words being connected
with the old Egyptian _uk_, and also _ahi_, “to live.”

Nor is the idea that the Chaldean _Akkad_ were literally “the sons
of _Ad_” without historical basis. According to Berosus, the first
Babylonian dynasty was Median. What people were referred to by this
name is still undecided. Professor Rawlinson supposes that they were
really the same as the so-called Aryan Medes of later history, while
Sir Henry Rawlinson, although treating the later Medes as Aryan,
yet considers those of Bersosus to have belonged to a Turanian, or
at least a mixed Scytho-Aryan, stock. Elsewhere Professor Rawlinson
seems inclined to identify the Chaldean _Akkad_ with these Medes, as
a Turanian people who at a very early date conquered the Babylonian
Kushites and mixed with them. This is, in fact, the conclusion which
appears to be required by other considerations. The name by which
the Medes are first noticed on the Assyrian monuments is _Mad_. But
if the initial labial is removed, this name is reduced to the more
simple form _Ad_; and, supposing the explanation given of the primitive
name of the Chaldean race to be correct, the _(M)ad_ who preceded
them would really be the parent stock from which the _Akkad_, or
Chaldeans, were derived. Confirmation of this notion may be supplied
from another source. Among their Aryan neighbours the later Medes had
the distinctive title of _Már_. This, Sir Henry Rawlinson supposes to
have given rise, “not only to the Persian traditions of Zohák and his
snakes, but to the Armenian traditions also of the dragon dynasty of
Media, the word _Már_ having in Persian the signification of a snake.”
But this must have been through ignorance of the real origin of the
title, which had reference rather to the lion than to the snake. The
Arab historian, Massoudi, in accounting for the application to the city
of Babylon of the name of _Iran-Sheher_, observes that, “according to
some, the true orthography should be _Arian-Sheher_,” which signifies
in Nabathæan, “the city of Lions,” and that “this name of Lion
designated the kings of Assyria, who bore the general title of Nimrud.”
Sir Henry Rawlinson thinks that the title _Már_ is Scythic, and, if so,
there can be little doubt of its signification. The primitive meaning
of _Ar_ was “fire,” from which the lion, as the symbol of the Sun-god
was called _ari_, the Sun-god himself having a name _Ra_. Strictly,
therefore, _Már_ would denote “fire-worshippers,” a title which, as
is well-known, was especially applicable to the ancient Medes. The
_Aryans_ generally appear to have been Sun-or Fire-worshippers, and
probably they received their name from this fact. This would seem to be
much more probable than the ordinary derivation of the name Aryan from
the root _ar_, “to plough;” and it would include the sense of “noble”
preferred by Mr. Peile, “children of the Sun” being usually a special
title of the priestly or royal caste.

Connected with this question is that of the origin of the name of the
Greek god _Ares_ (the Latin _Mars_). Among other grounds for inferring
the Asiatic origin of this deity is his connection with Herakles. The
Latin myth of Hercules and Cacus would seem, moreover, to require
the identification of the former with Mars. Such would appear to be
the case also in Chaldean mythology. The Babylonian Mars was called
_Nergal_, which is probably the same name as “Hercules,” and Sir Henry
Rawlinson suggests that the only distinction to be made between that
deity and _Nin_, or Hercules, as gods of war and hunting, is that the
former is more addicted to the chase of animals and the latter to that
of mankind. That Hercules, or Herakles, was of Phœnician or Assyrian
origin has been fully established by the learned researches of M.
Raoul-Rochette, who has shown, moreover, that the proper name of that
deity was _Sandan_ or _Adanos_ (_Adan_), a name which not only reminds
us of Aduni, supposed by Professor Rawlinson to be a primeval Chaldean
deity, but also recalls that of the Median _Ad_, and even of the Hebrew

A remark made by Lajard strongly confirms the idea that the Latin
war-god was derived from a similar source. This learned French writer
accounts for the rapidity with which _Mazdëism_, better known as the
worship of Mithra, spread among the Romans, by supposing that it was in
some way connected with their national worship. Probably a key to this
connection may be found in the curious figures of Mithra which appear
to have been peculiar to the Roman phase of Mazdëism. These figures,
which are encircled by a serpent, unite to the human body and limbs,
the head of the lion, and they might well be taken to represent Mars
himself, since the title _Már_, which was distinctive of the Medes, not
only conveyed the idea of a serpent, but was also, and more intimately,
associated with the lion symbol of the Sun-god.

If the alliance thus sought to be established, through the title _Már_,
between the Medes or _Mad_, and the other peoples of the so-called
Aryan stock be correct, we may expect to find traces among some, at
least, of these peoples of the primeval _Ad_. Nor will such expectation
be disappointed. The Parsis of Bombay have a book called the “Desatir,”
the first part of which is entitled “the Book of the Great _Abad_,”
who is declared to have been the first ancestor of mankind. The
authenticity of this book has been denied, as Mr. Baldwin thinks,
however, on insufficient grounds. It is certainly strange, on the
assumption of its being apocryphal, that such a name as _Abad_ should
have been given to the mythical head of the race. The meaning of the
name is evidently “Father _Ad_” and there is nothing improbable in the
Persians preserving a tradition of the mythical ancestor, whose memory
was retained in the national name of the Medes, a people with whom they
were so closely connected. It simply confirms the conclusion before
arrived at, that they also must be classed among the Adamites.

The Hindus themselves would seem not to be without a remembrance
of the mythical ancestor of the Adamic stock. The Puranas, which,
notwithstanding their modern form, doubtless retain many old legends,
refers to the reign of King _It_ or _Ait_, as an avatar of Mahadeva
(_Siva_), who is a form of Saturn. Assuming that the information given
to Wilford as to the reign of this king in Egypt ought to be rejected;
yet, as _Aetus_ is mentioned by Greek writers as a Hindu, we must
suppose such information to have been founded on actual statements
contained in the Puranas. These certainly refer to the _Yáduvas_,
descendants of Yadu, supposed emigrants to Abyssinia, whose character,
as described in the Puranas, agrees well, says Wilford, with that
ascribed “by the ancients to the genuine Ethiopians, who are said by
Stephanus of Byzantium, by Eusebius, by Philostratus, by Eustathius,
and others, to have come originally from India under the guidance of
Aetus or Yátu,” whom they believed to be the same as King Ait.

Nor do the Celtic peoples appear to be without a traditional
remembrance of the mythical ancestor. The leading Celtic people of
Gaul, in the time of Cæsar, were the _Ædin_, and Davies thought that
their name was derived from _Aedd_ the Great, whom he finds referred
to in the Welsh triads, and whom he identifies with _Aides_ or _Dis_.
Cæsar, indeed, says that the god _Dis_ was the mythical ancestor of the
Gauls. The position occupied by this deity in the traditions of the
Celtic race is very remarkable, when we consider that a divine person
bearing the same name was known, not only to the Greeks, but apparently
also to the Babylonians. Sir Henry Rawlinson points out that _Dis_
should be one of the names of _Anu_, the first member of the leading
Chaldean triad, and the deity who answered to _Hades_ or _Pluto_.
_Warka_ or _Urka_, the great necropolis of Babylon, was especially
dedicated to _Anu_, and Sir Henry Rawlinson remarks on this: “Can
the coincidence then be merely accidental between _Dis_, the Lord of
_Urka_, the City of the Dead, and _Dis_, the King of Orcus or Hades?”
Most certainly not, as it is only one of many circumstances which prove
the close connection of the Greeks and other Aryan peoples with the
ancient Babylonians. The original character of _Dis_, “Lord of the
Dead,” was probably the same as that of the Gallic _Dis_, _i.e._, the
mythical ancestor of the race. A similar change of character has been
undergone by the Hindu _Yama_.

It is very probable that in the divine ancestor _Dis_, as in the
mythical King _It_ of the Hindus, we have reference to the primeval
_Ad_.[227] A common relationship as Adamites may be shown, as well
by association with the Medes, through their title _Már_, as by
preservation of a tradition of the common ancestor.

The result, so far, is that not only the Persians, Greeks, and Romans,
and probably the Hindus, but also the Celtic peoples, have been
connected with the Medes or _Mad_, and through them with the _Akkad_.
But among the peoples supposed to be still more nearly allied to the
Chaldeans, we may expect to find references to the mythical ancestor
of the Adamic division of mankind. According to old tradition, indeed,
_Ad_ himself was the primeval father of the original Arab stock.
Moreover, the dialect of Mahrah, where pure Arab blood is supposed
still to exist, is called the language of _Ad_. It can hardly be
doubted that a reference to the same mythical personage is also
contained in the name of the great deity of the Syrians, _Adad_, “King
of Kings,” whose title implies the idea of “fatherhood.” Nor are there
wanting traces of the primeval _Ad_ among the Egyptians. Mr. William
Osburn states that the name of the local god of On or Heliopolis “is
written on the monuments with the characters representing the sound
_a, t, m_.” This God was associated with the setting sun, and he was
placed with the gods of the other cities of the Delta, a distinction
he received, says Osburn, “for the triple reason, that he was the
local god of the capital city, that he was the father of mankind, and
that he was the ruler and guide of the sun, the common dispenser of
earthly blessings to all men.” _Atum_ thus becomes identified with the
Hebrew _Adam_, and although the description given by Osburn of the
Egyptian deity may require some qualification, yet that identification
is strengthened rather than weakened by other considerations. Bunsen
says that the office of _Atum_ in the lower world is that of a judge,
and he supposes from this that at one time he may have been a Dispater.
He does, indeed, bear much the same relation to man as _Dis_ himself.
In the Ritual of the Dead, the souls call him father, and he addresses
them as children. Sir Gardner Wilkinson says that _Atum_, or _Atmoo_,
is always figured with a human head and painted of a red colour. This
seems to confirm the idea derived from his name, that this deity was
related to the Hebrew Adam, with whom the idea of _ruddiness_ was
undoubtedly associated. The human form of the Egyptian Atum shows,
moreover, that he was considered as peculiarly connected with man.

It has now been shown that not only are the people mentioned in the
_Toldoth Beni Noah_ rightly classed as descendants of the mythical
_Ad_, but that the Asiatic Aryans, with the allied peoples of Europe
to the furthest limits of the Celtic area, may also well be thus
described. The ancient _Mad_ belonged, however, to the great Scythic
stock, and hence all the Turanian peoples, including the Chinese,
may doubtless be classed among the Adamites. There is some ground,
therefore, for asserting that the Adamites include all the so-called
Turanian and Aryan peoples of Asia and Europe, with the Hamitic and
Semitic peoples of Western Asia and Northern Africa—in fact, the
yellow, the red, and the white races, as distinguished from the darker
peoples of the tropics. But even these limits may perhaps be extended.
One of the solar heroes of the Volsung Tale is _Atli_, who becomes the
second husband of Gudrun, the widow of Sigurd, Sigurd himself being the
slayer of the dragon Fafnir, who symbolises the darkness or cold of a
northern winter—the Vritra of Hindu mythology. This dragon enemy of
Indra was also called _Ahi_, the strangling snake, who appears again
as _Atri_, and Mr. Cox supposes that the name _Atri_ may be the same
as the _Atli_ of the Volsung Tale. _Atli_, who in the Nibelung song is
called _Etzel_, overpowers the chieftains of Niflheim, who refused to
give up the golden treasures which Sigurd had won from the dragon, and
he throws them into a pit full of snakes.

The connection of the Teutonic hero with the serpent is remarkable;
for in the Mexican mythology we meet with a divinity having almost the
same name, and associated with the same animal. Humboldt tells us that
the Great Spirit of the Toltecks was called _Teotl_; and Hardwicke
says that _Teotl_ was the only God of Central America. If so, however,
he was a serpent deity, for the temples of Yucatan were undoubtedly
dedicated to a deity of that nature. It is not improbable, however,
that _Teotl_ was really a generic term, agreeing in this respect, as
curiously enough in its form, with the Phœnician _Taaut_ (_Thoth_).

The God to whom the temples of Yucatan were really dedicated appears
to be _Quetzalcoatl_, by some writers called the feathered serpent,
a title belonging rather to his serpent-father _Tonacatlcoatl_. This
_Quetzalcoatl_ was the mysterious stranger who, according to tradition,
founded the civilisation of Mexico, agreeing thus in his character
of a god of wisdom with the Egyptian _Thoth_; reminding us of the
resemblance of the name of this deity to that of the Toltecan _Teotl_.
But the first part of the name of the Mexican _Quetzalcoatl_ no less
resembles that borne by the Teutonic deity, _Etzel_. _Co-atl_ signifies
the “serpent,” while _quetzal_ would seem to have reference to the
male principle; and thus the idea expressed in the name of the Mexican
god is the male principle represented as a serpent. _Quetzalcoatl_,
moreover, is said to be an incarnation of _Tonacatlcoatl_, who is the
male-serpent, his wife being called _Cihua-coatl_, meaning, literally,
the “woman of the serpent,” or “female serpent.” In the identification,
then, of _Atli_ or _Etzel_, who consigns his enemies to the pit of
serpents, with the great serpent _Ahi_ himself, we have a ground of
identification of the Teutonic deity with the Mexican serpent-god
_Quetzalcoatl_. This view loses none of its probability if the latter
is, as Mr. Squire asserts, an incarnation of the serpent-sun, or
rather a serpent incarnation of the sun-god, since _Ahi_ himself is a
solar deity. In the religious symbols used by the Mexicans, we have
another point of contact with the Asiatic deities. The sacred _Tau_ of
antiquity has its counterpart on the Mexican monuments. The Mexican
symbol perfectly represents the cross form of the _Tau_, but it is
composed of two serpents entwined, somewhat as in the caduceus of
Mercury. That the _Tau_ itself had such an origin we can well believe,
seeing that the name of the letter _Tet_ (θετα) of the Phœnician
alphabet specially associated with _Thoth_, of whom the _Tau_ is a
symbol, is that of the God himself, as well as meaning “serpent.”

If the comparison thus made between the Mexican and Teutonic
mythologies is correct, the further analogies pointed out by M.
Brasseur de Bourbourg may be well founded. Thus the Mexican _Votan_ or
_Odon_, supposed to be the same as _Quetzalcoatl_, may be in reality
none other than the Scandinavian _Odin_, _Woden_, or _Wuotan_, who,
if not a sun-god, was the sky-god, whose eye was the sun (Grimm’s
“Teutonic Mythology,” translated by Stallybrass, p. 703). The snake is
intimately associated with Odin in Norse mythology (Grimm, p. 685) as
it is with Votan, and both these personages have been identified with
the Indian Buddha god.[228]

Nor is there wanting confirmative evidence of such an affinity between
the peoples of the Old and the New Worlds as that supposed. Mr. Tylor,
in his work on “Primitive Culture,” points out that the Roman game of
_bucca-bucca_, referred to in a passage of Petronius, is still retained
as the old nursery game, “Buck, buck, how many horns do I hold up?”
The meaning of this formula is not given, but, from the fact that the
witch’s devil of the middle ages was represented as a buck or goat,
we can hardly doubt that the buck or bucca of the game referred to
the evil spirit. The devil was, indeed, called by the Cornish Celts
_bucka_ (Welsh _bwg_), a hobgoblin, a name which is evidently connected
with the Russian _buka_, a sprite, and with the _Bog_ of Slavonic and
other allied languages. We have, no doubt, the same word in the name
of the Finnic sky-god _Ukko_. Of this again we seem to have traces,
not only in the Kalmuck _Búrkhan_ and the Mantchoo _Ab-ka_, but also
in the Hottentot _Teqoa_ (Kafir, _Tixo_), the Supreme God; and in the
word _yakko_, demon, the name given to the aborigines of Ceylon by
their Hindu conquerors. But the root of this word is met with again
among the American tribes. The Hurons believe the sky to be an _oki_,
or demon, this name being also that by which the natives of Virginia
knew their chief god. The same word appears to enter into the name of
the Algonquin god of the North Wind, _Kabibon-okka_, as also of the
Muyscan Moon goddess, _Huyth-aca_. Whether the Algonquin Great Spirit,
_Kitchi-Manitu_, has preserved the same word, is questionable; but it
is noticeable that in the mythology of Kamtschatka the first man is
called _Haetsh_, and he is the son of _Kutka_, the Creator, whose name,
by the allowable change of _t_ for _k_, becomes almost the same as the
Finnic _Ukko_. The word _oki_ may, moreover, be found, with merely the
vowel change, among the Islanders of the Pacific. Thus the Polynesian
fire-god is _Mahu-ika_, the last syllable of which is doubtless
connected with _akua_, meaning, like the American _oki_, spirit, or
demon. The same root is met with again in _Tiki_, the Rarotongan form
of _Maui_, the divine ancestor of the New Zealanders, and the _Tii_ of
the Society Islands; also in _Akea_, the name of the mythical first
king of Hawaii. _Tiki_ is probably only another form of _Ta-ata_,
with the change of _k_ for _t_ (as in _akua_ for _atua_); and it is
remarkable that this name of the Polynesian First Man is really that of
the mythical ancestor of the Adamites, reversed, however, and with the
addition of the word _ata_ (_aka_), spirit, which we have shown to be
connected with the name for God among so many independent races. Mr.
Fornander identifies the Polynesian word _aitu_ or _iku_, spirit, with
the name of the great “Kushite” king It or Ait, and he states that the
idea of royalty or sovereignty attached to that word is observed in
old Hawaiian tradition.—“The Polynesian Race,” 1878, vol. i., pp. 44,

These mythological coincidences are, indeed, so strongly supported by
similarity of customs and linguistic affinities, that there can be
no difficulty in classing the Mexicans and kindred American peoples,
and even the lighter Polynesians, with the Adamites. This being so,
a still broader generalisation than any yet attempted may be made as
to the peoples to be included in the Adamic division of the human
race. The simplest classification of mankind, according to cranial
conformation, is that of Retzius into dolichocephali, or long heads,
and brachycephali, or short heads. The Mexicans, and other peoples
of the western part of the American Continent, belong to the latter
category, as do also the inhabitants of the greater part of the area of
Asia and Europe. In China, and in the southern part of Asia as well as
of Europe, the various peoples are chiefly long-headed, and this is the
case with the Hamitic population of Northern Africa. The latter are,
however, certainly much mixed with the native African element, which
is purely dolichocephalic, exhibiting traces of its prognathism; and
it is far from improbable that originally they were brachycephalic,
like the allied peoples of Western Asia. Such also may have been the
case with the Chinese and the lighter Polynesians, who are now nearly
dolichocephalic.[229] Throughout all the regions where these peoples
are found there would appear to have been an indigenous long-headed
stock, which has more or less nearly absorbed the brachycephalic
element, which was introduced long ages ago from the vast regions of
Central Asia, and which, for want of a better term, may be called
Scythic. Subject to this qualification, it may probably be said that
Adamic and short-headed are synonymous terms, and that among the
descendants of Father _Ad_ may, therefore, be classed all the peoples
who are embraced in the great brachycephalic division of mankind, or
who would have belonged to it, if they had not been physically modified
by contact with peoples of the more primitive dolichocephalic area.

How far the Adamites have trespassed on this area it is difficult
to determine. That they have become mixed with the peoples of the
African Continent to a much larger extent than is usually supposed may
be believed. The Hottentots, at its extremest limit, are no doubt a
residual deposit of such intermixture; while the great family to which
the Kafirs belong furnish evidence of it in various particulars. The
Adamites appear also to have spread throughout the archipelagos of the
Pacific, furnishing an explanation of the many customs and myths in
which the Polynesian Islanders agree with Asiatic peoples. Nor are the
Adamites much less widely spread throughout the American Continent.
Apart from what Professor Busk affirms, that a broad type of head is
to be met with on the coast all round South America, peoples allied to
those of Mexico and Central America would seem to have occupied many
of the West Indian Islands, and to have penetrated through the central
portion of North America to the Great Lakes. Wherever the Adamites
have come into contact with the long-headed pre-Adamitic stock, they
have either made these to disappear, or, while having their physical
structure somewhat modified by intermixture, they have established
a supremacy due to their greater vigour and mental energy. It is
difficult, indeed, to say where the descendants of _Ad_ are not now to
be met with, or where the pre-Adamite is to be found uninfluenced by
contact with them.

In conclusion, it will be well to endeavour to ascertain the origin
of the tradition as to _Adam_ or father _Ad_. According to usually
received teaching, Adam and Eve were the actual first parents of the
human race, or, at all events, of the Adamic portion of it. Whether
or not this idea is correct need not be further considered here,
beyond stating that if, as Bunsen suggests, the existence of other
antediluvian patriarchs be mythical, so also must be that of Adam from
whom they are said to have sprung.

The Semitic word ADaM conveys several ideas. In the form _Adamah_ or
_Adami_ it has reference to the _earth_ or _soil_, but its primary
sense was either “red” or “man.” Probably a double meaning was conveyed
in the name of the Egyptian god Atum, whose representation was that of
a red man. It must be noted, however, that the traditional ancestor is
usually styled, not _Adam_ but simply _Ad_; and this primitive root
may have had some other signification, analogous perhaps to that of
_Eve_ (_Hhavváh_), “the mother of all living.” This word, which denotes
“life,” is from _hhayáh_, to live, to give life—the allied word in
Arabic being _haywān_, and the Arabic name for Eve becoming _hawwa_.
Now, in the Celtic dialects _ad_ forms the root of words denoting
vegetable vitality. In Welsh, moreover, _tad_ is a father; the base,
_ta_, denoting, among allied senses, “a supreme one,” reminding us of
the Chinese _ta_, great; and connected with it being _tras_, kindred,
affinity. Turning, however, to Eastern languages, we find that the
old Egyptian had a word _ti_, with a sense analogous to that of the
Welsh _ta_, and also a verb _ta_, to give, which is found in Hebrew,
as _’athah_, to come, and in Arabic as _ata_, to give, or to bring
forth. It is evident that the primitive root, consisting of the dental
_t_ or _d_, preceded or followed by a vowel sound, had associated
with it the idea of activity, and probably of paternity. In the old
Akkad speech, indeed, _ad_ itself signifies a “father,” and we are
justified, therefore, in supposing that when this word was used as
the name of the mythical common ancestor, it had a sense analogous to
that which “Eve” expressed, _i.e._, “the _father_ of life, or of all
living.” In Adam and Eve, therefore, we may have a reference to the
male and female principles which, in the philosophy of the ancients,
as in that of the Chinese and some other Eastern peoples, pervade all
nature, and originate all things, applied particularly, however, to the
human race. But Adam was not the name given at first to this mystical
father of the race. The Egyptian _Atum_ was originally a cosmogonic
deity. Bunsen states that the name of this god may be resolved into
_At-Mu_, meaning “Creator of the mother or night.” The sense of this,
however, is not very apparent, and it may be suggested that the term
_Adam_ (in Egyptian _Atum_) was formed by the combination of the
primitive _akkad_ words _Ad_, father, and _Dam_, mother. It would thus
originally express a dual idea, agreeably to the statement in Gen. v.
2, that male and female were called “Adam.” This agrees perfectly with
the Persian tradition which made the first human being androgynous.
When the dual idea expressed in the name was forgotten, Adam became the
Great Father, the Great Mother receiving the name of Eve (Hhavváh),
_i.e._, living or life, although _Adam_ in the generic sense of
“Mankind,” denoted both male and female.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Note._—The Turanian or rather Altaic affinity of the Akkad, referred
to at page 109 above, appears to have been established by M. Lenormant,
who states that their name means “Mountaineers,” from _Akkad_, a
mountain. It is possible, however, that the word may have had a
more primitive signification. As the name of a country and not of a
people, Akkad did not come into use until the Assyrian epoch, “When
the Accadian had become a dead language, and the tradition of the real
meaning of the word was consequently quite lost.” (_Chaldean Magic and
Sorcery_, p. 404.) As to the aboriginal Arab people referred to at page
117, it may be mentioned that M. Lenormant (_Hist. Anc. de l’Orient_,
9th Ed. I. t. prem. p. 313), points out that the name, Adah, of the
mother of the two sons of Lameckh, who were chiefs of pastoral races,
is only the feminine form of that of the people of Ad.


[227] _Adonai_, “Our Lord,” was converted by the Greeks into
_Adoneus_, as a synomym of Pluto, _i.e._, _Dis_. (King’s “Gnostics,”
p. 101). Through his name, _Sandan_ or _Adanos_, these deities are
connected with _Hercules_, and hence with _Ares_ (Mars).

[228] _Le Mythe de Votan_, by H. de Charencey, 1871, pp. 95, 103.
Gautama was only the last of the Boudhas, and the identification of
Woden is therefore not necessarily with Gautama. Dr. Brinton, “in
order to put a stop to such visionary etymologies” as those which
connect Votan with Wodan and Buddha, derives Votan from a Maya radical
(_American Hero-Myths_, 1882, p. 217). It must be noted, however, that
the Maya meaning of Votan (heart _fig._ spirit) closely agrees with
that of Wodan (mind) and Buddha (knowledge).

[229] M. de Ujfalvy has found that even the purest Iranian type of
Central Asia is brachycephalic.



In various parts not only of the old world continents, but also of
America, and even on some of the Islands of the Pacific, are the ruins
of stone buildings which, from their general character, are well
called “Kyklopean.” The style of architecture varies in different
countries according to the uses for which the buildings were designed,
or the local influences among which they were erected. Whatever their
form, all those ancient buildings agree in the massive character of
their structure, and most of them in the fact that the stones are put
together without mortar or cement. Kyklopean architecture proper (in
which large unhewn blocks are rudely put together with small stones
to fill up the interstices) differs, however, from the _Polygonal_
or _Pelasgian_, and from the _Horizontal_ or _Etruscan_, which, in
addition, has the courses scrupulously level, with joints vertical, and
fitting accurately. General Forlong, the author of “Rivers of Life,
or Faiths of Man in all Ages,” while pointing out that distinction,
remarks that those several styles do not denote different ages, and
that the builders were evidently of the same race. This opinion is
confirmed by the fact that all the three styles are found in the ruins
of Peru, whose Kyklopean structures, moreover, are not restricted to
those of rectangular formation, but sometimes take the form of round

General Forlong identifies the great building race of antiquity with
the Kushites or Aithiopians of the Greek historians, and with Mr.
Fergusson, he supposes them to have belonged to the Turanian family of
peoples. The distinguished architect and archæologist affirms, indeed,
that not only were the Turanians the great architects and builders of
remote antiquity, but that they were the inventors of all the arts, as
well as the religions and mythologies, which were afterwards developed
by the later Shemites and Aryans.

But how far does this conclusion agree with actual facts? M. Georges
Perrot, in his important work on the “History of Art,” says that the
ancient Oriental world has seen the birth of three great civilisations,
that of Egypt, that of Chaldea, and that of China, all of which have
features in common, although each preserves its own proper character.
Chaldea was the _Sennaar_ of the author of the Book of Genesis, the
land in which were built the ancient cities of Babel, Erech, Accad,
and Calneh. The mighty hunter or warrior Nimrod, to whom the erection
of those cities is ascribed, was the son of Kush and the grandson of
Cham, and he is thus placed by the sacred writer in the same family as
the Egyptians, Aithiopians, and the Libyans, as also the Canaanites
and Phœnicians. The Kushites, of whom Nimrod is the representative in
Genesis, were located by the poets and classical historians in Susiana
rather than in Chaldea. Both of these countries, however, adjoin the
Valley of the Tigris, and the name Aithiopians applied by those writers
to the inhabitants of the shores of the Persian Gulf and the sea of
Oman agrees with the relationship which, according to the genealogists
of the Hebrew Scriptures, subsisted between the Kushites of Asia and
those of Africa. It is to the shores of the Persian Gulf that the
development, if not the origin, of the Chaldean civilisation has been
traced. M. Perrot calls Egypt “the ancestor of civilised nations,”
and he affirms that, in grouping the great peoples of antiquity to
determine the part taken by each in the work of progress, it is
necessary to commence with Egypt as the point of departure of all the
forces which operate to that end. The Egyptians were not, however,
indigenous to the Valley of the Nile. It is now almost universally
acknowledged that they belonged to the white or Caucasian stock of
Europe and Western Asia, from which they reached Egypt by the isthmus
of Suez. Their Caucasian origin is confirmed by their language,
which, with the other Hamitic idioms, had, as M. Lenormant shows, a
relationship to the Semitic languages, the two families having a common
mother language, the native country of which was in Asia at the east of
the basin of the Euphrates and Tigris. We are thus taken to the region
where the old Chaldean civilisation flourished for the place of origin
of the Egyptians; but did they belong to the same Kushite stock? In
endeavouring to answer this question, it is necessary to remember that
before the foundation of the Empire by Menes Egypt had comprised two
kingdoms, that of Lower Egypt or the country of the north, and that
of Upper Egypt or the country of the south. These kingdoms must have
existed a considerable period, judging from the fact that the later
Monarchs carried two crowns to indicate the dominion exercised over the
two great divisions of the Empire, and probably it represented some
race difference in their inhabitants. The Aryan character described by
M. L. Page Renouf to the Egyptian mythology, and the features of many
of the figures represented on the tombs of the fourth Dynasty, might
lead us to suppose that the earliest Egyptians belonged to the Aryan
stock. This opinion is, perhaps, confirmed by the consideration that
the earliest and most sacred towns of the Egyptians were situate in
Upper Egypt.

M. Lenormant thinks that the descendants of Mizraim settled in Egypt at
different epochs, and that the earliest settlers, the Anamim of the Old
Testament and the Anou of the hieroglyphic inscriptions, were driven
by the later ones into different parts of Egypt, but principally into
Nubia. The former may, therefore, have been pure Aryans, the southern
country being referred to as the home of the race; although the Empire
was first established in Lower Egypt, its chief centre being Memphis,
from which its culture gradually overspread the whole country. The
early inhabitants of the Delta region were represented at a later date
by the Hyksos, who have been identified by Professor Duncker with the
Philistines of the Syrian Coast. This people are spoken of in the
Book of Genesis as descendants of Mizraim, and their neighbours, the
Phœnicians, stood in the same relation to the northern Egyptians as did
the Kushites of Chaldea. Like the latter peoples, the Phœnicians were
great builders. The remains of vast structures still exist throughout
Phœnicia, which was known to the ancient Babylonians as Martu, “the
west.” Among modern writers, M. Renan is of opinion that “singular
relations exist between the ethnographic, historic, and linguistic
position of Yemen and that of Phœnicia,” as showing that there was
a close relationship between the latter and the ancient people of
Southern Arabia. Mr. Baldwin accepts both these views, and comes to the
conclusion that the first great civilisers and builders of antiquity
were the Kushites or Aithiopians of Southern Arabia, and that they
colonised or civilised Chaldea, Phœnicia, and Egypt. Tradition speaks
of Kepheus as one of the great sovereigns of ancient Aithiopia, whose
kingdom extended from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, and whose
capital was Joppa, one of the most ancient cities of Phœnicia. We may
well believe that this very early Kushite kingdom comprised part of
Northern Africa, and therefore that it included the Delta of the Nile
with the great city, Memphis, of the Egyptian pyramid builders. The
similarity in many features of the Phœnician and Egyptian architecture
points to a close connection between those peoples, and a portion of
the Kushite race which peopled Phœnicia doubtless settled in the Delta,
from whence its culture would easily spread throughout the Nile Valley.
It is certain that Southern Arabia was the seat of a very primitive
civilisation, which influenced all the regions around. Phœnicia,
however, would seem to have been most intimately allied with Chaldea,
the origin of whose civilisation, although ascribed to the fish-god
Oannes, can hardly be traced to Arabia.

According to the Biblical writer, Kush was the eldest son of Ham, who
was also the father of Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan. All these peoples
were great builders, and it is very probable, therefore, that they, as
well as the Kushites, derived their knowledge from a common source. In
this case, and even if Mizraim, Canaan, and Phut were the _descendants_
rather than the brethren of Kush, the civilisation with which the
Kushites are accredited was, in reality, that of the earlier Hamites.
The probability is that all the peoples belonging to the Hamitic stock
possessed the elements of a very ancient civilisation, which was handed
down in the most direct line through the Kushites of Chaldea. M. Perrot
accepts the opinion of M. Oppert, that when the primitive Chaldeans
first settled in the plains of Sennaar they already had a national
organisation, and that they possessed writing, the most necessary
industries, a religion, and a complete legislation. If this was so we
shall have to seek a very primitive source for the Kushite or Hamitic
civilisation. What was its origin can only be ascertained when the race
ancestry of the Hamites is known. In relation to this point it must not
be forgotten that Ham was the brother of Shem and Japhet, and therefore
that they were all members of a common family. As the descendants of
Noah, they all alike belonged to the great white or Caucasian stock.
M. Lenormant, while endorsing this view, says that anciently, as in
the present day, there was an anthropological distinction between
the Hamites and the Shemites, which he accounts for by supposing the
former to have become intermixed with a dark or black race, which they
found already established in the country to which they spread, while
the Shemites, who stayed behind, preserved the purity of the white
race. The facts of linguistic science and anthropology can thus be
made to agree, but M. Lenormant has to admit that the Eastern Kushites
cannot be brought within that theory, as from the earliest historical
period they have spoken a language radically distinct from those of
the Shemites and the other Hamitic peoples. He adds that the coast
between the Persian Gulf and the Indus appears to have been, from a
remote antiquity, the point of meeting and fusion of two distinct races
having brown complexions, but inclining more or less to pure black. The
Eastern Kushites are thus confounded by a gradual series of transitions
with the Dravidians of India. This reference to the Dravidians is
perfectly just, as there is no doubt, whatever may be the case now,
that originally they partook of the high qualities possessed by the
peoples of the Kushite stock. As a race they were noted for their
love of art and commerce, and General Forlong, after having examined
minutely most of the famous shrines of India, came to the conclusion
“that there is nothing to equal those of Dravidia, save some small ones
in Western India, which, in their completeness, form, and conception,
denote the same master builders who, as Jainas, &c., learned in Mysore
and the South under those great architects.” There is indeed reason
to believe that the marvellous temples of Cambodia and Java, of which
the ruins still exist, were erected by Dravidians from India. M.
Moura, the learned author of a history of Cambodia, has established
that the great architects of that kingdom were the peoples to whom the
name of Khmerdoms is given by their descendants, the Khmers. They
were of Hindoo origin, and emigrated from the neighbourhood of Delhi
in the fifth century before Christ. Whether the original Khmers were
of pure Aryan stock is, however, very doubtful, and it is extremely
probable that they were Hinduised Dravidians. The Hindoos, to whom the
civilisation of Java is ascribed, are spoken of as coming from Kling,
by which is meant the Dravidian Telinga.

If, as M. Lenormant supposes, the Eastern Kushites became fused with a
brown or black race, it does not follow that this race was originally
black, or that it belonged to a negroid stock. All the Hamites, and
especially the Kushites, were of a more or less dark complexion,
but the black hue may have been acquired through natural influences
operating during a vast period of time. The Dravidians have, at least
from a linguistic standpoint, Turanian affinities, and it is now almost
universally admitted that the earliest civilised inhabitants of Chaldea
belonged to the great Turanian family of peoples who are usually spoken
of as the yellow race. There is no doubt that a yellow race, whose
languages had an affinity on the one side with the languages of the
Altaic peoples, and on the other side with the Dravidian dialects,
and who preceded the Shemitic and Japhetic peoples in material
civilisation, existed in Eastern Asia alongside of the white race.

M. Ujfalvy supposes the Eastern Turanians to have descended the first
from the plateau of the Altai; to be followed by the Western Turanians,
who occupied Northern Europe from time immemorial; the children of
Noah being the last to quit the primeval home. If this was so we can
well understand that the average Turanian physical type must present
peculiarities which distinguish it easily from that of the Caucasian

What we have now to do with is the origin of primitive civilisation,
and everything points to the early Turanians as the people among whom
it was developed. We have already seen that if the primitive Chaldeans
did not belong to the Turanian stock they were intimately associated
with Turanian peoples to whom they are thought to have been indebted
for much of their culture. The great western division of the Turanian
race appears to have possessed an advanced civilisation long before
its Aryan neighbours. The Tchoudes, who are described by Ujfalvy as
the most ancient people of the Altaic race, were noted metallurgists,
while the Permians and the Finns are supposed to have taught art and
agriculture to the Slavs and Scandinavians of Northern Europe. M.
Reclus remarks that, not only did the Turanians teach their neighbours
the use of iron and other metals, but they have the glory of having
given to us most of our domestic animals, and probably also the greater
part of our most useful cultured plants. Finally, the Turanians were,
says M. Lenormant, “the constructors of the first towns, and the
inventors of metallurgy and of the first rudiments of the principal
arts of civilisation.” He adds that they were “addicted to rites
which were reproved by Yahveh, and were viewed with as much hatred as
superstitious terror by the populations still in the pastoral state
whom they had preceded in the path of material progress and invention,
but who remained morally more pure and elevated.”

This description, applied by M. Lenormant to the Turanians, has
reference primarily to the Cainites, and it carries the origin of
material civilisation much farther back in time than would have been
thought possible a few years ago. The facts mentioned in connection
with Cain and his descendants strikingly confirm the opinion that the
Kushite civilisation was handed down from a period which, in relation
to the Deluge of Genesis, may be called antediluvian. The tradition
of the Deluge is a primitive belief of the three white races, the
Aryan, the Semitic, and the Hamitic. It appears to have been originally
limited to the peoples of the Caucasian stock, and this fact requires
that the Turanians should be excluded from the effect of the supposed
catastrophe. The yellow race, therefore, may claim an “antediluvian”
descent, and as Noah, the progenitor of the white races, belonged to
the Sethite stock, the common ancestor of the Turanian peoples must
have been a Cainite.

The first public event recorded in the life of Cain after his exile was
the building of a town, which he called Enoch, after his first-born
son. This town has been identified with the city of Khotan, which is
situate in the region where Cain is thought to have fixed his abode.
According to Abel Rémusat the traditions of that city, preserved in the
native chronicles and referred to by the Chinese historians, go back
to a much earlier period than those of any other city of Central Asia.
Baron d’Eckstein has, moreover, shown that Khotan was the centre of
a district in which the art of metallurgy has been practised from the
remotest antiquity. This is important, for Tubal Cain, the youngest son
of Lamekh, the descendant of Cain, is said in Genesis to have been “an
instructor of every artificer in brass and iron.”

The ancestors of the present Chinese appear not to have been acquainted
with the blacksmith’s art when they first descended into the plains,
although it was practised by the neighbouring Tibetan tribes, who, we
can hardly doubt, were allied to the Kolarian population of Eastern
India, if not also to the Dravidians of the south and west. The
relationship of the Dravidians to the peoples of the Altaic stock, and
the practice of metallurgy by the latter particularly, would tend,
however, to prove that the Jabal were not, as supposed by M. Ujfalvy,
Turanians who settled in Northern Asia and Europe. Those facts would
rather support the view of Knobel, which identifies the Jabal and the
Jubal as a musical and pastoral race, as distinguished from a settled
metallurgic race to whom the name of Tubal Cain was given.

The opinion that the ancestors of the Turanian peoples were Cainites
may be confirmed by reference to certain social and religious
phenomena. In the story of the slaying by Cain of his brother Abel
there is evident reference to antagonism between a pastoral and an
agricultural people. M. Lenormant, who sees a connection between the
fratricide and the founding of the first city, has arrived at the
conviction that the Chaldæo-Babylon tradition concerning the primitive
days of the human race included a reference to those two actions of
Cain. He says, however, “there are certain reasons for suspecting
that the Chaldeans took the part of the murderer Cain against Abel,
as the Romans did that of Romulus against Remus.” The preference of
the Chaldeans for the murderer agrees with the Cainite origin ascribed
to their Turanian ancestors, among whom the polygamy and revenge
attributed to Lamekh were no doubt as prevalent as among some of their
descendants at the present day. The French writer sees in the fourth
chapter of Genesis a condemnation of Lamekh as the prototype of fierce
vengeance, and at the same time of polygamy. The whole pre-Deluge
history of man, as given in Genesis, would seem to imply the existence
of an hereditary opposition between the descendants of Cain and those
of Seth, who was regarded as standing in a special relation to the
Shemites. It was evidently written in the same spirit as that which saw
in the enmity between the Iranians and Turanians a constant conflict
between light and darkness. The race of Cain are referred in the
Biblical narrative as “sons of men,” a title which implies a condition
of religious or moral inferiority, as compared with the “sons of God”
descended from Seth. That narrative says, further, that in the time of
Enoch men began to call on the name of Jehovah. This statement, which
has reference only to the Sethites, supposes that the Cainites invoked
some other god, and in the Shamanism of the Dravidians and various
Turanian peoples we have no doubt a phase of the religious worship
prevalent among their Cainite ancestors.

Another point in connection with religious ideas, which is of
great importance in relation to the above subject, is the origin
of serpent-worship. M. Lenormant remarks that “the Arcadians made
the serpent one of the principal attributes and one of the forms of
Héa.” This deity, who closely resembles Waïnamoïnen, one of the three
principal gods of the Finns, occupied a very important position in
the Pantheon of the ancient Chaldeans. Héa, like the Finnish god,
was “not only king of the waters and the atmosphere, he was also the
spirit whence all life proceeded, the master of favourable spells,
the adversary and conqueror of all personifications of evil, and the
sovereign possessor of all science.” The worship of serpent-gods is
a practice to which many of the primitive Turanian tribes have been
addicted. This accounts for the curious association of serpent-worship
with Buddhism and Siva-ism. Both of these faiths, as exhibited in the
marvellous sculptures of the ruined temples of Cambodia, are intimately
connected with serpent-worship. This cult was no doubt very prevalent
among the native populations before the arrival of the Hindoos, as
legend states that the banished Indian Prince, for whom the city of
Nakon-Thom was built, married a daughter of the King of the Nagas or
Serpents, and became the sovereign of the country. Serpent-worship,
indeed, would seem to have been prevalent throughout Northern India.
The territory of the king of the serpent city Taxila reached nearly to
Delhi, and it probably extended over Kashmere and part of Afghanistan.
Here was a very important centre of serpent-worship. General Forlong
states that in Kashmere this cult appears everywhere, “and the records
of the country point to its beautiful lake and mountain fastnesses
as the earliest historic seats which we have of the faith.” It is
remarkable that a King of the Naga race was reigning in Magadha when
Gautama was born in 626 B.C., and, according to a Hindoo legend, even
the Buddha himself had a serpent lineage. If this was so, it is not
surprising that his teachings should be accepted by the Naga races, who
no doubt belonged to the pre-Aryan stock.

The constant introduction of the serpent, especially of the sacred
Cobra, into the sculptures of the Cambodian temples, is remarkable.
M. Moura states that the ancient Khmers of Cambodia recognised both
good and evil serpents, the former of which lived in the water and the
latter inhabited the land. The Buddhists of India and Indo-China had
the same idea, and M. Moura supposes that the good serpents represented
the human Nagas who became Buddhists, and the bad serpents those who
refused to abandon their native serpent-worship. This explanation,
however, is not necessary, as the ancient Egyptians entertained
analogous ideas. No other people, except, perhaps, the Hindoos and
allied races, were more thoroughly imbued with the serpent superstition
than the Egyptians. Mr. Cooper, in his “Observations on the Serpent
Myths of Ancient Egypt,” remarks that “the reverence paid to the
snake was not merely local, or even limited to one period of history,
but prevailed alike in every district of the Pharian Empire, and has
left its indelible impress upon the architecture and the archæology
of both Upper and Lower Egypt.” The Cobra di Capello of the Hindoos
and Cambodians was the sacred Uræus of the Egyptians. With the
latter it was used as the symbol of fecundity and immortality, and
was also universally assumed as the “emblem of divine and sacro-regal
sovereignty.” The Uræus was always represented in the female form,
and all the Egyptian goddesses were adorned with it, as the images
of the Hindoo gods were often surmounted with the sacred Naga. Among
the Egyptians another kind of serpent was also held in universal
veneration. It was a gigantic species of Coluber, which from the
earliest ages was regarded as “the representative of spiritual, and
occasionally physical, evil.” This was the great snake of the celestial
waters, the adversary of the gods with which the soul had to contend
after death. The Egyptians had thus a good and an evil serpent, the
former of which was small and the latter large. Among the Cambodians
the reverse was the case, as the small serpent was the representative
of evil, and the great serpent, the Naga-Naga, of good.

We have already seen that the cobra occupies an important place in
the Buddhist sculpture, and that the great serpent with its human
supporters was represented at both Amravati and Angkor Wat. Curiously
enough a similar idea to this is represented on certain Egyptian
monuments. On the sarcophagus of Oime-nepthah I. is sculptured a long
serpent, which, says Mr. Robert Sewell, is doubled into folds just like
the roll of the Buddhist frieze, and having a god standing on each fold
in the places occupied by the sacred emblems of the Buddhist faith
at Amravati. He supposes the long roll of the Amravati frieze to be
intended to represent a serpent, and to have had its origin in Western
Asian or Egyptian ideas. I had already, before meeting with this
observation, been struck with the similarity between the Egyptian and
the Buddhist representations, especially when considered in the light
of the Cambodian sculptures which undoubtedly represent the Naga-Naga.
The gigantic serpent of the celestial ocean of Egyptian mythology is
Aphôphis, the spirit of evil, and in the contest between him and Horus
we have, according to M. Le Page Renouf, a form of the Indra and Vritra
myth. An Accadian text speaks of “the enormous serpent with seven
heads,” the “serpent which beats the waves of the sea ... extending his
power over heaven and earth.” This is supposed to refer to Héa, and it
reminds us of the heavenly Naga-Naga of Hindoo mythology, which, like
the Accadian serpent deity, was representative of the good principle.
Such was also the case among all the old Turanian nations, and it
was only when, as remarked by M. Lenormant, “the Iranian traditions
were fused with the ancient beliefs of the Proto-Medic religion, the
serpent-god naturally became identified with the representative of
the dark and bad principle.” It cannot be doubted that this was the
later notion, and that the Turanian belief which associated with the
serpent ideas of goodness was of earlier date. Thus, the Dragon, says
Mr. Doolittle, “enjoys an ominous eminence in the affections of the
Chinese people. It is frequently represented as the greatest benefactor
of mankind.... The Chinese delight in praising its wonderful prospects
and powers. It is the venerated symbol of good.”

The veneration of the serpent must have been of very early origin
to occupy so strong a hold over the Chinese, whose spoken language,
according to M. Terrien de Lacouperie, forms a link between the
Accadian and the Ugro-Finnish divisions of the Ural-Altaic languages.
The art of metallurgy was practised by the peoples belonging to both
these divisions, and yet, according to M. Lenormant, it was not known
to the early Chinese. We must thus suppose that the latter left the
common home before the invention of metallurgy, and, therefore, that
they represent a very early condition of the stock from which the
Turanian peoples sprang. We seem, indeed, to be carried back to the
very earliest period of the legendary history of the Cainite race, and
possibly to that of the legendary ancestor of the race. According to
the tradition preserved in Genesis, there was a peculiar association
between Adam and the serpent. This animal is there the tempter Satan,
but according to another view Adam, or rather Ad, who was apparently
the traditional ancestor of a portion at least of the old Turanian
stock, was himself the serpent. A rabbinical tradition makes Cain
the son, not of Adam, but of the serpent-spirit Asmodeus. The name
Eve is connected with an Arabic root which means both “life” and “a
serpent,” and if Eve was the serpent mother, Ad must have been the
serpent father of the race. There is reason for believing that Adam
was the legendary ancestor of the Cainites, as distinguished from
the descendants of Seth. The name Adam, no doubt, signifies in the
Semitic languages “the man,” but it has been pointed out that the name
borne by the son of Seth, and therefore the ancestor of Noah, that
is Enoch, is in Hebrew the exact synonym of Adam, and also signifies
“the man.” There is, moreover, almost an exact parallel between the
descendants of Adam, through Cain on the one hand, and those of Seth
through Enoch on the other, and each line is terminated by three
heads of races, that of the Cainites by the sons of Lamekh and that
of the Enocides by the grandsons of Lamekh. In the latter there is
the insertion of one additional generation, that of Noah, between
Lamekh and the division of the family into three branches. This is,
however, capable of explanation. M. Lenormant shows, by a comparison
of the various legends referring to the primitive age of mankind,
that the number 7 or 10 was used by all the ancient nations as a
round number for the antediluvian ancestors of the race. Tradition
seemed to float between these two numbers until the influence of
the Chaldæo-Babylonians caused the number 10, which is that of the
generations of the Sethites, to dominate over the number 7, that of
the Cainites. It is to that influence we would ascribe the existence
among the descendants of Seth of the legendary ancestor of the three
Caucasian races. The Chaldean Noah was Khasisatra, whose vessel was
saved during the Flood by the god Héa. This god himself was, however,
supposed to have a vessel in which he sailed over the celestial ocean.
He was, in fact, the fish-god Oannes, from whom the Chaldeans were
said to have derived their civilisation, and we probably have in
Oannes the point of identification between Héa and Noah himself. The
Caucasian races, whose fathers had been saved from the Deluge, could
not have a better legendary ancestor than the divine teacher who,
issuing from the Egyptian sea, was the god Héa, not only the soul of
the watery element but the source of all generation. If Noah, then,
be a mythological being, introduced into the Sethite genealogy under
Chaldean influence, Lamekh becomes the direct ancestor of the Caucasian
stock as he is of the Turanian peoples. An argument in favour of this
view is furnished by the Scripture account itself. Among the sons of
Noah a peculiar position is occupied by Ham. He and his son Canaan are
cursed, in like manner as Cain was cursed. The sins were different,
and therefore the punishments were different, but there appears to be
a kind of parallelism between Cain and Canaan for which a good reason
probably existed in the mind of the writer of Genesis. We have seen
that the Hamites were intimately connected with peoples belonging to
the Turanian stock, and they were the special recipients of the old
Cainite civilisation. It is, indeed, far from improbable that they were
more Cainite than Sethite. The three sons of Noah would seem to answer
to the three sons of Adam, and as Ham or Canaan is a reproduction
of Cain, so Japheth and Shem are reproductions of Abel and Seth. In
either case the elder brothers were put on one side or cursed, that the
youngest brother might enjoy the inheritance. Perhaps an explanation
of this conduct may be found in the race relationships of the Semites.
That they had a closer affinity to the Hamites than had the Japhethites
is unquestionable, and it can hardly be less doubted that the latter
were the purest branch of the Caucasian stock. The Semites were,
indeed, a mixed race, but as the Hebrews professed to be the chosen
people it was necessary that the Hamite and Japhethite races should be
put on one side, as Abel and Cain had been, that their ancestor Shem
might take the chief place. The Semites thus became the representative
Caucasian people who, as children of light, stand in opposition to the
Turanian Hamites, in like manner as the sons of Seth were opposed to
the descendants of Cain.

We have been led to believe that the civilisation of the ancient world
originated among the Cainites, of whom the Turanians are the line of
descendants. We have seen reason, moreover, for supposing that the
particular branch of the Turanian stock, among whom the development
of the art of metallurgy first took place, was the Ural-Altaic, to
which the earliest inhabitants of Chaldea belonged, and whom Dr.
Topinard supposes to be the connecting-link between the fair types of
Europe and the brachycephalic types of Asia. The building art was one
of the earliest to be developed, as is evident from the reference in
Genesis to the building of a city by Cain. The erection of the first
city is connected with the slaying of Abel, and therefore the origin
of architecture may be referred back to almost the earliest period
of human culture, and we may well suppose that some of the least
cultured Turanian tribes represent a still earlier stage of Cainite
civilisation. M. Lenormant objects to Herr Knobel’s theory that the
Chinese and the Mongolian peoples are Cainites, that “the geographical
horizon of the traditions of Genesis did not extend far enough to
include them.” If, however, when the Chinese first descended into
the plains they were still in the stone age, they may have been true
Cainites, the more so as their immediate ancestors were located much
nearer than are their descendants to the primeval home of Adamite
man. The remarkable influence which the veneration for the serpent
has obtained among the Chinese, a superstition which was developed
no less remarkably among the peoples belonging to the Western branch
of the Turanian family, and through them among the Hamitic peoples,
would seem to prove that it was of primeval origin. The arts of
metallurgy and architecture appear to have had a later development,
and to have originated among the Turanian Aithiopians or Kuths, to
whom the civilisation of the ancient world was ascribed. After leaving
their home in West-Central Asia they settled in Chaldea, from whence
they gradually spread throughout Western Asia, Northern Africa, and
Europe, where, in later years, they came in contact with the Caucasian
races, who gave a higher tone to their intellectual culture and their
religious ideas, the latter being especially observable in the position
assigned to the great serpent as the embodiment of evil.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Note._—The legend of the slaying of Abel by his brother Cain referred
to at page 138, is met with in the Mythologies of some of the American
tribes. See _Monographie des Dènè Dindjié_, by C. R. E. Petitot,
pp. 62-84, and for a similar legend of the Aztecs, see _American
Hero-Myths_, by Daniel G. Brinton, pp. 64-68.



Mr. Darwin, in his work entitled “The Descent of Man” (vol. ii., p.
361), seems to endorse the opinion that the high honour bestowed in
ancient times on women who were utterly licentious is intelligible
only “if we admit that promiscuous intercourse was the aboriginal and
therefore the long revered custom of the tribe,”[230] and I propose, in
the present chapter, to show that the fact referred to has nothing at
all to do with the custom sought to be supported by it.

The examples on which Sir John Lubbock relies have been taken from
Dulaure’s work on ancient religions, but they are more fully detailed
in the “Histoire de la Prostitution” by M. Pierre Dufour, and they
certainly form one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of

According to Herodotus,[231] every woman born in Babylonia was obliged
by law, once in her life, to submit to the embrace of a stranger. Those
who were gifted with beauty of face or figure soon completed this
offering to Venus, but of the others some had to remain in the sacred
enclosure for several years before they were able to obey the law. This
statement of Herodotus is confirmed by the evidence of Strabo, who
says the custom dated from the foundation of the city of Babylon.

The compulsory prostitution of Babylonia was connected with the worship
of Mylitta, and wherever this worship spread it was accompanied by the
sexual sacrifice. Strabo relates[232] that in Armenia the sons and
daughters of the leading families were consecrated to the service of
Anaïtis for a longer or shorter period. Their duty was to entertain
strangers, and those females who had received the greatest number were
on their return home the most sought after in marriage. The Phœnician
worship of Astarté was no less distinguished by sacred prostitution,
to which was added a promiscuous intercourse between the sexes during
certain religious fêtes, at which the men and women exchanged their
garments. The Phœnicians carried the custom to the Isle of Cyprus,
where the worship of their great goddess, under the name of Venus,
became supreme.

According to a popular legend the women of Amathonte, afterwards
noted for its temple, were originally known for their chastity. When,
therefore, Venus was cast by the waves naked on their shores, they
treated her with disdain, and as a punishment they were commanded
to prostitute themselves to all comers, a command which they obeyed
with so much reluctance that the goddess changed them into stone.
With their worship of Astarté or Venus, the Phœnicians introduced
sacred prostitution into all their Colonies. St. Augustine says that,
at Carthage, there were three Venuses rather than one: one of the
virgins, another of the married women, and a third of the courtesans,
to the last of whom it was that the Phœnicians sacrificed the chastity
of their daughters before they were married. It was the same in
Syria. At Byblos during the fêtes of Adonis, after the ceremony which
announced the resurrection of the God, every female worshipper had to
sacrifice to Venus either her hair or her person. Those who preferred
to preserve the former adjourned to the sacred enclosures, where they
remained for a whole day for the purpose of prostituting themselves.

The same curious custom appears to have been practised in Media and
Persia, and among the Parthians. The Lydians were particularly noted
for the zeal with which they practised the rites of Venus. They did
not limit their observance to occasional attendance at the sacred
fêtes, but, says Herodotus, they devoted themselves to the goddess,
and practised, for their own benefit, the most shameless prostitution.
It is related that a magnificent monument to Alyattes, the father of
Crœsus, was built by the contributions of the merchants, the artisans,
and the courtesans, and that the portion of the monument erected with
the sum furnished by the courtesans much exceeded both the other parts
built at the expense of the artisans and merchants.

Some writers deny that sacred prostitution was practised in Egypt,
but the great similarity between the worship of Osiris and Isis and
that of Venus and Adonis renders the contrary opinion highly probable.
On their way to the fêtes of Isis at Bubastis the female pilgrims
executed indecent dances when the vessels passed the villages on
the banks of the river. “These obscenities,” says Dufour, “were only
such as were about to happen at the temple, which was visited each
year by seven hundred thousand pilgrims, who gave themselves up to
incredible excesses.” Strabo asserts that a class of persons called
_pellices_ (harlots) were dedicated to the service of the patron deity
of Thebes, and that they “were permitted to cohabit with anyone they
chose.” It is true that Sir Gardner Wilkinson[233] treats this account
as absurd, on the ground that the women, many of whom were the wives
and daughters of the noblest families, assisted in the most important
ceremonies of the temple. This fact is, however, quite consistent with
Strabo’s statement, which may have referred to an inferior class of
female servitors, and considering the customs of allied peoples, it is
more likely to be true than the reverse. The testimony of Herodotus is
certainly opposed to that of Strabo. But the former acknowledges that
he did not reveal all that he knew of the secrets of Egyptian worship,
and we must, therefore, receive with some hesitation his assertion
that “the Egyptians are the first who, from a religious motive, have
forbidden commerce with women in the sacred places, or even entrance
there after having known them, without being first cleansed.” The Greek
historian adds—“Almost all other peoples, except the Egyptians and the
Greeks, have commerce with women in the sacred places; or, when they
rise from them, they enter there without being washed.” Whatever may be
the truth as to the inhabitants of ancient Egypt, at the present day
the dancing girls of that country, who are also prostitutes, attend the
religious festivals just as the ancient devotees of Astarté are said to
have done.

If we test the value of Herodotus’ evidence on the matter in question
by what is known of Grecian customs, it will have little weight. Sacred
prostitution at Athens was under the patronage of Venus Pandemos, who
is said to have been the first divinity that Theseus caused the people
to adore, or, at least, to whom a statue was erected on the public
place. The fêtes of that goddess were celebrated on the fourth day of
each month, a chief part in them being assigned to the prostitutes,
who then exercised their calling only for the profit of the goddess,
and they expended in offerings the money which they had gained under
her auspices. At the height of its prosperity the temple of Venus at
Corinth had, according to Strabo, one thousand courtesans. It was a
common custom in Greece to consecrate to Venus a certain number of
young girls, when it was desired to render the goddess favourable, or
when she had granted the prayers addressed to her.

The ordinary Athenian prostitutes appear to have been dedicated to the
public service, and they were forbidden to leave the country without
the consent of the Archons, who often accorded it only on having a
guarantee that they would return. There would seem even to have been
a College of Prostitutes, which was declared useful and necessary to
the state. The story of the social influence of the _heteræ_ during
the palmiest days of Greece is too well known to need repetition, and
it will be found fully detailed in the pages of Dufour. The majority
of the _heteræ_, however, were far from being in the position of
Aspasia, Laïs, and others, who were the friends, and even instructors,
of statesmen and philosophers. Although they were allowed some of
the rights of citizenship, they were often treated with implacable
rigour by the Areopagus, and their children were condemned to the
same ignominy as themselves. Curiously enough, the chief accusation
against the prostitutes was their irreligion, and although they were
priestesses in some temples, from others they were rigidly excluded.

Among the Romans the prostitute class held a much lower position in
public opinion than with the Greeks, and for a long time its members
were treated as below the attention of legislators, and were left to
the arbitrary regulation of the police. They were classed with the
slave population as civilly dead, and, having once become “infamous,”
the moral stain was indelible. Dufour says, as to the religious
character of Latin prostitution—“The courtesans at Rome were not,
as in Greece, kept at a distance from the altars. On the contrary,
they frequented all the temples, in order, no doubt, to find their
favourable chances of gain; they showed their gratitude to the divinity
who had been propitious to them, and they brought to his sanctuary a
portion of the gain which they believed they owed to him. Religion
closed its eyes to this impure source of revenue and offerings; civil
legislation did not intermeddle with these details of false devotion,
which concerned only religion; and, thanks to that tolerance, or rather
the systematic abstention from judicial and religious control, sacred
prostitution preserved at Rome nearly its primitive features, with this
difference, nevertheless, that it was always confined to the class of
courtesans, and that, instead of being an integral part of worship,
it was a foreign accessory to it.” According to some Roman writers,
however, Acca Laurentia (the foster-mother of Romulus and Remus), in
whose honour the Lupercales were instituted, was a prostitute, and
the fêtes of Flora had a similar origin. The goddess of flowers was
originally a courtesan, who made an enormous fortune, which she left
to the state. Her legacy was accepted, and the Senate, in gratitude,
decreed that the name of Flora should be inscribed in the fastes of
the state, and that solemn fêtes should perpetuate the memory of her
generosity. These fêtes always preserved a remembrance of their origin,
and were accompanied by the most scandalous scenes, which were publicly
enacted in the circus.

The religious prostitutes of antiquity find their counterparts in the
dancing girls attached to the Hindoo temples. These “female slaves of
the idol” are girls who have been dedicated to the temple service,
often by their own parents, and they act both as dancing girls and
courtesans. Notwithstanding their calling, they are treated with great
respect, and such would seem always to have been the case, if we may
judge by the ancient legend which relates that Gautama was entertained
at Vesali by a lady of high rank who had the title of “Chief of the
Courtesans.”[234] No doubt the attention paid to the appearance and
education of the temple prostitutes has much to do with the respect
with which they are treated, the position accorded by the ancient
Greeks to the superior class of _heteræ_ being due to an analogous

Bishop Heber says, in relation to the Bayadêres of Southern India,
that they differ considerably from the Nautch girls of the Northern
Provinces, “being all in the service of different temples, for which
they are purchased young, and brought up with a degree of care which is
seldom bestowed on the females of India of any other class. This care
not only extends to dancing and singing, and the other allurements of
their miserable profession, but to reading and writing. Their dress is
lighter than the bundle of red cloth which swaddles the _figuranté_
of Hindostan, and their dancing is more indecent; but their general
appearance and manner seemed to me far from immodest, and their
air even more respectable than the generality of the lower classes
of India.... The money which they acquire in the practice of their
profession is hallowed to their wicked gods, whose ministers are said
to turn them out without remorse, or with a very scanty provision, when
age or sickness renders them unfit for their occupation. Most of them,
however, die young.” The Bishop adds, “I had heard that the Bayadêres
were regarded with respect among the other classes of Hindoos, as
servants of the gods, and that, after a few years’ service, they often
marry respectably. But, though I made several inquiries, I cannot find
that this is the case; their name is a common term of reproach among
the women of the country, nor could any man of decent caste marry one
of their number.”[235] The courtesans of Hindostan do not appear to be
attached to the temples, but Tavernier relates that they made offerings
to certain idols, to whom they surrendered themselves when young to
bring good fortune.

The chief facts connected with religious prostitution have now been
given, and it remains only to show that this system has nothing to
do with any custom of communal marriage, or promiscuous intercourse
between the sexes, such as it is thought to give evidence of. Sir
John Lubbock says that the life led by the courtesans attached to the
Hindoo temples is not considered shameful, because they continue the
old custom of the country under religious sanction. This statement,
however, is wholly inaccurate, as the former existence of the custom
referred to cannot be established. The social phenomena which are
thought to establish that mankind has passed through a stage of
promiscuity in the intercourse between the sexes are capable of totally
different interpretation. The ease with which any doctrine or practice,
however absurd or monstrous, will be accepted, if it possesses a
religious sanction, would alone account for the respect entertained for
religious prostitutes. But among a people who, like the Hindoos, view
sexual immorality for personal gain with abhorrence, such a calling,
if it were based on so barbarous a custom as communal marriage, would
inevitably lessen rather than increase that sentiment. On the other
hand, if the religious position accorded to the temple prostitutes
is connected with ideas which have a sacredness of their own, the
respect will be greatly increased. And thus, in fact, it is. Probably
no custom is more widely spread than the providing for a guest a
female companion, who is usually a wife or daughter of the host. Such
a connection with a stranger is permitted even among peoples who are
otherwise jealous preservers of female chastity. This custom of sexual
hospitality is said to have been practised by the Babylonians in the
time of Alexander, although, according to the Roman historian, parents
and husbands did not decline to accept money in return for the favours
thus accorded. Eusebius asserts that the Phœnicians prostituted their
daughters to strangers, and that this was done for the greater glory
of hospitality. So, also, we find that at Cyprus the women who devoted
themselves to the good goddess walked about the shores of the island to
attract the strangers who disembarked.

In the earliest phase of what is called sacred prostitution it was not
every man who was entitled to enjoy its privileges. The Babylonian
women, who were compelled to make a sacrifice of their persons once in
their lives, submitted to the embraces only of strangers. In Armenia,
also, strangers alone were entitled to seek sexual hospitality in the
sacred enclosures at the temple of Anaïtis, and it was the same in
Syria during the fêtes of Venus and Adonis. Dufour was struck by this
fact, and, speaking of it, he says, “It may be thought surprising
that the inhabitants of the country were so impressed with a worship
in which their women had all the benefit of the mysteries of Venus.”
He adds, however, that the former were not less interested than the
latter in these mysteries. “The worship of Venus was in some sort
stationary for the women, nomadic for the men, seeing that these could
visit in turn the different fêtes and temples of the goddess, profiting
everywhere, in these sensual pilgrimages, by the advantages reserved to
guests and to strangers.”

Besides hospitality, the practice of which is, under ordinary
circumstances, an almost sacred duty with uncultured peoples, there
was another series of ideas associated with the system of sacred
prostitution. In the East, the great aim of woman’s life is marriage
and bearing children. We have a curious reference to this fact in the
lament of the Hebrew women for Jephthah’s daughter, which appears to
have been occasioned less by her death than by the recorded fact that
“she knew no man.” When she heard of the vow made by her father, she
said to him, “Let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon
the mountains and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.” The desire
of the wife, however, is not merely for children, but for a man-child,
the necessity for which has given rise to the practice of adoption;
another custom which Sir John Lubbock believes to support his favourite
doctrine of communal marriage. In India adoption is practised when a
man has no son of his own, and it has a directly religious motive.
Sir Thomas Strange shows that the Hindoo law of inheritance cannot
be understood without reference to the belief that a man’s future
happiness depends “upon the performance of his obsequies and the
payment of his [spiritual] debts.” He who pays these debts is his
heir; and, as “offerings from sons are more effectual than offerings
from other persons, sons are first in order of succession.” Hence to
have a son is to the Hindoo a sacred duty, and when his wife bears no
children, or only daughters, he is compelled by his religious belief to
adopt one. We can understand how anxious for a son women must be where
those ideas prevail, and this anxiety has given rise to various curious
ceremonies having for their object to prevent or cure sterility. Some
of these, which have been described by Dulaure and other writers,
existed in Europe down to a comparatively recent period. In India, and
probably in some other Eastern countries, they are still practised both
by wives who have continued childless and by newly-married women, the
latter offering to the _Linga_ the sacrifice of their virginity.

This desire for children led to offerings being made to ensure the
coveted blessing, and to vows to be performed on its being obtained.
The nature of the vow would undoubtedly have some reference to the
thing desired; and, as related by an old Arabian traveller in India,
“when a woman has made a vow for the purpose of having children, if
she brings into the world a pretty daughter, she carries it to _Bod_
(so they call the idol which they adore), and leaves it with him.” The
craving for children was anciently as strong among Eastern peoples
as it is at the present day, and it is much more probable that this,
rather than a habit of licentiousness, either of the women themselves
or of the priests, led to the sacrifice at the shrine of Mylitta. If we
are to believe Herodotus, the Babylonian women were in his time noted
for their virtue, although at a later period they would seem to have
lost that characteristic.

The desire for children is directly opposed to the feeling which would
operate in the case of communal marriage, where parents and children,
having no special relation, no one would have any particular interest
in preserving the issue of such intercourse. Among the uncultured
peoples of the present era who the most nearly approach in their sexual
relations to a state of communal marriage, the indifference to children
is often apparent. Infanticide is very general, and abortion is often
practised by the women to enable them to retain the favour of their
husbands. The sacred prostitution, which is intimately connected with
the craving for children, must, therefore, have originated at a time
when a considerable advance had been made in social culture.

It would not be surprising if the ancient Babylonish custom had,
of itself, resulted in a system of sacred prostitution. The act of
sexual intercourse was in the nature of an offering to the Goddess of
Fecundity, and a life of prostitution in the service of the goddess
might well come to be viewed as pleasing to her and as deserving of
respect at the hands of her worshippers. We have an analogous phase of
thought in the Japanese notion, that a girl who enters the Yoshiwara
for the purpose of thus supporting her parents performs a highly
meritorious act. In Armenia, as we have seen, children were devoted by
their parents to the service of the great goddess for a term of years,
and those who had received the most numerous favours from strangers
were the most eagerly sought after in marriage on the expiration of
that period. That dedication was in pursuance of a vow, which no doubt,
like the vows of Indian women at the present day, would at first have
relation to some sexual want, although thank-offerings of the same
character would afterwards come to be presented by the worshippers of
the goddess for blessings of any description. Thus Xenophon consecrated
fifty courtesans to the Corinthian Venus, in pursuance of the vow which
he had made when he besought the goddess to give him the victory in the
Olympian games. Pindar makes Xenophon thus address these slaves of the
goddess: “Oh, young damsels, who receive all strangers and give them
hospitality, priestesses of the goddess Pitho in the rich Corinth, it
is you who, in causing the incense to burn before the images of Venus
and in invoking the mother of love, often merit for us her celestial
aid, and procure for us the sweet moments which we taste on the
luxurious couches where is gathered the delicate fruit of beauty.”

The legitimate inference to be made from what has gone before is that
sacred prostitution sprang from the primitive custom of providing
sexual hospitality for strangers, the agents by which it was carried
out being supplied by the votaries of the deity under whose sanction
the custom was placed. Assuming its existence, and the strong desire
on the part of married women for children, which led them to sacrifice
their own virginity as an offering to the Goddess of Fecundity, or to
dedicate their daughters to her service, we have a perfect explanation
of the custom of sacred prostitution. The duty of these “servants of
the idol” would include the furnishing of hospitality to the strangers
who visited the shrines and fêtes of the deity. These pilgrims became
the guests of the deity, and she was bound to furnish them with the
same hospitality as that which they would have met with if they had
been entertained by private individuals. The piety of her worshippers
enabled her to do this, either by devoting their daughters for a
limited period to this sacred service, in return for which the reward
of fecundity would be looked for, or by presenting them absolutely
to the goddess in return for favours received at her hands. It is
not surprising that among peoples having such notions, the temple
courtesans were regarded with great respect, nor that those who had
acted in that capacity with success were eagerly sought after as wives.
It is more difficult to understand how sexual hospitality should have
come to be placed under divine sanction. The difficulty vanishes,
however, when the light in which the process of generation is viewed
in the East is considered. That which by us is looked upon as due to
a passionate impulse, was anciently (except among certain religious
sects), and is still to the Eastern mind, an act of mysterious
significance. The male organ of generation was the symbol of creative
power, and the veneration in which it was held led to practices which
to a modern European are nothing but disgusting, although to the Semite
they partake of a purely religious character.

To pursue this subject further would be to enter upon the wide field of
Phallic worship. Sufficient has, however, already been said to prove
that sacred prostitution is only remotely connected, if at all, with
communal marriage. The only apparent connection between them is the
sexual hospitality to strangers which the former was established to
supply; but the association is only apparent, as the providing of that
hospitality is perfectly consistent with the recognition of the value
of female chastity, and is quite independent of any ideas entertained
as to marriage.

In conclusion, I may add that the opinion expressed by Sir John
Lubbock,[236] that the Grecian _hetæræ_ were more highly esteemed than
the married women, because the former were originally countrywomen and
relations, and the latter captives and slaves, is not consistent with
the facts of the case. Any one conversant with the social customs of
ancient Greece will be able to give a totally different explanation
of that phenomenon. Marriage with foreign women was forbidden, and
thus captives and slaves furnished the Greeks with concubines and
prostitutes, while their wives were taken from among their own
countrywomen. Even such was the case in the earliest heroic ages,
when, says Mr. Gladstone, the intercourse between husband and wife was
“thoroughly natural, full of warmth, dignity, reciprocal deference,
and substantial, if not conventional delicacy.” The same writer says:
“The relations of youth and maiden generally are indicated with extreme
beauty and tenderness in the Iliad; and those of the unmarried woman
to a suitor, or probable spouse, are so portrayed, in the case of the
incomparable Nausicaa, as to show a delicacy and freedom that no period
of history or state of manners can surpass.”[237]


[230] Sir John Lubbock’s “Origin of Civilisation,” 3rd ed., p. 96.

[231] Clio, sec. 199.

[232] Bk. ii., Melpom., 172.

[233] “Ancient Egyptians,” iv., 204.

[234] Mrs. Spier’s “Life in Ancient India,” p. 281.

[235] “Journey,” iii., 219.

[236] _Op. cit._, p. 120.

[237] “Juventus Mundi,” pp. 408, 411.



The usual idea associated with the term “marriage” is the union in
domestic life of a single pair of individuals, and with few exceptions
this is the only marriage recognised by Christian peoples. We learn
from the Old Testament Scriptures that the Hebrews had different
ideas on that subject. They not only considered it allowable for a
man to have more than one wife, but apparently they thought he might
have as many wives as he chose. This system of marriage, to which the
term polygamy has been usually applied, is still prevalent in most
countries outside of the European area. The monogamous and polygamous
forms of marriage are, however, by no means the only possible ones.
Instead of a man and a woman living together, a number of individuals
may thus associate, and in lieu of a man having several wives a woman
may conceivably have more than one husband. Moreover, marriage may be
subject to varying regulations or restrictions, causing the same system
to present dissimilar features in different localities. That which is
_possible_ in social life may reasonably be expected to occur somewhere
or other on the earth’s surface; and, as a fact, all the types of
marriage referred to are to be found among peoples of the Eastern

It can hardly be doubted that the most civilised races, of which we
may call the modern world, have, with the exception of the Chinese,
belonged to the two great branches of the Caucasian stock, the
Aryan and the Semitic-speaking peoples. Those races, and especially
such of them as inhabit the Western part of the Old Continent, have
shown a preference for monogamy or polygamy, the former being almost
restricted to Europeans, the latter being nearly universal among the
Asiatic portion of the Caucasian stock. The inferior races, however,
possess the least advanced systems of marriage. The natives of the
Australian Continent are usually regarded as the most uncivilised of
mankind, and among them there has been developed a system which some
persons would probably consider not entitled to the name of marriage.
In it individuals give place theoretically to groups, between whom
the marriage relation is supposed to be formed, the individuals being
treated only as members of a group. The existence of this peculiar
system has been established by the inquiries of the Rev. Lorimer Fison,
who has shown, moreover, that Australian marriage “is something
more than the marriage of group to group, _within a tribe_. It is
an arrangement, extending across a Continent, which divides many
widely-scattered tribes into intermarrying classes, and gives a man
of one class marital rites over women of another class in a tribe a
thousand miles away, and speaking a language other than his own. It
seems to be strong evidence of the common origin of all the Australian
tribes among whom it prevails; and it is a striking illustration of how
custom remains fixed while language changes.”[238] An American writer,
Mr. Lewis Morgan, who was the first to point out the prevalence among
the less cultured races of mankind of relationship which he terms
“_classificatory_,” in opposition to the _descriptive_ relationships
of the superior races, states that, according to Australian marriage,
“a group of males distinguished by the same class name are the born
husbands of a group of females bearing another class name; and
whenever a male of this class meets a female of the other class, they
recognise each other as husband and wife, and their right to live in
this relation is regarded by the tribe to which they belong.” The
peculiarity of this system is, not that each individual is entitled
to take a wife or husband out of a particular group, but that, in
theory, every individual is from birth the husband or wife of all the
members of a special group. Mr. Fison remarks further that the idea
of marriage under that system is founded on the rights neither of the
woman nor of the man. It is based “on the rights of the tribe, or
rather of the classes into which the tribe is divided. Class marriage
is not a contract entered into by two parties. It is a natural state
into which both parties are born, and they have to be content with
that state whereunto they are called.” But what is the nature of the
social organisation to which the system of group marriage belongs? At
the present time nearly all the existing Australian tribes are divided
into four classes, into one of which every individual is born. The
members of each class are supposed to trace their descent to the same
common female ancestor, they are treated as of the same degrees of
kinship to each other, and they are not allowed to intermarry. There
is reason to believe that originally, perhaps when the ancestors of
all the existing tribes resided in the same neighbourhood, each tribe
consisted of only two classes. In this case, the law of group marriage,
under the regulations as to marriage and descent just mentioned, would
require that all the members of each class should be real or tribal
brothers and sisters of each other, and the husbands and wives of all
the members of the other class. The theoretical result would be, that
all the men of each class would have their wives in common, and all
the women of each class their husbands in common. Whether the number
of individuals in each group was large or small, the result would be
the same. In practice, the exercise of the extended marriage right
would be restricted to a few individuals, but that its existence is
generally understood is shown by the statement of a native servant,
who had travelled far and wide in Australia, that “he was furnished
with temporary wives by the various tribes with whom he sojourned in
his travels; that his right to those women was recognised as a matter
of course; and that he could always ascertain whether they belonged
to the division into which he could legally marry, though the places
were a thousand miles apart, and the languages quite different.” This
particular case might, perhaps, be explained as an extreme example of
the granting of sexual hospitality; but Mr. Fison refers to several
facts which prove the reality of the relationships arising out of
group marriage, and therefore of this system itself. He states that
an Australian “has the rights of a brother, and he acknowledges the
duties of a brother, towards every man of his own group; and he can
no more marry a woman of a group which is ‘sister’ to his own than we
can marry our own sister.” Among the Australians, as among some other
races who are supposed to have had at one time a similar marriage
system, a mother-in-law and a son-in-law mutually avoid each other.
This conduct is based on the fact that the mother-in-law belongs to the
class of women over whom the son-in-law has a marital right, but as
she is _specially_ forbidden to him they must keep out of each other’s
way. Again, the incidents attendant on adoption are in accordance with
the reality of group relationships. A person who is adopted into a
gens or family “forthwith abandons all the relationships of his own
gens, and takes those of the gens into which he is adopted,” a result
which is due to the fact that relationship is conceived, not between
individual and individual, but between group and group. Extraordinary
as is the Australian system at the present time, when each class, or
intermarrying group, embraces so many individuals, it would not appear
so strange if, as was originally the case, each group consisted only of
the immediate descendants of the common female ancestor. In this case
all the males in any particular generation of each family group would
be the husbands of all the females in the same generation of the other
family; in other words, all the men of each group would have their
wives in common and all the women their husbands in common. Moreover,
the actual practice of the Australian tribes differs from the theory.
Every man and every woman is permanently married to an individual of
the opposite sex, and often this connection is formed at an early
age by arrangement between the parents of the persons concerned. In
addition, however, each of these persons may be allotted by the great
council of the tribe as an “accessory spouse,” or _pirauru_, to some
other individual. The Australian system, therefore, presents a mixture
of individual marriage and group marriage, the latter of which is
evidently closely connected with the right of sexual hospitality, which
is considered by the savage mind as natural and of great importance.

Australian marriage is thus based on what may be theoretically termed
the natural marriage between two groups of individuals whose wishes are
never consulted in the matter. The same arrangement might, of course,
be made among the individuals themselves, and, curiously enough, a form
of group marriage, much restricted in its operation, was at one time
fully recognised among the Polynesian Islands of the Pacific. This
system was known as _punalua_, and it consisted in two or more brothers
having their wives, or two or more sisters having their husbands, in
common. Here, brothers and sisters form one group, and the wives of
the one with the husbands of the other, themselves being brothers
and sisters (actual or tribal), form another group answering to the
intermarrying classes of the Australians. The Polynesian _punalua_
and the Australian group marriage are, therefore, fundamentally the
same.[239] The Australian system is much the more comprehensive,
however, as it affects all the members of a class, while the Polynesian
affects only the persons immediately concerned. Each punaluan group
appears to be formed independently, with the consent of all the
parties to the arrangement, and without conferring any sexual right on
the children belonging to it. This is totally unlike the Australian
practice, which recognises individuals only as members of particular
groups, standing to each other in a certain marital relation and
perpetuated by descent through their female members. The latter may be
described as _hereditary_ punalua, as distinguished from the Polynesian
system, which is purely personal.

Mr. Morgan points out that _punalua_ may be of two forms, one founded
on the brotherhood of the husbands, and the other on the sisterhood
of the wives, the men of each group being polygamous and the women
polyandrous. Both forms of that marriage arrangement are said to have
existed among the natives of America, although, when discovered by
Europeans, the family with them was founded on marriage between single
pairs, but without exclusive cohabitation. Thus, it was not uncommon
for a man who married an eldest daughter to claim all his wife’s
sisters, and he appears to have occasionally allowed his brothers
to participate in the matrimonial privileges. In other cases, a man
married the sister of his deceased wife as a matter of course, but
he did not take her in his wife’s lifetime. Similar customs exist in
some parts of Australia, where the old system of marriage has been
almost forgotten. The polyandrous form of punalua was known to the
Australians either as a feature of the group right, or in the course of
its decadence. Thus, every woman had accessory husbands or paramours
who associated with her temporarily, notwithstanding that she had a
recognised husband with whom she habitually cohabited. Mr. T. E. Lance
mentions a tribe in which most of the women are nominally the wives of
elderly men, who are, however, obliged to lend them on stated occasions
to the younger men of the allowed classes.

It is evident that circumstances may favour the development of either
the polyandrous or the polygamous form of punalua to the exclusion
of the other. A scarcity of women would tend to the establishment of
the former system, as we see in the case of the Todas of Southern
India. This fine race of hillmen were inveterate practisers of
female infanticide down to a recent date, and it was almost the
universal practice for a family of near relations to live together
in one hut, having wife, children, and cattle in common.[240] The
continued formation of such alliances appears to have led to a result
much resembling the group marriage of the Australians. As Colonel
Marshall states, “the family come to be represented mainly by a knot
of brothers, half-brothers, and cousins, married to closely related
kinswomen in nearly equal numbers; the men being the common fathers
of all the progeny; each woman, however, the mother of her own
children only.”[241] The Todas have, under British influence, given
up the practice of infanticide, but they have fewer female than male
children, owing to a preponderance of male births, and polyandry is
still customary among them. A woman is at first married with her own
consent to one man, who pays the dowry. Afterwards, however, “if the
husband has brothers, or very near relatives, all living together, they
may each, if both she and he consent, participate in the right to be
considered her husband also, on making up a share of the dowry that
has been paid.”[242] Notwithstanding the example of the Todas, it must
not be thought that a scarcity of women is essential to the existence
of polyandry. In Tibet this system of marriage is universal, and it
has been so from time immemorial. Nevertheless, unmarried women are
numerous, and infanticide is not practised. Mr. Andrew Wilson defined
Tibetan polyandry as the marriage of one woman to two or more brothers,
and these are actual brothers, although at one time probably they may
also have been tribal. The choice of a wife is the right of the elder
brother, and Mr. Wilson states[243] that “among the Tibetan-speaking
people it universally prevails that the contract he makes is understood
to involve a marital contract with all the brothers, if they choose to
avail themselves of it.” Moreover, all the children of the marriage
belong to the eldest brother, as the head of the family group. In
Ladak,[244] however, the consent of the younger brothers is required
to the marital partnership, although on the death of the eldest brother
his authority, with his property and his widow, devolve upon his next
brother, whether or not there has been a polyandrous arrangement.
Mr. Wilson observes[245] that Tibetan polyandry had the effect “of
checking the increase of population in regions from which emigration
is difficult, and where it is also difficult to increase the means
of subsistence.” It is due to an artificial scarcity of _wives_,
rather than of women, in which it differs from the polyandry of the
Todas, which is the consequence of an actual scarcity of females,
caused originally by the practice of infanticide, and afterwards by a
preponderance of male births. Both the Tibetans and the Todas trace
descent through the male line—that is, take the family or gentile
name of the father; but some peoples of Southern India, who practice
polyandry, prefer the female line. This is not surprising, when we
find, as among the Nairs of Malabar, that not only has a woman several
husbands, but a man “may be one in several combinations of husbands.”
Such unions, which are governed by certain restrictions as to tribe and
caste, closely resemble the Australian group marriage. In Ceylon, where
polyandry is very prevalent among the Kandyans, marriage is of two
forms, one termed _deega_, in which the wife goes to live in the house
and village of her husband or husbands, the other, termed _beena_, in
which the husband or husbands come to reside with her in the house
of her birth. The Tibetan polyandry may be a form of the _deega_
marriage, and the Nair polyandry a form of the _beena_ marriage,
although it is possible that the latter may be a “mere freak,” if it
be true (as Mr. Wilson affirms) that the Nairs are nominally married
to girls of their own caste, but never have any intercourse with their
wives, who may have as many lovers as they please, provided they are
Brahmins or Nairs, other than the husband. These lovers answer to the
paramours of the Australian system, but, whereas the latter occupy
a secondary place, among the Nairs it is the husband who is in that
position. This custom may not improbably be explained by the remarks
of a Mohammedan writer, who says,[246] with regard to the marriages
of the Brahmins of Malabar, “when there are several brothers in one
family, the eldest of them alone enters into the conjugal state (except
in cases where it is evident that he will have no issue), the remainder
refraining from marriage, in order that heirs may not multiply to the
confusion of inheritance. The younger brothers, however, intermarry
with women of the Nair caste without entering into any compact with
them, thus following the custom of the Nairs, who have themselves no
conjugal contract. In the event of any children being born from these
connections, they are excluded from the inheritance; but should it
appear evident that the elder brother will not have issue, then another
brother, the next to him in age, will marry.” The irregular marriages
with the Nair women were, perhaps, introduced by the Brahmins to
provide wives for the brothers of their caste who were not allowed to
marry. The original Nair polyandry may have been similar to that of the
carpenters, ironsmiths, painters, and other Malabar castes, who (says
the same writer) “cohabit, two or more together, with one woman, but
not unless they are brothers, or in some way related, lest confusion
should ensue in the inheritance of property.”

It is thought, from certain facts mentioned in the Mahá Bhárata, that
polyandry was a recognised institution among the early Hindus, and
that the eldest brother had the right, as now among the Tibetans,
to choose a wife for the family. Some writers have gone so far even
as to assert that all the peoples of the primitive Aryan stock, and
our own British ancestors amongst them, practised the same custom or
some form of group marriage. Mr. J. F. M’Lennan regarded the Hebrew
law of the Levirate, which required a younger son to take his elder
brother’s widow if he had died childless, as having been derived
from the practice of polyandry. Whether this was so, or whether it
was merely a regulation to prevent the elder branch of a stock from
becoming extinct, traces of polyandry have undoubtedly been met with
among peoples of the Semitic stock. It would seem, however, to have
been most prevalent among the tribes of Southern Arabia, and it was
probably due, chiefly to the poverty of the people,[247] as among the
Tibetans, who may have directly influenced the development of polyandry
in Arabia. The true marriage system of the Semitic peoples was punalua
of the polygamous form, in which several sisters had a husband in
common. We have an instance of it in the marriage of Jacob with the
sisters Leah and Rachel. At a later period, however, when blood or even
tribal relationship between the wives was not required, the practice
of polygamy became fully established. This system has attained its
chief development among the Semitic races and those African peoples who
are allied to them by blood. The most widely-spread forms of marriage
now existing are polygamy and monogamy, and while the former may be
traced to the polygamous phase of punalua or group marriage, it is not
improbable that the latter is traceable to the polyandrous phase. At
all events, monogamy has been established chiefly among those races
who are supposed, formerly, to have been polyandrous. The Australians,
among whom group marriage has reached so full a development, are said
to show a tendency to the introduction of individual marriage. Descent
through the female line, which was, at one time, universal among
them, is giving place to descent through males, where residence has
become fixed and property accumulated. The change is accompanied by a
weakening of the group right, and the gradual introduction of marriage
“by gifts, by exchange, by capture, and by elopement, one or other of
these predominating.” The rights of the individual are thus substituted
for those of the group, and individual marriage is recognised.

Strange as are the various marriage systems we have referred to, they
are based on the very simple principle that every individual has a
sexual right. The conditions under which this right may be exercised
vary among different peoples, their operation giving rise to the
peculiar married arrangements in question. Among the Australians,
almost the only restriction on sexual unions appears to be that arising
from consanguinity. Their marriage regulations have evidently been
formed with the intention of absolutely prohibiting unions between
persons near of kin. Although marriage with a sister of the half-blood
is often permitted, and for special reasons marriage with a full sister
may be allowed, the objection to consanguineous unions may be declared
to be universal among peoples of a low degree of culture. Their
marriage regulations, however, are generally intended to have certain
positive results. The chief result aimed at would seem to be the
prevention of over-population. This fact, combined with the recognition
of the sexual rights of man, accounts for the polyandry of the Tibetans
and the Hindus, and the attainment of it is in many cases aided by the
practice of infanticide. Polygamy, on the other hand, has no apparent
relation to the question of population. It is connected rather with the
rights of the gens or family to which the women belong, the man having,
in many cases, certain duties to perform before he can obtain his wife
or wives. The development of polygamy is, moreover, attended with an
invasion of the sexual rights of individuals; as the appropriation of
the women by the rich or powerful often renders the obtaining of wives
by the poor or weak difficult, if not impossible.

The objection entertained by peoples of a low degree of culture to
the marriage of persons near of kin is a strong ground of objection
to Mr. Morgan’s theory that consanguineous unions were the earliest
to be formed; in other words, that “promiscuous intermarriage between
brothers and sisters and others of the closest kin” was, at one time,
customary. Mr. Fison refers to various practices which he thinks
point to the former existence of such a state of things among the
Australians. In reality, however, they are merely incidents of the
group marriage which has been developed by that race, or at most, the
result of temporary suspension under special circumstances of the
restrictions which that system enforces. They are, indeed, cases of
licentiousness similar to what is often met with among many peoples
during religious and other festivals. The occurrence of a temporary
condition of lawlessness on various occasions, such as the death of a
chief or the celebration of an important event, is not unknown even to
civilised nations. Mr. Morgan’s opinion as to the former prevalence
of consanguineous marriages derives no real support from the fact
mentioned by Mr. Fison, and as I have elsewhere[248] shown, marriages
of that character are not required to account for the phenomena
exhibited in the classificatory system of relationship which exists
among the primitive races of mankind.


[238] “Kamilaroi and Kurnai,” p. 54.

[239] Mr. Fison alludes to the New Zealand practice of a woman’s
suitors wrestling for her, which is called _punarua_. This word, he
says, is the Hawaiian _punalua_, which denotes the common-right of
tribal brothers to certain women (_note_, p. 153).

[240] “A Phrenologist among the Todas,” by Col. William E. Marshall, p.

[241] Ditto, p. 226.

[242] “A Phrenologist among the Todas,” by Col. William E. Marshall, p.

[243] “The Abode of Snow,” p. 233.

[244] “Ancient Society,” by J. F. M’Lennan, p. 158.

[245] _Op. cit._, p. 234.

[246] “Tohful-ul-Mujahideen,” p. 63.

[247] “Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia,” pp. 128, 235.

[248] “Journal of the Anthropological Institute,” vol. viii. (1879), p.
144, _et seq._



Various attempts have been made to account for the prevalence among
peoples of all degrees of culture of what has been called “marriage by
capture,” or of rites which furnish evidence of its former existence.
Mr. M’Lennan traces it to infanticide, which by “rendering women
scarce, led at once to polyandry within the tribe, and the capturing of
women from without.” On the other hand, Sir John Lubbock ascribes the
origin of “marriage by capture” to a desire on the part of individuals
to acquire women for themselves, “without infringing on the general
rights of the tribe.” According to this view, communal marriage was
replaced by special connections, accompanied by the introduction of
a foreign element, giving rise to the practice of _exogamy_. The
reference to this practice (the necessity for which must, if Mr.
M’Lennan’s idea is correct, have preceded “marriage by capture,”
instead of the latter originating it) unnecessarily complicates the
question under discussion.

Although exogamy is often associated with forcible marriage, the two
things are perfectly distinct, and they have had totally different
origins. Mr. Morgan very justly connects the former with certain ideas
entertained by primitive peoples with regard to blood relationship,
and it can be explained most simply and rationally as _marriage out
of the clan_, it having sprang from the belief that all the members of
a clan are related by blood, and therefore incapable of being united
in marriage. This view is confirmed by the fact that tribes which are
_endogamous_ in relation to other tribes are _exogamous_ in the sense
that they comprise several clans, the members of none of which can
intermarry among themselves. We have a curious example of this limited
exogamy in the Chinese, among whom persons bearing the same family name
are not permitted to intermarry. True endogamy would seem to exist
among very few peoples, and when it is practised the custom is probably
due to special circumstances, which, giving prominence to a particular
clan, have enabled them to claim a caste privilege, or it may be owing
to a necessity arising from the complete severance of the members of a
clan from their fellows. The scarcity of women, whether occasioned by
infanticide or polygamy, may have rendered exogamy more requisite, and
it may have been complicated by forcible marriage, but none of these
have any real bearing on its origin.

It could be shown without difficulty that the opinion entertained by
the writers I have referred to, that the primitive condition of man was
one of communal marriage, is untenable, and if I am correct in this
conclusion, there will be no occasion to consider the argument that
“marriage by capture” depended on such a social condition. The idea
that “marriage by capture” originated in the necessity for exogamy,
arising from infanticide or some other practice, is more plausible,
and such an explanation of the custom may be accepted where it is
not universal in a tribe, but resorted to only in particular cases or
under special conditions. The capture of wives among the Australian
aborigines is expressly accounted for by Oldfield as being due to the
scarcity of women. But where forcible marriage can be traced to the
action of individual caprice it must be treated as exceptional, and
some other explanation must be sought for the widespread practices
which are supposed to prove the former prevalence of that custom. From
this standpoint Mr. M’Lennan’s explanation is far from satisfactory,
as may be shown by analysis of the incidents attendant on “marriage by
capture,” as practised by different peoples.

It is true that sometimes the carrying off of the bride is resisted
by her friends, and is attended in some cases, as among the Welsh
down to a comparatively recent period, by a sham fight between them
and the friends of the bridegroom; although among other peoples, as
with the Khonds of India, the protection of the bride is left to
her female companions. In the great majority of cases cited by Sir
John Lubbock, however, the suitor forcibly removes the bride without
any hindrance from her friends. Occasionally, as with the Tunguses,
the New Zealanders, and the Mandingos, she strongly resists. Among
other peoples, as with the Esquimaux, the resistance is usually only
pretended, and is thus analogous to the sham fight already referred to.
In all these cases alike, however, it is the girl only who has to be
conquered, and if the resistance were real it would depend on herself
whether or not she should be captured. There are other incidents of
this forcible marriage which have more significance than has hitherto
been attached to them. Among the New Zealanders, if the girl who
is being carried off can break away from her captor and regain her
father’s house, the suitor loses all chance of ever obtaining her in
marriage. So, also, among the Fijians, if a woman does not approve of
the man who has taken her by force to his house, she leaves him for
some one who can protect her. Among the Fuegians the girl who is not
willing to accept her would-be husband does not wait to be carried off,
but hides herself in the woods, and remains concealed until he is tired
of looking for her. According to Mongol custom, the bride hides herself
with some of her relations, and the bridegroom has to search for and
find her. Something like the Fuegian custom is practised by the Aitas,
among whom the bride has to conceal herself in a wood, where the suitor
must find her before sunset.

In these cases the will of the bride-elect is a very important element,
and it is equally so in those cases where she is captured and carried
off only after a prolonged chase. Thus, with the Kalmucks, according
to Dr. Clarke, the girl gallops away at full speed, pursued by her
suitor, and if she does not wish to marry him she always effects her
escape. An analogous custom is found among the uncultured tribes of the
Malayan Peninsula. Here, however, the chase is on foot, and generally
round a circle, although sometimes in the forest, and, as Bourien
(quoted by Sir John Lubbock) says, the pursuer is successful only if
he “has had the good fortune to please the intended bride.” A similar
custom is found among the Koraks of NorthEastern Asia. Here the
ceremony takes place within a large tent containing numerous separate
compartments (_pologs_), arranged in a continuous circle around its
inner circumference. Mr. Kennan (in his “Tent Life in Siberia”) gives
an amusing and instructive description of such a ceremony. The women of
the encampment, armed with willow and alder rods, stationed themselves
at the entrances of the pologs, the front curtains of which were
thrown up. Then, at a given signal, “the bride darted suddenly into
the first polog, and began a rapid flight around the tent, raising
the curtains between the pologs successively, and passing under. The
bridegroom instantly followed in hot pursuit, but the women who were
stationed in each compartment threw every possible impediment in his
way, tripping up his unwary feet, holding down the curtains to prevent
his passage, and applying the willow and alder switches unmercifully
to a very susceptible part of his body as he stooped to raise them....
With undismayed perseverance he pressed on, stumbling headlong over the
outstretched feet of his female persecutors, and getting constantly
entangled in the ample folds of the reindeer-skin curtains, which
were thrown with the skill of a matador over his head and eyes. In a
moment the bride had entered the last closed polog near the door, while
the unfortunate bridegroom was still struggling with his accumulated
misfortunes about half way round the tent. I expected,” says the
traveller, “to see him relax his efforts and give up the contest when
the bride disappeared, and was preparing to protest strongly on his
behalf against the unfairness of the trial; but, to my surprise, he
still struggled on, and with a final plunge, burst through the curtain
of the last polog, and rejoined his bride,” who had waited for him
there. Mr. Kennan adds that “the intention of the whole ceremony was
evidently to give the woman an opportunity to marry the man or not, as
she chose, since it was obviously impossible for him to catch her under
such circumstances, unless she voluntarily waited for him in one of the

Judging only from the element of force observable in what are termed
“marriages by capture,” the explanation of them given by Mr. M’Lennan
appears reasonable. But, although capture may be an incident of
exogamy, the customs under consideration are really connected with
endogamy, in the sense that the parties to them belong to a common
tribe. Moreover, those customs are wanting in another of the elements
which would be necessary to justify their being classed as “survivals”
of an earlier practice of forcible exogamy. This pre-supposes the
absence of consent on the part of the relatives of the bride, but
the so-called marriage by capture is nearly always preceded by an
arrangement with them. The only exception among the various examples of
such marriages mentioned by Sir John Lubbock is that of the inhabitants
of Bali, where the man is said to forcibly carry off his bride to the
woods, and to _afterwards_ effect reconciliation with her “enraged”
friends. It is not improbable, however, that rage may be simulated in
this case as in others, and that the capture is arranged beforehand
with them. Sir John Lubbock himself explains an apparent act of lawless
violence among the Mandingos as an incident of “marriage by capture,”
on the ground that the bride’s relatives “only laughed at the farce,
and consoled her by saying that she would soon be reconciled to her
situation;” and it appears that her mother had previously given her
consent to the proceeding. A mere general understanding, if universally
recognised, would indeed be as efficacious as a special consent,
and whether the consent of the parent has to be obtained previously
to overcoming the opposition of the bride, or whether this has to
be overcome as a condition precedent to the consent being given, is
practically of no importance. We seem to have an example of the latter
in the marriage customs of the Afghans as described by Elphinstone.
Among this people wives are always purchased, and the necessity for
paying the usual price is not done away with, although a man is allowed
to make sure of his bride by cutting off a lock of her hair, snatching
away her veil, or throwing a sheet over her, if he declares at the same
time that she is his affianced wife.

The facts just mentioned lead to the conclusion that the “capture”
which forms the most prominent incident in the marriage customs under
discussion, has a totally different significance from that which is
connected with exogamy in the sense supposed by Mr. M’Lennan and Sir
John Lubbock. In the latter case force is resorted to to prevent the
possibility of opposition by the tribe to whom the victim of the
violence belongs; but in the former, as the consent of the woman’s
relatives had already been given, expressly or by implication, the
force must be to overcome the possible opposition of the woman
herself, whether this may arise from bashfulness or from an actual
dislike to the suitor. We have here an important distinction, and
it points to a state of society where women have acquired a right
to exercise a choice in the matter of marriage. Before this right
could be fully established the suitor would be allowed to obtain her
compliance by force, if necessary, as with the Greenlanders, among
whom, according to Crantz, the bride, if, after she has been captured
by the old women who negotiated the marriage, she cannot be persuaded
by kind and courteous treatment, is “compelled by force, nay, sometimes
by blows, to change her state.” But even among the Greenlanders, if
a girl had great repugnance to her suitor, she could escape marriage
by betaking herself to the mountains. A still more efficacious plan
is the cutting off of her hair, which frees her from all importunity,
as it is accepted as a sure sign that she has determined never to
marry. “Marriage by capture” has thus relation not to the tribe but
to the individual immediately concerned, and it is based on her power
to withhold her consent to the contract made between her suitor and
her relatives. Among some uncultured peoples the opposition of the
bride-elect is effectually overcome by force, but it is seldom that
she is not allowed the opportunity of escaping a marriage which she
dislikes. When once it has become usual for the bride to show a real
or simulated opposition to the proposed marriage, as might easily be
the case among peoples who, although uncultured, esteem chastity before
marriage, it would in course of time be firmly established as a general
custom. Thus, when a Greenland young woman is asked in marriage she
professes great bashfulness, tears her ringlets, and runs away. When
the show of opposition had become a matter of etiquette, it would,
notwithstanding that the marriage had been previously arranged, be
joined in by the friends of the bride, who, by a fiction, is being
carried off against her will. Hence the customs of having a sham fight
before the bridegroom is allowed to gain possession of his prize, and
the placing of impediments in the way of his catching her in the chase,
neither of which has any relation to a supposed primitive practice of
forcible abduction from a hostile tribe.

It will be said, however, if the relations of the bride have consented
to her marriage, why do they oppose the carrying into effect of their
agreement? Much light is thrown on this point by the description given
by Colonel Dalton of the customs of the hill-tribes of Bengal.[249]
With many of the aboriginal peoples of India, and with some Sudra
castes, one of the most important ceremonies of marriage is the
application of the _Sindur_ to the forehead of the bride; this consists
in the bridegroom making, usually with vermilion, a red mark between
her eyes. In some places, however, particularly in Singhbum, among the
Hos, the bridegroom and bride mark each other with blood, signifying
that by marriage they become one. Colonel Dalton supposes this to be
the origin of the _Sindrahan_, a custom which is as singular as it is
widespread. With the Oraons, a Dravidian tribe, the same ceremony is
practised, but in secret. A veil is cast over the bridal pair, who
are then covered with another piece of stuff held by some of their
male relations, while others mount guard, fully armed, as though to
kill any one who might approach to interfere with the ceremony. In the
Singhbum villages the ceremony is modified, and the engaged couple
drink beer from the same vessel. This signifies that they form only
one body, belong to the same _kili_—in other words, that the woman
is admitted to the clan of her husband. Dr. Hunter, in his admirable
work entitled “Annals of Rural Bengal,” says the great event of the
life of a Santal is the union of his “tribe” with another “tribe” in
marriage. No individual can marry a member of his own clan, and the
woman in marrying abandons the clan of her father, as well as his gods,
to adopt the clan and the gods of her husband. The ceremony by which
the Santals express this separation is different from that adopted
by the Hos. The husband’s clansmen knot together the garments of the
bridegroom and the bride, after which the women of the bride’s clan
bring lighted charcoal, crush it with a pestle to indicate the breaking
of the old family tie, and then extinguish it with water to indicate
the definitive separation of the bride from her own clan. As we have
seen, this separation is effected among the Oraons in the presence
of the members of the two clans, and the sham combat by which the
marriage ceremonies commence is evidently intended to show that it is
indispensable to obtain the consent, not only of the bride, but also
of the family group to which she belongs, before the ties which bind
her to the clan can be broken. After offering a pretended resistance,
the clansmen of the bride express their consent in joining with the
relations of the bridegroom to celebrate the formation of the fresh
family tie.

At first sight, it might be thought that there is little difference
between this explanation of “marriage by capture” and that given by
Sir John Lubbock, but in reality they differ completely. Sir John
Lubbock supposes a violent capture from another tribe without any
reference to the question of clanship. On the other hand, in the
explanation above proposed, there is a change in the position of the
woman, but it is brought about by arrangement, the pretended combat
having relation to the rights of the clan, but having no reference
to the wider organisation of the tribe. The sham-fight is simply a
phase of the ceremonies, destined to show the objection entertained
by a family group to part with one of its members, and, what is of
still greater importance, to give up the interest they possess in the
future offspring of the woman who is to be cut off from the clan.
The essentially pacific character of the sham-fight is shown by the
manner in which, as described by Colonel Dalton, it is conducted in
Gondwana. Among the Muasi of this district, when the cavalcade of the
bridegroom approaches the house of the bride, there issues from it a
merry troop of young girls, who are headed by the mother of the bride,
bearing on her head a vessel full of water, surmounted by a lighted
lamp. When the girls come near the bridegroom’s friends they throw at
them balls of boiled rice, after which they beat a retreat. The young
men pursue them to the door of the house, which, however, they cannot
enter until they have made presents to its female defenders. The fact
that among nearly all the peoples who have “marriage by combat,” the
children belong to the clan of their father, confirms the truth of the
conclusion I have sought to establish, that the ceremony in question
has relation to the clan, and not to the bride. Among the primitive
peoples to whom it would be necessary, on the hypothesis of Sir John
Lubbock, to trace the origin of that curious custom, the children
usually belong to the family group of their mother. The sham-fight
could be introduced when a change has taken place in the condition of
women; but this would imply a phase of civilisation much more recent
than that of the Australians and other barbarous tribes, to whose
practice of stealing women for wives, which is mere forcible marriage,
has been wrongly traced the origin of “marriage by capture.”


[249] The Ethnology of Bengal.



Mr. M’Lennan has remarked, in relation to the curious customs of
capturing women for wives found among peoples in all parts of the
world, that “in almost all cases the form of capture is the symbol
of a group-act—of a siege, or a pitched battle, or an invasion of a
house by an armed band, while in a few cases only, and these much
disintegrated, it represents a capture by an individual. On the one
side are the kindred of the husband; on the other the kindred of the
wife.”[250] Whatever may be the true explanation of the origin of
exogamy, with which the custom referred to is connected, there can be
no doubt of the truth of the statement that the wife-capture is now
usually, although it sometimes has relation solely to the individual,
the symbol of a group-act. This may not be in the sense intended by
Mr. M’Lennan, who looks upon exogamy and polyandry as referable to
one and the same cause, and who regards “all the exogamous races as
having originally been polyandrous.”[251] The phenomena of wife-capture
prove conclusively, however, that the family group to which the woman
belonged possessed, or thought themselves entitled to, certain rights
over her—rights of which they resisted the invasion, whether by an
individual alone, or by a group of persons, or by an individual aided
by the other members of a group. It is important to notice that the
groups in question appear to consist, not of strangers to each other,
or to the man or woman more immediately concerned, but of persons
bound together by certain ties of blood. This is shown to be so by the
fact that the capture is atoned for by the payment to the relations
of the woman of the marriage-price, if this has not been agreed on
beforehand.[252] It is required, moreover, by the conclusion arrived at
by Mr. M’Lennan, that the tribes among whom the system of wife-capture
prevails are chiefly those whose marriages are governed by the law
of exogamy.[253] By exogamy is meant the practice of marrying out of
the tribe or group of kindred,[254] and it is founded on a prejudice
against marriage with kinsfolk.[255] There is some uncertainty as
to the nature of M’Lennan’s primitive group, but, judging from his
statement that “promiscuity, producing uncertainty of fatherhood, led
to the system of kinship through mothers only,”[256] we may suppose
that it consisted of a number of persons, all of whom, as the result
of promiscuity, were related by blood. The first division into which
he classes uncultured peoples, according to their marriage-rules, is
that where tribes are separate, and all the members of the tribes are,
or feign themselves to be, of the same blood.[257] Mr. Morgan very
properly criticises this definition, which, he says, “might answer for
a description of a gens; but the gens is never found alone, separate
from other gentes. There are several gentes intermingled by marriage
in every tribe composed of gentes,”[258] a fact which would seem to
distinguish the primitive group of M’Lennan, although consisting of
consanguinei, from a gens or clan proper. Moreover, as Mr. Morgan
shows, exogamy has relation to a rule or law of a gens, considered
as “the unit of organisation of a social system,” and therefore the
gens (of which, as an institution, the rules are prohibition of
intermarriage in the gens, and limitation of descent in the female
line[259]), or rather the family from which it has sprung, may be
regarded as the earliest social group of which we have any knowledge.

It is of the greatest importance to the discovery of the nature of the
primitive human family to understand the origin of the gens or clan.
As defined by Morgan, it is “a body of consanguinei descended from
the same common ancestor, distinguished by a gentile name, and bound
together by affinities of blood.” Mr. Morgan affirms that the gens
originated in three principal conceptions, “the bond of kin, a pure
lineage through descent in the female line, and non-intermarriage in
the gens.”[260] The most essential feature is that of tracing kinship
through females only, and the discovery of the origin of this custom
will throw light on that of the clan-institution itself, and therefore
on the nature of the primitive family.

Mr. M’Lennan finds the origin of kinship through females only in the
uncertainty of paternity, arising from the fact that, in primitive
times, a woman was not appropriated to a particular man for his wife,
or to men of one blood as wife.[261] The children, although belonging
to the horde, remain attached to their mothers, and the blood tie
observed between them would, as promiscuity gave place to polyandry
of the ruder kind in which the husbands are strangers in blood to
each other, become developed into the system of kinship through
females.[262] An earlier writer, Bachofen, was so much struck with
certain social phenomena among the ancients, that he believed women
to have, at an early period, been supreme, not only in the family but
in the state. He supposed that woman revolted against the primitive
condition of promiscuity, and established a system of marriage, in
which the female occupied the first place as the head of the family,
and as the person through whom kinship was to be traced. This movement,
which had a religious origin, was followed by another resulting from
the development of the idea that the mother occupied a subordinate
position in relation to her children, of whom the father was the true
parent. Mr. M’Lennan very justly objects to this theory that, if
marriage was, from the beginning, monogamous, kinship would have been
traced through fathers from the first.[263] He adds that “those signs
of supremacy on the woman’s part were the direct consequences (1) of
marriage _not_ being monogamous, or such as to permit of certainty
of fatherhood; and (2) of wives not as yet living in their husband’s
houses, but apart from them, in the homes of their own mothers.”[264]
The meaning of this is, that the phenomena referred to by Bachofen
were due to the former prevalence of a system of polyandry, such as
still exists among the Nairs of Southern India. It is very improbable,
however, that kinship through the female only could have had the origin
supposed by Mr. M’Lennan. According to him one cause of the supremacy
of woman referred to by Bachofen was the fact of wives living apart
from their husbands in the homes of their own mothers. This custom
must, therefore, have preceded the supremacy of woman, assuming this
to have existed, and the tracing of kinship through females which gave
rise to it. We must believe that originally women lived alone with
their daughters (and their sons also, until these set up a separate
establishment for themselves, taking with them probably their favourite
sisters, as with the Nairs at the present day),[265] there being no
male head of the family. If, however, we trace our steps back in
thought to the most primitive period of human existence, we shall see
that such a domestic state as that here supposed cannot have been the
original one. Among savages there is never that subordination of the
man to the woman which we should have to assume. We cannot suppose that
the primeval group of mankind consisted of a woman and her children,
and if the woman had a male companion we cannot doubt, judging from
what we know of savage races, that he would be the head and chief
of the group. The very notion, however, of the family group having
a male as well as a female head is inconsistent with Mr. M’Lennan’s
theory, and we must trace the origin of female kinship as a system to a
different source from the polyandry to which he ascribed it.

The idea of a special relationship subsisting between a woman and
her children might no doubt be originated during the period when the
men of a group, “in the spirit of indifference, indulged in savage
promiscuity,”[266] if such a condition of things ever existed, but that
alone would not be sufficient to establish kinship through females
only. It may be questioned, indeed, whether there ever was a time
when the uncertainty of paternity, which Mr. M’Lennan’s whole theory
requires, was so pronounced as to prevent kinship through males being
acknowledged. Mr. Morgan agrees with Mr. M’Lennan so far as to say
that, “prior to the gentile organisation, kinship through females was
undoubtedly superior to kinship through males, and was doubtless the
principal basis upon which the lower tribal groups were organised.”
He affirms truly, however, that “descent in the female line, which is
all that ‘kinship through females only’ can possibly indicate,” is
only the rule of a gens, and that relationship through the father is
recognised as fully as that through the mother.[267] I have elsewhere,
however, given reasons for believing that this statement does not go
far enough, and that the earliest forms of the classificatory system of
relationships, on which Mr. Morgan bases his special theory, require
actual kinship, and not relationship merely, through the male quite as
fully as through the female.

It is surprising that Mr. Morgan says little as to the origin of
descent in the female line. He says: “The gens, though a very ancient
social organisation founded upon kin, does not include all the
descendants of a common ancestor. It was for the reason that, when the
gens came in, marriage between single pairs was unknown, and descent
through males could not be traced with certainty. Kindred were linked
together chiefly through the bond of their maternity.”[268] We have
here apparently two reasons stated for the establishment of kinship
through females, the absence of marriages between single pairs, and
the uncertainty of paternity. Both of these conditions are found by
Mr. Morgan to exist in the consanguine family groups which he supposes
to have been formed when promiscuity ceased. The Polynesian peoples,
among whom he finds traces of the consanguine family, have preserved
the recollection of female kinship, although, according to Mr.
Morgan, the gens is unknown to them.[269] The classificatory system
of relationships, the origin of which he traces to the consanguine
family, can, however, receive a totally different interpretation, and
the existence of that family itself is very doubtful. Further, the
difficulty of tracing descent through males, which Mr. Morgan supposes,
is the result only of the polyandrous unions his theory requires, and
if they ever really existed they could supply no further explanation
of the origin of female kinship than the polyandry of the Nairs. He
would have done better to have sought to connect it, as Mr. M’Lennan
does, with the special relation supposed to exist between a mother and
her child.

Mr. Herbert Spencer shows how this idea may have arisen. Unlike the
other writers I have referred to, he does not think that promiscuity in
the relation of the sexes ever existed in an unqualified form.[270] He
thinks, indeed, that monogamy must have preceded polygamy, although,
owing to the extension of promiscuity, and the birth of a larger number
of children to _unknown_ fathers than to _known_ fathers, a habit would
arise of thinking of _maternal_ kinship rather than of _paternal_, and
where paternity was manifest children would come to be spoken of in
the same way.[271] Mr. Spencer adds, that the habit having arisen, the
resulting system of kinship in the female line would be strengthened by
the practice of exogamy.[272] The defect of this explanation lies in
its requiring uncertain paternity, and I shall show that the system of
female kinship has not arisen from the simple association in thought of
a child with its mother in preference to its father. It is, moreover,
inconsistent with the fact mentioned by Mr. Spencer himself, that
where the system of female kinship now subsists “male parentage is
habitually known.”[273] It is true that he supposes male kinship to be
disregarded, but this conclusion appears to me not to be supported by
sufficient evidence.

That there may have been a short period of barbarism in which the
intercourse between the sexes was unrestrained by any law of marriage
is possible. Probably, as female chastity before marriage is even
now but slightly regarded among most uncultured peoples, all sexual
alliances were allowable, so long as the rule as to consanguinity
was not infringed, and so long as no offspring resulted from the
alliance,[274] where this was entered into without the consent of
parents. This consent would be necessary in all cases where such
alliances were formed by females for marital purposes, and the sanction
required would be that of the family head at the early period we
are treating of. Judging from what we observe among modern savages
we cannot doubt that self-interest chiefly would govern the father
in connection with his daughter’s marriage. He would make certain
requisitions as the price of his consent. Whether the marriage was to
be a permanent or a terminable engagement, the father would stipulate
that his daughter should continue to live with or near him, and that
her children should belong to the family group of which he is the
head. In this case not only would the children form part of the family
to which their mother belonged, but the husband himself would become
united to it, and would be required to labour for the benefit of his

A custom still prevalent among the New Zealanders may be cited in
illustration. The Reverend Richard Taylor says: “Sometimes the father
simply told his intended son-in-law he might come and live with his
daughter; she was thenceforth considered his wife, he lived with his
father-in-law, and became one of his tribe or _hapu_ to which his wife
belonged, and in case of war was often obliged to fight against his
own relatives.” Mr. Taylor adds, that so common is the custom of the
bridegroom going to live with his wife’s family, that it frequently
occurs; when he refuses to do so, she will leave him, and go back to
her relatives.[275] When the wife left her father’s house to reside
with her husband he had to purchase the privilege by giving her
father and other relations handsome presents.[276] As among the New
Zealanders, children belonged to their father’s family, the fact of
the wife going to reside among her husband’s relations meant the loss
by her father’s family of the children. The presents may, therefore,
be supposed to represent the price given by a man for his wife’s
offspring to her relations. This opinion is confirmed by reference to
the marriage customs of a West African people. Mr. John Kizell, in his
correspondence with Governor Columbine, respecting his negotiations
with the chiefs in the River Sherbro, says: “The young women are not
allowed to have whom they like for a husband; the choice rests with
the parents. If a man wishes to marry the daughter, he must bring
to the value of twenty or thirty bars to the father and mother; if
they like the man, and the brother likes him, then they will call all
their family together, and tell them, ‘we have a man in the house who
wishes to have our daughter; it is that which makes us call the family
together, that they may know it.’ Then the friends inquire what he has
brought with him? the man tells them. They then tell him to go and
bring a quantity of palm wine. When he returns, they again call the
family together; they all place themselves on the ground, and drink the
wine, and then give him his wife. In this case, all the children he has
by her are his, but if he gives nothing for his wife, then the children
will all be taken from him, and will belong to the woman’s family; he
will have nothing to do with them.”[277]

Mr. Taylor says that the ancient and most general way of obtaining a
wife among the New Zealanders was “for the gentleman to summon his
friends, and make a regular _taua_, or fight, to carry off the lady
by force, and ofttimes with great violence.”[278] A fight also took
place if, when a girl was given in marriage, the friends of another man
thought he had a greater right to her, or if she eloped with some one
contrary to her father’s or brother’s wish. Even if all were agreeable,
“it was still customary for the bridegroom to go with a party, and
appear to take her away by force, her friends yielding her up after
a feigned struggle; a few days afterwards, the parents of the lady,
with all her relatives, came upon the bridegroom for his pretended
abduction; after much speaking and apparent anger, it ended with his
making a handsome present of fine mats, &c., and giving an abundant
feast.”[279] In this case the affair ended in the same manner as the
African marriage already referred to, and the idea was no doubt the
same in both—the giving of compensation to the parents and relations
of the woman for the loss sustained by them through her offspring
being removed from the family group; probably the widespread custom of
pretended forcible marriage was originally connected with the rights
of the woman’s relations, although sometimes the capture is due to the
desire to obtain for nothing what could otherwise be acquired only by a
purchase fee.

What those rights are may be ascertained from the information given us
by Mr. Morgan as to the privileges and obligations associated with the
membership of a gens. Among them is an obligation not to marry in the
gens, mutual rights of inheritance of the property of deceased members,
and reciprocal obligations of help, defence, and redress of injuries.
“The functions and attributes of the gens,” says Morgan, “gave vitality
as well as individuality to the organisation, and protected the
personal rights of its members,”[280] who, as being connected by the
ties of blood relationship, may be regarded as forming an enlarged
family group, or rather a fraternal association based on kinship.

The gens would, however, form too large a group for ordinary social
purposes, and a smaller group would be composed of those more
immediately allied by blood. Thus, although theoretically the effects
of a deceased person were distributed among his gentile relations,
yet Morgan admits that “practically they were appropriated by the
nearest of kin.”[281] Among the Iroquois, if a man died leaving a
wife and children, his property was distributed among his gentiles in
such a manner that his sisters and their children, and his maternal
uncles, would receive the most of it. His brothers might receive a
small portion. An analogous rule prevailed when a woman died. The
property remained in the gens in either case,[282] although its
division was restricted to a small number of gentiles. It could not
have been otherwise where the members of the gens are numerous or
widely distributed. The same principle would apply in relation to
rights over children, who in a low social stage are looked upon in
the light of property. Among the aborigines of America each gens had
personal names that were used by it alone, and, says Morgan, a gentile
name conferred of itself gentile rights. Now, although a child was not
fully christened until its birth and name had been announced to the
council of the tribe, its name was selected by its mother with the
concurrence of her nearest relatives. Morgan says nothing of any right
of the gens over the marriage of its members, and it would seem not to
have any voice in the matter. The formation of the alliance is usually
left to the two individuals more immediately concerned or to their near
relations,[283] and the marriage price belongs to the parents and near
kin of the wife. This, in the absence of the marriage price, would be
the case also with the children born of her marriage, on the principle
that “children are the wealth of savages.” Reference to the custom of
blood revenge confirms the view that, for certain purposes, a smaller
family group than the gens is recognised by the peoples having that
organisation. Mr. Morgan thinks the practice of blood revenge had “its
birthplace in the gens,” which was bound to avenge the murder of one
of its members. He says further that it was “the duty of the gens of
the slayer, and of the slain, to attempt an adjustment of the crime
before proceeding to extremities.” It rested, however, with the gentile
kindred of the slain person to decide whether a composition for the
crime should be accepted, showing that they were considered the persons
more immediately concerned. The crime of murder is, as Mr. Morgan says,
“as old as human society, and its punishment by the revenge of kinsmen
is as old as the crime itself.”[284] This is hardly consistent with
the preceding statement that the practice of blood revenge had its
birthplace in the gens. It preceded the development of the gens, and
originated with the smaller family group which, as we have seen, is
more immediately connected with property and children and the marriage
of its female members. Those who are liable to the obligations of the
law of blood revenge in any particular case must be identified, and, as
they can hardly comprise all the members of the gens, we must suppose
them to be restricted to the smaller group consisting of near blood
relations. Judging from what we know of the habits of the Australian
aborigines in relation to the _lex talionis_, we cannot doubt that the
persons subject to retaliation in any particular case are well defined.

The example of the Polynesian Islanders, who are said not to have risen
to the conception of the gens, shows that before this was developed,
not only was the _lex talionis_ recognised, but the law of marriage
and the rights of parents over their children were fully established.
These are, therefore, not dependent on the gens, but are incidental
to a simpler group of blood relations—that on which the gens itself
is based. The idea of “brotherhood” is at the foundation of all these
early social organisations. Mr. Morgan says, in relation to the
Iroquois _phratry_, that “the phratry is a brotherhood, as the term
imports, and a natural growth from the organisation into gentes. It
is an organic union or association of two or more gentes of the same
tribe for certain common objects. These gentes were usually such as had
been formed by the segmentation of an original gens.”[285] So also,
a gens forms a fraternal association, as it consists of “a body of
consanguinei descended from the same common ancestor, distinguished by
a gentile name, and bound together by affinities of blood.”[286] If we
trace the ascent until we come to the common ancestor, we shall have a
group of kinsmen who compose the simplest form of “brotherhood,” that
of a parent and his or her children. Originally this would be a mother
and her daughters, as when the sons formed marriage associations the
daughters only and their children would be left under the parental
roof. It is evident, therefore, that the primitive family cannot have
originated within the gens or clan. On the contrary, the clan was based
on the family or group of kinsmen, without which it could not have
existed. Moreover, it by no means follows that, because the common
ancestor of the members of the gens or clan was a female, the primitive
group of kinsmen had not a male as well as a female head. Considered
as a “fraternal association,” the father may have been excluded, but
for the purposes of the brotherhood it was of no importance whether
paternity was certain or uncertain. The result would have been the
same in either case. For other than brotherhood purposes kinship to
the father may have been fully recognised. The obligations of the
_lex talionis_, the right to property, and the control of children in
marriage, may have concerned only the kinsmen by the mother’s side, but
those on the father’s side may have been equally affected by the law of
marriage. That such was the case I have sought to establish elsewhere,
as evidenced by the classificatory system of relationships, and that
view is confirmed by various facts showing that kinship by the male
side is fully recognised among savages.

I have already had occasion to refer to Mr. M’Lennan’s admission
that, if “marriage was, from its beginning, monogamous, kinship would
certainly (human nature being as it now is) have been traced through
fathers, if not indeed through fathers only, from the first.”[287] Mr.
Herbert Spencer, although apparently thinking that promiscuity in the
relations of the sexes was originally extensive, yet supposes that it
was accompanied by monogamic connections of a limited duration. He
says that “always the state of having two wives must be preceded by
the state of having one,” and he looks upon the preference for the
maternal kinship rather than paternal kinship as a habit, arising from
the fact that the former is observed in all cases, whilst the latter
is inferable only in some cases.[288] Mr. Spencer’s admission that
where the system of female kinship now subsists, “male parentage is
habitually known, though disregarded,” greatly weakens his position,
the more so as we are not told why or when it is disregarded.[289] Mr.
Morgan goes far towards supplying an explanation of the fact, although
his theory is defective. He affirms that gentile kin were superior
to other kin only because it conferred the rights and privileges of
a gens, and not because no other kin was recognised. “Whether in or
out of the gens, a brother was recognised as a brother, a father as
a father, a son as a son, and the same term was applied in either
case without discrimination between them.”[290] Mr. Morgan does not,
however, admit of certainty of paternity, although he states that “they
did not reject kinship through males because of uncertainty, but gave
the benefit of the doubt to a number of persons—probable fathers being
placed in the category of real fathers, probable brothers in that of
real brothers, and probable sons in that of real sons.”[291] This
explanation is plausible but insufficient, if, as Mr. Morgan says,
descent in the female line is only a rule of a gens.[292] In this case,
female descent cannot have existed before the gens, and recognition of
kinship through the father may have subsisted prior to the formation
of the gens, together with that of the relationship between mother
and child on which such descent is founded. This would seem to be
required by the facts mentioned by Mr. Morgan in relation to the social
institutions of the American aborigines. He says “an Indian tribe is
composed of several gentes developed from two or more, all the members
of which are intermingled by marriage, and all of them speak the same
dialect. To a stranger the tribe is visible and not the gens.”[293]
Originally, therefore, the tribe consisted of two gentes, that is
of the descendants from two female common ancestors, and, as the
gentes are not visible to a stranger, we must suppose that the tribe
originally represented the male head of the primitive family group to
which the female common ancestors belonged. On this supposition the
primitive group consisted of a male and two females, the former being
the recognised representative of the group, although the descent of its
members is traced through the latter. This view is quite consistent
with the explanation I have elsewhere given of the classificatory
system of relationship, which undoubtedly requires the full recognition
for certain purposes of blood relationship through both the father and
the mother.

The conclusion thus arrived at is confirmed by what we know of the
opinions entertained by peoples among whom the gentile organisation is
fully developed. Carver, as quoted by Sir John Lubbock, states that
among the Hudson’s Bay Indians, children always take the name of their
mother. The reason they give for this is, “that as their offspring are
indebted to the father for their souls, the invisible part of their
essence, and to the mother for their corporal and apparent part, it
is more rational that they should be distinguished by the name of
the latter, from whom they indubitably derive their being, than by
that of the father, to which a doubt might arise whether they are
justly entitled.”[294] The reason given by the Hudson’s Bay Indians
why children are called after their mothers shows that the system of
female kinship is quite consistent with the recognition of kinship
through the male. No doubt the mother is regarded by savages as having
a closer physical relationship to her child than their father, but it
is incredible to suppose that the latter could ever be looked upon as
having no closer relationship to it than a stranger in blood. If the
mother had several husbands the actual paternity may not be certain,
but, as the father must be one of several well-ascertained individuals,
the paternity is only rendered less certain, and the child may be
regarded as having several fathers, and claim kinship through them all.
If they are sons of the same father, that kinship will be with the same
persons as though its mother had but one husband. Under the conditions
I have supposed, however, where a woman takes, as her husband, a man
who lives with her among her own relations, there would not be any
uncertainty as to paternity, and therefore the stronger relationship
supposed between mother and child must have originated in the close
physical connection observed to subsist between them. This does not,
however, explain the origin of clan relationship based on kinship
through females only, which is connected with the fact of the members
of a woman’s clan possessing certain rights over her and her children.
These rights would not be affected, even if the primitive custom of
the woman continuing to live among her relations after marriage were
departed from. Before this took place, the system of female kinship
would have become firmly established, and it would be confirmed,
although it could not be originated, by the idea that, as the wife may
not be faithful to her husband, there is more certainty about maternity
than paternity.

The fact that a man’s heirs are usually his sister’s children, shows
that consanguinity is of great importance in the eyes of uncultured
peoples, and what has been advanced is quite sufficient to account for
that fact without assuming the existence of a state of promiscuity
in the relations between the sexes. Such a state is not consistent
with the abhorrence which even savages show to the marriage of
persons of near blood relationship, and it has no support at all in
the observed phenomena of savage life. The _punalua_ custom of the
Polynesian Islanders, which has its counterpart among the Todas of
the Neilgherries, and traces of which may perhaps be found, on the
one hand, in the fraternal polyandry of the Tibetans, and, on the
other hand, in the sororal polygamy of the North American aborigines,
is neither promiscuous nor incestuous in the proper sense of these
words. The possession by several brothers of wives in common, who may
themselves be sisters, or by several sisters of husbands in common, who
may be brothers, may, as I have elsewhere suggested, have originally
been due to the feeling that marriage has a spiritual as well as a
physical significance. Punalua was really an application of the idea
of brotherhood to marriage, and it is not surprising that, among
uncultured peoples, the having wives or husbands in common should be
considered a high mark of friendship.

It is important to notice that among the peoples who have developed or
perfected the gentile institution, a rule of which is descent in the
female line, the husband is the head of the household, and the wife
little more than a servant, so long as they continue to live together.
It is true, as Lahontan states,[295] that the wife has the same power
of divorce as the husband, but so long as she remains in his cabin
she is treated by him as a drudge and a mere child-bearer. As women
they have some influence in the tribe, but this is only when they have
children to give them dignity. The Polynesian Islanders not having
risen to the conception of a gens, it is, perhaps, not surprising
that woman is usually regarded by them as an inferior creature. Her
position as a woman is, however, better than that of a wife, in which
capacity she is cared for as little as among the American aborigines.
Her condition is mitigated only under the influence of the Areoi
Institution, and where she enters into the punaluan engagement. If
it is true, as Mr. Morgan states, that “the Australians rank below
the Polynesians, and far below the American aborigines,” we cannot
wonder that the position of woman among the Australian aborigines is
one of great inferiority. In fact, among them wives are considered as
articles of property, and not only do they suffer great privations,
but they are most barbarously treated. The last-named people practice
the simplest form of obtaining wives, that of capture by cunning and
personal violence, but in most of their tribes descent is in the female
line, and the gens or clan is developed more or less perfectly. And
yet the Australian aborigines possess marriage regulations which seem
formed for the express purpose of preventing the intermarriage of blood
relations, and which fully recognise kinship by the male line.

A modern French writer of great authority, Fustel de Coulanges, affirms
that the ancient family was constituted chiefly by religion, the first
institution of which was marriage. The family gives rise to the gens,
and “with its elder and younger branches, its servants and dependents,
formed possibly a very numerous group of persons.” Such a family, says
de Coulanges, “thanks to the religion which maintained its unity,
thanks to its special privileges which rendered it indivisible, thanks
to the laws of protection which retained its dependents, formed in time
a widespread society under an hereditary chief.”[296] This view of
the primitive family possesses much truth, although it leaves out of
sight one of the most essential features of the family among uncultured
peoples. The same may be said in relation to the patriarchal family
of Sir Henry Maine. This writer says that “the earliest tie which
knitted men together in communities was consanguinity or kinship,” and
that “there was no brotherhood recognised by our savage forefathers,
except actual consanguinity regarded as a fact.”[297] He adds, that
“kinship, as the tie, binding communities together, tends to be
regarded as the same thing with subjection to a common authority.”
The notions of power and consanguinity are blended, a mixture of
ideas which is seen “in the subjection of the smallest group, the
family, to its patriarchal head.”[298] “This group,” says Sir Henry
Maine, “consists of animate and inanimate property, of wife, children,
slaves, land and goods, all held together by subjection to the despotic
authority of the eldest male of the eldest ascending line, the father,
grandfather, or even more remote ancestor. The force which binds the
group together is power. A child adopted into the patriarchal family
belongs to it as perfectly as the child naturally born into it, and
a child who severs his connection with it is lost to it altogether.”
The patriarchal family of Maine thus differs from the ancient family
of de Coulanges in its binding force, which in the one case is power,
and in the other religion, forces which are, nevertheless, reconciled
by the fact that the chief element in this religion is the ancestral
idea which is at the base of the patriarchal family. This view of
the nature of the ancient family would be complete if it provided
for the fact, revealed by the study of primitive institutions as
now exhibited among uncultured peoples, that descent was originally
traced by the female line in preference to the male line. The defect
thus revealed will, however, be removed if it can be shown, as I have
endeavoured to do, that descent through the male is, for certain
purposes, recognised equally with that through the female. Mr. Herbert
Spencer, in his “Principles of Sociology,” refers,[299] as follows,
to a suggestion made by Mr. Fiske, which contains an important truth
bearing on the subject of this paper: “Postulating the general law
that, in proportion as organisms are complex, they evolve slowly, he
infers that the prolongation of infancy which accompanied development
of the less intelligent primates into the more intelligent ones,
implied greater duration of parental care. Children, not so soon
capable of providing for themselves, had to be longer nurtured by
female parents, to some extent indeed by male parents, individually
or jointly; and hence resulted a bond holding together parents and
offspring for longer periods, and tending to initiate the family.
That this has been a co-operating factor in social evolution is very
probable.” The bond thus formed shows its influence even among the
lowest savages, in the natural affection which subsists between a
mother and her children, when these escape the not unusual fate of
infanticide. Natural affection is less operative with male parents, but
there are other feelings which have relation chiefly to male children
which tend to form an equally binding tie. Mr. Spencer remarks that
“to the yearnings of natural affection are added, in early stages
of progress, certain motives, partly personal, partly social, which
help to secure the lives of children, but which, at the same time,
initiate differences of status between children of different sexes.
There is the desire to strengthen the tribe in war; there is the wish
to have a future avenger on individual enemies; there is the anxiety
to leave behind one who shall perform the funeral rites and continue
oblations at the grave.”[300] These motives must have been influential
from the earliest period at which mankind consisted of more than a
few small and isolated groups, and, therefore, we must assume that
in these groups the male element was equally as strong as the female
element, if, indeed, they had not a male head. Mr. Spencer remarks
further that those motives, “strengthening as societies passed through
the earlier stages, gradually gave a certain authority to the claims
of male children, though not to those of females.”[301] These ideas
are quite inconsistent with the notion that the family group ever
consisted only of a female ancestor and her children, or that the
woman was originally the head of, and supreme in, the family. The
custom of tracing descent by the female line shows, however, that for
certain purposes the woman occupied an important position, although it
may, when the practice of wives going to reside among their husband’s
relations become established, have tended to confirm that of female
infanticide, as the children would be lost to the mother’s family
group. One of the motives referred to by Mr. Spencer would, after the
idea of special kinship through females had become established, affect
more especially the persons bound together by a maternal tie. Where
the gentile organisation is established the duty of revenging private
injuries is confined to the other members of the common gens. The
duty of defence against the external enemy belongs, however, to the
_tribe_, which here undoubtedly stands in the place of the original
family group, in which both male and female kinship, with their special
duties, was recognised, represented by its male head. This group we
must suppose, therefore, had much in common with Sir Henry Maine’s
patriarchal family. Under the head of the oldest living male ancestor,
it embraced wife or wives, children and dependents. The repugnance to
marriages between blood relations, which seems almost instinctive to
man, would prevent such alliances between the members of the group.
The male children, when they reached the age of manhood, would leave
the paternal roof, and obtain wives from other groups, with which they
would become associated on the principle of adoption, while, on the
other hand, young men from other groups would take their places as the
husbands of the female children. It would be during this primitive
period that the idea of a special relationship subsisting between a
mother and her children, on which the custom of tracing descent through
the female is founded, would become formed, as already mentioned.
The importance attached to female kinship would be increased by the
development of a fraternal feeling among the children of the same
mother, a feeling which would be strengthened if, as would probably
not seldom be the case, men, after some years of cohabitation with
their wives, left their children solely to the mother’s care. Under
the influence of these various ideas and circumstances the custom
of tracing kinship for certain purposes in the female line would be
developed by the time that the habit had been formed of wives leaving
their parents to reside among their husband’s family. As when this
took place, the custom would be firmly established under the influence
of polygamy, the development of the gentile organisation would almost
necessarily follow. The primitive idea of kinship through the father
would, however, still remain in full force with the attributes which
originally appertained to it—namely, the headship in the family group
of the eldest male ancestor, whose authority is practically represented
by the tribe, and the non-intermarriage of those thus connected.


[250] “Studies in Ancient History,” p. 444.

[251] Ditto, p. 181.

[252] “Studies in Ancient History,” pp. 54, 57.

[253] Ditto, pp. 104, 110.

[254] Ditto, p. 174.

[255] Ditto, p. 112.

[256] Ditto, p. 139.

[257] Ditto, p. 113.

[258] “Ancient Society,” p. 512.

[259] Ditto, p. 511.

[260] Ditto, p. 69.

[261] “Ancient History,” p. 124.

[262] Ditto, p. 139.

[263] _Loc. cit._, p. 418.

[264] _Loc. cit._, p. 419.

[265] M’Lennan, p. 150.

[266] M’Lennan, p. 134.

[267] “Ancient Society,” p. 516.

[268] “Ancient Society,” p. 67.

[269] Ditto, p. 60.

[270] “Principles of Sociology,” vol. i., p. 662.

[271] Ditto, p. 665.

[272] Ditto, p. 666.

[273] Ditto, p. 667.

[274] Lahontan, “Mémoires,” ii., pp. 144, _et seq._

[275] “Te Ika A Maui,” p. 357.

[276] Ditto, p. 337.

[277] “Sixth Report of the Directors of the African Institution”
(1812), p. 128.

[278] _Op. cit._, p. 336.

[279] Ditto, p. 536.

[280] “Ancient Society,” p. 71.

[281] “Ancient Society,” p. 75, 528.

[282] Ditto, p. 530.

[283] See Lafitau “Les Mœurs des Sauvages,” ii., p. 564, _et seq._

[284] See Lafitau, ii., p. 77, _et seq._

[285] “Ancient Society,” p. 88.

[286] Ditto, p. 63.

[287] “Ancient History,” p. 418.

[288] “Types of Sociology,” pp. 665, 669.

[289] Ditto, p. 667.

[290] “Ancient Society,” p. 516.

[291] Ditto, p. 515.

[292] Ditto, p. 516.

[293] “Ancient Society,” p. 103.

[294] “Travels in Northern America,” p. 378.

[295] “Memoirs,” ii., p. 150.

[296] “La Cité Antique” (6th Ed.), 1876, p. 133.

[297] “Early History of Institutions,” pp. 64, 65.

[298] Ditto, p. 68.

[299] P. 630, _note_.

[300] “Principles of Sociology,” p. 769.

[301] Ditto, p. 771.



The legend which teaches that the first woman was formed out of one of
the ribs of the first man must surely be true, seeing that it agrees
perfectly with the position which woman holds among all primitive

With few rights, if any, in this life, it is not surprising that her
subordination is continued in the spirit world, and that if she gains
admittance at all into the native heaven, it is usually under peculiar
circumstances. Thus, the Fijian women are voluntarily strangled or
buried alive at the funerals of their husbands, from the belief
that in _their_ company alone “can they reach the realms of bliss;”
to which is added the idea that she “who meets her death with the
greatest devotedness will become the favourite wife in the abode of
spirits.” What becomes after death of the women who do not die with
their husbands is, perhaps, uncertain, but there is reason to believe
that among many uncultured peoples as little thought is given to the
future state of such unfortunates as to that of animals killed for
food. In fact, among the Papuan tribes, and with many of the natives
of Australia, women are highly prized for cannibal purposes. Judging
from this fact, we shall not expect to find that, during life, they
are much cared for, unless it be on the principle which sometimes
leads cannibals to fatten their victims before preying on them. This
is not the case, however, with the natives of Australia, and women
among them not only have to endure many privations, but are most
barbarously treated. Wilkes states that they are considered as articles
of property. Among few peoples is the lot of woman so cruel as with the
aborigines of Australia.

In this respect, however, there is little difference with any
uncultured race. Marriages of affection are unknown to the Fijians,
and women remain faithful to their husbands from fear rather than
from love. “Like other property,” says Admiral Wilkes, “wives may be
sold at pleasure, and the usual price is a musket. Those who purchase
them may do with them as they please, even to knocking them on the
head.” Thus, among the Fijians, women are, in the true sense of the
word, “property,” and marriage is a matter of bargain and sale. This
remark is applicable to peoples less savage than the untamed Papuan.
Among the pastoral tribes of East Africa, and also the black tribes of
Madagascar, women are, if anything, thought less of than cattle. The
Kafirs, indeed, value them _in_ cattle, and girls pride themselves on
the price they fetch. The condition of the Kafir wife agrees with the
estimation in which she is held. Woman occupies much the same position
with the true Negro tribes, and even among the North African peoples
who have embraced Mohamedanism the woman is subject absolutely to the
will of her husband. Wives do not appear to be treated with cruelty,
however, and, according to Mr. Winwood Reade, they often, by force of
a certain public opinion, exercise a peculiar influence over the men
in domestic affairs. Among the Wahuma of East Africa, women, curiously
enough, are not regarded exactly as property, and their condition is
probably, on the whole, superior to what it is among the Negro or Kafir

Women occupy among the American aborigines a position of, on the whole,
greater hardship. They are generally considered as inferior beings,
and their lives are spent in the lowest and most laborious drudgery.
Throughout both North and South America, with few exceptions, a wife is
treated as the property of her husband, who will lend her to a friend
with as little compunction as he would a hatchet. Moreover, as amongst
most uncultured peoples, she is always liable to instant divorce.
This arbitrary treatment, and the hardships which women suffer, have
probably much to do with the prevalence of infanticide, especially of
female children. The condition of woman among the Eskins appears to
be more bearable than with the true American tribes. This is shown by
the existence between husband and wife of a certain attachment, which
sometimes ripens into real affection; and yet, according to Sir John
Ross, the Eskino women are considered merely as property or furniture.
It is not far otherwise with the Greenlanders. Crantz declares that,
from their twentieth year, the life of their women is a mixture of
fear, indigence, and lamentation.

Among some of the Polynesian Islanders, and particularly the Samoans,
woman is more esteemed than with others, but usually she is treated
in the same manner as with most uncultured peoples. As shown by many
of their customs, she is looked upon as an inferior creature. Captain
King remarked that at the Sandwich Islands, when these were first
discovered, less respect was shown to women than at any of the other
Pacific Islands which Captain Cook’s expedition had visited. All the
best kinds of food were forbidden them. In domestic life they lived
almost entirely by themselves, and although no instance of positive
ill-treatment was actually observed, yet it was evident that “they had
little regard or attention paid them.”

The facts stated sufficiently establish that, among primitive peoples,
woman is regarded as “property.” Usually female children are thought
little of by their parents, and they are cared for only as having a
certain exchange value. In the more advanced stage represented by
the pastoral peoples they are more highly prized, because, although
a man may prefer his cattle to his daughters, these, if successfully
reared, will bring a certain addition to his stock. A curious relic of
this primitive idea of the exchange value of woman is yet extant in
Afghanistan, where crimes are atoned for by fines estimated, partly in
young women, and partly in money. It is not surprising that the man who
has purchased his wife should look upon her in the same light as any
other chattel which he has acquired, and this _property_ notion is at
the foundation of most of the social habits of savage life.

It must not be thought that women, even among the most uncultured
peoples, are altogether without influence, if not over their own
condition, yet over the minds of other. The wars, if such they can
be called, waged by the Australian aborigines, are generally due to
the old women, who incite the men with the most passionate language
to revenge any injury to the tribe, and they perform the same office
among other uncivilised peoples. It is well-known what influence over
the conduct of such peoples is exercised by the sorcerers or wizard
doctors, and in many parts of both Africa and America women as well as
men exercise that calling;. It is not often that among the more warlike
races women attain to the position of chief, but such a state of
things is not unknown to the African tribes; and in Madagascar and the
Polynesian Islands woman is as competent as man to occupy the throne.
With the American tribes who trace descent through females, women have
great influence in the election of the chiefs.

Nor is woman exactly without _rights_ among uncultured peoples.
At first these relate to the disposition of her own person before
marriage, and the existence of such a right is implied in the
widespread customs which have been thought to give evidence of the
primitive social phase described as “marriage by capture.” Mr.
Darwin, in his work, “The Descent of Man,” well points out that among
uncultured peoples girls have more choice in the matter of marriage
than is usually supposed.

It by no means follows that the position of a woman is, among
uncultured peoples, more bearable because she has managed to marry the
man whom she prefers. Where the marriage has been preceded by actual
attachment, no doubt it usually is so; and in that case, especially if
she has much intelligence, a wife may have great influence over her
husband. It is probable that polygamy has been an important instrument
in improving the condition of the married woman. With most uncultured
peoples who practise polygamy, a first wife is the head wife, and all
the succeeding ones are under her control. The former thus occupies a
position of influence in the household; she is less roughly treated by
her husband, and she gradually acquires certain rights. Mr. Shooter
says that, among the Kafirs, all the cows which a man possesses at
the time of his earliest marriage are regarded as the property of his
first wife, and after the birth of her first son they are called _his_
cattle. Theoretically, the husband can neither sell nor dispose of them
without his wife’s consent. Cattle are assigned to each of the wives
whom the husband subsequently takes, and the wife who furnishes the
cattle to purchase and endow a new wife, is entitled to her services,
and calls her “_my_ wife.” These rights of property are, however, in
reality of very slight value. On the death of the husband, the women
of his household descend to the son who is entitled to the cattle
belonging to each family division, and if he dies without direct heirs,
to the next male relative, who is nevertheless bound to provide for

It is difficult to conceive that the improvement in the position of
woman witnessed among civilised peoples, can have been much affected by
any change that could take place in the relation between husband and
wife, so long as the latter is treated as mere property. I am disposed,
therefore, to trace that improvement to another source, and to look
upon it as springing from the maternal relationship. Stern as may be
the treatment experienced by a wife, it is seldom that a mother is not
honoured. This is especially the case among the African tribes. The
same feeling is not unknown to the Arabs, whose sacred book declares
that “a son gains Paradise at the feet of his mother.” Inconsistent as
it is with our ideas, there can be little doubt that the curious custom
of strangling parents, or burying them alive, when they have become
old and helpless, is looked upon as a mark of respect and regard.
Wilkes was assured by the missionaries that the Fijians were kind and
affectionate to their parents, and that they considered the strangling
custom as so great a proof of affection that none but children could be
found to perform it.

The Chinese have preserved the germs of the primitive idea, according
to which woman is a kind of property, and among them still a wife may
be sold, although only with her own consent, and as a wife and not as
a slave. These restrictions show a great advance, which is evidenced
also by the fact that wives possess equal rank with their husbands.
Moreover, mothers are allowed a certain degree of influence over their
sons, who are, indeed, obliged at particular seasons to pay homage
to them, the Emperor himself not being exempt from performing the
ceremonies of the _kotow_ before his mother. Where the filial piety is
so strong, it is not surprising that ancestral-worship extends to the
mother as well as the father, and that the memory of women celebrated
for their virtues is perpetuated. Nevertheless, Chinese women are
almost absolutely in the power of their fathers, husbands and sons, to
whom they owe obedience as the representatives of heaven.

In some of their customs the Romans bore considerable resemblance to
the Chinese. With the former, as among the latter, the father was
absolute within his family, and originally a woman, as part of her
husband’s _familia_, could be sold or put to death by him without
interference by the State. This was not so if the wife was only _uxor_
and retained her own familia, in which case, however, her children
belonged to her husband. The latter form of marriage, or the custom
known as “breaking the usus of the year,” gradually came to be the most
usual, and it resulted in the emancipation of women from the control to
which they had before been subjected.

The old Roman, Cato the elder, complained of their having much power in
political matters, and statues were even then erected in the provinces
to Roman ladies. Unfortunately the emancipation of woman among the
Romans was attended with a license which had the most deplorable
results, both moral and social.

In Greece the peculiar institutions established by Lycurgus gave the
Spartan women much influence, and they were even said by the other
Greeks to have brought their husbands under the yoke. On the other
hand, among the Athenians, women were generally viewed as inferior
to men, and wives were treated rather as household drudges than as
companions. Before marriage girls were kept in strict seclusion, a
habit which, in the middle and higher classes, was long retained after
marriage, wives seeing little even of their husbands or fathers. It
would appear, however, to have been different during the heroic age,
when the intercourse between husband and wife, says Mr. Gladstone, was
“thoroughly natural, full of warmth, dignity, reciprocal deference, and
substantial, if not conventional, delicacy.”

It is to the development of the emotion of love that the full
recognition of the true position to which woman is united must be
traced. The parent has influence because he or she is respected, and
love induces the same feeling in relation to the wife and woman in
general. Thus, at least, it would seem to be with Eastern peoples, who
probably closely agree in social habits with the ancient Greeks. Among
the Bedouins, in whose manners we may doubtless trace those of the
early Hebrews, women enjoy a considerable degree of liberty; and hence
marriages, although accompanied by the incidents of wife-purchase,
are often governed by choice, and husbands make real companions of
their wives. The respect paid to them is so great that, if a homicide
can succeed in concealing his head under the sleeve of a woman and
cry _fyardhék_, “under thy protection,” his safety is insured. Pallas
mentions an analogous custom as existing among the Circassians, who
also highly esteem woman. The same may be said of the Afghans, among
whom, although marriage is still a matter of purchase, love-matches
are by no means rare. Wives often exercise great influence in Afghan
households, the husband sometimes sinking into a secondary place.

How far the condition of women has been mitigated among the Bedouins
and other races by Mohammedanism is an open question. According to the
Koran, the Arabs were accustomed to treat them with great cruelty,
while one of the chief features of Mohammed’s teaching is the high
position accorded to them. In permitting polygamy, Mohammedan law
accommodates itself to the habits of an earlier stage of social
progress, and tends to perpetuate many of its objectionable features.
As remarked by Lord Kames, polygamy is intimately connected with the
treatment of woman as a slave to be purchased even in marriage. But,
great as are the evils attending that custom, they depend in great
measure on special circumstances, and they are capable, as Mohammedan
teaching shows, of considerable mitigation. Probably the practice of
polygamy has never, among a civilised people, been accompanied by more
baneful results than it exhibits in modern Egypt, if we can accept the
testimony of Miss Martineau. This lady somewhat unjustly remarks that,
“if we are to look for a hell upon earth, it is where polygamy exists;
and that, as polygamy runs riot in Egypt, Egypt is the lowest depth of
this hell.” Polygamy has not in India so degrading an effect, but, of
the six qualities ascribed to woman by the code of so-called Gentoo
laws, all are bad ones. A really good wife is, however, so highly
esteemed that, if a man forsake her of his own accord, he is to receive
the punishment of a thief. Perhaps the scarcity of such wives accounts
for the fact mentioned by Bishop Heber, that throughout India anything
is thought good enough for women, and that “the roughest words, the
poorest garments, the scantiest alms, the most degrading labour, and
the hardest blows, are generally of their portion.” No doubt women
of the lower castes are here referred to, and it cannot be supposed
that all women are thus treated. The Abbé Dubois, indeed, affirms
that among the Hindoos the person of a woman is sacred, and that,
however abject her condition, she is always addressed by every one by
the term “mother.” If we may believe the Abbé, who lived for thirty
years among the natives, the position of Hindoo women is far superior
to what Europeans in general believe. He says, “To them belong the
entire management of their household, the care of their children, the
superintendence over the menial servants, the distribution of alms
and charities. To them are generally entrusted the money, jewels, and
other valuables of the family; to them belong the care of procuring
provisions and providing for all expenses; it is they also who are
charged, almost to the exclusion of their husbands, with the most
important affairs of procuring wives for their sons, and husbands for
their daughters, and in doing it they evince a nicety of attention and
wisdom which are not certainly surpassed in any other country; while
in the management of their domestic business, they in general show a
shrewdness, a savingness, and a foresight, which would do honour to the
best housekeepers in Europe.... In short, although exposed outwardly in
public to the forbidden frowns of an austere husband, they cannot be
considered in any other view than as perfect mistresses in the house.
The influence of the Hindoo females on the welfare of families is so
well known, that the successes or misfortunes of the Hindoo are almost
entirely attributed to the good or bad management of the former; when
a person prospers in the world, it is the custom to say that he has
the happiness to possess an intelligent wife, and when any one runs to
ruin, it is the custom to say that he has the misfortune to have a bad
wife for a partner.”

Judging from the Abbé’s description, the properties of a good wife,
according to the compiler of the “Book of Proverbs,” would doubtless
meet with the perfect approval of the Hindoo.

Much as the emancipation of woman is aided by the development of love
between the sexes, she is indebted to religion for its completion.
The description given by Tacitus of the high honour in which women
were held by the ancient Germans, as being in some sense holy and as
having the gift of prophecy, may be somewhat exaggerated; but if it is
true that the safest mode of binding that people to their political
engagements was to require as hostages women of noble birth, we may
well believe that their regard for the female sex had a religious
basis. Tacitus adds, that the care of house and lands and of the family
affairs, was usually committed to the women, while the men spent their
time in feasting, fighting, and sleeping. A happy commentary this
on the question whether the former is capable of managing her own
affairs! The true position of woman, however, is not that assigned
to her by the ancient Germans, who gave her a fictitious superiority
based on superstition. We must look to the peoples among whom have
flourished the religions which have permanently influenced the world,
for evidences of the continued improvement of that position. That which
has had the most striking and lasting effect over the social status of
women in the East is undoubtedly Buddhism. Gautama preached salvation
to all human beings alike, rich and poor, male and female, and some
of his first converts were women. His teaching went to the root of
the prejudice so powerful in the East, which leads man to consider
woman his inferior,[302] and she was at once raised to a level with
him. Hence, in most Buddhist countries, women are treated as man’s
companions, and not as his slaves. The fact that the former are allowed
to take monastic vows reveals the true source of female emancipation.
It is a recognition of the capability of woman to attain to the
spiritual re-birth, and, as a consequence, not only to escape from the
material life with its continued evils, but to secure supreme bliss in
another state. The idea of the spiritual re-birth was at the foundation
of the ancient mysteries, and therefore the admission to them of woman
was a sign of her emancipation. The Zend-Avesta places men and women on
the same footing, and among the ancient Persians the latter sometimes
occupied even high sacerdotal positions. She was, moreover, freely
admitted to the secret mysteries. M. Lajard says that the monuments
show us women not only admitted as neophytes to the celebration of
the mysteries, but performing there sometimes the part of god-mother
(marraine), sometimes that of priestess and arch-priestess. In these
two characters they assist the initiating priest, and they themselves
preside at the initiation, assisted by a priest or an arch-priest.
The learned French writer concludes, therefore, that “women among the
peoples endowed with the institution of the mysteries found themselves
thus placed in a condition of equality with man.” That which had been
begun by Buddhism and Mazdaism was continued by Christianity, which
knows no distinction of sex or position, however much its principles
may from time to time have suffered at the hands of ignorant or
irrational legislators.



Whether what is known as Modern Spiritualism is true or false, it must
have an equal influence on those who believe it to be true. As being,
then, influential for good or for evil over the lives of thousands of
people, its phenomena are deserving of most careful attention. For
the same reason the analogous phenomena which have been from time
to time observed among uncultured peoples are also worthy of study.
There is little doubt that nearly everything which has been done by
modern Spiritualists has been performed from time immemorial by the
Shamans, or sorcery doctors, of the Turanian and allied tribes of the
American and African Continents. The two great essentials required
in either case are the existence of disembodied spirits and mediums
through whom they can communicate with man. As to the former, it is
doubtful whether there is any race of uncivilised men who are not firm
believers in the existence of spirits or ghosts. In most cases, and
probably in all originally, these are the spirits of dead men, who
are thought, for a time at least, to wander about the scenes of their
material life, and occasionally to make their presence known by sounds
or by a visible appearance. So great is the dread of ghosts among
many of such peoples that they will hardly venture out of their huts
after dark, and when any person is compelled to do so he invariably
carries a light, although he would not have the slightest difficulty in
finding his way without its aid. Nor is the medium wanting among the
uncivilised races. The most influential man in the tribe is the sorcery
doctor, except where he is merely a tool in the hands of the chief, and
all his influence is due to his supposed control over, or, at least,
communication with, the denizens of the spirit world. By their aid he
is able to bewitch his own enemies or those of the persons who seek the
exercise of his natural power, and, on the other hand, to discover the
origin of the disease under which the sick man is wasting away, and to
remove it from him should the spirits be propitious. The sorcery doctor
of an African tribe, like the Shaman of the Mongol, is in fact a very
oracle through his supposed power of receiving communications from his
immaterial assistants. Moreover, the means by which he becomes _en
rapport_ with the spirit world are exactly the same as those employed
by the Spiritualist, although the mode in which the mediumistic
condition is induced may often be very different. Whether arrived
at by a process of mesmerism, or by means of a ceremony attended
with great physical and mental excitement, or, on the other hand,
induced by extreme exhaustion, or whether it is caused by a kind of
intoxication, the condition required is one of trance. The most simple
mode of attaining it is probably the _self-mesmerism_ of the Zulus of
Natal, an intense concentration and abstraction of the mind, giving
the clairvoyant faculty. Canon Calloway states that this process of
“inner divination” is commonly practised by herd boys for the purpose
of finding cattle which have strayed; and it is even used as a means of
escape by those who are threatened with destruction by a jealous chief.

This clairvoyant power, which is intimately connected with
Spiritualism, is by some peoples ascribed to spirit communication.
Thus, says Scheffer, among the Laplanders, “When the devil takes a
liking to any person, in his infancy, he haunts him with several
apparitions.... Those who are taken thus a second time see more visions
and gain great knowledge. If they are seized a third time they arrive
to the perfection of this art, and become so knowing, that without the
drum (the magic drum which answers to the tambourine of the Mongol
and the rattle of the American Indian), they can see things at the
greatest distances, and are so possessed by the devil, that they see
them even against their will.” Scheffer adds that on his complaining
against a Lapp on account of his drum, the Lapp brought it to him,
“and confessed with tears that, though he should part with it, and
not make him another, he should have the same visions as formerly and
he instanced the traveller himself, giving him “a true and particular
relation” of whatever had happened to him in his journey to Lapland.”
He complained, moreover, that “he knew not how to make use of his eyes,
since the things altogether distant were presented to them.” According
to Olaus Magnus, the Lapland Shaman “falls into an ecstacy and lies
for a short time as if dead; in the meanwhile his companion takes great
care that no gnat or other living creature touch him, for his soul is
carried by some ill genius into a foreign country, from whence it is
brought back, with a knife, ring, or some other token of his knowledge
of what is done in those parts. After his rising up he relates all the
circumstances belonging to the business that was inquired after.”

Among the special spiritualistic phenomena which are recognised
among uncultured peoples are spirit-rapping, spirit-voices, and the
cord-unloosening, which, when first exhibited, created in England so
much astonishment. The last-named phenomenon is not unknown to the
North American Indians, and is practised by the Greenlanders and by
some of the Siberian Shamans. Thus, among the Samoyedes, “The Shaman
places himself on the ground upon a dry reindeer skin. Then he allows
himself to be firmly bound, hands and feet. The windows are closed, and
the Shaman calls upon the spirits, when suddenly a noise is heard in
the darkened room. Voices are heard within and outside the court; but
upon the dry reindeer skin there is regular rhythmical beating. Bears
growl, serpents hiss, and squirrels seem to jump about. At last the
noise ceases. The windows are opened, and the Shaman enters the court
free and unbound. No one doubts that the spirits have made the noise
and set the Shaman free, and carried him secretly out of the court.”

We have here the noises, voices, and rope untying which are so common
in spiritualistic _séances_. These find a still closer parallel in the
curious rites of Greenland Shamanism, the object of which is to enable
the spirits of the sorcerer to visit heaven or hell as occasion may
require. The historian Crantz thus describes the ceremony:—

“First the devotee drums awhile, making all manner of distorted
figures, by which he enervates his strength and works up his
enthusiasm. Then he goes to the entry of the house, and there gets one
of his pupils to tie his head between his legs, and his hands behind
his back with a string; then all the lamps in the house must be put
out and the windows shut up. For no one must see the interview between
him and the spirit; no one must stir, not so much as to scratch his
head, that the spirit may not be hindered, or rather that he may not
be detected in his knavery.... After he has begun to sing, in which
all the rest join with him, he begins to sigh and puff and foam with
great perturbation and noise, and calls out for his spirit to come to
him, and has often great trouble before he comes. But if the spirit is
still deaf to his cries, and comes not, his soul flies away to fetch
him. During this dereliction of his soul he is quiet, but, by-and-by,
he returns again with shouts of joy—nay, with a certain rustling, so
that a person who has been several times present assured me that it
was exactly as if he heard several birds come flying, first over the
house, and afterwards into it. But if the Torngak (or spirit) comes
voluntarily, he remains without in the entry. There an Angekok (or
magician) discourses with him about anything that the Greenlanders want
to know. Two different voices are distinctly heard, one as without and
one as within. The answer is always dark and intricate. The hearers
interpret the meaning among themselves, but if they cannot agree in
the solution, they beg the Torngak to give the Angekok a more explicit
answer. Sometimes another comes who is not the usual Torngak, in which
case neither the Angekok nor his company understand him.... But if this
communication extends still further, he soars aloft with his Torngak on
a long string to the realm of souls, where he is admitted to a short
conference with the _Angekut poglit_, _i.e._, the fat or the famous
wise ones, and learns there the fate of his sick patient, or even
brings him back a new soul. Or else he descends to the goddess of hell,
and sets the enchanted creatures free. But back he comes presently
again, cries out terribly, and begins to beat his drum; for, in the
meantime, he has found means to disengage himself from his bonds, at
least, by the help of his scholars, and then, with the air of one quite
jaded with his journey, tells a long story of all that he had seen and
heard. Finally, he tunes up a song, and goes round, and imparts his
benediction to all present by a touch. Then they light up the lamps,
and see the poor Angekok wan, fatigued, and harassed, so that he can
scarce speak.”

Except that the civilised medium attains to a state of trance without
so much excitement, and does not, while in that state, take so distant
a journey, the account given by Crantz would almost answer for a
description of a spiritual _séance_. Most of the occasions in which
the sorcerer is consulted would seem to be cases of sickness. Illness
is usually supposed to be caused by the agency of spirits, who are
annoyed at something having been done or omitted, and the mission of
the sorcerer is to ascertain whether the sick man will live or die,
and, if the former, what offering must be given to propitiate his
tormentors. Among the Zulus, the diviners who eat _impepo_ medicine
answer, in a measure, to the Mongolian Shaman, although they do not
profess to have intercourse with supernatural agents. This is reserved,
apparently, for the diviners having familiar spirits. These people
do nothing of themselves, sit quite still, and the answers to the
questions put by inquirers are given by voices at a distance from them.
Canon Calloway gives two curious instances of this mode of divining.
In one of them a young child, belonging to a family from another kraal
which had settled in a village of the Amahlongwa, was seized with
convulsions, and some young men, its cousins, were sent to consult a
woman who had familiar spirits. They found the woman at home, but it
was not until they had waited a long time that a small voice proceeding
from the roof of the hut saluted them. They were, of course, much
surprised at being addressed from such a place, but soon a regular
conversation was carried on between them and the voices, in the course
of which the spirits minutely described the particulars connected with
the child’s illness—a case of convulsions. They then told the young man
that “the disease was not properly convulsions, but was occasioned by
the ancestral spirits, because they did not approve of them living in
their relative’s kraal, and that, on their return home, they were to
sacrifice a goat (which was particularly described), and pour its gall
over the child, giving it at the same time Itongo medicine.” This took
place in the day time, and the woman did nothing but occasionally ask
the spirits if they were speaking the truth. “The young men returned
home,” says Calloway, “sacrificed the goat, poured the gall on the
child, plucked for him Itongo medicine, and gave him the expressed
juice to drink;” and the child had no return of the convulsions, and
is still living. The statement that, during the interview, the woman
did nothing but occasionally ask the spirits if they were speaking the
truth, is somewhat suspicious, but, whatever the explanation of the
case, one thing seems certain—the young men had not seen the woman
before, as she lived on the coast, a day and a half’s journey from
them. In the other instance referred to, the ultimate result was not
so favourable, as the sickness was not removed, but it was attended
with an incident by which we are again reminded of the phenomena of
Spiritualism. The spirits promised to dig up and bring to the diviner
the secret poison which they said was causing the sickness inquired
about. At the time appointed for the poison to be exhibited the old
people assembled in the diviner’s hut, and, after arranging themselves
in a line at the request of the spirits, they soon heard, first one
thing fall on the floor, and then another, until at length each person
was told to take up what belonged to him and throw it into the running
stream, when the disease would be carried away. On examining the things
“some found their beads which they had lost long ago; some found earth
bound up; others found pieces of some old garment; others shreds of
something they had worn; all found something belonging to them.” In
this case, also, the voices came from above; but among some peoples
the spirit enters into the body of the diviner, in like manner as with
spiritualistic mediums. This is so in China, where the spirit of the
dead talks with the living through the male or female medium, as the
case may be—and with all uncultured peoples, in fact, who look upon
their priests, or sorcery doctors, as oracles.

There are two phenomena known to spiritualists which we can expect
to find only among cultured peoples. One of these, the so-called
spirit writing, has been practised by the Chinese probably from time
immemorial, and is effected by means of a peculiarly-shaped pen held
by two men and some sand. The presence of the spirit is shown by a
slow movement of the point of the pen tracing characters in the sand.
After writing a line or two on the sand the pen ceases to move, and the
characters are transferred to paper. After this, if the response is
unfinished, another line is written, and so on, until the pen entirely
ceases its motion, which signifies that the spirit of the divinity
has taken its departure from the pen. Like the spirit drawings of
modern mediums, the meaning of the figures thus obtained is often very
difficult to make out. The other phenomenon is the rising and floating
in the air, in which Mr. Home was so great an adept. This in all ages
has been the privilege of the saints, Asiatic or European, Buddhist or
Christian, who have attained to a state of spiritual ecstacy.

At the beginning of this Essay it was said that, so long as the
phenomena of Spiritualism are believed to be true, they have equal
influence, whether true or false. On the other hand, it must not
be thought that, because they are accepted as true by uncultured
people, therefore they _are_ false, as being merely due to fraud or
superstition. To those even who believe in a spirit world, the question
of spirit action in connection with the phenomena is one of the utmost
difficulty; and a possible explanation may be suggested of the most
remarkable of them, based on physical facts recorded by spiritualists
themselves, without the necessity of seeking spirit agency. It has
been noticed that the faces which appear at the openings of the
cabinet in which the Spiritualist mediums sit are usually at first,
if not ultimately, much like the mediums themselves, and yet it seems
to be absolutely impossible, considering how they are secured, that
such could be the case. It may, however, only be impossible under the
_ordinary_ conditions of physical life. If certain phenomena said to
have been observed were so in reality, the apparent difficulty is
removed. It has frequently been noticed that colouring matter placed
on a spirit hand has afterwards been found on the hand or body of
the medium. This has been established by experiments tried for the
purpose. Further, it is stated that occasionally, when a light has been
suddenly struck, a long hand and arm have been seen swiftly drawn in
towards the medium. Moreover, the body itself of the medium, absurd as
such a thing appears to be, has been seen to elongate, if we are to
believe the statement of Mrs. Corner, made through the _Spiritualist_,
in connection with the medium, Miss Cook. The familiar spirit of this
medium has been seen rising from her body, and some Spiritualists
believe that the spirits usually, if not always, rise out of their
mediums. In the instance just mentioned the spirit was said to have
been visibly connected with the medium by cloudy, faintly luminous

If we accept these statements as true, most of the phenomena of
Spiritualism are explainable without reference to the agency of
spirits. They would show that the human body must contain within itself
an inner form, be it material or immaterial, which, under proper
conditions, is able to disengage itself either wholly or partly from
its outer covering. The spirit hands which appear, and which are able
to move heavy weights and convey them long distances through the air,
would really be those of the medium. The faces and full length figures
which show themselves, holding conversations, and allowing themselves
to be touched, and even permitting their robes to be cut, become the
faces and figures of the mediums. This view receives confirmation from
the Spiritualist standpoint, from the fact (if such it be) that the
“doubles” of well-known mediums have sometimes been recognised in the
presence of the originals, and (seeing that Spiritualists believe the
body to be capable of elongation) it is not inconsistent with what has
been observed that the spirit figure is sometimes much taller than the
medium. It is consistent, moreover, with the facts, that the distance
from the medium within which the spirit figures can appear is limited,
and that if the hands of the medium be held closely _from the first_,
many of the manifestations cannot be produced. This point has been
insisted upon as proof of imposture; but assuming, for the sake of
argument, the truth of what is said as to the human “double,” it simply
shows how intimately associated are the external covering and the inner
form which has to become disengaged to show itself.

The more the subject is studied the more evident does it become that
most of the phenomena in question are dependent solely on the medium
himself. The evidence of Mrs. Everitt, given in the _Spiritualist_,
seems to furnish the key to all such phenomena as that of the
appearance of “Katie King.” Mrs. Everitt stated that, when entranced,
she had seen her own body[303] in a chair, and been struck with the
circumstance; and she added, that in the case of such a temporary
separation between the spirit and the body, these are united by a
magnetic cord. We have only to imagine that when Mrs. Everitt was
entranced, her spirit became visible to the persons at the _séance_,
and we should have the exact phenomenon produced at Miss Cook’s
_séances_. Moreover, the fact of the so-called spirit and the body
of the medium being visible at the same time, which has been thought
to prove that they are perfectly distinct persons, thus loses its
apparent significance. If Mrs. Everitt’s spirit and the body which she
saw belonged to the same person, so may the spirit seen at Miss Cook’s
_séances_ belong to Miss Cook herself; an inference which is supported
by the fact, that when the former disappeared, it was absorbed into
Miss Cook’s own organism. The magnetic cord which Mrs. Everitt
referred to as uniting the spirit and body while these are temporarily
separated exists also, so far as can be judged from the published
reports of the _séances_ of Katie and Miss Cook.

A remarkable confirmation of the above theory[304] is given in a recent
work by Col. Olcott, who, in 1874, at the Eddy homestead, in Vermont,
U.S., witnessed the appearance of upwards of five hundred materialised
figures, of the reality of which he was convinced, although they could
be accounted for as proceeding from the medium himself, and not as due
to the agency of departed spirits.[305]

While offering the above explanation of many of the most important
phenomena vouched for by the advocates of Spiritualism, it is simply to
show that such phenomena, according to the evidence of Spiritualists
themselves, do not require the intervention of spirit agency, although
this has an important bearing on the past history of mankind. Spiritism
has a marvellous influence over the mind of uncultured man, and it
has retained its influence almost unimpaired through most of the
phases of human progress. A late French writer, after stating that
superstition was supreme in the Roman Empire at the commencement of
the Christian era, declares that magic was universally practised,
with the object of acquiring, by means of “demons”—the spirits of
the dead—power to benefit the person using it, or to injure those
who were obnoxious to him. It is thus evident that the phenomena to
which the modern term “Spiritualism” has been applied are of great
interest to the Anthropologist, and, indeed, of the utmost importance
for a right understanding of some of the chief problems with which he
has to deal. They constitute an element in the life-history of past
generations which cannot be left out of consideration when their mental
and moral condition are being studied; and modern _Spiritualism_ may,
therefore, be studied with great advantage as a key to what is more
properly called _Spiritism_. Not that the former can be considered as
an instance of “survival,” in the proper sense of this phrase. Apart
from such isolated instances as that of Swedenborg, Spiritualism is
of quite recent introduction, and it appears to have had no direct
connection with its earlier prototype. It is worthy of note, however,
that it sprang up among the people who have long been in contact
with primitive tribes, over whom Spiritism has always had a powerful
influence. It is possible that intermixture of Indian blood with that
of the European settlers in North America may have had something to do
with the appearance of Spiritualism, which would thus be an example of
intellectual reversion, analogous to the physical divergence to the
Indian type which has by some writers been ascribed to the descendants
of those settlers. Or the former may be merely a resemblance, instead
of a reversion, dependent on the change in the physical organism. In
either case, it is somewhat remarkable that many of the so-called
“spirits,” which operate through Spiritualist mediums, claim to have
had an American (Indian) origin.


[302] I have not forgotten the so-called _Mutterrecht_. Whatever the
influence of woman, as head of the family or household, however, her
position in society was a secondary one, except under the conditions
referred to in the chapter on “Sacred Prostitution.”



After treating of the nature of totems, I propose to explain the object
of totemism as a system, and to show its origin. I am not aware that
this has yet been attempted in an adequate manner, although the subject
has been referred to, as I shall have occasion to show, by several
writers of authority. The late Dr. J. F. M’Lennan, who first dealt with
the subject of totemism, which indeed he made his own, did not profess
to explain its origin, notwithstanding certain remarks bearing on this
question made in the course of his inquiries.

The first point to be considered is the nature of a “totem,” and this
is shown by the meaning of the name itself. The word is taken from the
language of the Ojibwas, a tribe of the widespread Algonkin stock,
living near Lake Superior, in North America. It signifies the symbol or
device of a gens or tribal division, that by which it is distinguished
from all other such divisions. The kind of objects used as totems by
the aborigines of North America may be seen from the names of the
gentes into which the Ojibwa tribe is divided. These are twenty-three
in number, and the totemic devices belonging to them comprise nine
quadrupeds (the chief of which are the Wolf, the Bear, the Beaver, and
the Turtle), eight birds, five fishes, and one reptile, the snake.
There are numerous other totems among the American tribes, and they
are not taken from the animal kingdom only. Thus, there are gentes
with vegetable totems, such as _Corn, Potatoe, Tobacco-Plant, and
Reed-Grass_. Natural objects, such as _Sun_, _Earth_, _Sand_, _Salt_,
_Sea_, _Snow_, _Ice_, _Water_, and _Rain_, give names to other tribal
divisions. Among natural phenomena, _Thunder_ is widely spread as the
name of a gens, while _Wind_ is used among the Creek Indians; and the
Omahas have a name meaning _Many Seasons_. _Medicine_, _Tent_, _Lodge_,
_Bonnet_, _Leggings_, and _Knife_, have given titles to other gentes,
and so also has _colour_. Thus, we have _Black_ and _Red_ Omahas, and
_Blue_ and _Red-Paint_ Cherokees. Names denoting qualities have been
taken by some gentes, such as _Beloved People_ of the Choctas; _Never
Laugh_, _Starving_, _Half-Dead_, _Meat_, _Fish-Eaters_, and _Conjurers_
of the Blackfeet; and the _Non-Chewing_ of the Delawares. How some of
those ideas could be represented pictorially as totems is not very
apparent, and Mr. Lewis Morgan very properly suggests, in relation to
some of the terms, that nicknames for gentes may have superseded the
original names; to which may be added that probably many of the totems
are of comparatively modern origin.

The natives of Australia make the same use of totems as the Americans.
The former have divisions of the tribe answering to the gentes of the
latter, distinguished by a common device or totem; and the Australian
totemic divisions are usually, like the American gentes, named after
animals. Thus, the Kamilaroi tribes have _Kangaroo_, _Opossum_,
_Iguana_, _Emu_, _Bandicoot_, and _Blacksnake_ totems. _Eaglehawk_
and _Crow_ are widely spread throughout Eastern Australia as names of
Class divisions. Totems taken from the vegetable kingdom appear to be
uncommon, as only two are mentioned in the Rev. Lorimer Fison’s work on
the Kamilaroi. The Rev. George Taplin names two others among the totems
of the South Australian tribes, each of which has a “tutelary genius,”
or “tribal symbol,” in the shape of some bird, beast, fish, reptile,
insect, or substance. The divisions of a tribe in Western Victoria
take their totems from natural features, such as _Water_, _Mountain_,
_Swamp_, and _River_, and in North-Western Victoria the totemic
divisions include _Hot-Wind_ and _Belonging-to-the-Sun_.

Although no such developed totemic system as that in use by the natives
of Australia and North America is known now to exist elsewhere, yet
there are traces of the use of totems by many other peoples. Thus,
among the Bechuanas of South Africa,[306] each tribe takes its name
from an animal or plant, and its members are known as “men of the
crocodile,” “men of the fish,” “men of the monkey,” “men of the
buffalo,” “men of the wild vine,” &c. The head of the family, which
holds the first rank in the tribe, receives the title of “great man”
of the animal whose name it bears, and no one belonging to the tribe
will eat the flesh, or clothe himself with the skin, of its protecting
animal, who is regarded as the father of the tribe. Many of the Arab
tribes take their names from animals, such as the Lion, the Panther,
the Wolf, the Bear, the Dog, the Fox, the Hyena, the Sheep, and
many others.[307] Professor Robertson Smith, who has endeavoured to
establish the existence of totemism among the early Arabs, states that
the totem animal was not used as ordinary food by those connected with
it. Again, some of the Kolarian tribes of India are divided into clans
named after animals, and we find the Heron, Hawk, Crow, and Eel clans
among the Oraon and Munda tribes of Chota-Nagpur.

A totem origin may probably be ascribed to the animal ancestry claimed
by a chief or his tribe. Thus, it is said by M. M. Valikhanof[308]
that “a characteristic feature in Central Asiatic traditions is the
derivation of their origin from some animal.” The Kastsché, or Tele
people, are said to have sprung from the marriage of a wolf and a
beautiful Hun Princess. The Tugas professed to be descended from
a she-wolf, and the Tufans, or Tibetans, from a dog. The Chinese
affirmed, moreover, that Balaché, the hereditary chief of the Mongol
Khans, was the son of a blue wolf[309] and a white hind. Traces
of the use of totems by the Chinese themselves are not wanting.
Their expression for the people is _Pih-sing_, meaning “the hundred
family names.” As a fact, there are about four hundred such names in
China, and the intermarriage of persons having the same family name
is absolutely forbidden. The importance of this prohibition will be
apparent when we come to consider the incidents of totemism. Mr. Robert
Hart states[310] that some of the Chinese surnames have reference to
animals, fruits, metals, natural objects, &c., such as Horse, Sheep,
Ox,[311] Fish, Bird, Flower, Rice, River, Water, Cloud, Gold, &c., &c.
He adds, “In some parts of the country large villages are met with, in
each of which there exists but one family name; thus, in one district
will be found, say, three villages, each containing two or three
thousand people, the one of the ‘Horse,’ the second of the ‘Sheep,’ and
the third of the ‘Ox’ family name.” According to the rule that a man
cannot marry a woman of his own family name, a ‘Horse’ cannot marry
a ‘Horse,’ but must marry a ‘Sheep,’ or an ‘Ox,’ and we may suppose
that these animals were originally the totems or devices of particular
family groups; in like manner, as the Wolf, the Bear, and the Beaver
are, among the American aborigines, totems of the groups of kin to
which the term gens is applied.

The former use of totems may probably be assumed also when animal names
are applied, not to tribal divisions, but to the tribes themselves,
as we have seen is the case with the Arabs. Thus, when the great Hindu
Epic,[312] in describing the adventures of Arjuna, one of the Pandavan
Princes, says that the Nagas or Serpents were defeated with the aid
of Peacocks, we must understand that a people known as Peacocks, from
their totemic device, defeated a people whose badge was a serpent. The
Peacock was indeed the heraldic device of the Tambouk Kings of Orissa.
Probably the existence of the _Singhs_ or Lions, the warrior caste of
the tribes of North-Western India, may be accounted for in the same
way. Dr. M’Lennan[313] refers to numerous facts to prove that many
animals, among others the Serpent, the Horse, the Bull, the Lion, the
Bear, the Dog, and the Goat gave names to ancient tribes, who used the
animals after whom they were called as badges. He goes further than
this, and supposes that all the ancient nations passed through a totem
stage, in which they had animals and plants for gods. This question,
however, we shall have occasion to refer to later on.

The nature of totems having been shown, the object of totemism as a
system has now to be explained. The Rev. George Taplin remarks that
each Narrinyeri tribe is regarded as a family, every member of which
is a blood relation, and the totem borne by the Australian tribe,
or rather tribal division, is thus the symbol of a family group, in
like manner as the American totem is the device of a gens. The first
question asked of a stranger by the Dieyerie tribe of Cooper’s Creek,
in Central Australia, is “Of what family (murdoo) are you?” Each
murdoo is distinguished by a special name, being that of some object
which, according to a tribal legend, may be animate or inanimate, such
as a dog, mouse, emu, iguana, rain, &c.[314] It is evident that the
Australian totemic device is equivalent to a family name, a name which
belongs to all the members of a particular group, and which cannot be
held by any person not belonging by birth or adoption to that group,
so that it is aptly termed by the Rev. Lorimer Fison[315] a “badge of
fraternity.” This badge answers to the “device of a gens,” as the token
of the American tribes is defined, and its possession by any person
is proof that he belongs to a particular gens or tribal division, and
that he is entitled or subject to all the rights, privileges, and
obligations of its members. Schoolcraft very properly terms the gens
the totemic institution, and as the rights, privileges, and obligations
of the gens are attached to the totem, a consideration of them will
throw much light on the subject of this paper.

According to Mr. Morgan,[316] the gens came into being upon three
principal conceptions, the bond of kin, a pure lineage through descent
in the female line, and non-intermarriage in the gens. Leaving out of
view for the present the question of descent, the other conceptions
give rise to obligations of great importance. The bond of kin assumes
the positive obligation of mutual help, defence, and redress of
injuries among the members of the gens; while the third conception
implies the negative obligation which prevents the intermarriage of
persons belonging to a common totem. The negative obligation is,
however, no less than the positive obligation, based on the conception
of kinship, and the totem device of the gens is, therefore, well
described as the badge of a fraternal group. The obligation of mutual
aid and defence implies the co-relative duty of doing nothing to injure
a fellow member of the gens, in accordance with which all individuals
of the same totem must treat each other as brethren. This applies not
only to human beings, but also to the totem objects, although these may
be killed and eaten by persons not belonging to the fraternal group,
by which they are regarded as sacred. Sir George Grey says,[317] in
relation to the _kobongs_ or totems of the Western Australians, “a
certain mysterious connection exists between the family and its kobong,
so that a member of the family will never kill an animal of the species
to which his kobong belongs, should he find it asleep; indeed, he
always kills it reluctantly, and never without affording it a chance
of escape.” He adds: “This arises from the family belief, that some
one individual of the species is their nearest friend, to kill whom
would be a great crime, and to be carefully avoided. Similarly a native
who has a vegetable for his kobong may not gather it under certain
circumstances, and at a particular period of the year.” So, also, the
aborigines of North America will not hunt, kill, or eat any animal of
the form of their own totem.

Where, therefore, we find particular animals forbidden for food to a
class of individuals we may assume that such animals have a totemic
character. Thus, Bosman relates[318] that, on the Gold Coast of Guinea,
each person “is forbidden the eating of one sort of flesh or other;
one eats no mutton, another no goats’-flesh, beef, swines’-flesh, wild
fowl, &c.” He points out that this restraint is not for a limited
time, but for the whole of life; and as a son never eats what his
father is restrained from, or a daughter that which her mother cannot
eat, the forbidden object partakes of the nature of a totem. It is
doubtful whether the Islanders of the Pacific ever possessed systematic
totemism, although traces of the use of totems may, perhaps, be found
in the names taken from plants met with in some of the islands, and
even in the word “Samoa,” which is said by the Rev. Wyatt Gill[319] to
mean “the family or clan of the Moa,” the Polynesian term for _fowl_.
The Samoans entertained ideas as to particular animals, such as the
eel, the shark, the turtle, the dog, the owl, and the lizard, similar
to the notions associated with the totems of other peoples. They
supposed those animals to be incarnations of household deities, and no
man dare injure or eat the animal which was the incarnation of his own
god, although he could eat freely of the incarnation of another man’s

Notions of the same kind were prevalent throughout the islands of
the Pacific.[321] Thus, the Fijians supposed every man to be under
the protection of a special god, who resided in or was symbolised
by some animal, or other natural object, such as a rat, a shark, a
hawk, a tree, &c. No one would eat the particular animal associated
with his own god;[322] which explains the fact that cannibalism was
not quite universal among the Fijians, as some gods were believed to
reside in human bodies. The heathen Fijians allow souls not only to
all mankind, but to animals and plants, and even to houses, canoes,
and all mechanical contrivances. As soon as their parents die they
are enrolled among the family gods, whose protecting care is firmly
believed in.[323] It is very probable that these gods, who answer to
the household deities of the Samoans, are regarded as being incarnate
in the sacred animals, &c., of the tribe, towards whom, as being
re-embodiments of deceased ancestors, they necessarily stand in a
fraternal relation.

These ideas show a close connection between animal-worship and
ancestor-worship, and they have an important bearing on the origin of
totemism. We have seen that the obligations of the totemic institution
are based on the conception of kinship. This is also essential to
ancestor-worship, which, like totemism, rests on the obligation of
mutual aid and protection. The worshippers make the offerings and
perform the rites required by their deceased ancestors, who in return
give their protection and assistance to their descendants. This mutual
obligation is associated with the superstitious regard for certain
animals and other objects. The venerated animals are not killed or
eaten by those who are connected with them by superstitious ties,
and they are supposed, on their part, to act as protectors to their
human allies, by whom they are viewed as guardian spirits. Catlin, the
American traveller, gives a vivid description of the mode in which
the Indian acquires such a guardian. He states[324] that every Indian
must “make mystery,” that is, obtain the protection of some mysterious
power which is supposed to be connected with what is known as the
mystery bag. When a boy has attained the age of 14 or 15 years, he
absents himself for several days from his father’s lodge, “lying on
the ground in some remote or secluded spot, crying to the Great Spirit,
and fasting the whole time. During this period of peril and abstinence,
when he falls asleep, the first animal, bird, or reptile of which he
dreams (or pretends to have dreamed, perhaps), he considers the Great
Spirit has designated for his mysterious protector through life. He
then returns home to his father’s lodge, and relates his success, and
after allaying his thirst and satisfying his appetite, he sallies forth
with weapons or traps until he can procure the animal or bird, the
skin of which he preserves entire, and ornaments it according to his
own fancy, and carries it with him through life, for good luck (as he
calls it): as his strength in battle, and in death his guardian spirit,
that is buried with him, and which is to conduct him safe to the
beautiful hunting grounds, which he contemplates in the world to come.”
In California it was thought that the Great Spirit sent, in a vision,
to every child of seven years of age, the appearance of some animal
to be its protector or guardian. The African fetish superstition is
of much the same character, as the fetish object is worshipped solely
that it may give the protecting aid which the Indian expects from his
animal guardian. Mr. Cruickshank says,[325] in relation to the natives
of the Gold Coast of Western Africa, that they believe “the Supreme
Being has bestowed upon a variety of objects, animate and inanimate,
the attributes of Deity, and that he directs every individual man in
his choice of his object of worship.... It may be a block, a stone,
a tree, a river, a lake, a mountain, a snake, an alligator, a bundle
of rags, or whatever the extravagent imagination of the idolater may
pitch upon.” Here, although the nature of the protecting influence is
apparently different from that which the Americans are supposed to
obtain, it is in reality the same. In either case it is a guardian
spirit, whether it is called a “mystery” animal or an object having the
attributes of Deity.

Dr. M’Lennan saw a necessary connection between totemism and
animal-worship, and he affirms[326] that the ancient nations passed,
in pre-historic times, “through the totem stage, having animals and
plants, and the heavenly bodies conceived as animals, for gods before
the anthropomorphic gods appeared.” By _totem_, Dr. M’Lennan evidently
understood merely the animal or plant friend or protector of the
family or tribe, and if it had any reference to _soul_ or _spirit_,
it is the soul or spirit of the animal or plant. He speaks[327] of
men “believing themselves to be of the serpent-breed derived from
serpent-ancestors,” and so of other animals. He does not see in the
totem any reference to the actual progenitor of the family, and he
could hardly do so in accordance with his view of the mental condition
of men in the totem stage, where “natural phenomena are ascribable
to the presence in animals, plants, and things, and in the forces of
nature, of such spirits prompting to action as men are conscious they
themselves possess.” Professor Robertson Smith accepts, in his work on
the early Arabs,[328] Dr. M’Lennan’s views on the subject of totemism
and animal-worship, and gives as one of the three points which supply
complete proof of early totemism in any race, “the prevalence of the
conception that the members of the stock are of the blood of the eponym
animal, or are sprung from a plant of the species chosen as totem.”
When Prof. Smith comes to consider this point, however, it appears that
among the Arabs certain animals were not eaten because “they were
thought to be men in another guise,” that is, they were not merely
animals but were men in disguise.[329] This is very different from the
animistic theory, which makes men trace their descent from animals or
plants, although these may be supposed to have the same kind of spirits
as their human descendants; but it is consistent with the doctrine of
transmigration to which we shall have soon to refer.

Dr. M’Lennan’s hypothesis may be tested by what we know of the
animal-worship of ancient Egypt, where some animals were universally
worshipped, while others were regarded with veneration only in
particular districts, of which they were the guardians, and by whose
inhabitants they were carefully protected. We have here the operation
of the idea of a special relation subsisting between certain persons
and particular animals, such as we have seen to exist in connection
with totemism; and that relationship must, according to Dr. M’Lennan’s
hypothesis that animal and plant gods were the earliest to be
worshipped, have depended on the animal descent of those persons.
This explanation may appear to find some support in M. Maspero’s
statement,[330] that all the sacred animals of Egypt were at first
adored in their animal character, and that afterwards they were
identified with the gods of whom ultimately they became the incarnation
or living tabernacle. It is very improbable, however, that the gods
would be identified with animals, unless such animals were already
regarded as divine, or as connected with the peoples of whom they were
the guardians—by virtue of such a special relationship as is thought
by the Pacific Islanders to subsist between certain persons and the
sacred animals in which their ancestors are incarnated. As a fact, the
worship of animals was established in ancient Egypt by a king of the
second dynasty.[331] Moreover, it has been shown by M. Pierret that
the Egyptian religion was essentially monotheistic, the different gods
represented on the monuments being merely symbols. “Their very form,”
says that writer, “proves that we cannot see in them real beings. A
god represented with the head of a bird or of a quadruped can have
only an allegorical character, in like manner as the lion with a human
head called a sphinx has never passed for a real animal. It is only
a question of hieroglyphics. The various personages of the Pantheon
represent the functions of the Supreme God, of the only and hidden God,
who preserves His identity and the fulness of His attributes under
each of His forms.” Dupuis, in his History of Religions,[332] refers
to the ancient opinion that the division of Egypt into thirty-six
nomes or provinces was in imitation of the thirty-six decans into
which the Zodiac was divided, each of which had its protector. The
heavenly guardians became the protecting deities of the Egyptian nomes
which took the names of the animals there revered as images of the
patron gods. That opinion is consistent with the view expressed by M.
Pierret as to the character of the Egyptian deities. Dr. M’Lennan
supposes,[333] however, that the heavenly bodies were conceived as gods
before the anthropomorphic gods appeared. He argues that, as there is
nothing in the grouping of the stars to suggest animal forms, and as
stars, when named, were given names that commanded respect, if not
veneration, “the animals whose names were transferred to the stars or
Stellar groups, were on earth highly, if not religiously, regarded,”
in support of which view he shows that nearly all the animals so
honoured were anciently worshipped as gods. It by no means follows,
however, that these animals were so worshipped before being transferred
to the heavens; and possibly this had nothing to do with any special
regard for such animals. Much depends on the origin and object of the
constellations. There is still great uncertainty on this point, but it
is probable that the signs of the Zodiac, at least, were supposed to
represent certain cosmical phenomena connected with the progress of the
seasons, or with day and night, half of the signs being diurnal and
masculine, and the other half being nocturnal and feminine.[334]

In a very suggestive work by Mr. Andrew Lang, it is said[335] that
Dr. M’Lennan gave up his hypothesis and ceased to have any view on
the origin of totemism, and that its origin and determining causes
are still unknown. Mr. Lang himself suggests a probable origin when
he says, “people united by contiguity, and by the blind sentiment
of kinship not yet brought into explicit consciousness, might mark
themselves by a badge, and might thence devise a name, and later
might invent a myth of their descent from the object which the badge
represented;” the meaning of which appears to be that, before blood
relationship was recognised, persons living together marked[336]
themselves to enable their common origin to be remembered. Mr. Lang
adds, however, that “the very nature of totemism shows that it took its
present shape at a time when men, animals, and plants were conceived
of as physically akin; when names were handed on through the female
line; when exogamy was the rule of marriage, and when the family
theoretically included all persons bearing the same family name, that
is, all who claimed kindred with the same plant, animal, or object,
whether the persons are really akin or not.” According to this view,
kinship was fully recognised when totemism was established; as descent
in the female line is based on that recognition, and exogamy was
the result of the objection entertained by the lower races to the
intermarriage of persons nearly related by blood or adoption. This
feeling could hardly be so strong when totemism took its present shape,
which is probably its original shape, if, when totems were invented,
kinship was not recognised. The very nature of the totem is the
conception of a special relation between men and certain animals and
plants, and it is this conception, together with that of the totem as a
protecting influence, which have to be explained.

According to Sir John Lubbock,[337] totemism is the stage of human
progress in which natural objects, trees, lakes, stones, animals, &c.,
are worshipped, and it is regarded as equivalent to _nature-worship_.
Totemism, again,[338] is the deification of classes, so that “the
Redskin who regards the bear, or the wolf, as his totem, feels that he
is in intimate, though mysterious, association with the whole species.”
The explanation given by Sir John Lubbock[339] of the phase of totemism
which relates to the worship of animals is, that it originated “from
the practice of naming, first individuals, and then their families,
after particular animals. A family, for instance, which was called
after the bear, would come to look on that animal first with interest,
then with respect, and at length with a sort of awe.” This does not
go far enough, however, as it is not shown why certain animals and
other objects are chosen as totems, or why such totems are not only
viewed with veneration but are regarded as friends and protectors. Dr.
E. B. Tylor well objects,[340] “as to animal-worship, when we find
men paying distinct and direct reverence to the lion, the bear, or
the crocodile, as mighty superhuman beings, or adoring other beasts,
birds, or reptiles as incarnations of spiritual deities, we can hardly
supersede such well-defined developments of animistic religion, by
seeking their origin in personal names of deceased ancestors, who
chanced to be called Lion, Bear, or Crocodile.”

The fundamental basis of totemism is undoubtedly to be found in that
phase of human thought in which spirits are supposed “to inhabit trees
and groves, and to move in the winds and stars,” and in which almost
every phase of nature is personified. But whether, as asserted by
Dr. M’Lennan,[341] “the animition hypothesis, held as a faith, is at
the root of all the mythologies,” or whether the ideas of animism,
as found expressed in totemism, have been derived from the doctrines
of the ancient religions, is a question. According to the religious
philosophy of antiquity, as expressed by Pythagoras, “the pure and
simple essence of the Deity, was the common source of all the forms
of nature, which, according to their various modifications, possess
different properties.” The Universe or Great Cause, animated and
intelligent, and subdivided into a multitude of partial causes likewise
intelligent, was divided also into two great parts, the one active and
the other passive. Of these parts, the active comprises the Heavens,
and the passive the Earth and the elements. In addition to this
division was another, that of principles, of which one, answering to
the active cause, was the principle of light or good, and the other,
answering to the passive cause, was the principle of darkness or
evil.[342] A very practical form of the ancient belief embodied in that
philosophical system was entertained by the early Scandinavians, who,
says Mallet,[343] supposed that “from the supreme divinity emanated an
infinity of inferior deities and spirits, of whom every visible part
of the universe was the residence and the temple, which intelligences
not only dwell in them, but also direct their operations. Each element
had its intelligence or proper deity; the Earth, the Water, the Fire,
the Air, the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars. It was contained also in the
trees, the forests, the rivers, the mountains, the rocks, the winds,
the thunder, the tempest, which therefore deserved religious worship.”
There is no reference here to the twofold division of nature, but it is
found in the analogous beliefs of early races. Thus, Lenormant, in his
work on “Chaldean Magic and Sorcery,”[344] when comparing the Finnish
and Accadian Mythologies, speaks of their having “the same principle
of the personification of natural phenomena, objects, and classes of
beings belonging to the animated world.” An idea of dualism, however,
pervaded this system, which supposed that there was “a bad as well
as a good spirit attached to each celestial body, each element, each
phenomenon, each object, and each being,” which were ever trying to
supplant each other.[345] Thus, both Accadians and Finns “recognised
two worlds at enmity with each other; that of the gods together with
the propitious spirits, and that of the demons, respectively the
kingdom of light and that of darkness, the region of good and that of

At first sight these ideas have no special bearing on the subject
of totemism, but it is different when we consider certain notions
entertained by the Australian aborigines.

The Rev. Lorimer Fison remarks,[347] “the Australian totems have a
special value of their own. Some of them divide not mankind only, but
the whole universe, into what may almost be called gentile divisions.”
The natives of Port Mackay, in Queensland, allot everything in nature
into one or other of the two classes, Wateroo and Yungaroo, into
which their tribe is divided. The wind belongs to one and the rain
to the other. The Sun is Wateroo and the Moon is Yungaroo. The stars
are divided between them, and the division to which any star belongs
can be pointed out. The Mount Gambier tribe of South Australia has a
similar arrangement, but natural objects are allied with the totemic
subdivisions. Mr. Fison gives examples of this as supplied to him by
Mr. D. S. Stewart, from which it appears that rain, thunder, lightning,
winter, hail, clouds, &c., are associated with the crow totem, and
the stars, moon, &c., belong to the same totemic class as the black
cockatoo; while the black, crestless cockatoo subdivision includes
the sun, summer, autumn, wind, &c. The native of South Australia thus
“looks upon the Universe as a Great Tribe, to one of whose divisions he
himself belongs; and all things, animate and inanimate, which belong to
his class, are parts of the body corporate whereof he himself is part.”

There is a curious parallelism between this system and the ancient
doctrine of the separation of the intelligent Universe into two great
divisions, the celestial and terrestrial, or that of light and that of
darkness. In the totemic system one great division includes the sun
and summer, answering to the realm of light, and the other division
comprises moon, stars, winter, thunder, clouds, rain, hail, answering
to the realm of darkness. The American aborigines also show traces of
the notion of the dual division of nature in their hero-myths, which,
according to Dr. Brinton,[348] are intended to express “the daily
struggle which is ever going on between Day and Night, between Light
and Darkness, between Storm and Sunshine.” It is not improbable that
the American totem system is based on the idea of duality. Although
the totem divisions or gentes are now so numerous, there is no reason
to believe that, as long since mentioned by Lafitau[349] in relation
to the Iroquois and Hurons, that they had at one time not more than
three gentes. Mr. Morgan states, indeed, that the Iroquois commenced
with two gentes, and it is possible that the original totems of all the
North Americans were only two in number. The Wolf and the Bear, which
probably answer to Light and Darkness,[350] are the only totems common
to all the great families of tribes of that area.

The dualism of the American mythology possesses the element of
antagonism between the powers of light and those of darkness, which
was met with in the ancient mythologies. The Australian dualism appears
to lose sight of that opposition, and to look upon the two great
divisions of nature represented by light and darkness as forming parts
of a great whole. This idea is not wanting, however, to one phase of
what Lenormant terms the “naturalistic pantheism” of ancient religions.
The French historian states[351] that, although the Magi “preserved the
dualistic form which the old Proto-Medic religion must have admitted,”
yet they considered the antagonism between the good and the bad spirits
to be only superficial, “for they regarded the representatives of
the two opposing principles as consubstantial, equal in power, and
emanating both from one and the same pre-existent principle.” Lenormant
finds traces of this notion in the old Accadian system, and he
affirms[352] that Magism goes further than the perception of a common
principle from which both the evil and the good principles emanated,
seeing that it did not bind itself to the worship of the latter, but
rendered equal homage to the two principles. This fact has an important
bearing on the worship of the Evil Being so prevalent among the lower
races, in combination with the simple recognition of the existence of a
Good Being.

What has been said throws great light on the fundamental ideas of
totemism, but it does not account for the notion of protection, which
forms the real practical feature of that system. This notion can,
however, be found in certain doctrines of the ancient Persian religion.
Dr. M’Lennan refers,[353] in support of his hypothesis, that animal
gods were prolongations of the totems, to the opinion said to have
been entertained by the Peruvians, that “there was not any beast or
bird upon the earth whose shape or image did not shine in the heavens,
by whose influence its similitude was generated on the earth, and
its species increased.” From this he assumes “that the celestial
beings were conceived to be in _the shape_ of the animals, and to
have special relations to their breed on the earth.” The Peruvian
notion is, however, rather a phase of the ancient belief, expressed
in the cosmogony of Zoroaster, that all things on earth had celestial
prototypes which emanated from the Deity. As Lenormant remarks,[354]
“stars, animals, men, angels themselves—in one word, every created
being had his Fravishi, who was invoked in prayers and sacrifices, and
was the invisible protector who watched untiringly over the being to
whom he was attached.” The Mazdian _fravishis_ answer to the personal
spirits of nature-worship, and, according to the Accadian Magical
Table, every man had “from the hour of his birth a special god attached
to him, who lived as his protector and his spiritual type.”[355] We
have here the idea of guardianship by a mysterious being which is so
important in connection with the totem, but there is no suggestion
that the _fravishi_ itself ever became embodied in a terrestrial form,
although there does not appear to be any reason why it should not do so.

We have, in the doctrine of transmigration of souls, however, a
sufficient explanation of the special association between a particular
totem and the members of the gens or family group to which it gives
name. According to that doctrine,[356] as stated in the Hindoo code,
known as the Laws of Menu (chap. xii.), “with whatever disposition of
mind a man shall perform in this life any act, religious or moral,
in a future body endued with the same quality, shall he receive
his retribution.” Numerous animals are named as proper for such
re-incarnation, and even vegetables and mineral substances appear
among them. Transmigration seems to have been considered by Oriental
teaching essential to the attainment of perfection by the human soul,
and the forms through which it is supposed to pass, include not only
beasts, birds, and fishes, but also trees, stones, and other inanimate
objects. The great Gautama himself is said to have passed through all
the existences of earth, air, and sea, as well as through all the
conditions of human life, before he became the Buddha. Dr. M’Lennan
says[357] it is of the essence of the doctrine of transmigration that
“everything has a soul or spirit, and that the spirits are mostly human
in the sense of having once been in human bodies.” We have here the key
to the problem of totemism, which receives its solution in the idea
that the totem is _the re-incarnated form of the legendary ancestor
of the gens or family group allied to the totem_. The belief that
the spirits of the dead do take on themselves animal forms is widely
spread.[358] The most remarkable example of this belief is that which
views certain snakes, not merely as re-incarnations of human souls,
but as re-embodiments of ancestors of the people by whom such snakes
are venerated. Serpent-worship is, indeed, closely connected with the
worship of ancestors. The followers of the serpent believed themselves
“to be of the serpent-breed, derived from a serpent ancestor,” and we
know that peoples have claimed to belong to the serpent race. Such a
claim, or that to a monkey relationship made by some of the dark tribes
of India, would be readily admitted by the savage mind, and it may be
explained on the principle that the legendary ancestor of the race is
supposed to have become re-incarnated in monkey or snake form, and that
monkeys or snakes as well as men are his descendants.

At the same time it is very probable that some savages do not
distinguish between the man and the animal incarnation, and that if
they think at all of the ancestor of the race, it is under the animal
form. It must be remembered, however, that what to us is a monkey or
a bear is to the uncultured mind an incarnate spirit, and it is this
spirit-existence which is referred to when men speak of their ancestors
as animals or plants. This explanation is applicable also to the case
where descent is claimed from one of the heavenly bodies. Particular
stars are often identified with persons who, distinguished while
on earth, are thought to be no less distinguished after death. The
spirit of the dead person thus becomes identified with the star. When,
therefore, a man or family claims the Sun or the Moon as an ancestor,
the spirit of the luminary is really referred to. In fact, to the lower
races the Sun and the Moon are great beings, and there is no apparent
reason to them why a great man should not be descended from the spirit
of the Sun or Moon, or after death be identified as that spirit.
Perhaps, when the Egyptian Monarch was called Pharaoh, he was thought
to be actually a descendant of Phra, the Sun.[359] Such may have been
the case also with the Incas and other royal families who have claimed
to be of solar descent. Whether the Sun was regarded as the great
ancestor of the race, or only as the re-embodiment of his spirit, it
would be an equally powerful totem, a remark which applies as well to
the Moon or other heavenly bodies. In ancient times the Solar and Lunar
races were very powerful in the East, and their representatives are
still to be found in India among the Rajpoots and Jats.[360] In ancient
philosophy, the Sun and the Moon would represent the two realms of
Light and Darkness, into which the visible Universe was divided, and
as totems they probably stood at first in the same relation to other
totems as those of the Australian primary classes stand to the totems
of the secondary groups or gentes. It is known that various animals
were anciently associated with the Sun or the Moon, or were venerated
as emblems of the Solar or Lunar Deity. Thus, the Lion, the Bull, the
Horse, the Elephant, the Monkey, the Ram, and the Eagle, with others,
were solar animals; while, among other animals, the Cow, the Hare, the
Dog, the Beaver, the Dove, and the Fish, were lunar animals.[361] An
example of the process by which certain creatures became associated
with those heavenly bodies is noted by Macrobius, who says of the Lion,
“this beast seems to derive his own nature from the Sun, being, in
force and heat, as superior to all other animals as the Sun is to the
Stars.” Another example, but of a different character, and taken from a
very different quarter, may be cited.

The Mount Gambier tribe of South Australia, as we have already seen,
divides everything in nature between two great classes, and although
Mr. Stewart, who is responsible for the information, could not find
any reason for the arrangement, it appears from his remarks that the
natives knew to which division any object belongs. Mr. Stewart asked
what division a bullock belongs to. The answer was, “It eats grass, it
is Bourtwerio.” He then said, “A Crayfish does not eat grass: Why is it
Bourtwerio?” but the only reply he could get was, “That is what our
fathers said it was.”[362]

We are now able to qualify the definition previously given of the totem
as a “badge of fraternity,” or the “symbol of a gens.” We see that the
totem is something more than a symbol or a badge. This description
might answer for the pictorial representation of the totem, but not
for the totem itself, which is regarded as having actual vitality as
the embodiment or re-incarnation of an ancestral spirit. Any object
is fitted for this spirit embodiment, and therefore totemism may be
looked upon, not as a phase of nature-worship, but as a combination of
this religion with ancestor-worship. The ancestral character of the
totem accounts for the association with it of the idea of protection,
which is based on the existence of a fraternal relationship between
the totem and all the individuals belonging to a particular group of
kin. The totem, as a badge or symbol, therefore represents the group of
individuals, dead or alive, towards whom a man stands in a fraternal
relation, and the protection of whom he is therefore entitled to, so
long as he performs all the obligations on his part which flow from the
existence of that relationship. The ideas embodied in the totem are no
doubt more ancient than totemism as a developed social institution.
This fact will furnish an answer to the objection that totemism is
known only to peoples of a low degree of culture, who can hardly be
supposed capable of rising to the conception of nature, as a whole, on
which that system is founded, or the idea of a relationship existing
between all the objects in nature.

Dr. Brinton[363] answers those who object that the cosmogonical
myth of the Algonkins is “too refined for those rude savages, or
that it smacks too much of reminiscences of old-world teachings,”
that “it is impossible to assign to it other than an indigenous and
spontaneous origin in some remote period of Algonkin tribal history.”
The same reply may be given in relation to the universal totemism of
the Australians, with the qualification that the tribal history of
this race would have to be carried back to a period when it was in
contact, on the Asiatic Continent, with peoples among whom originated
or developed the ideas on which totemism is based, if, indeed, they
did not belong with them to a common stock. The existence among the
natives of Australia and America of that system may have been due
to the establishment of the gentile institution on the basis of
female kinship, and the intermingling of the gentes or family groups,
owing to wives leaving their own kin on marriage to live among their
husband’s kin, as the result of the practice of exogamy. Some of the
Australian tribes have a legend according to which the use of totems
was introduced, by command of the Supreme Being, to put a stop to
consanguineous marriages. This shows that the totem was connected with
marriage and kinship, but, considering how universal is the objection
among savages to marriage between near relations, it is more than
probable that the legend was formed to explain an already existing
phenomenon, that of totemism. As the conditions of social life were
changed, totemism as a system would gradually become effete, and totems
would come to be regarded chiefly as curiosities of nomenclature.
The preference for kinship through males, in connection with the
tracing of descent, over kinship through females, combined with
the practice of wives leaving their own family to live among their
husband’s kin, would take from the totem one of its most important
uses, as all the members of a “family” would dwell together instead of
being, like the individuals belonging to the American or Australian
totems, intermingled in one group. Totems would then be useful chiefly
as ensigns, or as surnames to establish community of descent, and
therefore the evidence of marriage disability; as with the Chinese,
among whom no persons of the same family name can intermarry, however
distant may be the actual relationship. When the mere possession of
a common surname was no longer an absolute bar to intermarriage, and
kinship came to be traced equally through both parents, totemism ceased
to have any value, except so far as the study of its phenomena can
throw light on the constitution and habits of ancient society.


[303] A more remarkable case even than this was the appearance to
Professor De Wette of his own double.

[304] This was first published in “Anthropologia,” in 1875.

[305] See “Theosophy, Religion, and Occult Science” (1885), p. 236, _et

[306] Casalis’ “Les Basoutos,” p. 221. The Hottentots are said to have
given animal names, such as Horse, Lion, Sheep, Ass, &c., to their
children. Kolben’s “Cape of Good Hope,” p. 147.

[307] “Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia,” pp. 17,192, _et seq._

[308] Quoted by Dr. J. F. M’Lennan in the _Fortnightly Review_, vol.
vi., new series, p. 418.

[309] The “Genealogical Tree of the Turks” ascribes a wolf paternity
to the sons of the Princess Choyumna Khan (Miles’ Translation, p. 47).
Is there a totemic reference in the game of Kökburi, “green-wolf,”
practised by the Nomads of Central Asia in imitation of bride-racing?
Vambery’s “Travels in Central Asia,” p. 323.

[310] “Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity,” by Lewis H. Morgan, p.

[311] These and nine other animals give names to the twelve years of
the Mogul calendar.

[312] Mahabharata.—Talbot Wheeler’s “History of India,” vol i., p. 412.

[313] _Fortnightly Review_, vol. vi., n. s., p. 563, _et seq._

[314] “The Native Tribes of South Australia,” p. 260.

[315] “Kamilaroi and Kurnai,” p. 166.

[316] “Ancient Society,” p. 69.

[317] “Travels in North-Western Australia,” vol. ii., p. 229.

[318] “Description of the Coast of Guinea,” p. 129.

[319] “Life in the Southern Isles,” p. 25.

[320] Turner’s “Nineteen Years in Polynesia,” p. 238.

[321] See Tylor’s “Primitive Culture,” vol. ii., p. 213.

[322] Wood’s “Natural History of Man,” vol. ii., pp. 271, 290.

[323] Seemann’s “Mission to Viti,” p. 391. On the temple at Dorey
in New Guinea are sculptured the representations of the crocodile
and serpent ancestors of some of the Dorean families. D’Estrey’s
“Papouasie,” p. 132.

[324] “Manners and Customs of the Indians,” vol. i., p. 36, and vol.
ii., 247.

[325] “Eighteen Years on the Gold Coast,” vol. ii., p. 128.

[326] _Fortnightly Review_, vol. vi., n. s., p. 408.

[327] Ditto, p. 569, and vol. vii., n. s., p. 214.

[328] “Kinship and Marriage,” p. 186, _et seq._

[329] “Kinship and Marriage,” p. 204.

[330] “Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de l’Orient,” 4th edition, p. 28.

[331] Lenormant, “Histoire Ancienne de l’Orient,” 9th edition, t. ii.,
p. 212, _et seq._

[332] “Origine de tous les Cultes,” t. i., p. 77.

[333] _Fortnightly Review_, vol. vi., n. s., p. 563.

[334] Dupuis _Op. cit._, t. iii., “De la Sphere,” p. 19.

[335] “Custom and Myth,” 2nd edition, p. 262.

[336] As to supposed use of the totem as a tattoo mark, see M’Lennan,
_loc. cit._, p. 418, and Smith’s “Kinship and Marriage in Early
Arabia,” p. 213, _et seq._

[337] “Origin of Civilisation,” 3rd edition, p. 199.

[338] Ditto, p. 327.

[339] Ditto, p. 253.

[340] “Primitive Culture,” vol. ii., p. 215.

[341] _Loc. cit._, p. 422.

[342] Dupuis “Abrégé de l’Origine,” pp. 71, 83.

[343] Ditto, p. 66.

[344] English edition, p. 250.

[345] Ditto, p. 145.

[346] Ditto, p. 255.

[347] _Op. cit._, p. 167, _et seq._

[348] “American Hero-Myths,” p. 65.

[349] “Les Mœurs des Sauvages,” t. i., 465.

[350] See Gubernatis’ “Zoological Mythology,” _passim_. Dr. Brinton
shows that the Great Rabbit of Algonkin Mythology is the Light
God.—_Op. cit._, p. 47.

[351] “Chaldean Magic,” p. 228.

[352] Ditto, p. 231.

[353] _Fortnightly Review_, vol. vii., n. s., p. 212.

[354] _Op. cit._, p. 199.

[355] This idea survives in the personal patron saints of the Greek
Church. The special god was of a peculiar character, “partaking of
the imperfections and foibles of human nature,” and, like the Mazdian
_fravishi_, it was part of the man’s soul. Lenormant says, however,
that in the Mazdian books, “the conception rose to a higher degree,
detaching itself from the materiality and imperfections of the
terrestrial nature.”

[356] See “Evolution of Morality,” vol. ii., p. 154, _et seq._

[357] _Loc. cit._, p. 423.

[358] See Tylor, _op. cit._, vol. ii., p. 6.

[359] Osburn’s “Egypt and Her Testimony to the Truth,” p. 2. The
God Amoun is said to address Sethos as “my beloved son, my lineal
descendant.”—Ditto, p. 49.

[360] Professor Robert Smith (_op. cit._, p. 17) refers to Arab tribes,
called “Children of the Sun” and “Children of the Moon.”

[361] See De Gubernatis, _op. cit._, _passim_. He states that the stag,
the bear, and some other animals represent the luminous appearances in
the darkness, rather than the moon itself.

[362] “Kamilaroi and Kurnai,” p. 169.

[363] _Op. cit._, p. 43.



The primary object of the present essay is to ascertain whether the
conclusion arrived at by Mr. Darwin and other writers as to the origin
of man—that he has sprung from the ape by simple descent—can be
depended on, and if not, what is the nature of man’s relationship to
the animal kingdom.

Without further preface, I shall proceed to consider as briefly as
possible the main arguments adduced by Mr. Darwin in support of this
conclusion.[364] Those which are derived from the consideration of
physical data appear to me to be of comparatively small importance,
since they may be admitted without seriously affecting the question
at issue. They are almost all connected with the fact that man is
“constructed on the same general type or model with other mammals.”
Thus it is with the brain, every chief fissure and fold of which is
declared to be developed in the brain of the orang equally with that of
man. Their constitutional habit, however, appears also to be the same.
Thus man and monkeys are liable to many of the same non-contagious
diseases; medicines produce the same effect on both, and most mammals
exhibit the mysterious law of periodicity in various diseases. These
are interesting facts, but the most important for the argument of the
ape-descent of man are those which show the existence in the human
body of certain rudimentary organs and structures which are fully
developed with some of the lower animals. It is possible, however, to
explain this phenomenon without having recourse to the hypothesis of
a simple ape-descent; even if it be admitted with M. Broca, that in
the parallel between man and the anthropoids, the comparison of organs
shows only some slight differences.[365] This may be granted even as
to the brain, and that “the immense superiority of man’s intelligence
depends, not on the anatomical structure of his brain, but on its
volume and power.”[366] But then, if such is the case, it is all the
more difficult to account for the vast difference which, says Broca, a
comparison of function reveals, and which led M. Gratiolet to exclaim
that, although man is indeed by his structure a monkey, yet by his
intelligence he is a God.[367]

While admitting that physiological considerations reveal a much
wider interval between man and the anthropoid apes than anatomical
data require, M. Broca would hardly allow that the former exhibits
anything peculiar in his mental action. So, also, Mr. Darwin says that
man and the higher mammals “have some few instincts in common. All
have the same senses, intuitions, and sensations—similar passions,
affections, and emotions, even the more complex ones; they feel
wonder and curiosity; they possess the same faculties of imitation,
attention, memory, imagination, and reason, though in very different
degrees.”[368] The faculty of articulate speech, moreover, is said
not in itself to offer “any insuperable objection to the belief that
man has been developed from some lower form;” while the taste for
the “beautiful” is shown not to be peculiar to the human mind.[369]
The moral sense is supposed by Mr. Darwin to be the most distinctive
characteristic of man; but even this is asserted to have been developed
out of the social instincts which man and many of the lower animals
have in common.[370] Finally, self-consciousness, abstraction, &c.,
even if peculiar to man, are declared to be “the incidental results of
other highly-advanced intellectual faculties;”[371] and these again
are mainly due to the continued use of a highly-developed language,
which originated in “the imitation and modification, aided by signs and
gestures, of various natural sounds, the voices of other animals and
man’s own instinctive cries.”[372]

If, however, all this be true, how are we to account for the wonderful
intellectual superiority of man? Haeckel gives an explanation which,
although ingenious, is far from satisfactory. He says that it is
owing to the fact that “man combines in himself several prominent
peculiarities, which only occur separately among other animals.” The
most important of these are the superior structure of the larynx, the
degree of brain or soul development, and that of the extremities, the
upright walk, and, lastly, speech. But, says Haeckel, “all these
prerogatives belong singly to other animals—birds with highly-organised
larynx and tongue, such as the parrot, &c., can learn to utter
articulate sounds as perfectly as man himself. The soul’s activity
exists among many of the higher animals, particularly with the dog,
the elephant, and the horse, in a higher degree of cultivation than
with man when most degraded. The hand, as a mechanical instrument,
is as highly developed among the anthropoid apes as with the lowest
men. Finally, man shares his upright walk with the penguin and
other animals, while capacity for locomotion is more fully and more
perfectly developed among many animals than with man.” Haeckel
concludes, therefore, that it is “solely the fortunate combination of
a higher organisation of several very important organs and functions
which raises most men, but not all, above the animals.”[373] This
explanation, however, appears rather to increase the difficulty than to
remove it. Some of Haeckel’s statements might probably be challenged
with success; but even admitting their truth, what cause can be given
of the marvellous combination in man, of qualities possessed separately
by animals, the highest in the class to which they belong?

Mr. Darwin justly remarks, that “the belief that there exists in man
some close relation between the size of the brain and the development
of the intellectual faculties, is supported by the comparison of the
skulls of savage and civilised races of ancient and modern peoples,
and by the analogy of the whole vertebrate series.”[374] There must,
indeed, be a certain agreement between the brain and its intellectual
products, and hence the large size of the human brain requires that
the mental phenomena of man should be of a vastly superior nature
to those presented by the lower animals. Whether, according to the
developmental view of the correspondence between human and brute mental
faculties, the lower races of man, as compared with animals, really
exhibit an intellectual superiority commensurate with the largeness
of their brains, may be questioned. Mr. Wallace, indeed, declares
that they do not, and he goes so far as to say that “a brain slightly
larger than that of the gorilla would, according to the evidence
before us, fully have sufficed for the limited mental development of
the savage.”[375] This opinion is correct, on the assumption that
animal and human mental action is perfectly analogous, and Mr. Wallace
would undoubtedly be right in asserting that the savage possesses a
brain “quite disproportionate to his actual requirements,” if by this
phrase is meant his mere animal wants. But the savage is a man, and
the size of brain required by him must be judged of, not by the degree
of intellectual action he exhibits, but by its accompaniments—not by
quantity, but by quality.

The source of man’s superiority must be sought in an examination of
his mental faculties, and yet the inquiry is vitiated at the very
commencement, by the assumption that the mind of man differs from that
of the animal only in the degree of its activity. I am prepared to
admit that the higher mammalia, at least, have the power of reasoning,
with all the faculties which are essential to its exercise. But this
very fact makes it utterly incomprehensible how the result of human
mental activity can be so superior, unless some further principle or
faculty than those which the animal mind possesses operates in that of
man. What this principle or faculty is, may be shown by reference to
certain facts connected with language. Mr. Darwin ascribes the origin
of human speech to imitation and modification of natural sounds and
man’s own instinctive utterances.[376] That the primitive elements
of man’s language were thus obtained is doubtless true. Something
else, however, is required to explain the phenomena presented by the
languages of uncultured peoples. Such, for instance, cannot have been
the origin of certain ideas which are apparently common to the minds
of all peoples however savage. It has been said that these peoples,
although having names for every particular object, have no words to
express a class of objects. This statement must be received with
caution. But if absolutely true in the sense intended, it cannot be
denied that nearly all primitive languages have words denoting colours,
and these by their very nature, as expressive of attributes, are
applicable to a series of objects.

Now there is not the slightest reason to believe that animals have
any idea of qualities, as such. Even the taste for the beautiful,
which Mr. Darwin tells us is not unknown to various animals—especially
birds, has relation to the object which attracts by its colour, &c.,
and not to the colour itself. But it is just this perception of the
qualities of objects which is at the foundation, and forms the starting
point, of all human progress. The essential instrument of intellectual
development, articulate language, was first prompted by such a
perception, and it was in the recognition of the qualities of actions,
by reflection on their consequences, that the moral sense was gradually
evolved. It can hardly be that a power which has had so wonderful an
effect, and one which is so different from anything met with among the
lower animals, can be referred to any of the ordinary faculties which
these possess. If not, we must ascribe it to a new faculty altogether,
a kind of spiritual insight, which can be explained only as resulting
from the addition of a principle of activity superior to that which is
the seat of the animal life. If we were to trace the beginning of every
single branch of human culture, it would be found to have originated in
the exercise of such a faculty of reflection as that here described.
The elements of knowledge man possesses in common with the animals
around him; but these have not built up any superstructure, because
they have no spiritual insight such as will enable them to analyse
those elements, and thus to fit them for re-combination into that
wonderful series of forms which they have taken in the human mind.

It is hardly necessary to discuss here the nature of the principle
which thus shows its energy in the mind of man. Whether it is the
cause or the effect of the refined organisation exhibited by the human
body need not now be considered. If the latter, however, it may be
objected that—assuming the human bodily organism to have been derived
by descent from a lower animal form, according to the principles of
natural selection—the intellectual faculty peculiar to man must have
had analogous origin. To this it might be answered that man’s special
faculty could not have been derived from an animal organism which
does not itself possess it; but it is advisable rather to test that
conclusion by a consideration of the physical data, and to see how far
the argument for natural descent can be supported. According to this
view, the tendency to the bipedal character was the first to become
operative in the gradual development of man out of the ape. The erect
form is supposed, however, to have been assumed that the arms and hands
might have full play,[377] and it is evident that the free use of these
would not have been of any special advantage without an increased
brain-activity to guide them. Probably the changes required in the
physical structure would be concomitant, but if they had a starting
point it would surely be in the brain rather than in the extremities.

The great development of the encephalon in man as compared with
the monkey tribe would, in fact, require all the other supposed
changes. Thus the greatly increased size and weight of the brain and
its bony case, combined with the position of the foramen magnum
at the base of the skull, would necessitate the erect position of
the body, and this would supply the arms and upper part of the
trunk with the required freedom of movement. These changes would be
accompanied by the modification of the pelvis and lower limbs, while
the increased sensitiveness of the skin, resulting from man’s more
refined nervous structure, will sufficiently account for its general
nakedness,[378] without supposing, with Mr. Darwin, the influence of
sexual selection.[379] It is therefore in reality only the large size
of the human brain that has to be accounted for, and this is by no
means easy on the principle of natural selection. No doubt, with the
increased activity of the mental powers, the brain would become more
voluminous. But what was to determine that increased activity? It can
only have been an improvement in the conditions of existence, to which
man’s supposed ape progenitors were subjected, for which no sufficient
reason can be given. Moreover, those progenitors would be subjected
to the inevitable struggle for existence—a struggle which, even with
man, in an uncivilised state, has a tendency to brutalise rather than
to humanise. Under these conditions it would seem to be impossible for
man to have raised himself to so great a superiority over his nearest
allies as even the lowest savage exhibits. “His absolute erectness of
posture, the completeness of his nudity, the harmonious perfection of
his hands, the almost infinite capacities of his brain, constitute,”
says Mr. Wallace, “a series of correlated advances too great to be
accounted for by the struggle for existence of an isolated group of
apes in a limited area,”[380] as Mr. Darwin’s hypothesis supposes.

While firmly convinced, on the grounds already stated, that man cannot
have been derived from the ape by descent with natural selection, I
am by no means prepared to admit that he may not have been so derived
under other conditions. Although man undoubtedly has a mental faculty
of the utmost importance which the animals do not possess, agreeing
with his superiority of physical structure, there can be no question
that, both physically and mentally, he is most intimately allied to
the members of the animal kingdom. Before endeavouring to furnish a
solution of the difficult question of the origin of man under these
conditions, I would point out, what is so ably insisted on by M.
Broca,[381] that _transformism_, to use the continental term, is wholly
distinct from “natural selection,” or any other mode by which the
transformation may be originated or effected. This is a most important
consideration, and one which Mr. Darwin has incidentally referred
to.[382] That man is the final term in a process of evolution, the
beginning of which we cannot yet trace, appears to me to be a firmly
established truth. The descent of man from the ape under the influence
of external conditions is, however, a totally different proposition,
and one of which no actual proof has yet been furnished, the argument
really amounting to this, that the correspondences between man and the
higher mammals render it more likely that he has descended from the
ape than that he has been specially created. This may be true, and yet
those correspondences be owing to a very different cause from the one
thus supposed for them.

Mr. Herbert Spencer affirms that “successive changes of conditions
would produce divergent varieties or species” of the organisms subject
to them, apart from the influence of “natural selection,” which, in
the absence of such successive changes of conditions, would effect
“comparatively little.”[383] It is to the latter especially Mr. Spencer
traces the gradual evolution of nature, on the process of which he has
thrown so much light. Thus, when treating elsewhere of that evolution,
he says, “While we are not called on to suppose that there exists in
organisms any primordial impulse which makes them continually unfold
into more heterogeneous forms; we see that a liability to be unfolded
arises from the actions and reactions between organisms and their
fluctuating environments. And we see that the existence of such a
cause of development pre-supposes the non-occurrence of development
where this fluctuation of actions and reactions does not come into
play.”[384] It is evident that this theory, like that of Mr. Darwin,
supposes the occurrence of slight structural changes which, in the
absence of knowledge as to their exciting causes, may be described as
“spontaneous,” and the perpetuation of which is the establishment of
new forms or species. But among domestic animals, and by analogy we may
assume, therefore, among wild animals, variation in the way supposed
is not the only mode by which the physical structure may be modified.
Various instances of sudden change have been collected which are very
difficult to deal with, and they have led Mr. Huxley to remark that Mr.
Darwin’s position “might have been even stronger than it is if he had
not embarrassed himself with the aphorism ‘_natura non facit saltum_,’
which turns up so often in his pages.” Mr. Huxley adds “that nature
does make jumps now and then, and a recognition of the fact is of no
small importance in disposing of many minor objections to the doctrine
of transmutation.”[385] Minor objections may certainly be thus removed,
but only by introducing one of much greater moment. If, as Mr. Spencer
says, “natural selection is capable of _producing_ fitness between
organisms and their circumstances,”[386] it must be by the perpetuation
of slight changes, and there does not, indeed, appear to be any room in
the hypothesis of natural selection for the saltatory movements which it
is so necessary to explain.

The changes which organisms undergo, whether sudden or gradual, and
whatever their approximate exciting cause, take place in pursuance of
the evolution of organic nature, and there can be no doubt that this
proceeds under the guidance of law. Professor Owen expresses this fact
in saying that “generations do not vary accidentally in any and every
direction, but in preordained, definite, and correlated courses.”[387]
This may be accepted as expressing a general truth, subject to some
qualification of the word “preordained.” It is not exactly true,
however, for variations are not always regular and orderly. Within
certain limits, indeed, they would seem to take place in any direction,
but there is always a tendency for them to accumulate in that course
along which they meet with the least resistance. This is in accordance
with the principle laid down by Mr. Herbert Spencer, that everything
tends towards equilibration, the state being one not of absolute but of
moving equilibrium, while “throughout evolution of all kinds there is a
continual approximation, and more or less complete maintenance of this
moving equilibrium.”[388] The ultimate result is that, “when through
a change of habit or circumstance an organism is permanently subject
to some new influence, or different amount of an old influence, there
arises, after more or less disturbance of the old rhythms, a balancing
of them around the new average conditions produced by this additional
influence.”[389] It is evident that the variations which have been
originated before the attainment of the state of temporary stability
thus established would have little chance of being perpetuated; and we
have probably here the explanation of the fact that the progress of
evolution reveals itself so often by sudden movements. In these cases,
where the disturbing influence has rendered the equilibrium of the
organism affected more or less unstable, a new centre of equilibrium
will be formed, and the appearance of a fresh specific form be the

However fitted this explanation may be to account for the gaps
which so often present themselves in developmental series of animal
structures, it is far from sufficient to account for the origin of
man, at least on the assumption of evolution governed merely by
mechanical principles. Neither man nor animals, in fact, could have
come into being at all unless there had been an organic necessity,
quite independent even of the general average effects of the relations
of living bodies to their environments, insisted on by Mr. Spencer.
That these agencies have been very influential in the evolution of
organic nature is undoubtedly true. But their influence in this
respect depends altogether on the organism on which they act being
in a condition of unstable equilibrium. Mr. Spencer declares, when
speaking of the condition of homogeneity being a condition of unstable
equilibrium, that this instability is “consequent on the fact that the
several parts of any homogeneous aggregation are necessarily exposed
to different forces—forces that differ either in kind or amount.”[390]
This may be true in relation to animal and vegetable forms, whose germs
are supposed not to show the slightest trace of the future organism,
although even as to these Mr. Spencer can say that “doubtless we are
still in the dark respecting those mysterious properties which make
the germ, when subject to fit influences, undergo the special changes
beginning this series of transformations.”[391] But the unstable
condition of the primeval homogeneous substance of nature could not
be due to the cause assigned. For it requires the impossible case
of certain forces, the action of which is supposed to result in the
condition of instability, existing _outside_ of that substance which,
as being identified with the Absolute, we must assume to be present
throughout all space. The notion of an universally diffused homogeneous
substance, acted on by external forces, appears to be contrary to
reason; and the proper explanation of the original condition of
instability would seem to be that it is natural to the primeval
substance as the result of an innate energy, the internal force which
constitutes its vitality. But this substance cannot have been merely
“material.” There is just as little room for transition from the
inorganic to the organic as from the animal to man; there is but one
satisfactory starting-point—nature itself viewed as organic.

If such is the case when the changes observable in nature are viewed
as strictly evolutional, much more so is it when they are traced to
the lower activity of natural selection. Mr. J. J. Murphy well remarks
that “the facts of variability being the greatest in the lowest
organisms, while progress has been most rapid among the higher ones,
shows that there is something in organic progress which mere natural
selection among spontaneous variations will not account for.”[392]
Elsewhere the same writer declares that “no solution of the questions
of the origin of organisation and the origin of organic species can be
adequate which does not recognise an organising intelligence over and
above the common laws of matter”—_i.e._, the laws of self-adaptation to
circumstances and natural selection.[393] This organising intelligence
is supposed to have been bestowed once for all on vitalised matter by
the Creator, so as to prevent the necessity of separately organising
each particular structure,[394] although it is suggested that man’s
spiritual nature may be a direct result of creative power.[395] Mr.
Wallace objects to the law of “unconscious intelligence,” that “it has
the double disadvantage of being both unintelligible and incapable of
any kind of proof.”[396] This is true enough, but it has the equally
serious defect of reintroducing the notion of special “creation,”
with all the difficulties attendant on the origin of matter, and the
separate existence of independent spiritual and material substances.

Mr. Wallace himself is so much struck with the imposing position
occupied by man that he thinks that “a superior intelligence has
guided the development of man in a definite direction and for a
special purpose, just as man guides the development of many animal
and vegetable forms.”[397] He supposes, moreover, that “the whole
universe is not merely dependent on, but actually _is_, the WILL of
higher intelligences, or of one supreme intelligence.”[398] It seems to
me, although Mr. Wallace thinks otherwise, that this notion completely
undermines the hypothesis of natural selection. If not only the whole
universe, but also a particular portion of it—man—has been divinely
“willed,” analogy will lead us to believe that every other portion of
the whole has thus originated.

The difficulties attendant on theories such as those of Mr. Murphy and
Mr. Wallace, and the unsatisfactory explanation afforded by the theory
of evolution, as usually understood, of the origin of man, have led
me to the opinion that nature as a whole is organic, and that man is
the necessary result of its evolution. Not only so, however; man must
be viewed as the real object of the evolution of nature viewed as a
living organism. Without him nature itself would be imperfect, and all
lower animal forms must, therefore, be considered as subsidiary to the
human organism, and as so many stages only towards its attainment.
But if living nature is an organic whole, its several parts must be
intimately connected. Hence the numerous correspondences between man
and the higher mammals cannot be accidental or even merely designed
similarities. They betoken an actual and intimate connection between
the organisms presenting them, and such an one as is consistent only
with a derivation of one from the other. This view differs from that
of Mr. Darwin, not in the fact of man’s derivation from the ape, but
in the mode and conditions under which it has taken place. Derivation,
by virtue of an inherent evolutional impulse, is totally different
from simple descent, aided by natural selection. In the latter case
the appearance of man may be described as in some sense accidental;
in the former, not only is it necessary, but it is that for which all
evolution has taken place, the only condition, in fact, under which
evolution was possible.

How far such a development of organic forms as I have supposed is
consistent with design is a difficult question. It is apparent that
when nature is conceived of as forming an organic whole, the universe
becomes identified with the Absolute, of whose being relative nature is
merely an expression. But is not the possession by relative existences
of intellectual faculties, and of the marvellous power of insight or
reflection, evidence that the same powers belong also to the absolute
Being? The possession by man of intelligence is, in fact, proof that
organic nature is intelligent. Still, however, the need of design is
not apparent. Granting that relative nature has been evolved out of the
absolute existence, such evolution can have taken only one course—that
which led to man, who could appear only when the conditions of nature
were fitted for him, and who _must_ appear when those conditions were
so fitted. Moreover, as man was from the beginning the object of
organic evolution, this must have taken place along the line which led
to him, without any actually preconceived design or intention other
than that which is implied in the preknowledge of man’s appearance. It
does not follow, however, that other branches of organic nature besides
that which ended in man may not have reached a stage of structural
perfection. No doubt they have so done, and thus we can understand
how it is that certain animals seem to have been, as Professor Owen
asserts, “predestined and prepared for man.” The fitness pointed out by
our great anatomist “of the organisation of the horse and ass for the
needs of mankind, and the coincidence of the origin of the Ungulates
having equine modifications of the perissodactyle structure with
the period immediately preceding, or coincident with, the earliest
evidence of the human race,” is certainly remarkable.[399] I cannot see
in these facts, however, anything more than a necessary coincidence
arising from the progress of evolution along different planes. It
is possible, however, that Professor Owen may mean little more than
this, and that he would be satisfied to admit the identity between the
“predetermining” agent and organic nature, acting by virtue of the laws
of its own evolutional impulse. So at least may be supposed from the
fact that he rejects “the principle of direct or miraculous creation,”
and recognises “a ‘natural law or secondary cause’ as operative in the
production of species in orderly succession and progression.”[400] It
is difficult to understand how otherwise there could be an “innate
tendency to deviate from the parental type.”

Before concluding, reference should be made to certain facts
connected with the development of the brain and the human organism
generally, which at first sight seem to be quite irreconcilable with
the notion of man’s derivation from the ape, even under the conditions
I have proposed. Thus, M. Pruner Bey has shown that in man and the
anthropomorphous apes there exists “an _inverse order_ of the final
term of development in the sensitive and vegetative apparatus, and in
the systems of locomotion and reproduction.” The same inverse order
is exhibited in the development of individual organs. Thus it is,
says Pruner Bey, with a portion of the permanent teeth; Welcher makes
a similar remark as to the modifications of the base of the skull in
relation to the sphenoidal angle of Virchow; and Gratiolet points out
an analogous fact in the development of the brain. The language of
the great French anatomist is very precise. He says: “With man and
the adult anthropormorphous apes there exists a certain resemblance
in the mode of arrangement in the cerebral folds which has imposed
on some persons and on which they have strongly insisted. But this
result is attained _by an inverse process_ (_marche inverse_). In
the monkey the temporosphenoidal convolutions which form the middle
lobe appear and perfect themselves before the anterior convolutions
which form the frontal lobe. With man, on the contrary, the frontal
convolutions appear the first, and those of the middle lobe show
themselves the last.” In referring to these facts, M. de Quatrefages
declares that “when two organised beings follow an inverse course
in their development, the more highly developed of the two cannot
have descended from the other by means of evolution.”[401] If by
evolution is meant simple descent under the influence of natural
selection and modification of external conditions, this conclusion is
certainly correct. It is true that, contrary to the opinion expressed
by Gratiolet, that “the human brain differs the more from that of the
monkey the less it is developed, and an arrest of development can only
exaggerate this natural difference.”[402] M. Carl Vogt declares that
the human brain may, under certain conditions, not only externally
resemble that of the higher apes, but also that the superior portion
of it (_parties voûtées_) in microcephalic idiots is really developed
after the simian type,[403] the skull itself having both simian and
human elements.[404] But does not the fact that the lower part of the
microcephalic skull, and the portion of the brain which is the earliest
developed, are formed on the human type, amply justify the assertion of
Gratiolet that “the microcephale, however degraded, is not a brute, but
only a modified man?” Is it not evident, moreover, that however highly
an ape brain may be developed, it could not become like that of a man,
at least by descent with natural selection? It is different, however,
if we view man as the necessary product of the evolution of organic
nature. We may well believe that when the sudden advance from the ape
structure to that of man was made, under the conditions above proposed,
the great increase in the size of the brain and the change in the
position of the foramen magnum were accompanied by an alteration in the
order of development, not only of the different parts of the brain,
but also of the internal apparatus as pointed out by M. Pruner Bey.
But the advance having once taken place, the human type can no more be
lost; and although the approach to the simian type which appears in the
abnormal microcephalic brain evidences the intimate connection between
man and the ape, yet it furnishes no disproof of derivation, one from
the other, by the agency of internal evolutional impulse.

In conclusion, I would again refer to the fact, so strongly insisted
on by M. Broca, that the truth of the theory of evolution is not
dependent on that of the hypothesis of natural selection. The great
defect of “natural selection” as an agent in organic evolution, is that
it cannot do more than perpetuate certain structural peculiarities,
the appearance of which it is powerless to explain. The hypothesis is
properly defined as “natural selection among spontaneous variations;”
and it is the appearance of these variations which constitutes the
most important part of the problem. They can be explained only on the
assumption of “an internal tendency to deviate from the parental type;”
and granting that this tendency results from a necessary evolution
of nature viewed as an organic whole, there is no difficulty in
accounting for all the facts dwelt on by Mr. Darwin without supposing
the derivation of man from the ape by simple descent, although not
without identifying the universe with Deity, and viewing its various
manifestations as His organs.


[364] “The Descent of Man,” vol. i., p. 10, _et seq._

[365] “L’Ordre des Primates,” p. 173 (1870).

[366] _Ibid._, p. 168.

[367] _Ibid._, p. 173.

[368] _Op. cit._, vol. i., p. 48.

[369] _Ibid._, p. 63.

[370] _Ibid._, p. 70, _et seq._

[371] _Ibid._, p. 105.

[372] _Ibid._, p. 56.

[373] “Generelle Morphologie der Organismen,” vol. ii., p. 430 (1866).

[374] _Op. cit._, vol. i., p. 145.

[375] “Natural Selection,” p. 343 (1870).

[376] _Op. cit._, vol. i., p. 56.

[377] Darwin, _op. cit._, vol. i., p. 141.

[378] See Owen’s “Anatomy of the Vertebrates,” vol. iii., p. 186.

[379] _Op. cit._, vol. ii., p. 376.

[380] The “Academy,” No. 20, p. 183 (1871).

[381] “Revue des Cours Scientifiques,” 30th July, 1870, p. 558.

[382] “Descent of Man,” vol. i., p. 152.

[383] “First Principles,” 2nd edition, p. 447, n.

[384] “Principles of Biology,” vol. i., p. 430.

[385] “Lay Sermons,” p. 326.

[386] “Principles of Biology,” vol. i., p. 446.

[387] _Op. cit._, vol. iii., p. 808.

[388] “First Principles,” 2nd edition, p. 489.

[389] _Ibid._, p. 500.

[390] “First Principles,” 2nd edition, p. 404.

[391] _Ibid._, p. 444.

[392] “Habit and Intelligence,” vol. i., p. 348 (1869).

[393] _Ibid._, vol. i., p. 295.

[394] _Ibid._, vol. ii., p. 8.

[395] _Ibid._, vol. i., p. 331.

[396] _Op. cit._, p. 360.

[397] _Op. cit._, p. 359.

[398] _Ibid._, p. 368.

[399] _Op. cit._, vol. iii., p. 795.

[400] _Ibid._, p. 789.

[401] “Rapport sur les Progrès de l’Anthropologie,” p. 247 (1867).

[402] _Ibid._

[403] “Mémoire sur les Microcéphales,” p. 197.

[404] _Ibid._, p. 81.


                         PRINTED BY JAS. WADE,


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Serpent-Worship and Other Essays - with a chapter on Totemism" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.