It will be shown by degrees what the nature of these rudimentary creatures was, and what is their relation to the human race and to Totemism. The same primeval tradition is to be found in the Mangaian myths of creation. In this the beings born of Vari-ma-te-takere, the originator of all things, the very-beginning, dwelt in the Mute-land at the bottom of Avaiki. There was no verbal language in this land of the Great Mother. You could not provoke an angry answer there. The only language known in the Mute-land is said to be that of signs—“such as nods, elevated eyebrows, grimaces, and smiles.” (Gill, p. 6.)
“Avaiki is a land of strange utterance,
Like the sighs of a passing breeze;
Where the dance is performed in silence,
And the gift of speech is unknown.” (Native song).
The Mother and Daughter of the Mangaian version take the place of the two female ancestresses in the Arunta legend. Also, one name of the daughter in another of the islands was Papa or Foundation. In this also the six Totems are equated by six parts of Avaiki, the body of the Great Mother (Mother-earth), who is said to pluck off six portions of her flesh, from the right and left sides of her body, with which to form her children. The tradition is one and universal with many variants. It is fundamentally the same in the mythology of the Californian Indians, who tell us that at first their ancestors walked on all fours. Then they began to put forth some members of the human body, such as a finger or a toe, until they were perfected
like the Inapertwa when these were made into men and women. They missed their tails, which they lost as the result of having to sit up. It was a result of this derivation of the children from the mothers illustrated by means of Totemic zootypes that the aborigines in various Asiatic and European countries were despised and derided by later races as “The Men with Tails.” When the Burmese call the Karens “Dog-men,” and the Airyas of India call the aborigines “Monkey-men” they are naming them derisively in accordance with the primitive Totemic status. Nothing is more common than for the later lighter races to accredit the old dark races with the possession of tails, as a continuation of the Totemic likeness. They were the beast men, or their descendants from the earlier Totemic times and status. The Kickapoos tell a humorous story of their ancestors who once were in possession of tails which they afterwards lost. Then the impudent frog would send every morning and ask them how they felt without their tails, much to the amusement of the bear, who used to listen and shake her fat sides with laughter at the joke. As the frog had likewise lost its tail in the process of becoming a frog from a tadpole we may see in this the particular Totemic type of the Kickapoos that lost their tails. The tail or hinder part is naturally a Mother-Totem. The tail of the lioness carried on his head is the Mother-Totem of Shu. The Egyptian kings were men with tails. They wore the tails of the lioness and the cow, which were two forms or zootypes of the mythical mother, Neith the Milch-Cow (earlier, Apt, the Water Cow) and Tefnut, the Lioness. Here the tails of the lioness and cow were worn by the human lion or bull who at one time sported his Mother-Totem in the shape of the typical animal’s tail. Various tribes on the Upper Nile are the wearers of artificial tails made of hair, straw, or fibre of hemp, in place of the earlier skin. On grand occasions the Egyptian judges and other dignitaries wore the tails of jackals made of horsehair. In Egyptian symbolism the jackal represents the judge; and the tail of horsehair still survives with us as the queue of the judge’s wig. The fox in Europe took the place of the jackal as the zootype of the lawyer, and this preserves the character of Anup, the jackal, as the sign of council and of cunning or wiseness on the part of those who “wear fur,” or the later silk.
One supreme and primary object of Totemism was the preservation of the Mother-blood in aboriginal purity. This gave priority and unparalleled importance to maternal Totems like those of the Serpent and Vulture of the Mother which were symbols of royal and divine maternity in Egypt. The most profoundly primitive of all the ancient mysteries was that of the Mother-blood. At the same time it was the most profoundly natural. By this mystery it was demonstrated that blood was the basis of womanhood, of motherhood, of childhood, and in short, of human existence. Hence the preciousness of the Mother-blood. Hence the customs instituted for its preservation and the purity of racial descent. Only the mother could originate and preserve the nobility of lineage or royalty of race. And the old dark race in general has not yet outlived the sanctity of the Mother-blood which was primordial, or the tabu-laws which were first made statutable by means of the Mother’s Totem.
In the Egyptian system of representation there are Seven Souls
or life-forces recognized in nature. Six of these were pre-human, elemental powers, born of the primary Great Mother when there was as yet no human soul distinguished from the six that were the souls, such as light, or air, earth, or water, and animal or vegetable life. The seventh soul alone was human. This was the soul of blood brought forth by a Goddess in the human likeness. The earliest soul considered to be human, the soul that was made flesh in the Child-Horus, was born of the Mother-blood, the blood of Isis, and, as such, was distinguished from the earlier elemental powers, otherwise the six Totemic and pre-human souls. The Blood-Mother was imaged as the Virgin Neith who was represented in one phase by the vulture that was fabled, like the pelican, to pierce its thigh and give its offspring her own blood for nourishment. (Hor-Apollo, B. I, 11.) This was as the conceiver of a soul that was incarnated by the Blood-Mother. The blood that was considered to be the soul of life, in a series of seven souls, is the blood of the female—not the typical blood of the male; the blood of Isis, not the blood of Adam, Atum, or Belus; and it can be shown that the human race, distinguished from the preliminary people, originated in the Mother-blood. By this same means the Mother also attained her supremacy, the Matriarchate being based upon the Mother-blood that was to be so preciously preserved and memorized. According to the Egyptian wisdom, the salvation of the human race was effected by the blood of Isis. Salvation was perpetuation. Isis was the Virgin-Mother, and hers also was the Mother-blood. The blood of the Mother, who was primarily the Virgin, being the earliest recognized source of human life, thence came the doctrine of a Virgin-Mother and the saving blood in the Eschatology. This Mother-blood originated with the Virgin at the time of puberty. It passed into the racial Mother-blood in the phase of fulfilment with marriage. The Virgin, represented in the Egyptian Mystery, was the maiden who conceived; in her second character she was the bringer-forth. These Two Mothers were imaged by the double Uræus-crown of Maternity. The mythical Virgin-Mother had a very natural origin. She represents the pubescent female who was the fount and source in nature for the one original blood. The blood of Isis was the Virgin-blood. She was the Mother of Life in the mythical representation, and in the first of two characters she is the Virgin-Mother, when her sister Nephthys is the Bringer-forth or Nurse of the child. The sacredness of the Virgin-blood, the earliest Mother-blood, will help to account for the sanctity of the pre-pubescent virgins who were so carefully secluded from the outer world at the time of its primary manifestation. Among the Ot-Danons of Borneo the pre-pubescent girl is sometimes shut up during seven years awaiting her sign of the Virgin-Motherhood. This is born in blood, and she is consequently looked upon as one newly born into life. She is led forth to breathe the air, and is shown the sun, the water, and the trees. Then the event is celebrated by the sacrifice of a slave, and her body is painted with his blood. This was the Blood-Mother as a Virgin, in the first of the two characters assigned
to the female. Thus, the Two Women in Totemic Sociology were the Virgin and the Mother. It is the same in the Mythology, and lastly in the Eschatology. The first of the Two was the pubescent Virgin who conceives: the second is she who brings forth. Hence the doctrine of a Double Motherhood. Ra is said to be united to his “Double Mother.” One of the Ptolemies claims to be the Beloved of the “Double Divine Mother.” The Double Mother was also the Double Sister in another relationship with Horus. “I am thy Double Sister,” says Isis to Osiris. (P. Pierret, Panthéon Eg., 28.) In this duality Isis is the Blood-Mother and Nephthys the Milch-Mother; hence she is called the Nurse. Isis is at once the Great Mother and also the Virgin-Mother who keeps the primary place in the Mythos because the Virgin preceded the bringer forth of the child as source itself. This double Motherhood is also assigned to Jesus in the Gospels with the Two Mothers as two sisters: the first being the Virgin Mary, the second, Mary the wife of Cleopas.
In modern times the blood in certain families is considered to be royal, and royal blood is the blood to be sacredly or very carefully preserved from any base admixture, although the origin of royal blood is hitherto unknown. Under the Matriarchate there could be no blood-royal by derivation from the Male. There was but one blood, that of the Mother. It was impossible at first for the males to transmit. There was but one means of descent for the race. This was the Mother-blood. Hence the primitive customs for preserving it in purity and sanctity. The Mother-blood was not only known as the “one blood” of the race, it also denoted the “one flesh” or one stock. Descent from the Mother connoted the one blood or one flesh. It would be a way of preserving the Mother-blood in Totemism for the brother and sister of the same Totem to intermarry; the same Totem being a determinative of the Motherhood, as the means of identifying the original Mother-blood. Messrs. Spencer and Gillen tell us that the Arunta traditions point to a time “in the Alcheringa” when it was the normal condition for the male to cohabit with a woman of the same Totem as his own. The evidence points back to a time when the brother and sister of the same Totem always married each other. It was long sought to keep the Mother-blood intact by the intermarriage of the uterine brothers and sisters. These used to cohabit, and such intercourse was at one time considered to be not only natural and proper, but was esteemed as preferable. The Kalangs of Java are what is now termed Endogamous, and when a girl is asked in marriage the man “must prove his descent from their peculiar stock.” That is originally the one stock of the Mother-blood. People of this stock were known both in Africa and Australia as the one-legged people, those who were the undivided primitive Endogamists. Prolonged efforts were made by the “Endogamists” to preserve the Mother-blood or the “one flesh,” as it was called by the aborigines of Victoria, who say of a man that takes a woman of his own group to wife, he has “fallen into the same flesh.” (Dawson, Australian Aborigines, p. 28.) It was a custom long continued by the Egyptians to preserve the Mother-blood by the marriage of the brother and sister, a custom that was sacred to the Royal family, thus showing that the Mother-
blood transmitted by the elder sister was the Royal blood. The Goajiros of Colombia in South America have divided and subdivided into a score of Totemic groups, but they all preserve the descent in the female line, and therefore from the Mother-blood. For, if a member wounds himself with his own knife he is not allowed to spill any of his own blood without paying for it. His family on the Mother’s side demand blood-money in compensation for their loss. There was no individual property in the Mother-blood. This belonged to the family or tribe. It happens with the Gonds of Central India that they have lost much of their pure blood by intermixture with the Hindu race. Hence, at the installation of a rajah his forehead must be touched with a drop of blood drawn from the body of a pure aborigine of the tribe to which the rajah belongs. (Forsyth, J., Highlands of Central India, p. 137.) Intermarriage has now come to be called Endogamy in opposition to Exogamy, or marriage outside the group. But the family traced from the Mother-blood was earlier than the Totemic tribe. When the children of one and the same mother intermarried, a kind of Endogamy, however limited, would be founded. And when the children of one mother were compelled to marry the children of another mother a sort of Exogamy was established.
The Mother was the foundress of the family, consisting of herself and children. The foundation of the human structure was in blood, the blood of the Mother. The fact was commemorated in blood-sacrifice when the victim was immured, or the blood was poured out at the base of the building; the custom, like others, is a mode of memorial that was continued in Sign-language when the origin and meaning of the act were inexplicable. The Mother-blood, we repeat, was primary, and various customs, rites, or ceremonies show the purpose that was intended to keep the one first blood, that of the Mother, intact. Each family would be proud and prefer their own fount of source, and endeavour to keep it pure. Hence the marriage of the uterine brother and sister was a mode of preserving the Mother-blood. Hence also the eating of the Mother living was a way of preserving her blood to the consanguineous group. The Mother eaten sacramentally was the earliest victim of blood-sacrifice. In this great cruel rite the body was eaten living to preserve the Mother-blood. Eating the Mother was the primitive Eucharist in which the Mother was the Host whose flesh was torn in pieces like the later bread, and whose blood was drunk religiously as is the later wine. Blood was the life, and this was given by the Mother in her life and death. The human Mother was then in the position of the Totemic zootype that was substituted for the parent and eaten by the brothers in a later sacrificial rite. It is not uncommon for the communicants who partake of the Sacrament to hold that they have eaten the body and drunk the blood of God himself, and this belief survives in Christianity, as witnessed by the hymn which is sung after taking the Sacrament, beginning with—
“Jesus, Mighty Saviour,
Thou art in us now.”
To emphasize the fact still more, it is sometimes requested that those
who have not eaten the God should sing the word “with” instead of “in.” (Instance quoted in British Weekly, Sept. 1895.) The Eucharistic rite of the Mexicans was called Teoqualo, or “God is eaten”; and to eat the God as represented was to share the nature of the divinity. In like manner the Namaquas eat the flesh and drink the blood of the lion and tiger to partake of their superhuman strength. The Tierra del Fuegians explained that they ate the white man on purpose to share in his superior power. The Kamilaroi will eat the heart and liver of a brave man in order that they may partake of his spirit. The Mother was eaten on the same principle, but, as the Mother, she was eaten sacramentally in the primitive family meal. The custom of “killing the God,” the priest, the royal personage, the virgin or divine animal, and eating the victim at a sacrificial meal was rooted in this very primitive practice of the children eating the body of the Mother and drinking her blood in what may be termed the primordial Eucharist. The Mother was the earliest of the sacrificial victims that for special reasons were only allowed to live a certain number of years, at the end of which time the giver of life was eaten in honour by her children as the most primitive sacramental food. The Mother was eaten at the family sacrament because, in the first place, she was the Mother. But there were other motives at work. She was sacrificed comparatively young to preserve her from the effects of age, from grey hairs and wrinkles, from disease, decrepitude, and bodily decay. The children were preserving her from the worms of earth and from the prowling beasts of prey, and probably from the change of life at the departure of the lizard. In eating the body of her who had been the food-giver, they were returning her as food to the family, and in partaking of her blood, the precious Mother-blood, they were giving back the soul (of blood) to the life of the family or brotherhood. Some races, like the Indian, will not eat the blood of an animal, for fear the soul of the animal should enter the human body. But this was a reason, in religious cannibalism, for the eating of the Mother-blood in order that her soul of life which was her blood might re-enter the family or brotherhood, or be “contained” by them. The Mother was not turned into a sacrifice, or the blood preserved on her own personal account, so much as on account of the family or tribe to which the blood belonged. Dawson tells us that only those who had died a violent death were eaten by the aborigines of the Port Fairy District, Western Australia. And then they were eaten “as a mark of affectionate respect, in a solemn service of mourning for the dead.” (James Dawson, Australian Aborigines.) The dead were eaten as a sign and token of mourning for those who were taken away before their time; and thus religious cannibalism is resolved into a solemn mourning for the dead; and the significance would be the same when the funeral feast was furnished by the body and blood of the Mother. The Fijians, among other races, used to put their mothers to death before they had attained old age. There is an account in Wilkes’s exploring expedition of the putting to death of a mother (p. 211, abbreviated). She was walking about as gay and lively as anyone, when one of her boys invited Mr. Hunt to the funeral. Her two suns considered she had lived long enough. They
had prepared her funeral feast, and were now going to kill and bury her. They were doing this from love of their mother, and said that none but themselves, her own sons, could perform so sacred an office. Among the wandering Birhors of India, who are cannibals, the parents in articulo mortis will beg their children to kill and eat them; and this is done as an act of filial piety. (Réclus, Primitive Folk, Eng. tr., p. 249.) At the British Association meeting for 1895 it was testified by Capt. Hynde that one of the finest races of the Congo Negroes are still in the habit of eating the old and decrepit members of their families. Now, as the Mother was the earliest parent known and honoured, it was she who would be eaten by the children in the earliest form of a funeral meal. According to Herodotus (IV, 26), it was a custom observed by the Issedones to eat the dead bodies of their parents. But, we repeat, the Mother was the only parent known at first, therefore the only one that could be knowingly eaten as the parent. The Mongols and other races considered it impious for any part of the sacrifice to remain uneaten or unconsumed. Terrible penalties were inflicted for such sacrilege. Now, there is nothing like the eating of the Mother with honour that can so plausibly explain the origin of such a custom. The Mother as sacrifice would be “very sacred indeed,” and to eat the body wholly and entirely, including the bones and viscera, would be giving the proof of the highest honour and the profoundest affection which at the time was humanly possible. Nothing was considered unclean, because it was eaten as the most primitive Eucharistic Meal. Her flesh thus eaten was the sacred food, and her blood was the drink when these were devoured warm with life. Her representative, the Totemic zootype, was adopted later, and torn piecemeal, to be eaten in a similar manner. This tearing of the “host” in pieces tooth and nail was continued in the Egyptian, Greek, and other mysteries; and so it comes about that the body of Osiris or the Christ was torn in pieces as flesh in the form of bread, and every one of the communicants must drink of the wine as blood. Hence the commandment: “Drink ye all of it.” And here it may be remarked that the sacrificial victim in the Gospel is eaten alive, or, at least, the Last Supper is solemnized before the victim was crucified. We next see the group of communicants extending beyond the inner circle when, as related by Angas, the different parts of the body were apportioned according to the human relationship, the choicest portions being given to those who had been nearest and dearest to the departed in this life. It was from affection the children ate their parent, but the ceremony of devouring her alive was awesome and cruel. It had to be performed, from motives that sufficed to establish the custom, but she was not eaten because the act was cruel. Still, the cruel ending of her life made her become a sacrificial victim, and as she was eaten piously, the meal was sacramental and the prototype of all the sacraments in which the Totemic zootypes or the Divine Son succeeded as the victim sacrificed at the Eucharistic Meal. The Mother gave her life back to the family or tribe whilst living. She was literally eaten alive. In accordance with the law of Tabu, it was the custom for everyone to share and share alike all round in killing and eating the sacrifice.
This was so when the victim was a fawn or a kid. But no victim was so naturally calculated to raise the initial difficulty of striking the first blow in a form so acutely cruel as the Mother. This must have verily necessitated the practice of all the participants falling on the victim together to avoid the sense of individual blood-guiltiness. Everyone must partake of the body, everyone must tear the flesh and lap the blood; everyone must share the responsibility of the awful act. The Mother was not only eaten physically. There was a primitive kind of spiritual communion celebrated in the rite which raised it to a religious status. The body and blood were supposed to be converted into spirit. The theory is explicitly expressed in the Greek statement that “the dead was raised again in the same sacrifice.” “All tasted the sacrificial flesh, so that the life of the victim was renewed in the lives of those who ate it.” (Theophrastus in Porph., De Abst., II, 29. Cited in Encyclopædia Brit., v. XXI, p. 137, Ninth ed.) And this, of course, applied to the Mother as well as to any other victim whose flesh was eaten as a sacrifice. In eating the flesh and blood of the Mother, the Brothers were absorbing her soul of life and she was being converted into a spirit. The idea survives in the Alcestis. As pointed out by Percy Gardner (Sepulchral Relief from Tarentum, p. 21), the heroine of the drama “is scarcely dead before she is invoked by the chorus as a superhuman Power able to give and to withhold favours, now that she has been transubstantiated.”
Eating the human Mother as the Eucharist at the family meal led naturally to eating the Mother of Life who gave herself in food that men might live; the Mother who was represented by the Ainu She-Bear, the Acagchemen Panes-Bird, the crucified Great Mother of the Cypriotes, or by the blood of Isis in Egypt, and who, under various mythical or Totemic types, was the renewer of life by offering up her own; the earliest type of voluntary sacrifice which preceded that of Horus the Saviour-Son or of Osiris in a later Eucharist. The human Mother was eaten actually, not as a Totemic type. The “Great Mother” was eaten by proxy as Totemic: Rerit or Shaat was annually eaten as the Sow; Hathor was eaten as the Heifer; the female being the Totem of the Mother, whether human or divine. The Goddess Tari Pennu is a form of the Earth-Mother who was worshipped by the Kolarians of Bengal, and made fecund periodically by oblations of blood at her festival of reproduction when the human doctrine was repeated and reapplied to external nature and she was fertilized with blood. The offering was at times the flesh and blood of a virgin. A young girl, called the Meriah, was stripped stark naked and bound with cords to a maypole crowned with flowers, and ultimately put to death with horrible tortures, torn in pieces, and partly eaten. (Réclus, Primitive Folk, pp. 311-315.) In the Khond sacrifice of the Meriah we have another form of the Great Mother. She was fastened to the stake by her hair and forced to become a figure of the crucified, for her arms were extended cross-wise by four priests, who pulled her legs apart to complete the figure. She was the cross, the crucified and the Christ or Charis in one.