The light of the world


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all the “spirits,” the apparition or ghost is solely human. There is no pretence of seeing the ghosts of animals. The great spirit or great bear of the Ainus remains a bear. The great spirit as the turtle of the Zunis remains a turtle. The great spirit of the Samoans remains an owl. Their representatives are the bear, the turtle, the owl, and not the apparition of a bear, a turtle, or an owl. The zootypes have no spiritual manifestations or phantasms. Only the souls of human beings reappear as ghosts. Thus we demonstrate that the worship of human ancestors alone was not the primary phase of religious worship.

We must needs be careful not to get the “divinity” confounded with the “divine personage.” But we may say there was no killing of the god, the tree spirit, the corn spirit, or the spirit of vegetation, in the Frazerian sense, and of putting the deity to death to save him from old age, disease, and decay, and magically bringing him to life again in a more youthful form. This is another result of mixing up the two classes together by the modern non-spiritualist. The aborigines knew better. The death of the sacred bird, with the Samoans, was “not the death of the god. He was supposed to be yet alive, and incarnate in all the owls in existence.” (Turner, Samoa, p. 21.) So was it with the turtle of the Zunis, the panes-bird of the Acagchemen Indians, and the bull of Osiris, called “the Bull of Eternity.” In killing the goose of Seb or the calf of Horus, the bull of Osiris or the meriah of the Khonds, the partakers of the sacrament had no more thought of killing the god or nature power as a mode of rejuvenation than they had of killing the earth which produced the food.

Also the spiritual theory will most satisfactorily explain the motive for killing and eating the divine personage, whether as the mother or the monarch, whilst the victim was comparatively young, in good health, and wholly exempt from any bodily infirmity. The slaying and eating were performed as a religious rite and a mode of spiritual communion. This implies a sacrificial offering to the gods or spirits, which had to be as pure and perfect as possible. In the rubrical directions of the Hebrew ritual it is expressly commanded that the sacrificial offering shall be presented “without blemish” otherwise it is unacceptable to the Lord. The death or dying down of the food-producing power as Osiris was a fact of annual occurrence in external nature. This death of the self-devoted victim was solemnized and mourned over in the mysteries, where the chief object of celebration was the resurrection of Osiris, as the sun from the nether world, or the returning waters of the inundation; or as Horus in the lentiles, or Unbu in the branch of gold, or the human soul resurgent from the mummy in the mysteries of Amenta. This was the divinity who has to be distinguished from the typical divine personage. We learn from the eschatology, by which the mythology was supplemented and fulfilled, that there were seven food-givers altogether in a female form. These are grouped as the seven Hathors, or milch-mothers, in the mythology called “the providers of plenty” for the glorified elect, in the green pastures Aarru, or the Elysian Fields. The earliest representation being totemic and pre-human, the mythical mother was portrayed by means of the zootype.
The wet-nurse was imaged as a cow or a sow. The mother of aliment was figured in the tree. The earth itself was imaged as the goose, or other zootype, which laid the egg for food. The Red Men say “the bear, the buffalo, and the beaver are manitus (spirits) which furnish food.” (Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes, vol. V, 420.) They were totems of the elemental powers that were propitiated as the givers of food. Now, the first giver of food and drink was the Mother-earth, who was represented by the zootypes which furnished food and drink. The elemental spirits as producers of food may be seen in the Aztec “popul vuh” as “they that gave life,” a group of primordial powers, with such names as shooter of the coyote, opossum, and other animals with the blow-pipe—a naïve way of describing the superhuman providers of food in the character of the hunter. The Zuni “prey-gods” are also propitiated as superhuman powers in animal forms, the gods of prey that are the givers of food. (Amer. Bureau of Ethnology, 1880-81.) In the Arunta stage of mythical representation there are no goddesses or gods. The powers of the elements were not yet divinized; they are only known, like the human groups, by their totemic types. Whereas in the wisdom of ancient Egypt we can identify the elemental powers and trace them by nature and by name into the phase of divinities, whether as goddesses or gods.

Thus we are enabled to reach back to the superhuman powers in totemism that preceded the gods and goddesses in mythology. Instead of gods and goddesses, the Arunta tribe have their mythical ancestors, who were kangaroos, emus, beetles, bandicoots, dingoes, and snakes, as totemic representatives of elemental forces, especially those of food and drink, in the primordial Alcheringa, who were incorporated or made flesh on earth in both men and animals. In the Egyptian eschatology these primordial powers finally became the Lords of Eternity. But from the first they were the ever-living ones under pre-anthropomorphic totemic types. Osiris, for example, remains in the Ritual as “the Bull of Eternity.” Atum was the Lion of Eternity. And when both had been personified in the human likeness the zootype still survived. Thus the beast, the bird, the fish, which represented the powers of the elements, which were of themselves ever-living, furnished natural types of the eternal. Again, the human descent from the elemental powers is indicated by the tradition of the Manx which asserts that the first inhabitants of their island were fairies, and that the little folk, called the good people, still exist among them and are to be seen dancing on moonlight nights, the same as in the Emerald Isle:—

“Wee folk, good folk,

Trooping altogether;

Green jacket, red cap,

And white owl’s feather.”

In relation to spiritism, the present demonstration has hitherto been limited to the animistic “spirits” or elemental powers that were pre-human, superhuman, and entirely non-human. We now come to the spirits of human origin which manifest as phantoms of the living and as doubles of the dead.

The origin of the “gods” was in the powers of the elements, with a magical evocation and propitiation of these powers ever manifesting in external nature, especially as givers of food and drink, with the ritual based on blood. But the most essential part of religion assuredly originated in the worship of the ancestral spirits. Only there must be the spirits of human origin discriminated from the animistic spirits or elemental powers as the raison-d’être of the worship. The feeling of fear and dread of the destroying powers was followed at a later stage of development by the natural affection for the mothers, the fathers, and children, who were universally propitiated as the ancestral spirits. Spiritualism proper begins with the worship of ancestral spirits, the spirits of the departed, who demonstrate the continuity of existence hereafter by reappearing to the living in phenomenal apparition, the same to the races called civilized as to those who are supposed to “believe in ghosts” because they are savages. Herbert Spencer proclaims that “the first traceable conception of a supernatural being is the conception of a ghost” (Data, p. 281). Here in passing we may note that the word “supernatural,” continually employed by the agnostics, belongs, like many others, to an obsolete terminology which has no meaning for the evolutionist. There was no supernatural when there could have been no definition of the natural. In the present work the word superhuman is made use of as being more exact. The elemental powers were superhuman, yet they were entirely natural.

A brief but comprehensive account of Inner African spiritualism is given by the author of Three Years in Savage Africa, who says: “The religion of the Wanyamwezi is founded mainly on the worship of spirits called the ‘Musimo.’ Their ceremonies have but one object, the conciliation or propitiation of these spirits. They have no idea of one supreme power or God–personal or impersonal–governing the world, and directing its destinies or those of individuals. They believe in the earthly visitation of spirits, especially to announce some great event, and more generally some big disaster. Thus they tell how the Chief Mirambo one day met a number of Musimo carrying torches, who invited him to follow them into the forest, which he did. Once there, they attempted to dissuade him from proceeding with a war which he was then contemplating, and in which he subsequently lost his life. The dead in their turn become spirits, under the all-embracing name of Musimo. The Wanyamwezi hold these Musimo in great dread and veneration, as well as the house, hut, or place where their body had died. Every chief has near his hut a Musimo hut, or house of the dead, in which they are supposed to dwell, and where sacrifices and offerings must be made. They are constantly consulting oracles, omens, and signs, and attach great importance to them.” When desirous of consulting the spirits, “the party betakes itself to the Musimo house, in front of which the Mfumu (medium) stands with the others arranged in a circle behind him. The Mfumu then holds a kind of religious service: he begins by addressing the spirits of their forefathers, imploring them not to visit their anger upon their descendants. This prayer he offers up kneeling, bowing and bending to the ground from time to time. Then he rises and commences a hymn of praise to the ancestors, and all join

in the chorus. Then, seizing his little gourd, he executes a pas seul, after which he bursts into song again, but this time singing as one inspired. Suddenly he stops and recovers himself. All this time, except when chanting, the spectators observe a most profound stillness. After a brief interval of silence the Mfumu proceeds to publish the message which he has just received from the Musimo. This he does by intoning in a most mournful and dreary manner. The congregation then retire, and wind up the proceedings with a noisy dance in the village.” (Lionel Décle, Three Years in Savage Africa, pp. 343-345.) According to Giel, the pigmies of the Ituri Forest, at the lowest point in the ascent of man, propitiate and invoke the spirits of their ancestors; they also build little huts for them to rest in and make offerings of food to their spirit visitants (Giel, W. E., A Yankee in Pigmy Land). The Lendu to the west of Lake Albert, who are worshippers of the ancestral spirits, are accustomed to carry rough wooden dolls supposed to represent the departed, and place them in the deserted huts in which their dead lie buried (Johnston).

African spiritualism, which might be voluminously illustrated, culminated in the Egyptian mysteries. The mystery teachers were so far advanced as phenomenal spiritualists, and say so little about it in any direct manner, that it has taken one who owns to having had a profound experience of the phenomena many years to come up with them in studying the eschatology of the Ritual. If spiritualism proper is based on phenomenal and veritable facts in nature, as it is now claimed to be, then the past history of the human race has to be rewritten, for it has hitherto been written with this the most important of all mental factors omitted, decried, derided, or falsely explained away. Current anthropology knows nothing of man with a soul that offers evidence for a continuity of its own existence. The Egyptians had no more doubt about it than the Norsemen who used to bring legal actions against the spirits of the dead that came back to haunt and torture the living, and were accused on evidence and adjudged to be guilty. There is a like case in a papyrus translated by M. Maspero (Records of the Past, vol. XII, 123). In this an Egyptian widower cites the spirit of his deceased wife to a law court, and forbids her to torment or persecute him with her unwelcome attentions. He asks what offence did he ever commit in her lifetime that should warrant her in causing him to suffer now. He speaks of the evil condition he is in, and of the affidavit he has made. This writing is directed to the gods of Amenta, where it is to be read in judgment against her. M. Maspero suggests that the writ would probably be read aloud at the tomb, and then tied to the statue of his wife, who would receive the summons in the same way that she was accustomed to receive the offerings of prayer and food by proxy at certain times of the year. The Egyptians were profoundly well acquainted with those abnormal phenomena which are just re-emerging within the ken of modern science, and with the hypnotic, magnetic, narcotic, and anæsthetic means of inducing the conditions of trance. Their rekhi or wise men, the pure spirits in both worlds, are primarily those who could enter the life of trance or transform into the state of spirits, as is shown by the determinative of the name, the phœnix of spiritual transformation.

Ancestor worship is made apparent in the Book of the Dead by the speaker in the nether world, who asks that he may behold the forms of his father and his mother in his resurrection from Amenta (ch. 52). And when he attains the domain of Kan-Kanit on Mount Hetep, where the joy is expressed by dancing, he prays that he may see his father and intently view his mother (Rit., ch. 110). It is said of one of the magical formulæ, “If thou readest the second page it will happen that if thou art in the Amenta thou wilt have power to resume the form which thou hadst upon the earth” (Records of the Past, vol. IV, 131-134). In one of the Egyptian tales the writer describes the dead in the tombs conversing about their earth life, and as having the power of leaving the sepulchre and mixing once more with the living on this earth. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is based upon a resurrection of the soul in Amenta and its possible return to the earth at times, for some particular purpose, as the double or ghost. The deceased when in Amenta prays that he may emerge from the world of the dead to revisit the earth (Rit., ch. 71). He asks that he may come forth with breath for his nostrils and with eyes which can see, and that he may shine upon his own ka-image from without, not that he may become a soul within an idol of wood or stone. The persistence of the human soul in death and its transformation into a living and enduring spirit is a fundamental postulate of the Egyptian Ritual and of the religious mysteries. The burial of the mummy in the earth is coincident with the resurrection of the soul in Amenta, which is followed by its purifications and refinings into a spirit that may be finally made perfect. In the opening chapter the departing soul of the deceased pleads that he may be conscious in death, to see the lords of the nether world and to inhale the “incense of the sacrificial offerings made to the divine host—sitting with them.” He prays: “Let the priestly ministrant make invocations over my coffin. Let me hear the prayers of propitiation.” Not as the dead body, but as a living spirit (ch. 1). He also pleads that when the Tuat is opened he may “come forth to do his pleasure upon earth amid the living” (ch. 2). The Egyptians know nothing of death except in the evil that eats out the spiritual life. The dead are those that do not live the spiritual life, no matter where. These are called the twice dead in the spirit world. It will suffice to show how profound the spiritualism must have been when the prayers and invocations are made, the oblations and the sacrifices are offered, not to the person of the deceased (who is represented by the dead mummy), but to the ka-image of his eternal soul, which was set up in the funeral chamber as the likeness of that other spiritual self to whose consciousness they made their religiously affectionate appeal. They make no mistake as to the locality of consciousness. Their funeral feast was a festival of rejoicing, not of mourning. When Unas makes his passage it is said, “Hail, Unas! Behold, thou hast not departed dead, but as one living thou hast gone to take thy seat upon the throne of Osiris” (Budge, Gods of Egypt, vol. I, 61). The sacred rites were duly paid to the departed not merely “in memory of the dead,” but for the delectation of the re-embodied ka that lived on in death. The dead were designated the ever-living. The coffin was called the chest of the living. No eye might look on the prepared
mummy in its last resting place but the eye of its spiritual owner, who came back to see that it was properly preserved in sepulchral sanctity, a small aperture being left in the wall of the Serdab through which the returning spirit alone might pass, to see the mummy, when it returned on a visit to the earth. We learn from the vignettes to the Ritual that the soul might revisit the earth when it had attained the status of the Ba, which is imaged as the hawk with a human head. In this shape it descends and ascends the ladder or staircase that was erected as the way up from the Kâsu or burial place to the boat of souls.

In the first stage of continuity hereafter the soul persists visibly as the shade. This form of the Manes is commonly associated with the mummy in the tomb where it received the mortuary meals that were offered to the dead. It was held by some that the shade remained as warder of the mummy, or corpse, and never left the earth. When the deceased has passed the forty-two tribunals of the Judgment Hall he is told that he can now go out of the Amenta and come in at will as an enfranchized spirit. It is said to the Osiris, “Enter thou in and come forth at thy pleasure like the Glorified Ones; and be thou invoked each day upon the Mount of Glory” (Rit., ch. 126, 6). He has now become one of the glorified, the spirits who are appealed to as protectors—that is, the ancestral spirits, the host of whom he joins to become the object of invocation and propitiation or of worship on the Mount of Glory. The clairvoyants in the Kamite temples were designated seers of the gods and the spirits. In speaking of his forced exclusion from office in the Temple of Amen, Tahtmes the Third says: “So long as I was a child and a boy I remained in the Temple, but not even as a seer of the god did I hold office” (Egypt under the Pharaohs, Brugsch, Eng. trans., vol. I, p. 178). In the “Second Tale of Khamuas” there is a contest between the Ethiopian and Egyptian magicians. Amongst other tests of superiority, the Ethiopians bring writing as a challenge to the Court of Pharaoh. This has to be read without opening the letter or breaking the seal. Then said Si-Osiris to his father, “I shall be able to read the letter that was brought to Egypt without opening it, and to find what is written on it without breaking its seal.” The father asks what is the sign that he can do this. Si-Osiris answers, “Go to the cellars of thy house: every book that thou takest out of the case I will tell thee what book it is and read it without seeing it.” This he does, and then he shows the superiority of Egyptian magic over the sorceries of the Ethiopians by reading the contents of the letter without opening it or breaking the seal. (Griffith, Stories of the High Priests of Memphis, pp. 51-60.)

The mode in which the clairvoyant faculty was made use of in the mysteries for seeing into the world beyond death is also illustrated by the priest who is portrayed as the dreamer with the dead. He is called the Sem-priest, and is represented as being in the tomb and sleeping the sleep in which he was visited by the glorified. The recumbent Sem awakes when the other officiating ministrants arrive at the sepulchre. His first words are, “I see the Father in his form entire.” That is Osiris in his character of Neb-er-ter. In his demise Osiris was represented as being cut in pieces, by his enemy Sut, as a
mode of depicting death to the sight of the initiates. That which applied to Osiris also applied to the dead in Osiris. They were figuratively cut in pieces as the tangible equivalent for abstract death. “I see the Father in his form entire” was the formula of the Sem-priest as sleeper and seer in the tomb and as witness and testifier that the dead in Osiris were living still. “How wonderful! He no longer existed.” And now, “What happiness! He exists, and there is no member missing to the Manes” (i.e., the human soul in Amenta). (Prof. E. Lefébure, Proc. Soc. Bib. Arch., vol. XV, pt. 3, p. 138.)

All ancestor worshippers have been spiritualists in the modern sense who had the evidence by practical demonstration that the so-called dead are still living in a rarer, not less real form. The ancestral spirits they invoke and propitiate were once human, not the elemental or animistic forces of external nature, which under the name of spirits have been confused with them. Their belief in a personal continuity has ever been firmly based on phenomenal facts, not merely floated on ideas. The evidence that deceased persons make their reappearance on the earth in human guise is universal; also that the doubles of the dead supplied both ground and origin for a worship of ancestral spirits that were human once in this life and still retained the human likeness in the next, and manifested in the human form. The Karens say the Lâ (or ghost) sometimes appears after death, and cannot then be distinguished from the deceased person. In the opinion of the Eskimo the soul (or spirit) exhibits the same shape as the body it belonged to (Rink), but is of a more subtle and ethereal nature, as is the Egyptian Sahu or spiritual body. The Tonga Islanders held that the human soul was the finer, more aëriform, part of the body—the essence that can pass out as does the fragrance from a flower. The islanders of the Antilles found that the ghosts vanished when they tried to clutch them. The Greenland seers described the soul as pallid, soft, and intangible when they attempted to seize it. “Alas! then,” says Achilles, as he tries to embrace the spirit of Patroclus, “there is indeed in the abodes of the shades a spirit and an eidōlon, but it is unsubstantial.” Mr. Cushing tells us that, whatsoever opinions the ancestors of the Zunis may have held regarding the so-called “transmigration of souls,” their belief to-day relative to the future life is spiritualistic. When a corpse had been burnt by the Hos they still called upon the spirit to come back to the world of the living. It is held by them that the spirit lives on, although the dead body is reduced to ashes. The author of Africana testifies that the Central African tribes among whom he lived were unanimous in saying there is something beyond the body which they call spirit or pure spirit, and that “every human being at death is forsaken by the spirit.” Hence they do not worship at the grave. “All the prayers and offerings of the living are presented to the spirits of the dead” (vol. I, p. 59). It is common for the Yao to leave an offering beside the head at the top of their beds intended for the spirits who it is hoped will come and whisper to the sleeper in his dreams. Their spirits appear to them in sleep and also in waking visions, which are carefully discriminated from dreams of the night by them as by all intelligent aborigines, and not confused the one with the other, as is generally done by the European

agnostic. (Duff Macdonald, Africana, vol. I, pp. 60-61.) The Banks Islanders pray to their dead men, and not to the elemental powers or animistic spirits. The Vateans call upon the spirits of their ancestors, whom they invoke over the kava bowl—that is, the divine drink which is taken by the seers for the purpose of entering into rapport with the spirits. When the Zulu King Cetewayo was in London he said to a friend of the present writer, “We believe in ghosts or spirits of the dead because we see them.” But when asked whether the Zulus believed in God, he said they had not seen him. For them the ghost demonstrates its own existence; the god is but an inference, if necessary as a final explanation of phenomena. The ghost can be objectively manifested; the deity must be ideally evolved. The Amazulu say the same thing as Cetewayo: “We worship those whom we have seen with our eyes, who lived and died amongst us. All we know is that the young and the aged die and the shade departs.” These shades were propitiated. That is the universal testimony of all races, savage or civilized. They believe in ghosts because they see them. The ghost is the supreme verity in universal spiritualism. As Huxley says, “there are savages without God in any proper sense of the word, but there are none without ghosts” (Lay Sermons and Addresses, p. 163). The colossal conceit of obtuse modern ignorance notwithstanding, the ghost and the faculty for seeing the ghost are realities in the domain of natural fact. The seers may be comparatively rare, although the clairvoyant and seer of spirits (as a product of nature) is by no means so scarce as either a great painter or great poet. These abnormal faculties are human, and they can be increased by cultivation. Their existence is for ever being verified like other facts in nature, and the truth is ultimately known by the experience which is for ever being repeated. It is a funeral custom of the Amandebele, one of the Bantu tribes, to introduce the spirit of a deceased person to his father, his grandfather, and other relatives, of whose conscious existence and personal presence no doubt is entertained. These are matters of life and death with the primitive races. The spirits come to announce the death of individuals. They see the ghost, they hear its message, and they die to the day or hour foretold. “I could give many instances which have come within my own knowledge among the Fijians,” says Mr. Fison (Kamilaroi and Kernai, p. 253). Mr. Spencer tells us that “Negroes who when suffering go to the woods and cry for help to the spirits of dead relatives show by these acts the grovelling nature of the race” (Data of Sociology, ch. 20, par. 151). Whether the spirits are thought to be a reality or not, this appears one of the most natural and touching of human acts, aspiring rather than grovelling, especially as the relative addressed is so commonly the mother, the African mama. But is it grovelling to cling to the loved and lost?—to turn for comfort to the dear ones gone, and seek a little solace if only in the memory that leaned and rested on them in the solitude of their suffering? Here the “great teacher of our age” is far behind the nigger. He did not know that the “spirits of dead relatives” are and always have been a demonstrable reality, and those who do not know have no authority for giving judgment on the subject. They who have no

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