It is quite certain that if the primitive method had been Conceptual and early man had possessed the power to impose the likeness of human personality upon external phenomena it would have been in the image of the Male, as a type or in the types of power; whereas the primal human personification is in the likeness of the female. The
great Mother as the primal Parent is a Universal type. There could be no divine Father in Heaven until the fatherhood was individualised on earth. Again, if primitive men had been able to impose the human likeness on the Mother-Nature the typical Wet-nurse would have been a woman. But it is not so; the Woman comes last. She was preceded by the Beast itself, the Sow, the Hippopotamus, or Lioness, and by the female form that wears the head of the Zootype, the Cow, Frog or Serpent, on the body of a divinity. Moreover, the human likeness would, of necessity, have included Sex. But the earliest powers recognised in nature are represented as being of no Sex. It is said in the Akkadian hymns, “Female they are not, male they are not.” Therefore they were not imaged in the human likeness. The elements of air, earth, water, fire, darkness and light are of no sex, and the powers first recognised in them, whether as destructive or beneficent, are consequently without sex. So far from Nature having been conceived or imaged as a non-natural Man in a Mask, with features more or less human, however hugely magnified, the mask of human personality was the latest that was fitted to the face of external nature. Masks were applied to the face of nature in the endeavour to feature and visibly present some likeness of the operative elemental forces and manifesting powers of Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Thunder and Lightning, Darkness and Dawn, Eclipse and Earthquake, Sand-storm or the drowning waters of the Dark. But these masks were Zoomorphic, not human. They imaged the most potent of devouring beasts, most cunning of reptiles, most powerful birds of prey. In these monstrous masks we see the Primal Powers of Nature all at play, as in the Pantomime, which still preserves a likeness to the primordial representation of external nature that is now chiefly known under the names of Mythology and Totemism. The Elemental powers operant in external nature were superhuman in the past as they are in the present. The Voice of Thunder, the death-stroke of lightning, the Coup de Soleil, the force of fire, or of water in flood and the wind in a hurricane were superhuman. So of the Animals and Birds: the powers of the hippopotamus, crocodile, serpent, hawk, lion, jackal, and Ape were superhuman, and therefore they were adopted as zootypes and as primary representatives of the superhuman Powers of the Elements. They were adopted as primitive Ideographs. They were adopted for use and consciously stamped for their representative value, not ignorantly worshipped; and thus they became the coins as it were in the current medium of exchange for the expression of primitive thought or feeling.
Sign-language includes the gesture-signs by which the mysteries were danced or otherwise dramatized in Africa by the Pygmies and Bushmen; in Totemism, in Fetishism, and in hieroglyphic symbols; very little of which language has been read by those who are continually treading water in the shallows of the subject without ever touching bottom or attaining foothold in the depths. It is by means of sign-language that the Egyptian wisdom keeps the records of the pre-historic past. The Egyptian hieroglyphics show us the connection betwixt words and things, also betwixt sounds and words, in a very primitive range of human thought. There is no other such record known in all the world. They consist largely of human
gesture-signs and the sounds first made by animals, such as “ba” for the goat, “meaou” for the cat, “su” for the goose, and “fu” for the Cerastes snake. But the Kamite representation by means of sign-language had begun in inner Africa before the talking animals, birds, and reptiles had been translated into the forms of gods and goddesses by the dwellers in the valley of the Nile. The living ideographs or zootypes were primary, and can be traced to their original habitat and home, and to nowhere else upon the surface of our earth. The cow of the waters there represented the earth-Mother as the great bringer-forth of life before she was divinised as Apt the goddess in human guise, with the head of a hippopotamus. The overseeing Giraffe (or was it the Okapi?) of Sut, the hawk of Horus, the Kaf-Ape of Taht-Aan, the white Vulture of Neith, the Jackal of Anup, and fifty others were pre-extant as the talking animals before they were delineated in semi-human guise as gods and goddesses or elemental powers thus figured forth in the form of birds and beasts or fish and reptiles. The zootypes were extant in nature as figures ready-modelled, pictures ready-made, hieroglyphics and ideographs that moved about alive: pictures that were earlier than painting, statues that preceded sculpture, living nature-types that were employed when there were no others known to art. Certain primordial types originated in the old dark land of Africa. These were perfected in Egypt and thence dispersed about the world. Amongst them is the Earth as solid ground amidst the water of surrounding space, or as the bringer-forth of life, depicted as a Water-Cow; possibly the Cow of Kintu in Uganda; the Dragon of Darkness or other wide-jawed Swallower of the Light that rose up from the Abyss and coiled about the Mount of Earth at night as the Devourer; the evergreen Tree of Dawn–pre-eminently African–that rises on the horizon, or upon the Mount of Earth, from out the waters of Space; the opposing Elemental Powers beginning with the Twins of Light and Darkness who fought in Earth and Heaven and the Nether World; the Great Earth-Mother of the Nature-powers; the Seven Children of her womb, and various other types that are one in origin and worldwide in their range.
When the solar force was yet uncomprehended, the sinking Sun could be imaged naturally enough by the Beetle boring its way down through the earth, or by the Tortoise that buried itself in the soil: also by the Crocodile making its passage through the waters, or the Golden Hawk that soared up through the air. This was representing phenomena in external nature on the ground of likeness when it could not be imaged directly by means of words. When it is held, as in Australia, that the Lizard first divided the sexes and that it was also the author of marriage, we have to ascertain what the Lizard signified in sign-language, and when we find that, like the serpent or the Frog, it denoted the female period, we see how it distinguished or divided the sexes and in what sense it authorised or was the author of Totemic Marriage, because of its being a sign or symbol of feminine pubescence. It is said by the Amazulu, that when old Women pass away they take the form of a kind of Lizard. This can only be interpreted by knowing the ideographic value in the primitive system of Sign-Language in which the Lizard was a zootype. The Lizard
appeared at puberty, but it disappeared at the turn of life, and with the Old Women went the disappearing Lizard.
The Frog which transformed from the tadpole condition was another Ideograph of female pubescence. This may be illustrated by a story that was told some time since by Miss Werner in the Contemporary Review which contains a specimen of primitive thought and its mode of expression in perfect survival. It happened that a native girl at Blantyre Mission was called by her mistress, a missionary’s wife, to come and take charge of the baby. Her reply was, “Nchafuleni is not there; she is turned into a frog.” (Werner, Contemporary Review, Sept., p. 378.) She could not come for a reason of Tapu, but said so typically in the language of animals. She had made that transformation which first occurs when the young girl changes into a woman. She might have said she was a serpent or a lizard or that she was in flower. But the frog that changed from a tadpole was also a type of her transformation, and she had figuratively become a frog for a few days of seclusion. Similarly the member of a Totem also became a frog, a beetle, a bull or bear as a mode of representation, but not because the human being changed into the animal. The same things which are said at a later stage by the ideographic Determinatives in the Egyptian hieroglyphics had been expressed previously by the Inner African zootypes or living Beasts, Birds and Reptiles, as may be seen in the stories told of the talking Animals by the Bushmen. The original records still suffice to show that the physical agencies or forces first perceived were not conceived or mentally embodied in the human likeness, and that external nature offered no looking-glass for the human face.
To take the very illustration adduced by Hume. The original Man in the Moon did not depend upon any fancied resemblance to the human face. The Egyptian Man in the Moon, Taht or Tehuti (Greek Thoth), had the head of an Ibis or of the Cynocephalus; both Ibis and Cynocephalus were lunar types which preceded any human likeness, and these were continued as heads to the human figure after this had been adopted. The Man in the Moon, who is Taht (or Khunsu) in Egypt, had a series of predecessors in the Dog or Cynocephalus, the Ibis, the Beetle, the Bull, the Frog, and other ideographic figures of lunar phenomena. As natural fact, the Ibis was a famous Fisher of the Nile, and its familiar figure was adopted as a zootype of Taht, the lunar God. Where the modern saw the New Moon with the “auld Moon in her arm,” the Egyptian saw the Ibis fishing up the old dark orb from out the waters with the crescent of its curving beak, as the recoverer and Saviour of the Drowning Light. The Moon was not looked upon as having any human likeness when it was imaged as (or by) the Cat who saw in the dark; the Hare that rose up by night and went round the horizon by leaps and bounds; the Ibis as the returning bird of passage and messenger of the Inundation; the Frog that transformed from the tadpole; the old Beetle that renewed itself in the earth to come forth as the young one, or the Cow that gave re-birth to the child of light as her calf. The sun was not conceived as “human in its nature” when the solar force at dawn was imaged by the Lion-faced Atum; the
flame of its furnace by the fiery serpent Uati; the soul of its life by the Hawk, the Ram, or the Crocodile, which are five Egyptian Zootypes and a fivefold disproof of the sun being conceived as or considered human in its nature or similitude.
In beginning ab ovo our first lesson is to learn something of the Symbolical Language of Animals, and to understand what it is they once said as Zootypes. We have then to use that knowledge in simplifying the mysteries of mythology.
This primitive language is still employed in divers forms. It is extant in the so-called “dead language” of the Hieroglyphics; the Ideographs and Pictographs; in the Totemic types, and figures of Tattoo; in the portraiture of the Nature-Powers which came to be divinised at length in the human likeness as the Gods and Goddesses of Mythology; and in that language of the folk-fables still made use of by the Bushmen, Hottentots, and other Africans, in which the Jackal, the Dog, the Lion, the Crane, the White Vulture and other beasts and birds keep on talking as they did in the beginning, and continue more or less to say in human speech what they once said in the primitive symbolism; that is, they fulfil the same characters in the Märchen that were first founded in the Mythos. It has now to be shown how the Mythical mode of representing natural phenomena was based upon this primitive system of thought and expression, and how the things that were thought and expressed of old in this language continue the primary stratum of what is called “Mythology” to-day.
In the most primitive phase Mythology is a mode of representing certain elemental powers by means of living types that were superhuman like the natural phenomena. The foundations of Mythology and other forms of the ancient wisdom were laid in this pre-anthropomorphic mode of primitive representation. Thus, to summarise a few of the illustrations. The typical Giant Apap was an enormous water-Reptile. The typical Genetrix and Mother of life was a Water-Cow that represented the Earth. The typical Twin-Brothers were two Birds or two Beasts. The typical twin brother and sister were a Lion and a Lioness. The typical Virgin was a heifer, or a vulture. The typical Messiah was a calf, a lamb or Unbu the Branch. The typical Provider was a goose. The typical Chief or Leader is a lion. The typical Artisan is a beetle. The typical Physician is an Ibis (which administered the enema to itself). The typical Judge is a Jackal or a Cynocephalus, whose wig and collar are amusingly suggestive of the English Law-courts. Each and all of these and hundreds more preceded personification in the human image. The mighty Infant who slew the Dragon or strangled serpents while in his cradle was a later substitute for such a Zootype as the little Ichneumon, a figure of Horus. The Ichneumon was seen to attack the cobra di capella and make the mortal enemy hide its head and shield its most vital parts within the protecting coils of its own body. For this reason the lively, daring little animal was adopted as a zootype of Horus the young Solar God, who in his attack upon the Apap-Serpent made the huge and deadly reptile hide its head in its own enveloping darkness. But, when the figure is made anthropomorphic and the tiny
Conqueror is introduced as the little Hero in human form, the beginning of the Mythos and its meaning are obscured. The Ichneumon, the Hawk, the Ibis might attack the Cobra, but it was well enough known that a Child would not, consequently the original hero was not a Child, although spoken of as a child in the literalised marvels, miracles, and fables of “the Infancy.”
It is the present writer’s contention that the Wisdom of the Ancients was the Wisdom of Egypt, and that her explanation of the Zootypes employed in Sign-Language, Totemism, and Mythology holds good wherever the zootypes survive. For example, the Cawichan Tribes say the Moon has a frog in it, and with the Selish Indians of North-West America the Frog (or Toad) in the Moon is equivalent to our Man in the Moon. They have a tradition that the devouring Wolf being in love with the Frog (or Toad), pursued her with great ardour and had nearly caught her when she made a desperate leap and landed safely in the Moon, where she has remained to this day. (Wilson, Trans. of Ethnol. Society, 1866, New Series, v. 4, p. 304.) Which means that the frog, as a type of transformation, was applied to the changing Moon as well as to the Zulu girl, Nchafuleni.
Sign-language was from the beginning a substitution of similars for the purpose of expression by primitive or pre-verbal Man, who followed the animals in making audible sounds accompanied and emphasised by human gestures. The same system of thought and mode of utterance were continued in mythography and totemism. Renouf says the Scarabeus was “an object of worship in Egypt,” as a symbol of divinity. But this is the modern error. If there was a God, and the Beetle was his symbol, obviously it was the divinity that was the object of worship, not the symbol: not the zootype. Ptah, we know, was that divinity, with the Beetle as a type, and those who read the types were worshippers of the God and not of his symbolic dung-beetle which was honoured as a sign of transformation. When told that the Egyptians were worshippers of the “Bee,” the “Mantis,” and the “Grasshopper,” we recall the words of Hor-Apollo, who says that when the Egyptians would symbolise a mystic and one of the Initiated they delineate a Grasshopper because the insect does not utter sounds with its mouth, but makes a chirping by means of its spine. (B. II, 55.) The grasshopper, then, which uttered a voice that did not come from its mouth, was a living type of superhuman power. And being an image of mystery and superhuman power, it was also considered a fitting symbol of Kagn, the Bushman Creator, or Great Spirit of creative mystery. Moreover, the grasshopper made his music and revealed his mystery in dancing; and the religious mysteries of Kagn were performed with dancing or in the grasshopper’s dance. Thus the Initiates in the mysteries of the Mantis are identical with the Egyptian Mystæ symbolised by the grasshopper; and the dancing probably goes back to the time when pre-verbal man was an imitator of the grasshopper, which was a primitive type of mystery, like the transforming frog and the self-interring tortoise. There is a religious sect still extant in England who are known as the “Jumpers,” and their saltatory exercises still identify them with the leaping “Grasshoppers” and the “praying Mantis” in the
Mysteries of old. They still “dance that dance.” The “Moon belongs to the Mantis,” say the Bushmen, which goes to show that the Mantis was not only a Lunar type as the leaper round the horizon, but on account of its power of transformation; and this again suggests the reason why the Mantis should be the zootype of the Mystæ who transformed in trance, as well as leaped and danced in the mysteries. The Frog and the Grasshopper were earlier leapers than the Hare. These also were figures of the Moon that leaped up in a fresh place every night. It was this leaping up of the light that was imitated in the dances of the Africans who jumped for joy at the appearance of the New Moon which they celebrated in the monthly dance, as did the Congo Negroes and other denizens of the Dark Continent who danced the primitive mysteries and dramatised them in their dances. The Leapers were the Dancers, and the leaping Mantis, the Grasshopper, the Frog, the Hare, were amongst the pre-human prototypes.
The frog is still known in popular weather-wisdom as the prophesier of Rain. As such, it must have been of vastly more importance in the burning lands of Inner Africa, and there is reason to suppose that Hekat, the Consort of Khnum, the King of Frogs, was frog-headed as the prophetess, or foreteller, on this ground of natural fact. Erman says the “Great Men of the South,” the “Privy Councillors of the royal orders were almost always invested–I know not why–with the office of Prophet of the frog-headed Goddess Hekat.” (Life in Ancient Egypt, p. 82, Eng. tr.). The Frog was a prophet of Rain in some countries, and of spring-time in others. In Egypt it was the prophet of the Inundation, hence Hekat was a Consort of Khnum, the Lord of the Inundation, and King of Frogs. Hekat was also the Seer by Night in the Moon, as well as the crier for the waters and foreteller of their coming. From her, as Seer in the dark, we may derive the names of the Witch as the Hexe, the Hag, the Hagedisse; and also that of the dark Goddess Hecate, the sender of Dreams. As prophesier of Rain, or of the Inundation, it was the herald of new life to the land of Egypt, and this would be one reason for its relationship to the resurrection. But, in making its transformation from the tadpole state to that of the frog, it was the figure of a still more important natural fact. This, in the Mythology, was applied to the transformation and renewal of the Moon, and to the transformation of the Mortal into an Immortal in the Eschatology, a type of Ptah, who in one form is portrayed as the frog-headed God. Lamps have been found in Egypt with the Frog upon the upper part, and one is known which has the legend egw eimi anastasis, “I am the Resurrection.” (Lanzone, Dizionario, p. 853; Budge, The Mummy, p. 266.) In this figure the lamp is an equivalent for the rising Sun, and the frog upon it is the type of Ptah, who in his solar character was the Resurrection and the life in the Mythology before the image passed into the Eschatology, in a Spiritual sense. The frog was a type of transformation, and the Frog-headed Ptah made his transformation in Amenta to rise again as the opener of the Nether Earth. And as he represented the Sun in Amenta, the frog, like the Cynocephalus of Memphis (Rit., ch. 42), was imaged as Golden. Thus we find the Sun in the lower Earth of two depicted in the Golden Frog, and, as stated by John Bell, the
Lamas had an idea that the earth rested on a Golden Frog, and that when the Frog stretched out its foot there was an Earthquake. (“A Journey from St. Petersburgh to Pekin in the year 1719.” Pinkerton’s Voyages, v. 7, p. 369.) Here the frog beneath the earth, like the Tortoise, is Egyptian, and as such we can learn what fact in nature was represented by it as a zootype of Ptah in the Nether World called the Earth of Eternity, where the typical tadpole that swam the waters made its transformation into the frog that stretched itself out and set foot on land.
It is related in a Chinese legend that the lady, Mrs. Chang-ngo, obtained the drug of Immortality by stealing it from Si Wang Nu, the Royal Mother of the West. With this she fled to the Moon, and was changed into a Frog that is still to be seen on the surface of the orb. (Dennys, Folk-Lore of China, p. 117.) As Egyptian, the Mother of the West was the Goddess who received the setting Sun and reproduced its light. The immortal liquor is the Solar Light. This was stolen from the Moon. Chang-ngo is equivalent to the frog-headed Hekat who represented the resurrection. The frog, in Egypt, was a sign of “myriads” as well as of transformation. In the Moon it would denote myriads of renewals when periodic repetition was a mode of immortality. Hekat the frog-headed is the original Cinderella. She makes her transformation into Sati, the Lady of Light, whose name is written with an Arrow. Thus, to mention only a few of the lunar types, the Goddess Hekat represented the moon and its transformation as the Frog. Taht and his Cynocephalus represented the Man and his dog in the Moon. Osiris represented the Lunar Light in his character of the Hare-headed Un-Nefer, the up-springing Hare in the Moon. These are Egyptian Zootypes, to be read wherever found by means of the Egyptian Wisdom. Amongst other Hieroglyphic Signs in the Language of Animals, the Head of a Vulture signifies victory (doubtless because of the bird’s keen scent for blood). The sheathen claw is a determinative of peaceful actions. The hinder part of the Lioness denotes the great magical power. The Tail of a Crocodile is a sign for black and for darkness. An Ape is the ideograph of rage and a fiery spirit, or spirit of fire. The sparrow is a type of physical evil because of its destructive nature in thieving corn—its name of “Tu-tu” signifies a kind of plague or affliction of the fields. (Birch.) The Water-wagtail is a type of moral evil. This bird, as Wilkinson pointed out, is still called in Egypt the father of corruption (aboo fussad). It was regarded as the type of an impure or wicked person, on account of its insidious suggestiveness of immoral motion. The extent to which morals and philosophy were taught by means of these living object-pictures cannot now be measured, but the moralising fables spoken as well as acted by the typical animals still offer testimony, and language is full of phrases which continue the zootypes into the world of letters, as when the greedy, filthy man is called a hog, the grumpy man a bear, the cunning one a fox, the subtle and treacherous one a snake.
In the Folk-Lore of various races the human Soul takes the form of a Snake, a Mouse, a Swallow, a Hawk, a Pigeon, a Bee, a Jackal, or other animal, each of which was an Egyptian zootype of some
power or soul in Nature before there was any representation of the human Soul or Ancestral Spirit in the human form. Hence we are told that when twins are born the Batavians believe that one of the pair is a crocodile. Mr. Spenser accepts the “belief” and asks, “May we not conclude that twins, of whom one gained the name of crocodile, gave rise to a legend which originated this monstrous belief?” (Data of Sociology, ch. 22, par. 175.) But all such representations are mythical and are not to be explicated by the theory of “monstrous belief.” It is a matter of Sign-Language. The Batavians knew as well as we do that no crocodile was ever born twin along with a human child. In this instance the poor things were asserting in their primitive way that Man is born with or as a Soul. This the gnosis enables us to prove. One of the earliest types of the Sun as a Soul of life in the water is a Crocodile. We see the Mother who brings forth a Crocodile when the Goddess Neith is portrayed in human shape as the suckler of the young crocodiles hanging at her breasts. Neith is the wet-nurse personified whose child was the young sun-god. As Sebek he was imaged by the Crocodile that emerged from the waters at sun-rise. Sebek was at once the child and the crocodile brought forth by the Great Mother in the mythology. And because the Crocodile had imaged a Soul of Life in water, as a superhuman power, it became a representative, in Sign-Language, of the human Soul. We see this same type of a Soul in external nature applied to the human Soul in the Book of the Dead, when the Osiris in the Nether World exclaims, “I am the Crocodile in the form of a man,” that is as a Soul of which the Crocodile had been a symbol, as Soul of the Sun. It was thus the Crocodile was born with the Child, as a matter of sign-language, not as a belief. The crocodile is commonly recognised by the Congo natives as a type of Soul. Miss Kingsley tells of a Witch-Doctor who administered emetics to certain of his patients and brought away young crocodiles. She relates that a Witch-Doctor had been opened after death, when a winged Lizard-like thing was found in his inside which Batanga said was his power. The power being another name for his Soul.