his transformations, and conquers the direst of all difficulties. He collects his magical charm or word of power from every place and thing in which it exists and from which it rays out (ch. 24, 2, 5). “Behold,” he exclaims, “I bring my magical charms which I have collected from every quarter,” more persistently than the hounds of chase and more swiftly than the light. In this way he is drawing influence from the nature powers as well as from the ancestral spirits.
At a later stage of the present inquiry it will be shown how the Egyptian eschatology was formulated in the mould of the mythology. The typical seven souls in the one are repeated as a type in the other. The seven elemental powers were continued as the seven souls of Ra, and are described as “the ancestors of Ra.” Thus, when the personality of the deceased is reconstituted in Amenta for the after life, it is on the foundation of these seven external souls, the highest of which is represented by the “Ka.” The seventh in the series of souls was personified in the human Horus, and this is the first soul to rise again and to be repeated after death as Horus in spirit. When it is said of the Egyptian king that spirit constitutes his personality, he is Horus in spirit, the representative of Ra—the ka, or living likeness of the god on earth. The ka-image, then, is the type of this, the enduring personality. With the Pelew Islanders the divine man is a spirit medium called a korong—that is, if the power be permanent; in other words, if he is naturally a medium, he is a korong. But they distinguish betwixt the born korong and a person who may be temporarily possessed. The office of korong is not hereditary, and when the korong dies the manifestation of the spirit or the divine afflatus in another medium is eagerly awaited. This is looked upon here, as elsewhere, as a new incarnation of the god, which shows that the reincarnation was one of the power and not the personality of the korong. It was the power of seership, not the individual soul of the seer, that returned in the new avatar; hence the same power was not dependent on the return of the same person. The power may be manifested by some one of very lowly origin, but he is forthwith exalted to the highest place as a divine being. Those who are ignorant of the facts of abnormal experience are entirely “out of it,” both as students and teachers of anthropology. The most important of all data concerning the origins of religion have to be omitted from their interpretation of the past of man, or, what is far worse, obfuscated with false or baseless explanations.
The wizards who are reverenced by the Australian Kurnai are those who can “go up aloft” and bring back information from the spirits of the departed commonly known in many lands as “the ancestral spirits.”
The spiritual medium ruled as a seer, a sorcerer, a diviner, a healer, who foresaw and uttered oracles, revealed superior knowledge by supernal power, and was looked up to as a protector, a guardian spirit, because he was held to be in league with the spirit world; very divinity in a human form. The divine kings, the spiritual emperors, the gods in human guise, the “supernatural” beings, the intercessors for common people, whether male or female, were incalculably earlier than the physical force hero, the political ruler, or the ritualistic
priest. Hence it is amongst the most undeveloped races, like the African and Melanesian, that these preserve their early status still. We have a survival of this status of the spirit medium in a modified form when the priest is called in as exorcist of spirits because he represents the wise man or wizard, in whom Latinity has taken the place of the ancient wisdom. Thus when the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears, Marcellus says, “Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio!” Some of the most degraded aborigines among the dark race of India still keep the position of superior people in relation to the neighbouring tribes on account of their being the masters of magical arts and the mediums of spirit intercourse. The Burghers of the Neilgherry Hills have the custom of getting one of the neighbouring tribe of Curumbars to sow the first handful of seed and to reap the first sheaf of corn, evidently for mystical reasons, as the Curumbars are reputed to be great sorcerers, and therefore the influence sought is spiritualistic which they are accredited with possessing. From the first sheaf thus reaped cakes are made to be offered as an oblation of first-fruits and eaten together with the flesh of a sacrificial animal in a sacramental meal. (Harkness, Description of a Singular Aboriginal Race inhabiting the Summit of the Neilgherry Hills, p. 56.) Spirit mediums being considered divine beings, or immortals in a mortal guise, like the Manushya Devah, have been looked to as the purveyors of a diviner essence than the protozoa of the ordinary mortal male for the procreation of children. “Roman ladies,” says Réclus, “flung themselves into the arms of the thaumaturgists, whom they took for quasi-divine beings able to bestow intenser pleasure and superior progeny.” The medium was looked upon as a being loftily transcendent, a channel of communication for the gods and the glorified in their intercourse with mortals. The Eskimos are not only willing but anxious that their Angekoks or spirit mediums should have sexual intercourse with their wives, so that they may secure children superior to those of their own personal begetting. The Angekok is looked upon as a medium for the descent of the holy spirit, and as such he is chosen to initiate young girls into the mystery of marriage. Those men who afterwards take the young woman for wives consider this connection with the divine man a preparatory purification for motherhood. With other races it was looked upon as a religious rite for the bride to cohabit with the holy man or medium on the night before her marriage. There are instances, as on the Malabar coast, in which the bridegroom fees the holy man to lie with his wife the first night after marriage. With the Cambodians, the right to spend the first night with the bride was the prerogative of the priest. The Burmese great families have each their spiritual director, to whom they send their daughter before her wedding night, and, according to the official phrase, “pay him the homage of the flower of virginity.” A Brahman priest complained to Weitbrecht the missionary that he was the spiritual purifier in this sense to no fewer than ten different women (Journal des Missions Evangélistiques, 1852), not one of whom was his own wife. According to Wilken, the Arabs act in the same way in order that the offspring may be ennobled. This practice–this desire for being ennobled–may have led to its being claimed as a right, the
jus prima noctis, or right of the feudal lord to sleep the first night with his vassal’s new-made bride. The primitive religious feeling would give the profoundest sanction to the phallic rite. Descending from the chief as a medium to the man whose supremacy was acknowledged on account of his courage, we find it was a custom with the Spartans for a husband to select a hero or brave man to lie with his wife to beget heroic offspring. The offices of king, priest, or clergyman remain, but the vision and the faculty divine have fled. The king survives without the seal of sovereignty, the priest without his spiritual influence, divines without divinity. The religious doctors still practise, but they are no longer of the healing faculty. The curates cannot cure. False diplomas take the place of the genuine warrant. The once living link considered to be the ever-living one is now the missing link betwixt two worlds. Indeed, this was prepensely broken by the Christians, and that spiritualism was cast out as devilish which all gnostics held to be divine. Blindness through believing a lie has taken the place of the “open vision” which was sought of old. The priests remain as mediums, without the mediumistic faculty; but they still take the tithe and receive payment for performing the magical rites as qualified intermediaries betwixt the gods and men or women. Nor is the belief in their spiritual potency as fathers in God entirely extinct.
The theory and practice of magic were fundamentally based on spiritualism. The greatest magician or sorcerer, witch or wizard, was the spirit medium. The magical appeal made in mimetic Sign-language was addressed to superhuman powers as the operative force. The spirits might be elemental or ancestral, but without the one or the other there was no such thing as magic or sovereignty. In one of its most primitive aspects magic was a mode of soliciting and propitiating the superhuman elemental powers or animistic spirits, the want, the wish, the intention, or command being acted and chiefly expressed in Sign-language. In another phase it was the application of secret knowledge for the production of abnormal phenomena for the purpose of consulting the ancestral spirits. The hypnotic power of the serpent over its victims was recognized as magical. This is shown in the Ritual when the speaker says to the serpent that “goeth on his belly” (ch. 149), “I am the man who puts a veil (of darkness) on thy head.” “I am the great magician.” “Thine eyes have been given to me, and through them I am glorified.” He has wrested the magical power called its strength from the serpent by taking possession of its eyes, and by this means he is the great magician.
Black magic has its secrets only to be muttered in the dark. In the mysteries of the Obeah and Voudou cults it was held that the starveling ghosts could be evoked by offerings of blood, and that they were able to materialize the more readily and become visible in the fumes of this physical element of life. Other mysteries of primitive spiritualism might be cited. For example, Miss Kingsley, who was so profoundly impressed on the subject of African “fetishism,” mentions a class of women who had committed adultery with spirits, and who were recognized as human outcasts by the natives of West Africa, and consequently accursed (West African Studies, p. 148).
Sexual commerce betwixt human sensitives and spirits is known alike to the aboriginal races and to modern mediums. Telepathic communication of mind with mind directed by the power of will even without words was a mode of magic practised by the primitive spiritualists. All that is nowadays effected under the names of hypnotism, mesmerism, or human magnetism was known of old as magic. In Egyptian the word Heka, for magic, means to charm, enchant, or ensnare; it also signifies thought and rule—ergo, thought as ruling power was a mode of magic; and the God Taht, the ruling power of thought, the thinker personified, was the divine magician, mainly as the transformer in the moon. One mode of exercising magical power practised by Australian medicine-men, though not limited to them, is to point at the person who is being operated on with a stick or bone. This is done to render the person unconscious. Therefore the “pointing-stick” thus used is a kind of magic wand, equivalent to the disk of the modern mesmerist intended to fix attention and induce the condition of coma. Pointing with the stick was naturally preceded by pointing with the fingers, as in modern hypnotism. The “magnetic fluid” of the modern mesmerist was known to the African mystery-men from time immemorial. This again corresponds to the magical fluid of the Egyptians called the “Sa,” which was imparted from one body to another by the laying on of hands or making passes as in hypnotizing. The Sa was a sort of ichor that circulated in the veins of the gods and the glorified. This they could communicate to mortals, and thus give health, vigour, and new life. Maspero says the gods themselves were not equally charged with the Sa. Some had more, some less, their energy being in proportion to the quantity. Those who possessed most gave willingly of their superfluity to those who lacked, and all could readily transmit the virtue of it to mankind. This transfusion was most easily accomplished in the temples. “The king or any ordinary man who wished to be impregnated presented himself before the statue of the god, and squatted at its feet with his back to the statue. The statue then placed its right hand on the nape of his neck, and by making passes caused the fluid to flow from it and to accumulate in him as in a receiver.” By transmitting their Sa of life to mortals the gods continually needed a fresh supply, and there was a lake of life in the northern heaven, called the Lake of Sa, whither they went to draw the magical ichor and recruit their energies, when exhausted, at this celestial fount of healing. (Maspero, The Dawn of Civilization, Eng. tr., p. 110.) Khunsu Nefer-hetep, the great god, giver of oracles in Thebes, was the caster-out of demons, the driver-away of obsessing spirits; and in the story of “The Possessed Princess” his statue is sent for by the Chief of Bakhten to exorcise an evil spirit that has taken possession of his daughter. This is effected by the god imparting the Sa, from the magical power of which the evil demon flees. (Records, vol. IV, p. 55.)
Magic has been described as a system of superstition that preceded religion. But magical ceremonies and incantations are religious, inasmuch as they are addressed to superhuman powers. Magical ceremonies were religious rites. If religion signifies a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man, it is not necessarily opposed to magic, which supplied the most ready means of influencing such
powers that were postulated as extant. Various modes of so-called “sympathetic magic” have been practised in making a primitive appeal to the powers. The Tshi-speaking people have a magical ceremony, the name of which denotes an invocation to the gods for pity and protection. In time of war the wives of the men who are with the army dance publicly stark naked through the town, howling, shrieking, gesticulating, and brandishing knives and swords like warriors gone insane. And from head to foot their bodies are painted of a dead-white colour. (Ellis, A. B., The Tshi-speaking Peoples, p. 226.) Dancing in a state of nudity was a mode in which the women showed the natural magic of the sex. Being all in white, they danced as spirits in the presence of the powers, whether sympathetic or not, whilst soliciting aid and protection for their men engaged in battle. In magic there was also a sense of binding as the root idea of religion, far beyond the meaning of the word re-ligio in Latin. The bond or tie had been magical before it was moral, as we find it in the “bonds of gesa” and other modes of binding by means of magical spells. One mode of compelling spirits was by the making of a tie, and of tying knots as a mode of acting the desire or of exhibiting controlling power. The most primitive and prevalent type of the African gree-gree is a magical tie. The magic of this proceeding was on the same plane as the utterance of the “words that compel,” only the intent was visibly enacted in the language of signs, howsoever accompanied in the language of sounds. The character of the fetish-man was continued by the Christian priest. According to the promise made to Peter in the Gospels, it is said, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. XVI. 19). And thus in the latest official religion the power to bind, tie up, and make fast was reconferred on Rome, where theological beliefs became identical with spiritual and intellectual bondage.
This attitude of controlling, commanding, and binding of the superhuman powers by means of magic also points to the lowly origin of these nature powers which became more and more inferior and of less and less account in later times when they were superseded by other “spirits” or gods, and the practices of magic were less and less appropriate to a deepening sense of the divine.
The earliest human soul which followed those that were derived from the external elements had not attained the power of reproduction for an after-life, on which account the likeness of the Elder Horus in the mythos is an impubescent child. But when he makes his transformation in death Horus has acquired the reproducing power, as shown by his figure of the virile male, portrayed in the person of Amsu, who arises from the tomb in ichthyphallic form. In the eschatology the reproducing power is spiritual. It is the power of resurrection and of reappearing as a spirit—that is, the divine double of the human soul, which was tabulated as the eighth in degree. The soul that could reappear victoriously beyond the grave was a soul that could reproduce itself for “times infinite,” or for eternity. When Horus rose again from the dead as the divine double of the human Horus he exclaims, “I am he who cometh forth and proceedeth. I am the everlasting one. I am Horus who
steppeth onwards through eternity. (Rit., ch. 42.) “I am the link.” This is he who had passed and united a soul that was elemental with the spirit that was held to be divine. This is the soul beyond the human, which has power to reproduce itself in spirit and prove it by the reappearance of the Ka or double of the dead. The Kamite Ka is portrayed in the Egyptian drawings as a spiritual likeness of the body, to identify it with the soul of which it is the so-called double—the soul, that is, which has the power to duplicate itself in escaping from the clutch of death, and to reappear in rarer form than that of the mortal, as the soul or spirit outside the body to be seen in apparition or by the vision of the seers. The ardent wish of the deceased in Amenta to attain the power of appearing once more on the earth is expressed again and again in the Ritual as the desire to become a soul or spirit that has the power to reproduce itself in apparition, or as the double of the former self, which was imaged in the Ka; the desire for continual duration after death, or in other words for everlasting life, also with the power to reappear upon the earth among the living.
“My duration” the speaker calls his Ka (ch. 105). All life through it was an image of the higher spiritual self, divine in origin and duration. The speaker continues, “May I come to thee (the Ka) and be glorified and ensouled?” It was a soul that could be drawn upon and lived on in this life as a sort of food of heaven and sustenance for a future life. The Ka was propitiated or worshipped–that is, saluted with oblations–as a divine ideal. It was the Ka of the god that was “propitiated according to his pleasure.” (Rit., ch. 133.) It was the Ka of the Pharaoh that was worshipped as the image of Ra. So when the Manes propitiates the Ka-image of himself it is not an offering to his mortal self, but to that higher spiritual self which was now held to be an emanation of the divine nature, and which had the power of reappearing and demonstrating continuity after death. The Kamite equivalent for eternal life is the permanent personality which was imaged by or in the Ka. With the Tshi-speaking tribes the Ka is called the Kra, which name answers to the Kla of the Karens. The Kra, like the Ka, is looked upon as the genius or guardian spirit who dwells in a man, but whose connection with him terminates when the Ka transforms or merges into the Sisa or enduring spirit. According to Ellis, “when a man dies his Kra becomes a Sisa, and the Sisa can be born again to become a Kra in a new body” (Tshi-speaking Peoples, p. 149.) The Ka was common to Inner Africa as a statue or portrait of the spiritual man. Whilst the mummy of a king of Congo was being made, an image of the deceased was set up in the palace to represent him, and was daily presented with food and drink. This was his living likeness, his spiritual double, which the Egyptians called the Ka. The object of worship or propitiation was the Ka, not the mummy. The Ka imaged the ghost or double itself, and not a spirit supposed to be residential in the mummy. The Esquimaux, the Lapps, and other northern races also preserved the Egyptian Ka, especially in relation to the Shaman or Angekok, who has his Ka or double like the Egyptian priest. With this he unites himself in soul when about to divine and make his revelations in the state of trance.
Uniting with the Ka or genius is a mode of describing his entrance into the spirit or the entrance of the inspiring spirit into him. The practice of the Mexicans and others, who made an image of the dead and placed it on the altar and offered oblations to it, shows that their effigy also represented the Ka or spiritual likeness. Amongst many races an image of the deceased person was set up to receive the oblations of food and drink. All primitive spiritualists held that in death the spirit rose again and lived on still, and for this reason the Ka statue was erected in the funerary chamber as it had been in the forest hut. A black shadow of the body cast upon the ground could not demonstrate the existence of an eternal soul; neither could the hawk or serpent or any other symbol of force. But the Ka is the double of the dead. It is a figure of the ghost. The Ka, then, was an image of the only soul of all the series that ever could be seen outside the human body. This was wholly distinct from the soul of life in a tree, a plant, a bird, a beast, or a reptile, because it was an apparition of the human soul made visible in the human form. The Battas of Sumatra have the seven souls like the Egyptians. One of these is outside the body, but when it dies, however far away it may be from the man, he also dies, his life being bound up with it. But the origin and significance of the Ka, together with the doctrine of its propitiation, are explicitly stated in the rubrical directions to ch. 144 of the Ritual. At this stage of his spiritual progress the deceased has reached the point where the mummy Osiris has transformed into the risen Horus, the divine one who is the eighth at the head of the seven great spirits. Thus, in the mysteries of Amenta, human Horus dies to rise again as lord of the resurrection and to manifest as double of the dead. He is divinized in the character of the ghost, and as such he becomes the spirit medium for his father, the holy spirit; his “Witness for Eternity,” who is called the only-begotten and anointed son. In this character the deceased is Horus in spirit, ready for the boat of Ra. An effigy of the boat was to be made for the deceased. Amongst the other instructions given it is said that “a figure of the deceased is to be made” in presence of the “gods.” This figure is the Ka. Hence the oblations of flesh and blood, bread and beer, unguents and incense, are to be offered; and it is stated that this is to be done to make the spirit of the deceased to live. It is also promised that the ceremony, if faithfully performed, will give the Osiris strength among the gods and cause his strides to increase in Amenta, earth, and heaven. Thus the Ka image to which the offerings were made was representative of the deceased who lived on in the spirit, whether groping in the nether world, or walking the earth as the ghost, or voyaging the celestial water in the boat of Ra on his way to the heaven of eternity. Naturally enough, the sustenance of life was offered to feed the life of those who were held to be the living, not the dead. Amongst the other things it is commanded that four measures of blood shall be offered to the spirit or Ka image of the deceased. The doctrine is identical with that of the other races who gashed and gored their bodies to feed the spirits of the departed with their blood, because the blood was the life, and because it was the life they desiderated for their dead. In the same rubrical directions it is ordered that incense shall be burned in presence of the Ka image as
an offering to the spirit of Osiris-Nu, and in Sign-language incense represents the breath of life; in that way another element of life besides blood was offered the deceased “to make that spirit live.” And the offerings are to be presented to the Ka image of the deceased. Thus the Egyptian wisdom witnesses and avouches that the primitive practices of offering food and drink to the dead, and more especially the soul of life in blood, were based upon the postulate that the so-called dead were living still in spirit form. And, obviously enough, the sustenance of life was offered to feed the life of those who were held to be living because seen to be existing in the likeness that was represented by the human figure of the spirit-Ka.
It is one of the various delusions recrudescent in our day that theology began with the self-revelation to the world of a one and only god. No delusion or mania could be a grosser birth of modern ignorance, more especially as the “only one” of the oldest known beginning was female and not male; the mother, not the father—the goddess, not the god.