refreshing coolness, not its consuming fire. The tree of dewy coolness, the Sycamore of Hathor, or of Tefnut, was the evergreen of Dawn, and the evergreen as fuel may be full of fire, like the Ash or the Laurel into which Apollo turned the young divinity who was Daphne in Greece and Tafne in Egypt. And if Apollo be the youthful Sun-God, like Horus, on the horizon, who climbs the Tree of Dawn, the dews would be dried by him; otherwise the Tree of Moisture would be transformed into a tree of fire, and assume the burning nature of the Laurel, as in the Greek story. It was the Sun that kindled the fire, and as the Sun climbed up the Tree the Dews of Tefnut dried. It was not the Dawn quâ Dawn that was changed into a Laurel, but the cool Green Tree of Dew=Tafne=Daphne, or the Dawn that was dried and turned into the Tree of blazing lustre by the Solar fire, or the Sun, i.e., by Horus or Apollo when personified. The Water of Heaven and the Tree of Dawn precede personification, and the name of Tefnut, from Tef (to drip, spit, exude, shed, effuse, supply), and Nu, for Heaven, shows that Tefnut represented the dew that fell from the Tree of Dawn. She is the giver of the dew; hence the water of dawn is said to be the water of Tefnut. Tefnu gives the moisture from the Tree of Dawn in heavenly dew, but in another character she is fierce as fire, and is portrayed in the figure of a lioness. The truth is, there was Egyptian science enough extant to know that the dew of Dawn was turned into the vapour that was formed into the Green Tree on the horizon by the rising Sun of Morning, and the Kamite Mythos which represented the natural fact was afterwards converted into a Greek fancy, as in numerous other instances.
Max Müller asked how it was that our Ancestors, who were not idiots, although he has done his utmost to make them appear idiotic in the matter of mythology, came to tell the story of a King who was married to a Frog? His explanation is that it arose, as usual, from a misapplication of names. The Frog was a name given to the Sun, and the name of the frog, Bekha, or Bekhi, was afterwards confused with or mistaken for the name of a Maiden whom the King might have married. In reply to this absurd theory of the mythical origins another writer says it was the nature of savages to make such mistakes, not merely in names but in things; in confusing natural phenomena and in confounding frog-nature with human nature: this confounding confusion being the original staple of “savage Myth.” It would be difficult to tell which version is farthest from the actual fact.
Whoever begins with the mythos as a product of the “savage” mind as savages are known to-day is fatally in error. Neither will it avail to begin with idiots who called each other nick-names in Sanskrit. Let us make another test-case of Bekhi the Frog. The Sanskritist does not start fair. He has not learned the language of
animals. The mythical representation had travelled a long way before any human king could have got mixed up with a Frog for his wife. We must go back to the Proto-Aryan beginnings, which are Egyptian or Kamite. In Africa we find these things next to Nature where we can get no further back in search of origins. Egypt alone goes back far enough to touch Nature in these beginnings, and, as so often to be said in the present work, Egypt alone has faithfully and intelligently kept the record.
The Frog was a Lunar type on account of its metamorphosis from the Tadpole-condition in the water to the four-legged life on land which type was afterwards applied to the Moon in its coming forth from the waters of the Nun. The name of the Frog in Egyptian is Ka, whence the Lunar Lady, who was represented as a Frog, is designated Mistress Heka or Hekat, who was a consort of the Solar God Khnum-Ra. An inscription in the British Museum tells us that under one of his titles Khnum was called “the King of Frogs.” There is no proof, perhaps, of his being a Frog himself, but his son, Ptah, had a Frog-headed form, and his consort, Hekat, is the Froggess. This, then, is the very King by name who was wedded to a Frog, but not as a human being. Such a tale was only told when the Gnosis was no longer truly taught and the ancient myth had been modernised in the Märchen. In the Kamite mythos Khnum has three Consorts, the Goddesses Hekat, Sati, and Ank. We might call them one Wife and two Consorts. The wife is Ank, whose name signifies the Mirror. She personates the Moon as reflector of the Sun. Hekat and Sati are representatives of the dual lunation; Hekat is the Frog of Darkness, and Sati the Lady of Light. As the Frog, Hekat sloughs her frogskin and reveals her wondrous beauty in the form of Sati, the Woman in glory. These three are the Consorts of Khnum-Ra, who is (1) in Amenta with Hekat, (2) in Heaven with Sati, and (3) in the Moon herself, as the Generator of Light with Ank, or in the Mirror. Khnum-Ra is the nocturnal Sun, and Hekat, his Consort, is a representative of the Moon that transforms in the lower hemisphere, as the tadpole transforms and emerges from the waters in the form of a frog. Khnum, God of the Nocturnal Sun, is King of Frogs in Amenta, the hidden underworld, and it is there that Hekat is his Consort as the Froggess. In the upper Heaven she is the lovely goddess with the arrow of light that was shot from the lunar bow with which her name of Sati (Coptic, Sate) is hieroglyphically written. And every time she re-enters the water of the nether world she transforms into a Frog according to the mythical mode of representing the Moon in Amenta. Thus we can identify the “Sun-Frog” of the Aryan Märchen in the Frog-headed solar God (Ptah) or in Khnum, “the king of frogs,” both of whom were solar deities. We can also identify the Frog-maiden in “Mistress Heka,” or Hekat, the goddess with a Frog’s head, who is one of Khnum’s Consorts, the Cinderella (so to say) of the three sisters, who are Ank, Sati, and Hekat, the three goddesses of the myth who survive as the well-known three Sisters of the Märchen. The “Sun-frog” then was Khnum, “the King of Frogs,” as the Sun in the night of the underworld, who was wedded to Hekat, the lunar frog in the mythos which supplied the matter for the Märchen.
It is only in this nether world that Sun and Moon can ever meet, and that but once a month, when the Lady of Light transforms into the Frog, or Hekat, which Frog re-transforms into Sati, the Lady of Light, when she emerges from the abyss. The King was not to be seen by his Mistress without the royal garments on, and these were laid aside when the Sun-God entered the nether earth. If the lady dared to look upon her lover in the night she would find him in the shape of the Beast, as in “Beauty and the Beast,” which was prohibited; and if the lover looked upon the Maiden under certain conditions she would transfigure into a Frog or other amphibious creature, and permanently retain that shape, as the story was told when the myth was moralised in the Märchen; the exact antithesis of the Frog that transformed into a beautiful Princess, the transformation of Bekhi, and possibly (or certainly) of Phryne, the Frog, whose sumptuous beauty was victoriously unveiled when she was derobed before her vanquished judges. In the different phases of the mythos the young Sun-god might have been met by night as a Crocodile, a Beetle, a Frog, an Eel, or a Bear, for the Bear was also a zootype of Horus. In one of his battles with Sut he fought in the form of a Bear. It was a law of primitive Tapu that the bride or wife was not to be seen by the lover or husband in a state of nudity. In the story of Melusine the bride is not to be looked on when she is naked. She tells her lover that she will only abide with him so long as he observes this custom of women. This also was the law in the mythical land of Naz, and one man who did look on his wife unveiled was transformed into a monster. Now the veil of the bride is one with that of the virgin Isis, which originated in the loin-cloth or leaf-belt that was demanded by the “custom of women” when the female first became pubescent.
In Egypt, the dog-headed Ape Aani was a zootype of the moon in her period of eclipse and change, as explained by Hor-Apollo (B. I, 14). The menstruating Ape was a representative of the Sloughing Moon, that is of the veiled bride, the female who was on no account to be looked on in her nudity. The Sun and Moon could not meet below except when the goddess or mistress did vanish from the light of mortals in the world above. The lunar lady in her poor and lonely state goes underground or enters the waters to make her transformation and is invisible during three nights (and days), which correspond to the three days’ festival at which Cinderella lost her slipper (the last relic of the magical skin), and won the heart of the fairy prince. The meeting of the sun and moon in Amenta was monthly: once every twenty-eight days, as it was reckoned in the Calendar which, for mystical reasons, counted 13 new moons to the year; and it is these mystical reasons which alone can penetrate to the natural origin of Tapu concerning the custom of women. It was the menses=the mensis; the female period=the lunar. The wife, as we have seen, was not to be looked upon during her monthly period when she was in retirement, like the moon once a month. It was on the sixth day of the New Moon that Osiris re-entered the orb and paid his first visit to the Lady of Light. The Australian deity Pundjel is said to have a Wife whose face he never looks upon. (Smyth, vol. I, 423.) When that representation was first made Amenta was not known as the monthly
meeting-place for Moon and Sun by night. It had only been observed that they did not meet by day. Isis, veiled in black, goes down to the nether-world in search of lost Osiris. It was only there they ever met, He as the Bull of Eternity, She as the Cow, a later type than the Frog of Hekat.
This drama of the primitive mysteries, this mythical mode of representing natural fact, is at times more appealing in its touching simplicity than anything to be found amongst the best things that have been “said” in literature. The custom of women which was to be religiously respected being identified, it is easy to see that this led to other customs of Tabu, which were founded and practised as modes of memorising the law intended to be taught and fulfilled.
The mystical Bride who was not to be seen naked was personated by the Wife who wore the bridal veil, or the Wife whose face was never to be seen by her husband until she had borne him a child: or who is only to be visited under cover of the night. For, like the Sun and the Moon, they dwell in separate huts and only meet occasionally and then by stealth, according to the restrictions of Tabu. Hence marriages were made on condition that the woman was not to be seen naked by her husband. When Ivan has burned the frog-skin of the beautiful Helen in the Russian tale, to prevent her from turning into a frog again, she bids him farewell, and says to him, “Seek me in the 27th earth, in the 30th kingdom.” (Afanassieff, Story 23.) We have here a reference to the twenty-seven nights of lunar light, the three nights of the moon out of sight, together with the transformation and re-arising on the third day. But the annual conjunction of Sun and Moon at the vernal equinox is indicated in the Vedic version when Urvasi promises to meet her husband on the last night of the year for the purpose of giving birth to the child which was born monthly of the Moon and annually in the soli-lunar rendering of the Mythos. Urvasi says to Pururavas, “Come to me the last night of the year, and thou shalt be with me for one night, and a Son will be born to thee.”
The Egyptians have preserved for us and bequeathed the means of interpreting this typology of the early Sign-language. The primitive consciousness or knowledge which has lapsed or got confused in inner Africa, or Australia, India, or Greece, lived on and left its record in their system of signs. If the Australian savage does attribute the earliest marriage-laws to a Crow, he is but saying the same thing as Hor-Apollo (I, 9), who tells us that when the Egyptians denote marriage they depict two Crows, because the birds cohabit in the human fashion, and their laws of intercourse are strictly monogamic. Nor is the Gnosis of the original representation quite extinct. The “Wisdom of Manihiki” is a Mangaian designation of the Gnosis, or knowledge of mythical representation, the secrets of which were limited to a few priests who were the same in the Hervey Isles that the Her-Seshti were to the Wisdom of Egypt. A race so degraded or undeveloped as the Bushmen have their hidden wisdom, their Magic, with an Esoteric interpretation of their dramatic dances and pantomime, by which they more or less preserve and perpetuate the mystic meaning of their religious mysteries. What we do really find is that the Inner African and other aborigines still continue to talk and think
their thought in the same figures of speech that are made visible by art, such as is yet extant among the Bushmen; that the Egyptians also preserved the primitive consciousness together with the clue to this most ancient knowledge, with its symbolic methods of communication, and that they converted the living types into the later lithographs and hieroglyphics. Animals that talk in the folk-tales of the Bushmen, or the Indians, or the Märchen of Europe, are still the living originals which became pictographic and ideographic in the zootypology of Egypt, where they represent divinities, i.e., nature-powers at first and deities afterwards; then ideographs, and finally the phonetics of the Egyptian alphabet.
No race of men ever yet imagined that the animals talked in human language as they are made to do in the popular Märchen. No men so “primitive” as to think that anyone was swallowed by a great fish and remained three days and nights in the monster’s belly, to be afterwards belched up on dry land alive. They were not human beings of whom such stories were told, and therefore those who first made the mythical representations were not capable of believing they were human. Put your living representatives of primitive and aboriginal men to the test. Try them with the miracles of the Old or New Testament, presented to them for matters of fact, as a gauge of credulity. What does Dr. Moffat say of his African aborigines? “The Gospel appeared too preposterous for the most foolish to believe,” and “To speak of the Creation, the Fall, and the Resurrection seemed more fabulous, extravagant, and ludicrous to them than their own vain stories of lions and hyænas.” (Missionary Labours, p. 245.) But they knew, more or less, that their own legends were mythical, whereas the Christian was vouching for his mythos being historical, and that they could in no wise accept. A Red Indian known to Hearne as a perfect bigot with regard to the arts and tricks of the jugglers could yet by no means be impressed with a belief in any part of the Christian religion, or the documents and vouchers for its truth. (Hearne, Journey among the Indians, p. 350.) When Robert Drury told the Malagasy for the first time how God created a man, and made a woman from one of his ribs while he was asleep, they said “it was a plain untruth, and that it was a shame to tell such lies with a serious countenance.” They at once proceeded to test the statement by reckoning the ribs of a woman and a man. “They said that to talk of what was done before man was made was silly, and that what I had said of God’s talking with men and telling them such things had no proof; and the things I pretended to know and talk of were all old women’s stories. When I mentioned the resurrection of the body, they told me ‘it must be a lie, and to talk to them of burning in fire after this life was an abominable lie.’” (Madagascar: Robert Drury’s Journal, during Fifteen Years’ Captivity on that Island. And A Further Description of Madagascar, by the Abbé Alexis Rochon. Edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by Captain Pasfield Oliver, R. A.)
The aborigines do not mistake the facts of nature as we have mistaken the primitive method of representing them. It is we, not they, who are the most deluded victims of false belief. Christian capacity for believing the impossible in nature is unparalleled in any time past amongst any race of men. Christian readers denounce the primitive
realities of the mythical representation as puerile indeed, and yet their own realities alleged to be eternal, from the fall of Adam to the redemption by means of a crucified Jew, are little or nothing more than the shadows of these primitive simplicities of an earlier time. It will yet be seen that the culmination of credulity, the meanest emasculation of mental manhood, the densest obscuration of the inward light of nature, the completest imbecility of shut-eyed belief, the nearest approach to a total and eternal eclipse of common sense have been attained beyond all change of competition by the victims of the Christian creeds. The genesis of delusive superstitions is late, not early. It is not the direct work of nature herself. Nature was not the mother who began her work of development by nursing her child in all sorts of illusions concerning things in general. She did not place her hands upon his eyes and bid him to interpret the world subjectively. Primitive man was not a metaphysician, but a man of common sense. And if limited as a limpet, he clung hard and fast to the rock of reality as the sole ground he had to go upon. The realities without and around were too pressing for the senses to allow him to play the fool with delusive idealities; the intellectual and sentimental luxuries of later hylo-idealists. Modern ignorance of the mythical mode of representation has led to the ascribing of innumerable false beliefs not only to primitive men and present-day savages, but also to the most learned, enlightened, and highly civilized people of antiquity, the Egyptian; for had these natural impossibilities been believed the Egyptians must have shared the same mental confusion, the same manifest delusion concerning nature, the same incapacity for distinguishing one thing from another, as the Pygmy or the Papuan.
It has been asserted that there was little or no prayer in the lower forms of religion. But this would have to be determined by Sign-language rather than by words. Two hands of a person clasped together are equivalent to a spoken prayer. In the Ritual, the speaker says of the God Osiris, “His Branch is of prayer, by means of which I have made myself like him.” (Ch. XXVIII.) Teru is the Branch, and the same word signifies to adore, invoke, and pray. It was as a mode of praying that the branches of the bedwen or birch were strewn in the ancient British graves. It is the same language and the same sign when the Australian aborigines approach the camp of strangers with a green bough in their hands as the sign of amity equivalent to a prayer for peace and good-will. Acted Sign-language is a practical mode of praying and asking for what is wanted by portraying instead of saying. A green branch of a symbolic Tree is dipped in water and sprinkled on the earth as a prayer for rain. New Caledonian wizards dig up a skeleton and pour water on the dead bones to denote the great need of a revivifying rain. Amongst the rock-drawings of the Bushmen there is a scene in which it is apparent that a hippopotamus is being dragged across country as a symbolic device for producing rain. Naturally the water-cow is an African zootype of water. In Egypt she imaged the Great Mother who was invoked as the wateress. Not only are the four naked natives dragging the water-cow overland; two of them also carry the water-plant, probably a lotus, in their hands, as a symbol of the water that is so greatly needed. It was a common mode of primitive appeal for savages
to inflict great suffering on the representative victim to compel the necessary response. In this case, as we read the language of signs, they are intending to compel the nature-power to send them water, the female hippopotamus or water-cow being the image of that power. This would be dragged across the land as a palpable mode of forcing the Great Cow of Earth to yield the water, in the language that was acted. The appeal to the Power beyond was also made with the human being as the suffering victim. In Transylvania, girls strip themselves stark naked, and, led by an elder woman who is likewise naked, they steal a harrow and carry it across a field to the nearest brook; then they set it afloat and sit on the harrow for an hour in making their appeal. The Pawnee Victim (or the Khond Meriah) made appeal to the cruel Powers as the intercessor and suppliant on behalf of the people by her wounds, her tears and groans, her terrible tortures purposely prolonged in slowly dying, her torn tormented flesh agape with ruddy wounds, as in the later Mysteries where the Victim was held to be divine. Pathetic appeal was made to the Nature-Power or Elemental Spirit, chiefly the Goddess of Earth as food-giver, by means of the suffering, the moans, the tears, the prayers of the Victims. This was employed as a Moving-Power, often cruel enough to search the heavens for the likeness of a pitying human heart. The ears of dogs were pinched by the Mexican women during an eclipse to make them howl to the Power of Light. Meal-dust is thrown into the eyes of the Sacred Turtle by the Zunis to make it weep. The Australian Diererie solicit the Good Spirit for rain by bleeding two of their Mediums or divinely-inspired men, supposed to be persons of influence with the Moora-Moora or Good Spirits, who will take heed of their sufferings and send down rain. The scene described by Gason (The Native Tribes of South Australia, p. 276) should be compared with that in the 1st Book of Kings, ch. XVIII, where the Priests of Baal cut and slash their flesh with knives and lances and limp around the altar with their bleeding wounds as a mode of invoking heaven for rain. Such customs were universal; they were supplicating in the dumb drama of Sign-language for the water or the food that was most fervently desired. The Guanches used to separate the lambs from their mothers, so that their bleatings might make a more touching appeal to the superhuman Powers. When the corn of the Zulus was parched with continual drought they would hunt for a particular Victim called the “Heaven-Bird,” as the favourite of the Gods, kill it and cast it into a pool of water. This was done that the heart of heaven might be softened for its favourite, and weep and “wail for it by raining; wailing a funereal wail.” (Callaway, Religious System of the Amazulu, p. 407.) The idea is to make the Heavens weep at sight of this appeal, that is representation, of the suffering people, and elicit an answer from above in tears of rain. The customs generally express the need of water and the suffering endured from long-continued drought.
When the Chinaman raises his little breast-work of earth with bottles stuck in it muzzle outward, looking like guns in position, to scare away the devils or evil Nature-Powers, he is threatening them and protecting his dwelling in Sign-language—signs which they are
supposed to understand. Making the sign of the Cross or ringing the bells subserves the same purpose in the religion of Rome. When the church-bells were rung in a thunderstorm it was intended to scare off evil spirits just as much as was the Chinaman’s futile fortification.
The Intichiuma ceremonies of the Arunta Tribes are amongst the most primitive now extant upon the surface of the earth. These are performed as sacred mysteries in various modes of Sign-language, by which the thought, the wish, the want is magically expressed in act instead of, or in addition to, words. The obvious object of these most ancient mysteries of magic is the perennial increase of food, more expressly of the animal or plant that gives its name to the totem of those who perform the particular rites. The members of the witchetty-grub Tribe perform a mystery of transformation in relation to the grub which is an important article of diet. With magical incantations they call upon the grub to lay an abundance of eggs. They invite the animals to gather from all directions and beg them to breed in this particular feeding-ground of theirs. The men encase themselves in the structure intended to represent the chrysalis from which the grub emerges in re-birth, and out of this they crawl. In trying to interpret the dumb drama of these totemic mysteries we have to learn what is thought and meant to be expressed chiefly by what is done. Thus we see the mystery of transformation is acted magically by the men of the witchetty-grub totem for the production of food in the most primitive form of a prayer-meeting or religious service; and the Powers are solicited, the want made known by signs, especially by the sign of fasting during the performance. They shuffle forth one after another in imitation of animals newly born. Thus they enact the drama or mystery of transformation in character.