the same Totem, which in this case was the Crocodile. (Magic Papyrus, p. 7.) With Sut as Violator, it was the Hippopotamus; with Horus the Crocodile, with Shu the Lion. Thus, in the mirror of Egyptian Mythology human promiscuity is reflected when the Great Mother’s own Sons are her Consorts. Polyandry is represented when brothers and sisters couple together, as did Shu and Tefnut. The African marriage of one male with two sisters is reflected in the mythos where Osiris is the consort of Isis and Nephthys.
If we take the word “Totem” to indicate a sign, the earliest sign or symbol to be identified in Totemism was related to the fact of feminine pubescence. This was the Word that issued out of silence in the Beginning. The earliest law of covenant or tabu was based upon the transformation that occurred at the time when the girl became a woman ready for connubium. This was the mystery of a transformation that was a primal source of all the transformations in the folk-tales of the world. The girl became a woman as a natural fact. This had to be expressed in the visible language already drawn from external nature. We are told by Theale, the Cape historian, that the only festival celebrated by the Zulu-Kaffirs to-day is one that is kept when the girl becomes pubescent. This, was indeed the mother of mystery, the mystery of all mysteries ever solemnized or celebrated by the people of the past. It was a time of rejoicing because the girl had come of age and was now ready to be welcomed into communal connubium by the whole group of grown-up males. When the female had attained pubescence and become of age the opening period, as it is commonly designated, was proclaimed, and confirmation given in various modes of Sign-language. The fact was tattooed on the person. A cicatrice was raised in the flesh. Down was exhibited as a sign of the pubes. The Zulu women published their news with the Um-lomo or mystical mouth-piece. The act may be read on behalf of the women by assuming the operation to have been female from the first, and then passed on to the boys. The girl in her initiation joins the ranks of the Motherhood. She has attained her opening period. The tooth is knocked out to visualize the opening. One of the signs of readiness shown by the Arunta women was the erection of the sacred Pole immediately after the ceremony of introcision had been performed. A Purulu woman of the Achilpa Totem (in the mythical past) is said to have had a large Nurtunja. This when erected stood so high as to be seen by the men a long way off. The woman showed her Undattha or down (typical of the pubes and pubescence) and the men performed the rite upon her, and then they all had intercourse with her. (N.T., p. 407.) The special fact then signified by the raising of her Nurtunja, or sacred pole, was that her womanhood was now accomplished. This may explain why no Nurtunja is used but once, a fresh one being made for every ceremony. Also why Churinga were hung upon the pole to intimate her Totem.
The name for a Totem (in Luganda) is Muziro, which signifies something tabooed: “something I avoid for medical or other reasons.” This tends to identify the Totem in one of its aspects as a teacher of Tabu in relation to the primitive mystery of female nature.
The fact is that the Sign-language of Totemism was in existence long before two groups of people were distinguished from each other
by two different signs or zootypes. Sign-language is far older than any form of Totemic sociology. The signs now known as Totemic were previously extant; they had served other uses, and were continued for other purposes. The very first thing to regulate in primitive marriage was the time at which the pubescent girl was marriageable. This was determined primarily by nature and secondly by the preparatory rite. As shown by the Australian customs, no girl was marriageable until the rite of introcision had been performed upon her person. Her Totem followed the Totemic rite as her heraldic badge. Thus a first division was made to indicate the fit and protect the unfit from savage assault, when the Totem was individual and feminine. So in the mysteries of Artemis no young woman was considered marriageable until she had danced in the bear-skin at the Mysteries; the Bear-skin that symbolized the pubes or pubescence, as did the down of birds or the skin of the serpent. The natural raison d’être, the primary need for the Totem, was in its being a sign of feminine pubescence. In a state of sexual promiscuity the first thing to be determined was the Mother-blood. This was manifested at the period of puberty, and the Totem was adopted as the symbol of motherhood. The manifestor was now a frog, a serpent, a she-bear, or as we say, a Woman, to be distinguished by her Totem. The Totem then was the sign of “Earth’s first blood” on this most primitive natural ground. When the Australian black described the Churinga-like sacred stones of New South Wales as “All same as bloody brand,” he meant the blood-brand, or Totemic mark, and thus identified the Mother-Totem with the Mother-blood. The different motherhoods were recognized as different Mother-bloods which were visibly discriminated by the different Mother-Totems. The recognition of the Mother-blood, even in the undivided horde, would naturally lead to the Blood-motherhood which we postulate as fundamental in Totemism. At first no barrier of blood was recognized. The brothers and sisters of the same mother intermarried, although they were, or because they were originally, of the same one blood. When the nations of the earth were all of one blood it was the blood of the Mother, who in her mystical aspect is the Virgin-Mother of the Mythos and the Eschatology. On entering the ranks of the motherhood the girl assumed her sign which signified that she was now a woman. In being made Totemic she was recognized by her zootype—that is, by the reptile, beast, or bird of the Totem into which she had first made her transformation at the time of puberty. In various legends it was said that in making this transformation the young women were changed into beasts. Once on a time a young girl in Arcadia transformed into an animal. It is common in the folk-tales for the female to change into a hyena, a tigress, a serpent, a lioness, or some other beast or reptile. It was the same with the Zulu-Kaffir girl who became a frog. When her change occurred she was no longer a tadpole of a girl, but a full-blown frog, and in the human sense a woman. The beginnings were very lowly in Sign-language. It had been awesomely remarked that the serpent had the faculty of sloughing its skin and renewing itself. Hence it is said by the Kaffirs that when the girl makes her change
she is visited by the great serpent, or, in other legends, she is said to change into a serpent. In the Arunta tradition the two females who are the founders of Totemism and finishers of the human race made their transformation into the lizard. (N.T., p. 389.) The native women of Mashonaland also tattoo themselves with the lizard-pattern that is found on their divining tablets when they come of age. (Bent., p. 305.) Thus the lizard in one instance, the serpent in another, the frog in a third, is the type of beast or reptile into which the young woman is said to transform at the particular period. Hence the lizard, frog, and serpent remain as fetishes with the aborigines. Both lizard and frog were continued in Egypt, but the serpent there attained supremacy. At the coming of age the girl changed into a lizard, a frog, or a serpent as a mode of indicating her status as a woman, whether in nature or in Totemism. Thus three different types, the lizard, frog, and serpent, are identified as figures of the fact in nature, with the “beast” or reptile into which the young girl made her transformation in the mysteries of motherhood which formed the mould of other later mysteries in Totemism and mythology; the types of which were worn by the Goddesses as well as by the Egyptian women. The amulet of Isis which she tied round her neck when she had conceived Child-Horus corresponded to the Totemic sign of the pubescent Virgin. It was of blood-red stone and it imaged the blood of Isis. (Plutarch, c. 65.) The girl was changed into the woman at the time of puberty, therefore the Totem was a type of motherhood. In a sense it was the Crown of Maternity which in Egypt was represented by the serpent of renewal. In attaining this type the girl became a lizard or the Zulu maiden was said to be visited by the great serpent. The serpent that visited the Kaffir maiden was also a Totem of the Virgin-goddess Rannut, in the Kamite mythos, and this was doubled to be worn by the Egyptian Queens as the symbol of Maternity or a Totem of the dual Motherhood, in the characters of Girl and Woman, Maid and Mother, Virgin and Gestator. We may now affirm that Totemism was founded on the nature of the female as a mode of showing when the maiden might be admitted into the ranks of Motherhood, and the young girl made her transformation into the animal and became a frog, a lizard, serpent, crocodile, bear, lioness, cat or other zootype as the bringer-forth of human offspring in the mask. Which animal was represented would depend upon the Totem of the Motherhood or the Group of Males. And here it may be asserted that for the first time we touch another of the several tap-roots of Totemism.
The Totem has sometimes been called the “original Ancestor,” as if it were a representative of the human Father. But the sole original Ancestor in sociology, in Totemism, in mythology, is the Mother; and the female Totems of the Motherhood on earth were repeated as the Totems of the Mother in heaven, or in the Astronomical Mythology. One object of the Totem being worn in the form of the Skin, the badge of tattoo, or the crest, was to signify the “blood” which could only be determined by the Motherhood, so that the children of the same Totem could or should not intermarry because they were or were not of one blood. It follows, therefore, that the earliest Totems must have signified the Mother as a means of identifying the one
blood of her children. Descent from the Mother, identified by her Totem, is indicated from one end of Africa to the other, when the Egyptian Pharaoh wears the tail of the Cow, the Kaffir chief or Bushman the tail of the Lioness, and the Hottentot is the Son of the yellow Lion-tail. So is it in the Egyptian Mythology where, the priority of the Mother-Totem is well exemplified. Shu is also a Son of the Lion-tail, the She-Lion, and he carries the Ur-Heka or Great Magical Power on his head. This is the hinder-part of the Lioness; and the tail of a Lioness on his head denotes the Lioness as a Mother-Totem from which the child traces his descent as a lion. The earliest human being individualized was necessarily the Mother. She and her children formed the primal family, whose tie was that of Blood-Motherhood, a tie that must have been already common with the horde in pre-Totemic times, the one blood of Motherhood being the original source of all Blood-Brotherhood. The primary form of human personality (personâ) was that attained by woman under the Matriarchate as the Mother. Fortunately Providence placed the Mother first and secured her on the side of procreant nature, for the perpetuation of the race. It has been cast up against Woman that she is Mother first and Consort afterwards, and that the Maternal instinct reigns supreme. But Woman was the Mother ages earlier than she could be the wife. The Mother had the start by many thousand years. The child was known as hers from the beginning. The husband was not. Her function was that of breeder for the group and bearer for the Tribe, and not for love of the individual. She fulfilled the Ideal of Primitive Man as the Woman of infinite capacity, like the Lioness, Hippopotamus, or other huge Titanic type of superhuman power and size. She may have had her individual likes and dislikes, but was grimly governed in the grasp of stern Totemic Law. It was perforce her duty to provide pasturage for “forty feeding as one,” or the whole tribe, not to cultivate her own personal preferences. The Mother necessarily grew predominant in the duality of her nature. And still the noblest nature yet evolved is hers whose desire for maternity is dual, and who blends most perfectly the love of the Mother and Wife in one.
The solution of the problem now propounded is that the secret of the Totemic Sphinx, in its ultimate secrecy, originated with the Totem being first of all a sign of feminine pubescence, and a personal means of making known the natural fact; that it thus became a blazon of the Mother-blood and primal family group; which tends to corroborate the suggestion now sought to be established that the Totem was a figure of the female from the beginning, and that this was followed by a long and manifold development in the application of the Sign to the Motherhoods and Brotherhoods, and to the intermarriage of the groups now called Totemic.
There are two classes of tradition derived from Totemism concerning the descent of the human race. According to one, human beings were derived from the Totemic animals, or Birds, as the Haidahs in Queen Charlotte Sound claim descent from the Cow. According to the other, the Totemic zootypes are said to have been brought forth by human mothers. The Bakalai tribes of Equatorial Africa told Du Chaillu that their women gave birth to the Totemic animals, we have
seen how, and that one woman brought forth a Calf, others a Crocodile, a Hippopotamus, a Monkey, a Boa, or a Boar. (Du Chaillu, Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa, p. 308.) The same statement as this of the Bakalai is made by the Moqui Indians, who affirm that the people of their Snake-Clan are descended from a woman who gave birth to Snakes. (Bourke, Snake-dance of the Moquis, p. 177.) In various savage myths we have seen how the animals are descended from human mothers. This is a complete reversal of the supposed belief that the human race is descended from beasts, birds, reptiles, and all the other Totemic types, and tends to show that the primary Totems were representatives of the Mothers, whence the alleged descent of the Totemic animals from human originals which of necessity were female; when the Women as the authors of Totemism brought forth the types. Because the Mother was the primal personality it followed that the earliest human group was a Motherhood. The Clan at first was Matriarchal. This is still extant in the Oraon Maharis, which are the Motherhoods by name. (Dalton, Ethnology of Bengal, p. 63.) When there was no individual fatherhood yet determinable, descent was in the female line, from the Mother to the Eldest Daughter. These became the typical “Two Women” in Totemism and the “Two Mothers” in Mythology because they had been the Two Mothers in the primitive Sociology, as the Mother and the Eldest Daughter of the human family. The primary human group was naturally uterine. The family first formed were the children of one Mother, and the human pact or tie was founded on the one blood of the Mother; the Blood-Motherhood which determined the Blood-Brotherhood. According to Schoolcraft, the Totems of the Algonquins denote the Mothers. The Emu, which is also “The Woman,” Ngalalbal, is a Mother-Totem of the Kurnai in Australia. When the Euahlayi tribe of Australia take their Totem-names from their Mothers, and are divided into two groups as the Light-blooded and the Dark-blooded, this indicates a twofold derivation from the one Mother-blood, whether pre-Totemic or Totemic. If we take the Bear as a Mother-Totem, we can understand the Ainu of Japan when they say their earliest ancestor was suckled by a Bear. In that case the Totemic Mother was a She-Bear, and the fact was memorized when the Ainu women suckled the young Bear that was to be killed and solemnly eaten at the annual festival. Besides which, when the She-Bear was eaten in place of the human Mother the sex of the Totem was determined by her being invested with a necklace and adorned with eardrops like a woman.
It is the same when the Snake-Clan of Arizona claim descent from a Woman who gave birth to Snakes. She was the Mother of that Totem and the Snakes were her children. But there was a Mother in Mythology who did give birth to the Totem-animals, and who is confused at times with the human Motherhood. This was the Mother-earth, who was represented by the snake as renewer of vegetation in the Goddess Rannut. Egyptian Mythology is a mirror of Totemism from the beginning with the human Mother who was the primal parent. And as it was in Totemism so is it in the Mythology and Eschatology of Egypt. In the beginning was the Great Mother, because the first person recognised in Totemism was
the Mother. The Totemism of Egypt was the basis of all its Mythology and Eschatology, but that stage of sociology was almost silted under and hidden out of sight as one of the several strata of Egypt’s buried past. The Indians who trace their descent from the Spirit-Mother and a Grizzly Bear acknowledge that the Bear, like that of the Ainos, was a She-Bear, and consequently a Mother-Totem. The Tugas claimed descent from a She-Wolf, and the Tufans from a She-Dog. Descent from the Mother or in the female line was universally recognized by the aborigines. From this it follows that the zootypes first represented the Motherhoods; and when the males came to the fore the same animal would serve two purposes. As female it would represent the motherhood; as male the brotherhood. A tribe of Indians still living in North-West America claim to have descended from a Frog. If this was a Totem of the Motherhood, the descent would be the same as if it were from the Goddess Hekat, only their sign is simple Frog, whereas the Frog had been elevated in status by becoming an image of the Mother as Mistress Hekat, the Froggess who typified the Divine Mother in the transforming Moon. The divine Cow of the Todas is an extant type of the Great Mother as the giver of food, equivalent to Hathor, the Egyptian Venus, the Cow that protected her Son with her body, primarily when the Mother was a Water-Cow. The Toda Palal or High Priest obviously personates the Divine Son, and is the dispenser of blessings to the world for the divine Motherhood that was represented by the Cow.
No race on earth so ignorant but that it has claimed descent from the Mother. And this human descent being the recognized fact in who could be, and was, identified as their own flesh and blood and breath, the Mother who gave visible birth to the human offspring, and no other, from the womb, never could have claimed an actual descent from animals, reptiles, birds, trees, stones and other objects, animate and inanimate. An Australian tribe considered themselves to have been Ducks who at one time were changed into Men. In that case the Duck would be a Totem of the Mother as the means of tracing their descent in the female line. When they became Men the descent would be reckoned from the Male Progenitor. The Bygahs have a tradition that the foster-mother of the first Man was a Milch-Tigress, and therefore, as we show, a Mother-Totem. In this statement the foster-mother is distinguished from the human Mother and is identified by means of her Totem as the Tigress and Lioness, or Sow or Water-Cow, or any other female zootype. The Hyena was a Mother-Totem of Inner Africa. The Wanika in East Africa reverence this animal as ancestral. When a Hyena dies it is bewailed by the whole people. The mourning for a chief is said to be nothing compared with the death of a Hyena (New, Charles, Life and Wanderings, p. 122), because, as we hold, of its being a maternal zootype. It is certain that the hippopotamus was a Mother-Totem with the natives of the Zambesi, who have now the greatest horror of touching its flesh. Livingstone’s pilot would go without food rather than cook it in the same pot which had contained any of the meat. (Livingstone, Zambesi.) As Herodotus tells us, the first Mother of
the Scyths was a Serpent-woman. With the Kings of Abyssinia the line of descent was traced from the Serpent, which was therefore a Mother-Totem. The process of divinizing the power by means of the type had begun in Africa beyond Egypt. The vulture in Ashanti is the same sign of royalty as with the Egyptians. In Coomassie, says Ellis, “vultures are considered birds sacred to the Royal Family. This is not in the same way as the leopard is to the leopard family; but rather that these birds have been despotically declared to be sacred,” which means that they are exceptionally sacred by being the totem of the Royal Family, or, as in Egypt, of royal and divine Maternity. Any molestation of this bird was punishable with death. (Ellis, A. B., The Tshi-speaking People, p. 213.) It is a Mother-Totem like the vulture of Neith, which was both royal and divine, as the Bird of Blood, the Mother-blood, the royal blood.
The Mother was the primal parent, and the Totem was a means of distinguishing one mother and one group of children from another before these were divided in the two classes of the Two Mothers. Single Motherhood was naturally known to the gregarious horde. Which means that the earliest Totems were types of the female. This is shown in the Egyptian Mythology, that mirror of the Matriarchate. “Your Mother” knew her children and they knew their Mother. “My Mother” knew her children, and they knew their Mother. But without some permanent sign the children would go forth like the beasts from the lair and the birds from the nest, and even this one natural link of relationship must have been lost in the undistinguishable horde. That sign was the Totem as the earliest mode and means of identifying the Mother and of memorizing the descent of the children upon any line of the original Matriarchate. The mother’s sign then was the Totem of her own children, male and female, differentiated by sex. “Your Mother” was known by her Totem; “My Mother” by her Totem—to each other’s children. The Mother’s Totem was naturally recognized by her own children. If “Your Mother” was a Lioness, the male offspring knew themselves as her young Lions. If “My Mother” was a Hippopotamus, her children knew themselves as Hippopotami, or Bulls of the Cow if male. The Mother was always human beneath the Totemic mask which was needed, adopted, and worn to distinguish one human mother from the rest, so that she could be identified by others who were not her children. Thus the first “Two Women,” the “My Mother” and “Your Mother” of the Kamilaroi, were recognized as the Emu and Iguana, and these became the Totems of their children.
The Arunta in their isolation have preserved some relics of a primitive tradition of the pre-Totemic and pre-human state in what they term the “Alcheringa.” In this the mythical ancestors, the Nooralie, or Mura-Mura of other tribes, are supposed to have lived. At that time, or in that condition, nothing human had been evolved, distinct from other forms of life. As it is said, in those days there were neither men nor women, only rudimentary creatures waiting to be humanized. The Alcheringa represents a mythical past which did not commence with those who have no clue to the origins. It is a past that was inherited and never had any contemporary existence for them. These rudimentary beings the Arunta call “the Inapertwa,
or imperfect creatures.” We know what was meant by the term because it is still applied to the girls who have not been opened and the boys who have not undergone the rite of circumcision or sub-incision. Such beings still remained the same as the Inapertwa creatures because they had not yet been made into men and women. The sexes were not then divided at puberty or, in other words, had not yet become Totemic. The Arunta tradition tells us further that the change from the pre-human to human beings, and from the pre-Totemic to the Totemic status, was effected by Two Beings who were called the Ungambikula, a word which signifies “out of nothing” or “self-existing.” Though these two are not designated Women, they are two females. There being no men or women in those days, only the rudimentary Inapertwa, it was the work of the Ungambikula to shape the Inapertwa creatures into women and men, with their lalira, or great stone knives, made of quartzite. These Two Beings were the primitive creators of men and women from the undistinguishable horde of the imperfect Inapertwa as founders of Totemism (N.T., p. 388), by means of the Totemic rites. They are said to have changed the Inapertwa into human beings belonging to six different Totems—(1) The Akakia, or Plumtree. (2) The Inguitchika, or Grass-seed. (3) The Echunpa, or Large Lizard. (4) The Erliwatchera, or Small Lizard. (5) The Atninpirichina, or Parakeet. (6) The Untaina, or Small Rat. The Two Beings having done their work of cutting and carving which was to establish Totemism, then transformed themselves into lizards. Hence it was the lizard of Australian legend that was reputed to have been the author of marriage, because the lizard was an emblem of the feminine period.