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Myth, Ritual, and Religion, Vol. 1 by Andrew Lang

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bell, and a bag of salt in his possession. Here there was not even
the pretence of analogy between cause and effect. Some savages
might have argued (it is quite in their style), that as salt causes
thirst, a bag of salt causes drought; but no such case could be
made out against Dr. Moffat's bell and beard. To give an example
from the beliefs of English peasants. When a cottage was buried by
a little avalanche in 1772, the accident was attributed to the
carelessness of the cottagers, who had allowed a light to be taken
out of their dwelling in Christmas-tide.[1] We see the same
confusion between antecedence and consequence in time on one side,
and cause and effect on the other, when the Red Indians aver that
birds actually bring winds and storms or fair weather. They take
literally the sense of the Rhodian swallow-song:--

The swallow hath come,
Bringing fair hours,
Bringing fair seasons,
On black back and white breast.[2]

[1] Shropshire Folk-Lore, by Miss Burne, iii. 401.

[2] Brinton, Myths of New World, p. 107.

Again, in the Pacific the people of one island always attribute
hurricanes to the machinations of the people of the nearest island
to windward. The wind comes from them; therefore (as their
medicine-men can notoriously influence the weather), they must have
sent the wind. This unneighbourly act is a casus belli, and
through the whole of a group of islands the banner of war, like the
flag of freedom in Byron, flies against the wind. The chief
principle, then, of savage science is that antecedence and
consequence in time are the same as effect and cause.[1] Again,
savage science holds that LIKE AFFECTS LIKE, that you can injure a
man, for example, by injuring his effigy. On these principles the
savage explains the world to himself, and on these principles he
tries to subdue to himself the world. Now the putting of these
principles into practice is simply the exercise of art magic, an
art to which nothing seems impossible. The belief that his Shamans
or medicine-men practise this art is universal among savages. It
seriously affects their conduct, and is reflected in their myths.

[1] See account of Zuni metaphysics in chapter on American Divine

The one general rule which governs all magical reasoning is, that
casual connection in thought is equivalent to causative connection
in fact. Like suggests like to human thought by association of
ideas; wherefore like influences like, or produces analogous
effects in practice. Any object once in a man's possession,
especially his hair or his nails, is supposed to be capable of
being used against him by a sorcerer. The part suggests the whole.
A lock of a man's hair was part of the man; to destroy the hair is
to destroy its former owner. Again, whatever event follows another
in time suggests it, and may have been caused by it. Accompanying
these ideas is the belief that nature is peopled by invisible
spiritual powers, over which magicians and sorcerers possess
influence. The magic of the lower races chiefly turns on these two
beliefs. First, "man having come to associate in thought those
things which he found by experience to be connected in fact,
proceeded erroneously to invert their action, and to conclude that
association in thought must involve similar connection in reality.
He thus attempted to discover, to foretell, and to cause events,
by means of processes which we now see to have only an ideal
significance."[1] Secondly, man endeavoured to make disembodied
spirits of the dead, or any other spirits, obedient to his will.
Savage philosophy presumes that the beliefs are correct, and that
their practical application is successful. Examples of the first
of the two chief magical ideas are as common in unscientific modern
times or among unscientific modern people as in the savage world.

[1] Primitive Culture, i. 14.

The physicians of the age of Charles II. were wont to give their
patients "mummy powder," that is, pulverised mummy. They argued
that the mummy had lasted for a very long time, and that the
patients ought to do so likewise. Pliny imagined that diamonds
must be found in company with gold, because these are the most
perfect substances in the world, and like should draw to like.
Aurum potabile, or drinkable gold, was a favourite medical nostrum
of the Middle Ages, because gold, being perfect, should produce
perfect health. Among savages the belief that like is caused by
like is exemplified in very many practices. The New Caledonians,
when they wish their yam plots to be fertile, bury in them with
mystic ceremonies certain stones which are naturally shaped like
yams. The Melanesians have reduced this kind of magic to a system.
Among them certain stones have a magical efficacy, which is
determined in each case by the shape of the stone. "A stone in the
shape of a pig, of a bread-fruit, of a yam, was a most valuable
find. No garden was planted without the stones which were to
increase the crop."[1] Stones with a rude resemblance to beasts
bring the Zuni luck in the chase.

[1] Rev. R. H. Codrington, Journ. Anth. Inst., February, 1881.

The spiritual theory in some places is mixed up with the "like to
like" theory, and the magical stones are found where the spirits
have been heard twittering and whistling. "A large stone lying
with a number of small ones under it, like a sow among her
sucklings, was good for a childless woman."[1] It is the savage
belief that stones reproduce their species, a belief consonant with
the general theory of universal animation and personality. The
ancient belief that diamonds gendered diamonds is a survival from
these ideas. "A stone with little disks upon it was good to bring
in money; any fanciful interpretation of a mark was enough to give
a character to the stone and its associated Vui" or spirit in
Melanesia. In Scotland, stones shaped like various parts of the
human body are expected to cure the diseases with which these
members may be afflicted. "These stones were called by the names
of the limbs which they represented, as 'eye-stone,' 'head-stone'."
The patient washed the affected part of the body, and rubbed it
well with the stone corresponding.[2]

[1] Codrington, Journ. Anth. Soc., x. iii. 276.

[2] Gregor, Folk-Lore of North-East Counties, p. 40.

To return from European peasant-magic to that of savages, we find
that when the Bushmen want wet weather they light fires, believing
that the black smoke clouds will attract black rain clouds; while
the Zulus sacrifice black cattle to attract black clouds of
rain.[1] Though this magic has its origin in savage ignorance, it
survives into civilisation. Thus the sacrifices of the Vedic age
were imitations of the natural phenomena which the priests desired
to produce.[2] "C'etait un moyen de faire tombre la pluie en
realisant, par les representations terrestres des eaux du nuage et
de l'eclair, les conditions dans lesquelles celui-ci determine dans
le ciel l'epanchement de celles-la." A good example of magical
science is afforded by the medical practice of the Dacotahs of
North America.[3] When any one is ill, an image of his disease, a
boil or what not, is carved in wood. This little image is then
placed in a bowl of water and shot at with a gun. The image of the
disease being destroyed, the disease itself is expected to
disappear. Compare the magic of the Philistines, who made golden
images of the sores which plagued them and stowed them away in the
ark.[4] The custom of making a wax statuette of an enemy, and
piercing it with pins or melting it before the fire, so that the
detested person might waste as his semblance melted, was common in
mediaeval Europe, was known to Plato, and is practised by Negroes.
Some Australians take some of the hair of an enemy, mix it with
grease and the feathers of the eagle, and burn it in the fire.
This is "bar" or black magic. The boarding under the chair of a
magistrate in Barbadoes was lifted not long ago, and the ground
beneath was found covered with wax images of litigants stuck full
of pins.

[1] Callaway, i. 92.

[2] Bergaigne, Religion Vedique, i. 126-138, i., vii., viii.

[3] Schoolcraft, iv. 491.

[4] 1 Samuel vi. 4, 5.

The war-magic of the Dacotahs works in a similar manner. Before a
party starts on the war-trail, the chief, with various ceremonies,
takes his club and stands before his tent. An old witch bowls
hoops at him; each hoop represents an enemy, and for each he
strikes a foeman is expected to fall. A bowl of sweetened water is
also set out to entice the spirits of the enemy.[1] The war-magic
of the Aryans in India does not differ much in character from that
of the Dacotahs. "If any one wishes his army to be victorious, he
should go beyond the battle-line, cut a stalk of grass at the top
and end, and throw it against the hostile army with the words,
Prasahe kas trapasyati?--O Prasaha, who sees thee? If one who has
such knowledge cuts a stalk of grass and throws the parts at the
hostile army, it becomes split and dissolved, just as a daughter-
in-law becomes abashed and faints when seeing her father-in-law,"--
an allusion, apparently, to the widespread tabu which makes
fathers-in-law, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and mothers-in-law
avoid each other.[2]

[1] Schoolcraft, iv. 496.

[2] Aitareya Brahmana, iii. 22.

The hunt-dances of the Red Indians and Australians are arranged
like their war-magic. Effigies of the bears, deer, or kangaroos
are made, or some of the hunters imitate the motions of these
animals. The rest of the dancers pretend to spear them, and it is
hoped that this will ensure success among the real bears and

Here is a singular piece of magic in which Europeans and Australian
blacks agree. Boris Godunoff made his servants swear never to
injure him by casting spells with the dust on which his feet or his
carriage wheels had left traces.[1] Mr. Howitt finds the same
magic among the Kurnai.[2] "Seeing a Tatungolung very lame, I
asked him what was the matter. He said, 'Some fellow has put
BOTTLE in my foot'. I found he was probably suffering from acute
rheumatism. He explained that some enemy must have found his foot-
track and have buried in it a piece of broken bottle. The magic
influence, he believed, caused it to enter his foot." On another
occasion a native told Mr. Howitt that he had seen black fellows
putting poison in his foot-tracks. Bosman mentions a similar
practice among the people of Guinea. In Scottish folk-lore a screw
nail is fixed into the footprint of the person who is to be

[1] Rambaud's History of Russia, English trans., i. 351.

[2] Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 250.

Just as these magical efforts to influence like by like work their
way into Vedic and other religions, so they are introduced into the
religion of the savage. His prayers are addresses to some sort of
superior being, but the efficacy of the prayer is often eked out by
a little magic, unless indeed we prefer to suppose that the words
of the supplication are interpreted by gesture-speech. Sproat
writes: "Set words and gestures are used according to the thing
desired. For instance, in praying for salmon, the native rubs the
backs of his hands, looks upwards, and mutters the words, 'Many
salmon, many salmon'. If he wishes for deer, he carefully rubs
both eyes; or, if it is geese, he rubs the back of his shoulder,
uttering always in a sing-song way the accustomed formula. . . .
All these practices in praying no doubt have a meaning. We may see
a steady hand is needed in throwing the salmon-spear, and clear
eyesight in finding deer in the forest."[1]

[1] Savage Life, p. 208.

In addition to these forms of symbolical magic (which might be
multiplied to any extent), we find among savages the belief in the
power of songs of INCANTATION. This is a feature of magic which
specially deserves our attention. In myths, and still more in
marchen or household tales, we shall constantly find that the most
miraculous effects are caused when the hero pronounces a few lines
of rhyme. In Rome, as we have all read in the Latin Delectus, it
was thought that incantations could draw down the moon. In the
Odyssey the kinsfolk of Odysseus sing "a song of healing" over the
wound which was dealt him by the boar's tusk. Jeanne d'Arc,
wounded at Orleans, refused a similar remedy. Sophocles speaks of
the folly of muttering incantations over wounds that need the
surgeon's knife. The song that salved wounds occurs in the
Kalewala, the epic poem of the Finns. In many of Grimm's marchen,
miracles are wrought by the repetition of snatches of rhyme. This
belief is derived from the savage state of fancy. According to
Kohl,[1] "Every sorrowful or joyful emotion that opens the Indian's
mouth is at once wrapped up in the garb of a wabanonagamowin
(chanson magicale). If you ask one of them to sing you a simple
innocent hymn in praise of Nature, a spring or jovial hunting
stave, he never gives you anything but a form of incantation, with
which he says you will be able to call to you all the birds from
the sky, and all the foxes and wolves from their caves and
burrows."[2] The giant's daughter in the Scotch marchen, Nicht,
Nought, Nothing, is thus enabled to call to her aid "all the birds
of the sky". In the same way, if you ask an Indian for a love-
song, he will say that a philtre is really much more efficacious.
The savage, in short, is extremely practical. His arts, music and
drawing, exist not pour l'art, but for a definite purpose, as
methods of getting something that the artist wants. The young
lover whom Kohl knew, like the lover of Bombyca in Theocritus,
believed in having an image of himself and an image of the beloved.
Into the heart of the female image he thrust magic powders, and he
said that this was common, lovers adding songs, "partly elegiac,
partly malicious, and almost criminal forms of incantation".[3]

[1] Page 395.

[2] Cf. Comparetti's Traditional Poetry of the Finns.

[3] Kitchi gami, pp. 395, 397.

Among the Indo-Aryans the masaminik or incantations of the Red Man
are known as mantras.[1] These are usually texts from the Veda,
and are chanted over the sick and in other circumstances where
magic is believed to be efficacious. Among the New Zealanders the
incantations are called karakias, and are employed in actual life.
There is a special karakia to raise the wind. In Maori myths the
hero is very handy with his karakia. Rocks split before him, as
before girls who use incantations in Kaffir and Bushman tales. He
assumes the shape of any animal at will, or flies in the air, all
by virtue of the karakia or incantation.[2]

[1] Muir, Sanskrit Texts, v. 441, "Incantations from the Atharva

[2] Taylor's New Zealand; Theal's Kaffir Folk-Lore, South-African
Folk-Lore Journal, passim; Shortland's Traditions of the New
Zealanders, pp. 130-135.

Without multiplying examples in the savage belief that miracles can
be wrought by virtue of physical CORRESPONDANCES, by like acting on
like, by the part affecting the whole, and so forth, we may go on
to the magical results produced by the aid of spirits. These may
be either spirits of the dead or spiritual essences that never
animated mortal men. Savage magic or science rests partly on the
belief that the world is peopled by a "choir invisible," or rather
by a choir only occasionally visible to certain gifted people,
sorcerers and diviners. An enormous amount of evidence to prove
the existence of these tenets has been collected by Mr. Tylor, and
is accessible to all in the chapters on "Animism" in his Primitive
Culture. It is not our business here to account for the
universality of the belief in spirits. Mr. Tylor, following
Lucretius and Homer, derives the belief from the reasonings of
early men on the phenomena of dreams, fainting, shadows, visions
caused by narcotics, hallucinations, and other facts which suggest
the hypothesis of a separable life apart from the bodily organism.
It would scarcely be fair not to add that the kind of "facts"
investigated by the Psychical Society--such "facts" as the
appearance of men at the moment of death in places remote from the
scene of their decease, with such real or delusive experiences as
the noises and visions in haunted houses--are familiar to savages.
Without discussing these obscure matters, it may be said that they
influence the thoughts even of some scientifically trained and
civilised men. It is natural, therefore, that they should strongly
sway the credulous imagination of backward races, in which they
originate or confirm the belief that life can exist and manifest
itself after the death of the body.[1]

[1] See the author's Making of Religion, 1898.

Some examples of savage "ghost-stories," precisely analogous to the
"facts" of the Psychical Society's investigations, may be adduced.
The first is curious because it offers among the Kanekas an example
of a belief current in Breton folk-lore. The story is vouched for
by Mr. J. J. Atkinson, late of Noumea, New Caledonia. Mr.
Atkinson, we have reason to believe, was unacquainted with the
Breton parallel. To him one day a Kaneka of his acquaintance paid
a visit, and seemed loth to go away. He took leave, returned, and
took leave again, till Mr. Atkinson asked him the reason of his
behaviour. He then explained that he was about to die, and would
never see his English friend again. As he seemed in perfect
health, Mr. Atkinson rallied him on his hypochondria; but the poor
fellow replied that his fate was sealed. He had lately met in the
wood one whom he took for the Kaneka girl of his heart; but he
became aware too late that she was no mortal woman, but a wood-
spirit in the guise of the beloved. The result would be his death
within three days, and, as a matter of fact, he died. This is the
groundwork of the old Breton ballad of Le Sieur Nan, who dies after
his intrigue with the forest spectre.[1] A tale more like a common
modern ghost-story is vouched for by Mr. C. J. Du Ve, in Australia.
In the year 1860, a Maneroo black fellow died in the service of Mr.
Du Ve. "The day before he died, having been ill some time, he said
that in the night his father, his father's friend, and a female
spirit he could not recognise, had come to him and said that he
would die next day, and that they would wait for him. Mr. Du Ye
adds that, though previously the Christian belief had been
explained to this man, it had entirely faded, and that he had gone
back to the belief of his childhood." Mr. Fison, who prints this
tale in his Kamilaroi and Kurnai,[2] adds, "I could give many
similar instances which have come within my own knowledge among the
Fijians, and, strange to say, the dying man in all these cases kept
his appointment with the ghosts to the very day".

[1] It may, of course, be conjectured that the French introduced
this belief into New Caledonia.

[2] Page 247.

In the Cruise of the Beagle is a parallel anecdote of a Fuegian,
Jimmy Button, and his father's ghost.

Without entering into a discussion of ghosts, it is plain that the
kind of evidence, whatever its value may be, which convinces many
educated Europeans of the existence of "veridical" apparitions has
also played its part in the philosophy of uncivilised races. On
this belief in apparitions, then, is based the power of the savage
sorcerers and necromants, of the men who converse with the dead and
are aided by disembodied spirits. These men have greatly influenced
the beginnings of mythology. Among certain Australian tribes the
necromants are called Birraark.[1] "The Kurnai tell me," says Mr.
Howitt, "that a Birraark was supposed to be initiated by the 'Mrarts
(ghosts) when they met him wandering in the bush. . . . It was from
the ghosts that he obtained replies to questions concerning events
passing at a distance or yet to happen, which might be of interest
or moment to his tribe." Mr. Howitt prints an account of a
spiritual seance in the bush.[2] "The fires were let go down. The
Birraark uttered a cry 'coo-ee' at intervals. At length a distant
reply was heard, and shortly afterwards the sound as of persons
jumping on the ground in succession. A voice was then heard in the
gloom asking in a strange intonation, 'What is wanted?' Questions
were put by the Birraark and replies given. At the termination of
the seance, the spirit-voice said, 'We are going'. Finally, the
Birraark was found in the top of an almost inaccessible tree,
apparently asleep."[3] There was one Birraark at least to every
clan. The Kurnai gave the name of "Brewin" (a powerful evil spirit)
to a Birraark who was once carried away for several days by the
Mrarts or spirits.[4] It is a belief with the Australians, as,
according to Bosman, it was with the people of the Gold Coast, that
a very powerful wizard lives far inland, and the Negroes held that
to this warlock the spirits of the dead went to be judged according
to the merit of their actions in life. Here we have a doctrine
answering to the Greek belief in "the wizard Minos," Aeacus, and
Rhadamanthus, and to the Egyptian idea of Osiris as judge of the
departed.[5] The pretensions of the sorcerer to converse with the
dead are attested by Mr. Brough Smyth.[6] "A sorcerer lying on his
stomach spoke to the deceased, and the other sitting by his side
received the precious messages which the dead man told." As a
natural result of these beliefs, the Australian necromant has great
power in the tribe. Mr. Howitt mentions a case in which a group of
kindred, ceasing to use their old totemistic surname, called
themselves the children of a famous dead Birraark, who thus became
an eponymous hero, like Ion among the Ionians.[7] Among the Scotch
Highlanders the position and practice of the seer were very like
those of the Birraark. "A person," says Scott,[8] "was wrapped up
in the skin of a newly slain bullock and deposited beside a
waterfall or at the bottom of a precipice, or in some other strange,
wild and unusual situation, where the scenery around him suggested
nothing but objects of horror. In this situation he revolved in his
mind the question proposed and whatever was impressed on him by his
SPIRITS who haunt these desolate recesses." A number of examples
are given in Martin's Description of the Western Islands.[9] In the
Century magazine (July, 1882) is a very full report of Thlinkeet
medicine-men and metamorphoses.

[1] Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 253.

[2] Page 254.

[3] In the Jesuit Relations (1637), p. 51, we read that the Red
Indian sorcerer or Jossakeed was credited with power to vanish
suddenly away out of sight of the men standing around him. Of him,
as of Homeric gods, it might be said, "Who has power to see him
come or go against his will?"

[4] Here, in the first edition, occurred the following passage:
"The conception of Brewin is about as near as the Kurnai get to the
idea of a God; their conferring of his name on a powerful sorcerer
is therefore a point of importance and interest". Mr. Howitt's
later knowledge demonstrates an error here.

[5] Bosman in Pinkerton, xvi. p. 401.

[6] Aborigines of Australia, i. 197.

[7] In Victoria, after dark the wizard goes up to the clouds and
brings down a good spirit. Dawkins, p. 57. For eponymous
medicine-men see Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 231.

[8] Lady of the Lake, note 1 to Canto iv.

[9] P. 112.

The sorcerer among the Zulus is, apparently, of a naturally
hysterical and nervous constitution. "He hears the spirits who
speak by whistlings speaking to him."[1] Whistling is also the
language of the ghosts in New Caledonia, where Mr. Atkinson informs
us that he has occasionally put an able-bodied Kaneka to
ignominious flight by whistling softly in the dusk. The ghosts in
Homer make a similar sound, "and even as bats flit gibbering in the
secret place of a wondrous cavern, . . . even so the souls gibbered
as they fared together" (Odyssey, xxiv. 5). "The familiar spirits
make him" (that Zulu sorcerer) "acquainted with what is about to
happen, and then he divines for the people." As the Birraarks
learn songs and dance-music from the Mrarts, so the Zulu Inyanga or
diviners learn magical couplets from the Itongo or spirits.[2]

[1] Callaway, Religious System of the Amazules, p. 265.

[2] On all this, see "Possession" in The Making of Religion.

The evidence of institutions confirms the reports about savage
belief in magic. The political power of the diviners is very
great, as may be observed from the fact that a hereditary chief
needs their consecration to make him a chief de jure.[1] In fact,
the qualities of the diviner are those which give his sacred
authority to the chief. When he has obtained from the diviners all
their medicines and information as to the mode of using the
isitundu (a magical vessel), it is said that he often orders them
to be killed. Now, the chief is so far a medicine-man that he is
lord of the air. "The heaven is the chief's," say the Zulus; and
when he calls out his men, "though the heaven is clear, it becomes
clouded by the great wind that arises". Other Zulus explain this
as the mere hyperbole of adulation. "The word of the chief gives
confidence to his troops; they say, 'We are going; the chief has
already seen all that will happen in his vessel'. Such then are
chiefs; they use a vessel for divination."[2] The makers of rain
are known in Zululand as "heaven-herds" or "sky-herds," who herd
the heaven that it may not break out and do its will on the
property of the people. These men are, in fact, [Greek text
omitted], "cloud-gatherers," like the Homeric Zeus, the lord of the
heavens. Their name of "herds of the heavens" has a Vedic sound.
"The herd that herds the lightning," say the Zulus, "does the same
as the herder of the cattle; he does as he does by whistling; he
says, 'Tshu-i-i-i. Depart and go yonder. Do not come here.'"
Here let it be observed that the Zulus conceive of the thunder-
clouds and lightning as actual creatures, capable of being herded
like sheep. There is no metaphor or allegory about the matter,[3]
and no forgetfulness of the original meaning of words. The cloud-
herd is just like the cowherd, except that not every man, but only
sorcerers, and they who have eaten the "lightning-bird" (a bird
shot near the place where lightning has struck the earth), can herd
the clouds of heaven. The same ideas prevail among the Bushmen,
where the rainmaker is asked "to milk a nice gentle female rain";
the rain-clouds are her hair. Among the Bushmen Rain is a person.
Among the Red Indians no metaphor seems to be intended when it is
said that "it is always birds who make the wind, except that of the
east". The Dacotahs once killed a thunder-bird[4] behind Little
Crow's village on the Missouri. It had a face like a man with a
nose like an eagle's bill.[5]

[1] Callaway, p. 340.

[2] Callaway, Religions System of the Amazules, p. 343.

[3] Ibid., p. 385.

[4] Schoolcraft, iii. 486.

[5] Compare Callaway, p. 119.

The political and social powers which come into the hands of the
sorcerers are manifest, even in the case of the Australians.
Tribes and individuals can attempt few enterprises without the aid
of the man who listens to the ghosts. Only he can foretell the
future, and, in the case of the natural death of a member of the
tribe, can direct the vengeance of the survivors against the
hostile magician who has committed a murder by "bar" or magic.
Among the Zulus we have seen that sorcery gives the sanction to the
power of the chief. "The winds and weather are at the command" of
Bosman's "great fetisher". Inland from the Gold Coast,[1] the king
of Loango, according to the Abbe Proyart, "has credit to make rain
fall on earth". Similar beliefs, with like political results, will
be found to follow from the superstition of magic among the Red
Indians of North America. The difficulty of writing about sorcerers
among the Red Indians is caused by the abundance of the evidence.
Charlevoix and the other early Jesuit missionaries found that the
jongleurs, as Charlevoix calls the Jossakeeds or medicine-men, were
their chief opponents. As among the Scotch Highlanders, the
Australians and the Zulus, the Red Indian jongleur is visited by
the spirits. He covers a hut with the skin of the animal which he
commonly wears, retires thither, and there converses with the
bodiless beings.[2] The good missionary like Mr. Moffat in Africa,
was convinced that the exercises of the Jossakeeds were verily
supernatural. "Ces seducteurs ont un veritable commerce avec le
pere du mensonge."[3] This was denied by earlier and wiser Jesuit
missionaries. Their political power was naturally great. In time
of war "ils avancent et retardent les marches comme il leur plait".
In our own century it was a medicine-man, Ten Squa Ta Way, who by
his magical processes and superstitious rites stirred up a
formidable war against the United States.[4] According to Mr.
Pond,[5] the native name of the Dacotah medicine-men, "Wakan,"
signifies "men supernaturally gifted". Medicine-men are believed
to be "wakanised" by mystic intercourse with supernatural beings.
The business of the wakanised man is to discern future events, to
lead and direct parties on the war-trail, "to raise the storm or
calm the tempest, to converse with the lightning or thunder as with
familiar friends".[6] The wakanised man, like the Australian
Birraark and the Zulu diviner, "dictates chants and prayers". In
battle "every Dacotah warrior looks to the Wakan man as almost his
only resource". Belief in Wakan men is, Mr. Pond says, universal
among the Dacotahs, except where Christianity has undermined it.
"Their influence is deeply felt by every individual of the tribe,
and controls all their affairs." The Wakan man's functions are
absorbed by the general or war-chief of the tribe, and in
Schoolcraft (iv. 495), Captain Eastman prints copies of native
scrolls showing the war-chief at work as a wizard. "The war-chief
who leads the party to war is always one of these medicine-men."
In another passage the medicine-men are described as "having a
voice in the sale of land". It must be observed that the
Jossakeed, or medicine-man, pure and simple, exercises a power
which is not in itself hereditary. Chieftainship, when associated
with inheritance of property, is hereditary; and when the chief, as
among the Zulus, absorbs supernatural power, then the same man
becomes diviner and chief, and is a person of great and sacred
influence. The liveliest account of the performances of the Maori
"tohunga" or sorcerer is to be found in Old New Zealand,[7] by the
Pakeha Maori, an English gentleman who had lived with the natives
like one of themselves. The tohunga, says this author,[8] presided
over "all those services and customs which had something
approaching to a religious character. They also pretended to power
by means of certain familiar spirits, to foretell future events,
and even in some cases to control them. . . . The spirit 'entered
into' them, and, on being questioned, gave a response in a sort of
half whistling, half-articulate voice, supposed to be the proper
language of spirits." In New South Wales, Mrs. Langlot Parker has
witnessed a similar exhibition. The "spirits" told the truth in
this case. The Pakeha Maori was present in a darkened village-hall
when the spirit of a young man, a great friend of his own, was
called up by a tohunga. "Suddenly, without the slightest warning,
a voice came out of the darkness. . . . The voice all through, it
is to be remembered, was not the voice of the tohunga, but a
strange melancholy sound, like the sound of a wind blowing into a
hollow vessel. 'It is well with me; my place is a good place.'
The spirit gave an answer to a question which proved to be correct,
and then 'Farewell,' cried the spirit FROM DEEP BENEATH THE GROUND.
'Farewell,' again, FROM HIGH IN AIR. 'Farewell,' once more came
moaning through the distant darkness of the night." As chiefs in
New Zealand no less than tohungas can exercise the mystical and
magical power of tabu, that is, of imparting to any object or
person an inviolable character, and can prevent or remit the
mysterious punishment for infringement of tabu, it appears probable
that in New Zealand, as well as among the Zulus and Red Indians,
chiefs have a tendency to absorb the sacred character and powers of
the tohungas. This is natural enough, for a tohunga, if he plays
his cards well, is sure to acquire property and hereditary wealth,
which, in combination with magical influence, are the necessary
qualifications for the office of the chieftain.

[1] Pinkerton, xvi. 401.

[2] Charlevoix, i. 105. See "Savage Spiritualism" in Cock Lane and
Common Sense.

[3] Ibid., iii. 362.

[4] Catlin, ii. 17.

[5] In Schoolcraft, iv. 402.

[6] Pond, in Schoolcraft, iv. 647.

[7] Auckland, 1863.

[8] Page 148.

Here is the place to mention a fact which, though at first sight it
may appear to have only a social interest, yet bears on the
development of mythology. Property and rank seem to have been
essential to each other in the making of social rank, and where one
is absent among contemporary savages, there we do not find the
other. As an example of this, we might take the case of two
peoples who, like the Homeric Ethiopians, are the outermost of men,
and dwell far apart at the ends of the world. The Eskimos and the
Fuegians, at the extreme north and south of the American continent,
agree in having little or no private property and no chiefs. Yet
magic is providing a kind of basis of rank. The bleak plains of
ice and rock are, like Attica, "the mother of men without master or
lord". Among the "house-mates" of the smaller settlements there is
no head-man, and in the larger gatherings Dr. Rink says that "still
less than among the house-mates was any one belonging to such a
place to be considered a chief". The songs and stories of the
Eskimo contain the praises of men who have risen up and killed any
usurper who tried to be a ruler over his "place-mates". No one
could possibly establish any authority on the basis of property,
because "superfluous property, implements, etc., rarely existed".
If there are three boats in one household, one of the boats is
"borrowed" by the community, and reverts to the general fund.
If we look at the account of the Fuegians described in Admiral
Fitzroy's cruise, we find a similar absence of rank produced by
similar causes. "The perfect equality among the individuals
composing the tribes must for a long time retard their
civilisation. . . . At present even a piece of cloth is torn in
shreds and distributed, and no one individual becomes richer than
another. On the other hand, it is difficult to understand how a
chief can arise till there is property of some sort by which he
might manifest and still increase his authority." In the same
book, however, we get a glimpse of one means by which authority can
be exercised. "The doctor-wizard of each party has much influence
over his companions." Among the Eskimos this element in the growth
of authority also exists. A class of wizards called Angakut have
power to cause fine weather, and, by the gift of second-sight and
magical practices, can detect crimes, so that they necessarily
become a kind of civil magistrates. These Angekkok or Angakut have
familiar spirits called Torngak, a word connected with the name of
their chief spiritual being, Torngarsak. The Torngak is commonly
the ghost of a deceased parent of the sorcerer. "These men," says
Egede, "are held in great honour and esteem among this stupid and
ignorant nation, insomuch that nobody dare ever refuse the
strictest obedience when they command him in the name of
Torngarsak." The importance and actual existence of belief in
magic has thus been attested by the evidence of institutions, even
among Australians, Fuegians and Eskimos.

It is now necessary to pass from examples of tribes who have
superstitious respect for certain individuals, but who have no
property and no chiefs, to peoples who exhibit the phenomenon of
superstitious reverence attached to wealthy rulers or to judges.
To take the example of Ireland, as described in the Senchus Mor, we
learn that the chiefs, just like the Angakut of the Eskimos, had
"power to make fair or foul weather" in the literal sense of the
words.[1] In Africa, in the same way, as Bosman, the old traveller,
says, "As to what difference there is between one negro and another,
the richest man is the most honoured," yet the most honoured man has
the same magical power as the poor Angakuts of the Eskimos.

[1] Early History of Institutions, p. 195.

"In the Solomon Islands," says Dr. Codrington, "there is nothing to
prevent a common man from becoming a chief, if he can show that he
has the mana (supernatural power) for it."[1]

[1] Journ. Anth. Inst., x. iii. 287, 300, 309.

Though it is anticipating a later stage of this inquiry, we must
here observe that the sacredness, and even the magical virtues of
barbarous chiefs seem to have descended to the early leaders of
European races. The children of Odin and of Zeus were "sacred
kings". The Homeric chiefs, like those of the Zulus and the Red
Men, and of the early Irish and Swedes, exercised an influence over
the physical universe. Homer[1] speaks of "a blameless king, one
that fears the gods, and reigns among many men and mighty, and the
black earth bears wheat and barley, and the sheep bring forth and
fail not, and the sea gives store of fish, and all out of his good

[1] Od., xix. 109.

The attributes usually assigned by barbarous peoples to their
medicine-men have not yet been exhausted. We have found that they
can foresee and declare the future; that they control the weather
and the sensible world; that they can converse with, visit and
employ about their own business the souls of the dead. It would be
easy to show at even greater length that the medicine-man has
everywhere the power of metamorphosis. He can assume the shapes of
all beasts, birds, fishes, insects and inorganic matters, and he
can subdue other people to the same enchantment. This belief
obviously rests on the lack of recognised distinction between man
and the rest of the world, which we have so frequently insisted on
as a characteristic of savage and barbarous thought. Examples of
accredited metamorphosis are so common everywhere, and so well
known, that it would be waste of space to give a long account of
them. In Primitive Culture[1] a cloud of witnesses to the belief
in human tigers, hyaenas, leopards and wolves is collected.[2] Mr.
Lane[3] found metamorphosis by wizards as accredited a working
belief at Cairo as it is among Abipones, Eskimo, or the people of
Ashangoland. In various parts of Scotland there is a tale of a
witch who was shot at when in the guise of a hare. In this shape
she was wounded, and the same wound was found on her when she
resumed her human appearance. Lafitau, early in the last century,
found precisely the same tale, except that the wizards took the
form of birds, not of hares, among the Red Indians. The birds were
wounded by the magical arrows of an old medicine-man, Shonnoh Koui
Eretsi, and these bolts were found in the bodies of the human
culprits. In Japan, as we learn from several stories in Mr.
Mitford's Tales of Old Japan, people chiefly metamorphose
themselves into foxes and badgers. The sorcerers of Honduras[4]
"possess the power of transforming men into wild beasts, and were
much feared accordingly". Among the Cakchiquels, a cultivated
people of Guatemala, the very name of the clergy, haleb, was
derived from their power of assuming animal shapes, which they took
on as easily as the Homeric gods.[5] Regnard, the French
dramatist, who travelled among the Lapps at the end of the
seventeenth century (1681), says: "They believe witches can turn
men into cats;" and again, "Under the figures of swans, crows,
falcons and geese, they call up tempests and destroy ships".[6]
Among the Bushmen "sorcerers assume the forms of beasts and
jackals".[7] Dobrizhoffer (1717-91), a missionary in Paraguay,
found that "sorcerers arrogate to themselves the power of
transforming themselves into tigers".[8] He was present when the
Abipones believed that a conversion of this sort was actually
taking place: "Alas," cried the people, "his whole body is
beginning to be covered with tiger-spots; his nails are growing".
Near Loanda, Livingstone found that a "chief may metamorphose
himself into a lion, kill any one he choses, and then resume his
proper form".[9] Among the Barotse and Balonda, "while persons are
still alive they may enter into lions and alligators".[10] Among
the Mayas of Central America "sorcerers could transform themselves
into dogs, pigs and other animals; their glance was death to a
victim".[11] The Thlinkeets think that their Shamans can
metamorphose themselves into animals at pleasure; and a very old
raven was pointed out to Mr. C. E. S. Wood as an incarnation of the
soul of a Shaman.[12] Sir A. C. Lyall finds a similar belief in
flourishing existence in India. The European superstition of the
were-wolf is too well known to need description. Perhaps the most
curious legend is that told by Giraldus Cambrensis about a man and
his wife metamorphosed into wolves by an abbot. They retained
human speech, made exemplary professions of Christian faith, and
sent for priests when they found their last hours approaching. In
an old Norman ballad a girl is transformed into a white doe, and
hunted and slain by her brother's hounds. The "aboriginal" peoples
of India retain similar convictions. Among the Hos,[13] an old
sorcerer called Pusa was known to turn himself habitually into a
tiger, and to eat his neighbour's goats, and even their wives.
Examples of the power of sorcerers to turn, as with the Gorgon's
head, their enemies into stone, are peculiarly common in
America.[14] Hearne found that the Indians believed they descended
from a dog, who could turn himself into a handsome young man.[15]

[1] Vol. i. pp. 309-315.

[2] See also M'Lennan on Lykanthropy in Encyclopedia Britannica.

[3] Arabian Nights, i. 51.

[4] Bancroft, Races of Pacific Coast, i. 740.

[5] Brinton, Annals of the Cakchiquels, p. 46.

[6] Pinkerton, i. 471.

[7] Bleek, Brief Account of Bushman Folk-Lore, pp. 15, 40.

[8] English translation of Dobrizhoffer's Abipones, i. 163.

[9] Missionary Travels, p. 615.

[10] Livingstone, p. 642.

[11] Bancroft, ii.

[12] Century Magazine, July, 1882.

[13] Dalton's Ethnology of Bengal, p. 200.

[14] Dorman, pp. 130, 134; Report of Ethnological Bureau,
Washington, 1880-81.

[15] A Journey, etc., p. 342.

Let us recapitulate the powers attributed all over the world, by
the lower people, to medicine-men. The medicine-man has all
miracles at his command. He rules the sky, he flies into the air,
he becomes visible or invisible at will, he can take or confer any
form at pleasure, and resume his human shape. He can control
spirits, can converse with the dead, and can descend to their

When we begin to examine the gods of MYTHOLOGY, savage or civilised,
as distinct from deities contemplated, in devotion, as moral and
creative guardians of ethics, we shall find that, with the general,
though not invariable addition of immortality, they possess the very
same accomplishments as the medicine-man, peay, tohunga, jossakeed,
birraark, or whatever name for sorcerer we may choose. Among the
Greeks, Zeus, mythically envisaged, enjoys in heaven all the
attributes of the medicine-man; among the Iroquois, as Pere le
Jeune, the old Jesuit missionary, observed,[1] the medicine-man
enjoys on earth all the attributes of Zeus. Briefly, the miraculous
and supernatural endowments of the gods of MYTH, whether these gods
be zoomorphic or anthropomorphic, are exactly the magical properties
with which the medicine-man is credited by his tribe. It does not
at all follow, as Euemerus and Mr. Herbert Spencer might argue, that
the god was once a real living medicine- man. But myth-making man
confers on the deities of myth the magical powers which he claims
for himself.

[1] Relations (1636), p. 114.



Savage fancy, curiosity and credulity illustrated in nature myths--
In these all phenomena are explained by belief in the general
animation of everything, combined with belief in metamorphosis--Sun
myths, Asian, Australian, African, Melanesian, Indian, Californian,
Brazilian, Maori, Samoan--Moon myths, Australian, Muysca, Mexican,
Zulu, Macassar, Greenland, Piute, Malay--Thunder myths--Greek and
Aryan sun and moon myths--Star myths--Myths, savage and civilised,
of animals, accounting for their marks and habits--Examples of
custom of claiming blood kinship with lower animals--Myths of
various plants and trees--Myths of stones, and of metamorphosis
into stones, Greek, Australian and American--The whole natural
philosophy of savages expressed in myths, and survives in folk-lore
and classical poetry; and legends of metamorphosis.

The intellectual condition of savages which has been presented and
established by the evidence both of observers and of institutions,
may now be studied in savage myths. These myths, indeed, would of
themselves demonstrate that the ideas which the lower races
entertain about the world correspond with our statement. If any
one were to ask himself, from what mental conditions do the
following savage stories arise? he would naturally answer that the
minds which conceived the tales were curious, indolent, credulous
of magic and witchcraft, capable of drawing no line between things
and persons, capable of crediting all things with human passions
and resolutions. But, as myths analogous to those of savages, when
found among civilised peoples, have been ascribed to a psychological
condition produced by a disease of language acting after civilisation
had made considerable advances, we cannot take the savage myths as
proof of what savages think, believe and practice in the course of
daily life. To do so would be, perhaps, to argue in a circle. We
must therefore study the myths of the undeveloped races in

These myths form a composite whole, so complex and so nebulous that
it is hard indeed to array them in classes and categories. For
example, if we look at myths concerning the origin of various
phenomena, we find that some introduce the action of gods or extra-
natural beings, while others rest on a rude theory of capricious
evolution; others, again, invoke the aid of the magic of mortals,
and most regard the great natural forces, the heavenly bodies, and
the animals, as so many personal characters capable of voluntarily
modifying themselves or of being modified by the most trivial
accidents. Some sort of arrangement, however, must be attempted,
only the student is to understand that the lines are never drawn
with definite fixity, that any category may glide into any other
category of myth.

We shall begin by considering some nature myths--myths, that is to
say, which explain the facts of the visible universe. These range
from tales about heaven, day, night, the sun and the stars, to
tales accounting for the red breast of the ousel, the habits of the
quail, the spots and stripes of wild beasts, the formation of rocks
and stones, the foliage of trees, the shapes of plants. In a sense
these myths are the science of savages; in a sense they are their
sacred history; in a sense they are their fiction and romance.
Beginning with the sun, we find, as Mr. Tylor says, that "in early
philosophy throughout the world the sun and moon are alive, and, as
it were, human in their nature".[1] The mass of these solar myths
is so enormous that only a few examples can be given, chosen almost
at random out of the heap. The sun is regarded as a personal
being, capable not only of being affected by charms and
incantations, but of being trapped and beaten, of appearing on
earth, of taking a wife of the daughters of men. Garcilasso de la
Vega has a story of an Inca prince, a speculative thinker, who was
puzzled by the sun-worship of his ancestors. If the sun be thus
all-powerful, the Inca inquired, why is he plainly subject to laws?
why does he go his daily round, instead of wandering at large up
and down the fields of heaven? The prince concluded that there was
a will superior to the sun's will, and he raised a temple to the
Unknown Power. Now the phenomena which put the Inca on the path of
monotheistic religion, a path already traditional, according to
Garcilasso, have also struck the fancy of savages. Why, they ask,
does the sun run his course like a tamed beast? A reply suited to
a mind which holds that all things are personal is given in myths.
Some one caught and tamed the sun by physical force or by art

[1] Primitive Culture, i. 288.

In Australia the myth says that there was a time when the sun did
not set. "It was at all times day, and the blacks grew weary.
Norralie considered and decided that the sun should disappear at
intervals. He addressed the sun in an incantation (couched like
the Finnish Kalewala in the metre of Longfellow's Hiawatha); and
the incantation is thus interpreted: "Sun, sun, burn your wood,
burn your internal substance, and go down". The sun therefore now
burns out his fuel in a day, and goes below for fresh firewood.[1]

[1] Brough Smyth, Aborigines of Victoria, i. 430.

In New Zealand the taming of the sun is attributed to the great
hero Maui, the Prometheus of the Maoris. He set snares to catch
the sun, but in vain, for the sun's rays bit them through.
According to another account, while Norralie wished to hasten the
sun's setting, Maui wanted to delay it, for the sun used to speed
through the heavens at a racing pace. Maui therefore snared the
sun, and beat him so unmercifully that he has been lame ever since,
and travels slowly, giving longer days. "The sun, when beaten,
cried out and revealed his second great name, Taura-mis-te-ra."[1]
It will be remembered that Indra, in his abject terror when he fled
after the slaying of Vrittra, also revealed his mystic name. In
North America the same story of the trapping and laming of the sun
is told, and attributed to a hero named Tcha-ka-betch. In Samoa
the sun had a child by a Samoan woman. He trapped the sun with a
rope made of a vine and extorted presents. Another Samoan lassoed
the sun and made him promise to move more slowly.[2] These Samoan
and Australian fancies are nearly as dignified as the tale in the
Aitareya Brahmana. The gods, afraid "that the sun would fall out
of heaven, pulled him up and tied him with five ropes". These
ropes are recognised as verses in the ritual, but probably the
ritual is later than the ropes. In Mexico we find that the sun
himself (like the stars in most myths) was once a human or pre-
human devotee, Nanahuatzin, who leapt into a fire to propitiate the
gods.[3] Translated to heaven as the sun, Nanahuatzin burned so
very fiercely that he threatened to reduce the world to a cinder.
Arrows were therefore shot at him, and this punishment had as happy
an effect as the beatings administered by Maui and Tcha-ka-betch.
Among the Bushmen of South Africa the sun was once a man, from
whose armpit a limited amount of light was radiated round his hut.
Some children threw him up into the sky, and there he stuck, and
there he shines.[4] In the Homeric hymn to Helios, as Mr. Max
Muller observes, "the poet looks on Helios as a half god, almost a
hero, who had once lived on earth," which is precisely the view of
the Bushmen.[5] Among the Aztecs the sun is said to have been
attacked by a hunter and grievously wounded by his arrows.[6] The
Gallinomeros, in Central California, seem at least to know that the
sun is material and impersonal. They say that when all was dark in
the beginning, the animals were constantly jostling each other.
After a painful encounter, the hawk and the coyote collected two
balls of inflammable substance; the hawk (Indra was occasionally a
hawk) flew up with them into heaven, and lighted them with sparks
from a flint. There they gave light as sun and moon. This is an
exception to the general rule that the heavenly bodies are regarded
as persons. The Melanesian tale of the bringing of night is a
curious contrast to the Mexican, Maori, Australian and American
Indian stories which we have quoted. In Melanesia, as in
Australia, the days were long, indeed endless, and people grew
tired; but instead of sending the sun down below by an incantation
when night would follow in course of nature, the Melanesian hero
went to Night (conceived of as a person) and begged his assistance.
Night (Qong) received Qat (the hero) kindly, darkened his eyes,
gave him sleep, and, in twelve hours or so, crept up from the
horizon and sent the sun crawling to the west.[7] In the same
spirit Paracelsus is said to have attributed night, not to the
absence of the sun, but to the apparition of certain stars which
radiate darkness. It is extraordinary that a myth like the
Melanesian should occur in Brazil. There was endless day till some
one married a girl whose father "the great serpent," was the owner
of night. The father sent night bottled up in a gourd. The gourd
was not to be uncorked till the messengers reached the bride, but
they, in their curiosity, opened the gourd, and let night out

[1] Taylor, New Zealand, p. 131.

[2] Turner, Samoa, p. 20.

[3] Sahagun, French trans., vii. ii.

[4] Bleck, Hottentot Fables, p. 67; Bushman Folk-Lore, pp. 9, 11.

[5] Compare a Californian solar myth: Bancroft, iii. pp. 85, 86.

[6] Bancroft, iii. 73, quoting Burgoa, i. 128, 196.

[7] Codrington, Journ. Anthrop. Inst., February, 1881.

[8] Contes Indiens du Bresil, pp. 1-9, by Couto de Magalhaes. Rio
de Janeiro, 1883. M. Henri Gaidoz kindly presented the author with
this work.

The myths which have been reported deal mainly with the sun as a
person who shines, and at fixed intervals disappears. His
relations with the moon are much more complicated, and are the
subject of endless stories, all explaining in a romantic fashion
why the moon waxes and wanes, whence come her spots, why she is
eclipsed, all starting from the premise that sun and moon are
persons with human parts and passions. Sometimes the moon is a
man, sometimes a woman and the sex of the sun varies according to
the fancy of the narrators. Different tribes of the same race, as
among the Australians, have different views of the sex of moon and
sun. Among the aborigines of Victoria, the moon, like the sun
among the Bushmen, was a black fellow before he went up into the
sky. After an unusually savage career, he was killed with a stone
hatchet by the wives of the eagle, and now he shines in the
heavens.[1] Another myth explanatory of the moon's phases was
found by Mr. Meyer in 1846 among the natives of Encounter Bay.
According to them the moon is a woman, and a bad woman to boot.
She lives a life of dissipation among men, which makes her
consumptive, and she wastes away till they drive her from their
company. While she is in retreat, she lives on nourishing roots,
becomes quite plump, resumes her gay career, and again wastes away.
The same tribe, strangely enough, think that the sun also is a
woman. Every night she descends among the dead, who stand in
double lines to greet her and let her pass. She has a lover among
the dead, who has presented her with a red kangaroo skin, and in
this she appears at her rising. Such is the view of rosy-fingered
Dawn entertained by the blacks of Encounter Bay. In South America,
among the Muyscas of Bogota, the moon, Huythaca, is the malevolent
wife of the child of the sun; she was a woman before her husband
banished her to the fields of space.[2] The moon is a man among
the Khasias of the Himalaya, and he was guilty of the unpardonable
offence of admiring his mother-in-law. As a general rule, the
mother-in-law is not even to be spoken to by the savage son-in-law.
The lady threw ashes in his face to discourage his passion, hence
the moon's spots. The waning of the moon suggested the most
beautiful and best known of savage myths, that in which the moon
sends a beast to tell mortals that, though they die like her, like
her they shall be born again.[3] Because the spots in the moon
were thought to resemble a hare they were accounted for in Mexico
by the hypothesis that a god smote the moon in the face with a
rabbit;[4] in Zululand and Thibet by a fancied translation of a
good or bad hare to the moon.

[1] Brough Smyth, Aborigines of Victoria, i. 432.

[2] Tylor, Primitive Culture, i. 353.

[3] Bleek, Reynard in South Africa, pp. 69-74.

[4] Sahagun, viii. 2.

The Eskimos have a peculiar myth to account for the moon's spots.
Sun and moon were human brother and sister. In the darkness the
moon once attempted the virtue of the sun. She smeared his face
over with ashes, that she might detect him when a light was
brought. She did discover who her assailant had been, fled to the
sky, and became the sun. The moon still pursues her, and his face
is still blackened with the marks of ashes.[1] Gervaise[2] says
that in Macassar the moon was held to be with child by the sun, and
that when he pursued her and wished to beat her, she was delivered
of the earth. They are now reconciled. About the alternate
appearance of sun and moon a beautifully complete and adequate tale
is told by the Piute Indians of California. No more adequate and
scientific explanation could possibly be offered, granting the
hypothesis that sun and moon are human persons and savage persons.
The myth is printed as it was taken down by Mr. De Quille from the
lips of Tooroop Eenah (Desert Father), a chief of the Piutes, and
published in a San Francisco newspaper.

[1] Crantz's History of Greenland, i. 212.

[2] Royaume de Macacar, l688.

"The sun is the father and ruler of the heavens. He is the big
chief. The moon is his wife and the stars are their children. The
sun eats his children whenever he can catch them. They flee before
him, and are all the time afraid when he is passing through the
heavens. When he (their father) appears in the morning, you see
all the stars, his children, fly out of sight--go away back into
the blue of the above--and they do not wake to be seen again until
he, their father, is about going to his bed.

"Down deep under the ground--deep, deep, under all the ground--is a
great hole. At night, when he has passed over the world, looked
down on everything and finished his work, he, the sun, goes into
his hole, and he crawls and creeps along it till he comes to his
bed in the middle part of the earth. So then he, the sun, sleeps
there in his bed all night.

"This hole is so little, and he, the sun, is so big, that he cannot
turn round in it; and so he must, when he has had all his sleep,
pass on through, and in the morning we see him come out in the
east. When he, the sun, has so come out, he begins to hunt up
through the sky to catch and eat any that he can of the stars, his
children, for if he does not so catch and eat he cannot live. He,
the sun, is not all seen. The shape of him is like a snake or a
lizard. It is not his head that we can see, but his belly, filled
up with the stars that times and times he has swallowed.

"The moon is the mother of the heavens and is the wife of the sun.
She, the moon, goes into the same hole as her husband to sleep her
naps. But always she has great fear of the sun, her husband, and
when he comes through the hole to the nobee (tent) deep in the
ground to sleep, she gets out and comes away if he be cross.

"She, the moon, has great love for her children, the stars, and is
happy to travel among them in the above; and they, her children,
feel safe, and sing and dance as she passes along. But the mother,
she cannot help that some of her children must be swallowed by the
father every month. It is ordered that way by the Pah-ah (Great
Spirit), who lives above the place of all.

"Every month that father, the sun, does swallow some of the stars,
his children, and then that mother, the moon, feels sorrow. She
must mourn; so she must put the black on her face for to mourn the
dead. You see the Piute women put black on their faces when a
child is gone. But the dark will wear away from the face of that
mother, the moon, a little and a little every day, and after a time
again we see all bright the face of her. But soon more of her
children are gone, and again she must put on her face the pitch and
the black."

Here all the phenomena are accounted for, and the explanation is as
advanced as the Egyptian doctrine of the hole under the earth where
the sun goes when he passes from our view. And still the Great
Spirit is over all: Religion comes athwart Myth.

Mr. Tylor quotes[1] a nature myth about sun, moon and stars which
remarkably corresponds to the speculation of the Piutes. The
Mintira of the Malayan Peninsula say that both sun and moon are
women. The stars are the moon's children; once the sun had as
many. They each agreed (like the women of Jerusalem in the
famine), to eat their own children; but the sun swallowed her whole
family, while the moon concealed hers. When the sun saw this she
was exceedingly angry, and pursued the moon to kill her.
Occasionally she gets a bite out of the moon, and that is an
eclipse. The Hos of North-East India tell the same tale, but say
that the sun cleft the moon in twain for her treachery, and that
she continues to be cut in two and grow again every month. With
these sun and moon legends sometimes coexists the RELIGIOUS belief
in a Creator of these and of all things.

[1] Primitive Culture, i. 356.

In harmony with the general hypothesis that all objects in nature
are personal, and human or bestial, in real shape, and in passion
and habits, are the myths which account for eclipses. These have
so frequently been published and commented on[1] that a long
statement would be tedious and superfluous. To the savage mind,
and even to the Chinese and the peasants of some European
countries, the need of an explanation is satisfied by the myth that
an evil beast is devouring the sun or the moon. The people even
try by firing off guns, shrieking, and clashing cymbals, to
frighten the beast (wolf, pig, dragon, or what not) from his prey.
What the hungry monster in the sky is doing when he is not biting
the sun or moon we are not informed. Probably he herds with the
big bird whose wings, among the Dacotahs of America and the Zulus
of Africa, make thunder; or he may associate with the dragons,
serpents, cows and other aerial cattle which supply the rain, and
show themselves in the waterspout. Chinese, Greenland, Hindoo,
Finnish, Lithunian and Moorish examples of the myth about the moon-
devouring beasts are vouched for by Grimm.[2] A Mongolian legend
has it that the gods wished to punish the maleficent Arakho for his
misdeeds, but Arakho hid so cleverly that their limited omnipotence
could not find him. The sun, when asked to turn spy, gave an
evasive answer. The moon told the truth. Arakho was punished, and
ever since he chases sun and moon. When he nearly catches either
of them, there is an eclipse, and the people try to drive him off
by making a hideous uproar with musical and other instruments.[3]
Captain Beeckman in 1704 was in Borneo, when the natives declared
that the devil "was eating the moon".

[1] Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. i.; Lefebure, Les Yeux d'Horus,

[2] Teutonic Mythology, English trans., ii. 706.

[3] Moon-Lore by Rev. T. Harley, p. 167.

Dr. Brinton in his Myths and Myth-Makers gives examples from
Peruvians, Tupis, Creeks, Iroquois and Algonkins. It would be
easy, and is perhaps superfluous, to go on multiplying proofs of
the belief that sun and moon are, or have been, persons. In the
Hervey Isles these two luminaries are thought to have been made out
of the body of a child cut in twain by his parents. The blood
escaped from the half which is the moon, hence her pallor.[1] This
tale is an exception to the general rule, but reminds us of the
many myths which represent the things in the world as having been
made out of a mutilated man, like the Vedic Purusha. It is hardly
necessary, except by way of record, to point out that the Greek
myths of sun and moon, like the myths of savages, start from the
conception of the solar and lunar bodies as persons with parts and
passions, human loves and human sorrows. As in the Mongolian myth
of Arakho, the sun "sees all and hears all," and, less honourable
than the Mongolian sun, he plays the spy for Hephaestus on the
loves of Ares and Aphrodite. He has mistresses and human children,
such as Circe and Aeetes.[2]

[1] Gill, Myths and Songs, p. 45.

[2] See chapter on Greek Divine Myths.

The sun is all-seeing and all-penetrating. In a Greek song of to-
day a mother sends a message to an absent daughter by the sun; it
is but an unconscious repetition of the request of the dying Ajax
that the heavenly body will tell his fate to his old father and his
sorrowing spouse.[1]

[1] Sophocles, Ajax, 846.

Selene, the moon, like Helios, the sun, was a person, and amorous.
Beloved by Zeus, she gave birth to Pandia, and Pan gained her
affection by the simple rustic gift of a fleece.[1] The Australian
Dawn, with her present of a red kangaroo skin, was not more lightly
won than the chaste Selene. Her affection for Endymion is well
known, and her cold white glance shines through the crevices of his
mountain grave, hewn in a rocky wall, like the tombs of Phrygia.[2]
She is the sister of the sun in Hesiod, the daughter (by his
sister) of Hyperion in the Homeric hymns to Helios.

[1] Virgil, Georgics, iii. 391.

[2] Preller, Griech. Myth., i. 163.

In Greece the aspects of sun and moon take the most ideal human
forms, and show themselves in the most gracious myths. But, after
all, these retain in their anthropomorphism the marks of the
earliest fancy, the fancy of Eskimos and Australians. It seems to
be commonly thought that the existence of solar myths is denied by
anthropologists. This is a vulgar error. There is an enormous
mass of solar myths, but they are not caused by "a disease of
language," and--all myths are not solar!

There is no occasion to dwell long on myths of the same character
in which the stars are accounted for as transformed human
adventurers. It has often been shown that this opinion is
practically of world-wide distribution.[1] We find it in
Australia, Persia, Greece, among the Bushmen, in North and South
America, among the Eskimos, in ancient Egypt, in New Zealand, in
ancient India--briefly, wherever we look. The Sanskrit forms of
these myths have been said to arise from confusion as to the
meaning of words. But is it credible that, in all languages,
however different, the same kind of unconscious puns should have
led to the same mistaken beliefs? As the savage, barbarous and
Greek star-myths (such as that of Callisto, first changed into a
bear and then into a constellation) are familiar to most readers, a
few examples of Sanskrit star-stories are offered here from the
Satapatha Brahmana.[2] Fires are not, according to the Brahmana
ritual, to be lighted under the stars called Krittikas, the
Pleiades. The reason is that the stars were the wives of the bears
(Riksha), for the group known in Brahmanic times as the Rishis
(sages) were originally called the Rikshas (bears). But the wives
of the bears were excluded from the society of their husbands, for
the bears rise in the north and their wives in the east. Therefore
the worshipper should not set up his fires under the Pleiades, lest
he should thereby be separated from the company of his wife. The
Brahmanas[3] also tell us that Prajapati had an unholy passion for
his daughter, who was in the form of a doe. The gods made Rudra
fire an arrow at Prajapati to punish him; he was wounded, and
leaped into the sky, where he became one constellation and his
daughter another, and the arrow a third group of stars. In
general, according to the Brahmanas, "the stars are the lights of
virtuous men who go to the heavenly world".[4]

[1] Custom and Myth, "Star-Myths"; Primitive Culture, i. 288, 291;
J. G. Muller, Amerikanischen Urreligionen, pp. 52, 53.

[2] Sacred Books of the East, i. 283-286.

[3] Aitareya Bramana, iii. 33.

[4] Satapatha Brahmana, vi. 5, 4, 8. For Greek examples, Hesiod,
Ovid, and the Catasterismoi, attributed to Eratosthenes, are useful
authorities. Probably many of the tales in Eratosthenes are late
fictions consciously moulded on traditional data.

Passing from savage myths explanatory of the nature of celestial
bodies to myths accounting for the formation and colour and habits
of beasts, birds and fishes, we find ourselves, as an old Jesuit
missionary says, in the midst of a barbarous version of Ovid's
Metamorphoses. It has been shown that the possibility of
interchange of form between man and beast is part of the working
belief of everyday existence among the lower peoples. They regard
all things as on one level, or, to use an old political phrase,
they "level up" everything to equality with the human status. Thus
Mr. Im Thurn, a very good observer, found that to the Indians of
Guiana "all objects, animate or inaminate, seem exactly of the same
nature, except that they differ by the accident of bodily form".
Clearly to grasp this entirely natural conception of primitive man,
the civilised student must make a great effort to forget for a time
all that science has taught him of the differences between the
objects which fill the world.[1] "To the ear of the savage,
animals certainly seem to talk." "As far as the Indians of Guiana
are concerned, I do not believe that they distinguish such beings
as sun and moon, or such other natural phenomena as winds and
storms, from men and other animals, from plants and other inanimate
objects, or from any other objects whatsoever." Bancroft says
about North American myths, "Beasts and birds and fishes fetch and
carry, talk and act, in a way that leaves even Aesop's heroes quite
in the shade".[2]

[1] Journ. Anthrop. Inst., xi. 366-369. A very large and rich
collection of testimonies as to metamorphosis will be found in J.
G. Muller's Amerikanischen Urreligionen, p. 62 et seq.; while, for
European superstitions, Bodin on La Demonomanie des Sorciers, Lyon,
1598, may be consulted.

[2] Vol. iii. p. 127.

The savage tendency is to see in inanimate things animals, and in
animals disguised men. M. Reville quotes in his Religions des
Peuples Non-Civilise's, i. 64, the story of some Negroes, who, the
first time they were shown a cornemuse, took the instrument for a
beast, the two holes for its eyes. The Highlander who looted a
watch at Prestonpans, and observing, "She's teed," sold it cheap
when it ran down, was in the same psychological condition. A queer
bit of savage science is displayed on a black stone tobacco-pipe
from the Pacific Coast.[1] The savage artist has carved the pipe
in the likeness of a steamer, as a steamer is conceived by him.
"Unable to account for the motive power, he imagines the paddle to
be linked round the tongue of a coiled serpent, fastened to the
tail of the vessel," and so he represents it on the black stone
pipe. Nay, a savage's belief that beasts are on his own level is
so literal, that he actually makes blood-covenants with the lower
animals, as he does with men, mingling his gore with theirs, or
smearing both together on a stone;[2] while to bury dead animals
with sacred rites is as usual among the Bedouins and Malagasies to-
day as in ancient Egypt or Attica. In the same way the Ainos of
Japan, who regard the bear as a kinsman, sacrifice a bear once a
year. But, to propitiate the animal and his connections, they
appoint him a "mother," an Aino girl, who looks after his comforts,
and behaves in a way as maternal as possible. The bear is now a
kinsman, [Greek text omitted], and cannot avenge himself within the
kin. This, at least, seems to be the humour of it. In Lagarde's
Reliquiae Juris Ecclesiastici Antiquissimae a similar Syrian
covenant of kinship with insects is described. About 700 A. D.,
when a Syrian garden was infested by caterpillars, the maidens were
assembled, and one caterpillar was caught. Then one of the virgins
was "made its mother," and the creature was buried with due
lamentations. The "mother" was then brought to the spot where the
pests were, her companions bewailed her, and the caterpillars
perished like their chosen kinsman, but without extorting
revenge.[3] Revenge was out of their reach. They had been brought
within the kin of their foes, and there were no Erinnyes, "avengers
of kindred blood," to help them. People in this condition of
belief naturally tell hundreds of tales, in which men, stones,
trees, beasts, shift shapes, and in which the modifications of
animal forms are caused by accident, or by human agency, or by
magic, or by metamorphosis. Such tales survive in our modern folk-
lore. To make our meaning clear, we may give the European nursery-
myth of the origin of the donkey's long ears, and, among other
illustrations, the Australian myth of the origin of the black and
white plumage of the pelican. Mr. Ralston has published the
Russian version of the myth of the donkey's ears. The Spanish
form, which is identical with the Russian, is given by Fernan
Caballero in La Gaviota.

[1] Magazine of Art, January, 1883.

[2] "Malagasy Folk-Tales," Folk-Lore Journal, October, 1883.

[3] We are indebted to Professor Robertson Smith for this example,
and to Miss Bird's Journal, pp. 90, 97, for the Aino parallel.

"Listen! do you know why your ears are so big?" (the story is told
to a stupid little boy with big ears). "When Father Adam found
himself in Paradise with the animals, he gave each its name; those
of THY species, my child, he named 'donkeys'. One day, not long
after, he called the beasts together, and asked each to tell him
its name. They all answered right except the animals of THY sort,
and they had forgotten their name! Then Father Adam was very
angry, and, taking that forgetful donkey by the ears, he pulled
them out, screaming 'You are called DONKEY!' And the donkey's ears
have been long ever since." This, to a child, is a credible
explanation. So, perhaps, is another survival of this form of
science--the Scotch explanation of the black marks on the haddock;
they were impressed by St. Peter's finger and thumb when he took
the piece of money for Caesar's tax out of the fish's mouth.

Turning from folk-lore to savage beliefs, we learn that from one
end of Africa to another the honey-bird, schneter, is said to be an
old woman whose son was lost, and who pursued him till she was
turned into a bird, which still shrieks his name, "Schneter,
Schneter".[1] In the same way the manners of most of the birds
known to the Greeks were accounted for by the myth that they had
been men and women. Zeus, for example, turned Ceyx and Halcyon
into sea-fowls because they were too proud in their married
happiness.[2] To these myths of the origin of various animals we
shall return, but we must not forget the black and white Australian
pelican. Why is the pelican parti-coloured?[3] For this reason:
After the Flood (the origin of which is variously explained by the
Murri), the pelican (who had been a black fellow) made a canoe, and
went about like a kind of Noah, trying to save the drowning. In
the course of his benevolent mission he fell in love with a woman,
but she and her friends played him a trick and escaped from him.
The pelican at once prepared to go on the war-path. The first
thing to do was to daub himself white, as is the custom of the
blacks before a battle. They think the white pipe-clay strikes
terror and inspires respect among the enemy. But when the pelican
was only half pipe-clayed, another pelican came past, and, "not
knowing what such a queer black and white thing was, struck the
first pelican with his beak and killed him. Before that pelicans
were all black; now they are black and white. That is the

[1] Barth, iii. 358.

[2] Apollodorus, i. 7 (13, 12).

[3] Sahagun, viii. 2, accounts for colours of eagle and tiger. A
number of races explain the habits and marks of animals as the
result of a curse or blessing of a god or hero. The Hottentots,
the Huarochiri of Peru, the New Zealanders (Shortland, Traditions,
p. 57), are among the peoples which use this myth.

[4] Brough Symth, Aborigines of Australia, i. 477, 478.

"That is the reason." Therewith native philosopy is satisfied, and
does not examine in Mr. Darwin's laborious manner the slow
evolution of the colour of the pelican's plumage. The mythological
stories about animals are rather difficult to treat, because they
are so much mixed up with the topic of totemism. Here we only
examine myths which account by means of a legend for certain
peculiarities in the habits, cries, or colours and shapes of
animals. The Ojibbeways told Kohl they had a story for every
creature, accounting for its ways and appearance. Among the
Greeks, as among Australians and Bushmen, we find that nearly every
notable bird or beast had its tradition. The nightingale and the
swallow have a story of the most savage description, a story
reported by Apollodorus, though Homer[1] refers to another, and, as
usual, to a gentler and more refined form of the myth. Here is the
version of Apollodorus. "Pandion" (an early king of Athens)
"married Zeuxippe, his mother's sister, by whom he had two
daughters, Procne and Philomela, and two sons, Erechtheus and
Butes. A war broke out with Labdas about some debatable land, and
Erechtheus invited the alliance of Tereus of Thrace, the son of
Ares. Having brought the war, with the aid of Tereus, to a happy
end, he gave him his daughter Procne to wife. By Procne, Tereus
had a son, Itys, and thereafter fell in love with Philomela, whom
he seduced, pretending that Procne was dead, whereas he had really
concealed her somewhere in his lands. Thereon he married
Philomela, and cut out her tongue. But she wove into a robe
characters that told the whole story, and by means of these
acquainted Procne with her sufferings. Thereon Procne found her
sister, and slew Itys, her own son, whose body she cooked, and
served up to Tereus in a banquet. Thereafter Procne and her sister
fled together, and Tereus seized an axe and followed after them.
They were overtaken at Daulia in Phocis, and prayed to the gods
that they might be turned into birds. So Procne became the
nightingale, and Philomela the swallow, while Tereus was changed
into a hoopoe."[2] Pausanias has a different legend; Procne and
Philomela died of excessive grief.

[1] Odyssey, xix. 523.

[2] A Red Indian nightingale-myth is alluded to by J. G. Muller,
Amerik. Urrel., p. 175. Some one was turned into a nightingale by
the sun, and still wails for a lost lover.

These ancient men and women metamorphosed into birds were HONOURED
AS ANCESTORS by the Athenians.[1] Thus the unceasing musical wail
of the nightingale and the shrill cry of the swallow were explained
by a Greek story. The birds were lamenting their old human sorrow,
as the honey-bird in Africa still repeats the name of her lost son.

[1] Pausanias, i. v. Pausanias thinks such things no longer occur.

Why does the red-robin live near the dwellings of men, a bold and
friendly bird? The Chippeway Indians say he was once a young
brave whose father set him a task too cruel for his strength, and
made him starve too long when he reached man's estate. He turned
into a robin, and said to his father, "I shall always be the friend
of man, and keep near their dwellings. I could not gratify your
pride as a warrior, but I will cheer you by my songs."[1] The
converse of this legend is the Greek myth of the hawk. Why is the
hawk so hated by birds? Hierax was a benevolent person who
succoured a race hated by Poseidon. The god therefore changed him
into a hawk, and made him as much detested by birds, and as fatal
to them, as he had been beloved by and gentle to men.[2] The
Hervey Islanders explain the peculiarities of several fishes by the
share they took in the adventures of Ina, who stamped, for example,
on the sole, and so flattened him for ever.[3] In Greece the
dolphins were, according to the Homeric hymn to Dionysus,
metamorphosed pirates who had insulted the god. But because the
dolphin found the hidden sea-goddess whom Poseidon loved, the
dolphin, too, was raised by the grateful sea-god to the stars.[4]
The vulture and the heron, according to Boeo (said to have been a
priestess in Delphi and the author of a Greek treatise on the
traditions about birds), were once a man named Aigupios (vulture)
and his mother, Boulis. They sinned inadvertently, like Oedipus
and Jocasta; wherefore Boulis, becoming aware of the guilt, was
about to put out the eyes of her son and slay herself. Then they
were changed, Boulis into the heron, "which tears out and feeds on
the eyes of snakes, birds and fishes, and Aigupios into the vulture
which bears his name". This story, of which the more repulsive
details are suppressed, is much less pleasing and more savage than
the Hervey Islanders' myth of the origin of pigs. Maaru was an old
blind man who lived with his son Kationgia. There came a year of
famine, and Kationgia had great difficulty in finding food for
himself and his father. He gave the blind old man puddings of
banana roots and fishes, while he lived himself on sea-slugs and
shellfish, like the people of Terra del Fuego. But blind old Maaru
suspected his son of giving him the worst share and keeping what
was best for himself. At last he discovered that Kationgia was
really being starved; he felt his body, and found that he was a
mere living skeleton. The two wept together, and the father made a
feast of some cocoa-nuts and bread-fruit, which he had reserved
against the last extremity. When all was finished, he said he had
eaten his last meal and was about to die. He ordered his son to
cover him with leaves and grass, and return to the spot in four
days. If worms were crawling about, he was to throw leaves and
grass over them and come back four days later. Kationgia did as he
was instructed, and, on his second visit to the grave, found the
whole mass of leaves in commotion. A brood of pigs, black, white
and speckled, had sprung up from the soil; famine was a thing of
the past, and Kationgia became a great chief in the island.[5]

[1] Schoolcraft, ii. 229, 230.

[1] Boeo, quoted by Antoninus Liberalis.

[3] Gill, South Sea Myths, pp. 88-95.

[4] Artemidorus in his Love Elegies, quoted by the Pseud-

[5] Gill, Myths and Songs from South Pacific, pp. 135-138.

"The owl was a baker's daughter" is the fragment of Christian
mythology preserved by Ophelia. The baker's daughter behaved
rudely to our Lord, and was changed into the bird that looks not on
the sun. The Greeks had a similar legend of feminine impiety by
which they mythically explained the origin of the owl, the bat and
the eagle-owl. Minyas of Orchomenos had three daughters, Leucippe,
Arsippe and Alcathoe, most industrious women, who declined to join
the wild mysteries of Dionysus. The god took the shape of a
maiden, and tried to win them to his worship. They refused, and he
assumed the form of a bull, a lion, and a leopard as easily as the
chiefs of the Abipones become tigers, or as the chiefs among the
African Barotse and Balonda metamorphose themselves into lions and
alligators.[1] The daughters of Minyas, in alarm, drew lots to
determine which of them should sacrifice a victim to the god.
Leucippe drew the lot and offered up her own son. They then rushed
to join the sacred rites of Dionysus, when Hermes transformed them
into the bat, the owl and the eagle-owl, and these three hide from
the light of the sun.[2]

[1] Livingstone, Missionary Travels, pp. 615, 642.

[2] Nicander, quoted by Antoninus Liberalis.

A few examples of Bushman and Australian myths explanatory of the
colours and habits of animals will probably suffice to establish
the resemblance between savage and Hellenic legends of this
character. The Bushman myth about the origin of the eland (a large
antelope) is not printed in full by Dr. Bleek, but he observes that
it "gives an account of the reasons for the colours of the gemsbok,
hartebeest, eland, quagga and springbok".[1] Speculative Bushmen
seem to have been puzzled to account for the wildness of the eland.
It would be much more convenient if the eland were tame and could
be easily captured. They explain its wildness by saying that the
eland was "spoiled" before Cagn, the creator, or rather maker of
most things, had quite finished it. Cagn's relations came and
hunted the first eland too soon, after which all other elands grew
wild. Cagn then said, "Go and hunt them and try to kill one; that
is now your work, for it was you who spoilt them".[2] The Bushmen
have another myth explanatory of the white patches on the breasts
of crows in their country. Some men tarried long at their hunting,
and their wives sent out crows in search of their husbands. Round
each crow's neck was hung a piece of fat to serve as food on the
journey. Hence the crows have white patches on breast and neck.

[1] Brief Account of Bushmen Folk-Lore, p. 7.

[2] Cape Monthly Magazine, July, 1874.

In Australia the origins of nearly all animals appear to be
explained in myths, of which a fair collection is printed in Mr.
Brough Symth's Aborigines of Victoria.[1] Still better examples
occur in Mrs. Langloh Parker's Australian Legends. Why is the
crane so thin? Once he was a man named Kar-ween, the second man
fashioned out of clay by Pund-jel, a singular creative being, whose
chequered career is traced elsewhere in our chapter on "Savage
Myths of the Origin of the World and of Man". Kar-ween and Pund-
jel had a quarrel about the wives of the former, whom Pund-jel was
inclined to admire. The crafty Kar-ween gave a dance (jugargiull,
corobboree), at which the creator Pund-jel was disporting himself
gaily (like the Great Panjandrum), when Kar-ween pinned him with a
spear. Pund-jel threw another which took Kar-ween in the knee-
joint, so that he could not walk, but soon pined away and became a
mere skeleton. "Thereupon Pund-jel made Kar-ween a crane," and
that is why the crane has such attenuated legs. The Kortume,
Munkari and Waingilhe, now birds, were once men. The two latter
behaved unkindly to their friend Kortume, who shot them out of his
hut in a storm of rain, singing at the same time an incantation.
The three then turned into birds, and when the Kortume sings it is
a token that rain may be expected.

[1] Vol. i. p. 426 et seq.

Let us now compare with these Australian myths of the origin of
certain species of birds the Greek story of the origin of frogs, as
told by Menecrates and Nicander.[1] The frogs were herdsmen
metamorphosed by Leto, the mother of Apollo. But, by way of
showing how closely akin are the fancies of Greeks and Australian
black fellows, we shall tell the legend without the proper names,
which gave it a fictitious dignity.

[1] Antoninus Liberalis, xxxv.


"A woman bore two children, and sought for a water-spring wherein
to bathe them. She found a well, but herdsmen drove her away from
it that their cattle might drink. Then some wolves met her and led
her to a river, of which she drank, and in its waters she bathed
her children. Then she went back to the well where the herdsmen
were now bathing, and she turned them all into frogs. She struck
their backs and shoulders with a rough stone and drove them into
the waters, and ever since that day frogs live in marshes and
beside rivers."

A volume might be filled with such examples of the kindred fancies
of Greeks and savages. Enough has probably been said to illustrate
our point, which is that Greek myths of this character were
inherited from the period of savagery, when ideas of metamorphosis
and of the kinship of men and beasts were real practical beliefs.
Events conceived to be common in real life were introduced into
myths, and these myths were savage science, and were intended to
account for the Origin of Species. But when once this train of
imagination has been fired, it burns on both in literature and in
the legends of the peasantry. Every one who writes a Christmas
tale for children now employs the machinery of metamorphosis, and
in European folk-lore, as Fontenelle remarked, stories persist
which are precisely similar in kind to the minor myths of savages.

Reasoning in this wise, the Mundas of Bengal thus account for
peculiarities of certain animals. Sing Bonga, the chief god, cast
certain people out of heaven; they fell to earth, found iron ore,
and began smelting it. The black smoke displeased Sing Bonga, who
sent two king crows and an owl to bid people cease to pollute the
atmosphere. But the iron smelters spoiled these birds' tails, and
blackened the previously white crow, scorched its beak red, and
flattened its head. Sing Bonga burned man, and turned woman into
hills and waterspouts.[1]

[1] Dalton, pp. 186, 187.

Examples of this class of myth in Indo-Aryan literature are not
hard to find. Why is dawn red? Why are donkeys slow? Why have
mules no young ones? Mules have no foals because they were
severely burned when Agni (fire) drove them in a chariot race.
Dawn is red, not because (as in Australia) she wears a red kangaroo
cloak, but because she competed in this race with red cows for her
coursers. Donkeys are slow because they never recovered from their
exertions in the same race, when the Asvins called on their asses
and landed themselves the winners.[1] And cows are accommodated
with horns for a reason no less probable and satisfactory.[2]

[1] Aitareya Brahmana, ii. 272, iv. 9.

[2] iv. 17.

Though in the legends of the less developed peoples men and women
are more frequently metamorphosed into birds and beasts than into
stones and plants, yet such changes of form are by no means
unknown. To the north-east of Western Point there lies a range of
hills, inhabited, according to the natives of Victoria, by a
creature whose body is made of stone, and weapons make no wound in
so sturdy a constitution. The blacks refuse to visit the range
haunted by the mythic stone beast. "Some black fellows were once
camped at the lakes near Shaving Point. They were cooking their
fish when a native dog came up. They did not give him anything to
eat. He became cross and said, 'You black fellows have lots of
fish, but you give me none'. So he changed them all into a big
rock. This is quite true, for the big rock is there to this day,
and I have seen it with my own eyes."[1] Another native, Toolabar,
says that the women of the fishing party cried out yacka torn,
"very good". A dog replied yacka torn, and they were all changed
into rocks. This very man, Toolabar, once heard a dog begin to
talk, whereupon he and his father fled. Had they waited they would
have become stones. "We should have been like it, wallung," that
is, stones.

[1] Native narrator, ap. Brough Smyth, i. 479.

Among the North American Indians any stone which has a resemblance
to the human or animal figure is explained as an example of
metamorphosis. Three stones among the Aricaras were a girl, her
lover and her dog, who fled from home because the course of true
love did not run smooth, and who were petrified. Certain stones
near Chinook Point were sea-giants who swallowed a man. His
brother, by aid of fire, dried up the bay and released the man,
still alive, from the body of the giant. Then the giants were
turned into rocks.[1] The rising sun in Popol Vuh (if the evidence
of Popol Vuh, the Quichua sacred book, is to be accepted) changed
into stone the lion, serpent and tiger gods. The Standing Rock on
the Upper Missouri is adored by the Indians, and decorated with
coloured ribbons and skins of animals. This stone was a woman,
who, like Niobe, became literally petrified with grief when her
husband took a second wife. Another stone-woman in a cave on the
banks of the Kickapoo was wont to kill people who came near her,
and is even now approached with great respect. The Oneidas and
Dacotahs claim descent from stones to which they ascribe
animation.[2] Montesinos speaks of a sacred stone which was
removed from a mountain by one of the Incas. A parrot flew out of
it and lodged in another stone, which the natives still worship.[3]
The Breton myth about one of the great stone circles (the stones
were peasants who danced on a Sunday) is a well-known example of
this kind of myth surviving in folk-lore. There is a kind of stone
Actaeon[4] near Little Muniton Creek, "resembling the bust of a man
whose head is decorated with the horns of a stag".[5] A crowd of
myths of metamorphosis into stone will be found among the Iroquois
legends in Report of Bureau of Ethnology, 1880-81. If men may
become stones, on the other hand, in Samoa (as in the Greek myth of
Deucalion), stones may become men.[6] Gods, too, especially when
these gods happen to be cuttlefish, might be petrified. They were
chased in Samoa by an Upolu hero, who caught them in a great net
and killed them. "They were changed into stones, and now stand up
in a rocky part of the lagoon on the north side of Upolu."[7]
Mauke, the first man, came out of a stone. In short,[8] men and
stones and beasts and gods and thunder have interchangeable forms.
In Mangaia[9] the god Ra was tossed up into the sky by Maui and
became pumice-stone. Many samples of this petrified deity are
found in Mangaia. In Melanesia matters are so mixed that it is not
easy to decide whether a worshipful stone is the dwelling of a dead
man's soul or is of spiritual merit in itself, or whether "the
stone is the spirit's outward part or organ". The Vui, or spirit,
has much the same relations with snakes, owls and sharks.[10]
Qasavara, the mythical opponent of Qat, the Melanesian Prometheus,
"fell dead from heaven" (like Ra in Mangia), and was turned into a
stone, on which sacrifices are made by those who desire strength in

[1] See authorities ap. Dorman, Primitive Superstitions, pp. 130-

[2] Dorman, p. 133.

[3] Many examples are collected by J. G. Muller, Amerikanischen
Urreligionen, pp. 97, 110, 125, especially when the stones have a
likeness to human form, p. 17a. Im der That werden auch einige in
Steine, oder in Thiere and Pflanzen verwandelt." Cf. p. 220.
Instances (from Balboa) of men turned into stone by wizards, p.

[4] Preller thinks that Actaeon, devoured by his hounds after being
changed into a stag, is a symbol of the vernal year. Palaephatus
(De Fab. Narrat.) holds that the story is a moral fable.

[5] Dorman, p. 137.

[6] Turner's Samoa, p. 299.

[7] Samoa, p. 31.

[8] Op. cit., p. 34.

[9] Gill, Myths and Songs, p. 60.

[10] Codrington, Journ. Anthrop. Inst., February, 1881.

Without delaying longer among savage myths of metamorphosis into
stones, it may be briefly shown that the Greeks retained this with
all the other vagaries of early fancy. Every one remembers the use
which Perseus made of the Gorgon's head, and the stones on the
coast of Seriphus, which, like the stones near Western Point in
Victoria, had once been men, the enemies of the hero. "Also he
slew the Gorgon," sings Pindar, "and bare home her head, with
serpent tresses decked, to the island folk a stony death." Observe
Pindar's explanatory remark: "I ween there is no marvel impossible
if gods have wrought thereto". In the same pious spirit a Turk in
an isle of the Levant once told Mr. Newton a story of how a man
hunted a stag, and the stag spoke to him. "The stag spoke?" said
Mr. Newton. "Yes, by Allah's will," replied the Turk. Like
Pindar, he was repeating an incident quite natural to the minds of
Australians, or Bushmen, or Samoans, or Red Men, but, like the
religious Pindar, he felt that the affair was rather marvellous,
and accounted for it by the exercise of omnipotent power.[1] The
Greek example of Niobe and her children may best be quoted in Mr.
Bridges' translation from the Iliad:--

And somewhere now, among lone mountain rocks
On Sipylus, where couch the nymphs at night
Who dance all day by Achelous' stream,
The once proud mother lies, herself a rook,
And in cold breast broods o'er the goddess' wrong.
--Prometheus the fire-bringer.[2]

In the Iliad it is added that Cronion made the people into stones.
The attitude of the later Greek mind towards these myths may be
observed in a fragment of Philemon, the comic poet. "Never, by the
gods, have I believed, nor will believe, that Niobe the stone was
once a woman. Nay, by reason of her calamities she became
speechless, and so, from her silence, was called a stone."[3]

[1] Pindar, Pyth. x., Myers's translation.

[2] xxiv. 611.

[3] The Scholiast on Iliad, xxiv. 6, 7.

There is another famous petrification in the Iliad. When the
prodigy of the snake and the sparrows had appeared to the assembled
Achaeans at Aulis, Zeus displayed a great marvel, and changed into
a stone the serpent which swallowed the young of the sparrow.
Changes into stone, though less common than changes into fishes,
birds and beasts, were thus obviously not too strange for the
credulity of Greek mythology, which could also believe that a stone
became the mother of Agdestis by Zeus.

As to interchange of shape between men and women and PLANTS, our
information, so far as the lower races are concerned, is less
copious. It has already been shown that the totems of many stocks
in all parts of the world are plants, and this belief in connection
with a plant by itself demonstrates that the confused belief in all
things being on one level has thus introduced vegetables into the
dominion of myth. As far as possessing souls is concerned, Mr.
Tylor has proved that plants are as well equipped as men or beasts
or minerals.[1] In India the doctrine of transmigration widely and
clearly recognises the idea of trees or smaller plants being
animated by human souls". In the well-known ancient Egyptian story
of "The Two Brothers,"[2] the life of the younger is practically
merged in that of the acacia tree where he has hidden his heart;
and when he becomes a bull and is sacrificed, his spiritual part
passes into a pair of Persea trees. The Yarucaris of Bolivia say
that a girl once bewailed in the forest her loverless estate. She
happened to notice a beautiful tree, which she adorned with
ornaments as well as she might. The tree assumed the shape of a
handsome young man--

She did not find him so remiss,
But, lightly issuing through,
He did repay her kiss for kiss,
With usury thereto.[3]

J. G. Muller, who quotes this tale from Andree, says it has "many
analogies with the tales of metamorphosis of human beings into
trees among the ancients, as reported by Ovid". The worship of
plants and trees is a well-known feature in religion, and probably
implies (at least in many cases) a recognition of personality. In
Samoa, metamorphosis into vegetables is not uncommon. For example,
the king of Fiji was a cannibal, and (very naturally) "the people
were melting away under him". The brothers Toa and Pale, wishing
to escape the royal oven, adopted various changes of shape. They
knew that straight timber was being sought for to make a canoe for
the king, so Pale, when he assumed a vegetable form, became a
crooked stick overgrown with creepers, but Toa "preferred standing
erect as a handsome straight tree". Poor Toa was therefore cut
down by the king's shipwrights, though, thanks to his brother's
magic wiles, they did not make a canoe out of him after all.[4] In
Samoa the trees are so far human that they not only go to war with
each other, but actually embark in canoes to seek out distant
enemies.[5] The Ottawa Indians account for the origin of maize by
a myth in which a wizard fought with and conquered a little man who
had a little crown of feathers. From his ashes arose the maize
with its crown of leaves and heavy ears of corn.[6]

[1] Primitive Culture, i. 145; examples of Society Islanders,
Dyaks, Karens, Buddhists.

[2] Maspero, Contes Egyptiens, p. 25.

[3] J. G. Muller, Amerik. Urrel., p. 264.

[4] Turner's Samoa, p. 219.

[5] Ibid.. p. 213.

[6] Amerik. Urrel., p. 60.

In Mangaia the myth of the origin of the cocoa-nut tree is a series
of transformation scenes, in which the persons shift shapes with
the alacrity of medicine-men. Ina used to bathe in a pool where an
eel became quite familiar with her. At last the fish took courage
and made his declaration. He was Tuna, the chief of all eels. "Be
mine," he cried, and Ina was his. For some mystical reason he was
obliged to leave her, but (like the White Cat in the fairy tale) he
requested her to cut off his eel's head and bury it. Regretfully
but firmly did Ina comply with his request, and from the buried
eel's head sprang two cocoa trees, one from each half of the brain
of Tuna. As a proof of this be it remarked, that when the nut is
husked we always find on it "the two eyes and mouth of the lover of
Ina".[1] All over the world, from ancient Egypt to the wigwams of
the Algonkins, plants and other matters are said to have sprung
from a dismembered god or hero, while men are said to have sprung
from plants.[2] We may therefore perhaps look on it as a proved
point that the general savage habit of "levelling up" prevails even
in their view of the vegetable world, and has left traces (as we
have seen) in their myths.

[1] Gill, Myths and Songs, p. 79.

[2] Myths of the Beginning of Things.

Turning now to the mythology of Greece, we see that the same rule
holds good. Metamorphosis into plants and flowers is extremely
common; the instances of Daphne, Myrrha, Hyacinth, Narcissus and
the sisters of Phaethon at once occur to the memory.

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