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The Making of Religion by Andrew Lang

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is Mlungu. The other statement is apparently derived from existing
ancestor-worship, people who died became 'God' (Mlungu). But God is prior
to death, for the Yao have a form of the usual myth of the origin of
death, also of sleep: 'death and sleep are one word, they are of one
family.' God dwells on high, while a malevolent 'great one,' who disturbed
the mysteries and slew the initiated, was turned into a mountain.[12]

In spite of information confessedly defective, I have extracted from Mr.
Spencer's chosen authority a mass of facts, pointing to a Yao belief in a
primal being, maker of mountains and rivers; existent before men were; not
liable to death--which came late among them--beneficent; not propitiated
by sacrifice (as far as the evidence goes); moral (if we may judge by the
analogy of the mysteries), and yet occupying the religious background,
while the foreground is held by the most recent ghosts. To prove Mr.
Spencer's theory, he ought to have given a full account of this being, and
to have shown how he was developed out of ghosts which are forgotten in
inverse ratio to their distance from the actual generation. I conceive
that Mr. Spencer would find a mid-point between a common ghost and Mtanga,
in a ghost of a chief attached to a mountain, the place and place-name
preserving the ghost's name and memory. But it is, I think, a far cry from
such a chief's ghost to the pre-human, angel-served Mtanga.

Of ancestor worship and ghost worship, we have abundant evidence. But the
position of Mtanga raises one of these delicate and crucial questions
which cannot be solved by ignoring their existence. Is Mtanga evolved
out of an ancestral ghost? If so, why, as greatest of divine beings, 'Very
Chief,' and having powerful ministers under him, is he left unpropitiated,
unless it be by moral discourses at the mysteries? As a much more advanced
idea than that of a real father's ghost, he ought to be much later in
evolution, fresher in conception, and more adored. How do we explain his
lack of adoration? Was he originally envisaged as a ghost at all, and, if
so, by what curious but uniform freak of savage logic is he regarded as
prior to men, and though a ghost, prior to death? Is it not certain that
such a being could be conceived of by men who had never dreamed of ghosts?
Is there any logical reason why Mtanga should not be regarded as
originally on the same footing as Munganngaur, but now half forgotten and
neglected, for practical or philosophical reasons?

On these problems light is thrown by a successor of Mr. Spencer's
authority, Mr. Duff Macdonald, in the Blantyre Mission. This gentleman,
the Rev. David Clement Scott, has published 'A Cyclopaedic Dictionary
of the Mang'anja Language in British Central Africa.'[13] Looking at
ancestral spirits first, we find _Mzimu_, 'spirits of the departed,
supposed to come in dreams.' Though abiding in the spirit world, they also
haunt thickets, they inspire Mlauli, prophets, and make them rave and
utter predictions. Offerings are made to them. Here is a prayer: 'Watch
over me, my ancestor, who died long ago; tell the great spirit at the head
of my race from whom my mother came.' There are little hut-temples, and
the chief directs the sacrifices of food, or of animals. There are
religious pilgrimages, with sacrifice, to mountains. God, like men in this
region, has various names, as Chiuta, 'God in space and the rainbow sign
across;' Mpambe, 'God Almighty' (or rather 'pre-excellent'); Mlezi, 'God
the Sustainer,' and Mulungu, 'God who is spirit.' Mulungu = God, 'not
spirits or fetish.' 'You can't put the plural, as God is One,' say the
natives. 'There are no idols called gods, and spirits are spirits of
people who have died, not gods.' Idols are _Zitunzi-zitunzi_. 'Spirits
are supposed to be with Mulungu.' God made the world and man. Our author
says 'when the chief or people sacrifice it is to God,' but he also says
that they sacrifice to ancestral spirits. There is some confusion of
ideas here: Mr. Macdonald says nothing of sacrifice to Mtanga.

Mr. Scott does not seem to know more about the Mysteries than Mr.
Macdonald, and his article on Mulungu does not much enlighten us. Does
Mulungu, as Creative God, receive sacrifice, or not?[14] Mr. Scott gives
no instance of this, under _Nsembe_ (sacrifice), where ancestors, or
hill-dwelling ghosts of chiefs, are offered food; yet, as we have seen,
under _Mulungu_, he avers that the chiefs and people do sacrifice to God.
He appears to be confusing the Creator with spirits, and no reliance can
be placed on this part of his evidence. 'At the back of all this'
(sacrifice to spirits) 'there is God.' If I understand Mr. Scott,
sacrifices are really made only to spirits, but he is trying to argue
that, after all, the theistic conception is at the back of the animistic
practice, thus importing his theory into his facts. His theory would,
really, be in a better way, if sacrifice is _not_ offered to the Creator,
but this had not occurred to Mr. Scott.

It is plain, in any case, that the religion of the Africans in the
Blantyre region has an element not easily to be derived from ancestral
spirit-worship, an element not observed by Mr. Spencer.

Nobody who has followed the examples already adduced will be amazed by
what Waitz calls the 'surprising result' of recent inquiries among the
great negro race. Among the branches where foreign influence is least to
be suspected, we discover, behind their more conspicuous fetishisms and
superstitions, something which we cannot exactly call Monotheism, yet
which tends in that direction.[15] Waitz quotes Wilson for the fact that,
their fetishism apart, they adore a Supreme Being as the Creator: and do
not honour him with sacrifice.

The remarks of Waitz may be cited in full:

'The religion of the negro may be considered by some as a particularly
rude form of polytheism and may be branded with the special name of
fetishism. It would follow, from a minute examination of it, that--apart
from the extravagant and fantastic traits, which are rooted in the
character of the negro, and which radiate therefrom over all his
creations--in comparison with the religions of other savages it is neither
very specially differentiated nor very specially crude in form.

'But this opinion can be held to be quite true only while we look at the
_outside_ of the negro's religion, or estimate its significance from
arbitrary pre-suppositions, as is specially the case with Ad. Wuttke.

'By a deeper insight, which of late several scientific investigators have
succeeded in attaining, we reach, rather, the surprising conclusion that
several of the negro races--on whom we cannot as yet prove, and can hardly
conjecture, the influence of a more civilised people--in the embodying of
their religious conceptions are further advanced than almost all other
savages, so far that, even if we do not call them monotheists, we may
still think of them as standing on the boundary of monotheism, seeing that
their religion is also mixed with a great mass of rude superstition which,
in turn, among other peoples, seems to overrun completely the purer
religious conceptions.'

This conclusion as to an element of pure faith in negro religion would not
have surprised Waitz, had recent evidence as to the same creed among lower
savages lain before him as he worked.

This volume of his book was composed in 1860. In 1872 he had become well
aware of the belief in a good Maker among the Australian natives, and of
the absence among them of ancestor worship.[16]

Waitz's remarks on the Supreme Being of the Negro are well worth noting,
from his unconcealed astonishment at the discovery.

Wilson's observations on North and South Guinea religion were published in
1856. After commenting on the delicate task of finding out what a savage
religion really is, he writes: 'The belief in one great Supreme Being,
who made and upholds all things, is universal.'[17] The names of the being
are translated 'Maker,' 'Preserver,' 'Benefactor,' 'Great Friend.' Though
compact of all good qualities, the being has allowed the world to 'come
under the control of evil spirits,' who, alone, receive religious worship.
Though he leaves things uncontrolled, yet the chief being (as in Homer)
ratifies the Oath, at a treaty, and is invoked to punish criminals when
ordeal water is to be drunk. So far, then, he has an ethical influence.
'Grossly wicked people' are buried outside of the regular place. Fetishism
prevails, with spiritualism, and Wilson thinks that mediums might pick up
some good tricks in Guinea. He gives no examples. Their inspired men do
things 'that cannot be accounted for,' by the use of narcotics.

The South Guinea Creator, Anyambia (= good spirit?), is good, but
capricious. He has a good deputy, Ombwiri (spelled 'Mbuiri' by Miss
Kingsley); _he alone has no priests_, but communicates directly with men.
The neighbouring Shekuni have mysteries of the Great Spirit. No details
are given. This great being, Mwetyi, witnesses covenants and punishes
perjury. This people are ancestor-worshippers, but their Supreme Being is
not said to receive sacrifice, as ghosts do, while he is so far from
being powerless, like Unkulunkulu, that, but for fear of his wrath,
'their national treaties would have little or no force.'[18] Having no
information about the mysteries, of course, we know nothing of other moral
influences which are, or may be exercised by these great, powerful, and
not wholly otiose beings.

The celebrated traveller, Mungo Park, who visited Africa in 1805, had good
opportunities of understanding the natives. He did not hurry through the
land with a large armed force, but alone, or almost alone, paid his way
with his brass buttons. 'I have conversed with all ranks and conditions
upon the subject of their faith,' he says, 'and can pronounce, without the
smallest shadow of doubt, that the belief in one God and in a future state
of reward and punishment is entire and universal among them.' This cannot
strictly be called monotheism, as there are many subordinate spirits who
may be influenced by 'magical ceremonies.' But if monotheism means belief
in One Spirit alone, or religious regard paid to One Spirit alone, it
exists nowhere--no, not in Islam.

Park thinks it remarkable that 'the Almighty' only receives prayers at the
new moon (of sacrifice to the Almighty he says nothing), and that, being
the creator and preserver of all things, he is 'of so exalted a nature
that it is idle to imagine the feeble supplications of wretched mortals
can reverse the decrees and change the purpose of unerring Wisdom.' The
new moon prayers are mere matters of tradition; 'our fathers did it before
us.' 'Such is the blindness of unassisted nature,' says Park, who is not
satirising, in Swift's manner, the prayers of Presbyterians at home on

Thus, the African Supreme Being is unpropitiated, while inferior spirits
are constrained by magic or propitiated with food.

We meet our old problem: How has this God, in the conception of whom there
is so much philosophy, developed out of these hungry ghosts? The influence
of Islam can scarcely be suspected, Allah being addressed, of course, in
endless prayers, while the African god receives none. Indeed, it would be
more plausible to say that Mahomet borrowed Allah from the widespread
belief which we are studying, than that the negro's Supreme Being was
borrowed from Allah.

Park had, as we saw, many opportunities of familiar discussion with the
people on whose mercies he threw himself.

'But it is not often that the negroes make their religious opinions the
subject of conversation; when interrogated, in particular, concerning
their ideas of a future state, they express themselves with great
reverence, but endeavour to shorten the discussion by saying, _"Mo o mo
inta allo_" ("No man knows anything about it").'[19]

Park himself, in extreme distress, and almost in despair, chanced to
observe the delicate beauty of a small moss-plant, and, reflecting that
the Creator of so frail a thing could not be indifferent to any of His
creatures, plucked up courage and reached safety.[20] He was not of the
negro philosophy, and is the less likely to have invented it. The new moon
prayer, said in a whisper, was reported to Park, 'by many different
people,' to contain 'thanks to God for his kindness during the existence
of the past moon, and to solicit a continuation of his favour during the
new one.' This, of course, may prove Islamite influence, and is at
variance with the general tendency of the religious philosophy as

We now arrive at a theory of the Supreme Being among a certain African
race which would be entirely fatal to my whole hypothesis on this topic,
if it could be demonstrated correct in fact, and if it could be stretched
so as to apply to the Australians, Fuegians, Andamanese, and other very
backward peoples. It is the hypothesis that the Supreme Being is a
'loan-god,' borrowed from Europeans.

The theory is very lucidly set forth in Major Ellis's 'Tshi-speaking
Peoples of the Gold Coast.'[21] Major Ellis's opinion coincides with that
of Waitz in his 'Introduction to Anthropology' (an opinion to which Waitz
does not seem bigoted)--namely, that 'the original form of all religion is
a raw, unsystematic polytheism,' nature being peopled by inimical powers
or spirits, and everyone worshipping what he thinks most dangerous or
most serviceable. There are few general, many local or personal, objects
of veneration.[22] Major Ellis only met this passage when he had formed
his own ideas by observation of the Tshi race. We do not pretend to
guess what 'the original form of all religion' may have been; but we have
given, and shall give, abundant evidence for the existence of a loftier
faith than this, among peoples much lower in material culture than the
Tshi races, who have metals and an organised priesthood. They occupy, in
small villages (except Coomassie and Djuabin), the forests of the Gold
Coast. The mere mention of Coomassie shows how vastly superior in
civilisation the Tshis (Ashantis and Fantis) are to the naked, houseless
Australians. Their inland communities, however, are 'mere specks in a vast
tract of impenetrable forest.' The coast people have for centuries been in
touch with Europeans, but the 'Tshi-speaking races are now much in the
same condition, both socially and morally, as they were at the time of the
Portuguese discovery.'[23]

Nevertheless, Major Ellis explains their Supreme Being as the result of
European influence! _A priori_ this appears highly improbable. That a
belief should sweep over all these specks in impenetrable forest, from
the coast-tribes in contact with Europeans, and that this belief should,
though the most recent, be infinitely the least powerful, cannot be
regarded as a plausible hypothesis. Moreover, on Major Ellis's theory the
Supreme Beings of races which but recently came for the first time in
contact with Europeans, Supreme Beings kept jealously apart from European
ken, and revered in the secrecy of ancient mysteries, must also, by
parity of reason, be the result of European influence. Unfortunately,
Major Ellis gives no evidence for his statements about the past history of
Tshi religion. Authorities he must have, and references would be welcome.

'With people in the condition in which the natives of the Gold Coast now
are, religion is not in any way allied with moral ideas.'[24] We have given
abundant evidence that among much more backward tribes morals rest on a
religious sanction. If this be not so on the Gold Coast we cannot accept
these relatively advanced Fantis and Ashantis as representing the
'original' state of ethics and religion, any more than those people with
cities, a king, a priesthood, iron, and gold, represent the 'original'
material condition of society. Major Ellis also shows that the Gods exact
chastity from aspirants to the priesthood.[25] The present beliefs
of the Gold Coast are kept up by organised priesthoods as 'lucrative
business.'[26] Where there is no lucre and no priesthood, as among more
backward races, this kind of business cannot be done. On the Gold Coast
men can only approach gods through priests.[27] This is degeneration.

Obviously, if religion began in a form relatively pure and moral, it
_must_ degenerate, as civilisation advances, under priests who 'exploit'
the lucrative, and can see no money in the pure elements of belief and
practice. That the lucrative elements in Christianity were exploited by
the clergy, to the neglect of ethics, was precisely the complaint of the
Reformers. From these lucrative elements the creed of the Apostles was
free, and a similar freedom marks the religion of Australia or of the
Pawnees. We cannot possibly, then, expect to find the 'original' state
of religion among a people subdued to a money-grubbing priesthood, like
the Tshi races. Let religion begin as pure as snow, it would be corrupted
by priestly trafficking in its lucrative animistic aspect. And priests are
developed relatively late.

Major Ellis discriminates Tshi gods as--

1. General, worshipped by an entire tribe or more tribes.
2. Local deities of river, hill, forest, or sea.
3. Deities of families or corporations.
4. Tutelary deities of individuals.

The second class, according to the natives, were appointed by the first
class, who are 'too distant or indifferent to interfere ordinarily in
human affairs.' Thus, the Huron god, Ahone, punishes nobody. He is all
sweetness and light, but has a deputy god, called Okeus. On our hypothesis
this indifference of high gods suggests the crowding out of the great
disinterested God by venal animistic competition. All of class II. 'appear
to have been originally malignant.' Though, in native belief, class I.
was prior to, and 'appointed' class II., Major Ellis thinks that malignant
spirits of class II. were raised to class I. as if to the peerage, while
classes III. and IV. 'are clearly the product of priesthood'--therefore

Major Ellis then avers that when Europeans reached the Gold Coast, in the
fifteenth century, they 'appear to have found' a Northern God, Tando, and
a Southern God, Bobowissi, still adored. Bobowissi makes thunder and rain,
lives on a hill, and receives, or received, human sacrifices. But, 'after
an intercourse of some years with Europeans,' the villagers near European
forts 'added to their system a new deity, whom they termed Nana Nyankupon.
This was the God of the Christians, borrowed from them, and adapted under
a new designation, meaning 'Lord of the sky.' (This is conjectural.
_Nyankum_ = rain. _Nyansa_ has 'a later meaning, "craft."')[28]

Now Major Ellis, later, has to contrast Bosman's account of fetishism
(1700) with his own observations. According to Bosman's native source of
information, men then selected their own fetishes. These are _now_
selected by priests. Bosman's authority was wrong--or priesthood has
extended its field of business. Major Ellis argues that the revolution
from amateur to priestly selection of fetishes could not occur in
190 years, 'over a vast tract of country, amongst peoples living in
semi-isolated communities, in the midst of pathless forests, where there
is but little opportunity for the exchange of ideas, _and where we know
they have been uninfluenced by any higher race_.'

Yet Major Ellis's theory is that this isolated people _were_ influenced
by a higher race, to the extent of adopting a totally new Supreme Being,
from Europeans, a being whom they in no way sought to propitiate, and who
was of no practical use. And this they did, he says, not under priestly
influence, but in the face of priestly opposition.[29]

Major Ellis's logic does not appear to be consistent. In any case we ask
for evidence how, in the 'impenetrable forests' did a new Supreme Deity
become universally known? Are we certain that travellers (unquoted) did
not discover a deity with no priests, or ritual, or 'money in the
concern,' later than they discovered the blood-stained, conspicuous,
lucrative Bobowissi? Why was Nyankupon, the supposed new god of a new
powerful set of strangers, left wholly unpropitiated? The reverse was to
be expected.

Major Ellis writes: 'Almost certainly the addition of one more to an
already numerous family' of gods, 'was strenuously resisted by the
priesthood,' who, confessedly, are adding now lower gods every day! Yet
Nyankupon is universally known, in spite of priestly resistance.
Nyankupon, I presume = Anzambi, Anyambi, Nyambi, Nzambi, Anzam, Nyam, the
Nzam of the Fans, 'and of all Bantu coast races, the creator of man,
plants, animals, and the earth; he takes no further interest in the
affair.'[30] The crowd of _spirits_ take only too much interest; and,
therefore, are the lucrative element in religion.

It is not very easy to believe that Nyam, under all his names, was picked
up from the Portuguese, and passed apparently from negroes to Bantu all
over West Africa, despite the isolation of the groups, and the resistance
of the priesthood among tribes 'uninfluenced by any higher race.'

Nyam, like Major Ellis's class I., appoints a subordinate god to do his
work: he is truly good, and governs the malevolent spirits.[31]

The spread of Nyankupon, as described by Major Ellis, is the more
remarkable, since 'five or six miles from the sea, or even less, the
country was a _terra incognita_ to Europeans,'[32] Nyankupon was, it is
alleged, adopted, because our superiority proved Europeans to be
'protected by a deity of greater power than any of those to which they
themselves' (the Tshi races) 'offered sacrifices.'

Then, of course, Nyankupon would receive the best sacrifices of all, as
the most powerful deity? Far from that, Nyankupon received no sacrifice,
and had no priests. No priest would have a traditional way of serving him.
As the unlucky man in Voltaire says to his guardian angel, 'It is well
worth while to have a presiding genius,' so the Tshis and Bantu might
ironically remark, 'A useful thing, a new Supreme Being!' A quarter of a
continent or so adopts a new foreign god, and leaves him _plante la_;
unserved, unhonoured, and unsung. He therefore came to be thought too
remote, or too indifferent, 'to interfere directly in the affairs of the
world.' 'This idea was probably caused by the fact that the natives had
not experienced any material improvement in their condition ... although
they also had become followers of the god of the whites.'[33]

But that was just what they had not done! Even at Magellan's Straits, the
Fuegians picked up from a casual Spanish sea-captain and adored an image
of Cristo. Name and effigy they accepted. The Tshi people took neither
effigy nor name of a deity from the Portuguese settled among them. They
neither imitated Catholic rites nor adapted their own; they prayed not,
nor sacrificed to the 'new' Nyankupon. Only his name and the idea of his
nature are universally diffused in West African belief. He lives in no
definite home, or hill, but 'in Nyankupon's country.' Nyankupon, at the
present day, is 'ignored rather than worshipped,' while Bobowissi has
priests and offerings.

It is clear that Major Ellis is endeavouring to explain, by a singular
solution (namely, the borrowing of a God from Europeans), and that
a solution improbable and inadequate, a phenomenon of very wide
distribution. Nyankupon cannot be explained apart from Taaroa, Puluga,
Ahone, Ndengei, Dendid, and Ta-li-y-Tochoo, Gods to be later described,
who cannot, by any stretch of probabilities, be regarded as of European
origin. All of these represent the primeval Supreme Being, more or less
or altogether stripped, under advancing conditions of culture, of his
ethical influence, and crowded out by the horde of useful greedy ghosts or
ghost gods, whose business is lucrative. Nyankupon has no pretensions to
be, or to have been a 'spirit.'[34]

Major Ellis's theory is a natural result of his belief in a tangle of
polytheism as 'the original state of religion.' If so, there was not much
room for the natural development of Nyankupon, in whom 'the missionaries
find a parallel to the Jahveh of the Jews.'[35] On our theory Nyankupon
takes his place in the regular process of the corruption of theism by

The parallel case of Nzambi Mpungu, the Creator among the Fiorts (a Bantu
stock), is thus stated by Miss Kingsley:

'I have no hesitation in saying I fully believe Nzambi Mpungu to be a
purely native god, and that he is a great god over all things, but the
study of him is even more difficult than the study of Nzambi, because the
Jesuit missionaries who gained so great an influence over the Fiorts in
the sixteenth century identified him with Jehovah, and worked on the
native mind from that stand-point. Consequently semi-mythical traces
of Jesuit teaching linger, even now, in the religious ideas of the

Nzambi Mpungu lives 'behind the firmament.' 'He takes next to no interest
in human affairs;' which is not a Jesuit idea of God.

In all missionary accounts of savage religion, we have to guard against
two kinds of bias. One is the bias which makes the observer deny any
religion to the native race, except devil-worship. The other is the bias
which lends him to look for traces of a pure primitive religious
tradition. Yet we cannot but observe this reciprocal phenomenon:
missionaries often find a native name and idea which answer so nearly to
their conception of God that they adopt the idea and the name, in
teaching. Again, on the other side, the savages, when first they hear the
missionaries' account of God, recognise it, as do the Hurons and Bakwain,
for what has always been familiar to them. This is recorded in very early
pre-missionary travels, as in the book of William Strachey on Virginia
(1612), to which we now turn. The God found by Strachey in Virginia
cannot, by any latitude of conjecture, be regarded as the result of
contact with Europeans. Yet he almost exactly answers to the African
Nyankupon, who is explained away as a 'loan-god.' For the belief in
relatively pure creative beings, whether they are morally adored, without
sacrifice, or merely neglected, is so widely diffused, that Anthropology
must ignore them, or account for them as 'loan-gods'--or give up her

[Footnote 1: Lejean, _Rev. des Deux Mondes_, April 1862, p. 760. Citing
for the chant, Beltrame, _Dictionario della lingua denka_, MS.]

[Footnote 2: Waitz, ii. 74.]

[Footnote 3: 1882.]

[Footnote 4: _Ecclesiastical Institutions_, 681.]

[Footnote 5: _Africana_, i. 66.]

[Footnote 6: _Africana_, i. 67.]

[Footnote 7: _Africana, i. 71, 72_]

[Footnote 8: i 88.]

[Footnote 9: i. 68.]

[Footnote 10: i. 130.]

[Footnote 11: Ibid.]

[Footnote 12: _Africana_, i 279-301.]

[Footnote 13: Edinburgh, 1892.]

[Footnote 14: Incidentally Mr. Macdonald shows that, contrary to Mr.
Spencer's opinion, these savages have words for dreams and dreaming. They
interpret dreams by a system of symbols, 'a canoe is ill luck,' and dreams
go by contraries.']

[Footnote 15: Waitz, _Anthropologie_, ii. 167.]

[Footnote 16: Waitz and Gerland, _Anthropologie_, vi. 796-799 and 809. In
1874 Mr. Howitt's evidence on the moral element in the mysteries was not
published. Waitz scouts the idea that the higher Australian beliefs are of
European origin. Wir schen vielmehr uralte Truemmer aehnlicher Mythologenie
in ihnen,' (vi. 798) flotsam from ideas of immemorial antiquity.]

[Footnote 17: Wilson, p. 209.]

[Footnote 18: Wilson, p. 392.]

[Footnote 19: Park's _Journey_, i. 274, 275, 1815.]

[Footnote 20: P. 245.]

[Footnote 21: London, 1887.]

[Footnote 22: Ellis, pp. 20, 21.]

[Footnote 23: P. 4.]

[Footnote 24: Ellis, p. 10.]

[Footnote 25: P. 120.]

[Footnote 26: P. 15.]

[Footnote 27: P. 125.]

[Footnote 28: Ellis, pp. 24, 25.]

[Footnote 29: Ellis, p. 189.]

[Footnote 30: Miss Kingsley, p. 442.]

[Footnote 31: Ellis, p. 229.]

[Footnote 32: Ibid. p. 25.]

[Footnote 33: Op. cit. p. 27.]

[Footnote 34: Ellis, p. 29.]

[Footnote 35: Op. cit. p. 28.]

[Footnote 36: 'African Religion and Law,' _National Review_, September
1897, p. 132.]



In this chapter it is my object to set certain American Creators beside
the African beings whom we have been examining. We shall range from Hurons
to Pawnees and Blackfeet, and end with Pachacamac, the supreme being of
the old Inca civilisation, with Tui Laga and Taa-roa. It will be seen that
the Hurons have been accidentally deprived of their benevolent Creator by
a bibliographical accident, while that Creator corresponds very well
with the Peruvian Pachucamac, often regarded as a mere philosophical
abstraction. The Pawnees will show us a Creator involved in a sacrificial
ritual, which is not common, while the Blackfeet present a Creator who is
not envisaged as a spirit at all, and, on our theory, represents a very
early stage of the theistic conception.

To continue the argument from analogy against Major Ellis's theory of the
European origin of Nyankupon, it seems desirable first to produce a
parallel to his case, and to that of his blood-stained subordinate
deity, Bobowissi, from a quarter where European influence is absolutely
out of the question. Virginia was first permanently colonised by
Englishmen in 1607, and the 'Historie of Travaile into Virginia,' by
William Strachey, Gent., first Secretary of the Colony, dates from the
earliest years (1612-1616). It will hardly be suggested, then, that the
natives had already adopted _our_ Supreme Being, especially as Strachey
says that the native priests strenuously opposed the Christian God.
Strachey found a house-inhabiting, agricultural, and settled population,
under chiefs, one of whom, Powhattan, was a kind of Bretwalda. The temples
contained the dried bodies of the _weroances_, or aristocracy, beside
which was their Okeus, or Oki, an image 'ill favouredly carved,' all
black dressed, 'who doth them all the harm they suffer. He is propitiated
by sacrifices of their own children' (probably an error) 'and of

Mr. Tylor quotes a description of this Oki, or Okeus, with his idol and
bloody rites, from Smith's 'History of Virginia' (1632)[1]. The two books,
Strachey's and Smith's, are here slightly varying copies of one original.
But, after censuring Smith's (and Strachey's) hasty theory that Okeus is
'no other than a devil,' Mr. Tylor did not find in Smith what follows in
Strachey. Okeus has human sacrifices, like Bobowissi, 'whilst the great
God (the priests tell them) who governes all the world, and makes
the son to shine, creatyng the moone and starrs his companyons ... they
calling (_sic_) Ahone. The good and peaceable God requires no such dutyes,
nor needs to be sacrificed unto, for he intendeth all good unto them,'
Okeus, on the contrary, 'looking into all men's accions, and examining the
same according to the severe scheme of justice, punisheth them.... Such is
the misery and thraldome under which Sathan hath bound these wretched

As if, in Mr. Strachey's own creed, Satan does not punish, in hell, the
offences of men against God!

Here, then, in addition to a devil (or rather a divine police magistrate),
and general fetishism and nature worship, we find that the untutored
Virginian is equipped with a merciful Creator, without idol, temple, or
sacrifice, as needing nought of ours. It is by the merest accident, the
use of Smith's book (1632) instead of Strachey's book (1612), that Mr.
Tylor is unaware of these essential facts[2].

Dr. Brinton, like Mr. Tylor, cites Smith for the nefarious or severe
Okeus, and omits any mention of Ahone, the benevolent Creator.[3]
Now, Strachey's evidence is early (1612), is that of a well-educated
man, fond of airing his Greek, and not prejudiced in favour of these
worshippers of 'Sathan.' In Virginia he found the unpropitiated loving
Supreme Being, beside a subordinate, like Nyankupon beside Bobowissi in

Each highest deity, in Virginia or on the Gold Coast, is more or less
eclipsed in popular esteem by nascent polytheism and nature worship. This
is precisely what we should expect to find, if Ahone, the Creator, were
earlier in evolution, while Okeus and the rest were of the usual greedy
class of animistic corruptible deities, useful to priests. This could not
be understood while Ahone was left out of the statement.[4]

Probably Mr. Strachey's narrative justifies, by analogy, our suspicion of
Major Ellis's theory that the African Supreme Being is of European origin.
The purpose in the Ahone-Okeus creed is clear. God (Ahone) is omnipotent
and good, yet calamities beset mankind. How are these to be explained?
Clearly as penalties for men's sins, inflicted, not by Ahone, but by his
lieutenant, Okeus. But that magistrate can be, and is, appeased by
sacrifices, which it would be impious, or, at all events, useless, to
offer to the Supreme Being, Ahone. It is a logical creed, but how was the
Supreme Being evolved out of the ghost of a 'people-devouring king' like
Powhattan? The facts, very fairly attested, do not fit the anthropological
theory. It is to be remarked that Strachey's Ahone is a much less
mythological conception than that which, on very good evidence, he
attributes to the Indians of the Patowemeck River. Their Creator is spoken
of as 'a godly Hare,' who receives their souls into Paradise, whence they
are reborn on earth again, as in Plato's myth. They also regard the four
winds as four Gods. How the god took the mythological form of a hare is
diversely explained.[5]

Meanwhile the Ahone-Okeus creed corresponds to the Nyankupon-Bobowissi
creed. The American faith is certainly not borrowed from Europe, so it is
less likely that the African creed is borrowed.

As illustrations of the general theory here presented, we may now take two
tribal religions among the North American Indians. The first is that of
the equestrian Pawnees, who, thirty years ago, were dwelling on the Loup
Fork in Nebraska. The buffaloes have since been destroyed, the lands
seized, and the Pawnees driven into a 'Reservation,' where they are, or
lately were, cheated and oppressed in the usual way. They were originally
known to Europeans in four hordes, the fourth being the Skidi or Wolf
Pawnees. They seem to have come into Kansas and Nebraska, at a date
relatively remote, from Mexico, and are allied with the Lipans and
Tonkaways of that region. The Tonkaways are a tribe who, in a sacred
mystery, are admonished to 'live like the wolves,' in exactly the same way
as were the Hirpi (wolf tribe), of Mount Soracte, who practised the feat
of walking unhurt through fire.[6] The Tonkaways regard the Pawnees, who
also have a wolf tribe, as a long-separated branch of their race. If,
then, they are of Mexican origin, we might expect to find traces of Aztec
ritual among the Pawnees.

Long after they obtained better weapons they used flint-headed arrows for
slaying the only two beasts which it was lawful to sacrifice, the deer and
the buffalo. They have long been a hunting and also an agricultural
people. The corn was given to them originally by the Ruler: their god,
_Ti-ra-wa_, 'the Spirit Father.' They offer the sacrifice of a deer with
peculiar solemnity, and are a very prayerful people. The priest 'held a
relation to the Pawnees and their deity not unlike that occupied by Moses
to Jehovah and the Israelites.' A feature in ritual is the sacred bundles
of unknown contents, brought from the original home in Mexico. The Pawnees
were created by Ti-ra-wa. They believe in a happy future life, while the
wicked die, and there is an end of them. They cite their dreams of the
dead as an argument for a life beyond the tomb. 'We see ourselves living
with Ti-ra-wa!' An evil earlier race, which knew not Ti-ra-wa, was
destroyed by him in the Deluge; evidence is found in large fossil bones,
and it would be an interesting inquiry whether such fossils are always
found where the story of a 'sin-flood' occurs. If so, fossils must be
universally diffused.

As is common, the future life is attested, not only by dreams, but in the
experience of men who 'have died' and come back to life, like Secret Pipe
Chief, who told the story to Mr. Grinnell. These visions in a state of
apparent death are not peculiar to savages, and, no doubt, have had much
effect on beliefs about the next world.[7] Ghosts are rarely seen, but
auditory hallucinations, as of a voice giving good advice in time of
peril, are regarded as the speech of ghosts. The beasts are also friendly,
as fellow children with men of Ti-ra-wa. To the Morning Star the Skidi or
Wolf Pawnees offered on rare occasions a captive man. The ceremony was not
unlike that of the Aztecs, though less cruel. Curiously enough, the slayer
of the captive had instantly to make a mock flight, as in the Attic
_Bouphonia_. This, however, was a rite paid to the Morning Star, not to
Ti-ra-wa, 'the power above that moves the universe and controls all
things.' Sacrifice to Ti-ra-wa was made on rare and solemn occasions out
of his two chief gifts, deer and buffalo. 'Through corn, deer, buffalo,
and the sacred bundles, we worship _Ti-ra-wa_.'

The flesh was burned in the fire, while prayers were made with great
earnestness. In the old Skidi rite the women told the fattened captive
what they desired to gain from the Ruler. It is occasionally said that
the human sacrifice was made to _Ti-ra-wa_ himself. The sacrificer not
only fled, but fasted and mourned. It is possible that, as among the
Aztecs, the victim was regarded as also an embodiment of the God, but this
is not certain, the rite having long been disused. Mr. Grinnell got the
description from a very old Skidi. There was also a festival of thanks to
Ti-ra-wa for corn. During a sacred dance and hymn the corn is held up to
the Ruler by a woman. Corn is ritually called 'The Mother,' as in Peru.[8]
'We are like seed, and we worship through the Corn.'

Disease is caused by evil spirits, and many American soldiers were healed
by Pawnee doctors, though their hurts had refused to yield to the
treatment of the United States Army Surgeons.[9]

The miracles wrought by Pawnee medicine men, under the eyes of Major
North, far surpass what is told of Indian jugglery. But this was forty
years ago, and it is probably too late to learn anything of these
astounding performances of naked men on the hard floor of a lodge.
'Major North told me' (Mr. Grinnell) 'that he saw with his own eyes the
doctors make the corn grow,' the doctor not manipulating the plant, as in
the Mango trick, but standing apart and singing. Mr. Grinnell says: 'I
have never found any one who could even suggest an explanation.'

This art places great power in the hands of the doctors, who exhibit many
other prodigies. It is notable that in this religion we hear nothing of
ancestor-worship; all that is stated as to ghosts has been reported. We
find the cult of an all-powerful being, in whose ritual sacrifice is the
only feature that suggests ghost-worship. The popular tales and historical
reminiscences of the last generation entirely bear out by their allusions
Mr. Grinnell's account of the Pawnee faith, in which the ethical element
chiefly consists in a sense of dependence on and touching gratitude to
Ti-ra-wa, as shown in fervent prayer. Theft he abhors, he applauds valour,
he punishes the wicked by annihilation, the good dwell with him in his
heavenly home. He is addressed as A-ti-us ta-kaw-a, 'Our father in all

It is not so easy to see how this Being was developed out of
ancestor-worship, of which we find no traces among Pawnees. For
ancestor-worship among the Sioux, it is usual to quote a remark of one
Prescott, an interpreter: 'Sometimes an Indian will say, "Wah negh on she
wan da," which means, "Spirits of the dead have mercy on me." Then they
will add what they want. That is about the amount of an Indian's
prayer.'[10] Obviously, when we compare Mr. Grinnell's account of Pawnee
religion, based on his own observations, and those of Major North, and
Mr. Dunbar, who has written on the language of the tribe, we are on much
safer ground, than when we follow a contemptuous, half-educated European.

The religion of the Blackfoot Indians appears to be a ruder form of the
Pawnee faith. Whether the differences arise from tribal character, or from
decadence, or because the Blackfoot belief is in an earlier and more
backward condition than that of the Pawnees, it is not easy to be certain.
As in China, there exists a difficulty in deciding whether the Supreme
Being is identical with the great nature-god; in China the Heaven, among
the Blackfeet the Sun; or is prior to him in conception, or has been,
later, substituted for him, or placed beside him. The Blackfoot mythology
is low, crude, and, except in tales of Creation, is derisive. As in
Australia, there is a specific difference of tone between mythology and

The Blackfoot country runs east from the summit of the Rocky Mountains, to
the mouth of the Yellowstone river on the Missouri, then west to the
Yellowstone sources, across the Rocky Mountains to the Beaverhead, thence
to their summit.

As to spirits, the Blackfeet believe in, or at least tell stories of,
ghosts, which conduct themselves much as in our old-fashioned ghost
stories. They haunt people in a rather sportive and irresponsible way. The
souls or shadows of respectable persons go to the bleak country called the
Sand Hills, where they live in a dull, monotonous kind of Sheol. The
shades of the wicked are 'earth-bound' and mischievous, especially ghosts
of men slain in battle. They cause paralysis and madness, but dread
interiors of lodges; they only 'tap on the lodge-skins.' Like many Indian
tribes, the Blackfeet have the Eurydice legend. A man grieving for his
dead wife finds his way to Hades, is pitied by the dead, and allowed to
carry the woman back with him, under certain ritual prohibitions, one of
which he unhappily infringes. The range of this deeply touching story
among the Red Men, and its close resemblance to the tale of Orpheus, is
one of the most curious facts in mythology. Mr. Grinnell's friend Young
Bear, when lost with his wife in a fog, heard a Voice, 'It is well. Go on,
you are going right.' 'The top of my head seemed to lift up. It seemed as
if a lot of needles were running into it.... This must have been a ghost.'
As the wife also heard the Voice it was probably human, not hallucinatory.

Animals receive the usual amount of friendly respect from the Blackfeet.
They have also an inchoate polytheism, 'Above Persons, Ground Persons, and
Under Water Persons.' Of the first, Thunder is most important, and is
worshipped. There is the Cold Maker, a white figure on a white horse, the
Wind, and so on.

The Creator is Na-pi, Old Man; Dr. Brinton thinks he is a personification
of Light, but Mr. Grinnell reckons it absurd to attribute so abstract a
conception to the Blackfeet. Na-pi is simply a primal Being, an Immortal
Man,[11] who was before Death came into the world, concerning which one of
the usual tales of the Origin of Death is told. 'All things that he had
made understood him when he spoke to them--birds, animals, and people,' as
in the first chapters of Genesis. With Na-pi, Creation worked on the lines
of adaptation to environment. He put the bighorn on the prairie. There it
was awkward, so he set it on rocky places, where it skipped about with
ease. The antelope fell on the rocks, so he removed it to the level
prairie. Na-pi created man and woman, out of clay, but the folly of the
woman introduced Death. Na-pi, as a Prometheus, gave fire, and taught the
forest arts. He inculcated the duty of prayer; his will should be done by
emissaries in the shape of animals. Then he went to other peoples. The
misfortunes of the Indians arise from disobedience to his laws.

Chiefs were elective, for conduct, courage, and charity.

Though weapons and utensils were buried with the dead, or exposed on
platforms, and though great men were left to sleep in their lodges,
henceforth never to be entered by the living, there is no trace known to
me of continued ancestor-worship. As many Blackfeet change their names
yearly, ancestral names are not likely to become those of gods.

The Sun is by many believed to have taken the previous place of Na-pi in
religion; or perhaps Na-pi _is_ the Sun. However, he is still separately
addressed in prayer. The Sun receives presents of furs and so forth; a
finger, when the prayer is for life, has been offered to him. Fetishism
probably shows itself in gifts to a great rock. There is daily prayer,
both to the Sun and to Na-pi. Women institute Medicine Lodges, praying,
'Pity me, Sun. You have seen my life. You know that I am pure.' 'We look
on the Medicine Lodge woman as you white people do on the Roman Catholic
Sisters.' Being 'virtuous in deed, serious, and clean-minded,' the Medical
Lodge woman is in spiritual _rapport_ with Na-pi and the Sun. To this
extent, at least, Blackfoot religion is an ethical influence.

The creed seems to be a nascent polytheism, subordinate to Na-pi as
supreme Maker, and to the personified Sun. As Blackfoot ghosts are
'vaporous, ineffectual' for good, there seems to be nothing like ancestor

These two cults and beliefs, Pawnee and Blackfoot, may be regarded as
fairly well authenticated examples of un-Christianised American religion
among races on the borderland of agriculture and the chase. It would be
difficult to maintain that ghost-worship or ancestor-worship is a potent
factor in the evolution of the deathless Ti-ra-wa or the immortal Creator
Na-pi, who has nothing of the spirit about him, especially as ghosts are
not worshipped.[12]

Let us now look at the Supreme Being of a civilised American people. There
are few more interesting accounts of religion than Garcilasso de la Vega's
description of faith in Peru. Garcilasso was of Inca parentage on the
spindle side; he was born in 1540, and his book, taken from the traditions
of an uncle, and aided by the fragmentary collections of Father Blas
Valera, was published in 1609. In Garcilasso's theory the original people
of Peru, Totemists and worshippers of hills and streams, Earth and Sea,
were converted to Sun worship by the first Inca, a child of the Sun. Even
the new religion included ancestor-worship and other superstitions. But
behind Sun worship was the faith in a Being who 'advanced the Sun so far
above all the stars of heaven.'[13] This Being was Pachacamac, 'the
sustainer of the world.' The question then arises, Is Pachacamac a form of
the same creative being whom we find among the lowest savages; or is he
the result of philosophical reflection? The latter was the opinion
of Garcilasso. 'The Incas and their Amautas' (learned class) 'were

'Pacha,' he says, = universe, and 'cama' = soul. Pachacamac, then, is
_Anima Mundi_. 'They did not even take the name of Pachacamac into their
mouths,' or but seldom and reverently, as the Australians will not, in
religious matters, mention Darumulun. Pachacamac had no temple, 'but they
worshipped him in their hearts.' That he was the Creator appears in an
earlier writer, cited by Garcilasso, Agustin de Zarate (ii. ch. 5).
Garcilasso, after denying the existence of temples to Pachacamac, mentions
one, but only one. He insists, at length, and with much logic, that He
whom, as a Christian, he worships, is in Quichua styled Pachacamac.
Moreover, the one temple to Pachacamac was not built by an Inca, but by
a race which, having heard of the Inca god, borrowed his name, without
understanding his nature, that of a Being who dwells not in temples made
with hands (ii. 186). In the temple this people, the Yuncas, offered even
human sacrifices. By the Incas to Pachacamac no sacrifice was offered
(ii. 189). This negative custom they also imposed upon the Yuncas, and
they removed idols from the Yunca temple of Pachacamac (ii. 190). Yunca
superstitions, however, infested the temple, and a Voice gave oracles
therein.[15] The Yuncas also had a talking idol, which the Inca, in
accordance with a religious treaty, occasionally consulted.

While Pachacamac, without temple or rite, was reckoned the Creator, we
must understand that Sun-worship and ancestor-worship were the practical
elements of the Inca cult. This appears to have been distasteful to the
Inca Huayna Ccapac, for at a Sun feast he gazed hard on the Sun, was
remonstrated with by a priest, and replied that the restless Sun 'must
have another Lord more powerful than himself.'[16]

This remark could not have been necessary if Pachacamac were really an
article of living and universal belief. Perhaps we are to understand that
this Inca, like his father, who seems to have been the original author of
the saying, meant to sneer at the elaborate worship bestowed on the Sun,
while Pachacamac was neglected, as far as ritual went.

In Garcilasso's book we have to allow for his desire to justify the creed
of his maternal ancestors. His criticism of Spanish versions is acute, and
he often appeals to his knowledge of Quichua, and to the direct traditions
received by him from his uncle. Against his theory of Pachacamac as a
result of philosophical thought, it may be urged that similar conceptions,
or nearly similar, exist among races not civilised like the Incas, and not
provided with colleges of learned priests. In fact, the position of
Pachacamac and the Sun is very nearly that of the Blackfoot Creator Na-pi,
and the Sun, or of Shang-ti and the Heaven, in China. We have the Creative
Being whose creed is invaded by that of a worshipped aspect of nature, and
whose cult, quite logically, is _nil_, or nearly _nil_. There are also, in
different strata of the Inca empire, ancestor-worship, or mummy-worship,
Totemism and polytheism, with a vague mass of _huaca = Elohim, kalou,

Perhaps it would not be too rash to conjecture that Pachacamac is not a
merely philosophical abstraction, but a survival of a Being like Na-pi or
Ahone. Cieza de Leon calls Pachacamac 'a devil,' whose name means
'creator of the world'![17] The name, when it _was_ uttered, was spoken
with genuflexions and signs of reverence. So closely did Pachacamac
resemble the Christian Deity, that Cieza de Leon declares the devil to
have forged and insisted on the resemblance![18] It was open to Spanish
missionaries to use Pachacamac, as to the Jesuits among the Bantu to use
Mpungu, as a fulcrum for the introduction of Christianity. They preferred
to regard Pachacamac as a fraudulent fiend. Now Nzambi Mpungu, among the
Bantu, is assuredly not a creation of a learned priesthood, for the Bantu
have no learned priests, and Mpungu would be useless to the greedy
conjurers whom they do consult, as he is not propitiated. On grounds of
analogy, then, Pachacamac may be said to resemble a savage Supreme
Being, somewhat etherealised either by Garcilasso or by the Amautas, the
learned class among the subjects of the Incas. He does not seem, even so,
much superior to the Ahone of the Virginians.

We possess, however, a different account of Inca religion, from which
Garcilasso strongly dissents. The best version is that of Christoval de
Molina, who was chaplain of the hospital for natives, and wrote between
1570 and 1584.[19] Christoval assembled a number of old priests and other
natives who had taken part in the ancient services, and collected their
evidence. He calls the Creator ('not born of woman, unchangeable
and eternal') by the name Pachayachachi. 'Teacher of the world' and
'Tecsiviracocha,' which Garcilasso dismisses as meaningless.[20] He also
tells the tale of the Inca Yupanqui and the Lord of the Sun, but
says that the Incas had already knowledge of the Creator. To Yupanqui he
attributes the erection of a gold image of the Creator, utterly denied by
Garcilasso.[21] Christoval declares, again contradicted by Garcilasso,
that sacrifices were offered to the Creator. Unlike the Sun, Christoval
says, the Creator had no woman assigned to him, 'because, as he created
them, they all belonged to him' (p. 26), which, of course, is an idea that
would also make sacrifice superfluous.

Christoval gives prayers in Quichua, wherein the Creator is addressed as

Christoval assigns images, sacrifice, and even human sacrifice, to the
Creator Uiracocha. Garcilasso denies that the Creator Pachacamac had any
of these things, he denies that Uiracocha was the name of the Creator,
and he denies it, knowing that the Spaniards made the assertion.[22] Who
is right? Uiracocha, says Garcilasso, is one thing, with his sacrifices;
the Creator, Pachacamac, without sacrifices, is another, is GOD.

Mr. Markham thinks that Garcilasso, writing when he did, and not
consciously exaggerating, was yet less trustworthy (though 'wonderfully
accurate') than Christoval. Garcilasso, however, is 'scrupulously
truthful.'[23] 'The excellence of his memory is perhaps best shown in
his topographical details.... He does not make a single mistake,' in the
topography of three hundred and twenty places! A scrupulously truthful
gentleman, endowed with an amazing memory, and a master of his native
language, flatly contradicts the version of a Spanish priest, who also
appears to have been careful and honourable.

I shall now show that Christoval and Garcilasso have different versions of
the same historical events, and that Garcilasso bases his confutation of
the Spanish theory of the Inca Creator on his form of this historical
tradition, which follows:

The Inca Yahuarhuaccac, like George II., was at odds with his Prince of
Wales. He therefore banished the Prince to Chita, and made him serve as
shepherd of the llamas of the Sun. Three years later the disgraced
Prince came to Court, with what the Inca regarded as a cock-and-bull story
of an apparition of the kind technically styled 'Borderland.' Asleep or
awake, he knew not, he saw a bearded robed man holding a strange animal.
The appearance declared himself as Uiracocha (Christoval's name for the
Creator), a Child of the Sun; by no means as Pachacamac, the Creator of
the Sun. He announced a distant rebellion, and promised his aid to the
Prince. The Inca, hearing this narrative, replied in the tones of
Charles II., when he said about Monmouth, 'Tell James to go to hell!'[24]
The predicted rebellion, however, broke out, the Inca fled, the Prince
saved the city, dethroned his father, and sent him into the country. He
then adopted, from the apparition, the throne-name _Uiracocha,_ grew a
beard, and dressed like the apparition, to whom he erected a temple,
roofless, and unique in construction. Therein he had an image of the god,
for which he himself gave frequent sittings. When the Spaniards arrived,
bearded men, the Indians called them Uiracochas (as all the Spanish
historians say), and, to flatter them, declared falsely that Uiracocha was
their word for the Creator. Garcilasso explodes the Spanish etymology of
the name, in the language of Cuzco, which he 'sucked in with his mother's
milk.' 'The Indians said that the chief Spaniards were children of the
Sun, to make gods of them, just as they said they were children of the
apparition, Uiracocha.'[25] Moreover, Garcilasso and Cieza de Leon agree
in their descriptions of the image of Uiracocha, which, both assert,
the Spaniards conceived to represent a Christian early missionary, perhaps
St. Bartholomew.[26] Garcilasso had seen the mummy of the Inca Uiracocha,
and relates the whole tale from the oral version of his uncle, adding many
native comments on the Court revolution described.

To Garcilasso, then, the invocations of Uiracocha, in Christoval's
collection of prayers, are a native adaptation to Spanish prejudice: even
in them Pachacamac occurs.[27]

Now, Christoval has got hold of a variant of Garcilasso's narrative,
which, in Garcilasso, has plenty of humour and human nature. According to
Christoval it was not the Prince, later Inca Uiracocha, who beheld the
apparition, but the Inca Uiracocha's _son,_ Prince of Wales, as it were,
of the period, later the Inca Yupanqui.

Garcilasso corrects Christoval. Uiracocha saw the apparition, as Pere
Acosta rightly says, and Yupanqui was _not_ the son but the grandson of
this Inca Uiracocha.[28] Uiracocha's own son was Pachacutec, which simply
means 'Revolution,' 'they say, by way of by-word _Pachamcutin,_ which
means "the world changes."'

Christoval's form of the story is peculiarly gratifying in one way.
Yupanqui saw the apparition _in a piece of crystal_, 'the apparition
vanished, while the piece of crystal remained. The Inca took care of it,
and they say that he afterwards saw everything he wanted in it.' The
apparition, in human form and in Inca dress, gave itself out for the Sun;
and Yupanqui, when he came to the throne, 'ordered a statue of the Sun to
be made, as nearly as possible resembling the figure he had seen in the
crystal.' He bade his subjects to 'reverence the new deity, as they had
heretofore worshipped the Creator,'[29] who, therefore, was prior to

Interesting as a proof of Inca crystal-gazing, this legend of Christoval's
cannot compete as evidence with Acosta and Garcilasso. The reader,
however, must decide as to whether he prefers Garcilasso's unpropitiated
Pachacamac, or Christoval's Uiracocha, human sacrifices, and all.[30]

Mr. Tylor prefers the version of Christoval, making Pachacamac a title of
Uiracocha.[31] He thinks that we have, in Inca religion, an example of 'a
subordinate god' (the Sun) 'usurping the place of the supreme deity,' 'the
rivalry between the Creator and the divine Sun.' In China, as we shall
see, Mr. Tylor thinks, on the other hand, that Heaven is the elder god,
and that Shang-ti, the Supreme Being, is the usurper.

The truth in the Uiracocha _versus_ Pachacamac controversy is difficult to
ascertain. I confess a leaning toward Garcilasso, so truthful and so
wonderfully accurate, rather than to the Spanish priest. Christoval, it
will be remarked, says that 'Chanca-Uiracocha was a _huaca_ (sacred place)
in Chuqui-chaca.'[32] Now Chuqui-chaca is the very place where, according
to Garcilasso, the Inca Uiracocha erected a temple to 'his Uncle, the
Apparition.'[33] Uiracocha, then, the deity who receives human sacrifice,
would be a late, royally introduced ancestral god, no real rival of the
Creator, who receives no sacrifice at all, and, as he was bearded, his
name would be easily transferred to the bearded Spaniards, whose arrival
the Inca Uiracocha was said to have predicted. But to call several or all
Spaniards by the name given to the Creator would be absurd. Mr. Tylor and
Mr. Markham do not refer to the passage in which Christoval obviously gets
hold of a wrong version of the story of the apparition.

There is yet another version of this historical legend, written forty
years after Christoval's date by Don Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti-yamqui
Salcamayhua. He ranks after Garcilasso and Christoval, but before earlier
_Spanish_ writers, such as Acosta, who knew not Quichua. According to
Salcamayhuia, the Inca Uiracocha was like James III., fond of architecture
and averse to war. He gave the realm to his bastard, Urca, who was
defeated and killed by the Chancas. Uiracocha meant to abandon the
contest, but his legitimate son, Yupanqui, saw a fair youth on a rock, who
promised him success in the name of the Creator, and then vanished. The
Prince was victorious, and the Inca Uiracocha retired into private
life. This appears to be a mixture of the stories of Garcilasso and

It is not, in itself, a point of much importance whether the Creator was
called Uiracocha (which, if it means anything, means 'sea of grease!'), or
whether he was called Pachacamac, maker of the world, or by both names.
The important question is as to whether the Creator received even human
sacrifices (Christoval) or none at all (Garcilasso). As to Pachacamac, we
must consult Mr. Payne, who has the advantage of being a Quichua scholar.
He considers that Pachacamac combines the conception of a general spirit
of living things with that of a Creator or maker of all things.
'Pachacamac and the Creator are one and the same,' but the conception of
Pachayachacic, 'ruler of the world,' 'belongs to the later period of the
Incas.'[35] Mr. Payne appears to prefer Christoval's legend of the Inca
crystal-gazer, to the rival version of Garcilasso. The Yunca form of the
worship of Pachacamac Mr. Payne regards as an example of degradation.[36]
He disbelieves Garcilasso's statement, that human sacrifices were not
made to the Sun. Garcilasso must, if Mr. Payne is right, have been a
deliberate liar, unless, indeed, he was deceived by his Inca kinsfolk.
The reader can now estimate for himself the difficulty of knowing much
about Peruvian religion, or, indeed, of any religion. For, if Mr. Payne
is right about the lowest savages having no conception of God, or even of
spirit, though the idea of a great Creator, a spirit, is one of the
earliest efforts of 'primitive logic,' we, of course, have been merely
fabling throughout.

Garcilasso's evidence, however, seems untainted by Christian attempts to
find a primitive divine tradition. Garcilasso may possibly be refining on
facts, but he asks for no theory of divine primitive tradition in the case
of Pachacamac, whom he attributes to philosophical reflection.

In the following chapter we discuss 'the old Degeneration theory,' and
contrast it with the scheme provisionally offered in this book. We have
already observed that the Degeneration theory biasses the accounts of some
missionaries who are obviously anxious to find traces of a Primitive
Tradition, originally revealed to all men, but only preserved in a pure
form by the Jews. To avoid deception by means of this bias we have chosen
examples of savage creative beings from wide areas, from diverse ages,
from non-missionary statements, from the least contaminated backward
peoples, and from their secret mysteries and hymns.

Thus, still confining ourselves to the American continent, we have the
ancient hymns of the Zunis, in no way Christianised, and never chanted in
the presence of the Mexican Spanish, These hymns run thus: 'Before the
beginning of the New Making, Awonawilona, the Maker and container of All,
the All-Father, solely had being.' He then evolved all things 'by thinking
himself outward in space.' Hegelian! but so are the dateless hymns of the
Maoris, despite the savage mythology which intrudes into both sets of
traditions. The old fable of Ouranos and Gaia recurs in Zuni as in

I fail to see how Awonawilona could be developed out of the ghost of chief
or conjurer. That in which all things potentially existed, yet who was
more than all, is not the ghost of a conjurer or chief. He certainly is
not due to missionary influence. No authority can be better than that of
traditional sacred chants found among a populace which will not sing them
before one of their Mexican masters.

We have tried to escape from the bias of belief in a primitive divine
tradition, but bias of every kind exists, and must exist. At present the
anthropological hypothesis of ancestor-worship as the basis, perhaps (as
in Mr. Spencer's theory) the only basis of religion, affects observers.

Before treating the theory of Degeneration let us examine a case of the
anthropological bias. The Fijians, as we learned from Williams, have
ancestral gods, and also a singular form of the creative being, Ndengei,
or, as Mr. Basil Thomson calls him, Degei. Mr. Thomson writes: 'It is
clear that the Fijians humanised their gods, because they had once existed
on earth in human form.... Like other primitive people, the Fijians
deified their ancestors.' Yet the Fijians 'may have forgotten the names
of their ancestors three generations back'! How in the world can you deify
a person whom you don't remember? Moreover, only malevolent chiefs were
deified, so apparently a Fijian god is really a well-born human
scoundrel, so considerable that _he_ for one is not forgotten--just as if
we worshipped the wicked Lord Lyttelton! Of course a god like Ahone could
not be made out of such materials as these, and, in fact, we learn from
Mr. Thomson that there are other Fijian gods of a different origin.

'It is probable that there were here and there, _gods that were the
creation of the priests that ministered to them, and were not the
spirits of dead chiefs_. Such was the god of the Bure Tribe on the Ra
coast, who was called Tui Laga or "Lord of Heaven." When the missionaries
first went to convert this town they found the heathen priest their
staunch ally. He declared that they had come to preach the same god that
he had been preaching, the Tui Laga, and that more had been revealed to
them than to him of the mysteries of the god.'

Mr. Thomson is reminded of St. Paul at Athens, 'whom then ye ignorantly
worship, him declare I unto you.'[38]

Mr. Thomson has clearly no bias in favour of a God like our own, known to
savages, and _not_ derived from ghost-worship. He deduces this god, Tui
Laga, from priestly reflection and speculation. But we find such a God
where we find no priests, where a priesthood has not been developed. Such
a God, being usually unpropitiated by sacrifice and lucrative private
practice, is precisely the kind of deity who does not suit a priesthood.
For these reasons--that a priesthood 'sees no money in' a God of this
kind, and that Gods of this kind, ethical and creative, are found where
there are no priesthoods--we cannot look on the conception as a late one
of priestly origin, as Mr. Thomson does, though a learned caste, like the
Peruvian Amantas, may refine on the idea. Least of all can such a God be
'the creation of the priests that minister to him,' when, as in Peru, the
Andaman Isles, and much of Africa, this God is ministered to by no
priests. Nor, lastly, can we regard the absence of sacrifice to the
Creative Being as a mere proof that he is an ancestral ghost who 'had
lived on earth at too remote a time;' for this absence of sacrifice occurs
where ghosts are dreaded, but are not propitiated by offerings of food (as
among Australians, Andamanese, and Blackfoot Indians), while the Creative
Being is not and never was a ghost, according to his worshippers.

At this point criticism may naturally remark that whether the savage
Supreme Being is feted, as by the Comanches, who offer puffs of smoke: or
is apparently half forgotten, as by the Algonquins and Zulus: whether
he is propitiated by sacrifice (which is very rare indeed), or only by
conduct, I equally claim him as the probable descendant in evolution of
the primitive, undifferentiated, not necessarily 'spiritual' Being of such
creeds as the Australian.

One must reply that this pedigree cannot, indeed, be historically traced,
but that it presents none of the logical difficulties inherent in the
animistic pedigree--namely, that the savage Supreme Being is the last and
highest result of evolution on animistic lines out of ghosts. It does not
run counter to the evidence universally offered by savages, that their
Supreme Being never was mortal man. It is consistent, whereas the
animistic hypothesis is, in this case, inconsistent, with the universal
savage theory of Death. Finally, as has been said before, granting my
opinion that there are two streams of religious thought, one rising in the
conception of an undifferentiated Being, eternal, moral, and creative, the
other rising in the ghost-doctrine, it stands to reason that the latter,
as best adapted to everyday needs and experiences, normal and supernormal,
may contaminate the former, and introduce sacrifice and food-propitiation
into the ritual of Beings who, by the original conception, 'need nothing
of ours.' At the same time, the conception of 'spirit,' once attained,
would inevitably come to be attached to the idea of the Supreme Being,
even though he was not at first conceived of as a spirit. We know, by our
own experience, how difficult it has become for us to think of an eternal,
powerful, and immortal being, except as a spirit. Yet this way of looking
at the Supreme Being, merely as _being_, not as spirit, must have existed,
granting that the idea of spirit has ghost for its first expression, as,
by their very definition, the high gods of savages are not ghosts, and
never were ghosts, but are prior to death.

Here let me introduce, by way of example, a Supreme Being _not_ of the
lowest savage level. Metaphysically he is improved on in statement,
morally he is stained with the worst crimes of the hungry ghost-god, or
god framed on the lines of animism. This very interesting Supreme Being,
in a middle barbaric race, is the Polynesian Taa-roa, as described by
Ellis in that fascinating book 'Polynesian Researches.'[39] 'Several of
their _taata-paari_, or wise men, pretend that, according to other
traditions, Taa-roa was only a man who was deified after death.'
Euhemerism, in fact, is a natural theory of men acquainted with
ancestor-worship, but a Euhemeristic hypothesis by a Polynesian thinker is
not a statement of national belief. Taa-roa was 'uncreated, existing from
the beginning, or from the time he emerges from the _po_, or world of
darkness.' In the Leeward Isles Taa-roa was _Toivi_, fatherless and
motherless from all eternity. In the highest heavens he dwells alone. He
created the gods of polytheism, the gods of war, of peace, and so on. Says
a native hymn, 'He was: he abode in the void. No earth, _no sky_, no men!
He became the universe.' In the Windward Isles he has a wife, Papa the
rock = Papa, Earth, wife of Rangi, Heaven, in Maori mythology. Thus it may
be argued, Taa-roa is no 'primaeval theistic idea,' but merely the
Heaven-God (Ouranos in Greece). But we may distinguish: in the Zuni hymn
we have the myth of the marriage of Heaven and Earth, but Heaven is not
the Eternal, Awonawilona, who 'thought himself out into the void,' before
which, as in the Polynesian hymn, 'there was no sky.'[40]

Whence came the idea of Taa-roa? The Euhemeristic theory that he was a
ghost of a dead man is absurd. But as we are now among polytheists it may
be argued that, given a crowd of gods on the animistic model, an origin
had to be found for them, and that origin was Taa-roa. This would be more
plausible if we did not find Supreme Beings where there is no departmental
polytheism to develop them out of. In Tahiti, _Atuas_ are gods, _Oramutuas
tiis_ are spirits; the chief of the spirits were ghosts of warriors. These
were mischievous: they, their images, and the skulls of the dead needed
propitiation, and these ideas (perhaps) were reflected on to Taa-roa, to
whom human victims were sacrificed.[41]

Now this kind of horror, human sacrifice, is unknown, I think, in early
savage religions of Supreme Beings, as in Australia, among the Bushmen,
the Andamanese, and so on. I therefore suggest that in an advanced
polytheism, such as that of Polynesia, the evil sacrificial rites
unpractised by low savages come to be attached to the worship even of the
Supreme Being. Ghosts and ghost-gods demanded food, and food was therefore
also offered to the Supreme Being.

It was found difficult, or impossible, to induce Christian converts, in
Polynesia, to repeat the old prayers. They began, trembled, and abstained.
They had a ritual 'for almost every act of their lives,' a thing
unfamiliar to low savages. In fact, beyond all doubt, religious criminal
acts, from human sacrifice to the burning of Jeanne d'Arc, increase as
religion and culture move away from the stage of Bushmen and Andamanese to
the stage of Aztec and Polynesian culture. The Supreme Being is succeeded
in advancing civilisation, and under the influences of animism, by
ruthless and insatiable ghost-gods, full of the worst human qualities.
Thus there is what we may really call degeneration, moral and religious,
inevitably accompanying early progress.

That this is the case, that the first advances in culture _necessarily_
introduce religious degeneration, we shall now try to demonstrate. But we
may observe, in passing, that our array of moral or august savage supreme
beings (the first who came to hand) will, for some reason, not be found in
anthropological treatises on the Origin of Religion. They appear, somehow,
to have been, overlooked by philosophers. Yet the evidence for them
is sufficiently good. Its excellence is proved by its very uniformity,
assuredly undesigned. An old, nay, an obsolete theory--that of
degeneration in religion--has facts at its basis, which its very
supporters have ignored, which orthodoxy has overlooked. Thus the Rev.
Professor Flint informs the audience in the Cathedral of St. Giles's,
that, in the religions 'at the bottom of the religious scale,' 'it is
always easy to see how wretchedly the divine is conceived of; how little
conscious of his own true wants ... is the poor worshipper.' The poor
worshipper of Baiame wishes to obey His Law, which makes, to some extent,
for righteousness.[42]

[Footnote 1: In Pinkerton, xiii. pp. 13, 39; _Prim. Cult_. ii. 342.]

[Footnote 2: See Preface to this edition for corrected statement.]

[Footnote 3: _Myths of the New World_, p. 47.]

[Footnote 4: There is a description of Virginia, by W. Strachey, including
Smith's remarks, published in 1612. Strachey interwove some of this work
with his own MS. in the British Museum, dedicated to Bacon (Verulam). This
MS. was edited by Mr. Major, for the Hakluyt Society, in 1849, with a
glossary, by Strachey, of the native language. The remarks on religion are
in Chapter VII. The passage on Ahone occurs in Strachey (1612), but _not_
in Smith (1682), in Pinkerton. I owe to the kindness of Mr. Edmund Gosse
photographs of the drawings accompanying the MS. Strachey's story of
sacrifice of children (pp. 94, 95) seems to refer to nothing worse than the
initiation into the mysteries.]

[Footnote 5: See Brinton, _Myths of the New World_, for a philological

[Footnote 6: Compare 'The Fire Walk' in _Modern Mythology_.]

[Footnote 7: Compare St. Augustine's curious anecdote in _De Cura pro
Mortuis habenda_ about the dead and revived Curio. The founder of the new
Sioux religion, based on hypnotism, 'died' and recovered.]

[Footnote 8: Cf. Demeter.]

[Footnote 9: Major North, for long the U.S. Superintendent of the Pawnees.]

[Footnote 10: Schoolcraft, iii. 237.]

[Footnote 11: As envisaged here, Na-pi is not a spirit. The question
of spirit or non-spirit has not arisen. So far, Na-pi answers to
Marrangarrah, the Creative Being of the Larrakeah tribe of Australians.
'A very good Man called Marrangarrah lives in the sky; he made all living
creatures, except black fellows. He made everything.... He never dies, and
likes all black fellows.' He has a demiurge, Dawed (Mr. Foelsche, _apud_
Dr. Stirling, _J.A.I_., Nov. 1894, p. 191). It is curious to observe how
savage creeds often shift the responsibility for evil from the Supreme
Creator, entirely beneficent, on to a subordinate deity.]

[Footnote 12: Grinnell's _Blackfoot Lodge-Tales_ and _Pawnee Hero

[Footnote 13: Garcilasso, i. 101.]

[Footnote 14: Op. cit. i. 106.]

[Footnote 15: From all this we might conjecture, like Mr. Prescott, that
the Incas borrowed Pachacamac from the Yuncas, and etherealised his
religion. But Mr. Clements Markham points out that 'Pachacamac is a pure
Quichua word.']

[Footnote 16: Garcilasso, ii. 446, 447.]

[Footnote 17: Cieza de Leon. p.253]

[Footnote 18: Markham's translation, p. 253.]

[Footnote 19: _Rites and Laws of the Yncas_, Markham's translation,
p. vii.]

[Footnote 20: _Rites_, p. 6. Garcilasso, i. 109.]

[Footnote 21: _Rites_, p. 11.]

[Footnote 22: Compare _Reports on Discovery of Peru,_ Introduction.]

[Footnote 23: _Rites_, p. xv.]

[Footnote 24: Lord Ailesbury's _Memoirs_.]

[Footnote 25: Garcilasso, ii. 68.]

[Footnote 26: Cieza de Leon, p. 357.]

[Footnote 27: _Rites,_ pp. 28, 29.]

[Footnote 28: Acosta, lib. vi. ch. 21: Garcilasso. ii. 88, 89.]

[Footnote 29: _Rites_, p. 12.]

[Footnote 30: Ibid. p.54.]

[Footnote 31: _Prim. Cult_. ii, 337, 338.]

[Footnote 32: _Rites_, p. 29.]

[Footnote 33: Garcilasso, ii. 69.]

[Footnote 34: _Rites and Laws_, p. 91 _et seq_.]

[Footnote 35: Payne, i. 139.]

[Footnote 36: Op. cit. i. 468. Mr. Payne absolutely rejects
Ixtlilochitl's story of the monotheism of Nezahualcoyotl; 'Torquemada
knows nothing of it,' i. 490.]

[Footnote 37: Cushing, _Report, Ethnol. Bureau_, 1891-92, p. 379.]

[Footnote 38: _J.A.I_. May 1895, pp. 341-344.]

[Footnote 39: ii. 191, 1829.]

[Footnote 40: _Prim. Cult_. ii. 345, 346. Ellis, ii. 193.]

[Footnote 41: Ellis, ii. 221.]

[Footnote 42: _The Faiths of The World_, p. 413.]



If any partisan of the anthropological theory has read so far into this
argument, he will often have murmured to himself, 'The old degeneration
theory!' On this Dr. Brinton remarked in 1868:

'The supposition that in ancient times and in very unenlightened
conditions, before mythology had grown, a monotheism prevailed which
afterwards, at various times, was revived by reformers, is a belief that
should have passed away when the delights of savage life and the praises
of a state of nature ceased to be the theme of philosophers[1].'

'The old degeneration theory' practically, and fallaciously, resolved
itself, as Mr. Tylor says, into two assumptions--'first, that the history
of culture began with the appearance on earth of a semi-civilised race of
men; and second, that from this stage culture has proceeded in two
ways--backward to produce savages, and forward to produce civilised
men[2].' That hypothesis is false to all our knowledge of evolution.

The hypothesis here provisionally advocated makes no assumptions
at all. It is a positive fact that among some of the lowest savages
there exists, not a doctrinal and abstract Monotheism, but a belief
in a moral, powerful, kindly, creative Being, while this faith is found
in juxtaposition with belief in unworshipped ghosts, totems, fetishes,
and so on. The powerful creative Being of savage belief sanctions truth,
unselfishness, loyalty, chastity, and other virtues. I have set forth the
difficulties involved in the attempt to derive this Being from ghosts and
other lower forms of belief.

Now, it is mere matter of fact, and not of assumption, that the Supreme
Being of many rather higher savages differs from the Supreme Being of
certain lower savages by the neglect in which he is left, by the epicurean
repose with which he is credited, and by his comparative lack of moral
control over human conduct. In his place a mob of ghosts and spirits,
supposed to be potent and helpful in everyday life, attract men's regard
and adoration, and get paid by sacrifice--even by human sacrifice.

Turning to races yet higher in material culture, we find a crowd of hungry
and cruel gods.

On this point Mr. Jevons remarks, in accordance with my own observation,
that 'human sacrifice appears at a much earlier period in the rites for
the dead than it does in the ritual of the gods.'[3] The dead chief needs
servants and wives in Hades, who are offered to him. The Australians have
some elements of cannibalism, but do not, as a general rule, offer any
human victims. So far, then, ancestor-worship introduced a sadly
'degenerate' rite, compared with the moral faith in unfed gods.

To gods the human sacrifice was probably extended (in some cases) either
by a cannibal civilised race, like the Aztecs, or by way of _piacula_, the
god being conciliated for man's sin by the offering of what man most
prized, the 'jealousy' of the god being appeased in a similar way.
But these are relatively advanced conceptions, not to be found, to my
knowledge, among the lowest and most backward races. Therefore, advance to
the idea of spirit at one point, meant degeneration at another point, to
the extent of human sacrifice.

Thus, on looking at relatively advanced races, we find them worshipping
polytheistic deities and ghosts of the kings just dead, who are often
propitiated by terrible massacres of human victims, while, as in the case
of Taa-roa, the blood spurts back even on the uncreated Creator, who was
before earth was, or sea, sun, or sky.

Undeniably the hungry, cruel gods are degenerate from the Australian
Father in Heaven, who receives no sacrifice but that of men's lusts and
selfishness; who desires obedience, not the fat of kangaroos; who needs
nothing of ours; is unfed and unbribed. Thus, in this particular respect
the degeneration of religion from the Australian or Andamanese to the
Dinka standard--and infinitely more to the Polynesian, or Aztec, or
popular Greek standard--is as undeniable as any fact in human history.

Anthropology has only escaped the knowledge of this circumstance by laying
down the rule, demonstrably unbased on facts, that 'the divine sanction of
ethical laws ... belongs almost or wholly to religions above the savage
level, not to the earlier and lower creeds;' that 'savage Animism is
almost devoid of that ethical element which to the educated modern mind is
the very mainspring of practical religion.'[4]

I have argued, indeed, that the God of low savages who imparts the divine
sanction of ethical laws is _not_ of animistic origin. But even where Mr.
Im Thurn finds, in Guiana, nothing but Animism of the lowest conceivable
type, he also finds in that Animism the only or most potent moral
restraint on the conduct of men.

While Anthropology holds the certainly erroneous idea that the religion of
the most backward races is always non-moral, of course she cannot know
that there has, in fact, been great degeneration in religion (if religion
began on the Australian and Andamanese level, or even higher) wherever
religion is non-moral or immoral.

Again, Anthropology, while fixing her gaze on totems, on worshipped
mummies, adored ghosts, and treasured fetishes, has not, to my knowledge,
made a comparative study of the higher and purer religious ideas of
savages. These have been passed by, with a word about credulous
missionaries and Christian influences, except in the brief summary for
which Mr. Tylor found room. In this work I only take a handful of cases of
the higher religious opinions of savages, and set them side by side for
purposes of comparison. Much more remains to be done in this field. But
the area covered is wide, the evidence is the best attainable, and it
seems proved beyond doubt that savages have 'felt after' a conception of a
Creator much higher than that for which they commonly get credit. Now, if
that conception is original, or is very early (and nothing in it suggests
lateness of development), then the other elements of their faith and
practice are degenerate.

'How,' it has been asked, 'could all mankind forget a pure religion?'[5]
That is what I now try to explain. That degeneration I would account for
by the attractions which animism, when once developed, possessed for the
naughty natural man, 'the old Adam.' A moral creator in need of no gifts,
and opposed to lust and mischief, will not help a man with love-spells, or
with malevolent 'sendings' of disease by witchcraft; will not favour one
man above his neighbour, or one tribe above its rivals, as a reward for
sacrifice which he does not accept, or as constrained by charms which do
not touch his omnipotence. Ghosts and ghost-gods, on the other hand, in
need of food and blood, afraid of spells and binding charms,[6] are a
corrupt, but, to man, a useful constituency. Man being what he is, man was
certain to 'go a whoring' after practically useful ghosts, ghost-gods, and
fetishes which he could keep in his wallet or medicine bag. For these he
was sure, in the long run, first to neglect his idea of his Creator; next,
perhaps, to reckon Him as only one, if the highest, of the venal rabble of
spirits or deities, and to sacrifice to Him, as to them. And this is
exactly what happened! If we are not to call it 'degeneration,' what are
we to call it? It may be an old theory, but facts 'winna ding,' and are on
the side of an old theory. Meanwhile, on the material plane, culture
kept advancing, the crafts and arts arose; departments arose, each needing
a god; thought grew clearer; such admirable ethics as those of the Aztecs
were developed, and while bleeding human hearts smoked on every altar,
Nezahuatl conceived and erected a bloodless fane to 'The Unknown God,
Cause of Causes,' without altar or idol; and the Inca, Yupanqui, or
another, declared that 'Our Father and Master, the Sun, must have a

But, at this stage of culture, the luck of the state, and the interests of
a rich and powerful clergy, were involved in the maintenance of the old,
animistic, relatively non-moral system, as in Cuzco, Greece, and Rome.
That popular and political regard for the luck of the state, that
priestly self-interest (quite natural), could only be swept away by the
moral monotheism of Christianity or of Islam. Nothing else could do it. In
the case of Christianity, the central and most potent of many combined
influences, apart from the Life and Death of Our Lord, was the moral
Monotheism of the Hebrew religion of Jehovah.

Now, it is undeniable that Jehovah, at a certain period of Hebrew history,
had become degraded and anthropomorphized, far below Darumulun, and
Puluga, and Pachacamac, and Ahone, as conceived of in their purest form,
and in the high mood of savage mysteries which yet contain so much that is
grotesque. Even the Big Black Man of the Fuegians is on a higher level (as
_we_ reckon morals), when he forbids the slaying of a robber enemy, than
certain examples of early Hebrew conduct. But our knowledge of the
Fuegians is lamentably scanty.

Again, traces of human sacrifice appear in the ritual of Israel, and it is
only relatively late that the great prophets, justly declaring Jehovah to
be indifferent to the blood of bulls and rams, try to bring back his
service to that of the unpropitiated, unbought Dendid, or Ahone, or
Pundjel. Here is degeneration, even in Israel. How the conception of
Jehovah arose in Israel, whether it was a revival of a half-obliterated
idea, such as we find among low savages; or whether it was borrowed from
some foreign creed; or was the result of meditation on the philosophical
Supreme Being of high Egyptian theology, is another question. The Biblical
statement leans to the first alternative. Jehovah, not by that name, had
been the God of Israel's fathers. The question will be discussed later;
but, unless new facts are discovered, we must accept the version of the
Pentateuch, or take refuge in conjecture.

Not only is there degeneration from the Australian conception of
Mungan-gnaur, at its best, to the conception of the Semitic gods in
general, but, 'humanly speaking,' if religion began in a pure form among
low savages, degeneration was inevitable. Advancing social conditions
compelled men into degeneration. Mungan-ngaur is, so far, in line with
our own ideas of divinity because he is not localised. He dwelleth not in
temples made with hands; it is not likely that he should, when his
worshippers have neither house, tent, nor tabernacle. As Mr. Robertson
Smith says, 'where the God had a house or a temple, we recognise the work
of men who were no longer pure nomads, but had begun to form fixed homes.'
By the nature of Australian society, a deity could not be tied to a
temple, and temple-ritual, and consequent myths to explain that ritual,
could not arise. Nor could Darumulun be attached to a district, just as
'the nomad Arabs could not assimilate the conception of a god as a
land-owner, and apply it to their own tribal deities, for the simple
reason that in the desert private property in land was unknown,'[8]

Darumulun is thus not capable of degenerating into 'a local god, as
_Baal_, or lord of the land,' because this 'involves a series of ideas
unknown to the primitive life of the savage huntsman,' like the widely
spread Murring tribes.[9]

Nor could Darumulun be tied down to a place in Semitic fashion, first by
manifesting himself there, therefore by receiving an altar of sacrifice
there, and in the end a sanctuary, for Darumulun receives no sacrifice
at all.

Again, the scene of the Bora could not become a permanent home of
Darumulun, because, when the rites are over, the effigy of the god is
scrupulously destroyed. Thus Darumulun, in his own abode 'beyond the sky,'
can 'go everywhere and do everything' (is omnipresent and omnipotent),
dwells in no earthly places, has no temple, nor tabernacle, nor sacred
mount, nor, like Jehovah, any limit of land.[10]

The early Hebrew conception of Jehovah, then, is infinitely more
conditioned, practically, by space, than the Supreme Being, 'The Master,'
in the conception of some Australian blacks.

'By a prophet like Isaiah the residence of Jehovah in Zion is almost
wholly dematerialised.... Conceiving Jehovah as the King of Israel, he
necessarily conceives His kingly activity as going forth from the capital
of the nation.'[11]

But nomad hunter tribes, with no ancestor-worship, no king and no capital,
cannot lower their deity by the conditions, or limit him by the
limitations, of an earthly monarchy.

In precisely the same way, Major Ellis proves the degeneration of deity in
Africa, so far as being localised in place of being the Universal God,
implies degeneration, as it certainly does to our minds. By being attached
to a given hill or river 'the gods, instead of being regarded as being
interested in the whole of mankind, would eventually come to be regarded
as being interested in separate tribes or nations alone.'

To us Milton seems nobly Chauvinistic when he talks of what God has done
by 'His English.' But this localised and essentially degenerate conception
was inevitable, as soon as, in advancing civilisation, the god who had
been 'interested in the whole of [known] mankind' was settled on a hill,
river, or lagoon, amidst a nation of worshippers.

In the course of the education of mankind, this form of degeneration
(abstractly so considered) was to work, as nothing else could have worked,
towards the lofty conception of universal Deity. For that conception
was only brought into practical religion (as apart from philosophic
speculation) by the union between Israel and the God of Sinai and Zion.
The Prophets, recognising in the God of Sinai, their nation's God--One
to whom righteousness was infinitely dearer than even his Chosen
People--freed the conception of God from local ties, and made it
overspread the world.

Mr. Robertson Smith has pointed out, again, the manner in which the
different political development of East and West affected the religion of
Greece and of the Semites. In Greece, monarchy fell, at an early period,
before the aristocratic houses. The result was 'a divine aristocracy of
many gods, only modified by a weak reminiscence of the old kingship in the
not very effective sovereignty' (or _prytany_) 'of Zeus. In the East the
national god tended to acquire a really monarchic sway.'[12] Australia
escaped polytheistic degeneracy by having no aristocracy, as in Polynesia,
where aristocracy, as in early Greece, had developed polytheism. Ghosts
and spirits the Australians knew, but not polytheistic gods, nor
departmental deities, as of war, agriculture, art. The savage had no
agriculture, and his social condition was not departmental. In yet another
way, political advance produces religious degeneration, if polytheism be
degeneration from the conception of one relatively supreme moral being.
To make a nation, several tribes must unite. Each has its god, and the
nation is apt to receive them till, equally, into its Pantheon. Thus, if
worshippers of Baiame, Pundjel, and Darumulun coalesced into a nation,
we might find all three gods living together in a new polytheism. In fact,
granting a relatively pure starting-point, degeneration from it must
accompany every step of civilisation, to a certain distance.

Unlike Semitic gods, Darumulun receives no sacrifice. As we have said, he
has no kin with ghosts, and their sacrifices could not be carried on into
his cult, if Waitz-Gerland (vi. 811) are right in saying that the
Australians have no ancestor-worship. The Kurnai ghosts 'were believed to
live upon plants,'[13] which are not offered to them. Chill ghosts, unfed
by men, would come to waning camp-fires and batten on the broken meats.
The Ngarego and Wolgal held, more handsomely, that Tharamulun (Darumulun)
met the just departed spirit 'and conducted it to its future home beyond
the sky.'[14] Ghosts might also accompany relics of the body, such as the
dead hand, carried about by the family, who would wave the black fragment
at the dreaded Aurora Borealis, crying, 'Send it away!' I am unacquainted
with any sacrifices to ancestral ghosts among this people who cannot long
remember their ancestors, consequently the practice has not been refracted
on their supreme Master's cult. In the cult of Darumulun, and of other
highest gods of lowest savages, nothing answers to the Hebrew technical
priestly word for sacrifice, 'food of the deity.'[15] Nobody feeds Puluga,
nobody fed Ahone. We hear of no Fuegian sacrifices. Mr. Robertson Smith
says: 'In all religions in which the gods have been developed out of
totems [worshipped animals and other things regarded as akin to human
stocks] the ritual act of laying food before the deity is perfectly
intelligible.' Pundjel, an Australian Supreme Being, is mixed up with
animals in some myths, but it is not easy to see how such Supreme Beings
as he could be 'developed out of totems'! I am not aware, again, that any
Australian tribe feeds the animals who are its totems, so Darumulun could
not, and did not inherit sacrifice through them. Mr. Robertson Smith had
a celebrated theory that cereal sacrifice is a tribute to a god, while
sacrifice of a beast or man is an act of communion with the god.[16] Men
and gods dined together.[17] 'The god himself was conceived of as a being
of the same stock as his comrades.' Beasts were also of the same stock,
one beast, say a lobster, was of the same blood as a lobster kin, and its
god.[18] Occasionally the sacred beast of the kin, usually not to be slain
or tasted, is 'eaten as a kind of mystic sacrament a most dubious

Now, there is, I believe, some evidence, lately collected if not
published, which makes in favour of the eating of totems by Australians,
at a certain very rare and solemn mystery. It would not even surprise me
('from information received') if a very deeply initiated person were
occasionally slain, as the highest degree of initiation, on certain most
unusual occasions. This remains uncertain, but I have at present no
evidence that, either by one road or another, either from ghost-feeding or
totem-feeding, or feeding on totems, any Australian Supreme Being receives
any sacrifice at all. Much less, as among Pawnees and Semitic peoples (to
judge from certain traces), is the Australian Supreme Being a cause of and
partaker in human sacrifice.[20] The horrible idea of the Man who is the
God, and is eaten in the God's honour, occurs among polytheistic Aztecs,
on a high level of material culture, not among Australians, Andamanese,
Bushmen, or Fuegians.[21]

Thus, in religion, the Darumulun, or other Supreme Being of the lowest
known savages, men roaming wild, when originally met, on a continent
peopled by older kinds of animals than ours, was (as we regard purity) on
a higher plane by far than the gods of Greeks and Semites in their
earliest known myths. Setting mythology aside and looking only at cult,
the God of the Murring or the Kurnai, whose precepts soften the heart,
who knows the heart's secrets, who inculcates chastity, respect of age,
unselfishness, who is not bound by conditions of space or place who
receives no blood of slaughtered man or beast, is a conception from which
the ordinary polytheistic gods of infinitely more polite peoples are
frankly degenerate. The animistic superstitions wildly based on the belief
in the soul have not soiled him, and the social conditions of aristocracy,
agriculture, architecture, have not made him one in a polytheistic
crowd of rapacious gods, nor fettered him as a Baal to his estate, nor
localised him in a temple built with hands. He cannot appear as a 'God of
Battles;' no _Te Deum_ can be sung to him for victory in a cause perhaps
unjust, for he is the Supreme Being of a certain group of allied local
tribes. One of these tribes has no more interest with him than another,
and the whole group do not, as a body, wage war on another alien group.
The social conditions of his worshippers, then, preserve Darumulun from
the patent blots on the escutcheon of gods among much more advanced races.

Once more, the idea of Animism admits of endless expansion. A spirit can
be located anywhere, in any stone, stick, bush, person, hill, or river. A
god made on the animistic model can be assigned to any department of
human activity, down to sports, or lusts, or the province of Cloacina.
Thus religion becomes a mere haunted and pestilential jungle of beliefs.
But the theistic conception, when not yet envisaged as spiritual, cannot
be subdivided and _eparpille_. Thus, from every point of view, and on
every side, Animism is full of the seeds of religious degeneration, which
do not and cannot exist in what I take to be the earliest known form of
the theistic conception: that of a Being about whose metaphysical
nature--spirit or not spirit--no questions were asked, as Dr. Brinton long
ago remarked.

That conception alone could neither supply the moral motive of 'a soul to
be saved,' nor satisfy the metaphysical instinct of advancing mankind. To
meet these wants, to supply 'soul,' with its moral stimulus, and to
provide a phrase or idea under which the Deity could be envisaged (i.e. as
a _spirit_) by advancing thought, Animism was necessary. The blending of
the theistic and the animistic beliefs was indispensable to religion.
But, in the process of animistic development under advancing social
conditions, degeneration was necessarily implied. Degeneration of the
theistic conception for a while, therefore, occurred. The facts are the
proofs; and only contradictory facts, in sufficient quantity, can
annihilate the old theory of Degeneration when it is presented in this

It mast be repeated that on this theory an explanation is given of what
the old Degeneration hypothesis does not explain. Granting a primal
religion relatively pure in its beginnings, why did it degenerate?

Mr. Max Mullet, looking on religion as the development of the sentiment of
the Infinite, regards fetishism as a secondary and comparatively late form
of belief. We find it, he observes, in various forms of Christianity;
Christianity, therefore, is primary there, relic worship is secondary.
Religion beginning, according to him, in the sense of the infinite, as
awakened in man by tall trees, high hills, and so on, it advances to the
infinite of space and sky, and so to the infinitely divine. This is
primary: fetishism is secondary. Arguing elsewhere against this idea, I
have asked: What was the _modus_ of degeneration which produced similar
results in Christianity, and in African and other religions? How did it
work? I am not aware that Mr. Max Mueller has answered this question.
But how degeneration worked-namely, by Animism supplanting Theism--is
conspicuously plain on our theory.

Take the early chapters of Genesis, or any savage cosmogonic myth you
please. Deathless man is face to face with the Creator. He cannot
degenerate in religion. He cannot offer sacrifice, for the Creator
obviously needs nothing, and again, as there is no death, he cannot slay
animals for the Creator. But, in one way or another, usually by breach of
a taboo, Death enters the world. Then comes, by process of evolution,
belief in hungry spirits, belief in spirits who may inhabit stones or
sticks; again there arise priests who know how to propitiate spirits
and how to tempt them into sticks and stones. These arts become lucrative
and are backed by the cleverest men, and by the apparent evidence of
prophecies by convulsionaries. Thus every known kind of degeneration in
religion is inevitably introduced as a result of the theory of Animism. We
do not need an hypothesis of Original Sin as a cause of degeneration, and,
if Mr. Max Mueller's doctrine of the Infinite were _viable_, we have
supplied, in Animism, under advancing social conditions, what he does not
seem to provide, a cause and _modus_ of degeneration. Fetishism would
thus be really 'secondary,' _ex hypothesi_, but as we nowhere find
Fetishism alone, without the other elements of religion, we cannot say,
historically, whether it is secondary or not. Fetishism logically needs,
in some of its aspects, the doctrine of spirits, and Theism, in what we
take to be its earliest known form, does not logically need the doctrine
of spirits as given matter. So far we can go, but not farther, as to the
fact of priority in evolution. Nevertheless we meet, among the most
backward peoples known to us, among men just emerged from the palaeolithic
stage of culture, men who are involved in dread of ghosts, a religious
Idea which certainly is not born of ghost-worship, for by these men,
ancestral ghosts are not worshipped.

In their hearts, on their lips, in their moral training we find (however
blended with barbarous absurdities, and obscured by rites of another
origin) the faith in a Being who created or constructed the world; who was
from time beyond memory or conjecture; who is primal, who makes for
righteousness, and who loves mankind. This Being has not the notes of
degeneration; his home is 'among the stars,' not in a hill or in a house.
To him no altar smokes, and for him no blood is shed.

'God, that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is lord
of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is
worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed any thing ... and hath
made of one blood all nations of men ... that they should seek the Lord,
if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far
from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being.'

That the words of St. Paul are literally true, as to the feeling after a
God who needs not anything at man's hands, the study of anthropology seems
to us to demonstrate. That in this God 'we have our being,' in so far
as somewhat of ours may escape, at moments, from the bonds of Time and the
manacles of Space, the earlier part of this treatise is intended to
suggest, as a thing by no means necessarily beyond a reasonable man's
power to conceive. That these two beliefs, however attained (a point on
which we possess no positive evidence), have commonly been subject to
degeneration in the religions of the world, is only too obvious.

So far, then, the nature of things and of the reasoning faculty does not
seem to give the lie to the old Degeneration theory.

To these conclusions, as far as they are matters of scientific opinion, we
have been led by nothing but the study of anthropology.

[Footnote 1: _Myths of the New World_, p. 44.]

[Footnote 2: _Prim. Cult_. i. 35.]

[Footnote 3: _Introduction_, p. 199; also p. 161.]

[Footnote 4: _Prim. Cult_. ii. 360,361.]

[Footnote 5: Prof. Menzies, _History of Religion_, p. 23.]

[Footnote 6: [Greek: legomenai theion anagchai.] Prophyry.]

[Footnote 7: Ixtlilochitl. Balboa, _Hist. du Perou_, p. 62.]

[Footnote 8: Robertson Smith, _Religion of the Semites_, pp. 104, 105.]

[Footnote 9: Op. cit. p. 106.]

[Footnote 10: On the Glenelg some caves and mountain tops are haunted or
holy. Waitz, vi. 804, No authority cited.]

[Footnote 11: _Religion of Semites_, p. 110.]

[Footnote 12: _Rel. Sem_. p. 71.]

[Footnote 13: Howitt, _J.A.T_. 1884, p. 187.]

[Footnote 14: Op. cit. p. 188.]

[Footnote 15: _Rel. Sem_. p. 207.]

[Footnote 16: _Rel. Sem_. p. 225.]

[Footnote 17: Op. cit. p. 247.]

[Footnote 18: Op. cit. p. 269.]

[Footnote 19: Op. cit. p. 277.]

[Footnote 20: Op. cit. p. 343. Citing Gen. xxii 2 Kings xxi. 6, Micah
vi. 7, 2 Kings iii. 27.]

[Footnote 21: I mean, does not occur to my knowledge. New evidence is
always upsetting anthropological theories.]



All speculation on the curly history of religion is apt to end in the
endeavour to see how far the conclusions can he made to illustrate the
faith of Israel. Thus, the theorist who believes in ancestor-worship as
the key of all the creeds will see in Jehovah a developed ancestral
ghost, or a kind of fetish-god, attached to a stone--perhaps an ancient
sepulchral stele of some desert sheikh.

The exclusive admirer of the hypothesis of Totemism will find evidence for
his belief in worship of the golden calf and the bulls. The partisan of
nature-worship will insist on Jehovah's connection with storm, thunder,
and the fire of Sinai. On the other hand, whoever accepts our suggestions
will incline to see, in the early forms of belief in Jehovah, a shape of
the widely diffused conception of a Moral Supreme Being, at first (or, at
least, when our information begins) envisaged in anthropomorphic form,
but gradually purged of all local traits by the unexampled and unique
inspiration of the great Prophets. They, as far as our knowledge extends,
were strangely indifferent to the animistic element in religion, to the
doctrine of surviving; human souls, and so, of course, to that element
of Animism which is priceless--the purification of the soul in the light
of the hope of eternal life. Just as the hunger after righteousness of the
Prophets is intense, so their hope of finally sating that hunger
in an eternity of sinless bliss and enjoyment of God is confessedly
inconspicuous. In short, they have carried Theism to its austere
extreme--'though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him'-while unconcerned
about the rewards of Animism. This is certainly a strange result of a
religion which, according to the anthropological theory, has Animism for
its basis.

We therefore examine certain forms of the animistic hypothesis as applied
to account for the religion of Israel. The topic is one in which special
knowledge of Hebrew and other Oriental languages seems absolutely
indispensable; but anthropological speculators have not been Oriental
scholars (with rare exceptions), while some Oriental scholars have
borrowed from popular anthropology without much critical discrimination.
These circumstances must be our excuse for venturing on to this difficult

It is probably impossible for us to trace with accuracy the rise of the
religion of Jehovah. 'The wise and learned' dispute endlessly over dates
of documents, over the amount of later doctrine interpolated into
the earlier texts, over the nature, source, and quantity of foreign
influence--Chaldaean, Accadian, Egyptian, or Assyrian. We know that Israel
had, in an early age, the conception of the moral Eternal; we know that,
at an early age, that conception was contaminated and anthropomorphised;
and we know that it was rescued, in a great degree, from this corruption,
while always retaining its original ethical aspect and sanction. Why
matters went thus in Israel and not elsewhere we know not, except that
such was the will of God in the mysterious education of the world. How
mysterious that education has been is best known to all who have studied
the political and social results of Totemism. On the face of it a
perfectly crazy and degrading belief-on the face of it meant for nothing
but to make the family a hell of internecine hatred--Totemism rendered
possible--nay, inevitable--the union of hostile groups into large and
relatively peaceful tribal societies. Given the materials as we know them,
we never should have educated the world thus; and we do not see why it
should thus have been done. But we are very anthropomorphic, and totally
ignorant of the conditions of the problem.

An example of anthropological theory concerning Jehovah was put forth by
Mr. Huxley.[1] Mr. Huxley's general idea of religion as it is on the
lowest known level of material culture--through which the ancestors of
Israel must have passed like other people--has already been criticised.
He denied to the most backward races both cult and religious sanction of
ethics. He was demonstrably, though unconsciously, in error as to the
facts, and therefore could not start from the idea that Israel, in the
lowest historically known condition of savagery, possessed, or, like other
races, might possess, the belief in an Eternal making for righteousness.
'For my part,' he says, 'I see no reason to doubt that, like the
rest of the world, the Israelites had passed through a period of mere
ghost-worship, and had advanced through ancestor-worship and Fetishism and
Totemism to the theological level at which we find them in the Books of
Judges and Samuel.'[2]

But why does he think the Israelites did all this? The Hebrew ghosts,
abiding, according to Mr. Huxley, in a rather torpid condition in Sheol,
would not be of much practical use to a worshipper. A reference in
Deuteronomy xxvi. 14 (Deuteronomy being, _ex hypothesi_, a late pious
imposture) does not prove much. The Hebrew is there bidden to remind
himself of the stay of his ancestors in Egypt, and to say, 'Of the
hallowed things I have not given aught for the dead'--namely, of the
tithes dedicated to the Levites and the poor. A race which abode for
centuries among the Egyptians, as Israel did--among a people who
elaborately fed the _kas_ of the departed--might pick up a trace of a
custom, the giving of food for the dead, still persevered in by St. Monica
till St. Ambrose admonished her. But Mr. Huxley is hard put to it for
evidence of ancestor-worship or ghost-worship in Israel when he looks for
indications of these rites in 'the singular weight attached to the
veneration of parents in the Fourth Commandment.'[3] The _Fourth_
Commandment, of course, is a slip of the pen. He adds: 'The Fifth
Commandment, as it stands, would be an excellent compromise between
ancestor-worship and Monotheism.' Long may children practise this
excellent compromise! It is really too far-fetched to reason thus: 'People
were bidden to honour their parents, as a compromise between Monotheism
and ghost-worship.' Hard, hard bestead is he who has to reason in that
fashion! This comes of 'training in the use of the weapons of precision of

Mr. Huxley goes on: 'The Ark of the Covenant may have been a relic of
ancestor-worship;' 'there is a good deal to be said for that speculation.'
Possibly there is, by way of the valuable hypothesis that Jehovah was a
fetish stone which had been a grave-stone, or perhaps a _lingam_, and was
kept in the Ark on the plausible pretext that it was the two Tables of
the Law!

However, Mr. Huxley really finds it safer to suppose that references to
ancestor-worship in the Bible were obliterated by late monotheistic
editors, who, none the less, are so full and minute in their descriptions
of the various heresies into which Israel was eternally lapsing, and must
not be allowed to lapse again. Had ancestor-worship been a _peche mignon_
of Israel, the Prophets would have let Israel hear their mind on it.

The Hebrews' indifference to the departed soul is, in fact, a puzzle,
especially when we consider their Egyptian education--so important an
element in Mr. Huxley's theory.

Mr. Herbert Spencer is not more successful than Mr. Huxley in finding
ancestor-worship among the Hebrews. On the whole subject he writes:

'Where the levels of mental nature and social progress are lowest, we
usually find, along with an absence of religious ideas generally, an
absence, or very slight development, of ancestor-worship.... Cook
[Captain Cook], telling us what the Fuegians were before contact
with Europeans had introduced foreign ideas, said there were no
appearances of religion among them; and we are not told by him or others
that they were ancestor-worshippers.'[4]

Probably they are not; but they do possess a Being who reads their hearts,
and who certainly shows no traces of European ideas. If the Fuegians
are not ancestor-worshippers, this Being was not developed out of

The evidence of Captain Cook, no anthropologist, but a mariner who saw and
knew little of the Fuegians, is precisely of the sort against which Major
Ellis warns us.[5] The more a religion consists in fear of a moral
guardian of conduct, the less does it show itself, by sacrifice or rite,
to the eyes of Captain Cook, of his Majesty's ship _Endeavour_. Mr.
Spencer places the Andamanese on the same level as the Fuegians, 'so far
as the scanty evidence may be trusted.' We have shown that (as known
to Mr. Spencer in 1876) it may not be trusted at all; the Andamanese
possessing a moral Supreme Being, though they are not, apparently,
ancestor-worshippers. The Australians 'show us not much persistence in
ghost-propitiation,' which, if it exists, ceases when the corpses are tied
up and buried, or after they are burned, or after the bones, carried about
for a while, are exposed on platforms. Yet many Australian tribes possess
a moral Supreme Being.

In fact ghost-worship, in Mr. Spencer's scheme, cannot be fairly well
developed till society reaches the level of 'settled groups whose
burial-places are in their midst.' Hence the development of a moral
Supreme Being among tribes _not_ thus settled, is inconceivable, on
Mr. Spencer's hypothesis.[6] By that hypothesis, 'worshipped ancestors,
according to their remoteness, were regarded as divine, semi-divine, and
human.'[7] Where we find, then, the Divine Being among nomads who do not
remember their great-grandfathers, the Spencerian theory is refuted by
facts. We have the effect, the Divine Being, without the cause, worship of

Coming to the Hebrews, Mr. Spencer argues that 'the silence of their
legends (as to ancestor-worship) is but a negative fact, which may be as
misleading as negative facts usually are.' They are, indeed; witness
Mr. Spencer's own silence about savage Supreme Beings. But we may fairly
argue that if Israel had been given to ancestor-worship (as might partly
be surmised from the mystery about the grave of Moses) the Prophets would

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