Ukoto, a very old Zulu, said: 'When we were children it was said "The Lord is in heaven." ... They used to point to the Lord on high; we did not hear his name.' Unkulunkulu was understood, by this patriarch, to refer to immediate ancestors, whose mimes and genealogies he gave. 'We heard it said that the Creator of the world was the Lord who is above; people used always, when I was growing up, to point towards heaven.'
A very old woman was most reluctant to speak of Unkulunkulu; at last she said, 'Ah, it is he in fact who is the Creator, who is in heaven, of whom the ancients spoke.' Then the old woman began to babble humorously of how the white men made all things. Again, Unkulunkulu is said to have been created by Utilexo. Utilexo was invisible, Unkulunkulu was visible, and so got credit not really his due. When the heaven is said to be the Chief's (the chief being a living Zulu) 'they do not believe what they say,' the phrase is a mere hyperbolical compliment.
On this examination of the evidence, it certainly seems as logical to conjecture that the Zulus had once such an idea of a Supreme Being as lower races entertain, and then nearly lost it; as to say that Zulus, though a monarchical race, have not yet developed a King-God out of the throng of spirits (Amatongo). The Zulus, the Norsemen of the South, so to speak, are a highly practical military race. A Deity at all abstract was not to their liking. Serviceable family spirits, who continually provided an excuse for a dinner of roast beef, were to their liking. The less developed races do not kill their flocks commonly for food. A sacrifice is needed as a pretext. To the gods of Andamanese, Bushmen, Australians, no sacrifice is offered. To the Supreme Being of most African peoples no sacrifice is offered. There is no festivity in the worship of these Supreme Beings, no feasting, at all events. They are not to be 'got at' by gifts or sacrifices. The Amatongo are to be 'got at,' are bribable, supply an excuse for a good dinner, and thus the practical Amatongo are honoured, while, in the present generation of Zulus, Unkulunkulu is a joke, and the Lord in Heaven is the shadow of a name. Clearly this does not point to the recent but to the remote development of the higher ideas, now superseded by spirit-worship.
We shall next see how this view, the opposite of the anthropological theory, works when applied to other races, especially to other African races.
[Footnote 1: When I wrote Myth, Ritual, and Religion (ii. 11-13) I regarded Cagn as 'only a successful and idealised medicine man.' But I now think that I confused in my mind the religious and the mythological aspects of Cagn. One of unknown origin, existing before the sun, a Maker of all things, prayed to, but not in receipt of sacrifice, is no medicine man, except in his myth.]
[Footnote 2: The omissions in Mr. Spencer's system may possibly be explained by the circumstance that, as he tells us, he collected his facts 'by proxy.' While we find Waitz much interested in and amazed by the benevolent Supreme Being of many African tribes, that personage is only alluded to as 'Alleged Benevolent Supreme Being' in Mr. Spencer's Descriptive Sociology, and is usually left out of sight altogether in his Principles of Sociology and Ecclesiastical Institutions. Yet we have precisely the same kind of evidence of observers for this 'alleged' benevolent Supreme Being as we have for the canaille of ghosts and fetishes. If he is a deity of a rather lofty moral conception, of course he need not be propitiated by human sacrifices or cold chickens. That kind of material evidence to the faith in him must be absent by the nature of the case; but the coincident testimony of travellers to belief in a Supreme Being cannot be dismissed as 'alleged.']
[Footnote 3: Pp. 676, 677.]
[Footnote 4: Man, J.A.I. xii. 70.]
[Footnote 5: Man, J.A.I. xii. 96-98.]
[Footnote 6: xii. 156, 157.]
[Footnote 7: xii. 112.]
[Footnote 8: xii. 158.]
[Footnote 9: xii. 158.]
[Footnote 10: Myth, Ritual, and Religion, i. 281-288.]
[Footnote 11: Lobeck, Aglaophamus, 133.]
[Footnote 12: J.A.I. x. 263.]
[Footnote 13: J.A.I. 267.]
[Footnote 14: J.A.I. x. 267.]
[Footnote 15: P. 281. This is a nunuai with which I am familiar. Flying fish, in Banks Island, take the role of salmon. The natives think it real, but without form or substance.]
[Footnote 16: Codrington, Melanesia, p. 122.]
[Footnote 17: J.A.I. x. 294.]
[Footnote 18: Op. cit. x. 313.]
[Footnote 19: J.A.I. x. 300.]
[Footnote 20: Williams's Fiji, p. 218. See Mr. Thomson's remarks cited later.]
[Footnote 21: Fiji, p. 217.]
[Footnote 22: Ibid. p. 228.]
[Footnote 23: Ibid. p. 230.]
[Footnote 24: J.A.I. xiv. 30.]
[Footnote 25: J.A.I. xi. 361-366.]
[Footnote 26: Ibid. xi. 374.]
[Footnote 27: Ibid. xi. 376.]
[Footnote 28: Ibid. xi. 376]
[Footnote 29: J.A.I. xi. 378.]
[Footnote 30: Ibid. 382.]
[Footnote 31: Prim. Cult. ii. 360.]
[Footnote 32: Conceivably, however, the Guiana spirits who have so much moral influence, exert it by magical charms. 'The belief in the power of charms for good or evil produces not only honesty, but a great amount of gentle dealing,' says Livingstone, of the Africans. However they work, the spirits work for righteousness.]
[Footnote 33: Obviously there could be no Family God before there was the institution of the Family.]
[Footnote 34: Callaway, Rel. of Amazulu, p. 17.]
[Footnote 35: Callaway, p. 1.]
[Footnote 36: Op. cit. p. 8.]
[Footnote 37: Op. cit. p. 7.]
[Footnote 38: Op. cit. p. 19.]
[Footnote 39: Callaway, pp. 20, 21.]
[Footnote 40: Pp. 26, 27.]
[Footnote 41: Pp. 49, 50.]
[Footnote 42: P. 67.]
[Footnote 43: P. 122.]
MORE SAVAGE SUPREME BEINGS
If many of the lowest savages known to us entertain ideas of a Supreme Being such as we find among Fuegians, Australians, Bushmen, and Andamanese, are there examples, besides the Zulus, of tribes higher in material culture who seem to have had such notions, but to have partly forgotten or neglected them? Miss Kingsley, a lively, observant, and unprejudiced, though rambling writer, gives this very account of the Bantu races. Oblivion, or neglect, will show itself in leaving the Supreme Being alone, as he needs no propitiation, while devoting sacrifice and ritual to fetishes and ghosts. That this should be done is perfectly natural if the Supreme Being (who wants no sacrifice) were the first evolved in thought, while venal fetishes and spirits came in as a result of the ghost theory. But if, as a result of the ghost theory, the Supreme Being came last in evolution, he ought to be the most fashionable object of worship, the latest developed, the most powerful, and most to be propitiated. He is the reverse.
To take an example: the Dinkas of the Upper Nile ('godless,' says Sir Samuel Baker) 'pay a very theoretical kind of homage to the all-powerful Being, dwelling in heaven, whence he sees all things. He is called "Dendid" (great rain, that is, universal benediction?).' He is omnipotent, but, being all beneficence, can do no evil; so, not being feared, he is not addressed in prayer. The evil spirit, on the other hand, receives sacrifices. The Dinkas have a strange old chant:
'At the beginning, when Dendid made all things, He created the Sun, And the Sun is born, and dies, and comes again! He created the Stars, And the Stars are born, and die, and come again! He created Man, And Man is born, and dies, and returns no more!'
It is like the lament of Moschus.
Russegger compares the Dinkas, and all the neighbouring peoples who hold the same beliefs, to modern Deists. They are remote from Atheism and from cult! Suggestions about an ancient Egyptian influence are made, but popular Egyptian religion was not monotheistic, and priestly thought could scarcely influence the ancestors of the Dinkas. M. Lejean says these peoples are so practical and utilitarian that missionary religion takes no hold on them. Mr. Spencer does not give the ideas of the Dinkas, but it is not easy to see how the too beneficent Dendid could be evolved out of ghost-propitiation, 'the origin of all religions.' Rather the Dinkas, a practical people, seem to have simply forgotten to be grateful to their Maker; or have decided, more to the credit of the clearness of their heads than the warmth of their hearts, that gratitude he does not want. Like the French philosopher they cultivate l'independance du coeur, being in this matter strikingly unlike the Pawnees.
Let us now take a case in which ancestor-worship, and no other form of religion (beyond mere superstitions), has been declared to be the practice of an African people. Mr. Spencer gives the example of natives of the south-eastern district of Central Africa described by Mr. Macdonald in 'Africana.' The dead man becomes a ghost-god, receives prayer and sacrifice, is called a Mulungu (= great ancestor or = sky?), is preferred above older spirits, now forgotten; such old spirits may, however, have a mountain top for home, a great chief being better remembered; the mountain god is prayed to for rain; higher gods were probably similar local gods in an older habitat of the Yao.
Such is in the main Mr. Spencer's resume of Mr. Duff Macdonald's report. He omits whatever Mr. Macdonald says about a Being among the Yaos, analogous to the Dendid of the Dinkas, or the Darumulun of Australia, or the Huron Ahone. Yet analysis detects, in Mr. Macdonald's report, copious traces of such a Being, though Mr. Macdonald himself believes in ancestor-worship as the Source of the local religion. Thus, Mulungu, or Mlungu, used as a proper name, 'is said to be the great spirit, msimu, of all men, a spirit formed by adding all the departed spirits together. This is a singular stretch of savage philosophy, and indicates (says Mr. Macdonald) 'a grasping after a Being who is the totality of all individual existence.... If it fell from the lips of civilised men instead of savages, it would be regarded as philosophy. Expressions of this kind among the natives are partly traditional, and partly dictated by the big thoughts of the moment.' Philosophy it is, but a philosophy dependent on the ghost theory.
I go on to show that the Wayao have, though Mr. Spencer omits him, a Being who precisely answers to Darumulun, if stripped (perhaps) of his ethical aspect. On this point we are left in uncertainty, just because Mr. Macdonald could not ascertain the secrets of his mysteries, which, in Australia, have been revealed to a few Europeans.
Where Mulungu is used as a proper name, it 'certainly points to a personal Being, by the Wayao sometimes said to be the same as Mtanga. At other times he is a Being that possesses many powerful servants, but is himself kept a good deal beyond the scene of earthly affairs, like the gods of Epicurus.'
This is, of course, precisely the feature in African theology which interests us. The Supreme Being, in spite of the potency which his supposed place as latest evolved out of the ghost-world should naturally give him, is neglected, either as half forgotten, or for philosophical reasons. For these reasons Epicurus and Lucretius make their gods otiosi, unconcerned, and the Wayao, with their universal collective spirit, are no mean philosophers.
'This Mulungu' or Mtanga, 'in the world beyond the grave, is represented as assigning to spirits their proper places,' whether for ethical reasons or not we are not informed. Santos (1586) says 'they acknowledge a God who, both in this world and the next, measures retribution for the good or evil done in this.'
'In the native hypothesis about creation "the people of Mulungu" play a very important part.' These ministers of his who do his pleasure are, therefore, as is Mulungu himself, regarded as prior to the existing world. Therefore they cannot, in Wayao opinion, be ghosts of the dead at all; nor can we properly call them 'spirits.' They are beings, original, creative, but undefined. The word Mulungu, however, is now applied to spirits of individuals, but whether it means 'sky' (Salt) or whether it means 'ancestor' (Bleek), it cannot be made to prove that Mulungu himself was originally envisaged as 'spirit.' For, manifestly, suppose that the idea of powerful beings, undefined, came first in evolution, and was followed by the ghost idea, that idea might then be applied to explaining the pre-existent creative powers.
Mtanga is by 'some' localised as the god of Mangochi, an Olympus left behind by the Yao in their wanderings. Here, some hold, his voice is still audible. 'Others say that Mtanga never was a man ... he was concerned in the first introduction of men into the world. He gets credit for ... making mountains and rivers. He is intimately associated with a year of plenty. He is called Mchimwene juene, 'a very chief.' He has a kind of evil opposite, Chitowe, but this being, the Satan of the creed, 'is a child or subject of Mtanga,' an evil angel, in fact.
The thunder god, Mpambe, in Yao, Njasi (lightning) is also a minister of the Supreme Being. 'He is sent by Mtanga with rain.' Europeans are cleverer than natives, because we 'stayed longer with the people of God (Mulungu).'
I do not gather that, though associated with good crops, Mtanga or Mulungu receives any sacrifice or propitiation. 'The chief addresses his own god;' the chief 'will not trouble himself about his great-great-grand-father; he will present his offering to his own immediate predecessor, saying, 'O father, I do not know all your relatives; you know them all: invite them to feast with you.'
'All the offerings are supposed to point to some want of the spirit,' Mtanga, on the other hand, is nihil indiga nostri.
A village god is given beer to drink, as Indra got Soma. A dead chief is propitiated by human sacrifices. I find no trace of any gift to Mtanga. His mysteries are really unknown to Mr. Macdonald: they were laughed at by a travelled and 'emancipated' Yao.
'These rites are supposed to be inviolably concealed by the initiated, who often say that they would die if they revealed them.'
How can we pretend to understand a religion if we do not know its secret? That secret, in Australia, yields the certainty of the ethical character of the Supreme Being. Mr. Macdonald says about the initiator (a grotesque figure):—
'He delivers lectures, and is said to give much good advice ... the lectures condemn selfishness, and a selfish person is called mwisichana, that is, "uninitiated."'
There could not be better evidence of the presence of the ethical element in the religious mysteries. Among the Yao, as among the Australian Kurnai, the central secret lesson of religion is the lesson of unselfishness.
It is not stated that Mtanga instituted or presides over the mysteries. Judging from the analogy of Eleusis, the Bora, the Red Indian initiations, and so on, we may expect this to be the belief; but Mr. Macdonald knows very little about the matter.
The legendary tales say 'all things in this world were made by "God."' 'At first there were not people, but "God" and beasts.' 'God' here, 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.
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.' 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? 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. 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.
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.' 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.' 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 Yarrow.
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").'
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. 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 described.
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.' 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. 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.'
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.' 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. The present beliefs of the Gold Coast are kept up by organised priesthoods as 'lucrative business.' 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. 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 late.
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."')
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.
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.' 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.
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,' 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.'
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.'
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.' On our theory Nyankupon takes his place in the regular process of the corruption of theism by animism.
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 Fiorts.'
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 theory!
[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.]
AHONE. TI-RA-WA. NA-PI. PACHACAMAC. TUI LAGA. TAA-ROA
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 strangers.'
Mr. Tylor quotes a description of this Oki, or Okeus, with his idol and bloody rites, from Smith's 'History of Virginia' (1632). 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 miscreants.'
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.
Dr. Brinton, like Mr. Tylor, cites Smith for the nefarious or severe Okeus, and omits any mention of Ahone, the benevolent Creator. 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 Africa.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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. '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.
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 places.'
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.' 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 religion.
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, 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 worship.
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.
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.' 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 philosophers.'
'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. 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.'
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, wakan.
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'! 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! 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. 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. 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. 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 Uiracocha.
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. 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.' '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!' 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.' 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. 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.
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. 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,' who, therefore, was prior to Uiracocha.
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.
Mr. Tylor prefers the version of Christoval, making Pachacamac a title of Uiracocha. 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.' Now Chuqui-chaca is the very place where, according to Garcilasso, the Inca Uiracocha erected a temple to 'his Uncle, the Apparition.' 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 Christoval.
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.' 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. 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 Maori.
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.'
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.' '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.'
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.
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.