THE NATURAL GENESIS
NATURAL GENESIS AND
TYPOLOGY OF THE MYTHICAL SERPENT
OR DRAGON AND OTHER ELEMENTARIES
'The object of our inquiry is no trivial
thing; it is a diversified and complicated one. This is a
various and most questionable animal, one not to be caught, as it were, with the left hand.'—Plato
The serpent is one of those few great primitive types that constitute the earliest objective castings of human thought when it groped in the underground condition of its far-off past, which may be compared with that of the earthworms throwing up the first castings of vegetable mould for the use of the farthest future. It was primordial, and it is universal. The dominion of the serpent has been widespread as that of night, from the most known to the remotest parts of the earth. The symbol has literally realized that serpent in the mythologies which is depicted as circling about the world and clasping the whole wide round in one embrace.
The serpent-type has been venerated in lands where the serpent itself does not exist. It was the representative of renewed life or immortality in the rites of Sabazios and on the doors of the chambers of the dead in the Egyptian and Chaldean tombs, and it is yet a symbol of eternity in the bracelet on an Englishwoman's arm. It is represented in the finger-ring, and coils about the walking-stick as it did around the tree of mythology. It is the great dragon of the celestial empire, the long serpent of the old Norse Sea-Kings, the Lambton Worm, the dragon of St. George on our own public-house signboards, and old English penny-pieces. There are still no less than 700 serpent temples in Kashmir alone. It is only a few years since that buildings dedicated and devoted to its rites were found in Cambodia, surpassing in size the cathedrals of York or Amiens, and in grandeur the temples of Greece and Rome. It is not my province however to expatiate on the 'worship' of the serpent, but to explain the origin and development of this universal type, as an ideograph that guides us round the world.
The 'Way of a Serpent,' and the workmanship, are among the most amazing in all nature. It has no hands, and yet can climb trees to catch the agile monkey. It has no fins, but can outswim the fish; no legs, yet the human foot cannot match it in fleetness. Death is in its coil even for the bird on the wing, which the springing reptile snatches out of its own element. The serpent slays with a dexterity that human destroyers might look upon as divine.
One of the most arresting sights is to see this limbless creature turn its coils into a hand to grasp its prey, and lift it to the deadly mouth. The serpent in the pangs of sloughing is a phenomenon once witnessed never to be forgotten. There is a startling fascination in the sight of that image of self-emanation proceeding from itself, the young, repristinated, larger life issuing of itself from the mask of its old dead self like a spiritual body coming forth from the natural body, the unparalleled type of self-emanation, of transformation, of a resurrection to new life, of 'Time, or Renewal coming of Itself.'
The serpent has the same name at root in several groups of languages.
|naga, in Sanskrit.||nachash, in Hebrew.||snake, in English.|
|neke, and nakahi, in Maori.||naya, in Arabic.|
This name is pre-eminently inner African.
The serpent is the
|nyok, in Kanyika.||nyoka, in Nyombe.||nyoka, in Kisama.|
|nyoka, in Kabenda.||nioka, in Basunde.||nyoka, in Nyamban.|
|nyoka, in Mimboma.||nyoka, in N'gola.||noga, in Basuto.|
|nyoka, in Musentandu.||nyoka, in Lubalo.||nyoke, in Swahili.|
|nyoga, in Kasands.||nyoka, in Songo.|
With modifications such as
|nyush, in Guresa.||
nyos, in Legba.
|nyowe, in Baseke, etc.|
The y in these names is not primary, but represents an earlier sound. Thus nyoke is ngoke, the Kamite n being ng, and this form has been preserved in the hieroglyphics where nkaka interchanges with kaka, and obviously continues the African nk or ng sound. Nkaka then abrades into naka (Eg.), nâga, Sanskrit, on the one hand, and into kak, hak, and hag on the other, and both are found united in the African original. In the Hymn to Amen-Ra the sun-god is said to send his arrows against the evil serpent Naka, to consume him. Here the typical serpent or devouring monster is the naka or nâga by name. Nakak (Eg.) also denotes the curse, or accursed, with the typhonian devourer, the crocodile-dragon, for determinative. Naka, to delude, be false, has the dragon or Apap monster, the piercing serpent of evil, for its determinative. Now the primal monster was the shadow of darkness. The first type of this is the naka, nakak, or akhekk. In Egyptian [p.294] the shadow of night, the darkness, is called Kak, Akhekh, and Ukhâ; and the mythical monster has the same name in the Akhekh serpent, or gryphon, the type of evil being primarily identical with darkness. This old serpent is depicted as the crooked Akhekh, and in some of the non-Aryan languages of India the word supplied a type-name for the crooked things as
|gokke, in Badaga.||kokki, in Irudar.||kachamocha, in Kol.|
|gogu, in Newar.||kakroi, in Garo.||kok, in Burman.|
|kyoke, in Dhimal.||kok-lok, in Serpa.|
This name of the crooked one is African, as o kako in Idsesa; o kako, Yagba; wogu, Kiamba, etc.
Darkness was the shadow that stole his substance, destroyed the foothold, and deluded the eyesight of the primitive man. Hence the monster in mythology. Hence also the night and the Naga or Nakak, the devourer, are synonymous. The name of night, is likewise inner African, under the Naga-name.
|nak or nakta, is the night in Sanskrit.||nakti-s, in Lithuanian.||nachi, in German.|
|nochd, in Irish.||nocyi, in Russian.||noshti, in Slavonic.|
|nox, in Latin.|
|nkô, is night, in N'goten.||enokon, is night, in Ekamtulufu.|
|nkô, " " Melon.||yungo, " " Mose.|
|enukon, " " Mbofon.||nyaka, is black, or night, in Mbofon.|
Nakak, akhekh, and kak, are names then of the mythical monster the dark, the blackness, the devouring dragon, Kok is the name of the dragon in Amoy. The dragon-constellation is called Kok-Sing. The cockatrice is a mythical serpent. Also, the English dragonfly, called a coach-horse, is a form of the akhekh (Eg.), or winged dragon, by name, and our cockroach is the night-walking beetle. The Assyrian vampire is called the akkkk-aru, in the shape of which the dead are supposed to rise up and attack the living. The yaksha, or jaksha (Sans.), is the devourer. A gege in Zulu is a devourer. The ogre is a mythical monster, the devourer. The Fijian kaka is the mouth of Hades, the swallowing throat of the underworld. The kamkadal evil spirit is a water-dragon called mit-gak. Kikymora is the Slavonic god of night; eyak is the Koniaga evil spirit; aka, a Japanese evil spirit. The Yaga Baba of the Russian folktales is identical with the Typhon of darkness. Jugah Pennu is the Khond goddess of smallpox. Jaca is the Devil in Singhalese mythology; Akea, the first ruler of Hawaii (Savaiki) now rules over the land of darkness and the dead. Agoye is the black god of Hwida. Many more deities or devils of darkness may be traced under the variants of this type-name for blackness, crookedness, and other forms of the adversary. The Akhekh serpent is inner African by name. In the Makua dialect ikuka is the great python. Dr. McLeod says that in Dahome the python has been found from thirty to thirty-six feet long, and of proportionate girth.[p.295] Here then is the natural type of the Akhekh (or Nakak) of darkness in the shape of an enormous serpent. In the solar stage of the mythos, when the sun passes down through the underworld, the Akhekh of darkness lies in wait to swallow or pierce the god as he goes along, or it rises up and tries to overturn the solar boat. 'I pass from earth to heaven, I grow like Akkeku,' says the Osirified, using an image drawn from the sudden and huge uprising of the gloom as the devourer. The assistants and co-conspirators of this deluding monster of the dark are called the sami. Smi, says Plutarch, is Typhon. Here again sami in Egyptian is the name of total darkness. In the Fijian mythology we find the same opponent of the soul and the light who was at first the actual darkness. In passing through the underworld, the ghost of each dead warrior must fight with Samu and his company. If he is brave enough to conquer he will cross into Paradise, but if beaten he will be devoured by the terrible Samu and his brethren, just as it is in the Ritual. In Sanskrit Samani-Shada is a demon of the dark; summani, in Latin, is a name of Pluto, as King of Hell. The saman, in Fanti (African), is a ghost, demon, or devil. The sami are also extant as the 'cemis' of the West Indians, Caribs, and other tribes, who regard them as the evil authors of every calamity that afflicts the human race. The monster Yaga-Baba of the Russian folktales, who bears the name of Typhon, or 'Baba the Beast,' has, for one of her types, the snake zmei, which is identical with the Egyptian smi, or sami, the conspirator, the dark deluder. Sami, total darkness, has an earlier form (or variant) in kami, the black; and the Basuto sami is Kammappa, the wide-mouthed, throttling, and devouring monster, who was conquered by Litaolane, the local 'St. George.' The Apap (Greek Apophis) is another form of the serpent of darkness, the deluding and devouring monster. The Apap reappears in the Assyrian âbu, the Hebrew pythonic ביוא, a name of the monster who is the 'Enemy of the Gods.' The Apap is apparently the inner African rock-snake, not a native of Egypt itself, so large as to be like the Boa. Its name signifies that which rises up tall, vast, gigantic, as did the darkness in its most appalling shape.
The Platonist Damascius reports that the Egyptians began with darkness as the first principle of all things, the unknown, incomprehensible, inconceivable darkness, from which the light was emaned. But the primeval darkness was not that of Orpheus and the Platonists which was dark with excess of light. They came in the course of time to say there were two kinds of darkness, the one being below and the other beyond the light. That was afterthought. The esoteric is the latest and not the primary interpretation of phenomena; and a great deal of the error extant is the result of thus surreptitiously [p.296] imposing the later thought upon the aboriginal imagery. Darkness was the first revealer of light in the stars, and therefore a form of the genetrix, the mother (Mut) who is called 'mistress of darkness and the bringer-forth of light.' In the last of the Izdubar Legends the mother of all as Ishtar is 'She who is Darkness; She who is Darkness, the Mother, the emaner of the Dawn, She is Darkness.' The Mexican genetrix, Cihuacohuatl is the female serpent who gave birth to light, and is the mother of the twins, light and darkness. The Wisdom of Solomon is a personified phase of primordial Darkness. 'She is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of the stars. Being compared with light she is found before it'—the analogue of Plutarch's saying, 'Darkness is older than Light.' We read in the Ritual 'the aeon or age (heh) is the day, Eternity is the Night.' In the beginning of time say the New Zealanders was Te-po. Te is the, and po is darkness, night, or hades. The same po as the point of beginning with darkness is the Mangaian night; po being the equivalent of Avakai or Savakai, the birthplace. After Te-po, the darkness, came Te-ao. Ao (Maori) is to become light.
The first conditions of existence observed by the primitive men were precisely those that were first observable. These were the dark and the day, which followed each other in ceaseless alternation. In the beginning was the impenetrable obscurity of primeval darkness. The universal exclamation of mythology as its first word is 'There was darkness.' All was darkness at first and the all was the darkness. Primitive man came out of the night with his mind as deeply impressed and indelibly dyed as was his body with its natural blackness, because the influence of night was the first to be consciously reflected, the first that arrested attention and lifted the look upward when he was going mentally on all-fours.
A Maori tradition describes the first children of Earth as 'ever thinking what might be the difference between light and darkness.' That contains a true record of what must have been a primal subject of thought. Also it does not represent them as dreading the dark or cowering from it in caves, but as marvelling over the alternation of phenomena. It would be a mistake to picture the primitive man as the prone coward of subjectivity. The ancient races that survive today and are mortally afraid of the gloom are not likely to represent the earliest man who had not yet peopled the darkness with his terrors. These take a spiritual shape, and the very animals that the savage most fears are dreaded most in a ghostly form. Ideas make all the difference. Fear of the dark with children is frequently cultivated, where it is not inherited. We see what plucky little pigmies they were in the valley of the Thames at the time of the Palaeolithic Age, who with their rude weapons attacked and triumphed [p.297] over the mightiest monsters of the animal kingdom, like the tiny cock-boats of English ships swarming round and conquering the large galleons of the Spanish Armada.
Darkness, however, was the first Devil, Satan, or Adversary discovered, because it presented the primordial form of obstruction, whether to the light or to the human being. Darkness was the earliest monster personified in the image of ugliness; because the light was pleasant. Moreover, darkness, not light, made the first appeal to consciousness in feeling, and perception in thought. This, too, is on record. The primitive myths all date from the darkness. The starting-point is on the night side of phenomena. Hence the earliest reckoning of time was by nights not by days. So many darks were counted rather than so many dawns. The dark presented the barrier that was tangible to the nascent consciousness. The going of the light preceded the sense of its coming, and the coming of darkness was the shape in which the going of light was earliest apprehended. The coming of darkness is felt by certain gregarious animals, including sheep, which in hill-countries show an instinct for taking to the higher grounds after sunset, as if conscious that the deluge of the dark is rising round them. In the Akkadian legend the seven devils, or bad spirits, who bring blackness from the abyss are said to be born in the mountains of sunset. In Africa the advance of night is sudden. There, if anywhere, 'at one stride comes the dark.' You watch the sun drop down, and darkness is behind you. The 'Jaws of Darkness' have supplied a figure of speech for us, but there they are in reality. They close upon you as if to devour their prey, subtly, swiftly, silently. What but the serpent with its gliding stealth and instantaneous spring could be adopted as a first fit type of the darkness of night? Horapollo says the Egyptians represent the mouth by a serpent, 'because the serpent is powerful in no other of its members except the mouth alone.' The serpent is all mouth, and both as the 'ru' and the 'tet' it has the name of mouth in Egyptian. In the inner African languages the mouth and the serpent are frequently synonymous. The jaws of darkness are thus an equivalent for the serpent or dragon. The serpent, it may be inferred, was one of the first external figures taken by death. It brought death into the world. If the dark cloud lightened with death it was the serpent. If the water drowned it was the serpent or dragon that lay lurking there to put out the light of life as the Apophis, Akhekh, Nakak, Naga, Nocka, Nickur or Nekiru (a devil in the African Yula language), and Nick, the 'Old Nick,' the evil being, or the 'Raw-head-and-bloody-bones,' our English red Typhon. One form of the serpent running, or rather zigzagging, through the mythological maze is the zigzag of the lightning. The Algonquin were asked by Father Buteux who was among them in 1637 as a missionary what they thought of the nature of lightning. They replied that it was an immense serpent that the [p.298] Manitou, their great spirit, was vomiting forth. 'You can see the twists and folds that he leaves on the trees where he strikes, and underneath such we have often found snakes.' When lightning enters sand it will fuse and convert it into a solid tube of serpentine shape, which is sometimes called a thunderbolt.
The Chinese believe in an elemental dragon of enormous strength and sovereign power which is in Heaven, in the air, in the waters, and on the mountains. The Caribs speak of the god of the thunderstorm as a great serpent or dragon dwelling in the fruit-forests. The Shawnees called the thunder the hissing of the great snake. And Totlec, the Aztec god of thunder, was represented with a golden serpent in his hand. Here the lightnings are identified with serpents because the serpent in the earliest coinage of human expression was a type of the lightning. The serpent having made its mark on the mind of man by the exercise of its fatal force became an ideograph of death. The serpent utters a hiss, so do the lightnings. The serpent's hiss supplied a definite sound that was for ever connected with a distinct idea. This idea, this sound would serve to express lightning and its fatal flash, and thus both lightning and serpent came under one type and could be expressed by the same noise. The thunder is said in an American myth to be the hissing of a fiery flying serpent, in accordance with the mode of interpreting the unknown by means of the known; and the lightning-flash is depicted as the spitfire with the head of a serpent in some figures found on the walls of an estufa in Pueblo de Jemez, New Mexico. The lightning-dart of the darkness is the forked tongue and sting of the serpent. The first of the seven Akkadian evil powers is the scorpion, or the sting-bearer of heaven, and therefore representative of an elemental force, apparently that of sunstroke.
The hiss of the serpent or the puff of the Adder is but magnified in such a title as the 'Wind of Nine Snakes'; a Miztec mythical name. In a Kaffir folktale when the chief comes home the sound of a great wind is heard. 'That wind was his coming, and he was a big snake with five heads.' In these we see the serpent type applied to the wind. Thus we watch the unknown taking shape in images of the known. The lightning as unknown subject could be represented by the serpent as object; the voice and sting of the unknown by the hiss and sting of the known. We have this postulate more directly illustrated by the lightning as unknown subject with the thunder-stone or aerolith as a fetish image of the power that flashed and fled; for what the flash revealed besides itself was the thunder-stone.
In man's state of mental darkness the serpent-image of the destroyer and of the darkness of death had made its mark on the human being [p.299] and its deadly folds had imprinted on the race the figure of the darkness coiling round by night with death lurking in its embrace. The serpent drew its own symbol in the mind like its own circle on the body of man, and this is what man tells us when he in turn had learnt to draw the serpent-symbol. As man was a dweller in caves and trees his most mortal foe was the serpent, the forked tongue of the darkness that darted death; and what form so fit as this to image the appalling power whose habitation was blackness and whose voice was thunder, and who, when angry, would look out with eyes of lightning and shoot forth the forked blue flashes that could lick up forests with their tongues of fire and the lives of men like leaves? The fearful fascination and appalling magnetic power of certain snakes over man, bird and beast has often been described. The serpent is the mesmerist and magician of the animal world, who evoked the earliest idea of magic power. A deluding snake in the Ritual is called the Ru-kak, the reptile which makes use of this magic power (hak) to draw the victim towards his mouth. 'Go back Ruhak! fascinating or striking cold with the eyes,' exclaims the contending spirit. Ra the sun-god, in his old age or decaying force, speaks of the evil serpents as the subtle enchanters who have enchanted him beyond the power of his own self-preservation, so that he needs to be sustained against them. In the Avesta the 'look' of the mythical serpent is synonymous with deadliest opposition. The good god Ahura-Mazda says, 'when I created this beautiful, brilliant, admirable abode, (the Earthly Paradise) then the serpent (Anra-Mainyus) looked at (that is opposed) me.' 'Charming' was the great mode of exhibiting power. 'These are the gods who charm for Har-Khuti in Amenti. They, the Masters of their Nets, charm those who are in the Nets.' Those who are in this scene walk before Ra, they charm Apap for him. They say, 'Oh! Impious Apap! Thou art charmed by us through the means of what is in our hands!' The first star in Ophiuchus is known in Arabic as Ras-al-Hawwa the head of the 'serpent-charmer' not merely the serpent-holder.
The influence of the serpent over the mind of primitive man can never be understood apart from the abnormal conditions of what are termed mesmerism and mediumship. The present writer has had a personal and profound experience of the abnormal in nature, as manifested by one of the most marvellous sensitives ever known. This face to face familiarity with the mysteries of its phenomena enabled him to apprehend the part played by the serpent as the mesmerizer (charmer) in the mysteries of the past. The disk of the mesmerist and the look of the human eyes have no such power in inducing the comatose and trance conditions as the gaze of the serpent! The Africans tell of women being 'possessed,' seized [p.300] with hysteria, and made insane by contact with the serpent. That is, the serpent by the fear of its touch and fascination of its look, produced the abnormal phase, in which the medium raved, and talked eloquently, or was divinely inspired by the serpent, as the phenomena were interpreted. In this way the sensitives were put to the test, and the serpent chose its own human oracle. Those who were found to be greatly affected by the serpent were selected to become fetish women, Pythonesses, or Priestesses. They were secluded in training hospitals, and prepared to become the oracles of the serpent-wisdom, and mouthpieces of supernatural utterance. This was in Africa, the dark birthplace of that Obeah cult which survives wherever the black race migrated. The stupor caused by the serpent's sorcery inspired a primary form of religious awe; and the abnormal effects produced upon the sensitives were attributed to supernatural power possessed by the serpent. We see that serpents were employed in the cave of Trophonius for that purpose. It is said that no one ever came out of the cave smiling, because of the stupor occasioned by the serpents.
In many parts of Africa, as on the Guinea coast, and elsewhere, the serpent oracle was a common institution. The reptile was kept in a small hut by an old woman who fed it, and who gave forth the answers when her oracle was consulted. She was the Pythoness, the medium of spirit-communication. The feminine origin of the priesthood is also indicated by the Danhgbwe-No or fetish priests of Hwida, whose names signify the mothers of the serpent. The tongue of the serpent is known to be a very peculiar organ of touch. This was employed in the mesmeric mysteries like those of Samothrace in which Olympia was such an inspired Ophite; one that loved;
'To dally with the crested worm,
To stroke his azure neck, and to receive
The lambent homage of his arrowy tongue,'
which was at times made use of to produce ecstasy and trance. A snake called Ganin-Gub by the Hottentots is also said to have genitals and to seek to have connection with women while they are sleeping. The statement, however, may be typical of the coma that could be induced by the serpent's look, and likewise by the dart of its tongue.
The earliest medicine was a mental influence. This was exerted by the serpent over man and imitated by him according to the laws of animal magnetism. In a trial of power between two rival medicine men belonging to two tribes of Red Indians, the contest was con- [p.301] ducted on 'principles of Animal Magnetism.' It lasted a long while, until one of them concentrated all his force, or 'gathered his medicine,' and commanded his opponent to die. Whereupon he died on the spot.
Belief in such a power furnished one important element of the 'medicine,' just as does a belief in the sanative virtue of vaccine, 'tar-water and the Trinity,' or any other nostrum. The root of the Abus shrub is used by the Hottentots as a deadly charm. It is pounded and put into milk, when it is supposed to cause the death of the person who drinks it; and yet the root is not poisonous at all. But it has become a type. Belief is a medicine that does work wonders whether for good or evil.
To charm became a supreme manipulation of mental or spiritual power when this was exercised over the serpent and all that it represented, because it had been exercised over man by the serpent. Thus when death is imaged as the serpent with the magical influence, this may explain the persistent notion of the primitive races that death is not the result of various 'natural causes,' but is the effect of magic, sorcery, and witchcraft. The idea of death has not yet passed out of the first stage, where it was identified with the occult potency of the serpent's sorcery. The enchanter as the serpent-type of death is now represented by an enchanter who is assumed to have bewitched the victims to their death. The only question being who is this son or daughter of the snake, this devil working darkly? Both Wallace and Stevenson testify that in South America one or more diviners are consulted on the death of an individual, and these generally name the enchanter who is as generally sacrificed.
The Africans and Australians share the same belief, and grope mentally in the same shadow of the ancient darkness. Also, according to Huc, certain Buddhists attribute all diseases to evil spirits. This is the doctrine of the Avesta which begins with the elemental darkness, as twin with the light, and develops it into the dark mind who produces the serpent and all kinds of disease prepensely. The lizard takes the place of the serpent-type in New Zealand, where the natives assert that sickness is 'brought on by the Atua who, when angry, comes in the form of a lizard, enters their inside, and preys upon their vitals till they die.' Hence the need of appeasing the Atua and giving it what it likes; all curative medicine being resolved into that! Hence, also the necessity of opposing sorcery with sorcery, magic, incantations, and potent charms, and meeting abnormal effects with the abnormal powers of the primitive medicine-men, and serpent-charmers.*
* An eminent naturalist has confessed to the present writer that he takes no interest in mythology. And no wonder, from the non-naturalistic treatment that it has received. Yet mythology is a most ancient record of natural facts; this type of a lizard that is poisonous and deadly, like the serpent, being one. The existence of such a lizard was denied, because unknown to science. But it had been preserved as one of the mythical types, and the other day the venomous creature was rediscovered.
Mr. B. S. Parker's pamphlet, on the Aborigines of Australia, contains a curious statement respecting the 'Myndie.' He says—
'In the latter end of the year 1840 the Aborigines of all the neighbouring districts were in a fearful state of excitement owing to the capture and imprisonment of some hundreds of their number. Two died on the spot and several sickly people, eventually, from fright. Some of the natives told me confidentially that destruction was coming upon the white population, even those who were friendly; as it was known that secret incantations were being practised with this object. The effects were graphically described as producing dreadful sores, dysentery, blindness, and death. The Myndie was to come! At the time I did not much regard the prediction, but afterwards ascertaining that the scars of the small-pox were termed "lillipook Myndie" (the scales of the Myndie), and the plague itself which was to come in the dust, as Monola Myndie, the dust of the Myndie, I was able to identify the threatened agent as small-pox, about the ravages of which there are traditions among the natives of the interior. It is thought to be in the power of the large serpent Myndie to send forth this plague in answer to the appeal of those who seek the destruction of a foe (that is the sorcerers and charmers). The natives of Melbourne say the Myndie is a great snake, very long, thick and powerful, under the dominion of Pund-jel; and when commanded by him, Myndie will destroy black people young or old. He can do nothing of himself, and must first receive orders from Pund-jel. He knows all tribes and they all know him, and when a tribe is very wicked, or when a tribe fails to overtake and kill wild black fellows, then Pund-jel makes Myndie give them diseases or kill them. Myndie isn't quite snake-like, having a large head, and when he hisses or ejects poison his tongue appears, which has three points. He lives in a country called Lill-go-ner, to the N.W. of Melbourne, near a mountain named Bu-ker-bun-nel, and he drinks from only one creek named Neel-cun-nun. The ground round about this spot is very hard—no rain can penetrate it; and it is covered with hard substances, small and white like hail. Death and disease are given to any blacks who venture near this ground. Myndie can extend or contract his dimensions when ordered by Pund-jel; he can hold on to a branch like a ring-tail opossum, and stretch his body across a great forest so as to reach any tribe. Myndie has several little creatures of his own kind, which he sends out to carry diseases and affliction among those tribes who have not acted well in war or peace; these creatures are troublesome, but not so dreaded as a visit from Myndie himself—from whom no one can escape. All plagues are caused by Myndie or his little ones; and when he is known to be in any place the blacks run for their lives—they don't stop to take their weapons, or bags, or rugs—not even to bury their dead, but set the bush on fire and run as fast as they can. Some, as they run, are afflicted by Myndie; and becoming sick lie down and die; some try to rise, but fall down again, but those who can run swiftly and escape are always quite well and never suffer from sickness.'
In the inner African languages, blackness is mindi in Kiniamwezi; maundi in Gindo; muindo in Diwala; moindo in Isuwu; and in Egyptian menat is death. The Hurons likewise held that disease and death were caused by a monstrous serpent that lived under the earth. The Chinese have a sort of serpent known as the Min.
According to the present derivation from the Kamite origins the Myndie serpent of the Australian Blacks is identical with the Mehnti serpent of the Egyptian Ritual, the name of which signifies 'the snake from what is in the Abyss,' the meh of the north. Death, darkness, disease, were in the abyss which lay between the [p.303] West and East, and we learn that all the evils that have ever afflicted the blacks of the southern and south-eastern tribes of Australia have come, they believe, from the north north-west. The Myndie was dominated by the power of the god Pund-jel, and in the Ritual the mehnti draws the boat of the sun, to which its tail is securely attached.
Disease being typified by the serpent of evil, any power over disease was described as influence over the serpent. The healer, doctor, medicine-man, magician or Manitou was a charmer of the serpent. 'Who is the Manitu?' is asked in an Algonquin chant, and the reply is, 'life that goes with the serpent;' that was the conqueror who could charm the serpent into subjection; magic being the earliest medicine and the first healing, a mental operation supplemented by fetish images, and lastly by drugs. The medicine-man, as the Manitou, is the charmer of the serpent of evil or disease. The root of this name is widespread. Mana, Maori, is magic influence and power. In Irish, manadh is magic, incantation; mantra, Vedic for magic incantation; moniti, Lithuanian, incantations; manthra, Pahlavi, magic incantation against disease. It denotes the primary form of mind. The Blacks of Australia have their Manitou in Min-nie Brum-brum, who is able to arrest and pull back the Myndie with a wave of his hand or a movement of his finger; but none know his secret, no one can arrest Myndie but Min-nie Brum-brum. A family named Min-nie Brum-brum was the only one that ever set foot on Myndie's territory. Mr. Thomas says, 'A sorcerer, celebrated as a man possessing great power, a very old black, and a member of the same tribe as Min-nie Brum-brum, was a prisoner in the Melbourne gaol many years ago for having committed some depredations on the flocks of the settlers. The news of his arrest was carried to tribes far and near even to 200 miles off. Telegraph fires were lighted. Messengers from seven tribes were sent to my blacks, who importuned me to set free the black stranger. Finding I would not they urged me and all the settlers to leave the district and go to Van Dieman's Land or Sydney. Some hundreds of blacks were in Melbourne when the old man was imprisoned, and they all fled in terror fearing he would move Pund-jel to let Myndie loose, who they believed would spare no one—and, what is more, they did not return until the prisoner was set free, some months after.'
In Egypt, Taht was the divine doctor, the god of physicians, and his medicine is magic. The Stele of Metternich informs us that Taht has magical words to bewitch, poison and prevent it front doing serious injury, and by his words he bewitched the Apap serpent and all the evil enemies that for ever fight against Ra. The same power is assigned to Horus the healer or saviour of souls, when he is depicted in the act of [p.304] holding the serpent, scorpion, and other typhonian types of evil, helpless and harmless through the power of his charming.*
* 'And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and Scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.'
Here we can further see how age itself became identified with sorcery, because the aged and the wise were synonymous. In Egyptian, aak the aged man, and aak the mage or magician are identical. The aged were the wiseacres, wizards, and witches. Hence the Hottentot tribes used to leave their old people behind to die the 'devil's death' and be devoured by vultures, because being aged they were all the greater sorcerers, and the awe-stricken tribe were so fearful of witchcraft, that friends dared not keep their own relations alive. So, in Europe, old women were naturally considered to be witches, and were persecuted accordingly. The Amazulus generally regard the grandfathers as the dead; and in Egyptian the akh is the dead, the manes as well as the aged one, or the mage. These three are one by name. Moreover, the Akhekh becomes our hag for the snake and the old witch, Russian hexe, Polish yega, the sorceress or fiend. The Egyptian form of the word as hekau means magic and to charm. The same word signifies a net, snares, and the serpent is the ensnarer as the magnetiser and lier-in-wait. It is likewise the name for intoxicating drinks in which the enchanter lurked. Hekau is beer, containing the alcoholic spirits, and in Chinese, hak is a name for distilling spirits. This also was a mode of magic. Hekau for magic is the name of thought. So Hugi, according to the Prose Edda, is 'thought' in person. The 'serpent-charmer' who was primally the serpent itself; made so early an appeal to thought by means of its magic power, that thought, mind, and magic, were named after it, and this will help to explain why the serpent became a type of wisdom, knowledge, occult influence, the wise hag, Yaga, or Khekh, synonymous with the wise woman or wise man. Though not particularly profound, yet it was the first thinker or magician to the primitive sense, on account of its deluding and eluding subtlety. The Hottentots still believe that a particular snake, the Dassies-Adder, can detect the criminal among hundreds of people and kill him unerringly, without turning its avenging ire on the innocent. Amongst the types of the 'elementaries' perceived as active forces of the material universe, the serpent naturally rose to supremacy as very crest of crests on account of its subtle craft and glozing guile. The hippopotamus and crocodile were wider-mouthed, but manifested no such commanding cunning as the serpent with its secret sorcery. Hence, in Egypt, it became the one universal symbol of the gods. This beginning with the darkness, symbolised as the deluding and [p.305] devouring reptile, will likewise account for the common notion of primitive races, that spirits or divinities are demons in the bad sense, and naturally evil, like the bad spirit of the eclipse, who mischievously intercepts the light intended to be shed on the earth and its inhabitants. This is particularly shown by the North Australian Aborigines, who will not go near to human graves by night, but when compelled to pass them they always carry a fire-stick to keep off the spirit of darkness. The beginning was not with the spirits of the dead, but with the inimical in external nature, and this mould continued to shape their later thought. The first monster was the darkness solidified (so to say) as that which checked, Egyptian khekht, Amoy kek; repelled, repulsed, and turned back. The type of this was that which did the same, whether as the serpent, crocodile, alligator, scorpion, or other turner-back. The darkness as the enemy of light was naturally represented by the greatest enemy of man. In the recurring phenomena of the lunar eclipses, the dragon of the dark took form in space as the visible opponent of the lunar light. In Egyptian, lunar eclipses are named tennu or taniut. Tan signifies to rise up in revolt and to cut off. The tan of the eclipse rose up in revolt and cut off the light. The tan is a well-known typical monster in the Hebrew writings. One form of it is the dragon of the deep. Tan is an Egyptian name for the water-worm (tanmu) the destroyer in the waters, and in Hebrew the tannin may be the crocodile, a sea-snake, the monster of the mythos or the dragon of eclipse. The Hebrew Leviathan is the mythical monster of the waters, the den-dayan of the Book of Enoch. This name, like that of the khekh, is worldwide, as is the type. In Arabic the tannin is the serpent. The taniwha of the Maori are huge mythical monsters, of reptile or dragon-shape, who seize and swallow people in deep waters. They lurk in the bend of the river, like the Egyptian dragon in the bend of the great void. That was where the starry procession dipped down below the horizon. The tan is inner African also as the danh serpent of Dahome, the great divinity of the pantheon. This serpent or snake takes two forms, as the serpent of earth, the Danh-Gbwe, and the serpent of heaven, in strict keeping with the dual serpent and the Twin Truths of Egypt. The serpent of earth is first. The serpent of heaven is simply called the Danh. This is the rainbow. Danh makes the popo beads, and showers wealth on men. He is represented as a horned snake made of clay and coiled up in a calabash.
|duno, is the serpent, in Kasm.||dom, is the serpent, in Kiamba.|
|dunu, " " Yula.||tum, " " Legba.|
|danawe, " " Udso.||dom, " " Kaure.|
|dem, " " Koama.|
[p.306] We shall find the serpent and rainbow are equivalents elsewhere.
The scorpion is named yatan in Mampa.
Ndengei is a Fijian serpent-deity, who is portrayed with a serpent's head and body, and who dwells in darkness where he does nothing but crouch in his cave and devour his food. Our own thunder when personified is a form of the tan. The German Satan was at one time represented by the red-bearded thunder. Sut-Typhon was of a red complexion, and this one of the two proper hues was retained in the beard of thunder and of the giants, who were images of the Akhekh, the gigantic, the monster. Indeed, Thunder was one of the giants slain by Jack the Giant-Killer, who cut the ropes that suspended the drawbridge, and when the giant tried to cross he fell. In a later phase the thunder was represented by the thunderer as Donner. In English heraldry tenny denotes the dragon's head; the swallower during an eclipse. One primitive and universal idea was that in its period of eclipse the orb of the moon or sun was being seized, gripped, pinched, choked or swallowed by the monster of darkness. The Tahitians say of the moon under an eclipse she is natua (Maori nati, to pinch, constrict, throttle), that is, pinched and strangled, showing the idea of the serpent or dragon, the ahi or throttling serpent. The Caribs held that the demon Mabaya, the enemy of light was devouring the moon or the sun. The Chinese of Kiatka said that eclipses were caused by the evil spirit placing its dark hand on the face of the moon. Knowing the monster's mealtime was the Siamese equivalent for knowing how large an eclipse was about to occur. Sometimes the swallower was the jaguar; at others, the dog; at others, the wolf of darkness. When the sun was eclipsed the Tupis said the 'Jaguar has eaten the Sun.' 'God guard the Moon from the wolves,' became a French proverb. 'My God! how she suffers!' exclaimed a crowd of French country-folk during an eclipse of the moon, believing that she was falling a prey to the monster who sought to devour her. To all appearance it was a lunar eclipse that so terrified the Lybians in the time of Neb-Ka the first king of the Third Dynasty, that they once more submitted to the rule of Egypt, against which they had risen in revolt. When an eclipse of the moon occurs, the Hottentots who are out on an expedition of war or hunting will return home saying, 'We are overpowered by Gauna,' the dark and evil opponent. The Finns and Laps say the moon is being eaten, and the primitive conception was preserved by the Mexicans when they also spoke of the sun or moon being eaten or swallowed, although they had attained exact knowledge of the cause of eclipses. In an allegorical dance the Mexican priests represented the sun as being devoured by the moon. The moon in the dragon's mouth was likewise an emblem of eclipse in the old British calendars. [p.307] This, with so many other mythical types, survived in the Christian iconography. In the Church of Our Lady of Halle, the Devil or dragon is depicted as endeavouring to swallow the Bible, which is upborne on the back of an eagle, the soaring bird of light. The Greek Gorgô, the swallower or devourer, imaged with the mouth wide open was a continuation of the Akhekh dragon, and the Nakak crocodile, both of which were portrayed with the wide-open mouth, the throttler with its throat. Gorgeo Negro or Black Throat was an epithet of the monster hurled at the Huguenot by the French Catholic. The Gorgeo or Gorge was personified in the Gorgo. And—
|n'gorgu, is the gullet, in Mbarike.||gorokub, is the gullet, in Buduma.|
|n' gurgulslo " " N'godsin.||gargant " " Banyun.|
|n'koriyon " " Param.|
The Gorgon as swallower is the—
|karku, an alligator, in Barba.||kurguli, the Lion, in Kanuri.|
|koleko, the lion, in Dsebu.||kurgoali " " Kanem.|
|koriko " " Idsesa.||gaire " " Wolof.|
|kurguli " " Budurna.|
The Gorgon's head was a common type of the grave, or the devouring dark of death, on Etruscan temple-tombs. The first Gorgon would be the darkness when the livid gleams with petrifying stare made visible a face of ghastly gloom, that looked and lightened, and some victim fell stone-dead, or was turned to stone. The face of darkness in the orb of the moon was a projected shadow of the monster of eclipse, the Gorgon. Epigenes of Sikyon, the most ancient writer of tragedy, in his lost work on the poetry of Orpheus, said the theologer called the moon Gorgonian because of the face in it. Plutarch quotes Homer as saying that in eclipses the faces of men were seized upon by darkness. He also intimates that evil spirits were daunted and driven away from the lunar paradise by the awful face seen within the orb. When the shadow of the black Aharman was cast over the world, and was beaten back again by the good spirit of light, it is said, 'Many dark forms with the face and curls of Azi Dahaka (the Serpent of Evil) suffered punishment.' The dragon or devil of darkness did not originate in the mere form and look of a 'cloud that is dragonish,' nor in a cloud that is supposed to imprison the rain. The blacker the cloud the more certain is it not to withhold the rain. These types did not originate in any such child's play with phenomena as the Aryanists have assumed. The struggle of Indra and Vritra, the devil of darkness, the constant theme of the Vedic poets, is identical with that of the sun and Apophis, or in the later rendering of Horus and Typhon, in the Ritual. The Vedic Vritra is the old dragon-type of physical phenomena, the coiler round the light, no matter whether the light be stellar, lunar, or solar. Indra [p.308] is a form of the solar god, whose birthplace is the spot where Vritra lies dead. Vritra is the coiler round who envelopes and hides the light. Vri, to unfold, represents pri (Eg.) to come out, to wrap round; prt answers to vrit (Sans.) and varto (Lat.) to turn in a reverse way; but vritra is also a form of the 'crooked' serpent of lightning that never goes straight, like the Hottentot Gama-Gorib, the zigzagger. In a Karen myth Ta Ywa was born as a very little child who went to the sun to be made to grow. The sun blew him up until his head reached the sky. He went forth and travelled over all the earth. Then he was swallowed by a great snake. This was cut open, whereupon Ta Ywa issued forth to a new life.*
* Ta Ywa places the god Shieoo under the earth to support it, and whenever he moves there is an earthquake. Shieoo corresponds to the Egyptian Shu, who is the supporter of the nocturnal heaven.
The myth evidently relates to the light of day being swallowed up by the dark typified as the Akhekh serpent. In this the daylight is treated as a child of the sun. When an eclipse of the moon occurs the Akkadian legends describe the dragon with the seven heads, or the seven evil spirits, as rushing on the lunar orb with intent to destroy its light. With terror the gods behold their lamp going out in heaven. Bel saw the eclipse of the moon-god and sent Nebo (Nusku) his messenger to Hea for advice. Hea called his son Merodach, and said, 'Lo, my son, the light of the sky, even the moongod is grievously darkened in heaven, and, in eclipse, from heaven is vanishing. Those seven wicked gods, the serpents of death, who fear not,' were waging war on the moon. Merodach overthrows the seven powers of darkness. The gods do all they can to help the moon in eclipse, as did their human imitators in all lands, who howled and threatened, and clenched their fists, threw stones or shot their poisoned arrows at the gruesome shadow of danger that turned the moon to blood, laid the dark hand upon her face or covered earth with the drear dun hues of the solar eclipse. In this representation the dragon-slayer is the solar hero; but the solar god, as conqueror of the evil power, typified by the serpent, implies the latest form of the myth. The moon that shone by night was an earlier opponent of the darkness than the sun, and the earlier dragon slayer was lunar. In the moon-myth we find Khunsu the youthful god of the moon, is especially personified as the giant-killer, and therefore the contender with the Apap by night as the visible luni-solar Hercules. But the lunar mythos was extant long before the moon was known to derive its light from the sun, or the sun was portrayed as descending into the underworld, to fight the devouring dragon of darkness. Thus, when Typhon tore the body of Osiris into 14 parts, [p.309] the conflict was between the dark power and the lunar light, during the waning half of the moon. One character of Osiris is that of the lord of light in the moon, the reflector of the solar light. The fourteen parts are the fourteen days or nights from full to new moon, the 'obscure half,' during which the dragon of darkness was dominant. Hence the type of a feminine dragon-slayer. In various versions it is the woman, and not her son, that crushes the serpent's head.
The Australian blacks tell of a mysterious creature, the Nar-gun, a cave-dweller that inhabits certain places in the bush, especially the valley of the Mitchell in Gippsland. He has many caves, and if any one should incautiously approach too near one of these, he is dragged in by Nar-gun and seen no more. If a spear is thrown at Nar-gun, the spear returns to the thrower and wounds him. Nar-gun cannot be killed. He dwells in a cave at Lake Tyers. A native woman once fought Afar-gun at this cave, but nobody knows how the battle ended.
In the Chippewa tale of the 'Little Monedo' it is related that there was a tiny boy, who grew no bigger with years, but who was mighty powerful and performed marvellous feats. One day he waded into the lake and shouted, 'You of the red fins come and swallow me.' Here it may be remarked that red fins, or the red, i.e., typhonian fish, appears in the Egyptian Magic Papyrus. The fish came and swallowed him. But seeing his sister standing in despair on the shore, he called to her, and she tied an old moccasin to one end of a string, the other to a tree and threw the shoe into the water. 'What is that floating on the water?' asked the monster. The boy said to the fish, 'Go take hold of it, and swallow it as fast as you can.' The fish darted towards the old shoe, and swallowed it; the boy-man laughed to himself but said nothing till the fish was fairly caught, and then he took hold of the line and hauled himself to shore. When the sister began to cut the fish open she heard her brother's voice from inside the fish, calling to her to let him out, so she made a hole, and he crept through, and told her to cut up the fish and dry it, for it would last them a long while for food.*
* This is a form of the mythical Jonah, whose phenomenal origin was the sun, or fire, that was carried across the waters by the Fish, probably Piscis Australis, which marked the passage of the sunken sun. A writer in the Dictionary of the Bible (article; 'Jonah') remarks with much simplicity—'We feel ourselves precluded from any doubt of the reality of the transactions recorded in this book (Jonah) by the simplicity of the language itself and by the thought that one might well doubt all other miracles in scripture as doubt these. Oh! Sancta Simplicitus!
On the monuments it is the genetrix herself in the character of Isis-Serk, who is placed in command over the Apap dragon by night, and when he is seen fettered and fast bound, the end of the cord or [p.310] chain is held in her hands. The genetrix also triumphed over the darkness, as the 'woman' of the moon who 'guards the forepart of the orb at the paths of total darkness.' She boasts that the twin lion-gods are in her belly, and says she has deprived the darkness of its power. 'I am the Woman, an orb of light in the darkness. I have brought my orb to the darkness, it is changed into light. I overthrow the extinguishers of flame! I have stood! The fiends have hidden their faces. I have prepared Taht (the young moon-god) at the gate of the Moon.' In a Chinese myth the dragon devours nine maidens consecutively. Then Kî the daughter of Li Tau, volunteered to go to the monster's cave. She took a sword and a dog that would bite snakes; and placed rice and honey at the mouth of the monster's den. At nightfall out came the dragon with its head as big as a rice-rick, and its eyes like mirrors, two feet across. The mess attracted it; the dog attacked it in front and Kî hacked at it behind until it was mortally wounded. Kî then entered the cave and recovered the skeletons of the nine maidens whose fate she bewailed and then she leisurely returned home. The Prince of Yueh on hearing of her exploit, raised her to become his queen. This is a lunar form of the mythos in which the woman spears the serpent's head, instead of Horus, her son and seed. Kî and her dog answer to Isis and her dog in the underworld; and in relation to the dragon of eclipse, the nine maidens may possibly represent the nine previous moons; the tenth the genetrix, as the bringer-forth of the young sun-god at the time of the spring equinox (nine months from the summer solstice), when the moon in her travail wrestled with the dragon of eclipse, and this time conquered for the year; or the nine months reckoned from the Harvest Moon of the autumn equinox to Mesore (Egyptian), the month of rebirth at the summer solstice. It is noticeable that the Marquesans had a year which was reckoned as ten moons, and that in Egypt the year consisted of ten moons, or nine solar months, with an inundation (which was the child of Isis), that flowed during three months.
There was a stone in the north end of the parish of Strathmartin, Forfar, called Martin's stone. Tradition affirmed that this was erected on the spot where a dragon had devoured nine maidens, who had gone out on a Sunday evening one after the other to fetch water from the well or spring. The dragon was said to have been killed by Martin. At Lambton Hall the worm* was reputed to drink the milk of nine cows, which correspond to the nine maidens or moons.
* The 'worm' was the dragon in Britain. The worm is the krimi in Sanskrit; kirm, Hindustani; kirmele, Lithuanic; cruimh, Irish; and in inner Africa the alligator is the karam in Kanuri; karam in Munio; karam in N'guru; karam in Kanem; the animal being a real dragon of the waters.
[p.311] In one myth the light is rescued by the sun-god, and in the other it is reborn of the genetrix. The 'woman' in the Ritual boasts that she has 'made the Eye of Horus, when it was not coming at the fifteenth of the month.' The eye was the mirror or reflector, and the full moon was an eye of sight that reflected the sun. This was in connection with the origin of the so-called 'eye-goddesses' in Egypt, such as Tefnut who is named from tef, the pupil of the eye.
The imagery portrayed in the planisphere shows the woman as the bruiser of the serpent. On Christmas Day when the Christ, the Buddha, or Mithras was born, the birthday of the sun in the winter solstice, the constellation of the Virgin arose upon the horizon; she was represented as holding the newborn child in her arms, and being pursued by the serpent which opened its mouth just beneath her in the position of being trodden underfoot. The symbolism was applied to Isis and Horus in Egypt; to Maya and Buddha in India and China; to the woman and child in Revelation[59a], to Mary and Jesus in Rome; and is still to be read in the signs of heaven, where it is old enough to prove a unity of origin for the several myths.
Alexander Henry in his travels among the North American Indians, relates that when the mother was travailing sorely in the pangs of labour, like the woman in Revelation, or the mother-moon in eclipse, and the midwives grew fearful lest the child should be born dead, they hastened to catch and kill a serpent and gave the woman its blood to drink. Here the origin of the serpent-type alone will enable us to interpret the custom. The dragon of darkness had to be cut in two at the crossing for the orb to pass through or the light to be reborn. In Kanuri, 'Dinia fatsar kamtsi,' for the day dawns, signifies the day has cut through. The solar conqueror, as Horus the cutter-through, is portrayed as the wearer of the serpent's skin for the trophy of his triumph. So in the Algonquin myth, Michabo, the solar god, is represented in conflict with the Prince of Serpents who dwells in a deep lake; he destroys the reptile with his dazzling dart, and clothes himself in the skin of his fallen foe. It was at one time common in England for people to believe that the skin of a snake bound round a woman in travail would ease her labour pains.*
* The Egyptian Magical Texts show that hair, feathers, the serpent's skin, and the 'blood of the mystic eye' were used as charms of protecting or destroying power. 'Shu takes the shape of an Eagle's wing.' 'A lock of hair is made to strangle the soul' of an enemy. Shu prevails by carrying the 'hair of a cow' the hood of a serpent, and the 'blood of the mystic eye.' The latter denotes what is known amongst certain of our peasantry as 'Dragon's Blood,' (not the chemical compound used as a kind of size) which is employed as a potent love-charm or philtre according to instructions still or lately given by the wise woman.
The serpent that was slain was the dragon of darkness, which became the serpent of life and healing as a type of sacrifice when [p.312] the serpent that was severed at the crossing was 'offered up' on the cross.
Mr. Ruskin speaks of the 'true worship' which 'may have taken a dark form when associated with the Draconian one.' He assumes some 'primeval revelation' vouchsafed to a chosen people from the truth of which men lapsed into error; but the dragon is part and parcel of all the primeval revelation there ever was; the Draconian was the first as the dragon at the polar centre still bears witness, and it was the fetishism of the dark because it was primeval. There has been a mental evolution corresponding to the physical, and mythology retains the means of tracing the progress from the vague darkness through the stellar, lunar, and solar phases of thought into the later light of day.
When Sanchoniathon says the first men 'consecrated the plants of the Earth, and judged them gods, and worshipped the things upon which they themselves lived, and to which they made libations and sacrifices,' his statement is made according to the later thought and mode of expression. 'Consecration,' 'gods,' 'worship,' must have been very remote from the minds of the first men.
Augustine has remarked of Hermes Trismegistus, that he affirms the visible and tangible images to be as it were the 'bodies of gods,' because there are within them various invited spirits. By a 'certain art' these invisible spirits are made visible in a vesture of corporeal matter. 'This is what he calls making gods.' Hermes was the great hieroglyphist of tradition, the supposed inventor of types, and of typology; the earliest mode of representing things, or making gods. We are now in a position to prove that the earliest 'gods' were 'elementary powers' which were directly apprehended at first; and to show how they were represented by natural types, in short, how the first gods grew. The Egyptian divinities, as the nenu, of which there is a figure of 8, are only the types, or representatives, the fetish-images of powers considered to be superior to man.
It has been assumed that the early man projected his own spirit upon external nature as the mirror which returned the shadow of himself. But if so, the earliest personifications of natural forces ought to have been in his own likeness, whereas the devil or divinity in the human form does not belong to the primary mythical formation. Powers beyond human were recognized in external nature,—furies of force in whose presence man was but an image of helplessness altogether inadequate to express them. The powers were superhuman; their likenesses are prehuman, and with the human advance the types were humanized. We see the Beast transfiguring into the Beauty, when the Mother Nature, who was once a dragon, a lioness, a hippopotamus, a milch-cow, a serpent, changes into [p.313] Uati, Hathor, Neith, or Rennut, as the goddess who wears the shape of Woman. It is another mistake to imagine that primitive man began personifying, and, so to say, entifying the elements by conceiving the eidolon of fire, wind, or water. Typology proves that he did not personify, as his mode of representation. His process was mainly that of objective comparison. He represented one thing by another; the invisible force by a corresponding type of power.
The process of representation was that which the logician terms in another application of the words, the 'substitution of similars.' For instance, having no name for the moon, he saw it as the eye of the dark, and called it the cat, earlier lynx or lioness, whose golden eyes were luminous by night. This was in the natural phase; but the image still served for typifying, when it was known that the moon was only a reflector of the solar light, because the eye is a mirror. Hence, the lunar cat-headed, or lioness-headed goddess, became the eye of the sun.*
* The cat—as Peht or Buto in Egyptian; Pâtu, Mandara; Patti, N'godsin; Budi in Mimboma; Poti, Maori; Bede, Australian; Footie, Shetland—also brought on the name of the lioness, which was Pekht in Egyptian, the earlier form of the word.
The primitive man did not animate the darkness or the water with any abstract spirit of destruction. But he realized the less definite swallower in the most definite form of the dragon, because he was compelled to think in things. He did not know how the earth gulped down the stars, or the water devoured the life, but he adopted the crocodile and hippopotamus as forms most palpable. Earth was the visible cause of darkness, and therefore it was represented by the crocodile that swallowed the lights as they went down in the darkness. The serpent was that which darted death, so was the lightning. The hippopotamus was the power of the deluge broken out of bounds; the howling wind was the great ape in its wrath; the fire was the flaming yellow lion or the golden bird that soared aloft fearlessly in the flames of the sun.
This mode of expressing phenomena was the origin of the primordial types which were continued as mythical, totemic, divine, and thus we are enabled to see that typology and mythology are twin from the birth and one in their fundamental rootage. Primitive men were forced to typify in order that they might know by name these elemental energies and non-intellectual powers, even as they represented their own totems, and named themselves by means of the animals.
According to the laws of evolution, cognition of the unapparent power as cause of phenomena must have belonged to the latest perception, not the primary; and it is an axiom of the present work that religious feeling originated in awe and admiration of powers superior to those possessed by the human being, but that the nearest and most apparent were the earliest. The first so-called deities of primitive man may be named weather-gods. The god and the weather, the [p.314] wind and the rain, are often synonymous among the African races. The 'Yongmaa' of the Akra people is either the rain or the god. The divinity, the heaven, and the cloud, are synonymous among the Makuas. Rain-Giver is a common African name for the power above. The savage may have advanced somewhat beyond the elemental stage, but the elements made the primary appeal. Air was the god Hurakan, portrayed under that name by the Quiches. Certain forces of nature were represented, but not personated, and their representatives became the earliest types of the particular powers. They were not personified in the human likeness; neither were they of any sex. The elements are of no sex; neither were the elementary types, or primordial gods. The seven 'elementaries' in Akkad are so far impersonal powers that they are sexless; 'female they are not, male they are not' (Akkadian); or 'male they are not, female they are not' (Assyrian). The producer as female is the only one whose sex is determined, and she is the dragon-horse. The sun or moon considered as the masculine in one language and feminine in another, is a result of this indefinite and impersonal beginning with the neuter type which could and did become both male and female in mythology and language, because it was neither in itself at first. The most perplexing elements of mythology and language originate in this the primary stage of typology, the elementary and elemental. When among the blacks of Australia men are named wind, thunder, hail, fire, the custom reaches back to this beginning.
The primary gods of Egypt are eight in number. They were gods in space who ruled over Chaos, or failed to rule it, before the cycles of time commenced. According to Herodotus the eight gods were extant for 17,000 years before the reign of Amasis. These were the eight, however, who existed when Taht had superseded Sut; not the original eight elementaries. As before said, the eight gods of
|Papa (earth), the mother who is the foundation of all.||Haumia-Tikitiki, father of wild-growing food.|
|Rangi (heaven), called the father.||Rongo-ma-tane, father of cultivated food.|
|Tane-Mahuta, father of forests.||Tu-Matauenga, father of fierce men.|
|Tangaroa, father of fish and reptiles.||Tawhiri-ma-tea, father of winds and storms.|
[p.315] These are the genetrix and the seven pitris, or fathers, who were born as her seven sons.
In the account of creation inscribed on the Bark Record of the Lenape Indians, the primal power (or powers) rises from the waters eight-rayed. This precedes and does not represent the sun. The number likewise agrees with the Quiche creative powers, who are described as eight in number. These, however, are called half male and half female. The Quiche legends, which tell of the struggles between the rulers of the upper and nether realms, also relate that in Xibalba, the realm of disappearing, the rulers or lords are 'One Death and the Seven Deaths.' The one and the seven, just as we find them in the dragon and her sevenfold progeny, in Sut-Typhon (or the eight gods), and in the divinity of the Templars, Mete, whose 'root is one and seven.' Ximenez says of these eight reduced deities who had been superseded, as in Akkad and Egypt, 'In the old times they did not have much power, they were the annoyers and opposers of men, and in truth they were not regarded as gods. But when they appeared it was terrible. They were of evil, they were owls, things of darkness, fomenting trouble and discord.' It was in the old times, however, that the eight had all power, and only in later times were they relegated to their native hell as the devils of theology.
In the Latita-Vistara eight heavenly beings are enumerated as the gods or devas. These are the Nagas, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Asuras, Garudas, Kinnaras, and Mahôrgas, which are submerged like the ruins of Yucatan beneath whole forests of after-growth; but they correspond fundamentally to the eight elementaries of Egypt, and can be recovered by the comparative process, because in them the earliest types are retained.
The Vedic Aditi is a form of the primordial genetrix, called in the vague stage of thought the boundless, the infinite. She also preceded time and the established order of things that followed Chaos. The infinite Aditi is really the non-established, the unopened, or undivided. She has seven sons called the seven Adityas. The eight—the genetrix and her sevenfold progeny—when compared with the Egyptian eight, will be found like them to be the gods of Chaos, who existed as elementaries before the creation of Time. The elementaries of Egypt are likewise represented by the Asuras in India. The Mahãbhãrata says that in the battle which they fought with each other, the Asuras were the elder brothers and the gods the younger. The gods were of the same parentage as the Asuras, but from a footing of equality they became superior to them. The Asuras were primarily the product of an earlier phase of thought, and were afterwards considered non-spiritual on account of their physical and [p.316] material origin. It is the same with the inferior and superior hebdomads of the Gnostics.
The seven who are the evil progeny of Tiamat in Akkad, the seven-headed thunderbolt, and the seven-headed serpent, are also the sevenfold storm-wind as one of the tempest-types of fatal force. They are said to rush from the four cardinal points; they swoop down like a violent tempest in heaven and earth; they are the destroying tempests, the fiends of storm on their way to becoming the Maruts of the Indian mythology, who are seven at first, corresponding to the seven in Akkad. They are described as the 'seven with spears.' The embryo of the genetrix Aditi was divided into seven parts, and from these sprang the Maruts of the Vedas. As the story is told by Sayana, the embryotic seven were born of Diti, the divider. In India the seven were developed into seven troops of the Maruts, but they had the same sole origin in nature, and in the typology. It was they who 'stretched out all the terrestrial regions and the luminaries of the sky'; they who 'divided and held the two worlds apart.' The Maruts have the same development from the status of evil destroyers who become supporters of the good god. They fight on the side of Indra just as the seven spirits of the Great Bear become the supporters of Osiris. They are likewise particularly associated with the seven Rishis of the Great Bear. Seven elements were identified with these seven elementaries or later spirits; also seven properties in Nature, such as Matter, Cohesion, Fluxion, Coagulation, Accumulation, Station, and Division.
And although the present writer is unable to fathom or follow the subject in India, he is satisfied that a mass of mysticism in Buddhism is the result of this beginning with the elementaries. For example, akasha is called the fifth element, the subtle ethereal fluid, which is the vehicle of sound, and the peculiar vehicle of life. Then it becomes the Creator (Brahma or other god) identical with ether. As kasa (Sans.) is the becoming visible or apparent, akasha is the invisible or unapparent. But in this elemental stage the unapparent is not God; it is only atmospherical. Ether is represented by the cone as the fifth sign in the diagram, in which the square signifies earth; the circle, water (heaven as the water above); the pyramid or triangle, fire; the crescent, air, and the cone, ether, which as fifth was once the quintessence of the elements.
The full number of these is seven in India, Egypt, Britain, and other countries. The seven elements from which came the seven spirits of mythology, are identified by the British Barddas, as earth, water, fire, air, ether (or vapour), blossom (the seminal principle) and the wind of purposes (or the ghost). A sixth element was identified by the Hindus with Bala-rama the representative of [p.317] masculine virility. Bala denotes force considered as a sixth form or mode of manifestation. It is the innate strength of the male, the semen virile. This is the sixth element, the fructifying principle of the Druids named blossom. The seventh was the soul and summit of the rest. Elementary types (or gods) were founded on the elements, and they are symbols of the elements which were typified.
It was argued in a preceding volume that the Jehovah-Elohim of Genesis comprised the same pleroma of eight gods. This is corroborated by the gnostic Pleroma of the Eight, consisting of Sophia the genetrix and her seven sons, who are named—
1. Ialdabaoth, Lord God of the Fathers (Pitris).
2. Iao, Javeh.
3. Sabaoth, Hosts.
4. Adoneus, Lord.
5. Eloeus, God.
6. Oreus, Light.
7. Astanpheus, Crown.
And this pleroma of eight is acknowledged by the Kabbalists as constituting the totality of היהא (Eheieh), the existent, also termed תויח (Chivth), which may be rendered by circle or pleroma. The eight are likewise Phoenician, as Sydik and the seven Cabiri, although the father (Sydik) has been elevated to the place of the genetrix, in accordance with the later thought; as it was with Ptah and his seven assistant gods, or the Phoenician Illus and his auxiliaries, the Elohim.
There are seven spirits called archangels in the Parsee scriptures, who have severally the charge over man, animals, fire, metal, earth, water and plants. But the Amshaspands are the primary form of the Persian seven.
The primeval progeny of the genetrix also survived as the seven governors in the Divine Pymander where they are said to be both male and female in one, whereas the Akkadian seven are neither male nor female, because the types had not then bifurcated into sexes. The illuminatist, Jacob Boehm, will show us how the ancient genetrix and her seven elementaries were continued in the teachings of the mysteries with a more abstract rendering of the gnosis or Kabbalah. He says, of the seven primary or 'Fountain Spirits,' and the feminine producer, 'We find seven especial properties in nature whereby this only Mother works all things' (to wit, desire which is astringent, bitterness, cause of all motion, anguish, cause of all sensibility, fire, light, sound, and substantiality); 'whatever the six forms are spiritually that the seventh is essentially'... 'These are the seven forms of the mother of all beings, from whence all that is in this world is generated.' Which proves the survival and continuation [p.318] of the primitive thought and typology in the theosophy of European mystics. When the male creator takes the place of the mother in Egypt the seven are described as the seven souls of the god Ra or Osiris. So in Boehm's theosophy, 'The Creator hath, in the body of this world, generated himself as it were creaturely in his qualifying or Fountain Spirits, and all the stars are nothing else but God's powers, and the whole body of this world consisteth in the seven qualifying or fountain spirits.' Man was created by, or in accordance with, these seven, 'therefore man's life hath such a beginning and rising up as was that of the planets and stars.' 'But that there are so many stars, of so manifold different effects and operations, is from the infiniteness that is in the efficiency of the seven spirits of God in one another, which generate themselves infinitely,' and 'man's property lieth in sundry degrees, according to the inward and outward heavens, viz., according to the divine manifestation, through the seven properties of Nature.'
The student of Boehm's books finds much in them concerning these seven 'Fountain Spirits,' and primary powers, treated as seven properties of Nature in the alchemistic and astrological phase of the medieval mysteries. These seven revolve wheel-like in their workings with fire (that is the Har-Sun or solar soul) in the centre of all, and their wrestle for supremacy is the working of generation or creation. The followers of Boehm look on such matter as the divine revelation of his inspired seership. They know nothing of the natural genesis, the history and persistence of the 'wisdom' of the past (or of the broken links), and are unable to recognise the physical features of the ancient 'seven spirits,' beneath their modern metaphysical or alchemist mask. A second connecting link between the theosophy of Boehm and the physical origins of Egyptian thought, is extant in the fragments of Hermes Trismegistus. No matter whether these teachings are called Illuminatist, Buddhist, Kabbalist, Gnostic, Masonic, or Christian, the elemental types can only be truly known in their beginnings. When the prophets or visionary showmen of cloudland come to us claiming original inspiration and utter something new, we judge of its value by what it is in itself. But if we find they bring us the ancient matter which they cannot account for, and we can, it is natural that we should judge it by the primary significations rather than the latest pretensions. It is useless for us to read our later thought into the earliest types of expression and then say the ancients meant that! Subtilized interpretations which have become doctrines and dogmas in theosophy have now to be tested by their genesis in physical phenomena, in order that we may explode their false pretensions to supernatural origin or superhuman knowledge. As [p.319] elementals the seven (with the mother, eight) were not intelligencers to men; they were seven overpowering, overwhelming forces recognized in the dragon, the scorpion, the leopard, or lion, the lightning, the hurricane and their kindred agents of violence, destruction, deluges, diseases, and death, who were the born children of the darkness, external and internal. The types themselves suffice to demonstrate the fact that they do not represent any personal beings conceived behind phenomena, and causing the on-goings amid which man found himself to be going on. The serpent emaning itself from its own mouth images no personality but a condition of being, perceived by man, an existence for ever self-emaning and self-renewing which the Egyptians termed 'Renewal, coming of itself.'
Primitive man did not begin with concepts of cause beyond the visible phenomena. He did not postulate a devil that made the darkness. Darkness from the depth was the Devil. And the darkness brought forth its brood of baleful beings, inimical to him. As the female was the obvious bringer to birth it followed that nature or space or the abyss of night should be first represented as the genetrix. In Egypt this abyss, the source of all things, also called the hole of the snake, serpent or dragon, is the Tepht; tepht modifies into tet (Eg.), the English depth; Welsh dyved; Cornish defyth, for a desert, wilderness, and the toyt, as the Shetlanders call their mystical sea, with the same meaning. These are inner African names for the abyss of darkness, the night.
|defid, night, N'godsin.||têtan, night, Bagbalan.||dûdu, black, Eki.|
|dofid, " Doai.||otitan, " Mbarike.||dûdu, " Dsumu.|
|itonfiu, " Mhe.||dûdu, black, Egba.||dûdu, " Ife.|
|této, " Kam.||dûdu, " Vagba.||didu, " Dsekiri.|
|têtan, " Koama.||dûdu, " Yoruba.||didi, " Ebe, etc.|
The Egyptian tepht is one with the tavthe of the Babylonian cosmogony. Tiamat and tavthe are the same name by interchange of m and v, and the tavthe, as place, is the abyss of source, the hole of the dragon. Tavthe personified is the mother of the gods. Tiamat personified is the dragon, mother of seven wicked spirits. This was the Egyptian Tep, Teb, or Typhon, one of whose types was the crocodile, Sevekk, the dragon of the deep. It was a dragon from the deep that first taught Fo-hi the distinction of sexes, as it is stated in the Chinese sacred books. The Hottentot snake called the gâbeb, or the one which lives in a hole, is likewise the typical snake of the abyss. It is the snake supposed to dwell in every fountain of the land, and if it be killed the fountain will dry up.*
* Dr. Hahn, explains that in Khoi-Khoi, au, is a root, meaning to flow, or bleed, from which he derives aub, the snake, and aus, a fountain. Then the Khoi-Khoi forgot this original signification and 'Mythology got hold of Aub and Aus, and made sure that in every fountain lived a snake,'. This is the Müllerite interpretation of mythology as a disease of language, and a misapprehension of the meaning of their own words made by all the people of the past. The motion of the serpent made it a type of that which flows—water flows, blood flows—here we shall find the flowing serpent in a mystical sense—and the serpent flows along the ground. When the fount dries up the typical serpent ceases to flow, and is said to be found in the fountain dead. This is according to a mode of typology, not a disease of language. Compare the םימד רוקמ or fountain of blood for the feminine pudenda, which is likewise the tepht of the snake.
This flow-er forth identified with the [p.320] issuing water of source is one with the dragon Tiamat, or Typhon, but it has not yet passed out of the serpent phase into that of the genetrix of the abyss. In Egyptian, however, the beb is the hole of the abyss and kebeb signifies the source.
At the spot in Syria where Typhon went underground the river Orontes had its origin. In German folktales, when Winkleried kills the dragon, a rivulet issues out of its hole. When the swollen torrents rush down from the Swiss mountains after a thunderstorm, the people say the dragon has come out. This identification of the dragon with the water shows the beginning with the water-flood as the destroyer! The water comes out of the abyss, the tepht (Eg.), which is the 'hole of the snake.' Thus the beginning with the dragon or serpent of source in the abyss is common to Akkad, China, Shetland, Egypt and inner Africa. The serpent and dragon became interchangeable as types, but they can be distinguished from each other.
Professor Fraas of Stuttgart has reconstructed the Swabian lindwurm for the Natural History Museum of that capital. This dragon combined the bird, lizard, kangaroo, and pachyderm; and could fly, crawl, leap, and swim. It is very curious for these four are a form of the hawk (bird), crocodile (lizard), ape (kangaroo), and hippopotamus (pachyderm), which represented the four elements and four quarters, and the four (with variants) were compounded in Typhon the mythical dragon. The monster of the abyss in the beginning, the crocodile or dragon of the west, that swallowed the setting stars, was preserved in the eschatological phase as the devourer of the souls of the damned.
The Egyptians had their museum of monsters in the underworld of the dead. Here the primitive types of destroying power served as imagery in the eschatological stage, where they were intended to strike terror as they had done on earth. This may be gathered from the following text, 'Greatest of spirits, red-haired monster, coming from the night, correcting the wicked by creation of reptiles.' Ammit, the devourer in the Hades is depicted with the head of the crocodile the fore part of the lioness, the hind-quarters of the hippopotamus. The ancient genetrix of the abyss was thus turned into the evil Typhon of the Egyptian hell. Another compounded monster, the sesh-sesh dragon, is a crocodile in front and a serpent behind. The crocodile is the dragon of the waters. In Revelation, when the young solar god is born, the dragon is described as emaning a flood from its mouth; that is equivalent to the end of a period called the deluge. Hydra, the sign of the inundation in Egypt, will also [p.321] explain why the serpent or dragon is the symbol of the flood. Also the red dragon of fire or lightning will account for the alternative type of an ending in a conflagration.
In times of drought the Chinese beseech the dragon of rain for wet weather. They affix on the houses pieces of paper containing prayers and also the likeness of the dragon of rain. Images of the dragon are carried in procession, and if no rain follows the dragon is smashed into small pieces. The symbolical dragon is somewhat of a crocodile with wings, and the crocodile was a type of Typhon, the genetrix of the Seven Stars. Sevekh, the crocodile, is the capturer. This image of the genetrix was continued in Sevekh, her son. The crocodile was a type of darkness, even to the tip of its tail, which is a sign for black. Therefore it is feasible that the mythical dragon of the abyss, the waters of source, was founded on the crocodile, if not on the geological dragon. There was a great fish which the Greeks called 'dracon' and the crocodile is the fish and dragon under one type.
We find another reason why the crocodile should have been the natural prototype of the mythical dragon with the lidless eyes. Plutarch tells us one of the Egyptian reports was that the crocodile 'is the sole animal living in water that hath his eyesight covered over with a thin transparent film which descends from his forehead, so that he sees without himself being seen by others, in which he agrees with the First God.' The crocodile was a type of the first goddess, Typhon. And if there be a first god in Egyptian mythology it is Sevekh, her son, who bore her image as the crocodile. That is Sevekh (or Khebek, whence Kek) was the one of the seven (the eight with the mother included) who was elevated to the primacy in the oldest (the typhonian) cult, as Sevekh Kronus the earlier form of Seb-Kronus.
Assuredly no more apt image of the jaws of darkness, as the earth or grave, silent, wide open, and waiting to devour, could have been adopted than this figure of the tongueless crocodile to form a basis for the mythical dragon. Darkness being the first producer personified as the dragon or the genetrix, and the earliest modes of phenomena that most impinged on primitive man being inimical and opposed to him and therefore evil, the first adversary as the dragon of darkness was accredited with a progeny of adversaries. These were reckoned as seven in number; the genetrix herself being either the first or the eighth. From these we shall derive the dragon with seven heads.
The Egyptian mythology begins with the eight gods that ruled in Am-Smen, the 'place of preparation' or of Chaos. Their domain was the timeless night which preceded the reign of order and the dawn of day. Egyptologists term them 'elementaries,' faute de mieux. They are looked upon as elementary forces of nature personified as [p.322] gods; or, rather, some French Egyptologists, who are not evolutionists, look on these primordial figures as mere types that were adopted by the Egyptians to express the various attributes of the one God.
The allusions to these 'gods' of the beginning are obscure and obscured; but they were the birth of Chaos, they were primary, and they were typhonian. They are denounced as the betsh, the 'children of revolt' and of inertness, corresponding in the latter phase to what Taliesin terms the 'sluggish animals of Satan.' The same place of birth and rebirth in the Ritual is called smen, the place of the eight, in the stellar phase; Hermopolis or Sesennu in the lunar, and Annu (Heliopolis) in the solar myth, in accordance with the order of development from the elementary stage. The eight then are composed of the genetrix Typhon and her brood of seven. These reappear in Akkad and Assyria as the dragon Tiamat and the seven children of revolt, the seven wicked spirits that constitute the seven heads of the dragon of eclipse, or the devouring dark. The first is a scorpion, or the sting-bearer of heaven, the second is the thunderbolt, the third a leopard or hyena, the fourth a serpent, the fifth a raging lion, the sixth a rebellious giant who submits neither to god nor king, the seventh the messenger of the fatal wind. The scorpion, serpent, leopard, thunderbolt and typhoon are sufficient to prove the representation of those powers that were adverse to man. That the serpent was his mortal enemy—whence he became a supreme type of his immortal enemy—that the scorpion stung, whether called the scorpion of the dark or of fire, or the stingray of the sun, that the thunderbolt carried death in its stroke, and the burning breath of the typhoon or simoom was fatal, were among the simplest, most fundamental facts in nature. And of such were the sevenfold progeny of the dragon of darkness. The seven appear in the Egyptian Ritual, where two lists of their different names are given. In one they are called, Het-Het; Ket-Ket; The Bull, who never made smoke to dwell in his flames; Going eating his hour; Red Eyes; Follower of the House of Ans; Hissing to come forth and turn back, seeing at night and bringing by day. These may be paralleled with the Akkadian seven, thus:
|AKKADIAN SEVEN||EGYPTIAN SEVEN|
|1. The scorpion or sting-bearer of heaven.||1. Het-het.|
|2. The thunderbolt.||2. Ket-ket.|
|3. A leopard or hyena.||3. The bull (or beast) who never made smoke to dwell in his flame.|
|4. A serpent.||4. Going eating his hour.|
|5. A raging lion.||5. Red eyes.|
|6. A rebellious giant.||6. Follower of the House of Ans.|
|7. The messenger of the fatal wind.||7. Hissing to come forth and turn back; seeing by night and bringing by day.|
[p.323] The first is Het-het, and hetet is the scorpion. Het means to afflict and injure. Kheti is the serpent of fire. In the inner African languages the scorpion is—
|hudu, in Biafada.||kutu, in Musentandu.||nkutu, in Mimboma.|
|kutu, in Nyombe.||kutu, in Basunde.|
Ket (Eg.) signifies to shake or quake, and the duplicate ket-ket would be to shake very much, as does the thunder. 'Going eating his hour' is the serpent, which became the type of time eating its own body. 'Red-eyes' renders the rage of the lion. The rebellious giant is likewise a perfect parallel to Hapi, the giant ape, one with Kapi, or Shu, the Egyptian Nimrod.
Now, if we take the so-called 'Four Elements' of Fire, Water, Earth and Air, which are inseparable from four of these seven elementary types that became the gods of the four quarters, and try to realise the earliest perception and configuration of these as governing powers, we must not think of the Har sun typified by the solar hawk, the glorious God of later times—but the Har fire, the hell of fire, the consuming element, the devouring fire, and we have the solar serpent or stinger in its elemental phase. The sun in inner Africa was looked upon as a source of torment. Sir Samuel Baker affirms that the rising of the sun is always dreaded in Central Africa and the 'Sun is regarded as the common enemy.' This corroborates the statement of Herodotus respecting the Atlantes of interior Africa, who regularly 'Cursed the Sun at his rising, and abused him with shameful epithets for afflicting them and their land with his blasting heat.' Even by night the air is often like a heated oven.
When a Christian missionary was expatiating on the attributes and the goodness of his god to the Liryas, a central African tribe, they refused to allow the goodness. On the contrary, they said, 'He must be very angry and wicked for he sends death and the sun that scorches up our crops.' 'Scarcely is one sun dead in the west in the evening than there grows up out of the earth next morning another which is no better.'
All who attempt to interpret the ancient thought without the doctrine of development have now to reckon with evolution and go back to begin again. This beginning in physical phenomena was continued in the eschatological phase by the Egyptians who held that all evil proceeded from the place of sunrise, and all good, healing and life came from the land of the setting sun. The lion, another symbol of fire and one of the elementaries, was a type of terror. To signify the terrible, says Horapollo, the Egyptians make use of the lion because this animal, being most powerful, terrifies all who behold it. [p.324] The serpent-goddess Hehi especially represents the element of fire that was first signified by the lightning of the serpent's sting. But the serpent itself was recognised before a goddess of fire or heat was personified. She is called the 'maker of invisible existence apparent.' But it was the serpent itself that first revealed and made manifest in pain and death the fiery power that existed invisibly. They did not begin with a goddess behind phenomena who made use of a serpent to bite, and thus revealed her invisible presence. That may be the non-evolutionist view, but is an utter reversal of the actual process. Primitive men commenced with phenomena themselves, and not with the postulate of powers beyond their powers. This is provable. Physical and mental evolution corroborate each other according to the doctrine of development. Trees, stocks, and stones preceded the human-shaped images of the divinities. Primitive men were not carvers and sculptors, and the early temples were without statues. And just as the shapeless stone preceded the statue, so did these elementary powers evoke recognition and fear, the earliest form of a religious feeling before man had any idea of a 'god.' Heat or fire was expressed by means of types. The fury of the solar fire suggested the fang and the sting. The name of the sirocco, the very breath of fire, identifies itself with serk (Eg.), the name of the scorpion, which further shows the hard form of serf (Eg.), the blast, a burning breath.
If the early men had commenced with a concept of cause behind phenomena, they would never have personified it as female at all. This mould of creation, or rather of evolution, was only possible because they began with the simplest observation of natural phenomena. If they had conceived a god it would assuredly have been in their own image, not in that of womankind, whether typified by the dragon, serpent, water-horse, or cow. That African furnace of fiery heat did not offer much incentive to the so-called 'solar worship!' On the contrary, in thirty-six African languages the name for 'hell' is the same as for fire, and fire is frequently synonymous with the sun, as in the type-names furo, mu, and har, ôro or ala. The sun is
|horu, in Idsesa.||oru, in Yoruba.||oru, in Yagba.||har, in Wadai.|
This being a synonym for fire and hell, will show us how and where the solar Horus began as one of the elementals who were considered to be the foremost enemies of man. The sun was the physical fount of theological hell-fire. The name of Hell, in Yagba, signifies the 'Heaven of Ashes,' and heaven was often looked on as a hell of fire. Thus Har (Horus) the later solar god, was one of the seven elementaries as the terror of fire, and the word har (Eg.) signifies terror, to terrify, as did the zigzag lightning and the deadly sting-ray of the sun. Har then was a primary power born of the [p.325] hell of inner African heat, who became the sun-god Har, or Horus, in the Egyptian mythology.
What was the earth to the primitive perception? Another form of the devourer and swallower of the light and the lights as they went down from heaven. The Egyptians denote eating, says Horapollo, by portraying a crocodile with his mouth open. The stars are represented as being swallowed by the crocodile of the West. This was the crocodile of earth, the swallower, when it was not known that the earth was a rotating globe. The crocodile is Sevekh, the capturer. Sevekh signifies to noose, catch, the place of execution. Sevekh was the terror of earth, and another of our elementaries. The element of air was potential death before it could be recognised as the breath of life. The burning blast, the simoom or typhoon, first made itself felt and acknowledged, in such forms as the African hurricane, known as the terrific kamsin, which stirs the desert to its depths, sets its surface moving in a vast suffocating, overwhelming storm of sand, and mixes up the elements of wind and water, fire and dust, in a chaos of confusion that blots out heaven for the time being and seems to blind the sun. This was the air in motion, personated by Hurakan, the Quiche deity. The rudest awakeners appealed to the dawning consciousness of man, not the gentle breeze and genial warmth, not the fertile fruitful earth and fostering dews of heaven; not the light but the lightnings; not the voice of birds and murmuring of rippling waters, but thunders, the voice of tempests, and the roar of devouring beasts.
One of the elementaries is the monkey-god, the kaf, or kant. As Hapi he is one of the four genii, and Hapi is the earlier kafi, the giant-ape, a type of Shu. Shu, as a god, is a representative of wind (later breath and soul), and wind, in its fury, is the typhonian tempest. This type of the kaf-monkey is the personification of anger or fury in the hieroglyphics, and the kafau are the typhonian desolators by name. Water was not first appreciated as one of the two elements of life. On the contrary, it was that which devoured in drowning, and swallowed up life like the hippopotamus. Hence the hippopotamus that could crush a canoe in its ponderous jaws was the typical terror of the waters, and yet a form of the bringer-forth from the waters, the dragon of the abyss, the mother of the seven. Water was that which broke forth wide-mouthed as the dragon of the deluge. The indefinite beginnings of mythology are defined enough in physical phenomena like those in which the working types originated as representatives of the seven primary forces of Mother Nature. We can also perceive how some of these elementaries found a representative voice for their power. The great ape is such a howler that it was continued as a voice of the unknown, a speaker for the gods of later times. So that the image of anger, which chattered or howled [p.326] furiously, represented in visible form the passion swelling in the throat of destroying power and the howling of the hurricane. The kaf-ape was the animal type of the breathing power when it was a fiend of the storm, the element that was the origin of the god of breath or soul, as Kafi-Shu.
The fire of the sun in inner Africa found fitting voice in the lion, with its yell of rage, awful as if the sky had gaped audibly, and the solar furnace was heard to roar. Wind and heat were ungraspable, ungaugeable, inexpressible, thence the need of the ape and lion as sensible equivalents; hence, too, the origin of that typology which preceded verbal speech. The lion is another of the four chief elementary types. One of the first voices of darkness, or the unknown, that arrested attention and awakened terror would be thunder. It has been said that thunder was the primordial divinity. Undoubtedly it was the voice of one of the earliest elementaries or powers recognized in external nature. Horapollo says, 'When the Egyptians would symbolize a voice from a distance, which is called by them Ouaie, they portray the voice, i.e., thunder, than which nothing utters a greater or more powerful voice.' In the Magic Papyrus the 'bad dog' is addressed thus: 'Up, bad dog! be thy face the gaping sky! Usaf-Hu thy howling.' That is, 'Be thy howling Thundrous.'*
* Rendered 'tremendous' by M. Chabas who did not compare Horapollo's explanation.
The thunder would be the dog, jackal, or wolf of howling darkness, the voice afar off. Captain Beechey describes the 'sudden burst of the answering long-protracted scream' of a pack of jackals 'succeeding immediately to the opening note' as being 'scarcely less impressing than the roll of the thunder-clap immediately after the flash of lightning.' So thought the early men who made the jackal a typical announcer, a voice of darkness, of prophecy in heaven, that foretold the coming night and the inundation in the distance. The jackal, or dog, is also one of the seven types, which were continued when the elementaries had passed into the star-gods of Time.
A divinity like Baal-zebub was a devil from the first; a devil in physical phenomena before he became the Satan in a later sense. He is called 'God of Flies.' But the zebub fly makes the name more special, and shows the inner African origin. The zebub is described by the rabbis as a fly that stings to madness. It is one of the chief plagues of the stinging things produced by nature when in heat at the time of her midsummer madness, that settle on man and beast like showers of fire, or darts of death, or serpents of the air. Bruce gives us a striking account of the Ethiopian and Abyssinian fly, called the zimb, which is a frightful scourge. As soon as the zimb appear, and their buzzing is heard, he says the cattle forsake their food and fly, until they drop at last and die of fright and fatigue. The natives are [p.327] compelled to quit the 'black earth,' and take refuge on the sands of Atbara, and there remain until, the plague has past. The elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus are forced to roll themselves in mud to coat their hides with an armour that will resist the stings. The zimb is identical with the Hebrew zebub, the m in one word interchanging with b in the other. In their translations the Arabs rendered zebub by the zimb. So in Assyrian the word zumbt appears as a variant of zebub. In the Deluge Tablet, when the sacrifice is offered, it is said, the gods swarmed over the sacrifices like zumbi, to devour the offerings. In which the zimb, or zebub, is thus cited as the typical devourer. This is the fly mentioned by Isaiah, 'And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall hiss for the Zebub that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt.' It is the zebub of death. In the inner African languages the zimb is synonymous with the devil and hell. Nsunibi is the Devil in Kasands; ndsumbi is the Devil in Undaza; ndsombau is hell in Bumbete; zume is hell in Dahome; ozohim is hell in Igu; simo is hell in Nalu. The sami (Eg.) are the typhonian devourers, the devils that swarm and buzz and torture, like the zimb (flies) in the Egyptian hells. The Hebrew tsamim are the devourers, and the zamzummim are the mythical giants. The zimwi in Swahili is an ogre, ghoul, or other evil being said to devour men. The zimu in Zulu-Kaffir are cannibals believed to live in the far north, as a race of long-haired people. The sami buzz and sting as spiritual beings in the hells of the damned because the zimb first made hell upon earth in Africa; and in baalzebub (or Bar-Typhon) we find the devil-type on its way to divinity.
Monumental Egypt can tell comparatively little of the vague period. The shadow of darkness and the terror of the physical Typhon had passed away when her monumental record comes into view. The prior phases of feeling and thought are only reflected for us in the types with which she speaks to us of the remoter past. Her eight elementaries born of chaos, as the genetrix and her sevenfold brood of nature-powers, were superseded as the 'children of inertness,' the 'demon of revolt,' or, rather, their types were transformed into the vahans of later ideas. But outside of Egypt, all round the world, we find races still under the shadow of the early darkness, who yet utter the fears of the human childhood, for whom the Akhekh is a real terror, and not a type to interpret. We see by the old Ukko of the Finns how the Akhekh or dragon of darkness would pass into a god of thunder and lightning. So closely is Ukko, the old one associated with thunder and lightning, that the Finns call a thunderstorm 'an Ukko,' and when it lightens they exclaim 'That is Ukko, there he is striking fire.' This god in Egypt was Kak, or Khebekh whence [p.328] Sevekh, the crocodile of darkness, and under the name of Sevekh, he can be recognized in the Carib deity Savacou, a god of the dark, the Lord of Thunder and Lightning and Hurricanes; the very Typhon in a masculine form. He blows fire through his tube, and that is lightning; he sends the great rain, and is thus identified with the dragon of the waters. Savacou was said to have been one of those men who are now stars. Darkness and its divinity were forms of the typical 'Old One,' as in Ukko, and in the inner African languages the 'Old One' is
|Kokohe, in Puka.||Ekui, in Eafen.||(Wa) Kuka, in Lubalo.|
|Okok, in Konguan.||N'kokun, in Mbofon.||(Wa) Kuka, in Songo.|
|(U) Kug; in Yasgua.||(O) Gugu, in Igu.||(Usa) Koka, in Kisama.|
|Akuku, in Kupa.||(Wa) Guga, in Kasands.||(Wa) Kuku, in Nupe.|
|(U) Akuku, in Basa.||Keokolo, in N'goala.||(Wa) Kuku, in Esitako.|
The Yorubans have a god of thunder named Shango whom they call the stone-thrower (dzakuta), who casts the thunder-hatchets down from heaven. Now, as darkness was the primal producer or parent, the first voice with which she spoke to man was thunder. Out of that darkness leaped the lightning, and the lightning was thought to deposit the thunder-axe, bolt, or stone from heaven, the cloud-cleaver and celestial Celt, which preceded and possibly suggested the manufactured weapon. For the CeIt adze (named Anup) is the nuter-sign of divinity (Â), and this came from heaven as lightning born of darkness. Such was the kind of revelation made by external nature to primitive man. The stone-axe gave him supremacy on earth, and that weapon was first hurled at him hot and hissing from the thunder-clouds of heaven. An instance of a thunder-stone having been found on the spot where the lightning had struck has been given in the Reliquary The peculiar smell of it when broken showed that it was lightning-born. This was a form of the axe which the Great Mother gives birth to in various American myths as her first child. In Egypt it is identified with Sut-Anup. Sut also signifies the fire-stone. Anup is a name of the Celt-axe. Anup was the jackal or fox, and the Japanese still consider the Celt-stones, which they find, to be weapons of an evil spirit, whose type is the fox; this, therefore, was Sut-Anup, one of the elementaries, the jackal (fox or wolf) of darkness. 'Stone-Head' is the name of the serpent that guards the sixth of the Seven Halls of Osiris. The huge Akkadian serpent with seven heads is the thunderbolt of seven heads in the Hymns. When the serpent-lightning darted out of the cloud it buried itself in the earth, leaving its stone head in the aerolith or smelted sand, the thunder-hatchet, the ideographic nuter that was continued as a type of the primordial power which dwelt in darkness and manifested itself by [p.329] death and destruction as one of the elementaries. In the inner African languages the stone and iron are named Tan like the dragon, the serpent, the cutter or destroyer. 'It is difficult,' says Dr. Arthur Mitchell, 'to see why to nearly all the cultured nations of Western Europe a stone-celt becomes a thunderbolt, and a flint arrow-head an Elf Dart; and why these relics of a complete or comparative barbarism should be venerated in the midst of civilized and cultivated people.' The reason is because they are the typical thunderbolt continued; the divine thunder-axe repeated by human workmanship. 'Cut (or engraved) stones' is the Nicaraguan name for the images of Mixeoatl, the Cloud-Serpent; an evident allusion to the products of thunder. The cut or engraved stone becomes the Egyptian kart and British celt of the Neolithic age. The Guaranis of Brazil name the celt or stone-axe korisko, which means lightning. The Pueblo Indians go out to look for the celts after a thunderstorm. The shooting star is likewise identified with the aerolith by the modern Greeks, who call the celt-stones and star-hatchets, αστροπελέκια. Pelekys was a title of Dionysus as Lord of the Thunder-stone-axe. Pliny reports that stones which had fallen from heaven were invoked by the Romans for success in war. The Africans about Axim, on the Gold Coast, still call the lightning-stone, or that which passes for it, by the name of Lebonua, the axe.
Of course one original type of the lightning-stone is represented by various kinds of stones that may be adopted as charms, fetishes, or medicine. The thunderbolt, which was first of all a stone, remained a well-known type of primordial divinity, that is of destroying power. When the Japanese preserve the celt-stone or fox-hatchet in their temples as relics of their divine ancestors, the kami, the act identifies these with the elementary gods, the chief of whom was the power that lightened and thundered and hurled the bolt from out the black cloud.
The thunder-axe being the form in which the lightning quenched itself in the earth; this may possibly account for the superstition against cutting wood with an axe near the fire for fear of cutting off the head of the fire. This is held by the Sioux Indians, the Tatar and other races. The first stone-axe was the head of fire, which may have suggested the arrow-head, and the superstition appears to recognize this origin of the fire-axe.
The Akhekh gryphon is a dragon with wings. Wings and feathers furnish a type of fire in the later solar bird. But the winged lightning was first, and this suggested the well known winged dragon, or Bird of Thunder. The Bird-Dragon was a common chimera of the middle ages. A French swan-dragon unites the bird's head and serpent's [p.330] tail. The typical monster on the Scottish stones is sometimes bird-headed. According to Philo-Byblius Epeis had translated an Egyptian work into Greek in which it was asserted that the first divine nature was the serpent metamorphosed into a hawk. This created light by opening its eyes and darkness by shutting them. It took feathers or flame to fly with, and the dragon, darkness, took wings of flame when it lightened; these were added to form the feathered serpent and fiery dragon to express motion in the air. The Tupan of the Tupi tribes of Brazil is the Typhon of Egypt by name, and Typhon is the Akhekh dragon. Tupan is the thunderer and lightener which rears its dragon-shape of darkness, flaps its wings, thunders, and flashes with infernal light. The Zulus of Natal have been known to buy peacocks' feathers at a very high price because they identified them as belonging to the Bird of Thunder. That is the hieroglyphic peacock-headed Akhekh or gryphon of darkness.*
* One form of the Egyptian akhekh is a gryphon with the winged body of a beast, the tail of a serpent and head of a peacock. This is the winged dragon, which became the mythical cockatrice, a compound monster having the head of a cock, the wings of a fowl, and the tail of a serpent or dragon. It was said to be so named because of its origin from the egg of a cock hatched by a serpent. From this comes the cock's egg of our mythology. It was the egg of the Akhekh, serpent, or dragon, and allowing for the peacock instead of the cock, the akhekh sign survives as the cockatrice. The bird-headed, serpent-tailed Akhekh appears in India as the figure of Viratarupai, the universal-monarch-form, with a human hand for one forefoot, the elephant's foot for another, the two hind feet being those of the tiger and horse. This bird-headed and serpent-tailed Akhekh was continued into the Christian iconography. A picture of the Temptation of Christ, from a French miniature of the twelfth century, shows Satan as a survival of the Akhekh gryphon, with the head of a cockatoo instead of the peacock, and a serpent for his tail. The peacock as a bird of ill-omen in England still suffers for its symbolical character.
The Hebrew thunder-god, the male divinity, is the same Kak or Iach, who was continued from the dark into the stellar phase, thence into the solar as the sun of the night. He also rode upon a Bird of Thunder. He 'thundered in the heavens' and 'rode upon a cherub and did fly.' He 'made darkness his secret place; smoke issued from his nostrils and devouring fire out of his mouth.' 'Darkness was under his feet' he 'hurtled stones and coals of fire.' He is called 'Lightning-sender.' It is the same god of thunder, the stone-caster, flying all abroad on his bird, as that of the Yorubans and Central American Indians, the same as Hurakan with his bird Voc. The Mandans attribute the thunder and lightning to a vast and awful Bird of Heaven, which is either the Manitou himself, or his messenger. The Dakotas are said to explain thunder as the sound of the cloudbird flapping its wings.
By degrees, however, the aspect of the elementaries was modified as the face of Nature became less terrible. This can be traced. Hurakan (our Hurricane) is the name of the Quiche primordial [p.331] power. Hurakan in Quiche means a stream of water that pours straight down. In the hieroglyphics (Eg.), hura is heaven, over, above. Khan is the typhonian tempest with the determinative of water pouring straight down from heaven, * and khan is water. Typhon and typhoon are identical. Hushtoli, the storm-wind, was the original Choctaw word for deity. 'Mixcohuatl' the 'Cloud Serpent,' a chief or the chief of Mexican gods, bears the name of the tropical whirlwind. Such representation was primal and the later god of air and breath was a modification of the demon in his first fierce phase of the terrible tornado. Lightning, with its crooked fires, world-shaking voice, and dart of death, made its first appeal to fear. In a Hottentot Hymn of Thunder we read
'Son of the Thundercloud:
Thou brave loud-speaking Guru!
Talk softly, please,
For I have no guilt!
Leave me alone
I have become quite weak with terror,
Thou, O Guru!
Son of the Thundercloud!'*
* Guru is thunder. Compare kheru (Eg.) a voice, to utter.
By degrees it was answered with defiance. The Namaquas still shoot their poisoned arrows at the lightning and bid it be gone. The Khoi-Khoi and the Damaras are reported to curse the thunder, and to shoot their arrows at the lightning, dart for dart. So the black Tatar tribe of the Urjangkut were in the habit of threatening the thunder and trying to scare off the lightning. Lastly, it was observed that thunder was the especial announcer of rain, and the beneficence of this deadly power was recognised. The Hottentots think that its downpour of deluging water has a fertilizing effect on the female. In accordance with which idea it is the custom for the girls, after the festival and rites of their coming of age have been celebrated, to run about quite naked in the first thunderstorm that follows. This wash of rain over the whole body is held to make them fruitful and to ensure lusty children. The Hottentot custom shows the baptism of fire and water as a rite of generation and fertilization. The lightning represents the fire that vivifies and the thunder-rain—which some Africans call a 'he-rain'—the Water of Life. English boys have a game called 'Running through Fire and Water' in which the runner is beaten and buffeted as he hurries down their ranks. Here, then we can trace another of the 'elementaries' (if not two—fire and water) passing from the first stage of destroying power into that of the fertilizing and beneficent influences or gods. The crocodile, Sevekh the capturer, becomes a type of tractability in Egypt, and is considered the purifier of the sacred [p.332] Nile. The howling jackal (Sut-Anup) typifies the messenger Mercury, the prophet of the Dog-star and inundation; of sunset and sunrise. The ape-image of Ire and Choler serves as a type of Shu, the God of Breath.
A great mass of the primitive mythology remained in the vague and elementary condition in which the principal figures are powers of the earth and heaven, wind, water, fire, and thunder, scorpion, lion and serpent. But, in Africa these became definite in their Egyptian types, by means of which we can follow their development from the elementaries of Chaos and Space into celestial intelligencers; the tellers and fore-tellers of time and season to men; the divinities of the later pantheon. The primary seven (or eight) were continued as types of power and adapted to convey other ideas until at length they attained the status of gods in relation to the celestial phenomena in the sphere of Time, where 'The Gods were seen in their ideas of the stars, with all their signs, and the Stars were numbered with all the gods in them.' Seb, the star, is the sign of god as well as the soul or spirit (5). So the idea of god expressed by the Assyrian word illu was originally represented by the sign of a star. The star is also the symbol of Seba for worship and adoration. In this phase the gods (or types) became Kronian; the Ili, Ali, or Elohim, who were the auxiliaries of Kronus.
Damascius in his Primitive Principles says, 'The Magi and the whole Aryan nation (or the Medes) consider, as Eudemos writes, some space and others time as the universal cause out of which the good God as well as the evil spirit were separated; or as others assert Light and Darkness, before these two spirits arose.' These 'two spirits' being the Ahura-Mazda and Angro-Mainyus of the Avesta.
Plutarch fears that if he unfolded the secrets of certain constellations it would be declaring war against length of time. The serpent called 'Going eating his hour' (one of the elementaries) was a sort of time-symbol, but the first perception of time was that of mere lapse and 'renewal, coming of itself,' when there were no means of measuring its periodic return. 'They (the human race) had no certain sign for winter, for the flowery spring, or fruitful summer, but did everything haphazard, or without judgment, until I showed them the risings of the stars and their settings.' The divinities proper then, were born in the second stage as keepers or tellers of time and season. The elementaries, or brute forces of Nature, may be said to have obtained their souls in the stars. Hence, as Plutarch says, the Dog-star is the soul of Isis; Orion is the soul of Horus; and the Bear is the soul of Typhon—soul and star being synonymous in the Egyptian word seb. In this way the seven [p.333] non-intelligent powers, monsters, giants, blind adversaries, became intelligent spirits, or starry souls, as tellers of time. Much of the mythology of the savage races has survived from the first vague stage. But even with these, as in inner Africa and Australia, the star-gods are the messengers of periodic time, and intelligencers to men, according to their risings and settings. The genesis of the first gods that were endowed with intelligence as the tellers of time, because they represented its various cycles, is illustrated by a magical text in which they are threatened with dissolution if they do not perform what the invoker wishes. 'You shall be undone, you cycle of gods! There shall no longer be any earth; there shall no longer be the five supplementary days of the year.' Thus, if time is no longer kept there will be an end to the gods born of cycles. The elementaries had warred and contended in space as representatives of the evils found in phenomena before Time existed, and it was the bringing of certain symbols out of Space into Time that caused them to be transformed from types of evil into images of good, or separated and distinguished as good and bad. The first serpent or dragon was altogether evil, but by degrees it became an emblem of good. This may have partly arisen from the discovery that some snakes are harmless. According to Clot Bey the supreme type of the good serpent in Egypt, the royal uraeus, is not poisonous. The Zulus have two familiar spirits each, a good and a bad one, which are represented by two different snakes, one being harmless. The serpent in Egypt, Chaldea, India, America, and Europe, is the good spirit generally; the Agathodaemon. Therefore the type appears to have passed out of the phase of the terrible at the time of the various migrations. Hence we meet with both but chiefly with the good daemon. The serpent became pre-eminent as a type of time in many phases. Time was the foundation of an established order of things, and Time, as Seb, is identical by name with the serpent. The Australian Aborigines have traditions of a gigantic serpent that created the world by a blow with its tail. That is a fading reflection of the serpent with the tail in its mouth. By bringing the head and tail together the circle-symbol was shaped which denoted endless continuity. The Australians make the meeting-point a blow. Seb, the name of time, means a turn, a revolution, and the turn of the serpent round the pole and the return of Hydra denoted a year, the same as if it were reckoned by the Great Bear and the heliacal rising of Sothis. This revolution was represented by the serpent's egg. The serpent lays eggs and coils itself round them for incubation, therefore the serpent was made a type of the gestator, as it coiled about the egg. But this is not the most recondite form of the serpent's egg. The god Ptah as the figurer of a cycle of time is said to make the egg of [p.334] the sun and moon. That is by representing the soli-lunar revolution. The egg was then the solid figure of a circle of time. Thus when the serpent (Draconis) turned once round the polestar or revolved on its eye, it was fabled to have laid an egg, the egg of the primary year in heaven. This was the egg emaned from the mouth of the serpent, as Ptah was said to have been from the mouth of Khnef, one of whose types is the serpent; the mystical egg of the Druids which the serpent is said to evolve at a particular moment on one night of the year. The egg of the serpent was a year; an egg and an age are thus synonymous, and this type of a year is extant in the egg of Easter. A serpent emaning an egg from its mouth was figured by the mound-builders as one of their vast relievos in Adams County, Ohio. It is over 1,000 feet in length with an oval, egg-like figure within the open mouth. Mr. Phryne claims to have traced a similar design in an earthwork found in Argyllshire.
Popular belief preserves many of the precious relics of the past, but they are of a strange fashion now and need resetting. One of these may be found in an Egyptian calendar for the year 1295 AH, or 1878 AD, published in Alexandria. In this the reader is told that on December 19th, 'Serpents become blind,' and on March 24th, they 'open their eyes.' For serpents we have to read the serpent of the year, the dual symbol of the Two Truths of periodicity which were represented by the nine months of gestation, and the three months of the inundation; or by the serpent seeing during nine months and being blind the other three. The month Mesore (the rebirth of the river) is found typified by Horus the Elder with a snake in his hand. The inundation was also called the 'burial of the serpent.' The blind serpent is the sloughing serpent. During the change of its skin, the serpent may be said to go blind. English readers will remember the story of the great boa 'Bess,' of the London Zoological Society's Gardens who was so nearly blind in her period of sloughing that she swallowed a blanket, which caused her death.
The sloughing and blindness of the serpent is here represented by the sun in the three water signs. The length of time assigned to this phase is exactly three months plus the five black or negative days of the intercalary period of the epagomenae; and these negative days are rightly added to the phase of negation. This serpent of the year that sees during nine months and is blind during three would, in folklore, take the form of the serpent-king's daughter, who had a nine-headed nâga appearing from the back of her neck, and when her husband cut it off she was blind. The serpent is a type of two times, two phases, two elements, the Two Truths on account of its sloughing. Also, the Quiche name for lightning is cak-ul-ha, that is, fire coming from water, and the serpent of both fire and water is one [p.335] in the serpent of lightning, a production of two elements. The primitive observers must have seen with much satisfaction that serpents and snakes had the habit of eating themselves—or rather each other. The royal basilisk of Egypt has a reputation for devouring snakes. Horapollo says of the serpent, 'Moreover it every year puts off its old age with its skin, as in the Universe the Annual Period effects a corresponding change, and becomes renovated. And the making use of its own body for food implies that all things, whatsoever that are generated by Divine Providence in the world, undergo a corruption into it again.' The self-eating and self-renewal of the serpent made it the most perfect image of Time (Kronus), who was fabled to devour his own children by eating them.
The great serpent called the devourer with the coils is depicted with twelve human heads on his back. He is borne on twelve forked sticks and twelve stars denote the twelve hours of darkness which the monster typifies. This serpent of night is called 'The Serpent that begets twelve little ones to eat by the hours.' And on a limestone tablet in the British Museum there is a bas-relief of a large serpent and twelve small ones which shows the generation of the twelve hours of night.
Ra says 'Listen, Hours! I call you to eat (make) your repast. Rise, Reptile! Live on what comes forth from it. Your office (that of the Hours) is to eat what the Snake brings forth, and to destroy what comes forth from it.' The serpent of night with twelve heads for the twelve hours of darkness appears in a Russian myth as the twelve-headed snake, 'Usuinya,' which steals the golden apples from the king's garden, and is slain by Ivan the Prince, the young solar hero, or Horus who was with the twelve-headed serpent all through the night. Here, the golden apples represent the light, the fruit of the sun, and the snake is the evil devourer, not the good guardian of the garden or tree. The myth of a deity who swallows his own children is found amongst the Bushmen, Zulus, and the Blacks of Australia. In one of the African versions the God or Being who swallows his daughter is the divinity of the planet Jupiter, which will be identified as that of Seb-Kronus. Time eating his progeny was represented by the Egyptian observer of the hours. Horapollo tells us that in signifying an horoscopus the Egyptians delineated a man 'eating the Hours. Not that a man eats the hours, for that is impossible, but because food is prepared for men according to the hours.' The horoscopus was an image of Kronus eating his children, the hours, days, weeks, and years. The same mode of measuring time survives in England where the law students still continue to 'eat [p.336] their terms.' The numbers of these is that of the decans and duodecans. Thirty-six dinners are eaten by a man who has a degree and seventy-two by him who has not. The inner African (Yoruban) formula for may you live long, or enjoy long life, is, 'May you eat old age!'
In the story of the wolf and seven little kids, found in Grimms' Tales, the wolf swallows six of the family, and the seventh conceals itself in the clock-case. But he has swallowed them whole, and they are still alive within him, and whilst he is sleeping the mother of the goats rips open the monster's hairy coat and lets out her little ones. Then they fill his belly with stones and sew him up again. The little goats are the seven days of the week, identified with time by means of the clock-case. But, according to the present interpretation, the type was derived from the seven stars of the first time, the seven of the Bear who, with their mother, the genetrix, were the eight gods of the beginning and the creators of time. The wolf is a type of Seb, and bears his name in Egyptian, he is Seb, a planetary form of Kronus.
In the present stage of language we have a separate word for almost every shade of meaning. Some words will do double duty, but scarcely need to be called upon. At an earlier stage one word or sound had to express divers ideas, and that is still the status of many words found scattered in language generally. But a type like this of the serpent was made use of to express many various ideas. When we use the word serpent directly, it has only one meaning. It has a second when we use it figuratively. Language, however, was all figure at first, and there were very few of these figures or types to express the sum-total of ideas or intentions. Of these the serpent was the most primal and important. It was in itself an archetypal polyglot.
Every serpent set in heaven represented a different idea, chiefly relating to time and season. The four elements had each their serpent. Bata is the soul of the earth; heh and kheti are serpents of fire. Nef represents breath, hydra, water. One serpent typified matter; another, the hawk-headed, a soul. The dual phase of feminine periodicity was usually signified by the double-headed serpent, or the two serpents. 'Paint two snakes,' says Perseus, 'the place is then sacred.' In Egypt, the double uraei constituted the sacred crown of maternity. The Two Truths of the motherhood, that of feminine pubescence and gestation, were signified by the two serpents, or the double one. It is a habit of the serpent to roll itself round and form a spiral heap with its head atop. The serpent built the primal pyramid with its eggs, and then coiled round the conical pile to hatch them. That was a sight never to be forgotten. Hence the serpent was also a type of the gestator, as in Rennut, the goddess of gestation, who coils in the shape of a serpent about the unborn child. She is a serpent first and a woman after- [p.337] wards. In some representations she is both, therefore the mythical serpent-woman. As such, she is the goddess-serpent of goodness, who is depicted, amongst other forms, as a serpent below with a woman's head and bust above. In her serpent-shape she coils about the shrine of breath in ten loops. These form a figure of 10, denoting the ten moons of gestation.
The serpent-woman, as genetrix of the human race, is to be met with under various names. According to Tanner's narrative, the grandmother of mankind, me suk-kum me go kwa, was represented indifferently by an old woman and a serpent. The Mexicans gave the serpent-form to the mother of the human race, one reason for this being that in their annals the first woman whose name was translated by the old Spanish writers, 'the woman of our flesh,' is always represented as accompanied by an enormous male serpent, and in the Mexican mythology Cihuacoatl, the goddess-parent of primitive man, was also called the serpent-woman. The Rabbi Moses affirms that the name of Ihvh has the meaning of half-serpent, half-human. In the previous volume it was shown that Jhvh (Jehovah) was the Egyptian genetrix named Kepu or Kefa, and is identical with Chavvah or Eve, who is identified by the rabbis with the serpent-woman. Kefa is also portrayed as the goddess of gestation with the serpent on her head.
When Ahura-Mazda formed the Garden of Delight, the Eden of the Avesta, the first thing created in opposition by the Dark Mind was the flowing serpent (Azhim raoidhitem). This is the serpent in Paradise which is represented as tempting the woman to sin. Its original nature is shown by that epithet of flowing or running. This was thought by Haug to refer to the ejection of venom. Others have turned the serpent into rain. It is the exact equivalent of that menstruation with which the Dark Mind opposes the Good Creation in the same Fargard. This serpent typified the 'moist substance,' or primeval matter of the Ophites, that which was so often fabled to be eaten in order that spirit might become fleshed and embodied. It was the serpent of rain, of wet, in the occult sense, as the alternating type was the serpent of heat, fire, spirit, or the head of the hawk.
This was the dragon that taught Fo-hi how the sexes were divided. The lizard interchanges with the dragon or serpent, and the Tasmanians have a legend of a lizard which divided the sexes. It is related or referred to by the Lubras with much significance and merriment. The Australians credit the lizard with being the discoverer of marriage. That is, the lizard, like the serpent, was the type of feminine pubescence. In one Australian myth a snake is said to sever the Tree of Life, so that it could walk off in human fashion as the male and female. In this the snake is the divider, because [p.338] it was a type of menstruation. The lizard, in Maori, is the moke. Moke signifies to be separated, set apart (during the period). Moku is the first person singular, the individual discreted by the moke, which divided sex at first. Maka, the lizard, is also the name of tattoo marks, and the lizard is an Egyptian ideograph of multiplying and fertility. This co-type of the serpent is also found among the Semites as the mythical lizard tzab. Vast length of life is attributed to it in the Arab proverbs, and its cunning or wisdom is frequently referred to. As Seb (Eg.) for the reptile, it has the name of Time. The gnostic Ophites knew the reason why they honoured the serpent. It was because the primal pair derived from it a knowledge of the mysteries. It was a symbol of that which divided the sexes, as the lizard was with the Tasmanians.
Casalis, in his book on the Basutos, speaking of their mysteries and the rites performed at the time of young-woman-making, says that 'Girls from twelve to thirteen years of age are also subjected to a rite, to which certain tribes give the name of circumcision, but which more resembles baptism. They are committed to the charge of certain matrons, whose duty it is to watch over them for several months; these women first lead them to a neighbouring stream, and then into the water, and sprinkle them. They then hide them separately in the turns and bends of the river, and, telling them to cover their heads, inform them that they will be visited by a large serpent. Thus these poor daughters of Eve have not forgotten the form taken by the arch enemy to deceive their mother. Their limbs are then plastered over with white clay, and over the face is put a little straw mask an emblem of the modesty which must henceforward rule their actions. Covered with this veil, and singing melancholy airs, they daily follow each other in procession to the fields, in order to become accustomed to the labours of agriculture, which, in that country, devolve especially on their sex; in the evening they bring back a small fagot of wood. Neither blows nor hard treatment are spared in the vain hope of better fitting them for the accomplishment of the duties of life. They frequently indulge in grotesque dances, and at those times wear, as a sort of petticoat, long bands composed of a series of rushes artistically strung together. The natives probably find that the rattling of this fantastic costume forms no disagreeable accompaniment to the songs and clapping of hands in which they indulge.'
The serpent is here the type of the period which arrives with feminine puberty, and is the teacher still of the human nakedness. Hence the symbolical petticoat made of rushes. The clay and the mask signify the transformation into womanhood, the slough of the snake being typically turned into a garment.
One of the rabbis relates that when the old serpent shed his [p.339] skin presently after the fall of man, the Creator made a garment of it to clothe Adam and Eve.
The Kaffir story of the girl who disregarded the custom of Ntonjane shows the serpent in relation to the pubescent period. When the girl came of age, instead of remaining the customary twelve days in seclusion, she was tempted by her companions to go with them and bathe in a stream. As they came out of the water they saw a snake, near their clothes, covered with black blotches. This the girl made a mock of, and scoffed at it, whereupon it grew angry and would not restore her mantle, but bit her and caused her to become of the same hideous colour as itself. She was cured and made beautiful as at first by being washed white with milk. The riddle is easy to read, according to the typology of the Two Truths. The fountain of milk was the sign of motherhood, a natural prototype of the white crown, which was the symbol of the second truth or Time.
The serpent's visit is responsible for various stories like the following: The wife of Publius Scipio was barren for many years, until she despaired of issue. One night when her husband was absent she found a large serpent in his place, and the soothsayers informed her that she would bear a child. A few days after she showed signs of conception, and in ten months (lunar) gave birth to the conqueror of Carthage.
The serpent which determines the chastity of priestesses, as in the Temple of Lanuvium, sixteen miles south of Rome, was that which proved they had not entered the period of gestation or earned the right to wear the double uraeus of the maternal crown. In short, they were not pregnant, and therefore not disqualified to serve as chaste virgins; this fact being revealed by the mystical serpent.
The serpent type of periodicity in its most hidden mystery and meaning may be seen in the Hindu sculptures. In these the nâga is portrayed at the back of the human figures, with its hooded crest overtopping and overlooking the human head. Sometimes it is single, at others the serpent has five heads. In one of these pictures the back of the body is turned towards the spectator, and the nâga snake, single-headed, is visibly proceeding out of the human body. The serpent's head towers over the human, and its tail is in the place of the Two Truths in their most secret significance, and of the dual phase of feminine periodicity. The serpent thus issuing, if five-headed, would denote the five days' flow; if nine-headed, the nine solar months of gestation; if ten-headed, the ten lunar or menstrual periods that make the nine solar months. In this picture the serpent is finally unwound to its last hiding-place, with the tail in the human tepht (Eg.), the hole of the snake, the ru (Eg.) of life, the abyss of [p.340] source, which was personified as Tep or Typhon, and reproduced by name in the Pueblo Ar-tufa. In the mysteries, the snake's hole and circle was the place of transformation. The initiates went through the passage and the process of the sloughing snake, the hefa (Eg.), and cried Eva, and were called the Hivim. Votan, as related by Brasseur de Bourbourg, tells how he, the son of the snake, entered a subterranean passage that ran to the very roots of heaven. This was 'un ahugero de colubra,' or snake's hole. The snake's hole or circle, represented by the coiling snake, was the Kuklos anakhes of the Egyptian mysteries called the 'circle of necessity' and the inevitable circle. This circle of the transformation of the snake was the period of gestation, and the Hindu sculpture reunites the serpent with the human origins. The sloughing of the serpent was performed in the stripping naked of the devotees to be clothed anew. Proclus states that in the most holy mysteries the mystae were divested of their garments to participate in a divine nature. The new robe was the garment of salvation, and it was accounted sacred to the last, never to be cast off till worn out; and if possible the mystae were buried in this raiment in which they had been divinely invested when their life was serpent-like renewed. The serpent was the great emblem of mystery in the Mysteries, and this picture will show us one reason why. It was adopted as a type of feminine pubescence on account of its sloughing and self-renewal, and the symbol of re-clothing and rebirth in the mysteries was its final phase.
On the sarcophagus of Seti I there is a picture of the serpent borne by nine gods in a line reaching from head to tail. This serpent of nine is nenuti, the cord, in which the elect souls, the reborn, are bound up for ever, and saved in the fields of heaven. The number is ideographic, and it makes the cord analogous to the collar with nine beads denoting childbirth. When the nachash (or tannim) was lifted up as the Saviour on the Cross, whether by the Hebrews in the wilderness or the Mexicans in their sacred processions, the dragon of darkness had passed out of its primal phase and become the good daemon, which was looked up to in the Temple of the Jews until the image was cast out by Hezekiah. The Pueblos still hold in reverence the great snake to whom Montezuma, Moses-like, commanded them to look for life. The dragon retained its character of good daemon with the Chinese, leaving the serpent to bear the curse of the eschatological change. Chinese genii, when their earthly work is done, still [p.341] ride to heaven on the dragon's back. With the Japanese likewise, the dragon is reverenced as an Agatho-Daemon. Saturn also was designated the 'dragon of life.' The good dragon or worm was worshipped at Poictiers, as an Agathodaemon, under the name of the 'Good St. Vermine.' This change may be traced to two causes one of these being the modification of ideas concerning phenomena, as man himself began to slough off his original darkness. As an illustration of this change, we may quote the Assyrian Atalu, which is the name for eclipse; a reduced form of the Akkadian an-talu for heaven-darkness.
In Egyptian atalu denotes something that is unreal, fantastic, and a sham. The Akhekh dragon of darkness and eclipse is the determinative. This once typified the devouring monster of the dark, whose coming was looked upon with awe. But the talu or darkness that stole, swallowed and ran off with the moon, was discovered to be only a shadow after all, hence atalu the fantastic, the sham, the unreal. The deluder of the early time, whether as the shadow of night or eclipse, is now known to be a delusion. Having passed through them so often with impunity, men find out the hollowness of their bugbears and bogies. At first when the sun and moon went down they were swallowed by the devouring darkness. The time came when it was known that the same sun and moon were reborn of the darkness, and thus men began to see through it. We find in the Eireks-Saga that when Eirek journeyed toward Heaven he came to a bridge of stone that was guarded by a dragon whose jaws he boldly entered; whereupon he found himself in Paradise. He had passed through death typified by the dragon of darkness. So was it with the darkness of eclipse.
We see that when men discovered their fears of the darkness were vain the old Kak was turned into a laughing-stock. The khakh in Egyptian is the old man, the fool, the blind. The kaka in Sanskrit is a cripple. This is the Scottish 'Chache-blind-man,' who cannot catch anybody in his darkness; the Welsh cachgi, for the fool and coward; the gec and gouk, who are made fools of on Old Fool's Day. The kak (darkness) being thrown off like a nightmare, the French cauchemar; it was made fun of in various pastimes, such as Blind-Man's-Buff, and sending the gouk on the Fool's errand. The deposed potentate was looked upon as the literally 'damned Fool.' It was the humour of the young world in the springtime of the year to laugh at the old Kak or age, or the cast-off darkness of winter, and make mocking grimaces behind its back and dramatize its impotency. The Jack-o'-Lent was one form of the old Kak. In Franconia the puppet that was pelted was an image called 'the Death,' and the sport was the 'Expulsion of Death.'
The second cause of the change was in the translation of the elementary types out of mere Space into Time where they became intelligencers to men. The Hurons called the evil principle the grandmother of the good. She is identical with Typhon and Tiamat the dragon. This old dragon of darkness and mother of the brood of evil in the Abyss, the representative of discord, disorder, or chaos, was transformed into the goddess of the Great Bear, and turned into the primordial type of time above as the 'mother of the revolutions.' In this process the dragon changed colour. The Akhekh monster was black. The Beast with the seven heads, in Revelation, is the red dragon. So in Egypt Typhon was said to be of a red complexion. It was the ruddy dragon of the pharaon on the British standard. The red dragon that was likewise portrayed on the Roman standard, which Ammianus Marcellinus calls the Purpureum Signum Draconis. In like manner the earliest nocturnal sun was black, the later, as Atum, was red. The one had the hue of the black race; the other of the red Adam.
One of the inscriptions which may be termed the 'New Creation by Ra,' actually shows us the scene of conversion. In this the old serpents, who were the enchanters, deluders of Chaos, 'perverted through their Intelligence,' are turned into the serpents of Seb (Kronus), who is commanded to see that they do keep time henceforth as true intelligencers to men. Time was the antithesis of disorder, falsehood, and dissolution. The Osirian in the other world rejoices that there is Time in his body; as the opposite of negation, non-existence, and return to the elementary condition of chaos. In the Bundahish the Dark Spirit meets and joins hands with the Bright Spirit in the Twilight, and thus becomes a co-creator of Time in the round of night and day. The serpent of darkness that lies in the 'Bend of the Great Void,' the solar north, was a part of the circle of time in which the dark of night is as necessary as the light of day. Hence the Apophis, though wounded and maimed, overcome and fettered fast to the bottom, could never be destroyed. This is the Midgard serpent which Thor fished for and nearly broke in two as he lifted one part of it so high aloft; the coiler round and encompasser of the earth, but only just long enough to make ends meet with the touch of head and tail. This being the primal form of the serpent it will naturally come to an end in the final destruction at the last day, when the deluder and devourer of the dark will not be resuscitated in the world of universal and eternal light, where Time shall be no more.
In a Buddhist account of Indra, the god is represented as pursuing the monster Râhu with his thunderbolt and ripping open his belly so that the heavenly bodies may pass through whenever he swallows [p.343] them. This same monster of darkness or dragon of eclipse was depicted as being cut in two halves by Indra, and the head and tail of the dissevered devourer were then set in heaven as time-symbols to represent the ascending and descending nodes of the moon on which the lunar eclipses depend. Drummond observes that from the most remote antiquity the two points at which the ecliptic and the moon's orbit intersect each other, were called the 'head and tail of the Dragon.' The Hindus tell the tale of the monster Râhu (our dragon of darkness and eclipse), who smuggled himself into the presence of the gods of light and drank the amrit-juice of immortal life. He was cut in two but could not be destroyed by Indra, and the two halves were set as signs in heaven at the place of the lunar eclipses. Three months were assigned to the blind serpent, likewise to the dragon in the Abyss of the waters, our winter, and at the end of that time it was cut in two by the young solar god, or by the goddess who annually reproduced the light in the lunar mythos; the two halves being figured in heaven as a type of time at the place of division, the equinox.
Another form of the divided monster is extant in the Chinese 'bobtailed Dragon' that now represents the typhonian idea, and is connected with typhoons and storms. 'The Bobtail Dragon is passing,' say the Cantonese when a violent tempest goes overhead. This head and tail of the divided dragon appear in a Tongan myth. The divinity or demon Hikuleo (hiku is the tail of a reptile) is said to dwell in the land of Bulotu, far out in the Western Sea, where the Egyptians have placed Typhon the serpent-tailed in the sign of Scorpio. When Hikuleo goes away on his journeys he is said to leave his tail behind to watch over Bulotu, so that he is aware of all that goes on in his absence. Typhon placed at the western equinox has his tail in the underworld and his head in the upper. Hikuleo used to be dominant but (like the Hebrew deity) he carried off the firstborn sons of the chief Tongan families so fast that the gods of light Maui and Tangaloa had to interfere. Hikuleo was treated precisely in the same manner as the Akhekh dragon in the Ritual. Tangaloa and Maui seized Hikuleo and fastened him down with a strong chain, one end of which was attached to heaven, the other to earth. This is a form of the Akhekh dragon of darkness to whom the best and dearest of human beings were offered up in sacrifice of old, and the fastening down of Hikuleo by Maui and Tangaloa agrees with the chaining of the Akhekh dragon to the bottom of the lake of darkness, by the sun-god, when the hero of light was personified as an opposing power, the eternal conqueror who cut the dragon of darkness through and through, and thus deposited the typical two halves in heaven as Caput and Cauda Draconis.
The head and tail of the dragon which represented the ascending and descending nodes of the moon are also imaged as the two serpents that were strangled by the infant Hercules as soon as he was born. His nest or cradle (the Egyptian apt) was denoted by the twining serpents of the caduceus, the head and tail of which were called the points of the ecliptic. In like manner the dragon of night or devouring crocodile of the west and of Earth, that once merely opened its jaws of darkness and swallowed the stars, was turned to account as a starry type of periodic time. In an ancient Egyptian planisphere the Crocodile sign appears at the place of the autumn equinox, close to the Scorpion, lying across six decans of the zodiaci. There the same type that once symbolised the swallowing Earth in the west takes its starry shape in heaven. Thus we find a form of the dragon stationed at the point of both equinoxes. Now the Jews have a devil or devouring demon 'Ketef' the terror of the chamber, whose name is derived from ketf, to cut and split. Ketef rules between the dark and day, and he is the symbol of a division of the year and divides its course into two. His reign is between June 17 and July 9, the time of the summer solstice. Ketfi (Eg.) is the snake, a reptile, a form of the monster. The Egyptian reptile serves to identify the Ketef with the Hindu Ketu (the demon Sainhikeya) the dragon's tail personified. Here we have the dragon at the place where the Egyptian year commenced at the time of the summer solstice with the rise of the inundation. At that point in the planisphere the Kamites had figured the dragon of the waters as the constellation Hydra. Now, if we take our stand with the earliest observers of the heavens, say, in equatorial Africa, the first fact revealed by the darkness is that the whole starry vast above is slowly crawling round and round in one general movement like a serpent. Hence the Egyptians represented the universe as a serpent with variegated scales, which denoted the stars. The motion of the setting and rising stars heaving, as it were, along the horizon, increased the likeness to the serpent's motion. Also, when above, it was the serpent of air and fire, and below the serpent of water and earth; and so we have a serpent of the two primary elements of life, air and water, and of the four elements to which the serpent is afterwards related. Thus, we see the egg of the year being emaned by two serpents, which shows the cycle of two halves, whether reckoned by the two solstices (Draconis and Hydra) or by the double serpent of the equinox. Closer looking would reveal the fact that there were two turning points at the poles which are seen low down on the horizon North and South.
Mr. Proctor has remarked, that when the north polestar was Alpha Draconis, the southern was most probably the star Eta Hydri [p.345] and certain to have been in the constellation Hydra. On this dual pivot of the dragon the starry heavens revolved. Such would be the first fact observable, therefore the first fact observed and registered in the double dragon. In accordance with exactly such a beginning we find in a Miztec myth that the commencement of creation was with two snakes, the lion-snake and the tiger-snake. These two gods were the origin of all the gods. When these two gods became visible in the world, they made, in their knowledge and omnipotence, a great rock, upon which they built a very sumptuous palace, a masterpiece of skill, in which they made their abode upon earth. On the highest part of this building there was an axe of copper, the edge being uppermost, and on this axe the heavens rested. This rock and the palace of the gods were on a mountain in the neighbourhood of the town of Apoala, in the province of Mizteca Alta. The rock was called the 'place of heaven,' there the gods first abode on earth, living many years in great rest and content, as in a happy and delicious land, though the world still lay in obscurity and darkness. The mythical rock or mount will be described hereafter; but it has been suggested in a previous volume that the serpent and Z-sign on the Scottish stones were figures of the solstices united with the mount of the equinoxes; and this is confirmed by the double dragon or serpent of the North and South.
It must not be supposed that a science of astronomy was made out by primitive man, or that the earliest observations of the stars could not have been made in equatorial or tropical regions, because the southern heavens are comparatively vacant, and have but few humanly-figured constellations. The first observers looking to the southern hemisphere were not astronomers, nor was astronomy invented, or the star-groups composed straight off any more than the hieroglyphics or the alphabet. The present writer once heard a clever person say in public, 'I wish I knew the man who invented the alphabet.' In course of time the doctrine of evolution will banish all such non-comprehensive notions of the past, and its slow castings and deposits of the human progress. The paucity of ancient constellations around the southern pole would be an inevitable result of the few observations that were made at first, which were increased as the observers came farther north into Ethiopia on their way towards Egypt. This offers good evidence that the beginnings were equatorial or tropical, and that the northern heaven was crowded only as the observations increased in the course of ages by a people looking northward, who first named Khepsh (Kush or Habesh) as their north. Enough that the encircling serpent, the symbol of eternal going round, is figured at both poles, the two centres of the total starry revolution. That these two polar pivots were connected as the two fixed points about which the serpent coiled, [p.346] is doubly shown by the two separate serpents being twinned as a figure of the equinoxes, and the dragon of darkness severed in twain at one of these places to represent the lunar nodes. Herschel, speaking of the Egyptian planisphere, said the heavens were scribbled over with interminable snakes. These resolve, however, into the two of the beginning, Hydra south and Draconis north, and the two are the one type in two aspects. Hydra is the serpent of wet, of moisture, the first element of life; the dragon of the north, the winged dragon, the fiery dragon, the original of all the dragons of flame and drakes of fire, was the symbol of the second element of life, the breath, heat or fire that vivifies. This double dragon of water, and fire still survives in the 'Green Dragon' (water) and the 'Red Dragon' (fire) of our public house signs. In the Ritual the four quarters are associated with the serpent of seven heads. 'I am the Four Quarters, the first of the Seven Uraei in their transformations in the West. The Great one shining with his body as a God is Sut.' The seven uraei of the west answer to the seven-headed serpent or dragon. In this passage Sut is not the evil one, and the seven uraei are typical of life, not of death. A serpent with four heads and one with four wings are found to stand for the Egyptian four corners of the earth. A serpent Apta, whose name denotes the corner or end of the world, is depicted with four mystic figures joined to it, this means the serpent of the four corners. The serpent Hapu is four-headed, and Hapu also denotes the corners and the secret places. The Great Temple of Mexico, according to Acosta, was built of large stones, after the pattern of snakes tied one to another, and was called Coatepautli, the Snake-Circuit. The four cardinal points were also indicated by the Mexicans, with four knots twisted in a serpent that formed the circumference. In like manner the vast seven-headed nâgas formed the circuit of the Temple of Nagkon-Wat. 'Every angle of every roof is adorned with a grim seven-headed serpent' with the crest feathered; and 'every entablature is adorned with a continuous row of these seven-headed deities.'*
*As the present writer maintains the thesis of the inner African origins, it may be pointed out that this Temple of the Seven-headed Serpent is in Cambodia, to the north of the sacred 'Sweet-water'; that the seven-headed dragon will be found in the northern heaven, and that in the inner African languages the name for seven is—
|sambodia, in Mimboma,||tsamboadi, in Musentandu,||sambat, in Runda,|
|tsambodia, in Nyombe,||samboade, in Kisama,||sambids, in Kanyika, etc.|
|tsambodia, in Basunde.|
The constellation Hydra, the dragon of the waters, offers another perfect illustration of the transference of a type out of the vague stage of mythology into its definite phase of time. In Egypt the heliacal [p.347] rising of Hydra announced the very beginning of the inundation. Theon was right in reporting that the constellation Hydra was so directly connected with the Nile that it bore even the name of the deluge. Hi, or hiu (Eg.), signifies to inundate. In the vague stage the dragon is the dark concealer of treasures, water included. In the Vedas the dragon of darkness is the typical keeper and restrainer of the waters. In Egypt, and still further inland, the dragon in its starry stage became a timekeeper that announced when the waters were let loose, and the downward flow began. In the vague stage the coming light would put the dragon darkness to flight. In the definite stage of time, the dragon has its starry type also, in which it rises before the sun, and when the old evil dragon was fabled to flee in the presence of the day-god, the good dragon as the starry Hydra rose up to announce the setting free of the waters as the friend of man. But the dragon that kept the wealth of waters concealed was primary, and these were set free at midsummer, at which time the people of various lands celebrated the victory over the evil dragon of the waters. 'It was the custom at Burford within living memory,' says Dr. Plot, to 'make a dragon and convey it up and down the town in triumph along with a giant on Midsummer's Eve.' Midsummer Eve's celebration of the defeat of the dragon was continued at Chester till a late period. The 'Beasts' were destroyed during the Commonwealth but were very literally renewed with the restoration of Charles II as the ancient models had been broken. This festival in Britain belonged to the worship of the starry Baal, and the re-beginning of a solstitial year; that of the inundation in Egypt. This was the day on which the spell was broken, when the mountains opened and the captive white women, maidens, princesses, the waters, cows, and other kinds of treasure were once more wrested from the vanquished dragon.
At last the 'elementaries' and primitive types in what may be termed the cult of darkness became the servants of the god of light in the solar mythos; and they who once warred in fierce opposition to man as the seven adversaries, now fight for Ra against the darkness and every phase of evil. The ancient genetrix, Typhon, who brought forth her brood of Chaos in the Abyss, brings forth the young sun-god. The lioness spends her fiery fury against the wicked. The scorpion stings on behalf of gods and men. Serk, the scorpion goddess, is the guardian of the sun, and keeper of the chained Apophis. So it is said of the scorpion-men in the Akkadian myth of Izdubar, 'At the rising of the Sun and the setting they guard the Sun.' The lion and scorpion occupy two of the four cowers in their starry shape. 'I have come,' says the Osirian, 'like the Sun [p.348] through the gate of the Sun-goer, otherwise called the Scorpion,' recognizing the scorpion as the sign of sunset or autumn equinox. The ape and jackal are the guides of the sun on its two roads.
The serpent symbol of destroying power is elevated to be worn on the frontlets of the gods, where the most deadly becomes the most divine. It is said of each serpent emitting balls of fire in the Hades, 'Its flame is for Ra.' Its fatal defiance was now on the side of the gods. The fire-breathing serpents of the Egyptian Phlegethon darting death are the guardians and keepers of the gates of heaven. In this process of transformation seven of the elementaries whose titles identify them with the seven wicked spirits of the Akkadian Hymns, appear in the Egyptian Ritual as the seven spirits associated with the Great Bear, that is, the constellation of Typhon, the genetrix who had been the dragon, crocodile, or hippopotamus of the Abyss.
Here they have been promoted from the elementary phase to become the 'Seven Great Spirits in the service of their Lord,' and the seven spirits of the solar Ra. These seven then in the course of evolution have become spirits, genii, or gods, as the servants of Osiris or Ra, the later god; just as the seven Amshaspands became the seven spirits of Ahura-Mazda in Persia, and the seven spirits were considered to be the seven manifestors of Agni in India. This shows a re-adaptation and extension of the type from the primordial idea of the seven evil or inimical influences to that of the seven starry spirits, seven chieftains, of whom it is said, 'These same are behind the constellation of the Thigh, Ursa Major, of the Northern Heaven.' They are now called the 'followers of Osiris' who 'burn the wicked souls of his enemies,' the 'givers of blows for sins.' These seven spirits are Amset, Hapi, Tuautmutf Kabhsenuf, Maaentefef, Karbukef and Har-Khent-Skhem. Four of them are the established genii of the four quarters, and all seven were appointed as chieftains of seven different constellations, and, finally, the seven planets, as we shall find them in the Bundahish; although the whole seven are not always so well defined as the four.
Kefa, the beast in the Abyss, became the goddess of the Great Bear and mother of the revolutions or cycles of time. Sevekh did duty as her dog (Lesser Bear, or Dragon). Anup, the jackal, was developed into Sut-Mercury, the announcer of the inundation and the guide of the sun and souls through the underworld. The ape became Kafi-Shu, the god of breath and soul, to each of whom a constellation was assigned, beginning with the four quarters.
In the 'Chapter of stopping the Crocodiles' which come to take the mind of a spirit from him (presence of mind) in Hades, the swallowers [p.349] are eight in number; and in the 17th chapter the seven spirits, or genii, who are stationed behind the constellation of Ursa Major in the northern heaven, are called the crocodiles. According to my interpretation we have to look on the seven stars of the Lesser Bear as representative of these elementary gods, who were seven as the heads of the dragon, but who were also one as a constellation represented by Sevekh. For example, at the centre of the zodiac of Denderahi we see the hippopotamus and the dog, jackal, or fox. These two were a form of Sut-Typhon. 'The Little Bear,' says Dupuis, 'was also known as the Fox.' The Egyptian fox was the fenekh-type of Sut, the fox-dog. Thus the two Bears represent the mother and son at the centre of all. In Cicero's Aratus the 'Little Bear' is called Cynosura, not from the Dog's Tail, but as the dog of the hinder-part, North, and the opposite to Sothis, the dog of the front or South. The dog, wolf, or jackal, is the Seb that stands opposite the Great Bear. Moreover, the Arabs call the star Alpha in Draco, the wolf (Dzib), or jackal, as well as Thuban, the dragon. Thus the wolf, Seb (Eg.), and the dragon meet in one constellation, and Sevekh, whose name signifies no. 7, is the son of Typhon, and his type is the crocodile or dragon. Now Mr. Proctor, the astronomer, considers the Lesser Bear to have once been a portion of the dragon which has been made a separate constellation. This view is corroborated by the mythos; by the figure of the polar dragon, and the type of the seven-headed dragon when this is interpreted by the crocodile. The crocodile was one form of the old genetrix, and the eight crocodiles represent her and her sevenfold progeny.
In the Book of Enoch Leviathan (the Arabic Tannim for Draco) is called a female monster, and Behemoth is a male, whereas the Egyptian Bekhmut is the Great Bear (hippopotamus). But, in spite of any shifting, the double type of Sut-Typhon remains in the Great Bear and the seven-headed dragon. Proclus says 'the Pole of the World is called by the Pythagoreans the Soul of Rhea.' This was Rerit or Typhon in Egypt. Here, then, in the seven-headed dragon of the pole we have the Tan of darkness and eclipse with seven stars for its heads called 'seven crowns' in Revelation, taking a starry shape by night in what was assuredly one of the first figures set in heaven. One group of seven stars represents the mother, and one her son, or her sevenfold progeny, as the seven-headed dragon.
In Old Deccan Days the narrator says: 'All the Cobras in my grandmother's stories were seven-headed. This puzzled us children, and we used to say to her, "Granny, are there any seven-headed cobras now? for all the cobras we see that the conjurors bring round have only one head each." To which she used to answer, "No, of course there are no seven-headed cobras now, that world is gone. But you see [p.350] each cobra has a hood of skin, that is the remains of another head." Although we often looked for seven-headed cobras we never could find any of them.'
In Sanskrit the nâga snake is synonymous with the mystical number seven. There is no seven-headed serpent in Nature, but there is a polar dragon whose coilings round and round on itself; when a-Draconis was the polestar, were made at the pivotal centre of motion in the planisphere, and with the Lesser Bear for its seven heads we can identify the seven-headed dragon of the mythos.
The natural genesis of the seven-headed cobra, nâga, dragon, crocodile, or Akhekh has (together with other elementaries) now been traced from its birth in mere darkness to the transformation into a constellation with seven stars for its heads. And this process of evolution will further explain the reversion of the starry dragon in its fall to the black lurid monster of the beginning, the Akhekh dragon of the deep.
The Sesha-Nâga of India begins in the dragon of darkness. Its black body and black tongue especially tell of the Akhekh of night. But it is clothed with jewels, as heaven is with stars, one of which is larger and more lustrous than all the rest, as if it might represent the polestar a-Draconis. The black Jaga-Naut is sometimes depicted in the form of the seven-headed serpent. Sesha has seven heads which identify it with the dragon of the seven stars. It is also the seven-headed serpent of eternity. As Ananta it typifies the vague infinite. Its jewels are the variegated scales which bespangle the Egyptian symbol of the Infinite or the serpentining universe. The dragon that was cast out of heaven had been the base of all beginning, and in India it was continued as a foundation of the later solar creation. The serpent with seven heads forms the support of Vishnu in the Abyss of the watersi when he dreams or muses in the intervals of creation, with the lotus springing from his navel, and Brahma issuing forth to effect his thought anew. In this picture the seven-headed Sesha is a figure of mythology akin to those dragons of the foreworld which preceded the earth of man; it represents the pre-solar creation, now sunken below the waters; the leavings, remains, residue of the remotest past. Sesha signifies that which has been rejected, cast, or left out, as was the bygone dragon of Earth and of Heaven, buried as the forgotten foundations of later worlds.
The Great Bear, the constellation of Typhon, still continues the name of Tep or Teb (Eg.) in the star Dubhe. In like manner the Arabs have preserved the typhonian character of Draconis in calling the old polestar Thuban or Al-Thuban the dragon; the Carib Tupan, the god of darkness and thunder. This name further identifies the [p.351] star and constellation with Sut-Typhon depicted at the centre of the planisphere.
Not by chance nor without meaning was the Great Pyramid of Giza built with its northern shaft pointing like a telescopic tube to focus the star a-Draconis, either at the time of its coming round again or with the knowledge of its return to that point where it would be once more the polar pivot of starry motion.
There is an occult connection suggested by the monuments between the star Sothis, the Dog, and the star of some end of things called the final judgment. It is a star high up in heaven only shown by its descending rays. The Judge is represented seated on his lofty throne, and this star in the apex of heaven is the Star of Judgment, or, when interpreted, of the great time-cycle. That was the polestar, which, as the eye of the dragon, was a-Draconis.
One type of the typhonian genetrix, the goddess of the Great Bear, is the rhinoceros Rerit (Eg.) the unicorn, and it has now to be shown that the unicorn was a form of the mythical dragon. Horn is a primeval type of foundation and of duration. The earliest weapons and implements were fashioned ready to hand as horns, tusks, and teeth. The supreme value set upon horn can be estimated by its adoption as the symbol of supremacy. The horn of the rhinoceros, a type of Typhon, is an inner African sceptre of sovereignty. 'Beings prevailing by the hardness belonging to their head' (such as was symbolised by horn and beak) are spoken of in the Ritual.
The equator as Apta (Eg.) is the horn-point of the world. This was a typical expression for the highest point, at the end or in the beginning. 'The Horn' was likewise a typical point in the Babylonian astronomy. Thus 'a dark Cloud covered the Horn' 'owing to rain the horn was not visible.' Venus in the ascendant is said to be 'on the Horn.'
If we apply this horn-point to the northern heaven the pole is the horn-point in the planispherei. Thus the horn and the pivot on which all turned round are identical at the pole. There, the horn of Sut-Typhon typified the primeval pillar of the heavens, the foundation and support of all, at the centre of all; and it is there we have to look for the origin of the mythical unicorn.
It has been argued by some that the unicorn is a lunar emblem. But, the genesis of these types is always found to be in accordance with natural fact; it is only false theory that needs to twist the moon's two horns into one. True, the moon is renewed from the horn or horned phase, but the type did not originate with the moon, nor is it limited to the moon. The moon was double-horned in the past, as now, and cannot be the unicorn.
The unicorn is found on the monuments with the single horn in [p.352] front, and the tail of the typhonian animal behind, as an image of the dual Sut-Typhon ì, who is continually identified with the horn and its hardness. In the Ritual Sut is called a deity who has power over the head to confer hardness for resisting blows on the day of cutting off heads. As an animal the rhinoceros was the true unicorn; the African species described by Pausanias as the Ethiopian Bull, which they call Nose-horn (Ρινόκερως). This is the Egyptian Rumakh (and Rerit) a type of Typhon as the Great Bear. The Rumakh or Remakh, the single-horned, apparently supplied the 'lem' of our dilemma, which denotes the double-horn. Typhon is not only represented as Nose-horn, for she has a phallus for her Nose-horn, which is identical with the pole. The unicorn as a rhinoceros, or water-horse, also accounts for the fabulous animal of heraldry being a horse with the horn of the swordfish stuck in its forehead to indicate the water-type of horse. This was the way in which the prototypes were continued where the original animal did not exist.
Typhon in Egypt and Tiamat in Akkad represented the foundation of all things in the abyss of darkness and the water of the beginning. In a scene depicted on a Babylonian cylinder the conflict of Bel and the Dragon of Chaos is the subject and Tiamat is portrayed as a chimera with a beak, crest, and wings, and a single horn. She reappears as one of the wicked spirits that war against the moon, with the same single horn. The unicorn was therefore the type of Tiamat as it is of Typhon.
Layard copied an Assyrian scene which shows a worshipper adoring a winged unicorn-bull. These are accompanied by the sun radiate, the moon crescent, and the seven stars, not the seven planets or there would be nine. When they meant the planets they figured five stars, not seven. The seven stars we claim as the constellation Haptoring, so prominent in the Bundahish and other Persian scriptures; but totally unrecognised by writers on mythology.
A representation found at Pterion, in Asia Minor, shows a goddess supposed to be Anaitis, standing on the back of a leopard-like animal holding in her hand a crescent-crowned staff. She is accompanied by the unicorn, and has an attendant who stands on the back of a dog. Here the unicorn typifies the primordial genetrix, and the dog, her son.
The rhinoceros or Great Bear is the unicorn north, but this had two characters—North and South, the north being the hind part, the south the fore part of the heaven. These two agree with the dual type of Sut-Typhon as the unicorn the only one ever 'endowed [p.353] with a wonderful horn which it would sometimes turn to the left and right, at others raise and then again depress.'
Because the horn was an emblem of foundation and duration, and the Unicorn was placed at the centre of the northern heaven as a support, the heraldic unicorn remained the typical supporter in coats of arms. The fact is that both the unicorn and lion were represented by the old Typhon at the polar centre, for these are two of her types. She was the unicorn in front and the lion in her lower part; she is also portrayed with the head of a lion. Consequently the national arms of England contain a copy of the earliest figures set in heaven by the Kamite typologists. Moreover the ancient Horn-Book was ornamented with a rude drawing of St. George and the Dragon, which as Tiamat and Typhon first wore the horn. The Horn-Book or 'A, B, C,' thus contained the A. B. C. of the book of beginnings. One mode of representing the central support was by means of the unicorn portrayed with its horn struck into, or pointing to, a tree. The tree signifies the pole; the celestial roof-tree. The author of the Great Dionysiak Myth has well shown how common in symbolism is the 'Unicorn and Tree.' The tree which was guarded by the dragon in one form of the mythos is supported by the unicorn in the other. No better illustration can be found in Egypt, Assyria, or Greece than the one on the horn of Ulf which he has copied. The unicorn is depicted with a bird-headed serpent for its tail; this identifies it with the dragon, the Akhekh of darkness, and with Tiamat who has a beak, wings, and a single horn. The horn of the animal is thrust into the Tree. The dog appears beneath the unicorn. By the tree we identify the pole of the heaven; the dog is one with the Lesser Bear. This being the child of Typhon, the unicorn represents the genetrix herself with her dog in position as first guide and announcer in heaven.
The unicorn has but one large round eye, corresponding to its single horn. This prominent single eye of the unicorn regardant is as common as the horn and the tree. It is the eye of the picture that turns on the gazer in all directions; the eye of heaven at the centre of all. It is the polestar in the Dragon or the Bear, according to the period. We are expressly told that in figuring the serpent circle with the tail of the reptile in its mouth the Egyptians made the inner eye very conspicuous at the juncture and centre of the coil. It was essential to the symbol of the coiled-up snake, says Philo, that the eye should be visible inside the circle. This figure was represented in the planispherei, at the centre of all, by the seven-headed dragon turning round on its inner eye, fixed as the polar pivot of the starry revolutions.
The typology of the tree has yet to be traced and interpreted. Here it is affirmed that the mythical tree, like the pillar and the mount, is a type of the celestial pole. Lucian asserts that a virgin delivered the oracle at Delphi (whence the symbolic constellation Virgo), and a dragon spoke from under the tripod because of the constellation Draco among the stars. The tripod was also a form of the tree. The tree with seven branches appears as the tree of knowledge on the cylinders accompanied by the sun, moon, and seven stars. This is the tree of the serpent and the pair, male and female, as in the Book of Genesis.
The Assyrian Asherah-tree or grove is based on a central pillar or tree with seven heads or hoods of a conventionalised nâga-snake, which identifies it with the seven-headed nâga and the seven-headed dragon of the pole. In the nâga sculptures the Tree of the Mount (or Pole) is identified at the bottom by one tree, and at the top by another, and between the two there is a kind of ladder with a series of steps or stairs which ascend the tree in place of a stem. These denote the tree of the ascent, mount, or height, now to be considered as representing the pole.
In the Avesta the star-serpent is said to make a road between the sky (heaven) and earth. One type of this road was the mount; another the tree. These offered physical foothold and tangible means of ascent, and were applied on a vast scale. The primitive man climbed the tree in thought to attain the summit, just as Jack mounted the beanstalk. The tree of the pole is extant in Celebes, where the natives believe that the world is supported by the Hog, and that earthquakes are caused when the Hog rubs itself against the Tree. The hog (Rerit) was an Egyptian form of the typhonian genetrix, who, as the Great Bear, revolved about the pole (tree), and is here said to rub up against it.
At Ephesus they showed the olive and cypress grove of Leto, and in it the Tree of Life, to which the Great Mother clung in bringing forth her twin-born progeny. There also was the mount on which Hermes announced the birth of her twins, Diana and Apollo. The imagery is at root the same as the hog rubbing against the tree of the pole. The tree which the earliest people leaned against for mental support, and hung their signs of beseeching and tokens of gratitude upon, and garlanded with the flowers of spring, and fruits of harvest, or set alight with candles in imitation of the starry fires, was the tree of heaven, and it was the tree of heaven figuratively, because of the celestial pole at the fixed centre, on which their eyes [p.355] first rested to be followed by their thoughts; and by that tree, as up the mount of the north, they first ascended heavenward. The dragon revolving round the pole supplied the natural genesis of the serpent coiling and twining round the tree. The serpent and tree are twin, and inseparable. There is a serpent in the tree, an ugly beast without failings. The serpent in the fruit-tree is common in the Greek drawings. It has been found in Indian caves and Abyssinian temples. The serpent twined around a tree with fruit-bearing boughs is sometimes painted on Egyptian sarcophagi. So on the coins of Tyre we see the serpent coiled about the tree that is in fruit. At other times the tree with the serpent round it is but a bare stock or log, like the Yule-log of Christmas. The Caribees of Central America were found worshipping the fruit-bearing tree with the serpent dwelling in its branches. The earliest races, the African, still think some of the earliest thoughts of the human mind, still retain the most primitive types of expression, and with them the tree and serpent keep their primal place. The first divinity in the Dahoman pantheon is the serpent in its two characters. The next is the tree, represented by the bombax or cotton tree. The third is water. Bosman found the three chief types, divinities, or fetishes, worshipped by the Guinea negroes, were the serpent, the tree, and the water.
We are sometimes told that this or the other race of people have no mythology, no gods or goddesses, because their typology remains in the elementary phase, in which the water (heaven), the tree, the serpent, or other powers were unpersonified, and yet were representative, as in the primary phase of typology. Bruce describes the Shangallas as worshippers of the serpent, the tree, the moon, planets, and stars. Here the tree and serpent are identified with the stars. We shall find no simpler form of the beginnings that dawned out of the darkness. The water was the firmament at first. In this blue water above, the Tree of Life was figured at the point of commencement, and round the tree the starry serpent or dragon twined with its seven heads, or the crocodile Typhon revolved with her seven crocodiles of the Lesser Bear; the seven heads of the dragon. The great fetish or idol of Hwida, called 'Agoye,' is portrayed with the double serpent and seven lizards issuing from its head. One of the seven is in the centre climbing the pole or summit, represented by a dart. The new moon shows the celestial nature of the imagery. The largest lizard (or dragon) is revolving round the pole. This great lizard and the seven smaller ones answer perfectly to the genetrix of the seven stars and her sevenfold progeny (or the seven-headed dragon), who appear as the eight crocodiles in the region of the Great Bear.
An exhaustive investigation shows that these figures of the serpent, dragon, or lizard, are derivable from one common type, which served as foundation for them all. Not only is the type sole in its origin, but the mount of the north and the celestial tree are the same, as surely as the north pole is single and there alone can be seen the twin constellations of the seven stars, which Pythagoras called the 'Two Hands of Rhea.' Philo-Judaeus says, 'Of the flaming sword turning every way, it may be understood to signify the perpetual motion of the cherubim.' Clemens also observes of these, 'There are those golden images. Each of them has six wings; whether they typify the Two Bears, as some will have it, or, which is better, the Two Hemispheres.' In the Book of Genesis the two cherubim were placed to cover or guard the Tree of Life. Ezekiel describes the griffin or dragon as the covering cherub on the holy mountain of God, that moved amid the stones of fire as a personification of Phoenicia; that is, Kefa (Eg.) in the north, the hinder-part of heaven. 'Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth, and I have set thee. Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire;' that is, the starry constellations called precious stones. 'I will destroy thee, O covering cherub from the midst of the stones of fire.'
Ashtaroth was the goddess of the Sidonians, and she is portrayed on the coins, with her seven stars, and with the horns of the cow. As-Ta-Urt (Eg.) is the water-cow, the Isis-Ta-Urt of the Great Bear, who also has the cow's horns on the hippopotamus body; Ta-Urt, the water-horse, became As-Ta-Urt in the cow character. On the Assyrian cylinders the two cherubim appear in the shape of two gryphons. Upon other cylinders the Tree of Life is planted between two unicorns. These, therefore, are identical with the two gryphons and the two cherubim of the Hebrew Genesis, the two Bears, Sut-Typhon or Astarte and Sutekh. These are portrayed standing on either side of the Tree of Life in the act of covering, guarding, and protecting it. The tree is of the conventionalized palm type. This archaic tree is common, and it points to the original home of the palm. The Burmese have an enormous pair of griffins, one of which is portrayed with the horn of the rhinoceros on its nose, the other without. Their forefeet are elevated on a lofty pedestal.
Two powers of evil or deposed divinities were known to the Californian Indians near Trinity River as Omaha and Makalay. The first of these had the shape of a bear; the second is a fiend who has a single horn, like a unicorn. In the Egyptian Magic Papyrus Makai, the crocodile, is a son of Typhon, whose starry type is the Great Bear; and the bear and unicorn correspond to the two constellations of the pole or tree. Gryphon, griffin, hippogriff, harpy, or cherub, are all explained by the Egyptian kerub, a primordial type, or a model figure. 'My original country,' sings Taliesin, 'is the region of Cherubim;' the fons et origo and the place of repose at the centre of all. In the nâga sculptures of India two griffins or Garudalike gryphons, called Kinnaras, are sometimes portrayed on each side of the nâga-tree, corresponding to the two cherubim and the two griffins, or the two unicorns. The double dragon or gryphon also supports the tree of the cross on the sculptured stones of Scotland. The tree, which was that of Knowledge, was identified by the Druids with the Ogham pillar, and every science was considered to have emanated from this tree or pillar. The Irish had the Tree of Knowledge as the vine or fin, called the Fegee Fin. Fegee denotes the branching or branchy, like the Egyptian fekh or pekha for divisions. This vine was an Ogham, consisting of five circles instead of one. The five-branched vine was an equivalent for the hand or five digits of the Ogham reckoning. It is commonly supposed that our Oghams are not much older than the present era, but they were the direct representatives of gesture-language which continued digital counting into the domain of letters, the very link between figures and phonetics as well as between the pillar and the tree. The Red Dragon of the pole was the Red Dragon on the pole, tree, or Stauros of the British standard, as it was in Mexico and 'in the Wilderness.' 'Swiftly moving in the course of the sky, in circles, in uneven numbers, Druids and Bards unite in celebrating the Dragon.' The dragon was the leader in the mystic dance, as it was in heaven when a-Draconis was the polestar.
The dragon, in Welsh, denotes the leader. Uthyr Pendragon, called the father of Arthur, son of Arth, the Great Bear, was the Supreme Leader, as the dragon was in heaven. Another title of the Dragon Chief of the World is Menwyd, who is accredited with fabricating the Arkite means of traversing 'the Abyss by serpents joined together,' i.e., by cycles of time. The chief dragon, Menwyd, answers to the great serpent of the Abyss, the Mehnut, which has already been compared to the Australian Myndie. The word δράκων (dragon) denotes the keen-eyed seer. Dreg, in English, [p.358] means subtle, crafty; magical art is dreg (or dry), craft; Gaelic draoi, for the magician or sorcerer. The druic, in Cornish, is the dragon, and this was a form of the Druid as the wise seer, the draco. The root has many meanings all circling about their source in the serpent.
The Barddas describe the dragon as pursuing Keridwen the Fair around the stones of Kaer-Sidi. So Draconis would pursue the Great Bear (Arth), around the pole or mount, as it was figured, and this was the constellation of the Great Mother of the revolutions, the Draconian mother of the dragon-progeny. The dragon in the 'Pool of Pant,' is one with our Lambton Worm in the well. The heir of Lambton was fishing when he caught the worm on his hook, and in disgust flung it into a well hard by, still called the Worm Well. It resembled an eft. In the well the worm grew and grew until it grew out of it. It left the well, and by day it lay coiled around a rock in the middle of a stream, and at night it twisted itself around a neighbouring hill. And it grew and it grew until it could clasp the hill three times round. In like manner the Worm of Linton, which was slain by the Laird of Lariston, coiled and contracted itself so tightly round the hill as to leave the marks in spiral impressions. Both the hill and the coiling snake appear in the Ritual. 'Oh the very tall hill in Hades! The heaven rests upon it. There is a snake on it, Sati is his name. He is about seventy cubits in his coil.' The serpent Sati, or Bata, on the High Hill of Heaven, is called 'the Serpent of Millions of Years; millions of years in length in the quarter of the region of the Great Winds (the north and) the Pool of Millions of years. All the other gods return to all (their) places. Millions of years are following to him.'
This serpent is represented as coiling round and enveloping the hill, or mount of the north. It is the hill of the bat, or cavern toward the east; and Sebek (the crocodile-dragon, whose name is seven) is said to be on the hill as Lord of the Bat! 'Sebek is on the hill in his temple upon the edge.' Sebek having been the ancient 'Star-God' of darkness, who was turned into a later solar god. Taking the crocodile as the natural image of the seven-headed dragon of the mythos, we here find the beast with its temple on the mount that supports the heaven, primally the mount of the pole and of the first circle of time. This hill or mound, which stands for the mount of the north, of the seven stars and the dragon, was the sacred mound of the British Bards, one of whom invokes 'Hu with expanded wings,' and says, 'My voice has recited the death-song where the mound, representing the world, is constructed of stone-work.' This was at the 'Solemn festivity round Two Lakes (the Two Waters), where the sanctuary is earnestly invoking the gliding King before whom the fair one retreats upon the veil that covers the huge stones, [p.359] whilst the Dragon moves round over the places which contain vessels of the drink-offering,' in which description we find the 'Mountain of the World' and the Twin Lakes.*
* So, in the Chinese Bamboo Books it is said of the genetrix K'ing-too, that whenever she looked into any of the three Ho there was to be seen a dragon following her. One morning the dragon came with a picture and a writing, the substance of which was, 'The Red one has received favour of Heaven.' The red dragon having made K'ing-too pregnant, she gave birth to the yellow-pupilled Yaou, who corresponds to the British god Hu.
It is an artificial mound, as is that of Silbury Hill. The starry dragon moving round the mount was Draconis serpentining round the celestial pole. The mount was intended by the mound of stone or earth on the top of which the dragon-flag, the magical magnum sublatum, was unfolded by the Druids with the figure of the great red dragon on it, the type of a deity that preceded Hu, the solar god.
Silbury Hill is a stupendous cone containing 13,558,809 feet of earth. Sir R. C. Hoare says: 'This artificial hill covers the space of five acres and thirty-four perches of land.' It measures 2,027 feet round its base, runs up 170 feet perpendicularly, and the top is 165 feet in diameter, which, according to Stukeley's measurement, is the exact diameter of Stonehenge. North-east of Avebury is the 'Hakpen' Hill, a natural mound, or head of the dragon. Still north of Silbury Hill is the artificial dragon (or serpent) the figure of which, as copied by Stukeley, Duke, and others, corresponds exactly to the dragon of the pole in an Egyptian planispherei; and it has now to be suggested that this lofty mound, with its serpent or dragon, is another image of the celestial mount of the pole. The mythical mount was the initial point of the geocentric system of astronomy, the earth-centre of motion before it was known that the earth itself was a rotating and revolving globe. Colonel Drax, who very carefully opened Silbury Hill under the direction of the Duke of Northumberland with a company of Cornish miners, found some remains of oak wood in the earth, and he fancied the mound might have been raised over a Druidic oak tree. The author of Druidical Temples of the County of Wilts considered the bits of oak discovered were the remains of one entire bole or log, and he tells us, from his own observations, that heart of oak immured in chalk is almost imperishable. The temple of 'the Great Tree' was a very ancient institution that had been continued in Babylon from time immemorial, and the tree and mount are identical as figures of the pole. The evidence all points to Silbury as being the mound of the tree or pole. The name of sil agrees with the Egyptian ser or tzer, which was the typical hill of the horizon especially designated the ser (or sel) as the bury, or the 'Burial Place.' Thus the mythical Tzer Hill was the [p.360] Egyptian Silbury, the mount of the burial place which may have surrounded the pile as the graveyard does the church.
A serpentine earthwork near St. Peter's River, Iowa, is a conical and truncated mound 60 feet in diameter at the base, and 18 feet high, erected on a raised platform or bottom. It is surrounded by a circle 365 feet in circumference. Round this circle there is an embankment in a triple coil 2,310 feet in length. This is in the shape of a serpent of eighteen feet diameter at the centre, and diminishing proportionately at the head and tail. The Mexicans carved the feathered rattle-snake encircling a column of basalt in ascending spirals. About this mount or mound, tree or pole, the dragon or serpent coiled and kept eternal watch around. As the seven-headed revolver about the polestar which was its own eye, it was the good dragon. Hesiod describes the terrible serpent that watches the all-golden apples lying in a cavern of the dark earth at its furthest extremity. This was the dragon watching in the northern heaven. The serpent twining round and guarding the apple-tree of the Hesperides is portrayed on a Greek vase in the British Museum.
The guardianship of the dragon or serpent was so ancient in Egypt that the fire-breathing uraei which protect the pylons of Paradise were almost as common as the Greek 'border-pattern' is now. It is the main object of my work to trace these types from first to last, though the end of some of them will seem ludicrous. But the dragon that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides and turned tempter instead of protecting the tree in Eden, the dragon that fulminates fire to defend the portals and fruit-tree of heaven in the monuments, survives in the English snapdragon. Snab (Eg.) is fire (German, schnapps, spirit), and the snab-dragon is the fire-dragon or dragon of spirit-fire, from whom the forbidden fruit continues to be filched at Christmas in the shape of raisins soaked in a flaming phlegethon of burning gin.
According to all primitive traditions the dragon and griffin were the appointed keepers of the hidden treasures on the mountain of the gods; the mount that interchanges with the tree. The hyperborean legends tell of the griffins that guard the gold. The dragon of darkness is described as gloating with lidless eye over its treasury of starry gems and other precious things. These were seen to peep and peer out of the gloom with their live sparkles of lustre at night. And when gold was discovered and made use of, the wealth of stars or sunlight eclipsed by the dragon would be described as golden. In the same way heaven was a place of precious stones, and these were in the keeping of the dragon of [p.361] darkness, under its open-eyed starry type, which had superseded the blind monster of chaos.
In many lands the serpent has been looked upon as the curator of supernatural treasures of knowledge and the type or medium of communicating wisdom more than mortal. So much so, that one mode of obtaining this was to eat the serpent, or a part of it, and drink the dragon's blood. Philostratus in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana asserts that the natives of Hindustan and Arabia ate the heart and liver of serpents for the purpose of acquiring a knowledge of the language and thoughts of animals.*
* When vaccination was first introduced into India, the country-folk held that those who were vaccinated partook of the nature of the cow (vach), and were more cowardly than other people.
So, when Sigurd the solar hero was roasting the heart of the dragon Fafnir, he tried it with his finger to see if it was done, then he put his finger into his mouth and accidentally tasted the blood of the dragon. Whereupon his eyes and his ears were opened and he understood what the birds sang and the swallows chattered to each other. 'There thou sittest, Sigurd, roasting Fafizir's heart; eat it thyself and become the wisest of men.'[258a] The temptation of Eve is here repeated by the swallows in place of the serpent. Then Sigurd ate the heart and became a god in power, the most famous of men, learned in all runes, the master of magical arts. A version of the Kamite original of these stories is found in the Tale of Setnau. In this there is a precious book of wisdom spoken of, which was written by the hand of Taht himself. It contained the divine mysteries and charms so potent that if two pages of it, those on the back, were recited they would charm heaven and earth, the abyss, the mountain, and the seas. 'Thou shalt know what relates to the birds of the sky and the reptiles, and all that is said by them ... (The divine power will raise them to the surface of the water). If thou readest the second page, it will happen that if thou art in the Amenti thou wilt have power to resume the form which thou hadst upon earth.' This marvellous book had been placed in a box of iron, inside a box of brass, inside a box of bronze, inside a box of ebony and ivory, inside a box of silver, inside a box of gold, and concealed in the middle of the river of Coptos. Iron, brass, bronze, ebony, ivory, silver and gold make up the symbolical number seven, equivalent to the seven coils of Fafnir the dragon. Also, there was a live serpent shut up in the box guarding this treasury of learning. The hero finds the box and has to kill the serpent. Having a knife with him he slew it, but it came to life again and again, and all he could do was to cut it in two and place sand between the two parts so that the serpent could not join together again or resume its former shape. So, in one of the Norse tales a troll who has carried off the princess is killed, together with his companions, by one grain of sand which is [p.362] found beneath the ninth tongue in the ninth head of a certain dead dragon. Then the hero reached the writing and read; he charmed the heaven, earth, abyss, the mountains and the seas. He understood what related to (or was said by) the birds of the sky, to the fishes of the sea, and to the four-footed beasts of the mountain. It was spoken in it of them all. A copy of this magical manuscript was made by the brother of the finder, who wrote down every word, then dissolved the papyrus in water and drank it, whereupon he knew all that it contained.
The serpent is identified by Taht as the guardian who watched over his treasures. He says to Ra, 'Know that my Law and my Science are with Ptha-nefer-Ka: he hath gone into my dwelling. He hath taken my box beneath my ... (lacuna). He hath slain my guardian serpent that watched over it.' The serpent is here the warder of letters and the types of Taht. The revolution of the dragon and Great Bear about the pole constituted the first cycle or year of time, and thus the serpent or dragon became the author of knowledge and the type of wisdom as the starry Intelligencer to men, the sign of the solstices and equinoxes, the indicator and guide of the recurring seasons. Gradually the starry heavens were filled with the earliest hieroglyphics and became a vast volume of hidden knowledge, which the dragon circling at the northern centre was fabled to possess and to pore upon in secret with its lidless eye. The knowledge was also the fruit upon the tree that he protected. And from this genesis arose the dragon's mythical love of letters in the later legendary lore.
The serpent-type has three phases. At first it was the representative of physical evil in nature, as the mortal enemy of man, the dart of lightning, the sunstroke, the sting of death. As such it was the Kakodaemon, the Bad Black Serpent, the Evil One of external phenomena. Next it was made a type of time, periodic renewal, eternal circulation, life, salvation, immortality. This was the Agathodaemon, or the good serpent. In its third phase the type of evil in the physical domain was reproduced as the evil one, the dragon, the Devil in the moral or spiritual sphere. In this the eschatological stage, the ancient dragon Typhon who had been the nurse of souls in the present life was turned into their devourer in the future state. Her son, Sut or Sevekh, is identified with the Apophis monster, the Akhekh of darkness, and changed into the personal Satan of theology, who had that origin and was 'revealed' in no other way. Sut was formerly the divine messenger, the earliest Mercury, the character afterwards assigned to the moon-god, Taht. He is termed the Great Warrior, and the god who watches always; the good god, the star of the two worlds. At Thebes he was portrayed as the enemy of Apophis, instead of Apophis the enemy. Sevekh [p.363] appears in the solar bark piercing the Apophis with a double-pronged spear, and is called the god who strikes down the Apophis in the forepart of the bark of the sun. These are two names and types of the son of Typhon. When the Draconian cult was superseded by the Osirian in Egypt, the ancient mother and her son (or the seven) were cast out and re-clothed in the original imagery of evil, as the viper Sut, and the dragon Typhon. There was war in heaven, and the myth of the cast-out dragon is common to Egypt, Britain, and Babylon. In this later phase it does not imply that either Babylon or Britain derived it from Egypt ready-made; but that the same phenomena were interpreted according to the mythical mode, in accordance with the gnosis which was previously a common possession. The seven-headed dragon of darkness had been cast out before the dispersion, and when the stellar dragon was found to be playing false as a type of time because the earths axis changed in the course of precession, and pointed to a different star as the pivot of its revolution on which all turned, there was a reapplication of the typical casting-out of the starry dragon. The old dragon of darkness was self-condemned and self-dethroned. Typhon was thrust out of Egypt by the Osirians; but was changed into a solar god, as Sebek-Ra, by those who continued true to the most ancient cult. The dragon tyranny was overthrown by Hu, the sun-god in Britain, and Arthur—like Sevekh (Khevek or Kek), the old god of darkness, who was turned into a god of light—was changed from a star-god into the sun-god. Hu was celebrated as the deity that put an end to the tyranny of the dragon; we also hear of the 'Deluge that afflicted the intrepid Dragon.' A deluge will be shown to be the end of an aeon, cycle, creation, or period of time, which in typical language was called the end of a world. The dragon was the acknowledged chief of that world in Britain, as the seven-headed nâga was in India; as the seven-headed dragon was in Akkad; and as it is in Egypt, where the crocodile-dragon Sevekh has the name of number 7. This is represented in the Welsh writings by the passing away of the kingdom of the north when its name of 'Y Gogledd' was transferred to Gwynedd the White; and the dragon was then buried as the palladium of a new metropolis. So Sesha, in India, is the seven-headed dragon as the foundation and support of the new creation rising from the waters of the deluge.
In the story Bel and the Dragon, cut off from the end of the Book of Daniel, the dragon was the brazen serpent, the nachash. 'The King said unto Daniel, Wilt thou also say that this is (merely) of Brass?' The nachash, as before suggested, was the Naka serpent on the ash (Eg.) Tree of Life, the stauros or cross being another form of the tree; and the Nachushtan of Israel's worship was the Tan [p.364] (Leviathan), or dragon of the pole, which was depicted as the serpent on a pole, cross, or tree, or as we have it still, the cross-tree at the masthead, where the flag or pennon flies. It was not merely brass, but a magnificent emblem, full of meaning for those who could read the primordial figures and types. Daniel's manner of killing the dragon with pitch and fat is exactly the same as that adopted by an English hero, who killed the worm, only the Hebrew writer has failed to set fire to the pitch. This tends to identify Daniel with the solar god who slew and succeeded the dragon. The same overthrow of the dragon by the sun-god is one of the roost ancient traditions of Greece. Apollo destroyed the dragon and took his place as guardian and inspirer of the oracle. In all these instances it was the final overthrow; not the daily or yearly triumph of the solar god, as it was in the earliest and vague stage of the mythic conflict, but a total change in which the divinity of light superseded the dragon of darkness altogether. In Babylon Bel (the Akkadian Bil-ge) became a solar god and overthrew the dragon. In Revelation 'there was war in heaven.' 'Michael (Makha-El, or Har-Makhu), and his angels going forth to war with the dragon, and the dragon warred and his angels; and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him. And I heard a great voice in heaven saying, "Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ for the Accuser of our Brethren is cast down, which accuseth them before our God day and night." And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb.' Or because the sun had entered the sign of the Lamb. This is not a description of the dragon as the cause of the annual eclipse. It is the personification of Sut-Typhon as the dragon or draconis of the polestar. The great celestial apostate is absolutely identified as the polar dragon by the seventy, who render the 'Crooked Serpent' as the Δρακόντα τον αποστατήν. 'By his hand he bath slain the Apostate Dragon.' The apostasy consisted in its falling away from the true pole of the heaven when the earth's axis changed in the course of precession. Moreover, the supremacy of the dragon as the watcher and guardian of the Tree of Knowledge, or the pole, is especially connected with the sun in the sign of the Bull; and about the time of the sun's entrance into the sign of the Ram, the crocodile god of darkness (Khevekh) was turned into Sebek-Ra, wearing the head of a ram with the erect serpent. The Sebek-Hepts of Egypt considered the ram to be a lamb, a biune type of either sex. In the Persian planisphere the Ram figures as a Lamb. This is the lamb in the Book of Revelation[267a]. Hence the great change resulting from the shifting of the polestar coincides roughly with the sun's entrance into the sign of the Lamb when [p.365] there was war in heaven, and the dragon was cast out. The writer of Revelation reproduced the matter from the Parsee scriptures or Mithraic writings, but the original mythos is Egyptian. Sut-Typhon, the cast-out Satan of Egypt, had been degraded into the Apophis type of darkness as the accuser of souls in the Hades, and it is again and again proclaimed in the Ritual that the 'Accuser Sut' is overthrown. 'The Apophis and Accusers of the Sun fall overthrown.' 'Overthrown is the advance of the Apophis.' 'The tongue that is greater than the envious tongue of a Scorpion has failed in its power for ever.' 'The Great Apophis and the Accusers of the Sun have been judged by Akar.' This will be found en bloc in the Book of Revelation. 'Another beast' succeeds the casting out of the dragon with seven heads and ten horns (these will be identified hereafter). 'And I saw another Beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two Horns like unto a Lamb (the Ram), and he spake as a Dragon. And he exerciseth all the authority of the first Beast in his sight, and he maketh the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first Beast.' 'He that hath understanding let him count the number of the Beast; for it is the number of a Man: and his number is Six-Hundred-and-Sixty-Six.' Now, in the original mythos, there are in fact three forms of the dragon or beast. The first of all is the genetrix Typhon of the seven stars. The second is her son Sevekh, the dragon or crocodile, also of the seven stars and of the seventh planet, Saturn. The third is the same dragon (beast) in his final character, as Sebek-Ra, the solar god of the Typhonians, who was worshipped especially at Ombos and Selseleh in Egypt. The dragon and ram were both united in him whether we take the serpent or crocodile for the typical dragon. The star-god Sevekh was continued as the sun-god Sebek; even the mode of spelling his name was changed. Sevekh reads number 7, but Sebek may have been read number 6 as Seb is number 5, and k ¸ signifies one more. This change could scarcely have been unintentional. Sevekh, the son of Typhon, was degraded by the Osirians in Egypt, and turned into an eschatological image of the Evil One. The crocodile was hurled into Hades, where he is a follower of the Apap of darkness, and is blended with it under a type called the Shes-shes, or Sessi, to whom it is said by the defenders of Ra, 'Thou art destroyed, crushed, punished (Serpent) Sessi.' This beast is a dragon-like crocodile with the Apap for its tail, and as the crocodile is Scvekh this typhonian monster is a form of the dragon that was cast out of heaven. The Apap identifies it with the dragon of darkness, and the crocodile shows the original type of the mythical dragon, Sevekh of the seven stars. Again, we have the beast whose name was number 7 turned [p.366] into a possible figure of six. For ses (Eg.) is the number 6, and he is called Sessi. According to Iamblichus, 60 was the number of the crocodile. This seems a strange statement to Egyptologists, who would reply that Sevekh is the crocodile, and it has the name of number 7. But the 'wisdom' of Egypt has not yet been fathomed by mere transcription of the hieroglyphic language. Plutarch also tells us that the crocodile lays sixty eggs, is sixty days in hatching them, and lives sixty years, this being the first or foremost measure employed by the Egyptian astronomers. When Sevekh of the seven stars became the crocodile solar god, he was forthwith associated with the number six, as the number of the four corners, and the nadir and zenith. Like Anu, the Babylonian heaven-god, he was the one-six, on this cubic foundation. Moreover, in his change from a star-god into a sun-god, Sebek combined the two planetary characters of Saturn and Ra in the solar dragon. These two being blended in one, there were but five other planets, or six heads altogether. A similar reduction of the old dragon might be traced in the Hindu mythos by means of Sesha who is the teacher of astronomy to Garga. Sesha began as the serpent of Infinity, the Egyptian serpent of the universe and the annual renovation. Next it was the seven-headed nâga that upheld the seven Patalas on its heads. Then it became incarnated in Bala-rama who is the essential soul of Vishnu. Bala represents force considered as the sixth organ of action. Thus the seven-headed Sesha is related to the no. 6, Vishnu being the sun-god of the underworld, after the three regions and six directions of space had been founded. This same continuity of the serpent or Draconian type may be traced in connection with Vishnu with Hea, with Num, and with Sut-Nub or Chnubis. In each instance it becomes the representative of the solar god in the sixfold heaven; and in each re-adaptation of the type the seven-headed serpent or dragon might be described as losing one of its heads and becoming a symbolical figure of six or s, which when thrice repeated and joined together in accordance with the three regions is SSS or 666, the 'Beast' in the final planetary phase. We shall trace Sevekh in the seven-rayed sun-god of the gnostic-stones on which the dragon of the seven stars, still identifiable by the seven rays, becomes the serpent Chnubis. Enough at present to point out that on these stones the solar dragon with the seven rays appears with the sign S S S (triple S's) with a bar for its reverse. The Greek s, like the Coptic, has the numeral value of six. As an ideograph, this is ses (Eg.), whence the phonetic s retained that value. Thus, three S's may be read 666, the number of the second beast in the Book of Revelation. The beast is doubly identified on the same stone as the beast of the seven stars with the seven rays on the one side and the [p.367] numerical value of 666 on the other, the Abrasax stone being the six-sided cube-figure of the solar foundation. Chnubis the golden is a continuation of the Egyptian Sut-Nub. We are compelled to employ the type-name of Sut as well as Sevekh for the son of Typhon! And in Coptic the s is Sut by name. Thus Sut is also identified with the number 6. Again, in Chaldee the name of number 6 is shet. Now it appears from the Inscription of Shabaka, who bears the name of the crocodile god, that one of the most ancient traditions of Egypt alluded to in an obscure legend of the 15th Choiak regarding the once venerated Sut derived him from the south (which still bears his name), and affirmed that his birthplace was in Su-su-su (or S S S). Brugsch Bey also cites other inscriptions in which S S S is mentioned as the birthplace of Sut, and he gives the hieroglyphs as òòò¤ (S S S). Here the birthplace of the beast is named 666. The birthplace in time would be the beginning of a cycle, to which the number related. S S S, or Su Su Su, is also the 'name of a Man' as a pharaoh, who is number 43 on the Karnak Tablet. Niebuhr tells us how in the year of Rome 666 the haruspice announced that the mundane day of the Etruscan nation was drawing to a close. This points to a form of the Saros under the number of 666, and the name of the Saros in Chaldee has the numeral value of 666. Thus:—
|. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
Various names may be derived from letters which contain the numeral value of 666 or the equivalent of S S S; the number of the beast having to be counted with understanding. Figures were earlier than phonetic letters because they originated as ideographs. In the gnosis or Kabbalah, the secret wisdom was often set forth by means of figures rather than letters, and the word had to be transliterated and reckoned up according to numerical values. Hence Irenaeus was in a measure right when he gave it as his conclusion that 'Teitan' was 'by far the most probable name' (of the Beast) although he was ignorant of the true reason why.
Teitan is the Chaldean form of Sheitan, who is still adored by what are termed the devil-worshippers of Kurdistan, Sheitan being our [p.368] Satan. The Hebrew sh is frequently rendered by the Chaldean t. The value of the Coptic letters is:—
|T||. . . . . . .||300|
|E||. . . . . . .||5|
|I||. . . . . . .||10|
|T||. . . . . . .||300|
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
Teitan was the opprobrious name given to the sons of heaven in the Greek legend of the Fall. Hesiod says the Father called the revolters by an opprobrious name, Teitans, when he cursed them and they were cast down into Tartarus, and bound in chains of darkness in the Abyss.
Sut or Sevekh was Saturn under his planetary type, and in Chaldee Saturn is Satur, i.e., Stur, and the numerical value is:—
|S||. . . . . . .||60|
|T||. . . . . . .||400|
|U||. . . . . . .||6|
|R||. . . . . . .||200|
The second beast whose number was 666 commanded those who dwell on earth that they should make an image of the seven-headed beast that had the stroke of the sword and yet lived after it had lost one of its heads. This therefore would represent the number six—ses, Egyptian, shesh, Hebrew, shash, Sanskrit.
The beast that 'had two horns like unto a lamb' and 'spake as a dragon' is the express image of the crocodile-and-ram-headed Sebek-Ra; 'and he exerciseth all the authority of the first Beast,' identifies him with Sevekh of the seven stars, the son of the Red Dragon, Typhon, the genetrix of the earliest gods.
The change from the type of seven to that of six is indicated by the loss of one of the heads of the beast that had seven heads. 'And I saw one of the heads as it were wounded to death, and his deadly wound was healed.' This would leave Sevekh of the seven stars and seven heads with only six when the wound was healed. The change from the beast that was, and is not and yet is, explains the change of Sevekh from the stellar to the solar phase as well [p.369] as the loss of the horn. The woman and the seven kings are the ancient genetrix and her seven children, who were the gods of seven constellations yet to be described. In treating of Sebek as the gnostic IAO we shall see how the beast that was and was not and yet is took two of the seven characters, those of the Sun and Saturn on himself, and so brought the seven planetary types under the six heads of the dragon.
The third beast, then, is the same as the second in a new phase, that of Sevekh the star-god turned into Sebek the sun-god, 'with two horns like a lamb,' who 'spake as a dragon,' i.e., a crocodile. This is the portrait of the ram-(lamb)-headed crocodile or dragon in his solar character!
The woman who sat on the seven hills, which were also seven kings, the seven crowned heads of the dragon, still sits on the seven hills of Rome, where she has never been dethroned.
The old Sut, Sevekh, Satan, or Satur, the beast of the number 666 (stur) came to a curious double ending in the Christian continuations. He was canonized as a saint in the Romish calendar under the name of St. Satur; March the 29th being the Festival of 'St. Satur, the Martyr.' So that the divinity of one cult, the devil of a second, was continued as the saint of a third.*
* Elliott has observed that the Kabbalists used to ask 'What is the Lily?' (shushnah) in the Book of Esther, rendered by shushan as a proper name in the Authorised Version, 'because both words contained the same numeral value.' This is given as the no. 661.
But this is to miss the secret meaning. It may be supposed that the Kabbalists would use the heh for 'the lily,' and also write the name Hesther in accordance with that of Hadasah. The heh adds five, making the number 666. Thus, h'shushnah for 'the lily' has the numeral value of 666. Hesther is the Hebrew form of Ishtar or Shetar (Eg.) the betrothed, and the character of the betrothed is performed by Hesther for twelve months. The Kabbalistic conceit of 'the lily,' Hesther, and the mystical number is precisely the same as that of the beast.
The lotus-lily was a symbol of the genetrix or Virgin-Mother, who sat upon the waters as the Scarlet Lady of mystery and abomination. The sistrum ë was another symbol of the beast Hes, Isis, or 'Seses,' a gnostic name of Isis. Its name of Seshsh contains the three S's, value 666. These were represented by the three wires, that make it a figure or image of the no. 666. Astarte, also, in a dual or compound character called Isis-Minerva, has been found under the title of Saosis or 666 when the s's are read according to the numeral value of the letters. The beast was of both sexes, according to the double constellation of the seven stars. M. Renan is of opinion that the 'Man' identified with the beast is Nero, whose name, when written on the coins and standards as Νέρων Καισρ, or ררסק ןורנ, which, if each Hebrew letter is given its proper numerical value, amounts precisely to 666. The present identification, however, is only concerned with the mythical beast. The 'Beast' is primary; it belongs to the astronomical allegory and the gnosis in two forms. In one of these it had the feet of a bear. In the second it becomes six-headed. The allusion to the man is merely en passant. Nothing can be got out of the letters as they stand; unless we identified the beast with Kakos, the dragon of darkness, the Egyptian Kek. But there can be no doubt the riddle is numerical.
The Tan that rose up in revolt as the natural darkness, called the dragon of the deep, became at last a spiritual terror as the Satan, ןטש, the rebel against the god of light, the adversary of souls: and thus the Old Serpent or dragon of physical phenomena has been transformed into a supposed spiritual being, a vice-dieu of the dark [p.370] who, on the whole, is considered a greater power than the divine; and who has evoked the more assured belief; for theology has made the primal shadow substantial and permanent in the mental sphere; and from the darkness of the beginning it has abstracted the Devil in the end.
This page last updated: 28/02/2014